False Doctrines in John MacArthur’s Strange Fire, by Eddie Hyatt

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The False Doctrine Behind John MacArthur’s Strange Fire, by Eddie Hyatt

In his latest book, Strange Fire, John MacArthur viciously labels the Pentecostal-Charismatic movement as “a false church as dangerous as any cult or heresy that has ever assaulted Christianity.” As I have read and reread his polemic, one thing that becomes clear is that MacArthur’s entire theological outlook is guided and determined by his commitment to the Calvinistic doctrine of cessationism, i.e., the belief that the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit were withdrawn from the church after the death of the original apostles of Christ. This, however, is a false doctrine that cannot be substantiated by either Scripture or church history.

Those who succeeded the original apostles as leaders in the churches make no mention of a cessation theory. They do, on the other hand, give testimony of miraculous gifts and healings occurring in their day. I have documented this in my book, 2000 Years of Charismatic Christianity, published by Charisma House. Consider the following quotes from church fathers recognized by both Protestants and Catholics as the legitimate successors of the original apostles.

Justin Martyr (100-165)–“For the prophetical gifts remain with us even to the present time. Now it is possible to see among us women and men who possess gifts of the Spirit of God” (Eddie Hyatt, 2000 Years of Charismatic Christianity, 15).

Irenaeus (125-200)–“In like manner we do also hear many brethren in the Church who possess prophetic gifts and through the Spirit speak all kinds of languages … Yes, moreover, as I have said, the dead even have been raised up, and remained among us for many years” (Hyatt, 16).

Tertullian (150-240)–“For seeing that we too acknowledge the spiritual charismata, or gifts, we too have merited the attainment of the prophetic gift … and heaven knows how many distinguished men, to say nothing of the common people, have been cured either of devils or of their sicknesses” (Hyatt, 17).

Novation (210-280)–“This is he [the Holy Spirit] who places prophets in the church, instructs teachers, directs tongues, gives powers and healings, does wonderful works … and arranges whatever gifts there are of the charismata; and thus making the Lord’s Church everywhere, and in all, perfected and completed (Hyatt, 20-21).

Origen (185-284)–“Some give evidence of their having received through this faith a marvelous power by the cures which they perform, invoking no other over those who need their help that that of the God of all things, along with Jesus and a mention of his history” (Hyatt, 18-19).

Augustine (354-430)–In his work, The City of God, Augustine tells of healings and miracles that he has observed first hand and then says, “I am so pressed by the promise of finishing this work that I cannot record all the miracles I know” (44-45).

John Kissinger [01/21/2016 9:40 AM]
Eddie L. Hyatt has made a great point from church history against the inadequacy of MacArthur’s Strange Fire book. We argued a similar point from a global missions perspective with Dennis Balcombe Hanny Setiawan and @Marius Lombaard http://cupandcross.com/strange-fire-not-in-a-global-pentecostal-context-of-ministry/

Jivko Stoilov [01/21/2016 10:27 AM]
Jivko Stoilov liked this on Facebook.

36 Comments

  • Walter Polasik
    Reply May 29, 2017

    Walter Polasik

    I could write volumes about this. He gets early Pentecostal history so wrong…it’s sad. Hank Hanegraaf does the same in his book “Counterfeit Revival”. It’s only when you read a good bit of revival history that you see just how wrong both of these guys are!

  • Troy Day
    Reply May 29, 2017

    Troy Day

    Hank Hanegraaf attacked Pentecostals too?

