MacArthur vs the Charismatics

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158 Responses

  1. Rob Murphy says:

    It’s surprising how many of us in Christendom think that our particular bee in our particular bonnet is THE ROOT ISSUE of the things wrong in Christendom.
    Michael keeps bringing up this message of our need as devoted followers of Christ to plead with others to be reconciled to Jesus Christ the Savior . . . not being reconciled to the ‘how I worship Jesus Christ the Savior’.

  2. Michael says:


    Reconciliation to God is the bee in my bonnet…It’s become the core of what I want to communicate and anything that taints that message becomes something I need to lose.

  3. filbertz says:

    McA should’ve been a traffic cop giving tix for all the infractions he spots. He, in his anti-charismatic mindset, has apparently pushed himself into a legalist position, harkening to OT practice as the pattern for NT or New Covenant life.

  4. Josh Hamrick says:

    What was up with the figurine portions of that video?!? That was kinda bizarre, huh?

  5. Michael says:

    They couldn’t catch any real charismatics to burn… 🙂

  6. Nonnie says:

    I wanted to hear him give a few examples of what he was referring to. He basically wrote off all “Charasmatic” churches as evil and under God’s judgement. I reckon that would include many CC’s.

  7. Josh Hamrick says:

    Seriously though, that’s the weirdest thing.

    JohnMac: I’m gonna talk about a real serious subject. One that is potentially leading lots of people to Hell…
    *camera fades to some stationary action figures*

    Talk about the message not matching the medium!

  8. crownedone1 says:

    I ‘dislike with extreme prejudice’ modern worship (not quite at the ‘hate’ adjective yet). That said, I don’t find anything in the bible that says rock-band worshippers are not appreciated by God either.

    Pretty sure God knows their hearts better than we do. That being the case, where do we derive the “authority” to determine their heart’s intent?

  9. erunner says:

    As I have so much music that I’ve used on my blog I’ve seen most everything. Some of the most moving and excellent worship comes from the Vineyard, Hillsong, and Jesus Culture. All of who’ve I disagree with on a lot of stuff. Yet their worship is heartfelt and many are blessed. Good grief. If we try hard enough there’s soil on everything. The video reminds of the ODM’s who miss out on so much because they have constructed such narrow boxes for God to exist in. I’m sure he’ll have a compelling conference. I agree with all you shared Michael and that video offends me greatly.

  10. erunner says:

    What about we individuals who enjoy and come away the better for having been exposed to some of this music. It reminds me of a conference in church where I was told all secular music was bad, even silly love songs, songs without lyrics, and even classical music that didn’t exalt Christ. That kind of garbage had me in knots and feeling like a loser for many years because I wasn’t as close to God as the folks who bought into that message were. There’s secular music that moved me closer to God way back when. I was so over this decades ago.

  11. Kevin H says:

    Addressing this posting while playing off the one from yesterday, I visited John Higgins’ church’s website yesterday just out of curiousity and noticed the tagline “Never Driven – Always Spirit Led”, right under the church’s name. This obviously can come across as a swipe at a particular pastor and church, if not an entire group of Christians. It’s one thing if you disagree with a another person’s or group’s theology and/or methodology. But why in the world do you need to show off that disagreement right under your church’s name on your website?!?!

    I guess this kind of stuff just bothers me more and more. While I certainly have my concerns about some teachings and movements that are manifested under the Christian name, the amount of time and effort that some give towards criticizing others who are orthodox in the essentials of the faith really gets to me.

    And while I’m on the rant, I have never gotten this “Never Driven – Always Spirit Led” attitude. It’s certainly not the first time I have seen or heard the sentiment. I mean, really, they’re not mutually exclusive. So just because somebody is trying to let themselves be led by the Spirit, does it really mean they never set out to do anything with purpose? They’re never driven by any kind of purpose? When I wake up in the morning, I choose to get out of bed to go to work because I am driven by purpose to provide for my family. I am not waiting on the Spirit to lead me out of bed to do so. I don’t know. Just gets under my skin. Okay, end of rant.

