Before I begin a review of Charismatic Chaos it is only fair to point out that I have really come to appreciate John MacArthur Jr. I cannot think of many contemporary authors whose beliefs and theology line up so closely with my own. So having been challenged to discern what the Bible says about speaking in tongues, signs and wonders and other marks of the charismatic movement, it only made sense that I would read Charismatic Chaos. Though written over twenty years ago, this book is as relevant to the Christian world today as it was then. The edition I read is the second edition, which was updated and published in 1992.
In recent years the Charismatic movement has completely infiltrated the church. Aspects of the movement are visible in almost every denomination. And as the movement grows in strength and acceptance it becomes more and more bizarre. It is not unusual to hear about flat tires being healed, fillings in teeth being turned to gold and other baffling (and unproven) phenomena. Almost any time of day or night there is a channel showing a faith healer healing with a touch or knocking people to the ground. Left unchecked, the movement will continue to grow and spread, becoming ever more strange.
The main issues MacArthur focuses on are modern day prophecies, ongoing revelation, Biblical interpretation, miracles, healings, tongues, and the “health and wealth” gospel. Ultimately, his arguments against these are based on a few points of doctrine.
First and foundationally, MacArthur teaches that experience cannot be accepted as a valid test of truth. Experience is only valid if it conforms to God’s word. This is hardly groundbreaking theology, yet is theology that has been forsaken by many Christian churches. Experiences can never be held as co-equal in importance to the Bible. Where there is a conflict the Bible must always prevail.
Second, he teaches that God’s inspired revelation ended with the closing of Scripture. Though God still reveals Himself, He no longer does so in an inspired way. Therefore, no other revelation can be held equal to the Bible. This puts all other revelation in subjection to Biblical principles.
Third, he teaches that the signs and wonders done by the apostles ended with the end of the apostolic era. These were signs given by God to achieve a specific purpose. They were given to prove that the apostles were God’s messengers on earth and that they were trustworthy sources of teaching. MacArthur shows how even through the Bible we see the signs disappearing so that even before the close of Scripture with the writing of the book of Revelation, these signs and miracles had ceased. This does not mean that God can no longer perform miraculous deeds. It does mean, though, that God no longer uses men to initiate these miracles as he did in Biblical times. Speaking in tongues also falls into the category of gifts that were given by God for a short time and a specific purpose.
MacArthur deals lovingly yet necessarily harshly with the Charismatic movement. He pulls no punches in rooting out the teachings that he considers dangerous. He does this all from a very simple, Biblical viewpoint. He does not waver in his view that the Charismatic teachings go directly against the pure simplicity of the gospel.
A fantastic Biblical examination of the Charismatic movement, this book comes with my emphatic recommendation.
Title: Charismatic Chaos
Author: John MacArthur Jr.