    • Walter Polasik
      Reply May 29, 2017

      Walter Polasik

      Oh yeah. I once had a copy of “Counterfeit Revival” But, after reading the book through, putting back in my collection and then somehow losing it, I never bothered to get another copy (even though I could have at one point). He just angered me. It’s for the same reason I didn’t bother getting “Strange Fire” either. I’ve already read “The Charismatics” and “Charismatic Chaos” and the logic and theology used in it are PITIFUL. Any well-informed Pentecostal in our circle here could write a handy defense against it. Cessationism is not so much a theology as a MOOD, an attitude or supposition taken a priori, never mind biblical evidence to the contrary. One of the things I do on other Christian pages I share on is plead with non-Pentecostal, basically anti-supernaturalist Christians to look at the Bible again and see the God of Daniel 6:27. My father, an Assembly of God pastor for 20 years was an alcoholic and epileptic before he came to Christ. When he was born again, the bottle vanished. When he was baptized in the Holy Spirit, I watched it happen (I was 11 at the time). After a service of a church in New Jersey, (an independent Pentecostal church) some brethren who knew my dad came and asked if he wanted prayer for needs. He’d been quietly wanting the Baptism in the Spirit but was also really new at praying out loud. I saw with my two eyeballs as he lifted his hands and began praying (in Polish. We had been attending a Slavic Pentecostal church for a year and a half at that point, fresh after New Birth). He’d hardly said three sentences when it looked like something from above him hit him. His whole demeanor changed. His voice was raised, eyes screwed shut and out of his mouth came words I couldn’t understand. Then it looked like he was thrown down to the floor. He fell back, hands still raised and continued speaking in whatever language God had given him. After this initial experience, he continued to use “tongues” on and off for the next three days (!) My own Spirit-baptism wasn’t as dramatic but I distinctly remember feeling my lips and tongue move on their own and hearing myself speak words I didn’t think up! That was kind of “on-edge” there. But it wasn’t weird either and I wasn’t in some “altered state of consciousness” as critics like to claim. I was perfectly conscious of my surroundings, of the joy I felt in my heart as I prayed. It was glorious and happened on a weekday in a small Assembly of God church with just me and the pastor (I was home from college and had confessed I’d never been, up to that point, Spirit-baptized). As for my dad, after his Baptism, everyone, including himself, noticed he never had any epileptic seizures ever again! This is why I can’t ever be a milk-toast Cessationist. I’ve seen the real thing. I was healed from a bad viral infection after an AG pastor anointed me with oil during a service. All the symptoms I’d had for 2 weeks and which had gotten worse vanished the next morning when I woke up. The power wasn’t in the pastor, or the AG, or the bottle of oil. It was in God the Holy Spirit who still heals and empowers.

    • Owen Isaacs
      Reply May 29, 2017

      Owen Isaacs

      Amen brother

  • Tom Steele
    Reply May 29, 2017

    Tom Steele

    Hank Hindergod, LOL. I like the quotes put out from early Church fathers, particularly those who are considered close, probably direct disciples in many cases, of the Apostles. Interestingly, I was recently looking into information on N.T. Wright, as I have seen his name coming up a lot lately, and drew some concerns with his teaching against the notion of God being a God of wrath, something that is clearly woven throughout the Bible. I happened across a message by MacArthur where he pretty much directly attacks Wright’s work. It’s sad to see that potentially many of the leading theologians of today can be so wrong about so many things, but perhaps this is simply an expected result of hundreds of years of a biblical faith that is not built on the biblical culture and influence of the Hebrew people who wrote the Bible in the first place. It cannot be much of a coincidence that there are well over 40,000 Christian denominations that do not agree with each other and all seem to contradict at least some parts of the Bible, a book compiled of the writings of Hebrew men about a Hebrew God within the setting of a Hebrew culture.

    • Walter Polasik
      Reply May 29, 2017

      Walter Polasik

      But see, Tom, you have it backwards. The Gospel isn’t about the Hebrew people (or Jewish from Judah). The Gospel encompassed the early Jews and went out into the Gentile world. Paul himself so joyfully said that God is also the God of the Gentiles. Paul himself also (as I’ve already told you before) wrote AGAINST the heresy of the Judiazers which you promote (sadly). And the reason God’s people don’t agree with the Gospel as understood by the First Century Church is simply because people keep adding their own crap to it. The Gospels show baptism by immersion so what do people do? Somehow substitute baby-baptism instead and by sprinkling of all things! Then they try to formulate an elaborate theology based on Old Testament circumcision. Terrible! Look what the RCC did with the Baptism in the Holy Spirit…they turned it into the rite of “confirmation”. Instead of the real thing as described in the Bible, you have the supplicant getting tapped with two candles. And so on, and so forth. So no, we don’t need to go around calling Jesus “Yashua”, “Yehoshua” , “Hamashiach” talking about the “Ruach-hakodesh” the glories of “hashem” and glad that we are “bene-Elohim”. The Gospel’s purpose was not, Tom, to JUDIAZE us but to show us, in the Jewish man Jesus, the God of all nations. Paul was a Jew but worshipped with Gentiles and you didn’t see him trying to make them over into Jewish synagogues buddy. He didn’t wear tassels or a yarmulkle either. Your form of “correct” Christianity is simply a slavish falling back into the works of the flesh just as Paul warned the Galatians. You began in the Spirit and now are doing ceremonial and symbolic things again, returning to the “weak and beggarly elements” that you had been freed from. See, Lutherans have their candles, stoles and surplices (know what those are?) and you have your tassels, feast-days and quasi-Jewish atmosphere. It ain’t the Gospel and you’re no better than the Roman Catholic who created that amalgam by bringing Old Covenant elements into New Covenant faith.