  12. erunner says:

    Kevin H, That tagline repulses me and represents this division at all costs mentality that seems to be so prevalent in parts of today’s church. It reeks of pride and I pray is not the place more and more decide to go as the church will be reduced from coming against anyone and everyone and what a jolly witness we present to the world and what misguided individuals who will all be involved in the wrong concerns that face us as a body.

  13. Rob Murphy says:

    @Michael #2 – so I wonder if we should develop a shorthand for disagreeing agreeably with whatever cultural imperative crops up this week . . . saying “That’s not my Bee, Bro” and maybe catch on with the young hip crowd, then “That Infesteth not mine Bonnet” and reach the old timey not hip crowd . . .
    Philosophically then we’d have a new debate – Is the problem the Bee or the Bonnet that holds it, and are the Bee and the Bonnet synergistically working or . . . aw, poo.

  14. Paigemom says:

    Gosh, I just can’t handle listening to John MacA….. I’ve tried and tried…. I don’t need another person who is constantly angry and disappointed with me. Where is the Jesus Style? I mean, didn’t Jesus “invent’ Pentecost? That was a pretty ‘wild’ time, I guess.

  15. Michael says:

    That tagline is very important to this division of CC.
    They truly believe that Rick Warren is evil and he is the top of the enemies list.
    There is a misconception that Warren and Chuck Smith are now in league…and nothing could be farther from the truth.

  16. Michael says:


    Any time I can use the word “infest” or any derivative of it…is a good day for me. 🙂

  17. Kid Dynomite says:

    They probably figure the conference would have more attendees if it is presented in this divisive fashion. Why not just have a conference about biblical worship and the Holy Spirit? Not exciting enough maybe? If that’s the case, in a sense they might be perpetrating the same behavior they are condeming.

  18. Kevin H says:

    Even if some think that Warren is truly that evil, why the need to set it as the prominent slogan for your church? For instance, I truly think that Jehovah Witness theology is evil and results in people following it to hell. But I would see no need to put a tagline right under my church’s name something to the like of “Jesus is Jehovah”, just to combat them.

  19. Michael says:


    The litmus test for orthodoxy in this group is defined by who you oppose and see as a heretic.
    These heretics are then tied to the eschatology that believes we are in the last days and these heretics are seen as exampling the apostasy.
    It is critical for this group to clearly identify who they hate, lest someone observing question their fidelity to the group.

  20. filbertz says:

    What is McA’s standard/description for appropriate worship?

  21. Michael says:


    His view is semi-Reformed…the preaching is the center point of the service and the song service is conservative and restrained.
    Nothing wrong with it…but it’s not necessarily the only model that pleases God.

  22. kevinh15 says:

    Michael, I guess regardless of the reasons, it is just a sad and disturbing reflection on Christianity.

  23. Tim says:

    Nonnie @6, “I reckon that would include many CC’s.”

    It does. We’ve lost people to Johnny Mac’s thoughts on the gifts. Simply because we believe in the present-day gift of tongues, we had at least 2 families leave our congregation (directly due to JMcA’s teachings). It doesn’t matter that in the 8+ years we’ve been around that I can count the number of times someone has spoken in tongues on one hand (not even using all my fingers), nor that these particular people had never personally witnessed it in our congregation. The very fact that we believe in the *possibility* was enough to get them to break fellowship.

    What really saddened me about it is that both families had been coming for years. And every single week, our Statement of Faith is printed in our bulletin. We’ve never hidden our views on the gifts. Yet when it became an issue for Johnny Mac, it became an issue for them.

  24. Michael says:


    That’s tragic…and that’s why I get irritated when people act like the Christian celebrities don’t influence local churches.

  25. Bob Sweat says:

    Johnny Mac lost respect from me years ago. Nice to see some others catching on.

  26. Tim says:

    Michael – I agree.

