John MacArthur Plans Biblical Inerrancy Summit; Answers Critics on Teaching Against Charismatic Movement

Exclusive Interview: Influential Pastor Says New Generation 'Needs to Be Brought in Line With the Truth'

John MacArthur
Pastor John MacArthur speaking during the Shepherd's Conference at Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, Calif., March 7, 2014. |

John MacArthur, influential author, pastor and seminary president, recently announced during the Shepherds' Conference held at Grace Community Church plans for a biblical inerrancy summit to bring a new generation "in line with the truth."

MacArthur believes the "true doctrine of inerrancy is under attack" and "anything that undermines the absolute inerrancy of Scripture destroys the foundation of all Christian truth."

"Trusting the Bible is everything," he stressed to The Christian Post.

Shortly after the conference at the church in Sun Valley, Calif., MacArthur was asked by The Christian Post for an interview to answer questions about his focus on biblical inerrancy. He was also asked about the criticism he has faced for teaching that the Charismatic movement is leading people astray and dishonors the Holy Spirit.

Criticism of MacArthur peaked during the release of his book, Strange Fire: The Danger of Offending the Holy Spirit With Counterfeit Worship, and a three-day conference with the same name last year.

MacArthur's answers to questions about the criticism and the focus on biblical inerrancy given in an interview conducted by email with CP are below.

CP: You took a lot of jabs for criticizing the Charismatic movement and Pentecostal Christians during the release of your book Strange Fire and during your conference by the same name. Can you frame your argument in terms of how you see this ongoing discussion? Both from what you see as their case and yours.

MacArthur: You're right, the book and the conference certainly provoked a lot of criticism, but the strong response was welcome since the intention was to force biblical thinking on this issue. Going forward, our desire is to hold this vast movement up to the pure light of Scripture to reveal its errors. This discussion is usually framed by emotion and experience.

Because experience and subjectivity are not authoritative, then the Bible – the source of all authority – is the only thing of consequence. Scripture is the revelation of divine truth. The truth is always experienced in the Christian life, but experience itself can never be allowed to define the truth.

I think the challenge to examine Scripture was made clear in the Strange Fire conference. We're continuing to offer biblical perspectives on this issue through the Grace to You blog, The Master's Seminary lecture series last month, and even a recent sermon on tongues (Feb. 23, 2014). All of this is available at the Grace To You and Master's Seminary websites.

CP: At the Shepherds' Conference held earlier this month you announced an intense focus on Bible inerrancy for the rest of this year leading up to next year's conference that will include a summit on the subject. Can you describe how this idea came about?

John MacArthur
Pastor John MacArthur announced during the Shepherd's Conference held earlier this month that next year's conference will include a summit on biblical inerrancy. Photo taken March 7, 2014. |

MacArthur: The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, released in 1978, set the standard for inerrancy. Since that document was produced 36 years ago, a new generation has arrived that needs to be brought in line with the truth. Current publications demonstrate that the true doctrine of inerrancy is under attack. Some of these attacks are subtle while others are more blatant, but anything that undermines the absolute inerrancy of Scripture destroys the foundation of all Christian truth. Trusting the Bible is everything. Next year's Summit will address this crucial issue, and give it the attention it deserves.

In every generation, pastors and teachers are accountable to God for defending the authority and inspiration of Scripture. Trusting God's Word is directly connected to trusting His person. Trusting His Word is also the necessary conviction of every Bible expositor. Preaching biblical exposition and believing in inerrancy are inseparable. Next year's Summit is intended to act as a beacon for the benefit of the church where we intend to expose the fallacies, silence the critics, and reaffirm the trustworthiness of Scripture.

CP: Who will be speaking at the conference and who will be attending the summit? Why were they chosen?

MacArthur: We were overwhelmed by the response of the men we asked to be a part of the Summit. Not one of them was willing to miss this opportunity. We have a dynamic line-up, including today's preeminent defenders of truth: Al Mohler, Ligon Duncan, Sinclair Ferguson, Carl Trueman, Iain Murray, Ian Hamilton, Derek Thomas, Miguel Nunez, Steve Lawson, RC Sproul, Mark Dever, Paige Patterson, Steven Nichols and Kevin DeYoung. These are leaders who are willing to stand up for the integrity of Scripture without compromise.

In addition to those men, the faculty of The Master's Seminary will contribute in-depth seminars on issues related to inerrancy. TMS is the official sponsor of the event. As an institution passionately committed to inerrancy and biblical exposition, the seminary understands the implication of any erosion of this doctrine.

CP: Please describe what you would like to see happen at the Summit.

MacArthur: It would be impossible to overstate the importance of this doctrine, and because of that my primary goal is to make the case for inerrancy so strong that it strengthens the faithful and convinces the confused, and hopefully even the deniers of this essential truth.

This Summit is intentionally designed to bring together men of conviction and influence to make a clear statement on this issue for our generation. It's our prayer that the statements, articles, and books that come out of this Summit will honor our God who has spoken in His Word.

CP: What are the biggest problems today's churches are facing? Can these problems be resolved and how?

MacArthur: Potentially, the biggest problem is always related to Scripture. There are those who deny its absolute authority and inerrancy with severe consequences. There are those who misinterpret it and use it to teach error. There are those who understand its truth but fail to apply and proclaim it. Errors regarding Scripture lead to a lack of discernment in the church, which is like spiritual AIDS. The church has a deficient immune system, and then becomes sick with a thousand heresies.

These issues must be addressed and will be at the Shepherds' Conference Summit. The Master's Seminary, along with other faithful institutions, is committed to rigorously training pastors and missionaries who faithfully defend, interpret, and apply the Word of God. We want to encourage all those who desire to be faithful to join this effort.

A video about the Shepherd's Conference Summit can be viewed below.

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