Beliefs

John MacArthur vs. Mark Driscoll: Megachurch pastors clash over charismatic theology

Megachurch pastor Mark Driscoll claims that his books were confiscated at the Strange Fire conference put on by another megachurch pastor John MacArthur.

Driscoll, who pastors Mars Hill Church in Seattle, is a reformed pastor who is more open to charismatic theology. MacArthur, who pastors Grace Community Church in southern California and has been named in the top 10 most influential pastors in a survey by LifeWay Research, has long criticized the charismatic movement, calling it “a farce and a scam.”

http://instagram.com/p/fnmZF4sgoO/

However, Driscoll’s claim is being disputed.

Rich Gregory, assistant to John MacArthur, said he was there when it happened and that Driscoll’s books were not confiscated and there was nothing confrontational.

“It was great, we were happy to have him at the conference. He brought books to hand out. We explained to him that all the books distributed on campus need to be approved. He told us that he wanted them to be a gift to us from him. One of our conference directors took that gift and brought them up to the offices. If you hear from him and he wants them back, we can send those back if he wants them. We were not looking at him like, ‘Boy you’re trying to stir up controversy.’ I don’t want to judge his motives for what he wasn’t trying to do. I wish they had actually stayed for the actual content of the conference.”

A call to Mars Hill has not been returned.

Both pastors have new books they are promoting.

Driscoll, who has been in Long Beach, California, for a conference called “Act Like Men,” also posted earlier this week on the Holy Spirit, one of the three persons of the trinity and central in charismatic teaching.

“In more fundamental tribes, the Holy Spirit has two primary ministries: to write the Bible and convict us of sin. Basically, you are a nail, the Bible is a hammer, and the Holy Spirit’s job is to pound you,” he wrote. “In charismatic tribes, the fruit of the Spirit is emphasized: the Holy Spirit is the one who causes our character to become more like Jesus’ as we pray and worship passionately.”

MacArthur’s conference of about 4,000 people, ends tonight. The schedule included others like Joni Eareckson Tada and R.C. Sproul.

“Our intention is to see this issue discussed broadly,” Gregory said. “We’re trying to have an honest dialogue about what scripture says about these issues.”

Charisma, a magazine for the charismatic movement, published a column earlier this week by Michael Brown pleading with MacArthur to reconsider his conference.

“In this book, Pastor MacArthur argues, ‘The ‘Holy Spirit’ found in the vast majority of charismatic teaching and practice bears no resemblance to the true Spirit of God as revealed in Scripture,’ even accusing the modern charismatic movement of attributing the work of the devil to the Holy Spirit,’ Brown writes.

“In fact, he claims that leaders of the movement are ‘Satan’s false teachers, marching to the beat of their own illicit desires, gladly propagat[ing] his errors. They are spiritual swindlers, con men, crooks, and charlatans.'”

The charismatic movement in the U.S. was begun by Episcopal priest Dennis Bennett in 1960. Its parent movement, Pentecostalism, promoted practices such as speaking in tongues and prophesying.

There are about 300 million charismatics in the world, and pentecostals and charismatics make up nearly 30 percent of Christians, according to the Pew Research Center on religion.

Some tweets add context to the debate:

https://twitter.com/edstetzer/status/391328590815830016

Editor’s note: This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

About the author

Sarah Pulliam Bailey

Sarah Pulliam Bailey is a national correspondent for RNS, covering how faith intersects with politics, culture and other news. She previously served as online editor for Christianity Today where she remains an editor-at-large.

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