Controversy is like a social hemorrhoid that will flare up on a regular basis & need to be cooled and soothed (I almost used the term strange anal fire but I thought better of it).  Some controversies are uglier than others. The worst kind of ugly controversy is the kind that might have been avoided because it wasn’t entirely necessary. Usually the culprit is misunderstanding, failure to define terms, or generally sloppy reactionism. When the internet was set ablaze with the anointing flame of controversy last week over the “Strange Fire” Conference in So-Cal, I had to wonder if this had the makings of one of those misunderstandings and failures to make responsible distinctions.

And in large measure I fear that this was just the case. As the smoke from the temple clears, I think there is a lesson to learn from this. The controversy was not just a quiet charismatic-cessationist stare-down. It was at times noisy and contentious. Names were dropped, reputations put on the line, and personal feelings bruised. Unfortunately there will likely remain some rifts between prominent persons and between prominent churches over the affair. And it may have been avoidable.

The biblical and theological debate about the gifts aside, wisdom demands something from us when it comes to a big public cyber-spat like this one. In this case I humbly submit that discernment requires distinctions. Some distinctions were not made that should have been made. Going forward, here are three things that must be clarified and made distinct on this subject.

 

1. The meaning of “charismatic”

Quick word association: I say “charismatic” you say …

Maybe you think of Robert Tilton with eyes shut tightly and hand raised, asking viewers who need a financial miracle to place their hands on their TV screens. Is that what we mean by that word? For some people it’s anyone who ever lifted a hand during worship. Maybe it’s belief in Holy Spirit baptism (aka “Second Blessing”). Or is it merely non-cessationism?

One thing is for sure, you’d better make clear the meaning you have in mind, and if you’re debating someone about it, you’d better agree between the two of you what precisely you both mean when you use the term. It has been painfully obvious to me in the brief eruption of attention on this issue that people are using the term differently. Some of them mean merely those whose theological position is not cessationism. Others seem to mean Todd Bentley, Kenneth Copeland, and people spending hours “Holy Ghost glued” to the floor.

Often usage determines meaning, and common or shared usage of a word can alter how we perceive it. Since this word is biblical, it seems most appropriate to recapture, as best we can, its early etymology as at least a starting place for defining it properly. As first year Greek students learn and as footnotes in your Bible may tell you, the word is essentially the word “grace” (“charis”) used in such a way (charisma or charismata) as to denote gracious acts or gifts. The specific use of the word to describe spiritual gifts (mostly in I Cor. 12 and Eph. 4) – and particularly the more extraordinary and supernatural gifts, like miracles, healings, tongues, prophetic words – is responsible for it being used to describe Christians who emphasize those kinds of supernatural gifts of the Spirit.

So far so good, but this still doesn’t help me know whether or not I should use the word only to describe those who believe that the supernatural gifts did not cease (as opposed to “cessationists” who believe that those gifts were for the messianic and apostolic eras and not normative for the church all-time), or whether I should use the word to include things like the prosperity movement, the strange semi-Eastern doctrines about how your words create spiritual realities (the so-called “Word of Faith” movement), and the outlandish “outpourings” that have people spending hours gyrating, fainting, laughing then growling, freezing and seizing.

Like many people, I have seen both the good and the utterly bizarre under this umbrella of “charismatic.” I have attended churches and have known ministers (even in my own family) who are charismatic by identification, of whom I would never say the sorts of things I say about certain televangelists. I’ve met old-school Southern Baptists overseas serving as missionaries who, though they were raised in a non-charismatic church setting, are convinced of supernatural spiritual activity based upon years of experience.

Then again, I’ve attended a charismatic service where the so-called preacher reads one verse from Isaiah (31:4 in case you need an idea for Sunday) about how God speaks as a “roaring lion” and then proceeds to lead the congregation in 45 minutes of “roaring in the Spirit.” A simplistic approach won’t do. There are charismatic Roman Catholics whose language and church life bears little resemblance to what you would find at the Toronto Airport Vineyard Church (as it used to be called). When debates on cessationism broke out in the seminary classes I attended long ago, the mostly Southern Baptist students were very much split on the issue.

It may well be that we cannot presume to know what another person hears in the word “charismatic”, which means that we have to make the minimal effort of finding out and negotiating a definition that we can all understand. Even if I and an opponent agree to define the word differently, each of us will at least know what the other person is meaning when he or she uses the word.

2. “Charismatic” vs. the Prosperity and/or Word-Faith & Otherwise Whack-job Televangelists

A lot of what we say and think is categorical in nature. This is simple categorical logic, meaning we are identifying things in categories. Basic categorical propositions come in forms like “All x is y”, “No x is y”, “Some x is y” and “Some x is not y.” Part of the task of critical thinking and discernment is getting these kind of statements right and not being sloppy about it. Suffice to say that when someone uses the more sweeping and universal forms “All” and “No” there is a risk of over-generalizing in that hasty fashion that ends up unnecessarily implicating and offending otherwise innocent people in a given category.

I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this. “All Charismatics are biblically ungrounded spiritual wierdos” would certainly count as the kind of categorical statement that ought not be uttered by a discerning individual. Not that anybody in the recent conference said that exactly, but similar sentiments, it turns out, are what caused such an uproar. A wiser person goes with the more modest “SOME x is y” and then proceeds to explain in greater detail. Would anyone disagree or take offense at the statement, Some of those who identify as charismatics are caught up in unbiblical weirdness?” Maybe a few of those of whom this is actually true would take offense, but that is not a problem, so long as those taking the offense actually are those of whom the statement speaks. But you know who would NOT be offended? Those not described by the statement.

By similar example, if I hear someone say (as I have in recent years), “Christians are hateful bigots toward gays,” I am obliged to take exception to this. Without clarification this is in the form “All x is y.” It is an unfair hasty generalization. BUT if I hear them say, “Some Christians are hateful & bigoted toward gays,” I may well agree and assist in making the distinction clear (naming names – e’hem (under my breath) “Westboro”) & maybe re-stating it as “Some who claim to be Christians are hateful toward gays.”

Can you see how a little fairness and accuracy prevents an unnecessary fight?  Why not take the effort to zero in on the true target instead of going all ‘drunk cowboy’ & firing buckshot into the crowd? There exists a legitimate problem to be addressed, and according to transcripts & summaries of the talks given at the conference, this very real problem was discussed. But it is a problem not unknown to many of those who identify as charismatic.

I am talking, of course, about that vast freakshow that includes prosperity teachers, self-proclaimed apostles and prophets, televangelists, etc. We all know who I’m talking about here, and unfortunately their success has indeed made them a global presence. They dominate the religious airwaves, they fill arenas, and they transmit their spiritual diseases to other continents like the early Europeans transmitted smallpox to populations around the world. Only the Europeans did so mostly by unwitting accident. These guys know full well what they are doing, and they are laughing-in-the-spirit all the way to the bank. They deserve all of the condemnation we can muster against them. Their jets can’t crash into their island resort summer homes fast enough to suit me. That’s the kind of strange fireball (and spiritual gift) I can believe in. (Note: I’m just kidding about the deadly jet crash, so commenters need not chastise me).

But that being said, what, I ask, does Paula White, for example, have to do with, say, Wayne Grudem, a writer of seminary theology texts who is a notable representative of the non-cessationist view? At most, I guess both of them would agree that the Holy Spirit actively does the sorts of things that accord with the more supernatural gifts. That, I would think, is where their agreement would end. I doubt very seriously that Grudem would, on that account, number among the fans and devotees of the pasty prophetess with the strangely contrived accent. There are several rather popular Youtube selections in which the prosperity gospel is given both barrels-full by one of the very writers who is theologically sympathetic with non-cessationism (see this one for example, where Piper uses the theological term “crap” in his scathing assessment of the movement).

I don’t fault the conference one bit for taking full aim at specific teachings, practices, even specific teachers, ministries or churches, so long as they remember that this means that “some”, not “all” charismatics are in league with Peter Popoff and Benny Hinn. Make the correct distinctions and then fire away. Had the conference designers and advertisers done this, I doubt we would be dealing with the uproar and aftermath of the whole affair.

 

3. Orthodox Charismatic Churches vs. Unorthodox (Perhaps Heretical) Teachers & Churches

An important distinction that charismatics need to make, make loudly and make often, is essentially the same one as #2 above but from their unique position and perspective. These are two sides of the same coin, in other words, but I want to be clear that charismatic churches, preachers and writers are under an obligation today, given the proliferation of the aforementioned excrement of false teachers, to distinguish themselves and join the open rebuke against them. Assuming a charismatic church is reasonably orthodox, I can think of a couple of pretty good reasons why the people would want to distinguish themselves from others who call themselves charismatic but are not orthodox.

One is concern for the overall reputation of the Church and the Gospel to the outside world. Those too enveloped in the Christian cocoon can forget just how many people on this planet have never been inside a Christian church nor had much interaction with believing Christians. They stand on the outside trying to figure us out, and very often their perceptions have been shaped by the worst possible influences.  When I lived in Utah I often met people who had spent their Mormon lives looking from the outside at evangelical churches. Maybe they knew where a few were located in the city and had worked with someone who attended one, but as to what really goes on inside, it was mostly mysterious. But they HAD seen movie portrayals and plenty of televangelists. I discovered that some people suppose that every non-Roman Catholic church is something like what they’ve seen on TV, and every preacher inside basically some sub-species of Jesse Duplantis.

So if we fail to distinguish biblical churches -especially if they are charismatic in style – from the prosperity or ‘word-faith’ nonsense, we simply allow people to have a false impression that maintains an unnecessary obstacle for people and tarnishes the image of Christianity.  Talk to secularists, Muslims or other outsiders sometime and get their impressions of what they think your church is probably like. You may be surprised. In all likelihood they will guess that your preacher yells everything, or maybe that the sermons are all about abortion and gays (thanks to the media’s portrayal), or that your church spends a lot its time getting people to give their money, only interested in the Almighty (Creflo) Dollar. These are stereotypes based on real cases, but people are allowed to persist in these characterizations and the Church gets a black eye because of it.

Besides removing false images of the Church that outsiders may have been given, another reason why charismatic churches should distinguish themselves is to maintain unity among all biblical and historic Christians while preventing hucksters and charlatans from using the silence of reputable teachers and churches as tacit approval or endorsement. The simple and undeniable fact is that the influential heretical movements in question have cast themselves in the charismatic image (again, mostly I’m thinking here of prosperity, word-faith, and wierdo-fests with the people becoming barnyard animals in the spirit – sometimes all being mixed but not necessarily in every case). Once called “Neo-Pentecostalism”, the worst offenders – whether getting filthy rich or prophesying falsely out of their rear-ends – have dressed themselves in the cloak of Pentecostal charismatic church stylings.

Because of this reality, like it or not, charismatic churches bear more scrutiny and have all the more duty to show themselves biblically faithful while calling liars and pseudo-apostles out. Non-charismatic (or at least less charismatic) churches need their charismatic brethren to uphold a more biblical picture of charismatic church than what the shysters are demonstrating. As some charismatic leaders have admitted, opening the door to the supernatural gifts requires a particular vigilance, given that people, simply by virtue of what they are, will always be prone toward error. Since we live in a biblically illiterate age where post-modern thinking has aroused a kind of mindless and undiscerning spiritual cocktail served up by writers and speakers whose expertise amounts to Oprah endorsements, it is that much more vitally important that charismatic churches keep things biblical and guard against a slide toward an anti-intellectual spiritual free-for-all. I don’t think this point is all that controversial. Sam Storms, our local theologically erudite while decidedly non-cessationist pastor of the Reformed persuasion, has said more than once that being fully open to the supernatural gifts, on the one hand, while warding off mere subjective whims & wide-upon spiritual freelancing, on the other, is not the easy road. Charismatic churches, however, can’t afford to take the easy road these days.

Ultimately the debate between cessationism and non-cessationism remains itself distinct from the discussion about prosperity & word-faith televangelism. The latter need not require much debate. We should roundly condemn it and seek to undermine it and/or correct it. But cessationism, like eschatology & a few other all-time intramural theological debates, can continue to be a civil discussion among Christians. To be fair, a lot of what was done at the controversial conference, according to transcripts I’ve seen, was simply defending cessationism and critiquing abusive heretical weirdness, neither of which should be controversial among biblical Christians, since the first is an ongoing debate of a mostly civil nature while the second is largely agreed upon by orthodox charismatics and non-charismatics alike.

The error was a lazy lumping together of all non-cessationists with the weirdos, or at least somehow blaming non-cessationists for the wierdness of certain self-identifying charismatics. And in full equality we should admit that some of those in the charismatic camp have been guilty of the reverse error, as Phil Johnson’s talk at the conference demonstrated, by calling cessationists deists or God-deniers (or even atheists).  Why do that? Why run your mouth so recklessly and cause offense to people who are your brothers and sisters? I can’t see any excuse for it. Just as not all Muslims are terrorists, not all Mormons are polygamists, etc., so likewise not all cessationists deny the Holy Spirit’s existence or God’s activity on earth, and not all self-identifying charismatics flail wildly & bark like dogs during worship, have imposing Jan Crouch hairdos, and send their money to this guy hoping for a “harvest.” Failure to make these distinctions insults a lot of people unnecessarily and turns the blogosphere into a holy war. Let this be a lesson to us all.


Clint Roberts
Clint Roberts

Clint Roberts has taught Philosophy, Religion, Ethics, Critical Thinking, Apologetics, and a few less interesting subjects over the last decade or so. He likes the Credo House because he once launched a similar non-profit establishment in a different state. His Masters is from a fine theological institution and his doctorate focused on famed arguments by Clive Staples Lewis. He and Wanda lived in Texas a little while, then Idaho very briefly, then Salt Lake City for several years prior to coming to the prairie lands of Oklahoma. They had four kids along the way, and later adopted two more humans, a few goats and chickens, and a pony.

    267 replies to "Let this Strange Firestorm be a Lesson"

    • david carlson

      +1

    • Larry

      You write, “Why run your mouth so recklessly and cause offense to people who are your brothers and sisters? I can’t see any excuse for it.”

      There’s a certain irony in your closing counsel given the unsparing manner in which you address yourself to schools of thought about which you are clearly ignorant (though I’m certain you’ve read all of the right critiques … written by those with little to no firsthand experience in the matter. Funny how often I find a contented ignorance among those who find thorough firsthand experience unnecessary when they don’t fear challenge from their fellows).

      For them you feel quite free to employ invective, heaping scorn, deriding them dismissively.

      Perhaps you should, after so certainly offering the sort of advice you’ve offered, reread your missive. You may find that edits are in order.

    • Alexander M. Jordan

      Very good points made. Though personally I am very sympathetic to the Strange Fire conference and what seemed to me its important aim of targeting charismatic excesses, to the degree that they failed to make clarifications and distinctions such as you’ve described, I think they made themselves less likely to be heard. The sane, orthodox charismatics not guilty of the excesses will of course be defensive when they’re lumped in together with the “wackos”. But I am also glad you point out how the charismatics who are not wackos should be policing the movement much more than they have been.

    • scott shaffer

      None of this bothers me as much as you misspelling “weird” three time! 🙂

    • Truth Unites... and Divides

      CMP: “I don’t fault the conference one bit for taking full aim at specific teachings, practices, even specific teachers, ministries or churches, so long as they remember that this means that “some”, not “all” charismatics are in league with Peter Popoff and Benny Hinn. Make the correct distinctions and then fire away.”

      If all agree to this, then as a minimum, let’s all give thanks to the Strange Fire Conference and Pastor John MacArthur for taking aim at the egregious abuses and excesses within a sizable number of the Charismatic Movement.

      “Had the conference designers and advertisers done this, I doubt we would be dealing with the uproar and aftermath of the whole affair.”

      I think the conference designers did, in fact, do this to a reasonable satisfaction, but it may not have been to your reasonable satisfaction. So that’s a subjective call.

    • Angelo

      The article was written by Clint Roberts not CMP.

    • Ryan

      Long-time reader. I can’t help but wonder if you didn’t miss the point altogether. The perspective of MacArthur and the others is that all of the abuses/heresies you mentioned stem from and are the fruit of charismatic/continuationist theology. So, if you understand that, the conference and book make perfect sense whether or not you agree.

    • Brendt Wayne Waters

      Re: first sentence. I’m bummed that you “thought better of it”, but thank you for at least including its mention.

    • Jonathan Roy

      “Had the conference designers and advertisers done this, I doubt we would be dealing with the uproar and aftermath of the whole affair.”

      Whenever I read or hear John MacArthur say something on this topic, I’m not sure he even sees such a distinction. Doesn’t he like to make the point that “reformed charismatic” is an oxymoron? I get the feeling he’d lump people like Paul Washer and Benny Hinn all in the same category.

      I don’t plan to read his Strange Fire book but I felt this response to it made it clear what the book is about:

      http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/in-the-line-of-fire/41371-a-final-appeal-to-pastor-john-macarthur-on-the-eve-of-his-strange-fire-conference

    • david carlson

      tuad

      really? your logic…is not

      They say mussolini made the trains run on time. Lets be sure to remember him for that. That of course should excuse his other behavior.

      The conference organizers were not the problem, except to the extent they gave Jmac free rein. Jmac is responsible for his own words.

    • Brendt Wayne Waters

      TUAD — FYI, for future info, CMP (who you ascribe) did not write this post.

      More importantly, let’s assume that you are right and the necessary distinctions cited here *were* made to a reasonable satisfaction, but not to everyone’s reasonable satisfaction. The number of people in the latter category was large and contained both loud and important voices.

      This would lead one to believe that all of us in that latter category are just a bunch of dolts who were unable to discern what MacArthur really meant. What conclusion are we to draw from the fact that no further clarification or distinction whatsoever came from GTY in the months leading up to the conference, or even in the first day of the conference itself?

      I can certainly understand not bothering with those with whom you patently disagree. That’s in keeping with Proverbs 26:4 and Matthew 7:6. But what exactly is the thinking behind ignoring those with whom one basically agrees, but by whom one has merely been misinterpreted?

    • Clint Roberts

      You’ll have to be more specific Larry. Are you saying that I was too harsh on the prosperity, word-faith, and/or way-out-pourings, without having enough inside “first-hand” knowledge of any or all of them?

      Of course whatever I say, the beauty is people will apparently assume Michael wrote it, and he’ll catch the flack (which he’s used to doing anyway).

    • Ben Thorp

      I think my sadness about the whole affair was that I don’t really know what it’s actually going to achieve. My feeling was that the whole thing could be summarised as “Charismatics are wacky and bad, and those of you who are ‘continuationists’ who aren’t wacky and bad really need to become cessationists so that it’s easier for everyone to pick the right side”.

      Here’s what I don’t think will happen:
      – Continuationists are, for the most part, unlikely to be persuaded by either the intellectual or polemical arguments to become cessationists
      – “Charismaniacs” won’t even know it’s happened, and won’t change
      – Cessationists are not going to be any clearer about the nature of charismatic theology, merely more entrenched in their own cessationist theology
      – There will not be any unified rejection of the excesses of poor charismatic practice or theology

      Here’s what will happen:
      – JMac will sell a _lot_ of books
      – Cessationists will node their heads sagely and wag their fingers at anyone even vaguely charismatic
      – Orthodox continuationists and charismatics will weep

      Yes, I’m being overly dramatic (and sarcastic). But from all the coverage I’ve seen, I haven’t yet understood what good JMac was hoping to achieve from this conference.

    • Larry

      Yes Clint … your writ large dismissiveness lacks any hint of understanding … just the smug ridicule typical of those who run in crowds comfortable with such comfortable untruths.

      How many quotes do you offer which aren’t provided by someone else? How much of your understanding was acquired from the opinions of others? How many months of listening first hand, reading first hand have you actually invested in the effort?

      What specifically have you discovered to be unorthodox in the movements core theology? How do they compare to near eastern religion? Who specifically comprises the “freak show” (again, you seem to fail miserably in abiding by your own advice)?

    • Clint Roberts

      Ben, I think your assessment is very near the truth.

      Larry, again your chastisements are too cryptic for me to decipher. I will venture a guess, based on what you wrote, that you are taking great exception to the merciless way I am going after the “Word of Faith” televangelists. If that is not the case, disregard what follows here & make yourself clearer.

      Admittedly I treat these particular hucksters with nothing but loathing. I am not too out of the ordinary on this, as I demonstrated by linking readers to the withering description of Piper (a non-cessationist as far as I can tell), who used the word “crap” to refer to their teachings. Note two things here: first, he is not the type to use that kind of word (unlike myself), so he must feel a special kind of disgust for the prosperity message, and second, he is not using the word in reference to the men who teach it but to the content of the teaching.

      And if it is indeed prosperity/word-faith that you are feeling the emotional urgency to defend, I must ask why? Do you believe those teachings? Do you think those men (Copeland, Duplantis, Popoff, or whatever conglomeration of them you want to defend) really know and interpret the Bible well? Do you really think God has given them the anointing they claim? What has that message done for the Church? For the world? For YOU?

      Honestly I can’t figure how so many people read and listen to these individuals. It stymies and depresses me to imagine the audience they maintain. If you are among them, I wish for you that you would separate yourself from their heresy for your own sake, the sake of whatever family you are raising, and the sake of the Gospel itself, which is being raped like a Taliban child bride every day on greasy TV screens around the world.

    • Alexander M. Jordan

      Ben,

      I understand you think the conference is not likely to accomplish anything constructive (probably I’m understating your position). I would like to respond to your points. You began by saying, “Continuationists are, for the most part, unlikely to be persuaded by either the intellectual or polemical arguments to become cessationists.”

      But the main point of the conference was to draw attention to faulty theology that leads to bad excesses in a large segment of the charismatic movement, practices which do great damage to millions of Christians. For example, when God’s people are being hoodwinked about healing and false prophecies proclaimed (i.e., prophecies that do not come to pass), we ought to challenge this. Since the errors are disseminated worldwide through such outlets as TBN, the response needs to be equally expansive and public. I think JM as a well-known teacher feels responsible to help correct this aberrant teaching (and there is indeed biblical mandate for the Church as a whole to rise up against false teaching).

      Some may never hear of the conference, but the controversy surrounding it is bringing attention again to these important issues. Whether charismatics change or not (or simply correct what is faulty) is up to God. I haven’t yet watched all segments of the conference but I think an attempt was made to show the unbiblical nature of some charismatic theology that in turn leads to aberrant practices. We are called to present true teaching and correct the false. God alone is responsible for changing peoples’ minds and hearts. You imply that JM is motivated by selling books—how do you know this? You also ascribe low motivations to cessationists—but I think many just want the errors hurting God’s people corrected, not merely to “wag fingers”. The orthodox continuationists should weep- for the abuses emanating from their movement- & should be on the front lines correcting it, rather than attacking one drawing attention to the abuses.

    • Larry

      Cryptic? Gee whiz … I’ll try to be as clear as possible. First, you’ve dodged my questions. Please, don’t do that … it’s suspect. Either answer the questions (as they’ve been asked) or explain that you’re unable to.

      “Hucksters”, “Crap” … really, do you find such language suitable to this discussion? Doesn’t it seem slightly adolescent that you hide behind such language (despite counseling against it) rather than offer straightforward explanations. Are you hoping for cheers from those already aligned with you?

      So, again … before moving forward, fist answer my questions. You’ve lodged the charges (lobbed the grenades) … now substantiate them.

      By the way, if you’re able only to do this by first racing to your bookshelf or to a website to review the critiques of others … you ought to be, as a scholar and as believer, be embarrassed by such intellectually and ethically challenged behaviors.

    • Jonathan Roy

      As far as Piper’s view on the prosperity gospel, here’s a nice sermon jam set to him speaking on it.

      However if you search YouTube for “piper prosperity gospel” there are tons of clips from numerous sermons.

      And yes, Piper is a continuationist for whoever asked earlier in the thread.

    • Larry

      Jonathan … trying to make my point?

    • Brendt Wayne Waters

      Ben, I’ve read your post five times, and I’ve yet to see anything overly dramatic and very little that’s sarcastic. Did teh interwebs eat the part of your post to which you refer?

    • Brendt Wayne Waters

      Alexander,

      By what authority do you tell us what “the main point of the conference” was? And regardless of that answer, how does that fit in with this video?

      I can run down the interstate wearing nothing but a sandwich-board that proclaims a deep theological truth. I guarantee that I’d be on the 6:00 news (certain parts pixelated, of course)
      and some of the ancillary discussion in the days following will be about what was on the sandwich-board. But that doesn’t mean that what I did was right. Similarly, your contention that the conference (and the surrounding controversy) “is bringing attention” to error doesn’t justify anything.

      Paul did not merely tell us to “speak the truth”; he told us to “speak the truth in love“. This is a clear indication that methodology is vital.

      Finally, the fact that you say that Ben implies “that JM is motivated by selling books–how do you know this?” is very representative of a misunderstanding by MacArthur and his defenders. Some people actually just make statements for what they are, and don’t assume other people’s heart motives. (Nor do they admit that they don’t know heart motives and then immediately start conjecturing about what they just got done saying they didn’t know — see that video I linked — brothers, these things ought not be so.)

      So, just as Ben doesn’t know MacArthur’s heart motive, you don’t know Ben’s heart motive to know that he was implying anything.

      Unless, of course, you had a word from the Lord. In which case, welcome to the charismatic camp.

    • Brendt Wayne Waters

      That’s odd. Jonathan’s youtube link just put the link in his comment, whereas mine actually embedded the video itself.

    • Jonathan Roy

      Wasn’t making a point, just providing a link for a clip referenced earlier in discussion but forgot it was linked from original article. Also confirming for Clint Roberts if Piper was continuationist or not.

