John MacArthur Interview – as to his present stance on the Charismatic Movement – and in regard to his Books on the subject written some years ago. 

Interviewer: Has your stance on the Charismatic Issue softened?

MacArthur: No I’ll just give you a little bit of history on that. I’ll make a general statement then I’ll back it up.

The Charismatic Movement is largely the reason the Church is in the mess it is today.

In virtually every area where Church life is unbiblical, you can attribute it to the Charismatic Movement – in virtually in every area – Bad Theology, Superficial Worship, Ego, Personality Elevation, Prosperity Gospel – all of that comes out of the Charismatic Movement.

Now I knew at the beginning that this was a disastrous embracing by the Evangelical Church. It happened by the way, at Van Nuys, California. It happened at an Episcopalian Church in Van Nuys, California, Pastored by a man named Dennis Bennett, who got the Baptism in the Holy Spirit – and that lepted out of the Contained Pentecostal Tradition. The Pentecostal Church with its claims – of its Miracles and Healings, and with its claims of Signs and Wonders – was contained. It never spread to the mainline Church – it was always seen as aberrant, – it’s Theology as aberrant. But when an Episcopalian got the experience it jumped out of its containment, and then the Phenomenon started being embraced by Baptists, and dead Church Methodists, and Presbyterians and Roman Catholics. It invaded the Church, and then what happened –  it demanded to have acceptance – it demanded to be embraced, it demanded to be included – and you had very strong leaders coming out and demanding that the Evangelical Church embrace them. And I knew at the time the deadly character of this, because once you give a place to bad Theology, then Theology is no longer an issue, and once you corrupt Worship, then Worship is going to fall to the lowest tolerable level – and so, on and on, it went.

So I wrote the book The Charismatic’s, and Zondervan published that – it was back in the Seventies (the late 70’s) – and you know the Evangelical Church pretty much rose up and said, yes we see that – and Moody Monthly picked it up and syndicated it, in a series of monthly issues – and Moody Monthly syndicated every chapter in the book and had The Charismatic (Book) Cover on the Cover of Moody Magazine – and they were saying, ‘Yes we were there, this is where we belong’.

It wasn’t too many years after that, that the climate dramatically changed and the Charismatic Movement has gained the ascendancy and become the Public Face of Christianity. It is the Face of Television Christianity – It is primarily the Face of Radio Christianity – In the Christian Bookstore it is largely the prevailing view – in some form of Charismatic mysticism, or whatever. So it has done a takeover and it has redefined Christianity in people’s minds and it is an aberrant form of Christianity of course, and so – No, my view has not changed – it’s Theology is bad – it is unbiblical – it is aberrant – it is destructive to people because – it promises what it can’t deliver – and then God gets blamed when it doesn’t come.

It is a very destructive movement.

Interviewer: Now you mention Cessationism. That I think, that Cessationism being the view that the Apostolic Gifts, and the Apostolic Office, have ceased – that they are no longer in operation. That has kind of fallen out of favor it seems to me – 30 years ago you were either a Charismatic or a Cessationist – now as you point out, there are lots of non Charismatic’s that are also non Cessationists. I think it was Martyn Lloyd-Jones who started that trend, who said ‘I don’t see any exegetical, or no passage of Scripture that says that the Apostolic Gifts have ceased’, so the argument goes – ‘if you can’t prove Cessationism exegetically, then it is not a valid Doctrine, because we want our Doctrine to be Biblical’ – How do you respond to that?

MacArthur: Well I think 1 Corinthians 13 is where you prove that – ‘whether there be tongues, they shall cease’, – and we just did that going through 1 Corinthians 13. You can talk about the linguistics of that – I have a whole explanation of that in the Commentary on 1 Corinthians 13 – following 1 Corinthians 14 – the whole series that we went through. I think there is plenty of exegetical evidence to indicate that. Those are Apostolic Signs of Apostles – they are called that in 1 Corinthians 12:12. The Apostles have ceased – they’re the foundation of the Church Ephesians 2:20. The Church is built on the Apostles and Prophets – you don’t put the Apostles and Prophets on the second or third floor, they are the Foundation of the Church – Apostolic Gifts have ceased. You can go to the Book of Acts – you see healings have ceased completely – people get sick and there’s no body around to make them well. All of those things were Signs to draw attention to the true Apostles preaching the true Gospel before there was the written text of Scripture inspired by the Holy Spirit. Now you don’t need to verify a Prophet, you only need him to verify the Scripture. And I have often said, if these Signs and Wonders did still exist, do you think they would be given to someone with bad Theology – to me do you think God would give Benny Hin the power to do miracles – to authenticate really bad Theology? I mean, if those gifts existed, they would belong to the purest, most faithful sound Teachers of God to authenticate their teaching – not to hair-brain people, who are just spewing out whatever comes to their head, and is prompted by Satan and not the Holy Spirit.