Funny Story: While studying at the Cerritos Library last weekend, I picked this book up for $1 and I haven’t been able to set it down since. It was buried deep within a bargain books shelf, under other weathered and lost books. On our way out of the library, Tina had to use the restroom so I decided to peruse the bargain books and lo and behold, MacArthur’s name jumped out at me. I figured I could sacrifice a McChicken sandwich and purchase the book.
1 John 4:1–Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
The son of Jack MacArthur (an accomplished preacher), John MacArthur Jr. was an athlete and attended Bob Jones University before transferring to Los Angeles Pacific College . He later obtained his Masters of Divinity from Talbot Theological Seminary. He graduated with honors. From 1964 to 1966, he served as an associate pastor at Calvary Bible Church, in Burbank, California and, from 1966 to 1969, as a faculty representative for Talbot Theological Seminary. Then, in 1969, he became the third pastor in the then-short history of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, CA. His daily radio program, Grace to You, which is now broadcast throughout much of the world, began as an audio recording ministry to provide cassettes of his sermons to church members who were unable to attend. In 1985, MacArthur became the president of The Master’s college (formerly Los Angeles Baptist College), an accredited, four-year, Christian college; and, in 1986, he founded The Master’s Seminary.
This book holds particular interest to me. Having been raised in a moderately charismatic church, I’ve always wondered about where the biblical references for signs, wonders, and miracles actually were; fortunately for me, John MacArthur wrote a book specifically addressing this issue 18 years earlier. Though it was originally published in 1991, Charismatic Chaos still holds truths and perspectives that are greatly applicable to today’s society. Some of the names and movements described in the book are still around today!
Full of anecdotes to put things into modern context, MacArthur isn’t afraid to meet critics head on and blatantly point out shoddy theology or shaky doctrine in this book. He writes about the gift of tongues, miracles, health and wealth gospel, and gives a clear thesis with solid evidence supporting a closed canon. I admire his boldness in stepping out as a voice against the trendy, yet unsound charismatic movement. He exposes different methods that charismatic leaders use to skew Scripture to fit certain trends or aims and calls out obvious discrepancies that most members of charismatic churches are too easily willing to overlook.
Most of all, I appreciate the biblical references. Known as a conservative powerhouse, MacArthur is often considered a relic in today’s evolving Christian landscape and many people are weary of his books. However, you can’t argue with the hermeneutics, or methodology, that he uses to examine often misinterpreted passages, debunking the claims of well-read charismatic theologians–every claim is backed exclusively by the Word of God and nothing else. I’ve had all my questions about the charismatic movement answered and what’s more, I now have biblical text to back it up.
Overall, this book is worthwhile if you’re looking to have solid biblical evidence debunking the charismatic movement. MacArthur mentions that not all charismatic believers have unsound theology and he acknowledges that emotion and experience are beneficial components of the Christian faith. It is not a book that was meant to destroy the charismatic foundation, no, MacArthur’s main point is focused on spiritual discernment. Ultimately, the soundness of our Christian faith relies on discernment that is only cultivated through proper study of the Word.