    • Clint Roberts

      Whooboy. OK, Larry, let’s do this. Quid pro quo. I’ll answer the questions you asked in the previous reply, and then you answer mine in the last reply.

      Q1: “How many quotes do you offer which aren’t provided by someone else?”

      A: Well, let’s see. How many quotes did I offer in the first place? By my initial re-scan of the post I don’t see any direct quotations. Of course I like quotations and have no problem using them, but consider: when you use a quotation, isn’t it BY DEFINITION provided “by someone else”? The words are either my words are someone else’s words. I fail to see the point of the question.

      Q2: “How much of your understanding was acquired by the opinions of others? How many months of listening first hand, reading first hand have you actually invested in the effort?” (these two seem to go together)

      A: If we are talking specifically about the issue of prosperity & word-faith teaching, as opposed to my broad understanding of everything else, then I would have to say that my understanding of what they teach is derived from several sources over the course of the last 25 years. They include original written material from the teachers themselves (in seminary I made myself suffer through Benny Hinn’s masterpiece “Good Morning, Holy Spirit”, which I always thought needed a sequel entitled “Hi Trinity I’m home”). The sources also include written material from others who have engaged and exposed these frauds over the years. And of course there are endless hours of video of these guys preaching. I’ve been watching them in segments (I can only stand so much at a time) over many years. But I suppose I have indeed taken stock of “the opinions of others” as everyone does. The “others” include, I might add, pro-word-faithers (like yourself) and against.

      My word count is almost up, but I’m glad to deal with further questions. Why don’t you answer the questions I asked you about which teachers you follow & why?

    • Truth Unites... and Divides

      Pastor Clint Roberts: “Controversy is like a social hemorrhoid that will flare up on a regular basis & need to be cooled and soothed (I almost used the term strange anal fire but I thought better of it).”

      Prophetic?

      Looks like you and commenter Larry are engaged in a controversy, eh?

      😉

    • […] 1.  C Michael Patton over at Parchment and Pen (and also Credo House Ministries) has declared that MacArthur is losing his voice among Evangelicals, and has also informed the whole world what someone who’s never been part of the charismatic movement thinks a Charismatic is.  Michael Patton’s fellow team blogger Clint Roberts has tossed out some thoughts on lessons to learn from the Strange Firestorm. […]

    • Susan

      The bottom line is, either the sign gifts have ceased, or they have not ceased. It seems that we all need to do our homework in scripture and try to determine which is truth because both cannot be true. A foundational issue here is: Is scripture sufficient to express all that God intended to tell us, or should we expect to receive new revelations from God? If we can expect new words from God that come to us in the form of impressions in our mind, how are we to decide what is truly a word from God and what isn’t? I think it’s quite interesting to watch the Grudem debate (youtube) on modern day prophesy that Justin Taylor posted on his site. Grudem argues that we receive new revelations that he would classify as prophesies that come to us as impressions in our mind. He admits that there will be error in the mix. It’s hard for me to fathom that that’s what God has for us now. It seems to me that if God was really speaking to us He would do so audibly, so that there would be no mistaking it. I never saw God speaking in a person’s thoughts in scripture when He had a message for them to convey. Isn’t God the same yesterday today and forever? And then there’s the matter of tongues, which we see in scripture were given to the apostles in known languages in order that people of other languages would hear the gospel such that they could understand it.

      I watched most of the live streamed conference, Clint Roberts, and now that I’ve read your lengthy blog I seriously doubt that you did. Your assessment is not appropriate based on the collective talks I heard. You need to listen to all of the talks, and or read the book, before you can be a rightful critic. There were some excellent talks that you need to wrestle with.

    • Brendt Wayne Waters

      Susan, you present — at best — a false dichotomy by implying that only the cessationist views Scripture as being sufficient. The issue is not the sufficiency of Scripture — no Christian would deny that — but its exclusivity (or lack thereof) as a means by which God reveals His truth.

      You then go on to argue the cessationist view with phrases like: “It’s hard for me to fathom”, “It seems to me”, and “I never saw”. Cessationism frowns upon experience, and yet your argument is full of experiential phraseology.

      Lastly, I find it rather befuddling that a cessationist would appeal to God’s immutability (“the same yesterday today and forever”) when that is the very foundation of the continuationist viewpoint — that God isn’t an “Indian giver”.

    • Susan

      In scripture, “never saw God speaking” to his prophets or apostles etc by way of impressions in their mind that they were then left to wonder as to whether they were from God or not. In other words, there is no evidence in scripture that God speaks prophesy in this way. Sine there are no evidences in scripture that he did , that is a strong indication that we should not expect prophetic words from him in this day to come in such a nebulous and uncertain way.

      Does it make since to you that we should expect there to be errors in modern day prophesies as Grudem says there will be? You want a scripture for that? How about the test for a prophet given in scripture, that all of a true prophets prophesies will prove TRUE? I can’t look that up right now but I trust you are aware of it.

    • Brendt Wayne Waters

      Susan, I shall assume from your comment that you have no interest in addressing any of the issues that I raised. I am more than happy to return the favor.

    • Susan

      I did, you just don’t care for my responses. You didn’t listen to the live streamed conference did you? If you had you would have heard many solid arguments from scripture. I will not dialogue with you further since you are argumentative but did not listen to the hours of talks I listened to. They were very good, better than I expected. I’ve noticed that the people who are the biggest critics of the conference haven’t taken the time to listen to all of it. Apparently the talks will be available soon, but the book is more complete.

    • Brendt Wayne Waters

      A cessationist, arguing for Scripture as the sole means by which God reveals truth to us, telling someone else what their feelings are. In the words of the great philosopher (Larry the Cable Guy), “I don’t care who are; that’s funny right there.”

    • Alex Jordan

      Brendt Wayne Waters,

      My claim to know the “main point” of the conference is based on being a follower of Mr. MacArthur’s and Mr. Phil Johnson’s ministry and observing the theme of the conference. Must I be possessed of special “authority” to make very simple observations? I certainly didn’t receive “special revelation” to come to this conclusion.

      In the video MacArthur says he thinks the “open by cautious” stance of certain prominent non-charismatics stance provides “cover” to charismatic errors– thus the video is well in keeping with the overall theme of the conference.

      I believe the conference speakers spoke the truth in love, or motivated by love. Telling folks the truth about teachings that harm them because they are unbiblical is an act of love, and as far as I can tell, that is what motivated MacArthur and this conference.

      Ben said: “Here’s what will happen: – JMac will sell a _lot_ of books…”

      At first blush this sounded like a very loaded comment to me. But perhaps Ben’s making this point was simply observation, rather than hinting at anything sinister about MacArthur’s motives. I hope so.

      I’m not stating that the controversy now surrounding the conference justifies anything. I am stating that because of the conference, and also because of passionate opinions surrounding it, some needed and possibly useful discussion on these matters is taking place.

    • Larry

      Clint, your short answer is … practically nada. You’ve read one book by a chap who is viewed with misgivings by many in the WOF movement … Benny Hinn. Otherwise, your perspectives have been shaped by the opinions of others … rather than by extensive research into the teachings of those you so freely ridicule.

      Benny Hinn, who you so freely mock, is more than a caricature though. Allow me to share a personal experience in this regard. While dining in his home one evening he took me to his study, eager to show me his library. He was, at that time, under fire from Hank Hanegraaff for a series of odd remarks and ideas … among them, certain remarks construed as WOF.

      He quickly and proudly pointed out that no titles authored by Hagin or Copeland were to be found among his collection. I asked why? “They are not evil men Benny” I noted. He quickly corrected himself, pointing at the bottom shelf were several were to be found.

      I couldn’t help but laugh. I found Benny to be part showman, part child yearning for approval, part immigrant eager to make the “American Dream” his own … but, I also found a man who genuinely loved Jesus Christ … imperfectly to be sure … but also sincerely and desperately. I found a man responding to his call within the context of his culture, religious experience (limited though it was) and faults.

      A product of both his Arab upbringing (he nearly fainted when I revealed that I knew his name was Toufik … so fearful was he that his Arabic ethnicity would find Evangelicals rejecting him … though later he would disclose this on Larry King Live) and the sometimes odd subculture of Pentecostalism. Benny found the Mysticism of Catholicism as much to his liking as he did the snatches of Faith teaching that he glommed together.

      Benny’s strong suit is not sound theology … or the disciplined study it demands (though he does study God’s word eagerly). Benny has exploited a gift, sometimes helping (in spite of…

    • Larry

      (in spite of himself) … often doing harm. People have come to Christ through his efforts. Some have found their relationship deepened. Sadly, Benny has also provided ample fodder for his detractors, and worse, provided excuses for those eager to find them.

      I recall vividly two strange dreams I experienced during the nineties, when I worked closely with a minister (whose counsel was regularly sought out by ministry and political leaders) whom Benny asked into his private circle hoping, I think, that he would provide guidance. Very late one evening while vacationing in North Carolina, I received an urgent call from this man. He was with Benny and another well-known Charismatic leader. Together they urged Benny toward change (later the man would wonder aloud if that was not rather like asking the bearded lady to shave). Benny was listening and wishing, I think, to yield to their counsel.

      Benny, however, was surrounded by a small but influential group of people who may have felt they were serving his best interest … but were, in my opinion, unmistakably sycophantic. I fear that having left his meeting with these two counselors, he soon forgot their pleading advice among his entourage. As I wrote, I received a phone call late that night, asking that I pray for Benny. I went downstairs and did just that. Later, I returned to bed. As I closed my eyes I quite suddenly saw Benny standing on a road. Circling him, menacingly was a large brownish bear. Next I observed the man whom Benny had turned to for counsel approach Benny. As he did, the bear appeared to lunge toward him … he instantly recoiled, covering himself with his hands as if to protect himself. As he did though, he was unable to see that the bear, try as he might, could not harm him.

      In an instant that scenario faded and I found myself viewing Benny from inside a small room. He appeared terribly frightened. Hovering closely around him was an enormous man. Shirtless, very muscular,…

    • Larry

      . Shirtless, very muscular, tall and powerful. As I observed this scene, I suddenly found myself looking out from Benny’s eyes as if I were him. I was seized with a fear bordering on terror. I wanted to escape this creatures hold. I spied, through a door, which was slightly ajar, a group of men. I thought to call out to them for help. I slowly edged toward the door when this creature simply took me by my arm, pulling me back slowly form the door … and closing it with a horrible finality. I was struck by his irresistible strength. It was as if the slightest effort carried a million pounds of force behind it. I felt utterly alone … and desperate.

      The it ended. The next day I phoned the man who awakened me the night before and shared with him my experience. He admitted than he had grown fearful of confronting Benny because of the reaction of Benny’s associates … fearful that he would simply be cut out of the loop and no longer enjoy any opportunity to help. As I reflected on this experience I wondered if I had not gained some insight into the nature of bondage. May we find ourselves silenced by our position, by our pride. Muzzled by our fear of being labeled by our flaws we remain captive to a bondage we simply lack the strength alone to break free of. How desperately we require the prayers of spiritual men at such times … rather than their unthinking ridicule.

      Not long after I had another experience that rather cemented, in my mind, that the problems ran deeper than doctrine (as you might expect they would) … and my own failure to serve when I might have made a difference.

      I was a guest in Dr. Colbert’s home, a home not too distant from Benny’s. A gathering of women had collected in one of their large rooms. There the women mingled, chatting informally. I wandered in and took a seat beside a rather portly woman. I had no sooner sat down when a wave of grief and despair seemed to wash over me. In that same instant I was immediately…

    • Larry

      In that same instant I was immediately aware that these feelings were, in fact, those endured by the woman seated beside me. I sensed her despair flowing from a feeling of emotional abandonment, a fear that her husband no longer loved her … that he disdained her … that her children too were growing distant. She felt helpless and utterly alone.

      It was all slightly overwhelming. As I turned to speak with her, Mary Colbert walked into the room and, spying me, walked over and introduced me to Suzanne Hinn … the woman seated beside me. All of my meetings with Benny, to this point, had been without his wife or children present, so having never met her I had no way of knowing who it was I sat beside. Sadly, I said nothing. It was a dreadful act of cowardice I greatly regret. Later, all of this would become very public. God, it seems, was reaching out yet again to bring wholeness to this man, his wife and family.

      I share these things now, in fact, because it has become public knowledge. For many years, however, I kept these matters to myself. I share them in hope that you might realize that by treating men like Benny as if they are one dimensional caricatures, you can never really begin to sort error from truth … showmanship and manipulation from real ministry … the object of ridicule from the actual man. I also share them to underscore my own failure to better respond to his failings. Benny wished very much to be accepted … I’ve often wondered how differently things might have unfolded if those who’ve so publically ridiculed him would have instead humbly, gently and kindly shared their concerns with him in the most private manner possible … following those efforts with the faithful prayers of a brother … a partner in grace.

      The human condition assures that each of us is flawed … some of our weaknesses yield more egregious faults than others. Some of us reveal weakness clumsily like Peter in Antioch when he chose to shield himself from the ridicule…

    • Larry

      clumsily like Peter in Antioch when he chose to shield himself from the ridicule of colleagues … at the expense of his communion with the Church at Antioch. Then there are others like Saul of Tarsus … turning the sword of the Spirit on their brethren … smiting them rather than humbling imploring them.

      Over the years I’ve spent time privately with many who enjoy a higher profile than most. I’ve observed in each of them strengths and weaknesses, foibles found alongside the most admirable qualities. I’ve hung my head in dismay and embarrassment at the absurd and tortured interpretations of scriptures I’ve sometimes heard … and yet listened as life ministering and liberating truth fell from the same lips. I’ve found their excuses for private jets laughable … even as they’ve shared them with me. I found the expense foolishly extravagant and yet … Though we each enjoy material belongings which others might find selfishly wasteful.

      I watched quietly, one evening, among a gathering of perhaps two hundred of Washington’s powerful elite gathered in Blair House, the President’s guest house. We exchanged small talk before repairing to a larger room for the evening’s main event. Entering that room I observed a mildly humorous phenomenon. Each time a more powerful figure entered that room, those gathered would drift toward them … as if they had become the greater center of gravity. Soon, Secretary of State James Baker followed us into the room. Instantly those gathered seemed pulled toward this powerful man. Not long after, though, a frail, stooped woman slowly shuffled into the room … it was as if the iirisistable gravity of a black hole had suddenly appeared, overwhelming the power and influence of everyone gathered.

    • Larry

      The simple, bowed woman spoke quietly and gently of Jesus … and of serving others. It was an extraordinary thing to witness the great and powerful fall under the shadow of this demure woman … Mother Teresa. I prefer her humility over the extravagance of those who feel only a private jet will serve their needs. But, If I’m honest … I’m much nearer their extravagance than Mother Teresa’s selflessness. It would have been I foolish of me to urge her toward greater earthly comforts … just as it would have been for her to impose her Spartan lifestyle on me. I know that God would have each of us place others before ourselves … and I know what that looks like for me. Shall I now offer that as the metric by which the spiritual life is lived? I will give an account for my life … and no one else. I will my life, by the grace of God in a fashion which models his love, compassion and concern for others and trust that it might inspire others to find where that line is drawn for themselves.

      I’ve realized that we are all the workmanship of God in Christ Jesus … and products of a fallen world. We are at once glorious new creatures in Christ, but also hilarious bundles of contradictions. I want to live my life in the spirit of Galatians 6 …
      Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, 5 for each one should carry their own load. Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor.
      Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh…

    • Larry

      Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
      Jesus is, I am convinced, at work among us. The degree to which He enjoys access to my life and circumstances lies, to some degree with me. As I trust wholly in Him, He works … just as He did in the gospels … when He was frequently heard to utter these remarkable words … “Be it unto you, even as you believe”

      I would be only too happy to address your misgivings regarding these teachings … if only you’d discuss them beyond dismissive jibes and invective. Are you prepared for such a discussion?

    • Jonathan Roy

      Susan, the office of prophet in the old testament and the tests you refer to are unrelated to the gift of prophecy referred to in the new testament. When the gift of prophecy works through a believer today, it doesn’t make them a “Prophet” in the sense that they are speaking God’s commands to His people as happened in the OT and were to be taken as canon.

      I’m certainly no expert on this subject, but in my experience with friends and people I know who operate in this gift, it often expresses itself as the Holy Spirit bringing to mind specific scriptures they share with a person related to a situation the person God is ministering to is going through, even when the situation is unknown to the one praying.

      Some who are opposed to the gift of prophecy in general (disobeying 1 Thessalonians 5:19-20, 1 Corinthians 14:1 , 1 Corinthians 14:39, in my opinion) try to argue that the gift of prophecy would equate to new scripture or that the canon of the Bible is incomplete, but that seems like a straw man argument to me. No Biblically minded continuationist would ever make that sort of argument. The Bible was written by direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit, infallible and complete for all time, not via the routine operation of the gifts.

      In other words, someone with the gift of prophecy wouldn’t be telling you some new revelation of God that isn’t contained in scripture. Rather, they’d more likely be sharing some specific scripture that pertains to something happening in your life they know nothing about, at just the right moment you need to hear it, which would be a remarkable coincidence if there was no Holy Spirit.

    • Brendt Wayne Waters

      Alex,

      I’m sorry. I did not mean for the word “authority” to have such, er um, authority. Put less eloquently, what I was asking was “where did you get that from?” And you have answered that question — by observation and interpretation — the same tools used by those who told us “what he really meant” time and time again, as though someone who’s been at this preaching thing for 40+ years was that sloppy with conveying his point.

      But let us assume (as you stated) that “the main point of the conference was to draw attention to faulty theology”. This actually would have been my assumption too, had I not seen the video that I linked above. But having watched that video, I thought that MacArthur might be interested in persuading the open-but-cautious crowd of their “error”. And so this assumption (silly me) that he actually wanted to move toward fixing the issue rather than simply pointing out problems is what let me to think that there was a disconnect between your interpretation of the purpose and the content of that video. Thank you for disabusing me of the foolish notion that MacArthur is actually interested in correcting “error”.

      Telling folks the truth about teachings that harm them because they are unbiblical is an act of love

      Actually, no. This is simply an implication that speaking the truth is inherently loving. And if that was the case, then Paul’s use of the words “in love” (as inspired by God) was redundant. I’m not ready to buy the idea that God only gets a B+ in English composition.

    • Truth unites... And divides

      Hi Larry, thanks for sharing your encounters and thoughts. I found them fascinating.

    • Alex Jordan

      Brendt,

      What would be sufficient proof that MacArthur is speaking “truth, in love?” If he carefully qualified his statements about charismatics? If he had a nicer tone as he corrected their errors?

      I think it’s obvious from the video that he wants the “Open but Cautious” crowd to correct themselves, since he makes the argument that he believes their stance contributes to proliferation of charismatic error.

      By the way, are you speaking “truth in love” here as point out the faults of JM and his conference? Of course, if you say no, then it seems your demand that JM do so rings hollow. But if you say yes, why should one believe it when your comments come across as rather sarcastic and superior, and not really “interested in correcting error” but rather more vested in winning the argument?

    • Susan

      Jonathan, I have no problem with sharing things from scripture with someone that speaks to the need of the moment, nor even that the Spirit might bring these things to our mind, but this is not the sort of modern day prophesy that MacArthur and co were addressing as being a problem. They were referring to supposed new revelation, that even respected, conservative scholar Wayne Grudem believes continues. If you want to know what I’m talking about, and what MacArthur and the other speakers are objecting to, look for the Grudem debate on prophesy ( a gentle discussion with a Cambridge pastor) posted on Justin Taylor’s site. It is a YouTube video.

    • Susan

      Thanks, Alex, I think you’ve got Brendt’s number.

    • Brendt Wayne Waters

      Alex,

      What would be sufficient proof…

      I am not asking for nor seeking proof. I merely pointed out the fallacy of implying that speaking the truth is inherently loving.

      he wants the “Open but Cautious” crowd to correct themselves

      I already thanked you for disabusing me of the idea that he wants to correct error. You don’t have to re-iterate.

      “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual point it out and move on. They made their bed; let them lie in it.”

      By the way, are you speaking “truth in love” …?

      I’m not sure. But then my opinion isn’t available for $22.99 at your local Christian bookstore, either.

      … if you say no … But if you say yes …

      Why don’t you just admit to being a continuationist, seeing as how you keep having a word from the Lord about the inner workings of my heart?

      And for what it’s worth, I’m not “vested in winning the argument”. No argument is winnable when your questions are dodged and your statements misrepresented.

    • Brendt Wayne Waters

      Alex, can I assume that you’ll be equally chastising Susan for being “vested in winning the argument” after her “I think you’ve got Brendt’s number” crack?

    • Susan

      Once in a great while I find myself in dialogue with someone who is particularly condescending….

    • Ben Thorp

      Alex – sorry to take so long to reply to your original post.

      I think my main problem with the whole thing was that I got the impression that the conference was billed as one thing – “to draw attention to faulty theology that leads to bad excesses” as you put it – but for the most part was another – “charismatic theology is bad, cessationist theology is good”

      Working through the sessions:
      JMac opening address – A vision-casting type session whereby he essentially says that charismatics are a big problem, and that nothing good has ever come out of charismatic theology
      Joni’s testimony – A good testimony that many (admittedly not all) charismatics would agree with – that when we pray for healing we aren’t always healed, and that suffering is something that we still need to wrestle with.
      RC Sproul – Charismatics have a poor view of Pentecost (ie they have bad theology)
      Steve Lawson – Reformed Charistmatics also have bad theology, because Calvin wouldn’t have touched them with a barge-pole.
      Conrad Mbewe – Highlighting the abuse in Africa (note that this is the first talk that talks about abuses, rather than simply all charismatic theology)
      JMac – He does talk more specifics here, but the underlying impression I get is that he regards all charismatics as being in error.
      Tom Pennington – A defense of cessationism
      Steve Lawson – Implying that charismatics do not hold to Sola Scriptura and are thus in error
      Conrad Mbewe – Likening charismatic preachers in Africa to witch doctors
      JMac – Advises that the best thing continuationist people can do to stop the excesses of the charismatic movement are to become cessationists

      The vast majority of the conference was set up to show that cessationist theology is the right theology, and not in any way to call on charismatics to curb the excesses of the movement. From what I have read, the only way suggested by the conference to stop these excesses was to become a cessationist.

    • Larry

      Good grief … really should have reviewed my comments before posting them. Not certain I could’ve included more typos and glitches if I had made that my aim. Too bad there’s not an edit feature here.

    • Brendt Wayne Waters

      Once in a great while I find myself in dialogue with someone who is particularly condescending….

      What a coincidence.

    • Alexander M. Jordan

      Brendt,

      You seem to be holding JM to account for not speaking the truth in love at this conference. So I asked basically what do you think he could have done better?

      I cannot judge your heart but only interpret your comments. Apparently I’m not the only one with the impression that the tone of your comments has been combative. Since you seem to want JM to speak the truth in love, because this is biblical and right, and are saying that this has to do with how you say something and not just stating truth, then don’t you want to practice this as well? Anyway, continuationists can’t read men’s hearts, only God 😉

    • Brendt Wayne Waters

      Larry, FYI for future reference, you can edit any comment (of your own) on the site for the first 5 minutes after you post it. I often write stuff offline, re-read it, find no problem, post it, and then see a glaring error. 🙂

    • Susan

      A coincidence? The last time I experienced this I was conversing with an atheist.

    • Alexander M. Jordan

      Ben,

      Thanks for the response. For years MacArthur has been critiquing the CM movement cataloging the abuses happening in it (at least in some of it). It’s clear he makes a connection between the movement’s underlying theology and its practices. This is not an unreasonable inference to draw.

      He notes that reformed charismatics and “open but cautious” folks, many of whom he admires and counts as friends in ministry, don’t seem to be doing enough to counter the theological errors that lead to the abuses, since the abuses continue to proliferate. I think he’s saying the whole church should stand together against these damaging theological errors.

      So the conference not only points to the errors in charismatic theology which it thinks leads to abuses, but also offers a corrective in cessationistic theology. In my opinion this makes sense; the conference is saying in effect, “here is a better, more biblically sound theology that if practiced would stop these abuses from happening.” The only issue I have, as I commented earlier, is that “to the degree that they failed to make clarifications and distinctions” amongst the various continuationists, some of whom are much much better in their theology and practices than others, he then loses the chance to foster the unified stance against error he seems to be striving for. The focus becomes on continuationists defending the good in their movement rather than teaming up with cessationists to go after the bad. Also perhaps he could have acknowledged some things within the movement as of value, even if he assesses that the underlying theology offers nothing he thinks helpful. For example he might have noted the enthusiasm of the CM movement in its worship and its desire/expectation to see God moving in power now, which I think are good things. Now I don’t think you need CM theology to get there, but certainly these are positives to strive for and perhaps he could have complimented these aspects of the movement.

    • Truth Unites... and Divides

      Alex Jordan,

      What do you think of this post and excerpt by Pastor Dan J. Phillips:

      “what one hears (me talking now, not MacArthur) is wails and squeals about MacArthur talking about these abuses — not about the abuses themselves. It reminds me of how shocked (shocked!) Senatrix Barbara Boxer was for Senator Rick Santorum to describe partial-birth abortion on the floor of the Senate. The procedure itself didn’t bother her a bit, she adores it as a sacred right. But describing it? Offensive! Unheard-of!

      So here, invariably the dramatists who flutter and swoon in their horror over MacArthur’s speaking out are not themselves known for their frequent and bold stances against the withering destructive errors of Charismaticism; but they do want to grab the spotlight as standing among the crowd of MacArthur’s detractors. “Of course, some of that is bad,” is the thought; “but this divisive conference is really, really bad!” Oh, yes? Color me unpersuaded.”

