How John Piper Should Have Responded to John MacArthur

First of all, I would like to publicly take my stand obeying texts like Romans 16:17 to mark and avoid those who change the gospel. That is an entire category of texts, not just an isolated example. Paul says similar things in Galatians 1, and 1 Timothy 1. Peter, John, and Jude all address these issues in their epistles–even when John only has about a dozen verses worth of material in his second epistle. And of course our Lord had the strongest words (Matt. 7:21-23) for those who twist the gospel by means of charismatic phenomena and personality. So, let it be clearly said that false teachers are repeatedly gaining acceptance in the Christian church especially in the developing world, and they are doing so under the guise of a charismatic renewal. With my whole heart I oppose these false teachers and desire to bring to bear every gift that God gives me for the clarity of the gospel in opposition to those who deceive the poor of the world.

Secondly, the gist of MacArthur’s book is a call for giving the Bible its rightful place–restoring doctrine to a central position in the lives of God’s people. I can happily agree with the great majority of material presented at the conference and in the book. I pray that God will purify His church by causing charlatans and those who love the sensational to love Christ more than the flashy attractions of their eyes.

Using spiritual gifts in such a way that practically the canon of Scripture is reopened and a wild-eyed love for unbiblical sensationalism are having devestating effects within the church, and I, for one, am glad that John MacArthur had the Christian guts to take another unpopular stand for the truth of Scripture.

Ultimately, I disagree with him on his exegesis of prophecy and the definition of the gift of tongues, but if these gifts are held within the clear parameters of Scripture then a worship service that I would be involved with would be very much like those where MacArthur would feel comfortable with. The terrible errors of the prosperity preachers and the wolves in sheep’s clothing as well as the ignorant but well-meaning attitudes of lesser known pastors and churches are long overdue for a firm Biblical corrective. As has been said, the influence of Reformed charismatics is far less in the broader evangelical world than the “uprooted trees” of the charismatic mainstream ministers. Since the errors are so egregious and so popular, I happily lay my relatively minor disagreements to the side, and as such, I wholeheartedly endorse the major message at the conference and in the book in hopes that every charismatic Christian would rejoice when the Bible is given its rightful position of absolute authority.


That is the message he should have sent. But unfortunately John Piper did not write that.

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4 Responses to How John Piper Should Have Responded to John MacArthur

  1. Piper seems to be a very different sort of continuationist; one which most conservative evangelicals like because he also tends to be a biblicists. I think you make a good point that the issues of “prophecy” and “tongues” pose the greatest danger in undermining biblical authority (which MacArthur and Piper both soundly support).

  2. Paul Schlehlein says:

    In STRANGE FIRE, Piper’s name was usually buried in the endnotes, waaaaay back there with 500+ other notes with miniature words. If we are really to be careful of his teachings on this particular matter (which is why he quoted him), why not put their names in the main text? Maybe Nelson is more to blame than Johnny Mac.
    And in the site you link to, Piper was middle-ish. Either he is right and should rebuke MacArthur, or he’s wrong and should repent. Instead, he was softer than another author I really like that dropped the ball.

    • Hey, Paul. Seth mentioned “marking” people and you speak of one preacher needing to rebuke another. Well, maybe. But I think too much marking is going on and the biblical mandate for it is not being used exclusively for doctrinal heresy and other gospels. Speaking in tongues or practicing prophecy may be used to teach heresy or another gospel, and should then be “marked.” But so called “biblical” continuationists are not speaking heresy or preaching another gospel. Their position is simply bad Bible, which can be taught against while affirming a common bond in Christ.

      • Paul Schlehlein says:

        Hello Dave:

        Thanks for the dialogue. I’m not sure what your point is, if you are agreeing or disagreeing with Seth and I. Perhaps you are saying that the book was RIGHT in not pointing out their names because this is not a gospel issue and Piper is not teaching heresy. A few comments.
        1. Scripture does drop names of people who are doing less than gospel damaging things. Should Luke not have mentioned Mark’s name when he blew off Paul and Barnabas on their first journey? “Hey, cut young Mark some slack”, says the reader, “Its not like he was denying the Trinity.”
        2. MacArthur reveals throughout that this DOES touch gospel issues, and in fact is the great danger facing the church today.
        3. Not mentioning Piper’s name (and Carson’s and Grudem’s and Storms’) in the body of the final chapter (which he does in previous chapter and also in the end notes) seems to defeat the purpose of the chapter. That is, MacArthur is warning his friends (and us) that their “good name” in evangelical circles is being used by Prophet Tear Gas to substantiate his heresy. But if we don’t know who the “good name” is, it looses its punch.

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