Pastors and Bloggers Join Debate After 'Prophet' Rebukes John MacArthur During Worship Service

( [email protected] ) Aug 25, 2015 12:03 PM EDT
Numerous pastors, theologians and bloggers have weighed in on a recent incident at Grace Community Church, where a self-proclaimed prophet accused Dr. John MacArthur of heresy due to the pastor's stance on the doctrine of cessationism.
A self-proclaimed 'prophet' interrupts pastor John MacArthur during a worship service held at Grace Community Church. YouTube/ScreenGrab

Numerous pastors, theologians and bloggers have weighed in on a recent incident at Grace Community Church, where a self-proclaimed prophet accused Dr. John MacArthur of heresy due to the pastor's stance on the doctrine of cessationism.

As reported by the Gospel Herald, the brief confrontation took place earlier in August during a service at the church in Sun Valley California, where MacArthur has served for over 45 years.

The 'prophet', speaking with a Scottish accent, maneuvered his way to the church's platform and confronted MacArthur saying: "You have grieved the Holy Spirit of God. Your doctrine of cessationism is an error. He has been grieved, John MacArthur. I've been sent here to tell you that. You're sharpening a sword and they're cutting each other".

Before being escorted away by the security team, the man continued: "If you don't believe in prophets; you're looking at one. God have mercy on your teaching of truth. Your doctrine of cessationism is an error, John MacArthur. It's an error. I've been sent to tell you it's an error. For the unbeliever: repent of your sins! The Kingdom of heaven is close! You don't have much time! Jesus Christ is coming back soon! God bless you, people of God".

After a few moments, MacArthur resumed the worship service and gently responded to the man - who was by this time escorted out of the service - stating, "If he were a prophet, he would not act like that".

The 76-year-old pastor, best known for his internationally syndicated radio program Grace to You, holds to a belief that the more spectacular spiritual gifts -such as speaking in tongues, prophesying and healing- ceased after the closing of the New Testament canon or when the last apostle died in the First Century.

Following the incident, Executive Director of John MacArthur's preaching ministry, Phil Johnson, took to Facebook to share his thoughts, asserting that the "deluded self-proclaimed prophet interrupted our worship at Grace Community Church" to "deliver an angry, almost incoherent, but threatening rant against cessationism--as if he were bent on proving the cessationists' point."

He also responded to those who criticized the security team's treatment of the disruptive man, writing, "I personally spoke to this man an hour after the incident, and he had no complaint about the treatment he received. In my judgment, he was shown far more grace and kindness than the situation actually warranted."

In an op-ed for Evangelical Focus, pastor and writer Will Graham also defended John MacArthur, arguing that the pastor is "no heretic" who has historically been faithful to Scripture and did not deserve such treatment.

"My question is: why did one of these so-called prophets target a servant of the Lord like John MacArthur? Where are the prophetic voices speaking out against the real abuses committed in the church? Where are the spokesmen condemning liberal Christianity and pro-homosexual theology? That's what I want to know. MacArthur, as far as I am concerned, is a prophet in our generation. Few like him are left. May our God raise up ten thousand more like him!" he writes.

"[John MacArthur] no heretic," Graham continues. "He has been faithful to Scripture, to his wife and to his church for over 45 years. He did not deserve such treatment. The Lord will give him more jewels in his crown for such a test. His gracious response to the 'prophet' was praiseworthy."

Conversely, in an op-ed for Charisma News, popular radio host and author Michael Brown first laments that the video has gone viral, as it provides "embarrassment for the charismatic movement and fodder for those who deny that the prophetic gifts are for today."

However, he recalls how in the past, MacArthur has "called the charismatic movement 'a farce and a scam' that 'has not changed into something good,' claiming that it represents 'the explosive growth of a false church, as dangerous as any cult or heresy that has ever assaulted Christianity.'"

Thus, Brown argues that the self-proclaimed prophet was likely not upset about the doctrine of cessationism itself, but "rather the aggressive and divisive way in which Pastor MacArthur has taught it, maligning many of God's choice servants and mocking those who worship the Lord in ways that are unfamiliar to him."

In light of this, Brown appeals to his "esteemed colleague, who has done so much good for the cause of Christ for so many decades and who has stood like a rock in the midst of spiritual compromise" to "display that same grace in your public differences with those of us in the charismatic movement-more than a half-billion strong-and would to God you would display that same grace and agree to sit down privately and discuss the relevant issues as men of God...How can that not be to the glory of Jesus' name and to the good of His people?"