    • Brendt Wayne Waters

      Alex,

      I am hoisted on my own petard. Ben and I are probably fairly close in viewpoint, and yet the conversation between you and him was far less contentious than that between you and me. I guess that Solomon cat knew what he was talking about: A soft answer turns away wrath. Methodology matters in comment threads too. I apologize.

      And having said that, I am recognizing that our views are closer than they would first appear (whether or not should frighten you is left as an exercise for the reader 🙂 ). And I’m not saying, “Aha! You agree that I am right!” We’re clearly on opposite sides of the cessationist/continuationist fence; but I think that each of us is closer to the fence than it’d appear, at least on this issue.

      Let me give an illustration as to why I say that.

      Scripture tells us that God told Adam and Eve not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Eve took it a step further and wasn’t even going to touch it. Now, there is nothing evil about not touching it — and (obviously) if you don’t touch it, you can’t eat from it, and so that’s the rubric under which she was operating. (The fact that she ascribed this idea to God is troubling, but is a conversation for another day.)

      Similarly, even though I disagree with it, there is nothing evil about cessationism (though evil things can be done when it is distorted — just like any other belief or ideology). And if one is a cessationist, then one definitely isn’t going to engage in charismatic excess. And so, yes, at the end of the day, cessationism is a solution to charismatic excess.

      But as you noted, there is a “degree that they failed to make clarifications and distinctions” and also there was a lack of pointing out of positives (e.g. “the enthusiasm of the CM movement in its worship and its desire/expectation to see God moving in power now”).

      (continued in next comment)

    • Brendt Wayne Waters

      (continued from previous comment)

      And now here’s where I think our opinions diverge:

      These deficiencies in communication quickly turn “cessationism is a solution” to “cessationism is the solution”. And now we’re getting into Romans 14 territory. MacArthur does “not eat”, but he is also “[judging] him who eats”.

    • Alexander M. Jordan

      Brendt,

      Thank you for the apology and the change in tone. I know can be reactive sometimes (thus ultimately unhelpful) when making comments in these kinds of forums. Hopefully I haven’t been so here.

      As a former charismatic I sometimes wrestle with the cessationist stance I now affirm. Can one be a cessationist yet affirm that God could maybe return to speaking to His people via the sort of special communications He used in the past? If yes, I am that kind of cessationist. I am also the kind of cessationist that wants to see God moving powerfully in my life and in the church so that His truth and glory are revealed, and who longs for greater victory over sin in my walk with God– yet I think God has already given us what is needed for this to be happening.

      Anyway to believe that that sort of special revelation is happening again today, I’d need to see the same level of corroborating evidence one finds in the NT. I don’t evidence of this in the popular charismatic movement– far from it. One sees rather what seems like a carnival side show, full of odd antics. I can sympathize that people want to believe God is now doing all kinds of miracles and giving special revelations. But it seems to me they are manufacturing experiences in order to satisfy this desire. I think that is quite dangerous and opens the door to being deceived. And some things I have encountered personally really anger me– when for example one has a loved one desperate for physical healing, and they do not get healed though given a word from the Lord and all kinds of teaching to lead them to believe their miracle was basically guaranteed (my becoming cessationist however wasn’t based on just this one disappointment). Also seeing desperate folks tricked out of their money– for they’re often encouraged to “sow a seed in faith in order to receive their miracle”– a miracle which never arrives– while the big names get rich– I just think that is very wicked, and God is…

    • Brendt Wayne Waters

      Alex, in the words (lyrics) of Phil Vischer: “We can be friends / I’ll share my Jell-o”

    • Clint Roberts

      Larry I appreciate your fascinating personal acquaintance with men like Benny Hinn. If that is true, then I would be the first to buy you a cup of coffee & listen with eager interest to your experiences with him & whomever else, while plying you with questions from my own sense of curiosity.

      That said, there are a couple of problems with the way you are arguing in these posts. First, you seem to think that someone virtually needs a doctorate in Word-Faith theology in order to comment accurately upon it. This is simply wrong. I might ask you if you believe the Mormon Gospel is the true one and their church the true church. If you say “no” I might then ask if you have read all of the LDS Standard Works, the Journal of Discourses, all Conference Reports, etc. Have you read from their numerous magazines? Have you lived among them & gone to their “fast and testimony” meetings? Have you engaged BYU professors or interviewed their General Authorities?

      The point is that spotting error, heresy or hucksterism requires something more than a rumor or cursory glance but something less than world-class expertise in that specific area. As I said, I have heard way too much of the teaching of these people over the last two plus decades. Let’s not forget that they are on television virtually around the clock. If I cannot judge a man by the very words that come from his mouth, then what do you suggest?

      Secondly you sell short the depth & egregious nature of their errors. To say that doctrine/theology is not Benny’s “strong suit” is tantamount to saying that building bridges to homosexuals in the community is not Fred Phelps’ “strong suit.” This is no minor thing. Robert Tilton is hilarious when I forget for a moment that he is making shipwreck of the Christian message & leaving people’s spiritual status in shambles. Maybe if you met him you’d say he’s also like a child looking for approval. This does not exonerate him from crimes against Scripture, common sense…

    • Brendt Wayne Waters

      As to Phillips’ post, I think this guy boils it down well: http://allreallyisvanity.wordpress.com/2013/10/23/yes-he-really-went-there/

    • Larry

      Clint, you seem to have a real fondness for overstatement. As a rule that sort of linguistic extravagance does real harm to constructive and accurate dialogue. I prefer discussions that aren’t littered with straw men and a host of other logical fallacies. I would prefer a somewhat more open-minded approach … to say nothing of one in which my veracity is not in question (” If that is true, then I would be the first to buy you a cup of coffee”). That’s pretty insulting and, well, remarkably ill mannered.

      Suggesting that I require of you a doctorate in WOF theology to accept your comments is just the sort of overstatement that allows you to brush aside your very real ignorance of it … as if that’s no big deal. Seems you’re more intent on being right rather than on being accurate. Again, very difficult to have an adult conversation under those terms. Your coupling of Petitio Principii and Dicto Simpliciter may be nearly artistic in its application but, in the end … still lousy substitutes for honest and constructive dialogue.

      You offer a flyover appraisal of the movement with no real grasp of its theology … only its abuses (shall we discuss Calvinism from its critics pov? Or by citing its abuses?). That doesn’t even pass the smell test Clint.

      Next you offer a superman sized leap by likening my remarks concerning Benny Hinn’s theological challenges to an embrace of the LGBT communities attempts at offering biblical justifications for their lifestyle. Again, that’s a feckless use of language in pursuit of simply winning a disagreement … and in obscuring your exceptional ignorance of the movements theology.

      Tell me, how serious would you imagine me if I should suggest a dialogue concerning Calvinism that began by describing Calvin as a religious tyrant whose closed system of theology required an effort in circular reasoning that’s rivals modern liberalism’s madness. Oh yeah, he was a hateful bastard that had his opponents…

    • Larry

      Oh yeah, he was a hateful bastard that had his opponents hung and anyone who embraces his madness has already demonstrated their inability to think rationally. OK … let’s start talking.

      Somehow I see that as a non-starter. OK … let’s begin again. I’ll start by acknowledging that my only real attempts at discovery have occurred in the form of critiques which I’ve read and snatches of teachings I’ve heard on YouTube? Looking forward to that conversation, heretic? No? I can’t imagine why?

      Again, if you’re interested in an adult conversation centered in mutual respect … fine. If not … at least be honest concerning your disinterest.

    • Truth Unites... and Divides

      Hi Larry,

      I thought Clint’s offer of a cup of coffee was genuine, and also a peace offering.

      FWIW, I think he respects you too.

      And for that matter, I believe in the Sovereignty of God and that the Holy Spirit was instrumental in the formation of the Strange Fire Conference, and that the Holy Spirit blessed and will be blessed by the Strange Fire Conference.

      And all God’s people said… Amen!

    • Clint Roberts

      As TUaD rightly suggests, I was being genuine, but no matter. I won’t make pretense of high expectations where this painful exchange is concerned.

      I am pleased that you know the Latin names of a few logical fallacies. But if I’m begging the question (petitio), you need to be specific and point out exactly where & how. As for erecting & attacking straw men, I am guilty of that only if the prosperity/word-faith gang is comprised of genuinely anointed teachers of Biblical truth who handle the Word of God accurately, rather than smoke & mirrors showmen in love with their fame & living like the Real Housewives of the Holy Ghost in decadent opulence built upon the ‘sewn seeds’ of hapless & desperate listeners to their greed-oriented heretical message.

      If they are the former and not the latter, then I’ve done them an enormous disservice, assaulted the character of godly messengers, done violence to the Great Commission that they are helping to bring about, and, as they are so fond of saying when challenged, am in great danger of being struck dead for touching God’s anointed. Suffice to say I’ll sleep well tonight.

      Your swashbuckling frontal assault on Calvin elicits a yawn rather than the hyperventilating you may have supposed it would. I took a graduate course years ago on Calvin so I’m well aware of his faults. I guess you presume that everyone here is a rabid Calvinist & will emote wildly if he is spoken ill of in any way. Sorry to disappoint you, then again but if you follow prosperity/word-faith teachings, you’re already used to disappointment, I suppose.

      That said, comparing Calvin (as a theologian & teacher) to someone like Kenneth Copeland is no less bizarre than comparing Mozart to Miley Cyrus. One is substantive (whether you agree with any/all of it or not), and the other is sheer fluff & a wonton bastardization of Christian theology.

      Give me two doctrines from the word-faithers that you find most biblical & compelling.

    • Larry

      I never doubted that your invitation wasn’t genuine … it was as real as your bad manners.

      No, I rather expected a yawn because I was merely parroting the assault on Calvinism regularly launched by unthinking men who know little through their own earnest examination of the tenets of Calvinism.

      Much like your approach to WOF theology. That was the point of the remark … to demonstrate the same hamfisted approach you seem not only fond of … but reliant upon.

      That you didn’t see the obvious effort in comparisons is more than little surprising.

      So, you continue to dodge … at this point I find that sadly unsurprising. I’ve observed this same dismissive and intellectually suspect behavior in Credo blogs for some time … for men who offer themselves as intellectuals, scholars and apologists … that ought to be cause for real reflection.

    • Alex Jordan

      Wow, this comments thread has been strange. It’s not clear why Larry has come on so strong against the author of the article. The article’s chief point, after all, seems to be: 1) that we ought to be careful about lumping all charismatics together in the same theological boat, and 2) if the recent JM conference had avoided doing this, the uproar ensuing from it would have been reduced or avoided. Those points seem seem quite straightforward so what has Larry so teed off? A series of intriguing tales about interactions with Benny Hinn and others were then related by Larry. Interesting, but the point? Perhaps knowing Mr. Hinn personally, he is defending his friend as a three dimensional person. This is admirable, but it also seems Larry acknowledges Benny Hinn does actually have some bad theology. Now the author of the post did not attack Benny Hinn or anyone else on a personal level, but seems to be weighing in negatively on WOF theology. Is Mr. Hinn guilty of propagating false teachings/bad theology or not, seems a relevant question. Surely God personally knows each of us, including knowing our hearts much better than we ourselves know them, and has great compassion on us as sinners. This doesn’t mean he won’t hold us accountable for our sins, and as James writes, “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. ”

      Has Clint been guilty of ignorantly disparaging WOF theology? Is there a defense of WOF theology still to be offered by Larry? Nothing specific has been charged, no real debate has really begun, and this after 60+ comments. Even my interaction with Brendt has been more productive than this! (surprisingly). I really should be studying…

    • Susan

      Alexander, for what it’s worth, I’ve appreciated your comments on both threads regarding the conference. If it weren’t for your insightful perspective I probably would’ve vacated sooner 😉

    • Ken

      Susan – have you ever been blessed and encouraged by a comment in a sermon that was not just whilst quoting scripture? Something specific for you that you really needed to hear at that moment? If you think of prophecy as being something similar, but given outside the context of a sermon, a speaking in the Spirit to give a word of encouragement, would that be OK? This is not new revelation, any more than a sermon is adding to the bible.

      It would be good if charismatics stopped talking of this in terms of ‘revelation’ it seems only to be misunderstood. It is also true that such a specific word of encouragement would in no sense be infallible – and mistakes can be made, requiring judgment/discernment.

      I believe in this kind of gift, but do not believe in the continuation of the office of prophet as such. I’m not sure what category that puts me in!

      I’ve had enough experience of this to know people can be blessed this way. It’s exciting if the speaker says things they could not otherwise know, which takes it out of the realm of purely natural speaking – but doesn’t turn it into a theophany! It’s naturally supernatural. ‘Continuationists’ who may also have experienced this kind of thing may well be forgiven for being defensive if they think this is being attacked by being associated with the out and out false prophets who are really wolves.

    • Ben Thorp

      Alex – thanks for your last response. Your third paragraph in particular hit the nail on the head – “the focus becomes on continuationists defending the good in their movement rather than teaming up with cessationists to go after the bad” is very much what I feel that the response to the conference has been.

      I also agree with Brendt that it seemed to quickly turn from “cessationism is _a_ solution” to “cessationism is _the_ solution”, which led to the above result.

      FWIW there has been some additional interesting coverage:
      Michael L. Brown’s radio show had Phil Johnson (JMac’s assistant) on it, overlapping with Adrian Warnock and then Sam Storms: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/adrianwarnock/2013/10/strange-fire-radio-mp3-and-questions-for-cessationists/ )

      Adrian is also starting a series going through the Strange Fire book and debating it’s theological stance: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/adrianwarnock/2013/10/strange-fire-every-biblical-argument-refuted/

      And Frank Viola is reposting some of his original critique of Charismatic Chaos: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/frankviola/strangefire1/

      I’m going to write to a couple of charismatic theological bloggers to see if I can persuade them to go the “other direction” and maybe see a serious of posts that critiques charismatic excesses, and also maybe some of the more “moderate” but equally errant Charismatic practices.

      (A great book on this is “Post-Charismatic” by Rob McAlpine)

    • Susan

      Ken, in answer to your question, I will tell you of an experience I had at the church we attended formerly (I was there for most of my life). The church was a conservative evangelical church but under the leadership of the current pastor I began to notice some significant changes over time. One thing that very much concerned me was that the gospel was no longer belong clearly and completely proclaimed from the pulpit. There was no call for individuals to believe and repent in order to be saved. In fact, salvation language disappeared. I noticed that evangelism had become a dinosaur word, and concept. Instead, there was a constant focus on deeds…doing good deeds to those outside the church, but not telling them about Jesus.

      My husband and I attended the SS class where the pastor was involved as well as some young men he was mentoring. This is where the pastor’s apparent shift in theological framework became most evident. We watched a video series in the class over the course of a few weeks. I became increasingly disturbed that the video was highlighting people who went to live in the ghetto and do good to help people but there was never any mention of talking with people about Jesus.

      This became a burden that welled up within me, and I began to reason through it in my mind and talk with God about it. Over the course of a couple of weeks this became a compelling force in my heart. It got to the point that there was this sort of daily recitation going through my head and God brought Romans 10 to my attention “how are they to hear without a preacher?…..”
      Day after day this became further and further honed in my mind. Finally it dawned on me that this might be something God was doing and I’d better take heed. So, I began to pray, “Lord, if this is something you want me to say to the entire group then help me to know. I submit to you, to be used by you in this way, if you want me to speak, HELP me!

      Continued……

    • Alexander M. Jordan

      Susan,

      Thanks so much– I am really gratified to know that my comments were helpful to you. It’s an encouragement since sometimes I feel like I’m wasting precious time by making comments…

      Blessing, Alex

    • Alexander M. Jordan

      Ben,

      I think these news series in which many leading continuationists are re-defending the correctness of their theology, though helpful for understanding continuationist theology– still misses the alarm raised by the SF conference and by others — that there is right now and for many years much aberrant teaching harming the body of Christ worldwide that emerges from a large segment of the charismatic movement.

      If the more solid continuationists acknowledge this, and furthermore, acknowledge that the aberrations are from their own camp, then where is the urgency to correct these errors? Instead, it seems there is great urgency to launch into defense mode. Which confirms one of the major charges made at the conference– that those who should know better don’t seem troubled or responsive enough to the huge damage being done through incorrect teachings within charismaticism.

      And also I would ask, why is it that this movement so often fosters strange and aberrant practices in the first place? Could it be that when one opens the door to highly subjective revelation–which is attributed to God but cannot be definitively tested by Scriptural standards– that a Pandora’s box of error is unleashed? As for charismatic phenomena, where are the medical reports showing people born blind now see, people who were dead are now raised, that the crippled have new legs? That’s NT miracles– you say that is what is happening? Why is the gift of prophecy in the age of the Spirit now being celebrated as something LESS accurate that what was given under the OT dispensation? Why can prophecy be wrong 80% of the time, as Mike Bickle declares? Why is it now supposedly mixed with human error? If prophecy can be partly right/partly wrong, what earthly good is it? Why are tongues now not real languages but considered private prayer language that mostly goes uninterpreted? Is this the life of supernatural superabundance the CM movement declares so valuable and needed now?

    • Susan

      ugh! I just typed a continuation of my story but lost all of it due to loss of internet connection. I had to whip up a last minute lunch for my son and send him off to school and now I have only seconds to get ready to leave for the Bible study I attend….someone picks me up(!). I’ll have to continue this later….but it’s important that i get to my point in all this…..LATER!

    • Ben Thorp

      Hey Alex,

      A very quick reply (it’s almost hometime for me) to answer some of your questions:

      > As for charismatic phenomena, where are the medical reports showing people born blind now see, people who were dead are now raised, that the crippled have new legs?

      They do exist. Bear in mind that many doctors are reluctant to put their name to something like this, particularly if they gave the original diagnosis.

      How’s about this for starters: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/devon/7137895.stm ?

      I don’t have the reports, but I have spoken with a man in Mozambique who had been legally declared dead, but was raised to life.

      > Why is the gift of prophecy in the age of the Spirit now being celebrated as something LESS accurate that what was given under the OT dispensation?

      3 points. 1 – there are a number of OT prophecies that are not recorded, but not marked as being false. 2 – there are a number of people in the NT who are regarded as prophetic, but we have no prophecy from them either. 3 – friends of Paul received a prophetic word about what would happen to him if he returned to Jerusalem, but their interpretation was wrong (that he should not go).

      > Why can prophecy be wrong 80% of the time, as Mike Bickle declares? Why is it now supposedly mixed with human error? If prophecy can be partly right/partly wrong, what earthly good is it?

      In a community of faith, the testing of a Word is something that builds unity and faith.

      > Why are tongues now not real languages but considered private prayer language that mostly goes uninterpreted?

      1. This seems to be a popular misconception – there are numerous stories of people speaking in earthly languages. 2. Public interpretation is what Paul ordains, but there is plenty of NT evidence of tongues in private.

      > Is this the life of supernatural superabundance the CM movement declares so valuable and needed now?

      I’m sure that the Jewish said much the same thing about Jesus… 😉

    • Larry

      Alex, it’s difficult for to believe that you can be so obtuse, indeed, it appears that Clint’s style is perhaps not unlike yours and, consequently, you are inured to its toxic tone … or, you simply ignore evidence unsuitable to your point. In either case, allow me to refresh your memory (after all, this wasn’t a conversation held in the parking lot … it’s here … in black and white):

      “or whether I should use the word to include things like the prosperity movement, the strange semi-Eastern doctrines about how your words create spiritual realities (the so-called “Word of Faith” movement), and the outlandish “outpourings” that have people spending hours gyrating, fainting, laughing then growling, freezing and seizing”

      “I am talking, of course, about that vast freakshow that includes prosperity teachers, self-proclaimed apostles and prophets, televangelists, etc. We all know who I’m talking about here, and unfortunately their success has indeed made them a global presence. They dominate the religious airwaves, they fill arenas, and they transmit their spiritual diseases to other continents like the early Europeans transmitted smallpox to populations around the world. Only the Europeans did so mostly by unwitting accident. These guys know full well what they are doing, and they are laughing-in-the-spirit all the way to the bank. They deserve all of the condemnation we can muster against them. Their jets can’t crash into their island resort summer homes fast enough to suit me. That’s the kind of strange fireball (and spiritual gift) I can believe in.”

    • Larry

      “…where Piper uses the theological term “crap” in his scathing assessment of the movement).”

      The simple and undeniable fact is that the influential heretical movements in question have cast themselves in the charismatic image (again, mostly I’m thinking here of prosperity, word-faith, and wierdo-fests with the people becoming barnyard animals in the spirit – sometimes all being mixed but not necessarily in every case). Once called “Neo-Pentecostalism”, the worst offenders – whether getting filthy rich or prophesying falsely out of their rear-ends – have dressed themselves in the cloak of Pentecostal charismatic church stylings.

      “Admittedly I treat these particular hucksters with nothing but loathing. I am not too out of the ordinary on this, as I demonstrated by linking readers to the withering description of Piper (a non-cessationist as far as I can tell), who used the word “crap” to refer to their teachings. Note two things here: first, he is not the type to use that kind of word (unlike myself), so he must feel a special kind of disgust for the prosperity message, and second, he is not using the word in reference to the men who teach it but to the content of the teaching.”

      “Do you believe those teachings? Do you think those men (Copeland, Duplantis, Popoff, or whatever conglomeration of them you want to defend)”

      “Honestly I can’t figure how so many people read and listen to these individuals. It stymies and depresses me to imagine the audience they maintain. If you are among them, I wish for you that you would separate yourself from their heresy for your own sake, the sake of whatever family you are raising, and the sake of the Gospel itself, which is being raped like a Taliban child bride every day on greasy TV screens around the world.”

      “They include original written material from the teachers themselves (in seminary I made myself suffer through Benny Hinn’s masterpiece “Good Morning, Holy Spirit”, which I always thought needed a sequel…

    • Larry

      Benny Hinn’s masterpiece “Good Morning, Holy Spirit”, which I always thought needed a sequel entitled “Hi Trinity I’m home”)”

      “My word count is almost up, but I’m glad to deal with further questions. Why don’t you answer the questions I asked you about which teachers you follow & why?”

      “Larry I appreciate your fascinating personal acquaintance with men like Benny Hinn. If that is true … If you’re not lying”

      “To say that doctrine/theology is not Benny’s “strong suit” is tantamount to saying that building bridges to homosexuals in the community is not Fred Phelps’ “strong suit.” This is no minor thing. Robert Tilton is hilarious when I forget for a moment that he is making shipwreck of the Christian message & leaving people’s spiritual status in shambles. Maybe if you met him you’d say he’s also like a child looking for approval. This does not exonerate him from crimes against Scripture, common sense… “

      These quotes taken directly from Clint’s original post and his subsequent responses to comments. They are a strange mix of ignorance, conflation, logical fallacies galore and unseemly arrogance, nicely seasoned with smug self-rightousness. It’s not just his lack of decorum, intellectual honesty and general fairness that are so concerning … he’s genuinely mean spirited. A sort of Calvinist Bill Maher … except less funny (if that’s possible). Did Saul Alinsky pen another book … Rules for the reformed … that I’m unaware of?

      He’s seems unable to simply find error in someone’s theology … he finds it necessary (with unconcealed eagerness) to denigrate them personally. Apart from the obvious insecurities inherent in that sort of shtick, it afford’s his target no human dignity and undermines any real meaningful dialogue. Indeed, it seems that snarking serves to replace substantive criticisms … which can only leave you guessing that he’s implying more knowledge of the matter under discussion than he actually possesses.

    • Larry

      I’ve encountered the very same demeanor and tactics when debating modern liberals. Pressed for facts, for cogent reasoning, they invariably turn to ad hominem attacks, liberal mythology and apologia as they dodge demanded facts … coherent answers. After deploying smoke screens, lobbing incendiary ad hominem attacks, opening multiple fronts while dodging questions they simply depart the field claiming victory.

      Not unlike my experience here where Clint has yet to answer my questions. It’s the boorish, overbearing behavior of a doctrinaire.

      You Alex, are equally obtuse regarding the point of my posts. It wasn’t cryptic, I rather doubt your reading comprehension is seriously compromised … its simply that it’s so much more convenient to replace the obvious with your script.

      To put it simply, I’m still waiting on honest answers to simple questions. Then we may continue the debate. I’m not holding my breath.

    • Alexander M. Jordan

      Ben,

      I do believe in healings in answer to prayer– and God of course may provide that healing in miraculous fashion if He chooses. But the CM often claims the same miracles that characterized the church in Jesus’ day are happening now. What you have stated thus far does not give evidence for this claim.

      None of your remarks on prophecy– except point #3– address the question of downgrading of prophecy from 100% accuracy in the OT– under penalty of death– to prophecy now mixed with human error that can be wrong most of the time and needs to be sifted by the Church’s evaluation.

      And I think the prophecy given to Paul was indeed accurate but Paul decided not to heed it because he had already been told by Jesus Himself that he would face persecution in the various places to which God was calling him. This article presents a thorough analysis and refutation of Wayne Grudem’s position on this passage: http://blog.rbseminary.org/2009/03/the-cessation-of-special-revelation-a-humble-argument-for-the-cessation-of-nt-prophecy-and-tongues-part-8.

      “Numerous stories of people speaking real languages”. More anecdotes? Most of the CM tongues I have witnessed firsthand are people making sounds that don’t really sound like true language, without interpretation being given. And you can turn on the Christian TV to see numerous examples of this sort of thing happening all the time. It is debatable whether Paul was advocating tongues as private prayer language, when it seems he argues that what makes tongues valuable is interpretation, so that the words may then edify others.

