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Posts tagged ‘Fuller Theological Seminary’

Cessationist John MacArthur Can’t Put the Real Holy Spirit Fire Out.


Pastor John MacArthur
Pastor John MacArthur

Author’s Note: Recently I became aware of the buzz surrounding a new book, soon to be released, by a prominent cessationist who has been around for a long time. I was asked by the Pneuma Foundation to write a review of this book for its Pneuma Review publication. I thought it important enough to share with all of you. Here it is.

Strange Fire by John MacArthur is basically an attack on anything and everything related to thecharismatic movement and the various movements descended from it, as if the whole of it were composed of one monolithic set of doctrines and practices that all of us espouse. It invalidates anything that smacks of the supernatural or of emotion freely expressed in God’s presence.

MacArthur pours his vitriol—and I mean vitriol—through the filter of his own prejudices and theological presuppositions in a way that blinds him to the differences between the various movements within thecharismatic stream and causes him to deny the existence of the majority of us who do not agree with or practice the abuses he objects to. In doing so, he ignores or reinterprets, through very poor exegesis, the clear teaching of much of the Scripture as well.

Ironically, as he formulates his attack, he builds upon concerns that many of us in the movement share. I share his concern over abuses in prophetic ministry, aberrant doctrines, fallen leaders, manipulative fundraising, acting out in fleshly ways that are not of the Spirit and fakery on the part of some associated with the movement. As an insider, I confront these things as well, seeking what is genuine and calling for biblical grounding. MacArthur commits grievous error, however, in claiming that these abuses characterize the movement as a whole. They do not.

For example, I am a charismatic and have been from my childhood in the 1950s. I am also a 1976 graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary. Consequently, I have been steeped in exegetical principle and the doctrines of the historic faith from a time when Fuller described itself as “reformed” in its theology. Consequently, I do not embrace aberrant theologies.

Reading MacArthur, you’d think all charismatics espouse prosperity teaching. We do not. You’d think we are all Word of Faith adherents when, in fact, they constitute a small minority and promote a doctrine many of us oppose. I actually wrote a rebuttal of those two doctrines in my own book Purifying the Prophetic.

On a side note, in his introduction, MacArthur asserts that Fuller Theological Seminary abandoned the doctrine of biblical inerrancy in the early 1970s. I was there from 1973 until my graduation in 1976, and I can state categorically that Fuller at that time held to inerrancy. MacArthur is wrong on many fronts and should be held accountable for what is either blatant intellectual dishonesty or just inexcusably sloppy research.

In reading MacArthur uncritically, you’d think that all charismatics focus in unbalanced ways on manifestations and behavioral aberrations like barking and animal sounds. We do not. Over the years, I’ve spent at least a cumulative five months in meetings at the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship, now known as Catch the Fire, serving for 14 years in leadership as a regional coordinator and international council member. Never in all that time did I hear an animal sound. I think MacArthur must be reacting to what he has heard from other revival critics rather than his own eyewitness experience. This, again, constitutes intellectual dishonesty and sloppy research.

MacArthur states, “I’ll start believing that the truth prevails in the charismatic movement when I see the leaders, who are the people who are most exposed to its principles, looking more like Jesus Christ.”

Yes, some very few of us have been guilty of seeking or walking in anointing without character. Our exercise of church discipline in response to their failings has often been deficient. Tragically, some of those failures have been seen in people with prominent ministries, and as a result we have all had to wear the mud we didn’t deserve.

The truth is that the foundation of the Toronto Blessing, for instance, was and is the kind of transformation of character to conform to the image of Jesus (Rom. 8:29) that has produced people like Rolland and Heidi Baker. In their ministry in Mozambique, not only are many thousands of orphans given homes and countless thousands of hungry fed, but thousands of churches are planted, hundreds of thousands come to Jesus, the dead are raised, the sick are healed and the lame walk. The vast majority of lesser-known leaders in the renewal go quietly about the business of doing those same things in the places where they labor all over the world. The fallen leaders and those operating with less than the character of Jesus to whom John MacArthur actually objects are not my leaders and never were for a majority of us.

