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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't Miss Out on This Book!
Though quite unpopular among most charismatics, it is nevertheless very well researched, well written, and most importantly, well documented with Scripture. Why are so many "scared" to read it? Speaking from experience (as an ex-charismatic), too many people are afraid the book will biblically expose the truth about much of the error in the charismatic...
Published on 14 Mar 1999

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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sad but true
I am a charismatic, and so naturally I disagree with MacArthur's views about whether the miraculous gifts have ceased. I also agree with those reviewers who point out that what John (for whom I have a great deal of respect; in fact he is one of my favourite Bible teachers) does is to highlight only the abuses he finds.
Unfortunately, there is far too much of this...
Published on 18 Feb 2001


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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sad but true, 18 Feb 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Charismatic Chaos (Mass Market Paperback)
I am a charismatic, and so naturally I disagree with MacArthur's views about whether the miraculous gifts have ceased. I also agree with those reviewers who point out that what John (for whom I have a great deal of respect; in fact he is one of my favourite Bible teachers) does is to highlight only the abuses he finds.
Unfortunately, there is far too much of this abuse going on in charismatic circles, and if charismatics themselves do not publicly acknowledge the current state of the movement, then it is left to anti-charismatics like John MacArthur to do it for them, and that means an awful lot of unfairness and bias along with it. The sad state of affairs is, though, that even when charismatic leaders do speak out on these things, they almost invariably (in my experience) tone the whole thing down as if it really is just a minor problem, or paint a picture of a charismatic movement of which just the fringe has gone overboard, and try and disassociate themselves, and the circles in which they move, from the problem.
The reality is that it is not just something on the fringes of charismatic movement: I am inclined to agree with John that what we are witnessing is indeed 'Charismatic Chaos'. It is hard to be a charismatic/Pentecostal in a day when being such is increasingly defined by whether you jump on the latest bandwagon, be it the 'endtimes revival' bandwagon, the 'Toronto blessing' bandwagon, or the 'apostles and prophets' bandwagon.
MacArthur does indeed cite abuses, but much of the time he is highlighting preachers and practices that are at the very heart of modern charismaticism. If charismatics continue to dodge the issue, people like John MacArthur will make themselves heard.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Some good points but deeply flawed, 11 Nov 2013
By 
J McMurdo (Northern England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Charismatic Chaos (Mass Market Paperback)
I can see how this book had to be written. Much of the criticism in the book is invited and deserved, and it is a good book for Charismatic leaders to read. Doing so will have these benefits:

1. So that they can counter John MacArthur's arguments scripturally rather than with reference to subjective experience.
2. So they can avoid the excesses, corruption and false teaching highlighted in the book.
3. To encourage leaders to test everything against scripture, avoid pragmatism and an over-reliance on the subjective, and to warn their people against false teaching.

With some exceptions, charismatics have been slow to teach scripture faithfully, slow to practice church discipline and slow to publicly denounce the antics of some 'false teachers'. As a result, they become guilty by association, as 'Charismatic Chaos' proves. Christian leaders should be both teaching the truth and protecting their flocks from false teaching. If more had done this, John McArthur would have found it harder to make the sweeping statements this book is full of.

I would define myself as a Charismatic Evangelical. To me, this really is an appallingly argued book. Here are some of MacArthur's statements, and my response.

Quote:

"There is no command in the New Testament to seek miracles" (Page 141).

Response:

This statement is slightly 'loaded'. We are not just exhorted to seek miracles. We are sought to thirst for the Water of Life, to eagerly desire the greater gifts, to seek healing. What about 1Corinthians 12:31 and 14:1? Don't the 'greater gifts' include healing and miracles (12:28)? What about James 5:14-16? Seeking healing - that's a miracle isn't it?

Quote:

"...from the day the church was born at Pentecost, no miracle ever occurred in the entire New Testament record except in the presence of an apostle, or one directly commissioned by an apostle".

Response:

This is an odd argument. Given that we are reading the Acts of the apostles, it is not surprising. But why did he overlook the miracles in the Galatian church (Galatians 3:5)? And are the Elders in James 5:14 apostles?