      “I’m sure that the Jewish said much the same thing about Jesus…”

      Actually the Jews had to admit that Jesus was doing outstanding miracles because Jesus’ miracles were irrefutable. Unlike the so-called miracles touted today by much of the CM movement.

    • Alexander M. Jordan

      Larry, you speak of being guided by Galatians 6, but your tone and manner in these comments falls short of that. I guess you think you have the right to label me “obtuse” and blinded by my “script”. In any case what I observe is there’s now 80+ comments and you have yet to offer anything meaningful for debate. If what Clint has written is in your mind too harsh and ignorant in its condemnation of the WOF movement, why don’t you at least begin to show him his error? Or, just dismiss him as one who knows not what he is talking about and move on. He at least attempted to begin a dialogue with you. There is no “debate” to continue- you have not even begun to debate. Why you think he is obligated to provide a long list of “answers” to you before you engage in debate is a mystery.

    • Larry

      Alex … I didn’t employ insulting terms … I described your behavior as it exists. Paul, the author of Galatians similarly rebuked Peter if you’ll recall. Inconsistent? I think not.

      You too employ the dodge.

      Why do I expect answers? Among adults Alex, people who lodge substantial charges are expected to substantiate them. Have I stumbled in Romper Room … or is this an adult conversation?

    • Alexander M. Jordan

      Larry,

      The one “dodging” here is you, who has yet to say offer even one point for debate after 80 comments.

      The errors of some in the CM movement the article catalogs are so egregious that substantiation ought to be unnecessary.

      But if you had pointed, let’s say, to a specific charge the article makes that you challenge the accuracy of, then perhaps an adult debate could have already been underway.

      Instead, it seems you think the author is obligated to 1st write what would probably amount to another full-length article, in order to substantiate the charges against some of the CM movement he makes in this article (which is not even the main point of this article).

      Perhaps you have stumbled into “Fantasy Island”– a place where everyone agrees with you and provides exactly what you demand.

    • Larry

      Alex … repeating a false posit doesn’t render it truthful. It only lessens your credibility. I have not dodged. I’ve asked repeatedly for my initial questions, posed in response to Clint’s original post, to be answered. Additionally, once Clint has done so, I’ve offered a thorough debate regarding the matter. So please, keep your facts straight and stop replacing them with those of your own making. That’s both rude and dishonest.

      I posed several pointed questions regarding the irresponsible remarks offered by Clint. He has yet to answer them. My guess is that he can not do so in a fashion which welcomes scrutiny … so he doesn’t.

      Your remarks, however, are becoming not only increasingly silly … but are, given that I’m conversing with Clint, quite out of order. Unless of course you’re now representing his opinions. Are you?

      If not, are you merely spoiling for a fight? Is this the sort of spirit engendered by reformed theology? Contentiousness? Seems a rather common theme.

    • Alexander M. Jordan

      Larry,

      I don’t know about you, but I don’t particularly like being called obtuse, rude, dishonest, untruthful, blinded by my script, etc. So no, I’m not spoiling for a fight, but to me these terms are insulting and provocative. You seem to want a fight and have from your very first rant here.

      I am pointing out simply that after 80 comments you have not even begun to debate. I think the author tried to narrow the focus of the discussion down in order to be able to engage with you but that apparently doesn’t satisfy. In any case, I find your comments off-putting and a waste of my time. Perhaps you’ll fare better with the author if you stop being a jerk.

    • Larry

      Alex, if you don’t wish to have those behaviors challenged … then don’t engage in them. Fairly simple, yes?

      Insulting? Provocative? Rich irony indeed coming form your side. You clearly find nothing in your remarks or Clint’s which are insulting or provocative … though, when confronted with your own behaviors … you’re suddenly hyper-sensitive.

      That would qualify as obtuse, dishonest, and blinded (we’ll call it subjective, o.k.?).

      Suggesting I’m spoiling for a fight is again, rich irony … or rhetorical sleight of hand. You’ve simply attempted to elude responsibility for your actions by now accusing me of them.

      Next, you sign off by calling me a “jerk”. Do you really wonder why I’m having a challenge taking you and Clint seriously?

      So now, as I wrote earlier, in very much the style of a modern liberal who has painted themselves into a corner … you lob a final grenade and self-righteously storm off … slamming the door behind you.

      Discussions of scripture are not an end in themselves. Doctrinal discussions are not a hobby. Their ultimate purpose is to minister life and yield liberty … revealing to us more fully the person of Jesus Christ.

      Consider that when you next choose to dive into such a discussion.

    • Susan

      Alexander, you see who you are dealing with here. My advice: don’t waste your time. You won’t accomplish anything. I think you have wisdom and understanding but there are some on this thread who are incapable of receiving it. Perhaps it’s a matter of what is in the heart, God’s Spirit or not.

    • Alexander M. Jordan

      Excuse me Larry– I did not state agreement with all of Clint’s article nor with all the language he used.

      You entered the discussion with this,

      There’s a certain irony in your closing counsel given the unsparing manner in which you address yourself to schools of thought about which you are clearly ignorant (though I’m certain you’ve read all of the right critiques … written by those with little to no firsthand experience in the matter. Funny how often I find a contented ignorance among those who find thorough firsthand experience unnecessary when they don’t fear challenge from their fellows).

      To me this initial comment was extremely condescending– saying the author is ignorant, gets all his information secondhand, etc. Your next comment wasn’t any better, and continued in the same vein,

      your writ large dismissiveness lacks any hint of understanding … just the smug ridicule typical of those who run in crowds comfortable with such comfortable untruths.

      How many quotes do you offer which aren’t provided by someone else? How much of your understanding was acquired from the opinions of others? How many months of listening first hand, reading first hand have you actually invested in the effort?…

      As I said earlier, Clint offered to narrow the discussion to begin a more focused debate, but you did not take him up on it. Observing all this I simply questioned your tactics in the discussion and was called “obtuse” “rude” “dishonest” “untruthful” blinded by my “script”. Did I make all sorts of insulting accusations about you? And because I did not take kindly to these insults, I am “self-righteous” and “hypersensitive” to boot, pursuing “doctrinal discussion” as a mere “hobby”.

      After all this, do you expect those observing to believe your object here has been “to minister life and yield liberty … revealing to us more fully the person of Jesus Christ”? Perhaps you need to examine your own heart if indeed that is your goal.

    • Susan

      to continue what I started. After a week of having this daily recitation cycling through my mind, and a lot of prayer, Sunday came and I sensed that that might be the day I should say something. Our class leader announced that he’d decided the night before that the last video in the series wasn’t appropriate for the class (and it just occurred to me that that might have been because it got into the need for verbal proclamation of the gospel), so he invited us to engage in open discussion about the series. That had never happened before (that there was not lesson). At that point my heart was thumping harder and my head was bowed in prayer. I asked God to help me say only what he wanted me to say, nothing more; nothing less.

      I am not a public speaker, nor had I taught such a class before, so this was a stretch for me, but the words flowed easily from that which had been going through my mind all week. I read from Romans 10 and talked about the necessity of individual response to the gospel so that a person would be transformed by the indwelling Spirit, rather than thinking we can transform culture through our good deeds alone.

      When I was done speaking I felt a great sense of relief because I believed I had obeyed God. Someone told me later that there was dead silence in the room at first (I don’t recall that), but I do remember much of what was said in response. The discussion in class was about what I raised for the rest of the hour. It was the only discussion about evangelism that I had heard at the church for many years. Many people responded defensively and negatively. The senior pastor, his wife and another former pastor were present, along with about 80-100 others. Not a single person present said anything in agreement with me. Afterwards, the former college pastor who was visiting the class that day, told me that he had often had the same thoughts I had expressed.

      NOTE, although I believe that the Spirit was helping me know what to say…

    • Susan

      I will not say that “God told me to say….”. The only words I spoke that I can say that God said were the words I read from Romans 10. Did I prophesy? I would not say that I did.

      We finally left the church because things kept getting worse and worse and the gospel was absent from the teaching throughout the church except for a few remaining places, like the older people’s SS class. When we first attended the church we now go to full time I immediately saw a tremendous difference in the teaching. I had a conversation with the pastor who invited me to make an appointment to sit down and talk with him in his office.

      At the end of our conversation I also mentioned the above incident. Later I was concerned that not knowing me he might think that I see myself as some sort of a prophet so I sent him an email and mentioned that. He told me that he thought I had exercised the gift of word of wisdom. I have had others make such comments to me in the past. It was not me, but rather the empowering of the Spirit for the need of the moment. I was a mere instrument. What I said was not revelatory, but rather a call back to scriptural principles.

      I believe that John MacArthur spoke out of this same sort of urgency, given him by the Spirit. The conference was born out of a deep concern over the corrupt teaching of God’s word and false worship, which also deeply grieves God! Those who suggest that JM did this in order to promote a book (as if he had his own self-interests in mind) are judging his heart and it’s wrong. I learned that he sent out cards for a free copy of the book to his entire subscriber list. This was from someone who personally received one of these cards in the mail. I can barely imagine how many people that includes! I imagine he will loose more money on the book than he will make.

    • Humananimal

      Clearly minefield within Christianity that has wounded people from all camps, still does and where new mines are both discovered, stepped on but also planted.

      @Alex#55, very insightful and reading your views here has been soothing for me resonating with my perception (of transcripts from conference, comments all over the Internet etc) coming from a chaotic charismatic upbringing. Thank you for putting in the time commenting!

      Random reflection: funny that evidence of signs seems to be such a frustrating area for both CM and nonCM. CM frustrated about undeniable lack of whilst nonCM for having to produce, when faith is all that matters. Can reasoning ever resolve an argument based on those two stances?

      Peace brothers and sisters…

    • Larry

      Alex, you can’t have it both ways. You registered surprise at my reaction to Clint’s post, suggesting that his post was a simple, straightforward innocuous piece, yet not once did you ever take issue with any of his portrayals or personal attacks. Not intellectual integrity … by any reasonable measure.

      To point out ignorance is not condescending when ignorance is on display. Condescending would find me suggesting that the author was inane, clownish … stupid. I did not.

      One is an insult … the other is an observation … a description of a very real state. Clint betrays enormous ignorance of the movement.

      Like Susan, you seem to have a need to insert yourself into discussions not directed toward you. Again, as if you’re spoiling for a fight.

      Your portrayal of Clint’s post lacked only accuracy … other than that is was fine. Rather like your portrayal of my own.

      To suggest that Clint offered to “narrow the discussion” entirely ignores his refusal to answer the questions essential to a conversation. It’s impossible to have a substantive discussion when its starting point is error. It also ignores my invitation to a complete discussion once my questions had been answered.

      You continue to conveniently ignore that.

      Again, it was his refusal to answer simple questions regarding his assertions, which delayed any further discussion. BTW, listing the total number of posts, most of which were other peoples and unrelated to my discussion, in a manner which suggest in more than 80 comments I’ve not yet made a substantive remark is silly.

      I restricted my comments to Clint … until you felt compelled to offer your inaccurate appraisal, uninvited opinion and finally insults.

      Amazingly, the chap who called someone a “jerk” is praised by Susan as wise … and I am dismissed. What an upside down perspective.

      This is a closed system at its finest. Where, dissenting opinions are unwelcome … and scrutiny despised.

    • Clint Roberts

      I have confessed already, Larry, my true feelings for the gang of prosperity televangelists that I think we are talking about. It would include but probably not be limited to the likes of your friend Benny, K. Copeland, the ‘rajin’ Cajun’ Duplantis, Paula White, Peter Popoff, Robert Tilton, all of whom I mentioned by name in the blog. There are others orbiting this gaudy constellation who may not be as egregious in their overt teachings of the peculiar doctrines of prosperity/word-faith, although I do not sit & watch them all full-time (Do you think I’m a masochist?). These others may include the likes of Creflo, Jakes, Juanita Bynum, Joyce Meyer, Richard Roberts, etc.

      Let me say further, since you’ve harped in this in your lengthy & verbose replies since, that I would put the primary emphasis on their teachings (in terms of the problem I have with them), but I take issue with them personally as well for their immoral hankering for and flaunting of material wealth, among other things (like practicing deception). A tertiary problem I have with them involves the clownish & superficial ways they dress, act, speak, & carry on, which does its own kind of damage to Christianity by making it seem buffoonish to the watching world.

      You must realize & appreciate, Larry, the initial surprise for many of us that someone would actually come to the defense of these people’s teachings & ministries. I wondered briefly if you were putting us on. They rarely make an effort to defend their teachings themselves, and why would they (and how could they)? It wouldn’t do them any good. They have made their fortunes engaging emotions not minds.

      Now do you really want us to hash out the well-known problems with this movement? Will you blather on about how I’m “relying on the opinions of others” if I link to articles like this collection (http://www.equip.org/category/word-faith-movement/)?

      And AGAIN, you could start by specifying which teachers/teachings you believe…

    • Susan

      Let it lie Alex, he argues like one who does not poses God’s Spirit, and was part of the ministry of a false teacher for years. Don’t let THE enemy waste your time in mindless circular discussion.

    • Larry

      Yes Clint I will … but you really behave scandalously.

      You wear rudeness, arrogance and just plain ugliness like a porcupine’s quills. You seem incapable of offering an opinion absent insufferable boorishness.

      Indeed, you appear to go out of your way to demean and insult. I assume you conduct monologues (are you a teacher?) and simply do not brook dissent.

      Fine. I’ll ask my questions … and I’ll expect real answers. Insults will be viewed as efforts in obfuscation … and I’ll point them each time for what they are.

      Question 1 – What are the essential tenets of WOF theology?

      Question 2 – What denies them orthodoxy?

    • Truth Unites... and Divides

      Susan: “The discussion in class was about what I raised for the rest of the hour. It was the only discussion about evangelism that I had heard at the church for many years. Many people responded defensively and negatively. The senior pastor, his wife and another former pastor were present, along with about 80-100 others. Not a single person present said anything in agreement with me.”

      Maybe it was your tone.

      😉

      P.S. Just kidding! Seriously, just kidding. I was really looking forward to the completion of your multi-part post. Thanks for completing it.

    • Alexander M. Jordan

      Susan you’re probably right.

      It will be clear soon enough if Larry actually intends to discuss anything or will continue to bore us all.

    • Larry

      Alex … I assume you’ve not participated in any structured debates have you?

      Clint has offered a pointed critique (“heresy”) of WOF theology. A critique so final … so certain, suggests that he has a fairly broad understanding of it … else, he wouldn’t offer such a sweeping denunciation.

      I must know his basis for that claim … his understanding of the movement’s primary thesis. Next, I need to understand the metrics against which he index’s them. What is the biblical premise for his claims of heresy.

      Now, please Alex … stop inserting yourself into this discussion. I find your manner unhelpful.

    • MarvinTheMartian

      @ Larry

      Question 1 – What are the essential tenets of WOF theology?

      I’ll ask that question of you. According to you, what are the essential tenets of WOF theology? You are making the claim that it is being misrepresented here. So please correct the record for me.

    • Larry

      No, indeed not.

      Mr. Roberts has asserted claims of heresy. No thinking, responsible person would ever issue such a declaration in the absence of irrefutable evidence.

      I will first learn what is leads Clint so certainly to that conclusion. Next, I’ll address it thoroughly myself.

      The questions are simple and straightforward. If a lengthy period passes before Clint answers … I’ll assume he’s pouring over the literature of other critics.

      Again, the certainty with which he has addressed himself to the matter ought to be the result of a very real understanding of the movements theology. Consequently, answering the questions I’ve posed should be a simple matter.

    • MarvinTheMartian

      And you are making the claim that he has misrepresented the movements theology. Consequently, answering your own question should also be a simple matter. Why will you not answer it?

    • Larry

      Marvin … I find it interesting that your comments, historically, occur only in Clint’s posts. How intriguing. Might you be a psuedoname?

    • Larry

      Very poor logic Marvin … convenient, but poor. The man who levels the charge is bound to substantiate it. Or retract it.

    • MarvinTheMartian

      Just so I understand, you won’t answer my question because my logic is poor?

    • Larry

      I did answer your question … allow me to repeat:

      No, indeed not.

      Mr. Roberts has asserted claims of heresy. No thinking, responsible person would ever issue such a declaration in the absence of irrefutable evidence.

      I will first learn what is leads Clint so certainly to that conclusion. Next, I’ll address it thoroughly myself.

      The questions are simple and straightforward. If a lengthy period passes before Clint answers … I’ll assume he’s pouring over the literature of other critics.

      Again, the certainty with which he has addressed himself to the matter ought to be the result of a very real understanding of the movements theology. Consequently, answering the questions I’ve posed should be a simple matter.

    • MarvinTheMartian

      Oh, I understand now. Refusing to answer a simple question was the answer. Forgive my lack of understanding of your logic.

    • Larry

      No, but since you insist upon twisting my remarks to suit your own narrative … there’s no point in continuing to respond. I’ll simply continue waiting on the Clint’s answers.

    • MarvinTheMartian

      I have not twisted anything you have said to suit my narrative. I simply asked a question that should have been an easy lay up for you to answer (which judging from the tenor of your posts, you clearly believe to be the case). Yet you don’t answer it. It begs the question as to why?

      You claim that folks on this thread refuse to address your questions, but when one is directed your way, you dodge, obfuscate, or in my case, just say “nope” and that’s that.

      You clearly are educated, but I do find your lack of answering any direct questions rather vexing.

      One is left to speculate that perhaps the reason you don’t is because it is a tall order to defend the indefensible.

    • Larry

      Clint … please just answer the questions. This is absurd. The logic is not merely simple … this is the manner of debate. Please dispense with this strangeness.

    • Brendt Wayne Waters

      Miss a (part of a) day, miss a lot… If it’s not too late to wrestle this discussion off of the veracity (or lack thereof) of WoF, I’d like to throw out a couple thoughts.

      Alex, about a million comments ago, you said: “… why is it that this movement so often fosters strange and aberrant practices in the first place?”

      Do you realize that this question — taken without context — could have been uttered by a Jewish leader in about 72 AD, speaking about “The Way”? 🙂 Not being a smart-aleck. Just noting that that question alone can apply to a lot of stuff.

    • Brendt Wayne Waters

      One other thought. In an effort to find some common ground with the MacArthur defenders, some continuationists have admitted that, “yeah, we need to do a better job of calling out error on our team.” While I think that issue was about 0.0000000000001% of the point of the conference, I was willing to concede this idea.

      But after further review, I’m not so sure anymore. We’ve all heard the (by now cliched) illustration that bank tellers and the like study real money extensively so that they can recognize counterfeit money easily. The parallel in this case is, what if the responsibility for most continuationists who are theologically sound (by the standards of anyone rational, anyway) is to “lead a quiet life, to mind [their] own business, and to work with [their] own hands … that [they] may walk properly toward those who are outside”? And for that matter, where does anyone get off saying that someone like Piper and someone like Hinn are on the same team, and that the former needs to rein in the latter?

    • Jonathan

      It’s one of the basic responsibilities of an elder isn’t it?

      Titus 1:9

      He must hold firmly to the faithful message as it has been taught, so that he will be able to give exhortation in such healthy teaching and CORRECT those who speak against it.

      It doesn’t mention team membership or any requirements of being on what team. O_o

    • Michael T.

      I agree with Larry that Clint’s article is rather lacking in facts and uses overly harsh language in the absence of those facts. I’m just not sure how that allows the other side to respond in kind.

      Furthermore, while this article is rather lacking in facts, I’m not sure one can expect someone to write an entire treatise on what they are criticizing in the context of a blog post before criticizing it. One must not expect quite that level of erudition for a forum such as this. If someone says “Prosperity Gospel” there are certain images and understandings among those external to the movement that this conjures up. Charitably speaking one should probably assume that this general conception is what the author of this article has, and if that perception is wrong then correct him as well as the rest of us who may have the wrong perception and understanding.

      While there is very strong reactions on both sides the direction of the responses (from both sides) is not helping the person observing to gain any better understanding of Word of Faith or Prosperity Theology and the arguments for or against it. In this respect a point Larry made early on is right. Most of what I have seen which systematically analyzes these movements is from those outside of the movements and they are universally critical. On the other hand I (like Clint) have yet to see someone attempt a systematic defense of these movements. Most of the intellectually based objections of outsiders seem to go unanswered.

    • Jonathan

      ah. sorry Brendt, I didn’t notice that you don’t believe JMac was actually trying to “CORRECT” the error. my bad

    • Alex Jordan

      Brendt,

      The popular CM movement provides more than enough context for my question, with all the weird, unbiblical practices and teachings which characterize it. So my question is highly applicable to the CM movement, not to a lot of other “stuff”. Are you seriously going to argue that there are other movements right now spawning equal absurdities?

      Who can declare whether or not Hinn and Piper on the same team– but it seems they have in common the teaching that all gifts from NT days are still happening today.

      The body of Christ as a whole is responsible to stand firm against heretical teaching. One would think that gifted men like Piper should lead the way in this. For example, he has strongly denounced the “prosperity gospel” which in turn is often part of the message of popular charismatic teachers. However I think his thinking on continuation of gifts makes him extremely hesitant to denounce other charismatic strangeness, I guess for fear of denouncing what he thinks just might be real moves of God. Yet cessationists quite plainly see these strange activities being the fruit of unsound doctrine.

    • Clint Roberts

      I must first ask Larry’s forgiveness for not replying to his last post within 5 minutes. I am unable by the circumstances of regular daily life to remain online at all times. For your own amusement you can imagine and assert that I was busily “pouring over” previous prosperity critics’ writings & posting a few times under the alias ‘Marvin the Martian.’ What else do you expect from someone who “behaves scandalously” like myself?

      Now I must reiterate that my experience w/ Prosperity-Word-Faith (PWF) teaching began at least as early as college, many years ago. Whilst studying theology, biblical languages, church history, etc., I would sit w/ dorm-mates & watch Benny, Tilton, Copeland, Price & others. We would analyze the messages we heard there. One apartment-mate one yr. called & signed up to receive everything they offered, just to see what the average caller/responder experienced. We got their literature, prayer-cloths, & in some cases very bizarre things, along w/ letters promising miracles & asking endlessly for money.

      I also briefly knew a gentleman who had taught music at Oral Roberts Univ. & had gotten to know a lot of faculty there. He talked with them often & shared with me their theology, how they taught their students, etc. I lived for a few yrs. in the DFW area which is, like Tulsa, a kind of televangelist headquarters of sorts. I had yet more chances to engage these beliefs. I say all of this just as a cursory glimpse into my history to let you know that I did not suddenly become aware of these ideas last week & go off ‘half-cocked’ against them without any understanding of them.

      Because I don’t know of an official systematic theology in print of the PWF teachers (systematic theology being such a very un-PWF kind of thing in general), a theology is to be gleaned from the preponderance of their countless messages & books. From these a few key ideas have been prevalent, from the days of Kenneth Hagin right down to Creflo today. (To be…

    • Alex Jordan

      While there is very strong reactions on both sides the direction of the responses (from both sides) is not helping the person observing to gain any better understanding of Word of Faith or Prosperity Theology and the arguments for or against it. In this respect a point Larry made early on is right. Most of what I have seen which systematically analyzes these movements is from those outside of the movements and they are universally critical. On the other hand I (like Clint) have yet to see someone attempt a systematic defense of these movements. Most of the intellectually based objections of outsiders seem to go unanswered.

      Michael, good points. If actual substantive defense of a charismatic or even Word-Faith theology had been presented and debated here that could have been productive. But there is in my view a lot of posturing going on and not much of substance has been said. I agree with your point that some of the critique in the original post is harsh— remarks about hairstyles and contrived accents are not relevant or helpful in my view. I think that sort of language detracts from the argument and doesn’t foster friendly discussion. On the other hand as you point out the original article has been matched by equally strong and harsh language in the comments.

    • Clint Roberts

      Key ideas of the insidious PWF movement:

      Faith is construed as a kind of metaphysical power, talked about the way Obi Wan speaks of the force. Except that this power needs actual words to be spoken in order to be exercised. God had faith & his spoken words made the universe. We are like God in this way (we are “little gods”), so we use this power by speaking the words that reflect what we want. You can speak to your body to be well, speak to the natural world to alter it, speak to your bank account to make it swell with wealth. So long as you have faith & put it to use with spoken words, you can almost construct the reality you want.

      This idea is not novel. Some non-Christian spiritual books in our culture teach something similar – like “The Secret,” for ex. But it is not a belief shared by the biblical writers nor Christians throughout history.

      This basic idea is what leads them to teach ‘health & wealth’, since faith properly exercised (by speaking) keeps you from sickness & brings financial abundance, which is God’s will for us. We’re king’s kids, after all. Jesus was filthy rich himself, they say, & opulence is a sign that you’re doing something right by God’s standards. Some PWF guys claimed they hadn’t had a cold in 20 yrs., etc.

      Results of these teachings have been: (1) increased wealth for the PWF teachers as people send in their “seed” gifts in order to receive the hundred-fold return, (2) undercover exposes showing deception & fraud, along w/ gross misuse of funds, (3) lawsuits against some of them (Tilton most famously) based in part on the undercover reports, (4) a few tragic high profile cases of the deaths of people who relied on one or more of these guys for a cure for fatal illness, (5) a handful of salacious tabloid affairs such as Benny & Paula White or J. Bynum saying she’s “been with women.”

      Not to mention the wild offhand stuff they’ve said on all sorts of doctrinal things, some of it comically heretical. I…

    • Michael T.

      Clint,

      Most of my experience, reading, and viewing has been similar. Still I wonder what the need of the first paragraph in your response was. While perhaps valid, these statements and sarcasm do not serve to advance the discussion. If Larry actually has a systematic defense of the theology and responses to the objections I am interested in hearing it. The inclusion of comments such as these only encourages more name calling.

