I thought MacArthur's Charismatic Chaos sent a heat-seeking missile into the Charismatic movement. MacArthur himself, though, does not separate from well-known Charismatic, C. J. Mahaney. He has had Mahaney preach at his own church a few times and also speaks with Mahaney in many places all over the country, cooperating with him in ministry and worship. The Bible doesn't teach anywhere to write a book about false doctrine and practice, but God's Word does tell us to separate from it. You might not sell as many books if you practice separation. This is the kind of self-denial that Jesus called for in His presentation of the gospel.
Over at Hip and Thigh, Fred Butler, a member of MacArthur's church and staff member at Grace to You, MacArthur's radio program, has written about some men who have attempted to point out apparent inconsistencies in the practices of Grace Community Church. I don't know these men and I couldn't say whether what they write about MacArthur is true or not. I don't give them any endorsement. However, Butler's blog post made me curious. These men are claiming that Grace Community is involved in Purpose Driven Church Growth ministry philosophy of Rick Warren. In summing up this methodology, Butler writes:
I can clearly see what a purpose driven ministry looks like: The watered down preaching, trendy music replacing good worship music, the emphasis on getting people to feel comfortable rather than on sound doctrinal teaching, marginalizing older saints as not having an important role to play in the life of the church, attempting to be relevant toward current cultural issues.
I want to focus on the second, third, and last of the characteristics expounded by Butler: trendy music replacing good worship music, the emphasis on getting people to feel comfortable rather than on sound doctrinal teaching, and attempting to be relevant toward current cultural issues.
The men who Butler referenced have criticized a part of Grace Community Church called "The Guild," a singles group operating within MacArthur's church. It has its own website and it is right now promoting a Christmas Concert with a group called "The Narrow Gate" with the Christian/country/pop singer, Christian Ebner. Butler defends his church by arguing that these groups by definition have a different tone than the whole church. In the advertising for this concert as a part of the marketing of the church that "The Guild" uses, they have invited the "mainstream" church to be with them for this Christmas concert.
Where in Scripture do we see the church segmented like this? Where does God's Word say that one part of the church will have a different emphasis than others or will accomplish what it does in a different way than the rest of the church? Where in the Bible does this philosophy come from? And what is tone?
Christian Ebner is trendy and anything but narrow---very much the broad road in sound and style. You can hear some of their selections at their myspace site. The music is fashioned after worldly lust. You can also see that "The Guild" is relevant in current cultural issues. And this music gets people to feel comfortable, especially unsaved people. The whole rock concert philosophy is part of the modern day church growth movement. In Purpose Driven Church, Rick Warren says that choice of music is the most important trait for church growth. He advocates finding what people want to hear and giving it to them. This philosophy contradicts what the Bible teaches about worship, which is that we give God what He wants. Getting what we want and offering it to God runs mutually exclusive to scriptural worship and confuses people about this most important activity for men. This is also the direction that Grace Community takes, especially in "The Guild." Peter Masters in his own criticism of Grace Community Church describes it this way:
Worldly culture provides the bodily, emotional feelings, into which Christian thoughts are infused and floated. Biblical sentiments are harnessed to carnal entertainment.
If it isn't "The Guild," then it is the youth department, holding its yearly Resolved conference, which Peter Masters again explains:
Resolved is the brainchild of a member of Dr John MacArthur’s pastoral staff, gathering thousands of young people annually, and featuring the usual mix of Calvinism and extreme charismatic-style worship. Young people are encouraged to feel the very same sensational nervous impact of loud rhythmic music on the body that they would experience in a large, worldly pop concert, complete with replicated lighting and atmosphere. At the same time they reflect on predestination and election. . . . (Pictures of this conference on their website betray the totally worldly, showbusiness atmosphere created by the organisers.)
In times of disobedience the Jews of old syncretised by going to the Temple or the synagogue on the sabbath, and to idol temples on weekdays, but the new Calvinism has found a way of uniting spiritually incompatible things at the same time, in the same meeting.
God designed nothing but the same Christianity for singles as He did for everyone else in the church. This idea of customizing the church program to the unique fleshly desires of a particular age group fits the Purpose Driven profile. Grace Community Church caters to youthful lusts, exalting the wisdom of men. If church members happened to desire carnal amusement on their own, it would be one thing, but to offer it to lure them to the church property to satiate themselves is another. The flesh surely can be trusted to lust for its own delights on its own without the help of the church, couldn't it?
Is there somewhere in Scripture that says that a church should organize people's entertainment? What does mixing worldly amusement with worship do to the discernment of professing saints? It all gives the wrong view of God no matter how many passages a church exegetes. You can teach the Holy Bible, but what about holy conduct and offering up holy worship to God?
John MacArthur writes a book, Ashamed of the Gospel, and his church shows shame for biblical methods that depend on God for growth. He writes Hard to Believe, but his church wants to make it easier for the singles and youth to believe by giving them the fleshly lusts of the world. He authors Our Sufficiency in Christ, but his church puts confidence in the worldly methods to draw in new people.
Why write books that admonish everyone else about it when you are going to do it yourself? Why? People like it and it works. It doesn't glorify the Lord, but people get what they want. Why follow anything John MacArthur has written if it isn't good enough for him? It's a blatant double standard.
I can already hear the defenses. I've read them over at Pyromaniacs among other Grace Community and MacArthur apologists. The defenses are very similar to those offered in revivalist fundamentalism. The one criticizing us "has a small group of supporters." "He's a hyper fundamentalist." He's one of those "King James Only types." In other words, no substantial defense, just name-calling and blatant arrogance. There ought to be soul searching, but there is circle-the-wagons, close ranks, and often say whatever is necessary to deflect from what this is really about. These groups and their methods disobey Biblical methods, corrupt Scriptural worship, and diminish the true means of change in people's lives. They are a worldly attraction that sends the wrong message about the purpose of the church.
Know what? God is our Judge. What I've written is lightweight compared to what the Lord already knows. When there is no Scriptural defense, there should be confession and repentance. May God then have mercy on their souls.