Here is Brendt Water's part 6 in his analysis of John MacArthur's error.
I was going to skip MacArthur’s second point (remember when he said “First, I am concerned…”), as it’s another instance of an error noted earlier. But this argument is used so often by MacArthur and his defenders that it must (at least) be acknowledged again. I won’t quote the statements, as they’re far too long. But in short, he again confuses the sufficiency of Scripture (as beaten to death by eisegesis of 2 Timothy 3:16–17) with sufficient clarity of Scripture on all issues. This is the distinction that Anyabwile pointed out in his article and which MacArthur conveniently left out of his quotation of Anyabwile when trying to support his case.
Essentially what MacArthur is claiming is that because God doesn’t have to do something (like give post-Canonical revelation) that He doesn’t do it. This reasoning holds no water. On a larger scale, though, this is actually the crux of most of the arguments against continuationism – according to the die-hard cessationist, because the gifts are no longer necessary, they no longer exist.
But here’s the problem with that line of thought. As I noted earlier, God didn’t even have to give us the Bible. Or to put it in more personal terms, God doesn’t have to let me breathe. And to put it in the most general terms, God doesn’t have to do anything – He chooses to do what He does.
Move Along - Nothing to See Here
After the conference, there were some who accused me of saying that nothing good has ever come from those who are part of the charismatic movement. But that is not what I said, nor is it what I believe.
I’m guessing that the reason that he was accused of saying that was because of a tweet and Facebook post (both of which have mysteriously disappeared) attributed to MacArthur that said exactly that. Now, I realize that the tweet and post were created by someone else in the Grace to You organization. And as I have stated before, misinterpretation is not the fault of the source. But it seems a bit strange that when the misinterpretation occurs within one’s own organization, that the incident would be glossed over as though it never happened.
More Circular Logic
If you’re following the Challies blog posts, my analysis is now moving on to part two.
Challies brings up an oft-asked question:
Why focus on this area now when it threatens to inhibit unity and further divide true believers?
MacArthur’s response is nothing short of stunning:
In the New Testament, a factious man was someone who taught doctrine contrary to what was handed down from the apostles (1 Tim 6:3; 2 Tim 1:13). Calling for the correction of error in the church is not creating disunity. That disunity exists by virtue of the doctrinal defection. In fact, it is the call for a return to sound doctrine that is the effort of true unity, because real, biblical unity centers on doctrinal truth and is motivated by love.
To sum it up, MacArthur is saying, “I’m not being divisive because division is caused by the person who is in error, and I’m right, so I’m not the one being divisive.” He then goes on with several more Scriptures and applications from them that bolster his point if he’s right, but damn it horribly if he’s wrong. Naturally, he believes the former is the case, but he’s “proving” that he’s right with an argument that rests on the premise that he’s right. I’ve been on tea-cup rides that made me less dizzy.
Now We're Getting Somewhere
MacArthur continues his vagueness on the primacy of the issue:
Now someone might ask, “But isn’t this a secondary issue?” I would respond by asking, “Is the true understanding of the dignity of the Holy Spirit a secondary issue?”
Early on, he was quoting Anyabwile, who labeled this a “secondary-but-important” issue. Then he implied that the issue was secondary, but had a danger of negatively affecting primary issues. Now, by framing his response question this way, he all but states that this is definitely not a secondary issue. Is the cat being let out of the bag gradually?
If this was an actual discussion or debate – rather than a one-sided expression of beliefs – this would be called a false choice. By re-framing the issue in this manner, he has stacked the deck – only a moron would question the importance of “the dignity of the Holy Spirit.” And there is no doubt that MacArthur believes that this is what is at stake – after all, he earlier claimed to be defending the honor of the Holy Spirit. But that’s not the issue in question. Nor is it even relevant, as God doesn’t need man to defend him.
The Problem is Not the Source
MacArthur again pins the fault of error on the source, rather than the one who misinterprets:
As we’ve witnessed over the past hundred years, charismatic distinctives have opened the door to doctrinal deviations that have distorted the gospel …
Let’s turn that around to a topic that’s near and dear to MacArthur’s heart: reformed doctrine (aka Calvinism).
In the spirit of full disclosure, I am no longer reformed, but was a Calvinist for 12 years of my adulthood.
One of the misconceptions regarding Calvinism is that the up-shot of subscribing to that belief system is a total lack of desire to evangelize. After all, if the elect are going to heaven, period, man’s efforts are unnecessary. This misinterpretation is easily refuted in a number of ways; one of the quickest is to look at Acts 17:25 – God doesn’t need Calvinists or Arminians.
However, the misinterpretation is not without its merits, as there are people who claim to subscribe to reformed doctrine who also believe in this fatalistic approach and see no need to evangelize. And so we see that (to borrow from MacArthur’s words) reformed “distinctives have opened the door to doctrinal deviations that have distorted the gospel.”
MacArthur would have us throw out charismatic belief because it can be twisted into error. Is he equally ready to abandon his reformed beliefs?