    • Larry

      Well, I’m watching the World Series tonight … I’ll respond tomorrow. Not certain when … I have meetings throughout the day. But I will provide a detailed response.

      Clint, I will be frank. You know little of Word of Faith Theology and less of those men and women who minister within it. Nevertheless, you breezily assign the extraordinarily damning title of heretic … shame on you.

      That sort of fecklessness has absolutely no place among responsible leaders … ever. It seems to me that you employ sarcasm in place of real knowledge … the combination of verbal bullying and faux witty repartee can be intimidating to many. So much so that they simply will not challenge your assertion.

      I hope I’m wrong … I don’t, however, think I am.

      I’ve had this conversation with more than a few ministers (from across the denominational spectrum) during the last three decades. It’s generally a pleasant and rewarding experience. This has been anything but.

      I will be frank and pointed in my responses … if your mien demands it. I would prefer comity … but I will not shy away from confrontation if your responses merit it. That ball is in your court.

      I look forward to our discussion.

    • Larry

      One more practical matter. Is there any way in which the number of available characters can be dramatically increased, or a different forum employed.

      Working within these limits will be very tedious.

    • Brendt Wayne Waters

      Alex: Are you seriously going to argue that there are other movements right now spawning equal absurdities?

      Dude. Chill. Then re-read my post. Then note the smiley. Then chill some more. I specifically spoke of 72 AD (which is nowhere near “right now”) and that that one sentence alone can be widely applicable. I ain’t arguing diddly.

      Who can declare whether or not Hinn and Piper on the same team– but it seems they have in common the teaching that all gifts from NT days are still happening today.

      Charles Manson and I have in common a race and facial hair. Just because a clean-shaven black man doesn’t share those features doesn’t make it right for him to declare that ol’ Chuck and I are on the same team.

    • Brendt Wayne Waters

      That sort of fecklessness…

      Clint, Costco has 128-ounce boxes of feck on sale this week.

    • Ken

      Susan – thanks for posting. I will, being an ancient authority, accept it as genuine – you know, the ‘Longer Ending’ of Susan!

      A couple of comments. There ought not to be the fear of being thought super-spiritual or even ‘charismatic’ if you really believe God has impressed you to say something, but evangelicals can wrongly instill fear about this. I call this the prompting of the Spirit, and on one or two occasions this has almost been ‘the Lord told me’, but I have never heard a voice and would not talk like that. (I was once ‘prompted’ in such a way whilst praying to visit someone. When I arrived she was just putting the phone down. She’d been visited by the town’s false prophet and it had got to her, so she prayed Lord either get someone to phone or send someone round. He answered by doing both! Unless of course it was coincidence.)

      By linking their attack on WoF and Prosperity to their absolute certainly the gifts are no longer being given, I think MacArthurvile have shot themselves in the foot. The Hinns probably won’t listen anyway. Charismatics who badly need to hear such unbiblical stuff exposed won’t listen, they simply think this is from those who don’t believe in the supernatural at all. The belligerent and sometimes inaccurate cessationalism of say Fred Butler doesn’t help.

      The reaction of biblical continuationists such as myself to the charge we don’t actually accept a complete canon is paradoxically that cessationalists seem to have a bible that is too large. Chunks of 1 Cor are ‘not for today’ which is bound to meet resistance unless they can show definitely this is the case.

    • Ken

      Oh dear! I meant MacArthurville above, no intention to make rude comments ….

    • Alexander M. Jordan

      Brendt,

      Haha, Clint better load up on “feck” before he continues…

      Anyway whether John Piper and Benny Hinn are on the same “team” is really neither here nor there. I do see Piper as a shepherd in the church concerned about the serious error he sees with prosperity teaching and he has strongly spoken out against it. I wish he would do the same against abuses in the charismatic movement, which in the view of many including myself are of equally serious concern. And the preachers with the false prosperity message are most often charismatics.

      Not trying to beat the horse dead but I still think the comparison you were making doesn’t hold. Yes back in 72 AD someone might have looked at the Way and judged them as strange from the vantage point of being an outsider to the movement. But today we are speaking of believers looking at what is going on within their own community and making sound judgment on it. This is a judgment we must make since Jesus told us that false teachers and antichrists would proliferate and try to lead people astray. Again what I have observed (and the SF conference spoke to this) is that even the scholarly continuationists seem much too relaxed about abuses that ought to be obvious to everyone as bad theological fruit.

    • Clint Roberts

      Thanks to the ‘heads up’ I received from Brendt, I visited Costco this morning, just in case I need to open an industrial-sized can of ‘feck’ on Larry.

      Inasmuch as Larry has given eloquent and repeated attestation to my nasty meanness, I want to say in all honesty that I don’t intend my manner of speech to be as deriding or abusive as he is taking it. I write in a style that employs colorful (and yes, sometimes sarcastic) analogies or other rhetorical flourishes. Obviously none of that makes my beliefs true or proves anything. Rhetoric has its place, as the ancients knew, but if I try to substitute mere rhetorical device for substance, I am nothing but a sophist. I employ this comedic style often in the classroom, & it is usually enjoyed & assists in keeping attention & fostering interaction. Of course much is lost in the distance & separation of this medium, what without any of the numerous facial & vocal cues that are important elements of communication.

      And as I have said many times already, the televangelists bring out the ‘worst’ in me, if you perceive it as such. I dare say few groups will inspire a darker cloud of disapproval in my mind. Perhaps I let this get the better of me a little & laced my words with a little too much poison against them.

      To the degree that I have offended Larry I sincerely apologize. He was never my target. I do not apologize for calling the message of the PWF teachers heresy. I use the word rarely and advisedly. I am being descriptive not vindictive when I use it of their message.

      Larry continues to cast himself as the lone true expert in PWF theology, dismissing everyone else’s views of it as completely misguided & ignorant. We shall see. While we are waiting for him to regale us with a hearty defense of their orthodoxy, here is one of a billion brief examples of a world-class PWFer explounding the very system of belief I described in my previous post: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XzZ9LU5sDRE

    • Erich

      “Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself” –Proverbs 26:4. Um, Clint, have you noticed how much time you’ve spent going back and forth with this moron? Sorry about the name calling, but sometimes a man’s actions elicit something beyond his mere first name. Seriously Clint, you are wayyy above this guy. He probably has no friends, may very well not even be a Christian, and up to this point, after an endless stream of verbose drivel, still has not spoken a word that even shows he has a theology of any sort whatsoever. When we encounter someone like this online who hops into discussions with offensive hostility in order to instigate a fight, the best thing is to just ignore him. He’s had numerous chances to make his point. He is not going to say a single word of substance. I love Creedo House and I love this blog. Please don’t let a pharisaical, Biblically-illiterate little boy like this belittle the quality of this blog or this important conversation any further. I’m sure you have the power to do it, so why not shut this guy down? I’m quite certain he will quickly find another venue to spend his precious hours re-living his glory days on the high school debate team as he blogs endlessly from his mom’s basement. (Again, forgive the sarcasm; but this has gone on so long and aimlessly that I do think a little lite-hearted derision is in order). Blessings to all, yes even to Larry the blogger guy!

    • Brendt Wayne Waters

      FYI, for anyone who followed (and/or misrepresented) the Driscoll kerfuffle:

      http://theresurgence.com/2013/10/25/see-you-in-seattle-pastor-john-macarthur

    • Susan

      Amen Eriich!

      Larry is a bona fide aider and abettor of a false teacher. He has shown his true colors. He is full of deceit and evil. The fruit of his ministry is EVIL. Matt. 7:15-20 Treat him like the evil infection that he is. Consider time spent dialoging with him to be the enemy’s way of wasting your time and distracting from that which is good and right and pure. He is clearly not a a Spirit indwelt believer. I have learned over time that his style of argumentative engagement is part and parcel of a nonbeliever in dialog with Christians on spiritual matters. For me it has become a red flag to identify a nonbeliever.

    • Michael T.

      @ Susan

      In general Larry’s post have been responding in kind to the tone of Clint’s original and follow up posts. While Clint’s intent may not have been to be demeaning it is easy to understand how Larry would take them that way. This doesn’t necessarily excuse Larry responding in kind, however I understand his response. Furthermore the language you use to describe Larry isn’t really that different from what Larry has used.

      I also don’t believe that time spent in dialogue is a waste. This isn’t a church, but rather a forum where ideas and opinions are exchanged. In the interest of seeking Truth I am willing to listen and dialogue with those of all opinions. If Larry is wrong it will be clear from his defense and the dialogue that this is the case. If you believe strongly that what Larry is going to present is going to be wrong then point it out – you have nothing to fear. Simply shutting down the discussion is best left to radical atheists and leftists. I’m actually a believer that if ideas are exchanged in a open, but organized (meaning free of rhetoric, name calling, yelling, talking over one another, etc.) manner the truth will come out. Unfortunately most of the “discussion” in the country these days amounts to a verbal bar room brawl.

    • Larry

      Well, thought I’d check in for lunch (I run a company). Remarkable how common a theme really hateful language is here. Do I assume that this is simply a characteristic of Reformed speech? It seems too common to be an anomaly.

      Michael, thanks for encouraging the dialogue but, no difference? Really? Remarkable.

      I have described obvious behaviors (e.g. dishonest, subjective, rude, feckless, arrogant, boorish), I have not suggested that anyone was “evil”, “heretic”, “blathering”, “a fool”, a “moron”, a “jerk”, or other “colorful” expressions. Please tell me you understand the difference between the two.

      Jesus addressed behaviors (as did Paul). He did not, however, refer to pharisees as a**holes.

      Well, back to work. Looking forward to beginning substantive discussion this evening.

      I’m assuming that there is no ability to change the word count upwards. That’s also too bad … will be tedious working within these parameters.

    • Michael T.

      Larry,

      1. I actually don’t see a difference in the sense that neither one furthers the discussion

      2. Not that it is relevant to the situation, but calling people “white-washed tombs” a “brood of vipers”, etc. etc. etc. seems pretty close to calling them ***holes. In fact he actually calls them fools (and blind ones at that).

      3. There is more than enough blame to go around. For instance you calling Clint “dishonest” implies that he is knowingly telling falsehoods. If one is following the principle of charity one would presume that one isn’t knowingly telling falsehoods or being misleading. Someone can be wrong without lying.

      4. I am actually interested in a seeing a discussion play out, but if neither side is willing to let things go and not call names back and forth this is a waste of time.

    • Susan

      Michael, I’m not in any mood to show nice-nice to Larry, and I don’t think God is either. Larry’s dialog with Alexander wasn’t sweet either.

      All you have to do is stick with what God says about false teachers. In the Matt 7 text I mentioned above “ravenous wolves” appears. How about this:

      2 Peter2:1-2 But false prophets arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. These false teachers will infiltrate your midst with destructive heresies, even to the point of denying the Master who bought them. As a result, they will bring swift destruction on themselves. And many will follow their debauched lifestyles. Because of these false teachers, the way of truth will be slandered. And in their greed they will exploit you with deceptive words. Their condemnation pronounced long ago is not sitting idly by; their destruction is not asleep.

      Beware Larry! There’s still time for you to repent in full humility before a holy God.

      As I recall the only thing Larry expressed regrets about in his time of working with Benny Hinn was not having said anything to Hinn’s wife when he thought she seemed down…and then later learning Hinn was involved with someone else. The other opportunities than the men surrounding Hinn might have had to correct him were missed, as Larry tells the story, because they feared to discuss these matters with Hinn. Most likely they were afraid of loosing their jobs and their piece of the cash wad.

    • Brendt Wayne Waters

      I’m not in any mood to show nice-nice to Larry, and I don’t think God is either.

      Choose whichever response you like better.

      1) Oh yeah, that’s not narcissistic at all.
      2) Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? (Romans 2:4)

      BTW, that second one is not an implication that I think Larry needs to repent. Just riffing off Susan’s post.

    • Truth Unites... and Divides

      Pastor Clint Roberts’ blogpost title: Let this Strange Firestorm be a Lesson

      From concluding paragraph:

      “Why do that? Why run your mouth so recklessly and cause offense to people who are your brothers and sisters? I can’t see any excuse for it. … turns the blogosphere into a holy war. Let this be a lesson to us all.”

      Just a guess, but I’m thinking that Pastor Clint Roberts will probably say that lesson is applicable to himself as well.

      Thanks everyone.

    • Alex Jordan

      Michael,

      Of course when Larry has described people’s comments during this discussion as “dishonest”, “obtuse”, “ignorant”, “sarcastic”, “feckless”, “rude”, “purposely ignoring evidence”, “untruthful”, “blinded by one’s script”, “toxic” and “hateful, you should recognize that he merely describes their behaviors quite objectively, and in using these admittedly strong words does not imply anything negative at all about their underlying motives or character. He certainly rises above name-calling.

      And when he observes all the “hateful” language in this forum, by no means does he insinuate or assume that such is characteristic of all reformed folks (neither does he assume that everyone involved in the discussion is in the reformed camp in the first place). No, not at all! Actually he is living his life in the spirit of Galatians 6, gently restoring those in sin, and only engaging in doctrinal discussion so as to “minister life and yield liberty … revealing to us more fully the person of Jesus Christ.” How indeed could you miss that? Are you so “obtuse”? 😉

    • Susan

      Brent doesn’t know the definition of narcissistic. He also missed my call toward Larry to repent while there is still time.
      I don’t care to dialog with Brendt for basically the same reasons I will not dialogue with Larry.

    • Brendt Wayne Waters

      Brent doesn’t know the definition of narcissistic.

      Well, perhaps I used the wrong term. But it was the closest word I could think of that meant “I’m so right, even God agrees with me.”

      He also missed my call toward Larry to repent while there is still time.

      What was option #2 (and my clarifying comment after it) about then? You do realize, don’t you, that my comments are visible to everyone, so that when you bear false witness — by denying something that is so blindingly obviously true — evidence to the contrary is right there?

      I don’t care to dialog with Brendt for basically the same reasons I will not dialogue with Larry.

      Because you and God are homies?

    • Susan

      He’s my Father, I’m his daughter.

      Ps 97:10 You who love the Lord, hate evil!

    • Michael T.

      Susan,

      You do realize the other side sees you the same way you see them?? I have zero problem with someone generally criticizes things on their blog or from their pulpit as long as they are clear about who they are criticizing and why. However, when someone you likely disagree with shows up and claims that you are misunderstanding things it is completely unacceptable to just reject them outright and not even listen to what they believe or why they believe it. At that point you have lost all credibility and all rights to criticize and given the other side every right to say that you do not know what your talking about (you won’t even listen to them explain what they actually believe – how could you?). First listen to the other side present their case and only then, once you are sure you understand the position (even if you think you already know it), you can point out any errors. Remember that individuals are different than groups and there are no two people from the WoF movement that are the same, just like there are no two Calvinists who are the same.

    • Susan

      I read the blog and every comment in this entire thread, yet you accuse me of not listening and then scold me? You don’t even know what you’re talking about, and you are being judgmental of me.

    • Michael T.

      “You don’t even know what you’re talking about, and you are being judgmental of me.”

      Susan, this is rather dismissive and judgmental….rather uncharitable and un-Christlike. I am simply asking that rather than having an angry emotional reaction to Larry, we listen to him tell us what he believes and why. Then point out the errors as need be. Until Clint’s post yesterday no one defined what they meant by WoF or Prosperity Gospel. When Clint did define it Larry, who is a follower of it, informed Clint that Clint’s understanding is not correct. At that point we have to listen to Larry explicate what it is that he believes and then discuss why we disagree. It is simply impossible to criticize Larry’s beliefs at this point because we do not know what they are or why he believes them.

    • Larry

      Well, I’ve completed the introduction to our discussion, however, it’s far too much for the comments section here. I began construction on a blog earlier this year but never completed it.

      There is clearly a great deal of ground to cover … it will require several days at least. I thought it best to provide a flyover and then begin to address the matter in greater detail over the ensuing days.

      Again, I trust the site is functional enough for this effort. I’ll post the link at the end of this comment. After reading, comments and questions should be posted on this forum.

      That seems the best solution unless the parameters of this comment section can be altered to accommodate much more than 2000 words.

      Here is the link:

      http://thejesusexperience.org/

    • Larry

      Oops … this link is direct: http://thejesusexperience.org/archives/1

    • Susan

      Wow! There you have it….a false gospel in black and white.
      The power of positive thinking.

      No recognition of the seriousness of our sinful condition before a holy God, of the pending wrath of God to come…no recognition of our need and how Jesus meets it. Instead, it’s all about learning how to manipulate God by controlling our mind in order to get things done.

      So, Caleb “By assuring that Israel is well able to overcome, Caleb recognizes the objective truth that challenges exist but appeals to absolute truth in assuring his audience that victory is assured”

      Uh, it think Caleb was trusting in God’s power not Israel’s power.

      Where to begin with all of this…?

      Larry, could you explain who you think Jesus is?

    • Alex Jordan

      Well I don’t know about Clint, but I think it unreasonable that in order to have a debate here in reference to his original blog post, Clint is asked to go read an extremely lengthy article somewhere else, one that is apparently only the introduction by its author on the whole topic of Word Faith theology.

      Larry’s article begins by mentioning Kenneth Hagin as father of the Word Faith movement so I suppose the entire article is supposed to be taken as representative of Hagin’s view, and in turn representative of the movement as a whole. It’s not clear though why one should accept the author as an authority who speaks for Hagin or the movement, as it also unclear what in the rest of the article is Hagin’s view and what is the authors. But I suppose for the sake of argument one can give the benefit of the doubt and accept that the article does represent the movement accurately. Still, it is just the introduction!

      But in any case, I supposed from his previous comments that Larry was going to present– here in this forum– arguments in reference to his views on Word Faith theology, showing how he thinks Clint has got it all wrong. Though he did complain several times about the brevity of the word length parameters here– I figured in the end he would just adapt his answers to the forum. Remember, he asked Clint to answer 2 questions, “Question 1 – What are the essential tenets of WOF theology?” and “Question 2 – What denies them orthodoxy?” and Clint provided an answer that conformed with the word count restrictions here. So would it not be fair for Larry to do likewise? Besides it seems to me that the debate will be interminable unless the focus is narrowed. But I guess if Clint is game for an all encompassing discussion then it won’t be a problem.

      I think a more productive debate would ensue if Larry answered his own questions in a concise way here, or responded here to what Clint has already written in response to the questions Larry posed.

    • Larry

      Susan, I’ll await the questions and comments of those whose behavior is more rational, less rancorous than yours.

      Only a particular feature of WOF theology was being presented tonight as a starting point for exploratory discussions. A rather obvious conclusion for anyone prepared for objective discussions. Something you clearly have no taste for now.

      Our soteriology, while not Calvinistic is orthodox. But that is not under discussion tonight.

      One more thing, Susan. I find your remarks, well, slightly unhinged. So, please direct your questions to others here, rather than to me. I really don’t wish to converse with you directly.

    • Susan

      Larry: “Said another way, objective truth is a statement of reality from an earthbound perspective, while absolute truth is a statement of reality reflecting God’s perspective. When we choose to accept, as final authority, God’s perspective, we unleash His power to work revolutionary change in our lives and circumstances.”

      Larry, what about this absolute truth:

      Rom 6:23 For the payoff of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
      Rom 7:23 But I see a different law in my members waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that is in my members.

      Larry, what about your sin and guilt before God?

      You said, “We have an opportunity at such junctures to reconcile ourselves to whatever our circumstances or impulses and behaviors prescribe. Or we can begin acclimating ourselves to a new reality – one defined by the power and presence of a living and loving God. But, make no mistake – the choice is ours. Paul the Apostle wrote these sobering remarks concerning Israel’s choice to retreat from the challenges discovered in Cannan,”

      “But with whom was he grieved forty years? Was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness? And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them, but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. (Hebrews 3:17-19, 4:1-2)”

      “Clearly, it was God’s will that the children of Israel, delivered from Egyptian bondage, enter and enjoy the Promised Land; nevertheless, they did not. Indeed, Paul concludes that they did not because of their unbelief.”

      Larry, what about their sin? Their sin and ours makes us guilty…

    • Larry

      Alex … it should be apparent to even you that Clint knows next to nothing about WOF theology through anything other than poorly written third party critiques.

      I chose to begin broadly in order to offer a distinction between extreme elements claiming to represent (or being claimed as representative) WOF.

      Then I offered a basic idea of our approach to faith … in contrast to claims of eastern thought, new age spirituality or gnosticism. I also wished to address the additional falsehoods regarding prosperity.

      Now, given that my discussion is with Clint, and unless you have a specific question with regard to what I’ve written, you may wish now to simply observe the discussion as it unfolds.

      At least I certainly hope so, because to this point you’ve been remarkably annoying.

    • Michael T.

      @Larry

      I read the intro you posted and find it rather interesting. I have a number of questions, however I assume those may be addressed later so I will hold them for now. That being said I think Alex has a good point. I have been a reader of this blog for a very long time (at least 5 years). The reason a word count limit was added is that people were basically copying and pasting books worth of information. Since Clint responded within the word count (more or less – he used two responses) I think it is fair that one make their arguments and statements concise enough to fit within 2-3 posts. Think of it as similar to a time limit in a formal debate.

      It also might violate the blog rules (not sure) to try to take things off the site like that and it is not something people are likely to follow as closely anyhow as they would this forum.

    • Larry

      No, I rather doubt that the initial portion of this discussion can occur in so limited a format. Clint’s answers were short because they lacked any detail … any real substance.

      I prefer something a bit more robust. If, as time, passes brief exchanges can occur, then this format will serve nicely I’m sure.

      I look forward to your questions.

    • Michael T.

      @ Susan

      Please calm down just a little bit. I have the same questions you do but you don’t need to go shouting “false gospel” until you’ve asked those questions (in a polite way) and the other side has had a chance to answer. I would suggest something like this.

      “I have read your introduction and it raises and number of questions and concerns. My most pressing concern is that it fails to address most of the central, core tenants of Orthodox Christianity. Some of these issues are listed below.

      1. Who is Jesus?

      2. What is the Condition of mankind?

      3. What is the nature of sin?

      4. What is the nature of salvation?

      Could you please address these as they are quite central to the debate in addition to other matters? Thank You. “

    • Michael T.

      @ Larry

      1. “At least I certainly hope so, because to this point you’ve been remarkably annoying.”

      Was that really necessary?

      2. Like I said it may violate the blog rules and I simply doubt that the authors of this blog will be interested in getting into a debate off-site. Like I said a formal debate has time limits – a word limit seems reasonable.

    • Susan

      No problem, Larry. As I said before I don’t care to dialogue with you.

      Here is a little observation, however, for everyone else to keep in mind. Larry commented earlier that when he visited Benny Hinn’s home library “He [Benny] quickly and proudly pointed out that no titles authored by Hagin or Copeland were to be found among his collection. I asked why? “They are not evil men Benny” I noted. He quickly corrected himself, pointing at the bottom shelf were several were to be found.
      I couldn’t help but laugh.”

      I would see such a blatant lie as a red flag from a man who’s preaching God’s word to the masses. I experienced a pastor lying to me on several occasions over a period of years (but I kept giving him the benefit of the doubt). Over time, he shifted in his theology proving to be a false teacher who preaches a false gospel. Several hundred people have now left the church.

      Lying is a reflection of Satan, not God.

    • Susan

      Michael, thanks for the instructions. I understand your desire to dialogue with Larry, and realize that my announcing of what I just read as a false gospel will not warm Larry’s heart toward me, nor draw Larry to respond to my questions. The truth is I really don’t have time to engage.

      “Susan, this is rather dismissive and judgmental….rather uncharitable and un-Christlike. I am simply asking that rather than having an angry emotional reaction to Larry”

      Actually, I wasn’t at all angry or emotional as I posted any comments on this thread, but perhaps it is your gift to see these things on the other side of the screen. I’m actually more calm and level-headed than I’m sure you can imagine at this point, but I know a false gospel when I see one and I don’t have much tolerance for the perpetrator of one…after all that I went through at my former church of 42 years.

      So, gentlemen, carry on!

    • Larry

      Michael, frankly yes. I cannot think of an occasion in a forum of this sort in which I have encountered such pugnacity, such antagonism … or such immaturity.

      Alex seems to be forever spoiling for a fight. My discussion is with Clint … if Alex wishes to join in constructively, fine. Other wise, I would prefer that the ill mannered young man who addressed me as “jerk” simply listen.

      Again, I’ve enjoyed exchanges in which real disagreements were addressed directly but respectfully. Intellectual integrity and comity were abundantly in evidence.

      I have never, never engaged in so unpleasant a conversation with fellow believers which were marked by such intellectual dishonesty, such belligerence, such uncouth behavior as I experienced here.

      I’m not likely to run from such a place, nor will I roll over. I will confront people whose manners ought to be challenged.

    • Michael T.

      @ Susan

      I’m sorry for your experience and understand how this may have tainted how you respond to these things, however if you don’t have time to truly engage then why respond at all? Simply dismissing someone as a heretic or the purveyor of a false gospel does more damage than good. If you believe someone has these beliefs let them give their case and if they are in fact a heretic or a purveyor of a false gospel they will hang themselves with their responses. If you don’t do this it appears as if you don’t really know what you are talking about and, perhaps worse, are scared of meaningful discussion. At this point you’ve lost credibility, not just with those who are viewing things from the outside, but also with whomever you are disagreeing with.

    • Michael T.

      @ Larry,

      Perhaps I have just spent too much time on the internet, but I’ve seen fights 10 times this bad. What concerns me is that you don’t seem to think that you bear any responsibility for responding in kind. You could have said this to start out things.