Scripture:

John 14:12-13, "Truly, "Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son."

Quote:

There is nothing in the context that speaks of supernatural signs.

Response:

So what is Jesus referring to? Giving spiritual life to sinners, according to MacArthur. But then, there is nothing in the context of the passage that says this either.

Quote:

MacArthur says several times that the frequency of miracles diminishes even within the book (e.g. Page 208).

Response:

Again, an odd argument given that the narrative begins by talking about the events in the (large) church in Jerusalem and ends with Paul being sent to Rome. The kind of narrative lends itself to miracles at the start of the book anyway.

Quote:

MacArthur contrasts how Jesus healed people with charismatics today (p.258-259). He states that Jesus healed with a word or a touch, instantly, totally, everyone etc. Healings today are not like that, he asserts, so they must be false. But wait a minute!

Response:

He could not heal many in Nazareth because of their unbelief (Matthew 13:58). He healed the blind man (Mark 8:22) after 2 attempts. And he attempted to turn people away on occasion (See Mark 7:26f).

Scripture:

These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It's only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

`"In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams.
Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
and they will prophesy.
Acts 2:15-18

Quote (p.288)
Peter was simply telling those present at Pentecost that they were getting a preliminary glimpse, a projection of the kind of power that the Spirit would release in the Millennial kingdom.

Response:
So let me get this right. When we see Jesus face to face, then we get dreams, visions and prophecies. Right? What about 1Corinthians 13:12? And when does Peter actually say that it's just a preliminary glimpse? How is this good exegesis of scripture? When are the last days? They are the period between Pentecost and Christ's return - get the concordance and check me out!

Quote:
"What happened to miracles, healings, signs and wonders in the nineteen hundred years since the apostles passed from the scene?"

Response:
Now I am not a well read scholar. But a simple Google search of the writings of church fathers such as Iraneus, Tertullian, Ambrose, Augustine etc will clearly show that miracles continued. Ecclesiastical History of the English People - more miracles. Then, amazingly, Spurgeon: A New Biography. Even Spurgeon successfully prayed for hundreds to be healed. My favourite source though is Word and Spirit Together: Uniting Charismatics and Evangelicals. Here we have evidence of spiritual gifts in the ministries of Spurgeon, Finney, Moody, the Hugenots, early Methodists, the early Brethren.

Finally, there is the testimony of large numbers of people to this day. When we have first hand knowledge of people (as I do) who would be dead but for the Lord's intervention through healing as a result of earnest prayer, are we allowed to say, 'Hallelujah'? Or do we patronisingly tell God that he shouldn't be messing with our theological systems?

Clearly there are plenty of charlatans, tricksters, occultists at large, profiting from the vulnerability of needy people. No book of this type would be complete without highlighting this. But this proves nothing. Jeremiah and Micaiah were clearly outnumbered by false prophets. That did not invalidate their ministries. If there was malpractice then, of course there will be today. This in no way progresses his argument.

To those who are secure enough to look at both viewpoints, I appeal to non-Charismatics to read David Pawson's The Normal Christian Birth. Pawson puts the scriptural case for some of the beliefs of charismatic churches. He does this without endorsing the foolish practices of the people MacArthur talks about, he tackles more scriptural passages than MacArthur does - and in more depth - and he does not resort to some of the negative caricaturing that I believe MacArthur does.

