John MacArthur Continues Case Against Charismatic Movement at 'Strange Fire'; Backlash Includes Stern Words by Samuel Rodriguez

Pastor John MacArthur continued to lay out his case against the Charismatic movement on Thursday, the second day of the Strange Fire conference hosted at his California church. However, a backlash of criticism, in full swing since the beginning of the event, included a stern statement from the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, a Pentecostal minister and president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.

Pastor John MacArthur has harsh words against the charismatic movement in the U.S. during the Strange Fire Conference in Sun Valley, Calif., Oct. 17, 2013.
Pastor John MacArthur has harsh words against the charismatic movement in the U.S. during the Strange Fire Conference in Sun Valley, Calif., Oct. 17, 2013. | (Photo: Screen capture via Grace to You)

MacArthur's punches thrown during the three-day conference included calling out mainline, Pentecostal-influenced pastors such as T.D. Jakes and Joel Osteen, and congregations that he says focus on "spirit-filled" services rather than Christ-centered doctrine.

"If the Charismatic movement was being produced by the Holy Spirit, the glory of Christ would prevail everywhere," said MacArthur during the morning session Thursday. "It would be Christ dominated and everyone in the movement would be bowing the knee to the true Christ in belief of the true Gospel."

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He continued, "The people would be humble. They would be joyful. They would be sacrificial. They would be confessional. They would be declaring Jesus as Lord and themselves His slaves. They would be denying themselves, taking up their cross and following Him wherever He led."

MacArthur called the Charismatic movement a "long war on truth."

"The true people of God have always had to battle the false prophets and the liars," he said. "What makes them effective is the deceptiveness of it. It is a strange irony to me, in the Charismatic movement, that if you criticize them, if you endeavor to be vigilant and discerning, and if you endeavor to contend for the truth and hold them to Scripture and expose their error, they will condemn you as the sinner … How do I know that? I have lived that."

Rodriguez, who is considered the leading spokesperson for the Hispanic evangelical community, much of which is a part of or has a background in the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement, said in a statement sent to The Christian Post via email that MacArthur misses the mark by a wide margin. Rodriguez has been an Assemblies of God ordained minister since the age of 23. His bio includes the statement that in 2010, he was called to start a multi-ethnic, Christ-centered, spirit-filled, Bible-based church in Sacramento, Calif.

"John MacArthur suffers from spiritual, cultural and theological myopia," stated Rodriguez to CP. "With great due deference to a Christian leader many of us admire, his conclusions regarding the largest and fastest growing of global Christendom, the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement, speaks to a man ignorant of the community's unbridled commitment to biblical orthodoxy.

"Unfortunately, this blessed Christian leader cannot differentiate between substance and style, or engaging a biblical metaphor, between Christianity's 'wine' and the varied 'wineskins.' In other words, Mr. MacArthur should be focusing on the fact that while many in the church continue to abandon our Christian faith, the Pentecostal/Charismatic community continues to offer the church a legitimate growth mechanism."

Rodriguez went on to imply that MacArthur's arguments lack an understanding of the movement's Christian influence around the world.

"Correspondingly, with great due deference of course, he must be made aware that the optics of the criticism also imply a cultural naiveté," Rodriguez states. "The epicenter of the world's Pentecostal and Charismatic demographic stems not from North America but from the continents south of the equator.

"In essence, he is condemning the very Christian narrative responsible for shining the light of Christ to God's children in Africa, South America, the Caribbean and elsewhere. As a result, this movement is one of the few non-white led and arguably the most ethnically diverse Christian movements in the globe today."

Rodriguez concludes by stating he encourages "this gracious preacher to preach the Word."

"In a world full of relativism, decadence, strife and apathy, John MacArthur should focus on preaching the Word: Christ crucified, resurrected and coming back again," he recommended.

MacArthur has long been an outspoken advocate of weighing the claims and activities of those in the Charismatic movement against Scripture. The conference is tied to next month's release of his book, Strange Fire: The Danger of Offending the Holy Spirit With Counterfeit Worship.

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