    • Tom Steele
      Reply May 29, 2017

      Tom Steele

      I am going to shut this down with one verse…

      Wait for it…

      It’s coming…

      John 4:22…

      Are you ready…

      Here it is…

      You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.

      Wait, what?

      Did the Bible really just say that?

      SALVATION IS FROM THE JEWS???

      OMG, your whole theology is completely shattered.

    • Walter Polasik
      Reply May 29, 2017

      Walter Polasik

      Tom Steele No it isn’t Tom, and any who read our two posts will see which represents the Gospel. Your logic is wrong. Salvation is OF the Jews not Jewish in nature. Salvation came from Israel but they were to be a light to the nations. It’s interesting that you quote John 4. Here’s another one coming. God seeks those who will worship Him in Spirit and in truth….not with tassels and feast days. (Rom. 14:5). Tom, I plead with you, get back to the Gospel.

    • Tom Steele
      Reply May 29, 2017

      Tom Steele

      Hmmmm, let’s see, if the Bible is truth, and the Torah is part of the Bible, and the Torah talks about wearing tzitzit and celebrating specific feasts, as well as keeping the Sabbath, eating only clean things, etc., etc., then doing those things would be worshiping Him in spirit and in truth. Moving on now, I got better things to do then sit here and respond to nonsense.

    • Walter Polasik
      Reply May 29, 2017

      Walter Polasik

      Tom Steele You show me one place where Paul or Peter or James or John ever encourage any of the Gentile believers to wear tzit-tzit. Go ahead. I know you won’t ’cause you can’t. But I won’t poke fun at you here. This is too serous for wit, Tom. If you know Christ and love Him, get back to the simple Gospel minus Jewish hold-overs that take you back to the works of the Law.

    • Tom Steele
      Reply May 29, 2017

      Tom Steele

      Maybe, but there are plenty of places where they seem to encourage other things like keeping the Sabbath, observing the Feasts, even maintaining a clean diet. I have shown this conclusively in numerous writings I have posted on this page. With that being the case, it can easily be assumed that all first century Believers wore some form of fringes according to the commandment of Torah. In order for it to assume they did not you have to infer that the Torah was abolished, which is a theological view that completely opposes everything the New Testament, including Paul, says about Torah.

    • Walter Polasik
      Reply May 29, 2017

      Walter Polasik

      Tom Steele You don’t have to assume anything of the kind. What actually WAS abolished was the Old Covenant, Mosaic, Levitical system. This is plainly stated for us in Hebrews 7:12ff. The other reason why we may be confident that Paul nor other Jewish apostles enjoined Jewish practices on new Christians was the very distinction and nature of their gentile culture. The most basic distinction of the practicing Jew was circumcision for the male and the eating of certain foods and abstaining from others by both male and female. But with the New Covenant superseding the Old, both circumcision and dietary laws were abolished (as is seen from Paul’s discussion of BOTH in his epistles. That, I hope, you won’t deny). As far as obeying Torah is concerned, Paul’s emphasis was on not slavishly following Torah in such a way as to expect to do in the flesh, as a Christian what one could not do, in the flesh as Old Covenant Jew. Either which way, Paul plainly says that Torah was our schoolmaster to Christ. It still is. As we witness of Christ, we also bear witness of the world’s sin, of man’s inability to obey God and of absolute truth as embodied in Torah’s pronouncements. The Ten Commandments are not “Ten Suggestions” and they were never abolished. However, what Jesus instituted went so much more BEYOND the Old Covenant requirements. Instead of worshipping God in some particular place, Jesus insisted that God be worshipped above all “in Spirit and in Truth”. Over the centuries, Jewish people had finally gotten rid of their penchant for idolatry and conforming to pagan customs and modes of spirituality and focused on worshipping the One True God. Yet, they still had their fallen sin natures and sin to deal with. The prayer of David in Psalm 51:5 was still necessary. Jesus emphasized the goodness of Torah but went further in showing the heart-intent behind the text of Torah. Paul understood that Torah condemned us precisely where we failed to live it. The merit of Christ absolved us from desperately trying to measure up and failing. What was needed was not perfection in the old man. What was needed was new wine in new wineskins (which is what Jesus was talking about in context of that discussion). What was needed was a “new creation”. The key important thing about the New Covenant is the change from slavish obedience to Torah to being led by the Spirit of God Himself. With God indwelling His saints, there is no need to drag them to obey Torah. And it isn’t in the outer, ritualistic things that God takes pleasure so much as in the transcendent, moral and ethical life lived by a Spirit-led, spiritually-seeing believer that matters.