      “I just read this article and have known personally a number of the men and women who you cavalierly dismiss as heretics and heathens. I must say that I am deeply offended and hurt that you would address these people in such a way and find it rather un-Christlike. It is clear to me from this post that you do not truly understand these people or the WoF movement and the central tenants thereof. If you would like to discuss things further I would appreciate the opportunity to explain things.”

      Now of course you may say that they deserve something harsher than that and you are probably right. However, if you ratchet up the rhetoric, they are going to ratchet up the rhetoric. Pretty soon all that is happening is name calling back and forth. So who is going to be the first to lay down their arms and turn the other cheek – in other words who is going to choose to be the bigger person and not respond in kind. This is the only way that any substantive discussion is going to take place.

    • Larry

      Michael … you misunderstand. I don’t care what these chaps think of me. I’m not offended on a personal level. I find the behavior of Clint (and to the degree that Credo House affords him a platform) reprehensible because of the threat they represent to people desperate for God’s power.

      These men present themselves as expert, their judgements as sound and reliable. Yet, I’ve witnessed the most cavalier and self absorbed fecklessness that I have witnessed first hand in a very long time … and worse, from a group that touts its theological expertise.

      I have observed first hand the extraordinary difference Christ, through His power has made in the lives of those emboldened to believe … to trust fully in Him … in His promises for more than three decades, here and abroad.

      To observe a doctrinaire, so apparently disinterested in the well being of others that he would employ the basest language and the most intellectually suspect rationale to rob them of faith is a monstrous injustice … one which which finds me rushing to offer hope to those who might otherwise accept such reckless lies without question.

      Compounding that distress was the unremitting rudeness, crassness and disingenuousness of Mr. Roberts.

      So please, save your counsel for those here who launched this unholy nonsense. Their professed dedication to doctrine seems wanting … and wholly disconnected from the needs of those they ostensibly serve.

    • Susan

      Well, thanks again for your assessment of me, Michael. I will not grieve having lost credibility with you, but I have had credibility and respect on this forum for a number of years, with Patton as well. I don’t interact on blogs much anymore since I feel my time is better spent elsewhere, but the Strange Fire conversations have been of interest since I listened to most of the live streamed conference. I was somewhat dubious about the conference before it happened, but after listening I was impressed with the importance of the matters discussed and appreciated many of the talks. I think that MacArthur and Co. are right to take this very seriously and call attention to the corruption and false teaching in the mix. It has become a massive world-wide problem…with many different facets, brands and faces…some worse than others.

      As I said, I no longer have time to engage, because it is now the weekend and my kids will be home from school. You think that disqualifies me from having made comments after reading Larry’s posting tonight? You think I’m perhaps fleeing out of fear? You do a lot of speculating, and you tend to be judgmental. If you knew how carefully, and prayerfully, and fearlessly I engaged with the elders and pastors at my former church! with careful respectfulness, you would perhaps not be so quick to wrap me up as a wacky wildcard. And you might be interested to know that in spite of my respectful, careful, biblical attention to the deletions of the pastoral staff, I was treated with abusive anger and lied about, and I wasn’t the only one. A number of elders left after similar attempts met with brutish intimidation.

      I learned some things over those years. What I learned plays into my directness on this thread. You may not approve, but I think your long discussion to come will lead you to the conclusions I jumped to.

      And please don’t assess my directness and intolerance as not being Christlike. Jesus was NOT tolerant of…

    • Alex Jordan

      Larry,

      I admit that my insistence that you not act hypocritically here may be annoying to you. I find your behavior here not without condemnation. First you came to this forum making the arrogant presumption that you’re correct in your view and thus immediately dismissed the author of the post as completely ignorant and totally uninformed– all this before even stating your own case, let alone, making it. Second, you’ve demonstrated incredible hypocrisy with continual putdowns and sarcasm in your remarks and tone, all the while claiming that you merely objectively critique actions and come with a spirit of gentleness and love. Do you not consider that any of your comments might be offensive to me and others?Third, in my view you’ve been exceedingly unreasonable to expect that people you’re well aware disagree with your stance nevertheless endure long testimonies of your personal anecdotes you fail to explain the significance of, and lengthy blog posts that will supposedly establish your case bit by bit, when what most busy people naturally desire is that you state your case concisely. I guess that since you believe the author was insulting and ignorant in his article and comments you may now insult in return, and that your correctness is so self-evident that only a dolt like myself can’t see it, and thus I must be blinded by my script. Perhaps you see all this as acting in a spirit of gentleness; I see it as highly uncharitable.

    • Alex Jordan

      Larry, I would like to say that it has not been my intention to be ill mannered or rude, but I am interested in a productive discussion. In that light I apologize if any of my own comments have been offensive to you, that was not my desire when I began commenting.

    • Michael T.

      @ Larry

      “Michael … you misunderstand. I don’t care what these chaps think of me. I’m not offended on a personal level. I find the behavior of Clint (and to the degree that Credo House affords him a platform) reprehensible because of the threat they represent to people desperate for God’s power.”

      If you don’t care what “these chaps” think of you I would think you would still care about those who might be observing think. You seem to have a vested interest in changing hearts and minds concerning WoF theology. This doesn’t help your case

      “I have observed first hand the extraordinary difference Christ, through His power has made in the lives of those emboldened to believe … to trust fully in Him … in His promises for more than three decades, here and abroad.

      To observe a doctrinaire, so apparently disinterested in the well being of others that he would employ the basest language and the most intellectually suspect rationale to rob them of faith is a monstrous injustice … one which which finds me rushing to offer hope to those who might otherwise accept such reckless lies without question.”

      Clint and many others have observed damage on the opposite side. While not WoF I had a pastor who was a former Oneness Pentecostal whose church I attended back in undergrad. He recounted a story about being a intern and going to the house of a woman on her death bed with the pastor. The pastors counsel to the dying woman was that she wasn’t being healed because she didn’t have enough faith and that if she just believed she would be healed. Instead of slipping into the next life being a hopeful moment that she was going to see Jesus, it was one filled with fear.

      Many, many pastors have had similar experiences recounted to them by people who left various Charismatic churches including WoF churches. It just seems that there is more than enough “damage” to go around. This is ultimately a red herring though as to whether or not something is true.

    • Michael T.

      @ Susan,

      Nowhere in the prior post was I making an assessment of you in a personal sense other than repeating in the first sentence what you yourself had already indicated. The rest of my post concerns the effect in an objective sense of responding to someone in any manner that effectively shuts them down before they’ve had a chance to give their substantive case.

      Additionally I’ve been reading this blog for nearly 6 years now. I just haven’t been as active posting for the past few as I was earlier on. I’ve seen your comments and I was not implying that you have lost credibility with me. I was addressing how those viewing this discussion from the outside might view your credibility. This is something I think everyone should be concerned about. If you have no credibility how can you ever hope to correct those who have fallen into theological error or protect those who are headed in that direction from falling into error?

    • Sisan

      Michael, some of my comments were born out of reading 140+ comments of one of the most ridiculous discussions I’ve ever followed here. It seemed quite apparent that Larry wasn’t going to offer any substantive responses to questions being asked of him and everyone has been so busy correcting everyone else’s inappropriate comments that the discussion has been dominated by that to the point of ridiculousness. You will note that I haven’t been addressing the inappropriate comments and stances of others. When someone is unnecessarily demeaning on their comments to me it doesn’t take long before I see that discussion with them is futile, so I will not waste my time with them. There has been an abundance of futility here!

      I must admit that I was surprised that Larry finally produced something substantive that can be examined and talked about, though as you and Alex point out it is a very long read and it would be better if shorter, concise argents were employed.

      As I recall you are a lawyer? I understand your desire to hear all the evidence in a fair way before making judgements. From my perspective, if this man worked with Hinn or was supportive of his ministry( though I perhaps misunderstood the relationship between Larry and Benny), then I can’t help but attribute to Larry the same assessment of being a false teacher that I see in Hinn. I know that’s not very lawyerly of me.

      At this point there is the new possibility that an actual discussion about theology might occur. That changes things. You may not pardon my assessment of Larry’s theology because of this, but honestly, reading what he posted caused a welling up of ‘righteous indignation’ in me. So, I responded out of that.

    • Susan

      Michael, some of my comments were born out of reading 140+ comments of one of the most ridiculous discussions I’ve ever followed here. It seemed quite apparent that Larry wasn’t going to offer any substantive responses to questions being asked of him and everyone has been so busy correcting everyone else’s inappropriate comments that the discussion has been dominated by that to the point of ridiculousness. You will note that I haven’t been addressing the inappropriate comments and stances of others. When someone is unnecessarily demeaning on their comments to me it doesn’t take long before I see that discussion with them is futile, so I will not waste my time with them. There has been an abundance of futility here!
      I must admit that I was surprised that Larry finally produced something substantive that can be examined and talked about, though as you and Alex point out it is a very long read and it would be better if shorter, concise arguments were employed.

      As I recall you are a lawyer? I understand your desire to hear all the evidence in a fair way before making judgements. From my perspective, if this man worked with Hinn or was supportive of his ministry( though I perhaps misunderstood the relationship between Larry and Benny), then I can’t help but attribute to Larry the same assessment of being a false teacher that I see in Hinn. I know that’s not very lawyerly of me.

      At this point there is the new possibility that an actual discussion about theology might occur. That changes things. You may not pardon my assessment of Larry’s theology because of this, but honestly, reading what he posted caused a welling up of ‘righteous indignation’ in me. So, I responded out of that.

    • Michael T.

      “As I recall you are a lawyer? I understand your desire to hear all the evidence in a fair way before making judgements. From my perspective, if this man worked with Hinn or was supportive of his ministry( though I perhaps misunderstood the relationship between Larry and Benny), then I can’t help but attribute to Larry the same assessment of being a false teacher that I see in Hinn. I know that’s not very lawyerly of me.”

      You are correct. I am a lawyer. Despite that in a general sense I would actually consider this acceptable just as if you are addressing someone who claims to be a Roman Catholic you would justified in claiming they have a improper mariology. However, when an individual whom you are having a conversation with claims that you either 1) misunderstand what their position is, or 2) in the case of a Roman Catholic, rejects that aspect of Roman Catholicism, one must stop and listen to what they actually do believe. Otherwise you risk burning straw men.

      When it comes to my knowledge of the WoF movement I must admit that it either comes from what I see on TV (much of which is dangerous heresy) or what I have read in critical accounts by third parties. If someone appears to me in person (or on a blog) and states that those on TV do not represent the movement and the critical accounts by outsiders inaccurately portray the beliefs of the movement, if I am a charitable man I am obligated to at least listen to what they have to say.

    • Clint Roberts

      This discussion has been interesting if contentious. I am glad that there is such passion about the topic, but as to the ongoing debate over what I’ve been calling PWF (Prosperity Word of Faith) teaching, I am increasingly skeptical about our prospects. One lesson I learned years ago is that some people cannot be reasoned with; fortunately reason is not the only tool in God’s greater arsenal, otherwise maybe all of us (and the world as a whole) would be in real trouble.

      Nonetheless once it becomes clear that someone cannot be convinced “by Scripture and by plain reason”, to quote Luther at Worms, there is little else you can do by way of speech or written communication. They are in God’s hands, which obviously are larger, stronger & more capable than ours by an incalculable magnitude.

      I will not by any means cease or desist in denouncing the PWF teachers as dangerous heretics prostituting the name of Jesus for their lavish and oily purposes. My cursory reading of Larry’s blog left me still wondering which of the PWF teachers he would defend & if his views are really theirs. The only name he mentioned was that of Hagin, a kind of Godfather to the movement. There is of course evidence aplenty from his writings and sermons that he represented all of the terrible theology we now see across the PWF spectrum. I can provided a hearty sample if needed.

      So while I might have some critiques of the interpretation & application of some of the passages Larry cited, they would be minor by comparison with the more weighty & significant problems I (and all orthodox believers) have with the PWF teaching & practice. If in fact Larry has been beguiled by these shysters, as hard as that is for me to comprehend since I don’t think Larry is an idiot, then it would interest me to learn why he follows them & thinks they are anointed by God. Larry may have his own unique kind of theology that is not theirs, but if so I fail to see how he is an authority on the movement.

    • Susan

      Michael, This is the second time you have indicated that Larry (or someone) has told me that I misunderstood their position. I don’t know what you are referring to.

      “one must stop and listen to what they actually do believe. Otherwise you risk burning straw men”

      That’s been the problem, until now Larry wasn’t giving us anything, and even now this article may or may not truly represent his own beliefs.

      Perhaps you can read through 200 comments and be willing to wait patiently for Larry’s personal thoughts on specifics of WOF theology, but it isn’t looking particularly hopeful to me. But, keep asking those questions and perhaps he will answer, until then he’s guilty by association in my mind.

    • Michael T.

      Clint,

      “I will not by any means cease or desist in denouncing the PWF teachers as dangerous heretics prostituting the name of Jesus for their lavish and oily purposes”

      I would not suggest stopping. As a pastor in a public forum you have a duty to denounce heresy as you see it. However, this doesn’t insulate you from having to engage with those who show up and assert that you misunderstand or misrepresent something in a reasonable manner. You are still open for criticism.

      “I can provided a hearty sample if needed.”

      Please do. Since that appears to be the person that Larry is initially latching onto.

      “So while I might have some critiques of the interpretation & application of some of the passages Larry cited, they would be minor by comparison with the more weighty & significant problems I (and all orthodox believers) have with the PWF teaching & practice”

      I agree with this. While I could critique the interpretation of the various passages and provide counter-examples, these questions are rather minor issues compared to the core tenants of Orthodoxy. These concerns simply were not touched on.

    • Michael T.

      @Susan

      “Michael, This is the second time you have indicated that Larry (or someone) has told me that I misunderstood their position. I don’t know what you are referring to.”

      That has basically been Larry’s battle cry this entire time. That we misunderstand, misrepresent, and no nothing of the true WoF movement. I’m not sure this is the case, but I’m willing to hear him out if he is willing to explain what he believes, why he believes it, and answer challenges that are made to it.

    • Brendt Wayne Waters

      “I don’t care to dialogue with you” but I’ll talk about you and every last word you say until I’m blue in the face.

      By this shall all men know that you are my disciples.

    • Susan

      Brendt, I must say I couldn’t stop laughing when I reread much of the thread last night and came to your ‘feck’ comment. That almost redeemed this entire ridiculous conversation 😀

    • Erich

      I liked Clint’s blurb about “opening a can of feck”, though I think “opening a feckin’ can” works better… Sorry, the un-redeemed me… ;/

    • Larry

      The endless opening of new fronts, the deployment of a vast army of straw men, the dedicated refusal to engage in factual, reasoned argument, malleable language, rhetorical sleight of hand and a continual stream of ad hominem attacks all culminating in a graceless and petty departure from the field of battle with claims of victory is not the province of modern liberals alone … it is the predictable dilemma/tactic of so many caught in the maws of a closed system.

      Relying on circular reasoning in the manner living things rely on air, any introduction fact and critical thinking is met with open hostility. After all, circular reasoning cannot, by virtue of its very nature, long endure the scrutiny of reasoned argument. Because beliefs comprise no small part of our identity, the man or woman caught in the web of such a thought system, invested as they are, will ordinarily behave like a cornered animal … teeth bared, claws extended.

      How unlike the picture of the thinking, reasonable men and women found in Acts 17:11 … “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so”

    • Alex Jordan

      Larry’s charges are easily refuted and could be charged against him in reverse, by anyone who’s observed the interactions here. “Factual, reasoned argument” requires an argument be presented in the first place. This Larry failed to do. He asked Clint two specific questions to begin debate. Clint answered them (see post #119). Larry chose not to respond.

      So in the end, where is Larry’s argument? As anticipated by some, it has gone missing. But on the way out, he continues posturing and making a barrage of accusations (for which he also gives no evidence) and which to me seem designed to distract from the fact that he has given the forum nothing to respond to. Yes he did provide a link to his lengthy introductory remarks elsewhere, which are apparently his own take on the WOF movement rather than a strict defense of Word Faith theology as practiced by the people mentioned in the original post. How can such an article become the basis for further debate?

      So despite not responding to specific answers given him in response to specific questions he himself raised, Larry is laying all the blame for the discussion not being “reasonable” on everyone else. He suggests that the discussion would have been more noble had others only followed the Berean example. He seems to overlook that fact that for this to happen, something at least must be presented for examination and discussion.

    • Larry

      Alex, your absurdity is now deeply layered. Willingly blind, you see only what you wish to see. Because the truth is so destructive to your preferred narrative … you simply ignore and replace with freshly minted”facts” from your fertile imagination.

      You are simply not to be taken seriously.

    • Brendt Wayne Waters

      Now I have a craving for layer cake and some Altoids.

    • Alex Jordan

      Larry you did not respond within this forum to the specific questions you asked Clint to answer and which he did answer. That’s fact.

      All you’ve done here thus far is present lengthy personal anecdotes without showing what significance these may have to your arguments in support of WOF theology.

      You did find time to be insulting to many. But of course, that was only with the noblest of intentions.

      What I find “absurd” is the insistence that others follow your argument as it is slowly developed in lengthy blog articles elsewhere.

      In any case your own article acknowledges that “much of “Christian Television” (is) unhelpful, tacky and misleading. Worse, while some programming provides sound teaching and encouragement, much of it seems geared to dangerous excess and error.”

      Are not the programs containing the errors those of recognized leaders of the charismatic movement? How then do you argue that their errors are not representative of the movement and that this is “guilt by association”?

    • Larry

      Alex, as I’ve said … you are simply not to be taken seriously. You ignore what you wish in order to further your own narrative. You have yet again misrepresented facts brazenly. You continue to behave in remarkably dishonest and immature fashion.

      What you hope to achieve other than to avoid a serious discussion, I do not know … nor, at this point, do I really care. However, in moments of reflection you may want to consider why you would so outrageously misrepresent obvious facts as you have done here.

      Is it the blindness of a closed system of thought? Is it simple human pride? Cowardice? Why? Alex is a question you ought to seriously consider.

      In three decades of thoughtful discussions this is the first occasion in which I’ve dealt with so many in one group who behave so strangely, with such hostility and such intellectual dishonesty and yet believe themselves to be godly in so doing.

      A truly bizarre experience.

    • Michael T.

      Larry,

      Alex is absolutely right here. You asked Clint two questions. Clint responded and asked you the same two questions. You haven’t responded as of yet. I really am interested in your answer to those questions. I honestly want to be wrong in my previous assessments of WoF/Prosperity theology. I don’t enjoy thinking of people as heretics almost to the fault of being more accepting of some things than I probably should be. Your introduction, while interesting, did not answer or even address the questions that are most pressing concerning the movement. I doubt that you are so in a bubble that you are unaware of the theological objections made against these movements. I would think you would be itching to dispel these as quickly as possible.

    • Brendt Wayne Waters

      Alex, your comments ARE coming through to my email (since I am subscribed) but aren’t showing here.

      This happened to me 2 or 3 times on this thread.

    • Brendt Wayne Waters

      Well, at least the “not showing” half. A subscriber doesn’t get his own comments, so I don’t know if other subscribers saw them or not.

    • Clint Roberts

      Alex, if you can read this, I got the message that you were experiencing problems trying to post. All I can think is that it is technical, since I know of no reason for it. Then again, it could have something to do with that fact that, like Beckett’s “Waiting For Godot,” your absurdity is so deeply layered.

      If all else fails you could try sowing a $100 seed into the prosperity ministry of your choice, then simply name & claim technological wholeness.

    • Brendt Wayne Waters

      Clint, FWIW, on his last post about all this, CMP had to roto-rooter the moderation filter when it ate one of my comments for no reason.

    • Alex Jordan

      [This is just a test to see if my comment is now posting.]

    • Alex Jordan

      Due to some unknown technical issue I’m unable to post here my final response to the nonsense of Larry. Maybe some of you subscribed to this entry have received the comment, which I posted more than once in various edits in an attempt to have it appear here. Sorry for all the repeats. In any case I think the comment would not have made much impact considering the huge plank currently lodged in his eye. I cannot say this has been fruitful but I have learned something nevertheless. I’ll leave it at that.

    • Susan

      I’ve learned over the years that when someone argues like Larry, constantly baiting one with demeaning talk, doublespeak, false accusations and endless dishonest circular reasoning . Oh, and asking questions that take a long time to answer and when you take that time to respond thoughtfully, and then they twist what you have said and use it to accuse you of something ( and will continue in this tactic endlessly) ….I’ve learned to assume that I am speaking with one who is not indwelt by God’s Spirit. They are employing the tactics of the father of lies and playing me. I’ve had those sorts of conversations with atheists and with a few others who come here and pose as Christians in order to advance some personal agenda. I’ve learned to read this in the godless way a person engages and then to depart from letting them waste my time. There is evil in the mix, as I was saying.

      You will not get a straight answer from Larry because he serves the Accuser. He has been a faithful servant of his master.

    • Larry

      That you should consider Clint’s response an answer suggests that you are inured to such dishonesty, indeed, you appear now to be purveyors of the same. Clint has in no wise answered my questions … not by any reasonable measure. He reiterated his several ambiguous critiques, laced of course with adolescent jibes and ad hominem attacks (his idea of witty I suppose … or more likely as I stated earlier, his method of obfuscating his ignorance and bullying back any dissent) but never, NEVER answered my questions. That you should think he did is most revealing.

      I provided an overview of WOF approaches to faith and prosperity (which was the focus of the discussion) to which Clint offered no credible response, instead … he fled from a discussion which might demand of him an acknowledgment of his errors. Cowardly and dishonest … again. Indeed, Michael, you made a point of underscoring his evasiveness in your own post … yet you now suggest differently. Odd behavior indeed.

      Michael, you’ve swung into this debate as a self-appointed arbiter. A bit odd frankly and suggestive of a not a little hubris. If you have questions, or comments (you continue to suggest you do) then allow me to suggest that you break off from policing everyone’s comments (please!!!) and simply ask your own questions, offer your own comments.

      Alex, you’ve found a soul mate in Clint … indeed, your styles and spirit quire nearly suggest that he’s your mentor. I urge caution.

      So here we have it. Outrageous charges leveled both irresponsibly and dishonestly. A refusal to answer two fundamental questions or to retreat from reckless and mean spirited name calling and conflation. Then, a doubling down of the same. Yet, because, obviously, you are birds of a feather … you rush to Clint’s aid, insisting what a 12 year old would know better than to suggest, namely, that he has answered my questions. That is at best a careless excusing of a confederate … or a simple act of dishonesty. Gentlemen … allow me to remind you ……

    • Larry

      Gentlemen … allow me to remind you … it’s all there in black and white.

      Clint (aka Martin the Martian) engaged in dishonest, defamatory and just plain strange behavior … you have yet to address that. Given your perspectives it’s unlikely that you will. This has been an interesting experience in bizzaro world to say the least. If any of you should have a question, or would like to further discuss what I provided as a start to dialogue fine. Otherwise I’ve much more productive activities to tend to.

    • Ken

      Hmmmnnn …. When words are many, transgression is not lacking, ….

    • Susan

      Marvin the Martian has been a commenter on this blog for years, but since he asked Larry some simple, direct questions Larry now must maintain his arrogant high ground by calling him a phony deceiver. He had to think of some excuse to dismiss his questions.

    • John Sobieski

      Excellent and thoughtful analysis. Also reflects a solid grasp the current Charismatic landscape.

    • Clint Roberts

      Well I sense that God is granting us the favor of a merciful wind-down of this trainwreck of a discussion. Larry, as eloquent a troll as the interwebs could produce, has managed to alienate everybody in the discussion and wear us all out with the never ending barrage of bluster. All heat and no light. No matter what I or anyone else may attempt to communicate, the reply will be the same: he’s a victim of our utter ignorance, our vile rudeness, etc. In his world, he’s the only ‘normal’ one in this discussion just as prosperity televangelists are the only true heralds of Christianity. Those two delusions run parallel in Larry’s distorted perspective.

      To those of you who have weighed in on this, some attempting even to give Larry a lot of latitude & hear him out, I appreciate your patience. Some of you have suggested that my own sarcasm was too sharp and biting, & I understand why you say so. Maybe you’re right. Still I appreciate your attempts to play a role here & I apologize for your becoming immediate targets of Larry’s neurotic knee-jerk defensiveness.
      It appears nearly impossible for any of you to get on his good side. If you so much as offer the slightest critique of the content or tenor of his posts, you at once are cast from his good graces & numbered among the ignorant bullies with the closed Calvinistic ‘system’ that is persecuting the godly saints soaring above us all in private jets en route to their next miracle crusade. At least most of you are acknowledged as actually existing, which is a greater implied compliment than Larry is willing to pay ‘Marvin the Martian’ as it turns out.

    • MarvinTheMartian

      Hey Clint,

      Larry must have received a Word of Knowledge that I was but a sock puppet channeling your thoughts….or something. 😉

    • Clint Roberts

      To conclude …

      I will chalk it up among the many & varied oddities of the world that there is a man so verbally capable and yet so blindly ensnared by the inanity of PWF teaching. And I reiterate my chief points yet again, which Larry doesn’t wish to acknowledge or address specifically. They pertain both the the teachings of the Prosperity/Word-O’-Faith club as well as to them personally.

      Regarding their overall message, it is false & dangerous. It makes God beholden to our faith-power & to words themselves. It gives us strange metaphysical abilities to use our words to manipulate the natural world in order to make it yield to us the temporal goodies of money & perfect health. And along with this turd casserole are a feast of poisonous doctrinal side-dishes that atrophy rather than nourish the spirits of the hearers.