In bashing spiritual gifts, MacArthur characterizes the gift of tongues, for instance, as “babble,” relegating it to the flames of “strange fire,” seemingly ignoring the clear teaching of Scripture on the various uses of it. It was evangelistic on the Day of Pentecost, but Paul in 1 Corinthians 14 clearly defines its use in corporate prayer (with interpretation) and for private personal edification, saying, “I wish that you all spoke in tongues.” The 120 did, in fact, speak in tongues on the Day of Pentecost. Paul did, in fact, franchise its disciplined use in gatherings in Corinth and clearly described it as praying with an unfruitful mind for personal edification. Nowhere does the Scripture say that any of thesupernatural gifts would cease.

MacArthur cries out against people falling into senseless trances but seems to miss that this very same thing happened to Daniel, who broke into physical trembling when the angel touched him after he awakened from what was clearly a trance state. MacArthur seems to miss that the priests at the dedication of Solomon’s temple couldn’t stand up under the weight of the presence of the glory of God. And didn’t the disciples appear to be drunk on the Day of Pentecost? Speaking in foreign languages would have attracted little attention in a city where many thousands of Jews from different regions of the world had gathered for the feast, so it had to be their drunken behavior under the power of the Spirit that drew the comments. Through the filter of his cessationist theology, when these things happen today, McArthur calls them “strange fire.”

This book isn’t about strange fire. It’s about putting the fire out.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

R. LOREN SANDFORD

R. Loren Sandford is the founder and senior pastor of New Song Church and Ministries in Denver, Colo. He is a songwriter, recording artist and worship leader, as well as the author of several books, including Understanding Prophetic People, The Prophetic Church and his latest, Visions of the Coming Days: What to Look For and How to Prepare, which are available with other resources at the church’s website. 

4 Ways to Get Over the Walls That Hinder Your Progress.


girl climbing mountain
(http://www.stockfreeimages.com)

What happens when you hit a brick wall going 60 miles per hour? Your car ends up in pieces, you end up battered and bruised, and it hurts.

How can you pick yourself back up when you’ve hit a wall?

Peter was going top speed with Jesus, ministering at every opportunity, dining with the Master and learning new things every day. Jesus even lifted him up to be one of the chosen three, one of Jesus’ closest friends.

Then, right when Peter thought everything was going great, Jesus was arrested.

First, Peter tried fighting back—but Jesus told him not to. Instead, Peter followed from a distance, ready to run to Jesus’ aid if the opportunity arose—but then the weirdest thing happened. People offered him an opportunity to speak up, and every time, he denied his calling in order to save his own skin. Peter denied he even knew Jesus. Peter truly hit a wall.

Peter’s wall was two parts:

1. Jesus didn’t do what Peter expected. Jesus died.

2. Peter didn’t act the way he expected himself to. Peter failed to support his friend.

Have you ever hit that kind of a wall? God doesn’t do what you expected, life doesn’t turn out like you thought it would or, even worse, you don’t act the way you thought you would.
Peter not only survived smashing into the brick wall, but just a short time later he came back strong, standing up and being the person God called him to be.

Let’s look at Peter’s recovery and see what we can learn.

1. Get some time alone. After Jesus rose from the dead, the angel told the women, “Go tell the disciples and Peter … ” It appears Peter was not with the others. He got away by himself—probably to lick his wounds and beat himself up for a while. Time alone is important. Just like time in the hospital after a real accident, time alone will help your brain adjust to your new reality and rest from the shock.

2. Forgive God. It feels like we should never need to forgive God—He is God, after all, right? Yet when He doesn’t act like we think He should, we hold it in, afraid to let Him know we are disappointed and hurt. A real relationship is one where you can admit your hurt, your frustration and your anger. Let God know what you are thinking!

David and Jeremiah are particularly good at this. They wrote what we call laments—prayers that say, “God, You said You’d do this, or this is who You are, but this is my reality—they don’t match. I need you to show up!”

As long as you keep it bottled up, you aren’t able to let God fix the problem. Instead, talk to Him and let Him know your heart. Yes, God does know what is going on in your heart, but you need to say it.

Remember the last time you had a real fight with a loved one? Not the kind where you yell it out and get over it, but the kind where you get mad and then keep up appearances? That is what our fights with God look like. We pretend everything is all right, waiting for the anger to go away. God wants something more. He wants your heart. He wants you to share your anger, pain and frustration with Him. Then wait. He will meet you there.

3. Let God restore you. One day, while Peter was busy at his old job, fishing, Jesus showed up on the seashore. What a delight! Peter jumped into the water and raced for Jesus. By this time, Peter understood that Jesus’ death wasn’t the end. Yet Peter needed Jesus to help him go deeper. Later, after breakfast, the real work happened: Jesus took Peter for a walk. In ways we don’t fully understand, Jesus restored Peter to Himself. Peter had to forgive himself, and in the midst of that walk, the pain and anguish of failure fell away. Peter became again the person he was created to be.