    • Walter Polasik
      Reply May 29, 2017

      Walter Polasik

      It’s not necessary to “Judiaze” Gentiles in order for them to get the point of what God intended in Torah. Put another way: Tom, don’t complicate what God has made so simple, even a child can get it. 😉

    • Tom Steele
      Reply May 29, 2017

      Tom Steele

      If you believe that, then you should go and get yourself a dog and start having sex with it. The ONLY place the Bible forbids this activity is in the Old Testament, specifically the Torah, more specifically the Book of Leviticus… the Mosaic Law. So, if you believe what you are saying and these laws are abolished, and if keeping them is an act of making the work of the cross in vain, then the only thing left for you is to do the exact opposite of what the law dictates. So have at it, I’m done here.

    • Walter Polasik
      Reply May 31, 2017

      Walter Polasik

      Tom Steele You’re done because you’re out of answers. (And it’ s easy to “trump me” when I’m not here.) But the truth is that the moral laws you’re talking about AREN’T ONLY mentioned in Torah, in Leviticus. See, this is where your knowledge of the Bible gets you in trouble. For all of your hooting and hollering about “correct” Judaic Christianity, you fail to see that those parts of it that are no longer valid, that have been superseded by the New Covenant, aren’t repeated in the New Testament. The morals laws, my friend, ARE repeated. Romans 1, among other passages repeats the Levitical injunction against homosexuality and it goes without saying bestiality goes with it. But it’s curious that your should hurl such an invective against me. You must be pretty angry that I’ve upset your apple cart, Tom. Well, you have to learn to face the truth sometime.

    • Tom Steele
      Reply May 31, 2017

      Tom Steele

      “…and it goes without saying bestiality goes with it.” But, you are inferring into the text something that isn’t there. The only place in the Bible that says not to get a tattoo is in Torah also, and a LOT of Christians, including a LOT of Pentecostal Preachers, have preached against getting a tattoo over the years.

    • Tom Steele
      Reply May 31, 2017

      Tom Steele

      Have you read my work? Can you systematically and point by point prove my claims wrong, including the plethora of academic sources I cite?

    • Tom Steele
      Reply May 31, 2017

      Tom Steele

    • Walter Polasik
      Reply May 31, 2017

      Walter Polasik

      Tom Steele I can go through your work point by point, sure. Citing “academic sources” doesn’t make your theory right. Remember Erik Von Daniken? “Chariots of the Gods”? He cited sources too. He had the Ark of the Covenant as an alien interface device, wouldn’t you know. By your analogy of how frequently a doctrine is mentioned in Scripture, (you cited certain ones in Leviticus only). the Church shouldn’t make a big deal over Spiritual gifts. In fact, maybe they WERE “just for that time”. I mean, after all, they’re only mentioned fully in one letter, I Corinthians. At least tongues-speaking is. No, you and I know that’s a bogus approach and so is your approach to the difference between the Covenants. Do you not eat shellfish or shrimp? According to Torah, you SHOULDN’T. It’s right up there on the prohibition list along with homosexuality. Eh?