The presence, power and gifts of the Holy Spirit should be specifically asked for and sought (John 7:37-39, 1Corinthians 12:31, 14:1). We need not fear that our loving Father will give his dear children anything freaky or harmful (Luke 11:11-13).
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't Miss Out on This Book!, 14 Mar 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Charismatic Chaos (Mass Market Paperback)
Though quite unpopular among most charismatics, it is nevertheless very well researched, well written, and most importantly, well documented with Scripture. Why are so many "scared" to read it? Speaking from experience (as an ex-charismatic), too many people are afraid the book will biblically expose the truth about much of the error in the charismatic movement. If you are open minded (Acts 17:11) to a biblical challenge it will do you much good. The book is well grounded in the Word of God and is, therefore, not a waste of time, whether you agree or disagree with the author's arguments.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I don't agree with it, 24 Nov 2012
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This review is from: Charismatic Chaos (Mass Market Paperback)
I don't agree with it. There is still healing in this age, there are still miracles. Although there is an expose of some of the risky stiff that has been making headway in the various churches. And I don't agree with the idea that speaking in tongues is not valid in this age. The print of this book is too small, for comfort, and its a chunky squat sort of book, not very standard. Still, it's interesting and worth a read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extreme Charasmatic Chaos, 4 Mar 2011
By 
Mrs. R. Endicott (From Detroit & now in the UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Charismatic Chaos (Mass Market Paperback)
I'm not a Charismatic but have run into a bunch. This book was recommended by my non charismatic friend to learn more about them. It was very educational. MacArthur has done extensive research into it and explains it well and also uses scripture to refute and explain.

There's 12 chapters: Experience, Revelation, Prophets/Fanatics/Heretics, Bible Intrepretation, Miracles, The "Third Wave", Spiritual Gifts, The Early Church, Healing, Tongues, True Spirituality, Health and Wealth. Each chapter has between 4-10 subtopics. It's extensive!In all there's 415 pages including the index! However, it was an easy, interesting read, I devoured it because I had a purpose to 'know'. It was good for skipping around in it too.

While I found the book to be more about Extreme Charasmatics,the bunch I've run into are not. What MacArthur does teach about the Extremes though is helpful in spotting their ideas which are attempting to "infiltrate" my corner of my Christian world, seems I'm surrounded by them here in the UK.

The book was written in 1992 and more Extreme Charismatics have hit the scene since then, like the Toronto Blessing group, I would have liked to read about them from MacArthurs perspective. Many in the book I've never heard of, but then I'm not in that circle. I'd like to see an updated version.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, although not the most extensive work, 8 Dec 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: Charismatic Chaos (Mass Market Paperback)
MacArthru is really a gifted writer. This book contains a lot of good insights and many precious information. There are for sure more scholarly works than this one. This book targets all kinds of readers and does a good job of refuting the charismatic paganism which has brought much more evil to Christianity than liberal theology did, in my opinion.
I live in Europe: this book has been translated into all major Europeans languages and has been a blessing for us Europeans.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book for both Charismatics AND Non charismatics, 1 May 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Charismatic Chaos (Mass Market Paperback)
John Macarthur has done a fabulous job confronting the issues surrounding the church and the modern charismatic movement. If you call yourself a charismatic, or not, you owe it to yourself to read this book, and see MacArthur's stance. Give it a try. You might be surprised at how much the Bible does talk about this controversial issue!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Old but good!, 29 Aug 2011
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This review is from: Charismatic Chaos (Mass Market Paperback)
This book was published many years ago but is still a thoroughly good buy. I found it to be logical, clear and helpful - and still applicable today.The author tackles a whole range of questions and fearlessly answers them all succinctly from the only source of truth, the Bible. Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic book, 9 April 2011
This review is from: Charismatic Chaos (Mass Market Paperback)
I look for opportunities to pick this book up and read it. It is very well written with great examples on the subject areas, I'm learning so much from it. Whether you are for or against the charismatic movement, do read this, it will inform you well of this movement in the light of Scripture. I highly recommend it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fundamentalist law and order, 18 Dec 2010
This review is from: Charismatic Chaos (Mass Market Paperback)
John F. MacArthur is a well known fundamentalist leader in California. He is the pastor of the Grace Community Church and president of the Master's College, and the author of an extensive and popular Bible commentary. Apparently, his theology combines Baptism, Calvinism and Dispensationalism. Perhaps for that reason, his church is independent from the major denominations.

"Charismatic Chaos" is John MacArthur's classical criticism of the charismatic movement, published in 1992. It's somewhat dated, since it was written before the onset of the Toronto Blessing, arguably the most extreme form of charismatic revival hitherto. Still, the book is often referenced by other critics of the charismatics, presumably because of its timeless Biblical arguments. It's also surprisingly well written and easy to read, something unusual for heavy works of theology and Bible exposition.

