Monday, November 18, 2013

A Response To John Piper's Defense of Charismaticism and His Rejection of John MacArthur's Description of His View As An "Anomaly"

Below is an excerpt of a response by Doron Gladdens to Piper's defense of Charismaticism and the rebuke he received at the Strange Fire Conference (also audio here):

The point of this introduction is that orthopraxy is driven by orthodoxy. In other words, men do 
what they believe. Men's decisions are driven by their worldview. More than that, ministry decisions are made based upon one's theological convictions, not apart from it. Enter in the craftiness of our adversary. The more questions I have had about Piper the more I realized that a synthetic 'wall of 
graciousness' and 'charity' had been erected around [him]. This was not the graciousness of Scripture. It is not the graciousness which tells us to rebuke a brother who has sinned. This is the familiar 'touch not my anointed' proof-text which keeps the mind of men enslaved to otherwise obvious errors of their choicest theologians. It is the mentality of “Ok, I know ______is wrong, but you be careful what you say about the man of God.” It is unbiblical theologian worship, similar to the Apollos, Paul, worship of the Corinthians. Nowhere in Scripture are we told to remain silent in the face of error. Although we are told to be slow to speak, we are never told to be quiet in the face of error. Even when those errors are prevalent in the men we love the most. And if those errors are pervasive, consistent and undeterred, we are too disassociate with those who will not heed the instruction of Holy Scripture. Those who place themselves beyond admonishment are not biblical pastors, but personality cultists. 

Enter in...Strange Fire. Biblically, from top to bottom, the modern conference was pinpoint 
accurate. It showed what I had always known to be true. The shepherds are too friendly with the 
wolves. And the wolves have quite the following. The synthetic wall of graciousness had been 
laboriously erected for so long, that when it was threatened, men feigned hatred for the faithful 
proclamation and expose of Word-Faith; Charismatic errors. Strange Fire exposed modern day Corinth and her best friends. Strange Fire called men to true worship and called those who were flirting with false worshippers to come back into the sheepfold of truth.

John MacArthur labeled Piper an anomaly. I believe that anomalies exist. They are peculiarities. Those rare occurrences which are beyond explanation. An anomaly does things outside of the parameters of Scripture and arrives at biblical premises. However, when I see John Piper, I do not see 
an anomaly. I see a tree which bears fruit. Except the tree bears corrupt fruit. And we have painted the fruit 'ripe' colors, erected a wall of graciousness and kindness around this tree, thrown away rotten fruit which has fallen from his branches and said, “See, all is well with him.” But since the Strange Fire Conference, Piper has not hidden his disdain for the cessationist position. He has hid his disdain in literary eloquence, but it is evident nonetheless. He has argued the normative necessity of 'prophesy' and 'tongues'. Let's be honest, he has thrived because men care more for charity than discernment. It is easier to flatter than to rebuke. But the Scriptures speak soundly against flatterly and positively about rebuke. Rebuke is part and parcel of the Christian walk. The moment we minister in light of men's perceptions, we become their slaves.

However, calling spiritual gifts normative because 
one does not want to 'quench the Spirit' is a philosophical, subjective argument. It is, at best, lazy 
hermeneutics (bible-interpretation) and a flippant understanding of why Paul wrote to the Corinthians in the first place. To suggest that when men say the sign gifts have ceased because the gifts pointed to something or Someone, such men have quieted the Holy Spirit is to misunderstand the ministry of the Holy Spirit altogether. Here is the crux of the matter, it is lucrative to hold to abberant views. It is lucrative to hold to Charismatic understanding of gifts. It is fleshly gratifying, and appeals to spiritual pride. This is 'why' Paul wrote to the Corinthians in the first place.

It is easier to make peace with Christ's enemies than to fight against them. Peter, the Lord's apostle knew this at the campfire on the night Our Lord's mock trial. It is easier to follow after the Lord and deny him at the same time, like Judas, than to be fed to the lions for His namesake, like the faithful witnesses. But we have been called to know and pronounce. To know and declare. To know and refute. Piper must repent of his alliances. They have clouded his biblical arguments. He has imposed his nefarious friendships on his understanding of the text. He has confused young pastors who love him as they embrace him but are leery to embrace his error. Piper's arguments from Corinthian perspective is eerily familiar to the arguments made by the faithful Word-Faith/Charismatic. But nothing is more tempting to the choicest theologians than popularity, esteem and embrace. Satan uses such to quiet men from being bold witnesses, rebuking others when they err, and being faithful because of how men may feel about our faithfulness. 

Why are Piper and others hesistant to show John MacArthur the same charity he has shown 
them? Because they are unconcerned with arriving to a point by sound exegesis. They are guitly of the very thing Strange Fire rebuked. Redefining the 'work' of the Holy Spirit and then claiming that they do not wish to 'quench' the 'spirit'. But to which spirit do they refer? The Spirit of truth does not cause us to give a platform to the enemies of Christ, as Piper and his friends continue to the present day. Light has no fellowship with darkness (that too, is in the Corinthian epistle...). The Spirit of truth is not 'open, but cautious'. The Spirit of truth has definitively stated the purpose for which He has pointed men to the beloved Son. And with the closing of the canon, the Holy Spirit has testified that God has spoken in finality through His Son (Heb. 1:1-2). 

Yes, you might say, but what of this greek tense and greek nuance? The languanges are 
supposed to aid the text, not bring confusion upon it. God does not speak prophetically unless that 
prophesy is followed by verse and chapter. Postmodern impositions on Scripture, and subjective desires to feel open to God's work always leads away from revealed truth. It always plays with the sacred text and proposes that we have missed something. That we should look elsewhere. We have no need to look for any more signs. The sign is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The sign is His atoning death and resurrection. Jesus made this clear to the sinful sign-seeking Jews in his day. But somehow, do we think ourselves more sophisticated than they were? When Jesus said, “A wicked and sinful generation seeks 
after a sign,” He hardly meant that we should be open, but catious. And that we should allow for sign 

We have a sign. The Scriptures alone. Not audible voices, not foretelling, not ecstatic utterances. 
God confirmed His Gospel through the sign of raising up His Son. We must not clamor for more signs, 
because the final sign will be His coming in clouds to prevail upon His enemies. We must no longer 
base our theology on the rebukes of Scripture, but learn from the rebukes, so as not to repeat their consequences. It would be as foolish as saying, “Let us go into the wilderness seeking manna and complain when it is given.” We are to learn from Corinth. We are to be as heartbroken as Paul was over her spiritual abuses. Although it is lucrative and 'spiritual' to repeat her excesses in American 'Christianity', we must rebuke the carbon copies and original excesses just like the Apostle Paul did with unflinching and unrestrained love and boldness. And as for John Piper, you must either come to a decision about your faulty alliances born from faulty ecumenical desires, or your orthodoxy will prove that you loved to write about God, tell us of his glory, but it was only a niche. Men practice what they believe. A tree is known by present fruit, not past accomplishments. 

~End quote. Excerpts from Doron Gladdens, The Master's Seminary student, from  A Response to John Piper

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