4. Wait for new direction. When you hit a brick wall going 60 miles an hour, you have some questions. Was that wall an obstacle you need to get around? Was it caused by something you did wrong? Does that brick wall mean God is taking you in a new direction? All these questions will be answered in time. The important thing for you to do is to let the Healer do His work. Even if you ran into the wall because you were running from God, He put that wall there, and He will help you find what comes next.

A few weeks later, Peter was in the upper room when the Holy Spirit fell. Jerusalem was full that day. Many of the people who just 50 days before had cried, “Crucify Him,” were back for another festival. When the 120 in the upper room spilled out into the street, a crowd formed.

This time, when the people in the crowd noticed something was different about Peter, he didn’t shy away, hoping not to be noticed. The same man who had denied his calling 50 days earlier got up and preached the sermon of his life. Peter preached with power, knowledge and conviction. He stood in anointing of the Holy Spirit and proclaimed the saving power of Jesus to all who would listen. Three thousand people came to know Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit and the voice of one who knew the devastation of hitting a brick wall and finding God’s restoration.

God knows where you are. If you’ve hit a brick wall, it is because God is at work and He has great things for you. Take time to heal, tell God how you feel, let Him restore you and wait for new direction. It will be worth it!

Source: CHARISMA MAGAZINE/ SPIRITLED WOMAN.

Kim Martinez is a regular contributor to Ministry Today. She holds a master’s degree from Fuller Theological Seminary. She is a life coach and blogger.

Do You Doubt Like Thomas?.


Confident-man-mistakes-small

Is your lack of faith weighing you down?

We know Thomas best by his famous statement soon after Jesus’ resurrection:

“Unless I see the nail holes in his hands, put my finger in the nail holes, and stick my hand in his side, I won’t believe it.” (See John 20.)

We tend to think of Thomas’ lack of faith because of Jesus’ response a few days later when he showed Thomas his hands and side: “So, you believe because you’ve seen with your own eyes. Even better blessings are in store for those who believe without seeing.”

A closer look at Thomas might help us understand him better and learn from his approach.

Thomas was faithful. “That’s when Thomas, the one called the Twin, said to his companions, ‘Come along. We might as well die with him’” (John 11:16, MSG). Thomas believed in the cause, but he also believed in Jesus—even if Jesus was going to be attacked by the religious leaders, Thomas was willing to be by his side. (Yes, all of the disciples eventually bailed, but at his best, Thomas was willing to follow Jesus, even if it didn’t have a positive end result.)

Thomas was practical. “Master, we have no idea where you’re going. How do you expect us to know the road?” (John 14:5). Thomas was willing to ask the clarifying questions. When he didn’t understand, he didn’t let things slide—he asked the questions he needed answered to bring things down to home.

Sometimes our journey feels rough, and the best response is to ask the concrete questions:

  • Jesus, where are you?
  • Jesus, what in the world are you doing?

Along with the boldness to ask these hard questions comes the bravery to follow Jesus wherever He might lead.

Does God ever confuse you? Do you just hold your breath and hope things will soon make sense again? What would happen if you took some times to ask God to explain what He is up to?

Thomas may have doubted, but he never doubted Jesus. What questions would you like to ask God?.

Written by Kim Martinez

Kim Martinez is an ordained Assemblies of God pastor with a master’s degree in theology from Fuller Seminary. She is a ministry and life development coach and can be found online at deepimprints.com. She writes a weekly column for ministrytodaymag.com.

How Can You Tell if a Staff Member Is in Pain?.


in-pain-small

Stockimages

Recently, a friend told me of a major shift in his home life—one of the life-altering kind. The thing that bothered me most (and the whole thing is an issue for prayer) is that I didn’t sense that anything was wrong.

Sometimes people who care the deepest for others are the best at hiding their own pain.

How can you tell if your staff is in a place of pain?

1. Pacing. Sometimes when our personal lives begin to fall apart, we run to what feels safe. Our work feeds us with constant accomplishments (despite the pain), and when home is too stressful it is easy to hide in work. Think about ways to help your staff take time for their families—not just to fix problems, but to build good memories.

2. Flailing. Just the opposite of the above, some of us need all the emotional energy we can get, and when we are overdrained in one area, we suddenly don’t have what we need in other areas. A sudden shift in attention to details—either toward them or avoidance of them—can show that someone needs some special focus.