  27. Kid Dynomite says:

    Michael, Re: your #21
    JA said the conference isn’t about “preferences or styles of worship”. Is that what you meant by “model”?

  28. Michael says:


    To a point.
    Every tradition has a theology of worship…and what MacArthur is really objecting to is a different understanding of what worship is and isn’t.

  29. crownedone1 says:

    Kevin @ 11 – ” I have never gotten this “Never Driven – Always Spirit Led” attitude. It’s certainly not the first time I have seen or heard the sentiment. I mean, really, they’re not mutually exclusive”

    Drive means to push/prod toward a goal (forced, involuntary).

    Lead means to guide (setting the example and allowing for voluntary followers).

    Completely separate meanings. You cannot voluntarily drive someone. And likewise, you cannot involuntary lead someone.

  30. PP Vet says:

    Put me down as strongly on favor of charismatic excess.

  31. Bryan Stupar says:

    I believe the content MacArthur intends to talk about needs to be addressed, but he’s the wrong guy to do so. MacArthur is no friend of Charismatics. He’s been an outspoken opponent of those who don’t share his secessionist view.

    It’s like having a proud white confederate give a talk on the need for civil rights for blacks.

    Men w/ compassion & intellectual/biblical capability who share a more balanced view of charismatic/pentecostal convictions would be better suited to speak to this. Like: Wayne Grudem, Arturo Azurdia, John Piper, C.J. Mahaney (pre-internet rage), Gordon Fee, Terry Virgo.

  32. crownedone1 says:

    Bryan @ 31 “Men w/ compassion & intellectual/biblical capability who share a more balanced view of charismatic/pentecostal convictions would be better suited to speak to this.”

    Or better yet, we could allow the Holy Spirit to minister to each of His sheep individually, so there is no need for a celebrity opinion or group like ‘I am of Paul’ consensus.

  33. Solomon Rodriguez says:

    Yeah look what happened to Davids wife when she mocked him for dancing joyfully for the Lord, I’m a former charismatic and I love the way they do worship. The tongues thing could come off as contrived at times.

  34. PP Vet says:

    “Yeah look what happened to David’s wife when she mocked him for dancing joyfully for the Lord”

    Hard to top that argument! Good point.

    The Holy Ghost will set your feet a’ dancing

  35. Kevin H says:


    I agree that being driven and being led are different things. When I said that they aren’t mutually exclusive, I was meaning that just because you’re being “Spirit led” does not mean that you can’t also be “purpose driven” at times. It’s not an either/or. Just like the example I gave about getting up in the morning to go to work. It can be argued that the Spirit has led me to be a good husband and father by the means of working to provide for my family. But at the same time, when I wake up each morning, my main driver to get up and go to work is driven by my purpose to fulfill that responsbility to be a provider for my family. I do not lie there waiting for a prompting of the Spirit to lead me to get up and go to work.

  36. crownedone1 says:


    I see where you are coming from. I was being a bit of a grammar Nazi as well. We do certainly use the word ‘drive’ in the context of ‘motivation’, even if it is the incorrect definition for the word.

  37. Nothing new about John’s hatred of charismatics.
    Nothing new about John’s hatred of ________________

  38. Ricky Bobby says:

    Johnny Mac is a great guy in private. He’s an opinionated black & white my way or the highway to hell from the pulpit.

    But, he’s not much different than most of the rest of Evangelicalism, everyone thinks they’re right and everyone else doesn’t have the “correct interpretation” and “correct Jesus” etc.

    Pretty run-of-the-mill Selective Fundamentalism, IMO.

  39. Ricky Bobby says:

    BTW Murph, Michael wouldn’t let it post the other day, but I’d sprawl your double leg and then decide whether to muay thai you stand up or shoot in and judo toss you and then pass your guard and ground and pound you 🙂

  40. Ricky Bobby says:

    My biggest beef with the Charismatics (and still the best support for Johnny Mac’s position) is that you guys don’t have any real verifiable supernatural miracles. It’s all anecdotal, unverifiable, the tongues are gibberish and not real languages and most of the time it looks like complete nonsensical theatrics (though well-meaning).