    • Walter Polasik
      Reply May 31, 2017

      Walter Polasik

      Tom Steele The truth has already been on fire for a long, long time before modern Judiazers came along. Right now what you’ve got is not heat and light….but a lot of smoke. It’s what happens when you burn wet twigs. 😉

    • Tom Steele
      Reply May 31, 2017

      Tom Steele

      No, I do not eat shellfish, shrimp, pork, or any other unclean thing. As far as spiritual gifts, Pentecostals do make too much of them and not enough of the FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT. 1 Corinthians 13 explains very well what the gifts are without the fruit… a bunch of vanity and noise.

    • Walter Polasik
      Reply May 31, 2017

      Walter Polasik

      Tom Steele Ah, so in addition to being a bona fide legalist you’re also a closet cessationist. Well, I can’t say I’m surprised. The two usually go together. 😉

    • Tom Steele
      Reply May 31, 2017

      Tom Steele

      Not at all, I am all for the gifts of the spirit, but I have always emphasized the need to promote the fruit of the spirit. I wrote a term paper on that very topic in a History of Revival class at a PENTECOSTAL COLLEGE. Got an A on the paper.

  • Philip Lazar
    Reply May 29, 2017

    Philip Lazar

    He refused to debate Michael Brown on this subject. He is so tricky. Cessationism is a devilish doctrine. Why bothered about John MacArthur.

    • Walter Polasik
      Reply May 29, 2017

      Walter Polasik

      He refused because he knew Brown was one of many who already know MacArthur’s theology frontwards, backwards and inside-out. John wouldn’t last 10 minutes in that debate and he knew it. All Brown had to do was accuse him of anti-supernaturalism and it would stick like glue. MacArthur also knows that scholars like the late Dr. Walter R. Martin who evangelized the cults, also believed in all the gifts being for today. He put cessationism down in 4-minutes flat. I don’t know that Martin ever became a Pentecostal. He also didn’t want to get mixed up in some of the craziness that was going on at the time. He wanted to minster to the whole church so he stood as a Baptist minister who believed in the continuity of the gifts and the manifestation of the Spirit. MacArthur is no Martin, of that you can be sure. His grasp of the Bible isn’t as thorough. Even his friend John Piper disagrees with him and he’s had to retract his “totelion” theory out of his own study Bible because other Greek scholars told him it wasn’t legit. Well, MacArthur is still casting the same bait and sitting with the same rod, but the fish aren’t biting in his lake.

  • Brandon M. Gates
    Reply May 29, 2017

    Brandon M. Gates

    Absolutely

  • Troy Day
    Reply May 29, 2017

    Troy Day

    I watched Michael Brown in one Cessationism with some bald calvinist dude debate and beside repeating himself he did not say much. At the end they both got trophies for debating 🙂

  • Angel Ruiz
    Reply May 29, 2017

    Angel Ruiz

    James White… Was bald guy…

    James White debates oneness very well

  • Troy Day
    Reply May 29, 2017

    Troy Day

    Could be as well – if a good debate is to keep repeating what you believe whiteout making much sense to anyone else 🙂 Which leaves me to wonder how a hard core reformed theology Calvinist can defend anything but the Trinity? What’s next Ricky Grimsley open theism calivnators?

  • Ricky Grimsley
    Reply May 29, 2017

    Ricky Grimsley

    If you listen to james white he will explain to you that he uses the same hermeneutical approach to everything as he does the trinity.

  • Owen Isaacs
    Reply May 29, 2017

    Owen Isaacs

    I see this man’s teachings (John MacArthur) and anything he writes as a form of Godliness but denying the power. In other words “false doctrines.”

  • Daniel J Hesse
    Reply May 31, 2017

    Daniel J Hesse

    It is not about John, Hank, or anyone else. We have in our circles created issues around the Holy Spirit and failed to recognize the Head of the Church.

  • Troy Day
    Reply May 31, 2017

    Troy Day

    Daniel J Hesse MacArthur’s books specifically looks only at some charismatic circles. He actually accept Pentecostals to a certain extend but writes again extreme charismania which most Pentecostals (especially in this group) also disagree with

  • Daniel J Hesse
    Reply May 31, 2017

    Daniel J Hesse

    Troy the major trend today appears to be a group of churches moving beyond denominational bounds and basically operating beyond any distinctive at all.

  • Troy Day
    Reply May 31, 2017

    Troy Day

    The major trend where?

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