There was a time when my husband was in the hospital for a week straight—while I had four small children, attended seminary and worked part-time at the church. The problems didn’t hit that week—it was a few months later when life stabilized that I suddenly ran out of steam.

An excellent lead pastor and personal support team gave me the time and emotional support I needed to renew my passion for ministry. After an intense period of life—whether at home or at church—your staff will need a plan to refresh and refocus.

3. Depression or anger. Sometimes life just buries us. It could be a sudden shift or a gradual erosion, but each of us finds ourselves exposed to the primal elements at times. When one of your staff shows signs of depression or new or excessive anger, it might be time to get some outside help.

4. Avoidance. Have you ever tried to avoid God when you were leading people to Him every week? There are instances throughout the Bible where people did just this—Jonah comes to mind. These are the times when we need a retreat—time to get alone and holler at God until we know we have been heard—and in turn hear His response.

5. Prayer burden. With my friend, the only indication I had was a burden on my heart to pray. I was so grateful I was able to share this burden—it showed him his situation was not a shock but that God was already at work on his behalf.

Sometimes it isn’t your staff that reels from pain; it is you. I heard once of a pastor who suddenly couldn’t sleep and was drowning his anxiety with late-night QVC shopping. Another pastor and his wife shared publicly how inappropriate responses to the stress of early marriage and ministry had led the pastor to retreat to his office late at night to drown his pain in the world of porn.

The original sin wasn’t just about eating fruit. On a much deeper level, it was about dealing with stress—and particularly about trust. When we drown our pain in the world of escapism, we announce to ourselves and to God that we don’t trust Him. We indicate that we really don’t think He is looking out for our best and that if we take the reins, we will somehow reach a level of certainty that is better than what He provides. This is the original sin.

God is more infinite than we can imagine. He cares about even the diminishing hairs on your head, and He is well aware of the stresses of your everyday life. Whether your stress is financial, relational, health-related, personal or public, God is not surprised, and He is ready to walk with you—first through the stress, and then through the emotional waves that seem to follow.

Is someone on your staff showing signs of unusual stress? You can help them recover quickly and stay focused on God by being real, being honest, providing structure, accessing outside resources where necessary and showing compassion and love.

Written by Kim Martinez

Kim Martinez is an ordained Assemblies of God pastor with a master’s degree in theology from Fuller Seminary. She is a ministry and life development coach and can be found online at deepimprints.com. She writes a weekly column for ministrytodaymag.com.

Fuller Responds to Criticism of Student-Led LGBT Group on Campus.


Fuller Seminary
Fuller Seminary

Below is a response from Fuller’s president, Mark Labberton, following the publication of an Associated Press article that ran on July 13, 2013, regarding a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender student group at Fuller Seminary.


Fuller has received comments about the Associated Press news article that ran over the weekend about OneTable and the seminary. We here at Fuller have long welcomed the opportunity to engage over vigorous issues of debate within the church and within culture. We understand that this leaves us vulnerable to critique from a broad spectrum.

We want to provide some clarity about the following points and questions that have been raised in response to the article: What is Fuller’s position regarding same-sex marriage? What is the OneTable student group and its purpose? What are Fuller’s hopes in discussing issues of sexuality?

Fuller’s position on same-sex marriage and behavior, reflective of our evangelical tradition’s reliance on the scriptures, affirms that every student, faculty member, administrator, and staff person at Fuller is expected to abide by the Community Standards that “premarital, extramarital, and homosexual forms of explicit sexual conduct (are) inconsistent with the teaching of Scripture.” This position is clear.

OneTable at Fuller is one among 24 student-led groups, which can be formed when a number of students express interest in developing a discussion group on campus, such as the current Student Stewardship Group, G3 (Environmental) Initiative, and Students Serving Veterans.

OneTable provides a safe place to discuss issues related to sexuality and gender—issues that are vitally important, personal, and fraught with debate that is frequently divisive and contentious, not least in an evangelical context. OneTable at Fuller is not an advocacy group to alter seminary policy nor to direct any efforts in that direction. No student-led group “defines” Fuller’s position, nor does it represent or encompass the many resources that Fuller has to offer. In terms of the topics of sexuality, marriage, and family, Fuller has been and will continue to teach about these issues in many ways both in the classroom and in campuswide workshops.