      And the PWF televangelists themselves are by all accounts grossly immoral for loving money & their own fame, for duping people, for living like super high-rollers in the most gaudy and decadent excesses, by loving the spotlight & accepting the worship that comes with it. As James might say of them, they prey on widows & are pseudo-shepherds satisfying their lusts & appetites by feeding on the sheep who follow them in ignorance hoping for money, health, advancement in life, family, career. They are on the lowest moral tier, next to grimy Thai child-traffickers.

      If there be any man prepared to demonstrate how I have wrongly assessed their behavior, lifestyle or message, let him show it. If I have assailed godly messengers & slandered genuine instruments of God, prove it. Convince me otherwise. Save all of your outrage & spare us the offended act. Just make with the facts if you want to defend these phonies. But good luck, counselor. You may as well be counsel for the commandant at Nuremberg, because you’re up against it on this one. We’ve seen enough of the Johnny Cochran routine. Enough sophistry & posturing. Make your case or stop…

    • Larry

      Clint, as graceless, petty and deceptive as you have been from the outset. I continue to await (in vain almost certainly) for your substantive response. You stated what you could do … without ever having done so. Cowardly, indeed.

      If I have misrepresented you, then by all means have at it. Now is your opportunity to fully address my response. Point by point, with a biblical counter point.

      In the absence of such a response, you are revealed as pretentious, insecure and an intellectually dishonest bully … full of himself, with room for little else.

      So, again, Mr. Roberts … for someone so utterly knowledgeable of my gross error … have at it. It should be complete child’s play for one so certain.

      I eagerly await your detailed response.

    • Larry

      By the way … securing the disfavor of this group is as easy as speaking. They have all been, variously, at each others throats during the entire discussion. Quite a group here … quite a group, indeed.

    • Alexander M. Jordan

      Well what a show, what a show. Larry has a way with words– too bad he chooses to employ his talent with rank dishonesty. I won’t attempt to respond to all the points in his latest dodge, but focus on one only.

      No one spoke of whether or not Clint’s replies to his 2 questions were adequate. But Clint did in fact respond to the questions put to him by Larry in “black and white”, in this forum, for all to see. Yet Larry claims Clint’s replies were so poor they don’t actually constitute a reply; thus, he denies that Clint replied! Amazing.

      Larry on the other hand, regaled us with nothing but weird stories which he failed to show had any bearing on anything in the original post, and offered readers a lengthy “overview” article over on his own website– an article which was at best an introduction to his thoughts on the topic but failed to provide a specific, cogent argument in response to Clint’s post.

      As far as tone and manner, I leave it for the observer to decide whether Larry was charitable, and in the spirit of “Galatians 6”, gently correcting folks, with a view “to minister life and yield liberty … revealing to us more fully the person of Jesus Christ”, as he claimed he was doing here. Being on the receiving end of his numerous negative and in my view baseless accusations about my character and motives, I certainly did not find his words matching his stated aims.

      I thank Susan for offering me some encouragement during the conversation–by saying that my comments were helpful to her; and I appreciate Michael T’s effort to proceed with fairness towards Larry by hearing out his argument. Still we see that Larry wanted the conversation to proceed only on his terms, and in the end, he offers nothing of value. But I hope I have learned a lesson in all this– to not allow myself to be drawn into lengthy discussion in a forum with someone who appears to be interesting only in playing games and wasting people’s time.

    • Larry

      One more thing Clint, as you assail these men (you continue to studiously avoid addressing the nub of this discussion, which is doctrinal) you are trafficking in the basest form of gossip … unless you posses firsthand, irrefutable evidence of your increasingly bizarre rant like accusations.

      You continue to speak the language of the pharisee. Smugly self righteous yet blind to your disqualifying and hateful invective … you betray the dangerous tendencies of a spiritually abusive leader.

      You rather put me in mind of those unfortunate and frightening men whose insecurities find them seeking a badge and a gun to compensate for their perceived inadequacies. The very worst and most dangerous sort of policeman … you’ve sought out a lectern and pulpit to address yours.

      Couple that with a strange theological bent which finds you posturing like some citizen of a sort of spiritual Aryan race … and you’ve got a toxic brew of the rarest sort.

      Blinding and destructive, you careen about unconcerned by the damage your recklessness leaves in its wake.

      ” They are on the lowest moral tier, next to grimy Thai child-traffickers” … what sheer buffoonery.

    • Susan

      Larry,

      One question: What is the message of the gospel, as you understand it?

      If you love The Lord, and want all who are reading to know this, you might be able to show this by your answer to this foundational question.

      If you don’t love The Lord you will certainly reply to my simple request by explaining why I not worthy of a response.

      Which would honor God more?

    • Clint Roberts

      If not for remarkable consistency & predictability, I would claim that my previous post was a word of prophetic knowledge. But I can’t. Anyone reading the previous hundred posts could have called that shot.

      Gentle readers, watch with me and let us see if any of the following questions might be entertained by Larry so as to merit any kind of answer to any of them:

      1. Larry do you believe that the Nazi leaders of the 40’s committed any atrocities? Did Hitler, Himmler, Eichmann, etc., do any deeds terrible enough to merit condemnation? If so how do you KNOW they did? Do you have any firsthand knowledge? Were you there? Did you see any of it take place with your own eyes?

      Maybe your condemnation of them is an example of “the basest form of gossip”. Maybe they were great humanitarians, lovers of and carers for those less fortunate, and models of the highest and noblest ideals of self-sacrificial charity. If you say they were evil men, it could just be that you feel the need to denigrate them due to some inadequacy of your own (which, according to a commercial I heard several times during a recent football game, could simply be an issue of bloodflow – FYI).

      OK so the first question is really more rhetorical to demonstrate a point, which I hope is clear enough (although my hopes have been dashed thus far). Here are the others:

      2. Do you believe that the Christian message guarantees physical health and financial prosperity to all who believe in & follow Jesus?

      3. Do you believe that our spoken words affect reality? Is it dangerous, for example, for me to say casually that “I’m getting really sick of” something or that “I’m just dying to” do a certain thing?

      4. Do you believe it is God’s will that his servants (his messengers, missionaries, etc.) be exorbitantly wealthy & live in overt opulence?

      My expectations of getting any answers to these are extremely low, mind you, but I must keep the door cracked open at least a sliver. You may…

    • Michael T

      @ Larry

      1. A quick word on the burden of proof here. You must realize that you are in hostile territory on this blog, just as I am when I discuss Calvinism on this blog (being a non-Calvinist). This is not a neutral debate. Whenever you are trying to show that someone is wrong in what they believe the burden, rightfully or wrongfully is on you to show it.

      2. Although this is not a neutral debate it is still a debate. When someone gives a response, even an inadequate one or one that misrepresents something it falls on the other party to show that this is the case (even if it is painfully obvious to you it may not be obvious to others). Otherwise one gives the impression that they are dodging the issues raised.

      3. While Clint’s demeanor may not be to my or your liking simply shouting “ad hominem” does not negate the things that he said on substantive matters. I can say that Clint is a ugly, good for nothing moron who is a Calvinist. While the first part is ad hominem, it doesn’t affect the truth of the substantive statement that he is a Calvinist.

      4. If Clint’s accusations against these people are based upon watching them on TV, reading their books, and watching the court cases against them, what he is saying is not slanderous or gossip. The examples Clint gave above of those in the past fits quite nicely here. We have to go off the evidence available to us. If you can contradict him please do so.

      5. I must admit a little bit of selfishness in appointing myself arbiter of this discussion. As I’ve said before I want to be wrong about WoF/Prosperity and I’ve never had anyone who has claimed to be able to rationally defend the theology in front of me before. I was hoping to guide the discussion to something more substantive and gain a better understanding of your perspective.

      6. As far as asking my own questions they would be a combination of one’s already asked with a couple additions – I’ll list them in the next…

    • cherylu

      Folks, I understand that sometimes things get hot in a conversation. And sometimes things are said that are not all that “irenic”. I have been guilty on both counts here myself.

      But in my opinion, this conversation has become a bad joke of 200 plus comments on a site that prides itself on irenic and tactful conversation. And that is right from the top, the writer of the OP, on down.

      I am not sure how anyone reading this is ever supposed to take the claim and the admonition to be tactful and irenic in conversation here seriously again when the very writer of the OP, to say nothing of a good share of the commenters, have often shown little apparent interest in doing so.

    • Erich

      Amen Alex. “Wasting people’s time”, indeed. In the days that this unholy debacle has persisted, without scarcely a point being made whatsoever, more people have been suffering, more dying (most with the probability of eternal separation from the Lord) and we have been sitting and spending our time in a dialogue that has done absolutely nothing to further the Kingdom of God. Blogging is a gift from the Lord to the extent that it puts the Body in a connection with each other so that we can be discussing and thinking together about doing the good works the He has for us to walk in (Eph. 2:10). I do believe that much good discussion could have been had here, based solely on the content of Clint’s excellent post. I had much to say about my Charismatic background and the destruction it has wroght in my family, but I never bothered to demean it here because of the terrible distraction that ensued from the outset. So I admonish all of us, myself included, that we repent, take Alex’s advise and learn from this great waste of time the lesson that this vociferous “son of Hell” has so ungraciously taught us: to not waste the precious few “talents” of time that we are given, love one another, as our Lord and Savior loved us, and move forward from here wise as serpents toward the Larry’s of the world, but as gentle as doves toward each other and all of those who show forth the evidence of their salvation by walking in the true Fruits of the Spirit, “making the most of the time, because the days are evil”. As it now takes time just to scroll to the bottom of this mess, I purpose a new article, authored by anyone at Credo House, so that we can begin afresh this discussion. And if Larry or any other tool of the Enemy seeks to devour our minutes and hours from a legitimate and productive discussion, let’s simply turn a blind ear and let the Body of Christ be the mouth and ears that He has created us to be.

    • Michael T

      My questions

      1. Who do you see as the primary leaders of the movement? In other words if I’m going to go read some books, whose books should I read?

      2. What is the nature of the godhead (i.e. describe the Trinity)

      3. Who is Jesus?

      4. What is the nature of man?

      5. What is the Gospel?

      6. What is the nature of salvation?

      7. Does being a follower of Christ with adequate faith guarantee health and prosperity?

      8. Is it God’s will that his followers be materially wealthy and healthy?

      9. Does God require the faith of humans to effectuate miracles? or can He act as He pleases even in the absence of faith?

      10. Is faith the deciding factor in who is healed and who is not healed, who is wealthy and who is not wealthy?

      11. Does the spoken word effect reality and is the spoken word necessary to effectuate miracles?

      There you go – those are my questions. I look forward to you responses.

    • Larry

      Mitchael … I’ have addressed the questions pertinent to thi9s discussion. I am still awaiting an intelligent reply that doesn’t seek to dodge what I’ve asked and what I’ve written.

      The absurd assertions regarding “eastern thought”, new age philosophies, etc, and assertions regarding prosperity.

      I have read innumerable assertions … no theological response. Again, I provided a 14 page response and … nothing of substance. Arguing from assertion is bad enough … arguing from the national Enquirer is inane.

      Again, you pointed out the fact that Clint’s response was a non response … what changed?

      I will answer questions and further discuss the issue I engaged Clint on … namely, his reckless assertions regarding WOF theology. He, the ever artful dodger continues to hide beyond the noxious smoke screen of innuendo, gossip and assertions … but flees a theological debate.

      He has yet to offer a substantive remark … style and nastiness aside. He will not engage on the issue under discussion.

    • Michael T.

      Larry,

      1. The fact that i may realize it doesn’t change the general workings. I found his initial response lacking in a number of respects, however yours is nonexistent and he has posted a number of times since then.

      2. As i have said before i do not like or approve of clints style. That being said if you have read the writings, and watched them preach one is not “reckless” in calling them out as heretics based on this. Out of all the mean things Clint has said this is the most serious and the only one I’m really interested in. If what Clint had said misrepresents them and their theology please show this. That is the point of my questions.

      3. If you are only willing to discuss Clints behavior and not substantive matters of theology I’m rather disappointed as that is why i engaged on the first place. I would really think you’d want to dispel the accusations leveled against wof. I’m baffled why you would be more interested in talking about whether or not some blow hard treated you properly then correcting the misconceptions.

    • Larry

      “1. Larry do you believe that the Nazi leaders of the 40’s committed any atrocities? Did Hitler, Himmler, Eichmann, etc., do any deeds terrible enough to merit condemnation? If so how do you KNOW they did? Do you have any firsthand knowledge? Were you there? Did you see any of it take place with your own eyes?

      Maybe your condemnation of them is an example of “the basest form of gossip”. Maybe they were great humanitarians, lovers of and carers for those less fortunate, and models of the highest and noblest ideals of self-sacrificial charity. If you say they were evil men, it could just be that you feel the need to denigrate them due to some inadequacy of your own (which, according to a commercial I heard several times during a recent football game, could simply be an issue of bloodflow – FYI).”

      Clint, thank you for underscoring my pointed appraisal of your behavior and general approach to this discussion. You continue to prove yourself not only unwilling, but incapable of either intelligent, adult and cogent responses or even a modicum of civility. You prove yourself more adolescent with each new post. Congratulations.

      The answer is rather simple. Yes I believe they did, because we have the irrefutable evidence in the form of their own words and speeches. We have the forensic evidence of their crimes and memos which underscore their guilt.

      You, in asserting conditions of heart have only your ugly imagination and fetid bitterness by which you assign motivation and aims. Though, it does appear that you’ve elevated in your own mind, your ability to know such things to the status of omniscience … you’ll forgive mere mortals for doubting your penetrating analysis.

      2. Do you believe that the Christian message guarantees physical health and financial prosperity to all who believe in; follow Jesus?

      I believe quite simply what scripture states. The redemptive work of Christ provided for a complete solution to the human condition…

    • Larry

      I believe quite simply what scripture states. The redemptive work of Christ provided for a complete solution to the human condition. This is further borne out in Christ’s own earthly ministry. Healing relied upon the faith of those who approached Jesus. Never do we find Jesus denying healing to any who came to Him believing. Never. This was a serious oversight by God if indeed not all who believe should expect healing. On at least one occasion we should find Jesus advising that God’s will would only find fulfillment through continued illness, followed by premature death. Instead, we find Jesus referring to illness and disease as “works” of satan and healing as the “works” of God.

      Those who wished to confuse the two met with the simple logic that if God was doing evil and satan was good, they would be leading a house divided.

      As to prosperity, please define. Yes, God promises a full supply to those who trust in Him. Poverty is viewed as a consequence of the fall, not as a virtue or as an expression of God’s will. As to extravagant wealth. No, that is not promised. Indeed, we are warned against avarice pointedly in scripture.

      “3. Do you believe that our spoken words affect reality? Is it dangerous, for example, for me to say casually that “I’m getting really sick of” something or that “I’m just dying to” do a certain thing?”

      I believe that faith enjoys a voice (as Jesus explained … please see Mark 11:22-24). I do not believe that our words, themselves, enjoy any special metaphysical power. I do believe that when our words harmonize with God’s word and exist as an expression of our heartfelt faith, that they form the basis for thanksgiving … praise … and that praise is indeed a potent thing.

      I believe that words betray our inward condition … Jesus said as much.

    • Larry

      “4. Do you believe it is God’s will that his servants (his messengers, missionaries, etc.) be exorbitantly wealthy & live in overt opulence?”

      Your question merely underscores your ignorance of the message. Again, no responsible leader or minister would ever apply the term heretic as recklessly and as arrogantly as you have unless they had conducted exhaustive research. You apparently exhausted before your research did.

      To use your own absurd metaphor, do you believe that Germans, led as they were by Hitler, Heimlich, Eichmann, were all anti-Semites? All mass murderers? Or only those proven to be so? Again, remarkably buffoonish.

      I am acquainted with minister after minister, missionary after missionary who has served sacrificially. My first pastorate was located in Boston. Within a one mile radius were 5 catholic parishes. I labored to befriend those priests and in order to avoid any hint that my motive was even remotely mercenary, I took an extremely small salary … requiring me to work an additional job. I did not get rich. Nor have the thousands of men and women I know who trust God to abundantly supply their needs but have no yearning for mansions.

      Now Clint … screw up your courage and address the substance of my remarks (found in the lengthy piece I provided for you, at your request).

    • cherylu

      Larry you said, As to prosperity, please define. Yes, God promises a full supply to those who trust in Him. Poverty is viewed as a consequence of the fall, not as a virtue or as an expression of God’s will.

      Can you please explain to me how that dovetails with the Apostle Pauls’ testimony in II Cor 11:23-28? Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.

      Was Paul experiencing what you would call “full provision?” If not, why not? Do you think he was not trusting the Lord?

      This is a serious question. It is just one of the places that it seems to me the WoF understanding of the Bible fails to meet the test of reality.

    • Larry

      Yes, Paul is enduring hardship in the form of persecution … a different matter (“Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted”).

      You are now addressing extraordinary circumstances, not normative life. Paul admonished the unmarried to remain single, even as he (Paul) was. Yet, this was not the rule by which people would guide their life. His was an extraordinary lifestyle unique to his calling.

      More to the point, we have an abundance of scripture which address this issue, so my question to you is, how do reconcile those promises and admonitions to your premise.

      Does scripture simply speak in ambiguous and unreliably broad terms? Or, does each word communicate an accurate understanding of God’s will?

      Paul was martyred? Do you anticipate such an end? If not, why?

      Now, more to the point, can you identify scriptures which state plainly that God’s approves of poverty and imposes it at will upon his children?

    • Michael T.

      @ Larry

      In addition to what Cheryl said regarding Paul’s testimony in II Corinthians 11:23-28 I immediately though of two other passages and one other fact that just don’t seem to be congruent with your position.

      1. You mentioned that God’s will is not for people to die a premature death, however it seems that every last Apostle, save perhaps John did in fact died a premature death. Furthermore, it seems to indicate elsewhere in Scripture that God has set the number of our days. Who is to say what is premature? Reality is that everyone dies of a last illness of some type. It may be at 30 or at 100.

      2. In regards to faith being a deciding factor when you look at the heroes of the faith described in Hebrews 11:32-35 who conquered versus those in Hebrews 11:35-38 who perished horribly including those who “went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated” it doesn’t appear that faith was at all a deciding factor. Instead both groups were commended for their faith.

      3. In regards to healing why does Paul not advise Timothy to pray harder, or have greater faith, but rather advises him to “Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.”?

    • Michael T.

      Also what of pauls thorn? It seems clear in the passage that it was God s will not to heal him of it.

    • Larry

      Michael, I’m trying to answer your first comment, however, in addition to what to response to Cheryl please read), I trust you understand the difference between the promise of long life and the choice of martyrdom. The former is declared will for all … the latter a choice made by those who wish to so honor Christ (and receive a martyr’s crown).

      You’ll recall that Agabus warned Paul concerning the death which would await him. Was Agabus endowed with powers which enabled him to see the future (no) or was he prophesying as God revealed to him these events (yes)?

      Why do so? Perhaps to allow Paul the latitude to choose his path?

    • Larry

      As to Timothy, both here and in James epistle, special instructions are given with regard to those who are struggling in their faith.

      Here Paul advises what is in effect, medicine. James advises that the elders pray for the sick, anointing them with oil. Is oil curative? No.

      However, if someone is challenged in their faith, they are instructed to join with others who believe, for prayer and to be anointed with oil. Oil it would seem, provides a physical symbol of God’s healing virtue … something to touch and to feel. An obvious help to someone for whom the invisible realities of God’s kingdom and power seems distant.

      Conversely, if it is God’s will for them to be ill, then Paul is in great error and encouraging rebellion in Timothy’s heart. The same can be said of those who are to pray for the sick in order that they will be healed (please note the finality, the lack of ambiguity with regard to outcomes in James epistle).

      If you believe that illness occurs by God’s will, the we must account physicians as threats to the outworking of God’s will. If your child is sick … await his fate. If it is God’s will for him to recover and live … all is well. If not … you’ve no choice but to submit. Absurd? I certainly think so.

      Why do those who believe that sickness occurs as a matter of God’s will, labor so diligently to be cured?

    • cherylu

      So folks are promised absolute provision for every need–unless they are facing persecution.

      In Galatians 4:13 Paul speaks of being sick. And in II Timothy 4:20, Paul speaks of leaving a coworker who was sick. It seems there were quite a few exceptions to universal health spoken of by Paul.

      And how do these promises work for Christians in third world countries that often do not have adequate food, water, shelter, or clothing?

    • cherylu

      Larry,

      I also wonder what you tell folks that have prayed in faith believing that they or their friend or family member would be healed only to have the disease continue year after year or get worsens to the point that the person dies? I have seen this happen more then once in my life time.

      Do you tell them that they only thought that they had faith but really didn’t? Do you tell them that they didn’t have enough faith? (How much faith is “enough faith” anyway?) I have seen the devastating effect on a family that has prayed for the healing of their child when the child wasn’t healed and they were told by someone that, “If you only had faith, he would of been healed.”

      The last person that I had such a conversation with spoke of how people had prayed for healing for a friend and that person had died of cancer anyway. She told me that they knew that God desired to heal everyone but they hadn’t learned how to “tap into” that yet. Obviously they had faith. But God hadn’t healed. Where were they left after that experience? Wondering what they still needed to do to get that healing.

      Something becomes very wrong with a picture like that.

    • Larry

      Cheryl, your argument, I think, is with God’s word … not me. Jesus healed all who came believing. He came as “the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being”.

      On the sad occasion of His visit to Nazareth, He was unable to heal any, with the exception of a few minor ailments. Why? “Because of their unbelief.”

      His response? He began teaching in their synagogues for … “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.

      Jesus queried those who came to him, again and again, “do you have faith?”. Shall we choose to rewrite God’s word because of the experience of others?

      Our answer should harmonize with scripture … not attempt to adapt scripture to our experience.

      Again and again, relative to life’s challenges Jesus urges faith … adamantly.

      Consider the experience of the disciples in the boat as they plied the waters of Galilee. A fierce storm arose on the lake, so violent that the disciples, many of whom were seasoned sailors, were certain that they were about to perish.

      They awakened Jesus imploring to save them. “Don’t you care that we’re perishing?” they asked. Consider that question and what it implies.

      Was Jesus so indifferent to their plight that He found his own rest a higher priority? Or, was the ship really near disaster? Could omniscience be so unaware?

      Or is it possible that faith is perfectly content to trust in God’s care, to rest in His power regardless of our circumstance?

      Did Jesus rebuke the storm, calming the winds and sea in order to preserve their lives … or to simply calm their fears and challenge their perspectives (with the questions he then posed)?

      He asked them, “why are you so fearful … how is it that you have no faith?”

      A seemingly absurd question on its face, yes? “Well, we were terrified because the boat was about to sink … ARE YOU PUTTING US ON?” “Why do you think we were afraid?

      But Jesus’ question was not pointless,…

    • Michael T.

      Larry,

      1. Ignore my earlier questions for now, I think there is more than enough to discuss in what you responded to Clint with.

      2. I strongly disagree that long life is declared for all and martyrdom for a few who choose it. In the Early Church, and many places today, the very act of admitting to be a Christian ensures poverty, persecution and, in many cases death. If there is one thing I get from Christ’s teaching to his disciples it is that sufferings, trials, and persecution are the norm for a Christian, not the exception. We are the exception.

      3. On the warning to Paul. Would Paul have been being obedient to God if he had just walked away? I, unlike my Calvinist friends, believe that Paul had the ability to walk away, however doing so would have been disobedience to God’s calling.

      4. In Timothy the point I’m making is Paul doesn’t give a formula (i.e. pray and have faith and you will be healed). Timothy is often ill. Paul doesn’t tell him to pray harder, or have more faith and he will be cured (though certainly Timothy should do this). Instead he offers palliative help.

      5. You seem to be setting up a false dichotomy by indicating that it is either God’s will for someone to be sick, or His will for them to be healed. Why not both? Why cannot God will that someone be sick for six months and then healed (through medicine or miracles)? Isn’t this exactly what happened to the blind man in John 9? This man was willed to be blind from birth so that Jesus could display God’s glory by healing him. Was it not also God’s will to allow Satan to wreck Job?? and then restore Job later? May not God’s will also be that one perish or not be cured. What of Paul’s thorn where God refused to heal him in II Corinthians 12:7-9? What of David’s child who was killed by God as a result of David’s sin? Has not God numbered our days according to His will?

    • Michael T.

      6. No one doubts that faith and prayer are important. Additionally no one doubts that God heals people who believe and have faith. The difference that you seem to be missing is that it isn’t formulaic. The reason you weren’t saved from death or healed from sickness may have nothing to do with your level of faith. God works and the Holy Spirit moves as He pleases.

    • Larry

      His question probed the nature of fear. Fear is our response to impending loss or harm. It’s natural. Yet Jesus, after rebuking the storm, turns now and mildly rebukes the disciples for their reaction. Seems harsh doesn’t it?

      What if Jesus understood that life doesn’t unfold within a vacuum. That as we pass through this life we are not only interacting with God and man. What if there is an adversary who “walks about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour”? What if faith not only opens the door for God to perform His will, but what if turns back the efforts of our adversary?

      The book of Ephesians seems bent on introducing us to the reality of the spiritual dimension. We’re told of spiritual blessings which are ours in heavenly places. We’re urged to trust God to reveal to more fully the risen Christ, through the spirit of wisdom and revelation. We are told that we are seated with Him in heavenly places.

      Each chapter seems to reveal spiritual reality and our place in it. At last, as we reach chapter 6 we read (as if everything has been communicated to bring us to this point of practical application)

      “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

      Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

      For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

      Our failure to reckon with this reality, an adversary who is actively laboring to undermine God’s will, to do harm … to destroy, leaves, I fear, blaming God for another’s handiwork

    • Larry

      Much more to say … sorry, didn’t check for typos. I’ve arrived home obviously. Will eat dinner and turn my attention to a remarkably temporal matter … the World Series.

