MacArthur on the Dangers of a Subjective Authority in the Church

30 Dec

Like any form of false religion, theological liberalism began as an abandonment of the authority of God’s Word. Centuries earlier, the medieval Roman Catholic Church had experienced a similar, though more gradual, departure—exchanging the authority of Scripture for the authority of ecclesiastical tradition and papal decree. That is why the Reformation was necessary. By departing from the sole authority of Scripture, both Roman Catholicism and theological liberalism became enemies of true Christianity, fraudulent versions of the very thing they claimed to represent.
The modern charismatic counterfeit is following down that same perilous path—basing its belief system on something other than the sole authority of Scripture and poisoning the church with a twisted notion of faith. Like the medieval Catholic Church, it muddles the clear teaching of Scripture and obscures the true gospel; and like Schleiermacher, it elevates subjective feelings and personal experiences to the place of highest importance. The extent to which both of those corrupt systems destroyed the lives of millions is matched by the doctrinal devastation spreading from charismatic error and confusion.
Though many charismatics give lip service to the primacy of Scripture, in practice they deny both its authority and sufficiency. Preoccupied with mystical encounters and emotional ecstasies, charismatics seek ongoing revelation from heaven—meaning that, for them, the Bible alone is simply not enough. Within a charismatic paradigm, biblical revelation must be supplemented with personal “words from God,” supposed impressions from the Holy Spirit, and other subjective religious experiences. That kind of thinking is an outright rejection of the authority and sufficiency of Scripture (2 Tim. 3:16–17). It is a recipe for far-reaching theological disaster.

MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2013). Strange fire: the danger of offending the holy spirit with counterfeit worship. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.


Posted by on December 30, 2013 in Quotes


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2 responses to “MacArthur on the Dangers of a Subjective Authority in the Church

  1. Kevin Zuber

    December 30, 2013 at 1:44 pm

    Hello Joel and Deanna,
    You don’t know me but I’ve been following your posts for a while now and I just wanted to say thank you–I’ve found your posts edifying and encouraging. I pray for you every time I see another posting. Keep up the good work in Ghana.
    Kevin Zuber

    Kevin D. Zuber, PhD.
    Professor of Theology
    Moody Bible Institute
    820 N. LaSalle Blvd.
    Chicago, IL 60610


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