Fuller hopes to be a context in which many of the significant issues of our day can be discussed in relation to the Bible’s teaching for the life and witness of the church. As we are all aware, many evangelical and other churches are being asked questions related to sexuality by their congregations. As our students at Fuller train to become pastors and church leaders and for other vocations, issues about sexuality will likely be asked and discussed with some regularity. Our goal at Fuller Seminary is to help prepare our students to be able to minister lovingly, biblically, and faithfully on this and many other issues as well.

Finally, I would like to note how much we appreciate your questions and your prayers as we seek, in a spirit of humility, to be faithful witnesses—in word and in deed—to the gospel of Jesus Christ in the world.

Mark Labberton, President
Fuller Seminary 

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

JENNIFER LECLAIRE

Is Church Draining You?.


Man-in-deep-thought-small

Stock Free Images

Years ago, I realized that I was different than the rest of my staff. When they took vacation, they looked for a big church to celebrate at (and learn from).

I love learning from other churches. Every conference is a great opportunity for me to learn how other people communicate with their members, follow up with visitors, structure their services, etc.

But when I’m on vacation, I want to get alone with God and not hear another human being.

I am an introvert. I get energy from being alone. I love deep contemplation, and my favorite place is the comfy chair in my bedroom where I can retreat … alone.

I am also called to God’s church. I delight in helping people discover who God created them to be and to walk out their calling. I love to build teams. One of my big delights is to put on huge events. Every event is an opportunity to develop teams who will carry out the event with such flair that my only job is to cheer them on. But then I need to get alone.

I am not alone, because 25-40 percent of the population are introverts, and a 2011 study by Adam Grant points out that introverted leaders tend to develop proactive, self-driven team members.

What do you do if the introverted pastor is you? How can you maintain energy and focus without running out of steam?

1. Be okay. Some people carry a picture of pastoral ministries that involves the gregarious pastor who is always the center of events. If God called you and didn’t make you that person, it needs to be okay. God was aware of your personality when He called you. If He didn’t give you an extroverted personality, then He has other people to fulfill those functions.

2. Be aware. If you are drained socially, take time to recharge.

3. Be proactive. One of the big things we face is other people’s expectations.

4. Limit your counseling hours. Every person has a people limit. Pastors seem to live in the crisis space of people’s lives. This makes counseling very draining. Figure out how many unexpected counseling hours you have every week, then subtract those from your maximum counseling hours. The remaining number will be the number of available hours you have for appointments (10 counseling hours – 3 crisis hours = 7 available counseling hours).

5. Let people know how you manage your time. We learn from others by watching. There are many introverts in your church who feel guilty because they don’t like coming to every event. There are also a lot of extroverts married to those introverts who think something is spiritually wrong. When you live confidently as God created you to be, you give others permission to do so as well.

6. Create time alone with God. Even more than extroverts, you need your time of solitude to hear God’s voice. Make sure your weekly routine includes not just study time, but also buddy time with God.

7. Be accountable. When you work with people, it is easy to get caught up in the wave and forget to take care of yourself. Find someone who will keep their eye on you and let you know if you are being drained. During a very intense time period, a friend took me aside and made a simple observation: “You’ve been using the word ‘I’ a lot lately.” What a gift. That simple observation showed me the status of my heart and the overload to my psyche. I needed time alone with God to get back on track.

Does this ring a bell for you? What are some of your tips for maintaining social equilibrium so that you aren’t drained by church?.

Written by Kim Martinez

Kim Martinez is an ordained Assemblies of God pastor with a master’s degree in theology from Fuller Seminary. She is a ministry and life development coach and can be found online at deepimprints.com. She writes a weekly column for ministrytodaymag.com.

Fuller Seminary Allows First LGBT Campus Group.


Fuller Theological Seminary

Fuller Theological Seminary in California has approved an official student organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students.

The decision sparked debate in the larger world of Christian colleges. Although other Christian schools have approved similar organizations, Fuller is the first evangelical seminary to do so.

The group, called OneTable, formed last fall and has attracted about three dozen students.

“Fuller is not acting in the students’ best interest by sanctioning the group and should instead be teaching reorientation as the students’ best option,” Peter Sprigg, a senior fellow at the Family Research Council, said.

Sprigg is also an ordained Baptist minister.

But the group’s founder, Nick Palacios, said he’s hoping that “people will see Fuller and OneTable as a model of what the body of the church is supposed to do in this situation.”

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

CBN NEWS

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