MacArthur argues that miracles, signs and wonders were unique to the age of the apostles and ceased already before the death of the last apostle. God no longer works through miracles and other supernatural occurrences, save for some exceptional circumstances. Charismatic claims of healing, raising the dead and other such miraculous events must therefore be considered bogus. Nor does God communicate through the speaking of tongues. That too was a unique occurrence during the apostolic age. Besides, the tongues miraculously spoken by some early Christians were real languages, not the gibberish typical of charismatic services. Further, MacArthur argues that the canon is closed, that no new revelation is possible today, and that the prophecies often made by charismatic leaders cannot be considered inspired or accurate. He also discusses the role of subjective experience, the ecumenical tendencies within the charismatic revival and rules for correct Bible interpretation. The harshest chapter deals with the Word of Faith movement, which the author believes is cultish, blasphemous and anti-Christian.

I consider MacArthur's book to be a very competent "traditional" answer to the charismatics, written from an evangelical/fundamentalist and somewhat Calvinist perspective (this book deals with Dispensationalism only in passing). People interested in the controversies sparked by the charismatic revival should definitely read this book. Indeed, it's probably the only fundamentalist response to the charismatics you need to read!

Of course, as an atheist-agnostic, I don't believe a word of it. But then, I don't believe the charismatics either. As usual in debates of this sort, both sides frequently score points against each other. MacArthur is right to point out that the excesses of the charismatic movement were similar to those criticized by Paul in his first epistle to the Corinthians. He is (probably) wrong to suggest that "tongues" always referred to actual human languages. Paul mentions "the language of angels" in his epistle, something MacArthur unconvincingly attempts to brush aside as irony. He is on even thinner ice when suggesting that the Bible should never be allegorized or spiritualized, since Jesus and the apostles themselves did precisely that. There are no explicit prophecies about Jesus in the "Old Testament", so the only way to read Jesus into the Jewish Bible is by employing pretty odd hermeneutics. In Acts, Peter uses Joel to justify Pentecost, while James uses Amos to defend the decision to preach to the Gentiles. In context, however, these verses mean something else, so whatever this is, it certainly isn't "literal" interpretation. (I can hear the fundies gnashing their teeth.) MacArthur's argument about the Apocrypha not being inspired is even weaker, since the earliest Christian Bibles included the Septuagint version of the Old Testament. And why did Jude (supposedly a brother of Jesus) quote the super-apocryphal Book of Enoch? Here, MacArthur is forced to appeal to the authority of...Jerome! Was he inspired, I wonder?

On a more theological level, I'm sure charismatics would want to know how MacArthur explains the ecstatic worship mentioned in the Old Testament, the frequently bizarre behaviour of the prophets, or the fact that Elisha's bones had miraculous healing powers. (I think it was Elisha. I haven't read the Bible for quite some time.)

Of course, the author is quite correct in pointing out the frivolity and absurdity of charismatic claims to healing, but the village atheist might object that MacArthur has no problem accepting the Biblical claims about Jesus raising the dead, despite the fact that this is even more difficult to verify than contemporary claims of miracles. Not to mention the resurrection...

There is also a tension in the book between the eminently Biblical idea that people won't believe the Christian message even if they see miracles being performed (Jesus was crucified, despite his many miracles) and the more psychologically correct observation that people *will* believe if they see such - the author himself admits that charismatic churches seem to be growing at an alarming pace. Indeed, I suspect that the growth and spread of the charismatic revival may to some extent be a reaction to the narrow, dry, literalist and "objective" theology of more traditional evangelicals and Calvinists. Many people apparently want more than fundamentalist law and order!

That being said, I nevertheless recommend "Charismatic Chaos" for the reasons given above. For those who want to know how traditional-minded fundamentalists respond to the various charismatic groups, this book is an indispensable starting point. In that sense, it deserves five stars.
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