Now Why Did Charles Spurgeon Have to Go and Prophesy?

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As many will know, the Strange Fire Conference, headed up by John MacArthur, exploded within the blogosphere world this past week. The main thrust of the conference was to challenge the charismatic-continuationist movement of the past 100 years, with some pretty heavy-handed, sweeping charges against a movement that is well over 500 million strong. I did share some brief thoughts, also linking to some of the more important articles I read from other charismatic-continuationists (with one coming from a non-charismatic).

But, I was interested to find a short video in one of Adrian Warnock’s articles. The video actually consists of a short exposition from Sam Storms (well-known reformed, charismatic-continuationist). In the video, Storms lays out some interesting prophecies (or words of knowledge) given by the famous British preacher, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Listen/watch below.

Now, what one needs to note is that Spurgeon is one of the great fathers of Reformed Baptist theology. This is important to note because this is the main theological position of John MacArthur.

Seems a bit of conflict between Spurgeon’s theology and MacArthur’s.

Now, of course, for many, the way to “get out” of this theological quagmire is to argue that cessationists do actually believe God does as he wills, thus allowing for exceptional situations in which miracles and prophecy would occur. It’s not something to really expect or actually seek – it’s abnormal.

But I was struck at how the video shows that Spurgeon had these personal revelations in more than just a one-off situation. These are Spurgeon’s own words in his autobiography.

And this has been one of the main problems from the past week: Why would this conference make such sweeping statements like this?

“The charismatic movement offers nothing to true worship because it has made no contribution to biblical clarity, interpretation, or sound doctrine.” (quote from here)

Not only that, but in a video interview with Phil Johnson from a previous year, MacArthur blames the charismatic movement as the main reason for the church being in “the mess that it is in today”!

Again, this is more than asking us to be wise and guard against excesses. This is sweeping aside a movement that, over the past 100+ years, has seen your fair share of Christ-centered fruit around the world (not to mention that I’d argue it is both biblical and historical – see my previous article with specific links to my articles).

So, yes, let’s recognize the problematic teachings of some of the TBN (or God Channel) megastars. But let’s also confess the very helpful theological teachings of many theologians of the past and that of the charismatic-continuationists that have arisen over the past decades – Sam Storms, Wayne Grudem, John Piper, Adrian Warnock, Andrew Wilson, Gordon Fee, Max Turner, Jack Deere, Roger Stronstad, Vinson Synan, Craig Keener, D.A. Carson and a host of others (not to mention the thousands of charismatic-continuationist seminary graduates who are now pastoring, teaching, training and involved in global missions, but are not so well-known, as is the usual case).

And, just to note more interesting thoughts from varying pastors and theologians, I encourage you to read this post from today at Internet Monk, one in which Chaplain Mike takes a very close look at the theological teachings of such stalwarts as Martyn Lloyd-Jones, the Puritans, Jonathan Edwards, John Wesley and other studied theologians. You might be slightly surprised.

While I believe MacArthur’s intentions were noble in trying to defend what he believes is true biblical theology, I believe a line was over-stepped in his somewhat ruthless approach. And not to mention that he wasn’t as prepared to recognize what God has done across the varying denominations, groups and movements of God’s people outside of the caricatures he produced.

This movement known as the Pentecostal-charismatic-continuationist branch of Christ’s church carries much more weight in healthy theology and practice than one might have been led to believe. And with our faithful brothers and sisters across Latin America, Africa, India and the Asiatics living this out in a way that challenges our nice and tidy western systems, we can truly know God doing something more powerful than we could ask or imagine.

The continuationists will continue to move forward in the purposes of God.

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7 thoughts on “Now Why Did Charles Spurgeon Have to Go and Prophesy?

    • Trib –

      Yes, I do remember reading that. What I think mennoknight does is a slight of hand, as I see from many cessationists (I refer to this briefly in my post above). It’s claiming they believe God can do supernatural work (miracles, healings, etc) because he’s God. But then they say the Bible teaches these gifts ceased, that we shouldn’t seek/ask God for such, and they denounce the charismatic-continuationist movement with one sweep. This is what MacArthur did. It seems like an easy get-out-of-jail-free card, having our cake and eating it too.

      Now, having noted this, I was quite interested in mennoknight’s comment here: I’ve witnessed far more extravagant miracles than that, involving broken bones with accompanying x-rays, and I’m a hard and aggressive cessationist.

      The main thing is the caveat “far more“. If he had said he’d witnessed 1 or 2 extravagant miracles, it would seem in line with your overall perspective. But “far more“? I don’t know how many would point to the number “far more“, but this doesn’t seem to line up with the label “hard and aggressive cessationist“.

      Oh well.

      • I don’t understand that either. It should be a cinch that I agree with him in general FAAAAAR more than I do you, but I’m gonna ask him. All the cessationists I ever knew said that IF there were any miracles it was because God just decided to do it. I have literally heard people say that someone was healed by the deception of Satan rather than believe God did it in answer to prayer.
        As I type this my own Pastor’s wife is 6 months pregnant after 16 years of marriage and being medically unable to conceive. Their 6 year old adopted daughter prayed in January for this. The little girl made the announcement to the church. Ya shoulda been there for that. The roof came off. That was one HALLELUJAH shoutin dancin n praisin good time. As you may have guessed, my church bears NO resemblance to the screw ballery MacArthur alleges.

      • For goodness’ sake, we working together here. Now, as you’ve asked me to believe about you, I ask you to truly consider that I’m not such a bad bloke after all. 🙂

        I also left a comment on mennoknight’s blog with some interaction and the same question. It’s awaiting moderation.

        Cheers

    • But you can at least respect that my engagement with issues such as science & faith, women in ministry, appreciation of a more balanced postmodern framework and other issues that a certain branch of evangelical American Christianity doesn’t approve of is not being done in any kind of way to spurn God nor Scripture. Some of your comments have come right out with pretty harsh things to say without knowing me, my journey, my seeking of God, the accountability in my life, my study of Scripture, etc. I’d only encourage you to be a bit more reserved in your judgments when you first come across someone’s blog.

      Blessings

  1. Thank you for your helpful comments in your blog and for sharing the YouTube video by Sam Storms. I come from a Reformed Baptist position but came to see that God, who is sovereign, works miracles, and by the Holy Spirit enables spiritual gifts to continue.

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