These are observations about claims Mac and Co. make. They are not intended as a point-by-point analysis of Strange Fire. That will come in due time, Lord willing. My goal here is to protect John MacArthur’s admitted hero Martyn Lloyd-Jones from John Macarthur.
In chapters 3 and 4 JM relies on Edwards’ analysis of revival, and I think it is a good–if incomplete–analysis of any “spiritual” movement.
- Does the work exalt the true Christ?
- Does it oppose worldliness?
- Does it point people to the Scriptures?
- Does it elevate the truth?
- Does it produce love for God and others?
It is a good list. However, I would say with the apostle Paul, “I would that you all prophesy.” But back to the points above. The logical danger with rhetorical questions is that if the opposition can bite the bullet and the position is logically unchanged, your entire argument, such that it is, evaporates.
Case study: Wayne Grudem.
No one can accuse Wayne Grudem of not exalting Christ. I don’t know him personally, though we did exchange friendly emails some months ago, but I highly doubt he is worldly. Does he point people to the Scriptures? Seriously? As an inerrantist, I am certain Grudem can affirm 3 and 4. 5 is a given.
How would a Word-Faither do? That’s a fair question, but if you lump Wayne Grudem and Sam Storms in the same camp with Copeland and Hinn, you are sinning against your brothers and violating the 9th commandment. Only a party spirit can remain untouched by such a rebuke.
The Missing Case of Martyn Lloyd-Jones
A search engine on Strange Fire lists only seven appearances of Martyn Lloyd-Jones.
p.44 lists MLJ saying that the Spirit exalts Christ. Presumably this is a slam against much of charismatic worship. Fair enough. (I do wonder if the Spirit wants us to worship like Dutch-American amillennialists).
p.261 has MLJ saying the office of prophet has ceased. Okay, he said that. He also said other things, and in any case I don’t think that exegesis stands up to Grudem’s scholarship.
p.117-118 say basically the same thing.
p.312 lists MLJ’s Christian Unity.
p.319 is the index.
p.281 is an endnote for Great Doctrines of the Bible.
And that’s it for MLJ. So what’s the big deal? Well, here is what Macarthur has to say about Martyn Lloyd-Jones:
He influenced countless preachers (myself included), and he stood steadfastly against the superficial, entertainment-oriented approach to preaching that seemed to dominate the evangelical world then as it does now. Lloyd-Jones still desperately needs to be heard today.
Again, you might ask, “What’s the big deal? Anybody should say that about MLJ.” Macarthur elsewhere says,
There is a stream of sound teaching, sound doctrine, sound theology that runs all the way back to the apostles. It runs through Athanasius and Augustine…and runs through the pathway of Charles Spurgeon, and David Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and it keeps running.
Well, here is the problem. Macarthur does not allow (de facto) the distinction between continuationism (myself) and charismaticism (insert favorite bad guy). He notes
Number seven, by asserting the gift of healing has continued to be present, the continuationist position affirms the same basic premise that undergirds the fraudulent ministry of charismatic faith healers. If you say the gift of healing is still around, and you say it whimsically, there’s no evidence it’s around, either experimentally or biblically, but if you say it’s still around, then you have just validated healers.
Who would want to do that? Are they not the lowest of the low? Are they not the worst of the worst? They don’t go to hospitals. They prey on the most desperate, the most severely ill, the most hopeless, the most destitute, very often the poorest, telling them lies and getting rich. Who would want to do anything to aid and abet them?
Said another way:
Premise 1: If continuationists assert “the miraculous,” then they validate faith healers.
Premise 2: They assert the miraculous.
(3)Conclusion: They validate faith healers (Modus Ponens)
Prem. (4): Faith healers are the lowest of the low (agreed)
Prem. (5): If anyone validates them, they, too are the lowest of the low [4, 1]
(6) If person A asserts the miraculous, then he, too, validates faith healers [2, 5]
Of course, I challenge premises 1 and 3. Someone could still say, “Yeah, so. You are the lowest of the low because you believe in the miraculous.” Fair enough. I will now lower the boom.
Those people who say that [baptism with the Holy Spirit] happens to everybody at regeneration seem to me not only to be denying the New Testament but to be definitely quenching the Spirit” (Joy Unspeakable, p. 141).
“If the apostles were incapable of being true witnesses without unusual power, who are we to claim that we can be witnesses without such power?” (The Sovereign Spirit, p. 46.)
I think it is quite without scriptural warrant to say that all these gifts ended with the apostles or the Apostolic Era. I believe there have been undoubted miracles since then (Joy Unspeakable, p. 246.)
Was it only meant to be true of the early church? … The Scriptures never anywhere say that these things were only temporary—never! There is no such statement anywhere (The Sovereign Spirit, pp. 31-32.)
“To hold such a view,” he says, “is simply to quench the Spirit” (The Sovereign Spirit, p. 46)
Premise (7) Martyn Lloyd-Jones asserts the miraculous.
Now the Strange Fire Brigade faces a painful difficulty: reject (1)–(6) or accept Premise (8)
(8) Martyn Lloyd-Jones validates faith-healers. [6, 7 MP]
Someone could still respond, “Well, MLJ is not God. He isn’t right on everything.” No he isn’t. He is an amillennialist, for one. But let’s go back to Macarthur’s claim: “anyone holding these views gives credence to faith healers and is the lowest of the low.” He must apply that to MLJ. The logic is impeccable (up to a point, anyway).
In analytic philosophy we call this a “defeater.” It shows his position is either counter to the evidence or it cannot be held simultaneously with the evidence. Either his view of Martyn Lloyd-Jones is wrong and it has to be abandoned (as the evidence makes abundantly clear), or he must give the defeater to his claim that continuationists validate faith healers.
He will do neither.
His position collapses.