A Rapidly Diminishing Fire.
So C J Mahaney preached at John MacArthur's church in California on Sunday.
Ligon Duncan is pretty excited about it: "In my opinion, that is a sign of good things quietly astir in the evangelical and Reformed community today - new networks of friendship, kinship in the truth and cooperation in ministry. And it's something you wouldn't have guessed twenty years ago".
But I take a different line on it. C J Mahaney and SGM have prided themselves on being both Reformed and Charismatic, yet even in the 2 years that I spent mixing in their circles I noticed a definite but subtle shift in emphasis so that the "Reformed" track became stronger and stronger - and the charismatic less and less. Key points were the release of Jeff Purswell's paper on the Baptism of the Holy Spirit - highly acclaimed by Mahaney. They used to hold to a second blessing theology - now they don't hold to any. Or in other words churches can believe what they like. The aim of this was to make Reformed churches more happy to join SGM.
And now this. John MacArthur may be an admirable man and indeed I enjoy some of his books but he is still a vehement anti-charismatic. Doesn't it intrigue the reader that he would allow Mahaney into his pulpit? Such a man would strike me as being highly protective of his pulpit and would ONLY allow someone who he totally trusted - so it seems that MacArthur would detect nothing of Mahaney's "charismatic" emphasis at all. Hence Sunday.
Now this isn't a problem - if Mahaney and SGM want to be Reformed and anti-charismatic as they seem to be drifting, that is fine. They are still brothers in Christ - we still stand around the one and same Gospel. But doesn't anyone seem to appreciate that the Holy Spirit IS the dynamic of the Gospel they hold to? My feelings are that Mahaney doesn't have a true apostolic gift because my understanding of modern apostles are that they father and found - C J Mahaney on the other hand strikes one as easily persuaded and affected by those he spends much time with.
My prediction - and it isn't a prophecy is that within a few years SGM won't have that "charismatic emphasis" (whatever that is) that they cling to and will be resolutely Reformed and possibly anti-charismatic.