      See you all tomorrow and thank you for your patience.

    • cherylu

      Larry,

      So first of all you tell us that if we have faith we are gauranteed healing. At least that is what I thought you were saying.

      Then when I say I have friends that had faith for healing you say that we can’t go by their experience. Well, I agree that the Word of God always trumps our experience.

      However, when our experience shows over and over that the way we understand the Word of God just doesn’t seem to be working out in reality, don’t you think perhaps it is time to check our understanding of that Word?

      As Michael and I have both suggested, there seems to be much more at work in the Word then faith guarantees our healing.

      Now you yourself have introduced one more element, the enemy working against God’s plans. Yes, that may be true. So now are you saying that the enemy “stole” the healing from the people I know?

    • Erich

      One of my primary hopes at the beginning of this thread is that productive dialogue would happen. I am very pleased to see it finally moving in that direction. Can we all agree at this point that Larry is now making some excellent points here, at the very least things that deserve careful dialogue and consideration? I pray that continues unabated.

      Having grown up in the charismatic movement and having family still very much a part of the WOF world, I have had the unique privilege of being a part of and deeply loving family members on both sides of this issue. I feel that JMacs demonizing and lumping together all Charismatics as being of the same ilk and doing the works of the devil is unproductive at best and demonic in its divisiveness at worst. As a man who is deeply reformed in my own theology, my observation has been that these are secondary issues almost across the board. The essentials still unite us at almost every level.

    • Alex Jordan

      I believe quite simply what scripture states. The redemptive work of Christ provided for a complete solution to the human condition. This is further borne out in Christ’s own earthly ministry. Healing relied upon the faith of those who approached Jesus. Never do we find Jesus denying healing to any who came to Him believing. Never. This was a serious oversight by God if indeed not all who believe should expect healing. On at least one occasion we should find Jesus advising that God’s will would only find fulfillment through continued illness, followed by premature death. Instead, we find Jesus referring to illness and disease as “works” of satan and healing as the “works” of God. Those who wished to confuse the two met with the simple logic that if God was doing evil and satan was good, they would be leading a house divided.

      Larry, what you wrote about healing above contains some truth. It is true that the “redemptive work of Jesus provides for a complete solution to the human condition.” Likewise the fact that Jesus’ earthly ministry was characterized by healing the sick is a reflection of this redemptive work. I would add also that sickness and death are evils — for when sin entered the human condition, sickness and death came in its wake. And it’s true as you say that sickness is sometimes attributed to the work of satan.

      Yet truths concurrently taught with these in Scripture are vital to keep in mind, lest we try to guarantee in this life what is fully promised to us only in the next. One of these truths is that God is sovereign over all the events of our lives, including sickness. It seems He does not always heal those who earnestly pray for healing. Another truth is that sickness, though an evil, is not in Scripture always portrayed as directly caused by satanic forces. Sickness may simply be a matter of being born in a fallen world that is under the curse of sin and all that results from sin (Genesis 2:17; Gen 6:3), rather than a…

    • Alex Jordan

      …direct result of one’s personal sin or the sin of one’s parents (John 9:3). Even when satan is the immediate cause, God, being sovereign over satan, is ultimately in control. For example, Job was assessed a righteous man by God, yet the Lord permitted his faith to be tested by all sorts of bad things happening to him, including great physical suffering that came through the agency of satanic attack. Another example is Paul, a man of God in faithful service to God, yet apparently afflicted by a physical ailment for which he asked for healing several times but was denied by God. Presumably this man of God had great faith as he asked God for healing, nevertheless his request wasn’t granted. Other faithful believers in Scripture have been described as experiencing sickness, for example Timothy (1 Tim 5:23), Trophimus (2 Tim 4:20), and Epaphroditis (Phil 2:25-30). The sickness of these men is not explained in Scripture as being the result of sin, lack of faith or an attack of the enemy, but rather it is simply recorded. I think this demonstrates that sickness is just a part of life in a fallen world, even for the believer. These are men the Scriptures holds in high regard, yet they were at times afflicted by illness.

      As to whether faith is a necessary condition for healing to occur, there are plenty of examples of healings done by Jesus in which the condition of faith in the person receiving healing was not present. Did Lazarus demonstrate faith so that he was rewarded with being raised from the dead (John 11)? Obviously being dead he had no faith to express. Who showed faith when Jairus’ daughter was likewise raised from the dead (Mark 5:35-43)? In that story, Scripture records that the people present did not express faith, but rather, laughed at Jesus. Jesus healed despite a seeming lack of faith on the part of those surrounding the dead girl. What of the demon-possessed man in Luke 8:26-39. Did Jesus deliver him in response to his expression faith?…

    • Alex Jordan

      … More examples could be provided. Now, I’m not denying that the Bible draws a connection between faith and God’s healing works. Faith is apparently the instrument God is most pleased to use as he heals people. He delights to see people having enough faith in Him to trust that He can heal them. Still, since He is the sovereign, almighty God, God can heal even when faith is not present, or choose not to heal, as in the cases mentioned above.

      In James 5, the prayer of faith is often pointed to as a promise of healing that is pretty much always guaranteed. But does this passage absolutely assure us that everyone prayed for and anointed by elders will always be healed? No, the passage must be taken together with other passages in Scripture that teach us that we don’t even know what will happen tomorrow, and that often God’s saints suffer all sorts of calamities in this life, which may include unhealed illnesses. Is this not what simple life observation confirms? Is everyone prayed for always healed? Obviously not, and the many not healed includes those prayed for by teachers who themselves have great faith in the healing message, as do the people coming to them. Does this mean God cannot heal today, even miraculously? No. It simply means that God will heal in accordance with His perfect will, and not in accordance with faith formulas incorrectly inferred from Scripture.

      The redemptive benefits of Christ’s work, or the “healing in the (atonement”, must be properly understood in the context of the whole of biblical counsel. Author Bob DeWaay writes, “Healing is in the atonement in the sense that all the benefits of Christ’s substitutionary death apply to all believers and will find their complete fulfillment at the return of Christ and the resurrection. It is because of the atonement that Christians have been healed, are being healed and will be healed. This does not mean that we should expect never to suffer with an illness in this life or that God has…

    • Alex Jordan

      … has guaranteed to remove any illness that might come into one’s life.”

    • Larry

      Cherylu, just stopped in quickly (Go Red Sox!), I’m in the middle of a national roll out right now for our new product line … working with agents and suppliers here and overseas … it’s a little busy.

      However, I will be tackling this from time to time throughout the day. As I do, I’m going to pose some questions … please don’t feel as if I’m attacking you.

      Certainly I will challenge some of your positions … I just want to understand what you believe … and the the underlying reason’s and perspectives which lead to those beliefs.

      So, please … take your time in answering them. I’m delighted to be having this discussion and will invest whatever time is required to complete it… even if it should require the balance of the week.

      Good night to you, Michael and whomever else may be plugged into this discussion.

    • Erich

      With that said there is much lacking in WOF theology, things that I believe deter it’s followers from seeing and fully savoring the sovereignty and glory of God in all things and in all circumstances, and erroneous doctrine that keeps people from putting Satan where the Bible places him, under the absolute control and will of a supreme authority who allows him to do his work for a season, and yet is a tool of redemption and sanctification wielded by God in the life of the believer (see the book of Job).

      But where so much ground could be gained is if we could all acknowledge that neither camp is perfect in our doctrine. The reformed world, I believe, lacks much of what charismatic people possess in regard to the marriage of faith and belief, hope and boldness inprayer and oftentimes intensity and joy in worship (see Hilsong). As brother Driscoll has stated, sometimes people in the Reformed world see the Trinity as “Father, Son and Holy Bible.” So true. But how beautiful would the unity and love be and how powerful a witness to a dying world if we could but learn from one another, rather than pointing the finger of heresy.

    • Alex Jordan

      Erich, I agree– the discussion has taken on a better, more helpful tone. I think it could have been like this a lot sooner if there had been immediate focus on specific issues, as is now taking place. Anyway since it’s happening we can be happy for the improvement .. and try to keep it going ;).

    • Alexander M. Jordan

      Larry,

      In response to Cherylu’s comment#219, you made this statement: Or is it possible that faith is perfectly content to trust in God’s care, to rest in His power regardless of our circumstance?

      I think this is correct- faith indeed is “perfectly content to trust in God’s care, to rest in His power regardless of our circumstance”. This means that sometimes in answer to earnest prayers for healing, God may choose to not provide the healing we request; yet believers need not give up faith in God or in His power to heal, but should continue to trust Him, no matter what.

      Job declared, after his property was destroyed and his children killed, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” The Bible states that in attributing these calamities to God, “… Job did not sin or charge God with wrong (Job 1:21-22).

      By faith, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, ‘O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.’” (Daniel 3:16-18). These men display an amazing level of faithful dedication to the Lord. They do not know whether they will be delivered from the flames– yet faith prompts them to trust in the Lord regardless of what will happen to them. In the same way, when we ask God to heal, we don’t know the outcome. In James 4:14-15 we read “you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”

      In a fallen world, both good and bad things happen to saints and sinners alike, as…

    • Alexander M. Jordan

      (continued from above) we see in the testimony of both Scripture and history. But the godly don’t despair and lose their faith when God does not always deliver them from the troubles of this world, which according to Jesus are sure to come: “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

      As Michael T also pointed out, Hebrews 11:35-38 testifies to the fact that faith is just as evident when the godly are persecuted, martyred, afflicted, and destitute, as when God delivers them from such calamity. And sickness may be one of those misfortunes God permits in the life of a believer, because God knows how to use trials to test and mold our faith (1 Peter 1:6-9) and in His sovereignty will work (all things) together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). Therefore the teaching that states healing is always guaranteed to believers in this life contingent on their faith flies in the face of much biblical evidence to the contrary, and contradicts the universal experience of humanity— who among us has not been sick without being healed, or least known someone sick that has not been healed and even perhaps died? So we pray to God for healing, with faith that He is able to heal any condition. Yet by faith we rest in Him, trusting that no matter what His answer, he will bless and sustain us in this life until He brings us to Him in glory.

    • Truth Unites... and Divides

      Wow! Lot of comments on this thread.

      What’s the score?

      😉

    • Alexander M. Jordan

      Two more proofs for my position that troubles in this life are to be regarded as ultimately under the control of God, and that by faith sustained by grace, we may learn to be content in all circumstances:

      Paul declares:
      I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. 11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

      Paul states that in any and every circumstance he has learned the secret of contentment — to be strengthened by the Lord.

      Going back to one of the sick saints mentioned above- Epaphroditus. Paul testifies in Phil 2:25-27, “I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need, for he has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill. Indeed he was ill, near to death. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.”

      If WF teaching is correct we would expect to see Paul here claiming or even declaring healing for his fellow worker on the basis of faith in Christ’s finished work. Instead, we observe him simply give praise to God for a positive outcome. It seems he did not take this healing as having been guaranteed, but rather is immensely grateful for God’s mercy.

      Sometimes God does not heal the one we pray for who has cancer. Does this mean God is no longer compassionate? Or that faith was lacking in us, and if we had built up requisite faith God would have been pleased to heal? I think this passage lends no support to this idea.

    • MarvinTheMartian

      Healing relied upon the faith of those who approached Jesus. Never do we find Jesus denying healing to any who came to Him believing. Never.

      @ Larry,

      Isn’t there some kind of logical fallacy at work here? While undoubtedly true Jesus rarely healed anyone who didn’t have faith that He could in fact heal them (the exception being the servant of the high priest Luke 22:50-51), it doesn’t necessarily follow that Jesus was compelled to heal all those who came to Him in faith. Now granted, you haven’t come out and stated that directly. But that is what is implied within the meta-narrative of your posts, and certainly within the teachings of the WOF movement generally. It is this component, that God is compelled to act because of our faith, that is problematic.

      I believe that it is more biblical to assert that Jesus healed not because of the faith of those who sought healing (though the lack of faith certainly would have hindered it), but because it served to validate the greater testimony regarding the salvific plan (i.e. it showed that He was greater than the effects of the curse, see John 9:3). That and I believe He simply felt compassion for those whom He healed (Matthew 14:14).

    • Vincent

      Wow. This is SOME kind of discussion. I have known and respected some Christians in very charismatic churches. I am not a charismatic myself but some of those I have known are good Christians and they do not endorse the beliefs described as Word of Faith.

      I think even if you believe in miracles and healings and that God will answer prayers spoken aloud if you have strong faith, you would still see through some of what TV preachers say. The preachers talked about in this discussion give charismatic churches a bad name. I say defend the charismatic gifts and worship style if you want, but don’t defend the health and wealth preachers. Its possible you could persuade me to charismatic beliefs but never to follow those men.

    • Larry

      Hello all, just a quick note. I’m terribly sorry for the delay in providing a comprehensive response to your several questions and posits. As you might guess these are fairly common objections … I’m very, VERY much looking forward to addressing them all.

      However, this week has been far, far busier than I imagined. As I wrote earlier, we are in the midst of a national roll out. Additionally, new products are being tested in our Chicago lab and I’m in meeting after meeting with our teams this week. Too bad this wasn’t taking place last week 🙁

      Please forgive the delay … I will provide detailed answers … and look forward to the further discussions they will encourage. Thank you for your continued patience.

    • Truth unites... And divides

      Fire in the hole!

      Cessationist Red Sox beat the charismatic Cardinals in the World Series!!

      Health and wealth and prosperity in Beantown tonite, baby!

      🙂

    • Brian

      I must say I have come to be thankful for MacArthur speaking out against the abuses in the Charismatic movement.

      I have spent the last decade trying to recover from the mind bending, confusing and abusive beliefs in the prophetic vein of charismaticism.

      Those beliefs and practices nearly caused me to lose my faith and belief in God. I have not really seen anyone take on those unhealthy practices head on like this.

      People can quibble about how it was handled, who should have been included. But at the end of the day, I dont care.

      I needed someone to call what was wrong wrong. Doing so brought legitimacy to my loss and has encouraged me to be vocal about what I see as the continuing false concepts perpetuated by charismatics.

      I believe these movements have wrought wreckage in peoples lives and lead them away from Christ.

      I once believed what I WANTED to be true was. I feel as if a fog has lifted from my mind and I am dealing with a sober mind grounded in reality.

      I do not now consider myself a pure cessationist though, but like CMP a soft cessationist. Which is to say I am still open, but I have not seen it or seen it to the satisfaction of the claims made about it.

      Unlike my former self, the things that consume charismatic believers (gifts, manifestations, WOF wealth formulas, etc) no longer interest me as a believer.

      To the average charismatic believer out there I feel a heart of acceptance, patience and understanding towards them. I think they are following beliefs and other people, and don’t really know any better. But for those who lead and teach the body in such matters, I give only one thing for them – Matthew 18:6.

    • Humananimal

      Amen brother Brian, 100% share your view but my lack of communication skills prohibits me to put words to it. I will steal yours, hope you don’t mind. Admire your graceful spirit, not quite there yet in my process. The people in the movement I kind of feel for, but those orchestrating the madness I won’t even bother thinking about again.

      Interesting how so called Christian doctrine can lead to bondage, darkness, while the intention amongst the followers is noble and good. Not saying it proves anything, but it certainly is not enough. It being good intentions.

      So, thanks for sharing, and all the best in breaking free.

      Churrs

    • William

      So what was it Satan tried to tempt Jesus with???
      Ahh yes that is right.
      Health, wealth and prosperity….
      Keep goin Larry!

    • Susan

      Ken, thanks for your tenacity in finding the lost MSS, yes, the longer ending of Susan in the midst of this haystack! :-). You note that my concluding comments pass the tests of authenticity, including embarrassment ;-). I don’t think your comment posted on the thread but that has apparently happened to others here as well. You said,
      ” if you really believe God has impressed you to say something, but evangelicals can wrongly instill fear about this. I call this the prompting of the Spirit, and on one or two occasions this has almost been ‘the Lord told me’, but I have never heard a voice and would not talk like that. (I was once ‘prompted’ in such a way whilst praying to visit someone”
      Yes, well put! I also refer to this sort of thing as a prompting of the Spirit. I think MacArthur would agree with this and has no doubt experienced this many times himself. He’s saying its wrong when people claim that God TOLD them something, something that falls outside of scripture, and thus qualifies as a further revelation. It is so common for people to say, “God told me____”. Of course this emerges from one’s thoughts, which are subject to any number of influences. If someone is in such a church environment where such statements are readily accepted to in fact BE God’s word, that’s where we can get into trouble. If it is God who said it then is HAS to be true. My question for one who makes that claim would be “Did. God speak to you in an audible voice? If not, it would be wise to refer to it as a seeming ” nudge of God’s Spirit”. I listened to the Grudem debate on prophesy and it seemed that he and the pastor from Cambridge were somewhat close in their understanding, but the big point of difference was how they defined these nudgings, as new revelation ( with allowance for error) Grudem, or NOT as new revelation because that would then be a word that would “bind ones conscience”‘ as does scripture. I think this is where the discussion needs to be…

    • Susan

      Everyone, this interview of MacArthur by Tim Challies is well worth the read. Challies collected top questions and critiques of readers to the Strange Fire conference and presented them to MacArthur who then addressed them. Well worth the read.

      http://www.challies.com/interviews/john-macarthur-answers-his-critics

    • Ken

      Susan – my post did eventually make its way on here!

      Now I like it when people agree, but let me push the issue just a bit further. The ‘prompting’ of the Spirit we agree on – could it just be that in the NT this is referred to as “To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, …”? A gift of miracles could be miraculous timing. May be even to “speak to men for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation” which is what prophecy is. This is not new revelation, but something to bless specific individuals at specific times.

      If I put my badly fitting charismatic hat back on, that is what ‘the gifts’ mean to me, nothing whatever to do with Hinn and Copeland, who are of corrupt mind and counterfeit faith. I left the charismatic scene in part because it had, quite literally, gone barking mad, and had left the apostle Paul behind. (If any bark, let it be two or at most three; and let one howl …. not in the NT!)

      You can ask for such gifts because the completed New Testament encourages you to do so. No-one thinks that because we have examples of answered prayer in the NT we no longer need to pray because this would be adding to scripture. Could you see prophecy in the same light?

      Just thought I would stir you up …. (to love and good works, obviously). 🙂

    • Susan

      Ken, I think we are close again. Going back to the conference as a reference point, since that’s what this thread is about, MacArthur and co. didn’t disparage the modern day employment of word of wisdom, nor word of knowledge. I wouldn’t call a well-timed word of wisdom to be a ‘miracle’. Miracles are extraordinary in a different sense. ‘Providential’ would be a more appropriate term to use. The Spirit told Phillip to go speak to the Ethiopian. I wouldn’t call that a miracle. BTW, I once asked a NT text critic if he thought the Spirit spoke to Phillip in an audible voice. He said, ” yes”. I have known the providential promptings of the Spirit to share the gospel with specific people. Once I tune into that I begin to pray about it, seeking wisdom and an opportunity. I’m in agreement with you as long as you are not advancing the idea that people are now given new revelation.

    • Ken

      Susan – thanks again for your reply. We are not likely to get a heated argument out of this, are we! I prefer it that way anyway.

      Just a couple of things. You are clearly not ‘continuationist’, but something I genuinely don’t understand is the cessationalist contention that the gifts of the Spirit could include revelation additional to the bible. How many actually believe that on either side of this issue? I haven’t been in an overtly charismatic church for a couple of decades, but when I was I don’t think anyone believed that. It was in the UK, and very wide exposure to the various streams back then. There seems to be a fear that the gifts of the Spirit will undermine the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God. Back then it was the charismatics who tended to take the bible seriously, believe it or not.

      I’ve also finally realised what is bugging me about the Team Pyro blog on this issue. They are mocking the modern gifts and those who claim to have experienced them. Charismatics aren’t going to listen to them as a result, and frankly I don’t blame them. The attitude is really irritating even if you might otherwise be inclined to agree with some of what they say. To add insult to injury (as it were) they define the gifts in such a way that continuationist would have to agree with them (e.g. the real gift of prophecy has to be as infallible as scripture), and then think they have won the argument, as though that is really what this is all about. If you do testify to other gifts you have experienced – if only very rarely – that do meet their criteria, they simply ignore that.

      I appreciate your attitude on this which is a more amicable disagreement – even to the extent there is real disagreement.

    • Susan

      So, everyone, I guess you were trying to have a conversation with Larry Lea, Television Word of Faith Preacher of the Worldwide Web Church.

      Here’s a youtube if you care to see him and sample his wares:

    • cherylu

      Susan,

      How do you know the Larry we were talking to was Larry Lea on this Youtube video? (I haven’t been able to watch it yet.)

    • Susan

      I was listening to a radio program recording online and Word of Faith theology was discussed a bit, Kenneth Copeland and Larry Lea were mentioned. On this blog Larry mentioned his interactions with Benny Hinn, in his office and such, and he posted a link to an article by Copeland on WofF theology so I was just putting two and two together. I had suspected all along that Larry is probably a well-known person, but I don’t know much about W of F preachers. Of course I can’t know for sure, but I think it’s quite likely.

      You might try going to youtube and putting that wording into the search bar. That’s how I was finally able to grab a link. There are other you tubes of him as well, and several articles online.

    • Larry

      I’m nearing the completion of our roll-out … and will then address the questions which have been posed here and continue our discussion, but Susan’s fanciful deductions merited a quick response.

      First, I did not link to any Copeland articles and while I did have occasion to dine with Larry and Melba Lea (prior to their sad divorce) … I am not Larry Lea.

      Susan, perhaps you should turn your imagination to the possibilities of rethinking your theology … rather than to this sort of postulation.

    • Susan

      Same to you, Larry.

      And how do we know when Larry is telling the truth since he purveys a false gospel?

      Matt:7:15 “Watch out for false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are voracious wolves.”

      2 Peter 2:1-3 ” ….there will be false teachers among you. These false teachers will infiltrate your midst with destructive heresies, even to the point of denying the Master who bought them. As a result, they will bring swift destruction on themselves. And many will follow their debauched lifestyles. Because of these false teachers, the way of truth will be slandered. And in their greed they will exploit you with deceptive words. Their condemnation pronounced long ago is not sitting idly by; their destruction is not asleep.”

      Acts 20:30-31 “Even from among your own group men will arise, teaching perversions of the truth to draw the disciples away after them. Therefore be alert…”

      Matt 24:24 “For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.”

    • cherylu

      Susan,

      I am sorry, but I’m thinking that your statements here are running on the quite irresponsible side.

      This conversation has at times been quite bizarre and extremely hostile. Is there any chance we can now keep it to discussing the theologies in question and not go off into speculations about a person’s identity with no proof to back it up?

    • Susan

      Cheryl, you are not reading hostility from me, but I have little sympathy for a false teacher who corrupts the gospel by which people are brought into a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
      The message of W of F is hostile to the gospel.

      It didn’t appear to me that there was going to BE any continued discussion.

    • cherylu

      Susan,

      I have no sympathy for WoF theology either–or any other theology that corrupts the Gospel.

      However, unsubtantiated claims and implications about a person’s identityabout and truthfulness or lack thereof are not likely to be very helpful in getting people to see that there are huge theological problems with WoF beliefs.

      Why would you expect people to be convinced that what you are saying and believe is correct if you are going to make such unsubstantiated claims and implications about someone? You are putting your credibility on the line with such statements.

    • cherylu

      Sorry about the stupid editing error. The first sentence in my second paragraph in my last comment should read, “However, unsubtantiated claims and implications about a person’s identity and truthfulness ……”

    • MarvinTheMartian

      Susan, perhaps you should turn your imagination to the possibilities of rethinking your theology … rather than to this sort of postulation.

      This is highly ironic coming from someone who used the postulation that I was Clint Roberts sock puppet-ting as MarvinTheMartian as a way to avoid answering direct questions.

    • cherylu

      I don’t recall that Larry’s postulating about Marvin the Martian really being Clint Roberts did a great deal to further his credibility either, did it?

    • Susan

      Cheryl, I’m not worried about my credibility. And you can’t blame me for thinking this discussion was dead in the water, since it’s been what, two weeks with no sign of Larry? Didn’t he say he’d be on it in a week? Do you really think there are a number of people subscribing to this conversation who need to be warned about W of F theology?
      Will newcomers to this post read 250 comments to be enlightened by this conversation? If you think so, then you’ve got a mission to accomplish here. Go for it.

      Marvin, my friend from Mars…. Yes, I did have you in mind when I read Larry’s ironic reply. Perhaps he thought you were a phony masquerader because he’s familiar with that role.

    • cherylu

      Susan,

      This discussion is going nowhere.

      Just one quick thought, then I am out of here. Any one that wants to make a point in a conversation whether it is online or in some other venue, really does need to be concerned about their credibility. Unfortunately, without credibility, no one pays much attention to what a person says.

    • Susan

      Cheryl, you were definitely a latecomer to this conversation. If you read through the first 200 comments I think you would have a different perspective on the conversation, perhaps including my stand. Since you are unaware of much of the conversation it seems odd that you would make assumptions about me and feel the need to help me maintain my credibility. I have a life away from this blog that keeps me fr commenting here much at all anymore. I think one can waste many hours of one’s life blogging and not really accomplishing anything worthwhile in the process. It seems that this blog is central to the lives of a few here who’s names appear much, on a near daily basis, for several years. I guess for such a person credibility as a comment or here is to be guarded and maintained. I have NO regrets about any of the comments I’ve made on this thread. If this lessens me in the credibility ranks here at P&P in your mind, so be it. I care much more about what my Lord thinks of me than what you or anyone else on this thread thinks of me.

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