Here is John Piper’s brief response:
John MacArthur indeed called Piper’s thoughts on tongues and prophecy “an anomaly”–the interaction about Piper begins about 42 minutes into their second Q&A.
There are many areas of doctrine in which well-respected, godly theologians hold opposing views, and the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit are just one of them. Again, we are thinking here of the best and most gospel-centered of the continuationists. Why focus on this area now when it threatens to inhibit unity and further divide true believers? Why not focus on baptism or eschatology or another issue?
(MacArthur explains, at length, that “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.”)
Later he writes:
Tim Challies has begun what apparently might be a multi-part interview with John MacArthur about his recent controversial Strange Fire conference. Here’s an example of a question, and an excerpt of MacArthur’s response.
In his review of your book, Thomas Schreiner says that you painted with too broad a brush and failed to acknowledge some of the good qualities of the reformed continuationist movement. He says, “The clarion call of warning should be modified with clearer and more forthright admissions that many charismatics adhere to the gospel and are faithful to God’s Word.” How would you respond?
Certainly, I would affirm that there are charismatics who adhere to the true gospel, and I acknowledge that point in the book. Here are a couple examples:
“On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther tacked up 95 theses on the church door at Wittenberg. With this act, he hoped to provoke a discussion among the scholars about the abuses of the indulgences by the Roman Catholic Church. He was not trying to create a public furor by any means, but within a fortnight, these theses had spread through the country like wildfire. The last thing Luther had in mind was to start some kind of major controversy, but nevertheless major controversy did begin.” —R.C. Sproul
In honor of Reformation Day, Ligonier Ministries is offering the downloadable edition of R.C. Sproul’s ten-part series Luther and the Reformation for free. (Both audio and video.) Check it out! And Happy Reformation Day!
I’ve been reading a bit about John MacArthur’s recent Strange Fire conference (also the title of his new book), and of all the strange things I’ve read, this was the strangest: R.C. Sproul prayed in tongues. No, not at the conference, but earlier in his life. Here’s the opening of his article:
MANY PEOPLE ARE SURPRISED, AND SOME ARE shocked, when they hear of my involvement in the charismatic movement years ago.
It began in 1965, shortly after I returned from graduate study in Holland to teach philosophy and theology at my alma mater. Some of my senior students who were preparing for ministry kept talking to me excitedly about their experiences with the Holy Spirit and about receiving the gift of tongues.