    If the stuff is real, like NT real, then by all means, turn some water into wine, walk on water, speak in a language you’ve never spoken before (perfectly, like Acts) or provide one legit real miracle that passes the lens of medical scrutiny.

  41. I actually have only listened to John MacArthur a handful of times on the radio in 2007 while I was working as a guard.
    They didn’t leave any real lasting impression.
    Sounds like he takes the regulative principle to an extreme though.

  42. JMac is five point calvinism strangely mixed with dispensationalisraelism … mixed with antisupernaturalistic cessationism and slowly brewed with malice toward all. He is old enough to care not at all what anyone thinks and he is brutally intolerant. Not the kind of guy you want at your reunion. So now he is going out reissuing his same vitriol. This conference will do absolutely nothing to move the ball or the dialogue. Of course neither will my post so its a wash.

  43. And RB would not have believed Jesus either… guaranteed
    Here is a primer about proving the efficacy of prayers and how difficult it is to provide anything that today’s mind would say passes the empiricism test. Though the writer/researcher has different conclusions than the unbeliever and skeptic.

  44. “MacArthur vs. the Charismatics” sounds sort of like a bad Japanese Monster movie. lol

  45. crownedone1 says:

    James @ 38 “Wonder if they will cover this:

    If it ain’t “itchin” it ain’t “fittin”. Wrath doesn’t sell season tickets. Parking is reserved for ‘itchy ears’ doctrines only.

  46. Rob Murphy says:

    @Dread – my feeling is that death, via sin, is the game ender. What I find so stunning is that God has allowed a tiny white pill – an antibiotic – to perform the obviously miraculous in any other era, yet today, we call it mundane and dismiss God’s providence in the hands of a physician. Superstition vs. Science. But which one is really science?
    Modern medicine is interesting. We scientifically observed that bleeding a guy with leeches was given credit for saving one guy’s life and that became the practice of the day. Now We dose a guy with radiation, he survives and we think we have a modern treatment for cancer.
    One day we will look back at radiation and see it in the same barbaric light that we view medical treatment via leeches.
    From the throne of God, He sends mercy and we dismiss it as scientific progress. That right there is ironic.

  47. Josh @ #7
    MacArthur is probably against CGI too.

  48. Steve Wright says:

    My Masters Thesis was on the validity of all gifts for today, which went against the belief statement of the seminary and thus the seminary deserves credit for allowing me to write this, accept it, and put it in their library (and graduate me 🙂 ).

    That said, MacArthur is loved by my seminary, and he was my chief foil for my Thesis. I used two key books of his about Charismatics and found him guilty of stereotyping in what I can only call an academically dishonest fashion – given that he certainly knows about CC churches and what we believe. Yet, his books constantly focused on the extreme examples and were filled with statements like, Charismatic churches care more about experiences than teaching the Word of God. Not once did he mention Calvary Chapel in hundreds of pages on the subject. These are books written in the late 70s, early 80s or so – right in the heart of the CC growth period too.

    Before Chuck wrote Living Water, he wrote Charisma vs Charismania which challenged the excesses of charismatics, the same excesses that, if one read MacArthur, would seem to be the only option that comes with the non-cessationist doctrine. MacArthur certainly knows all this, yet chose not to mention it in his books.

    It was also fun to compare MacArthur’s definition of some gifts with the Dallas men like Walvoord, Ryrie, Unger – also who are in this camp.

    Anyway, I never felt stronger in my belief than in exegeting the Greek passages, and reading the counter arguments from these men – which I found unconvincing. Especially when compared to a scholar like Fee.

    As an aside, I think dispensationalists like the Dallas school have a very hard time explaining some special apostolic age – and it is interesting to see them use the same arguments against charismatics as they counter when those arguments are used against dispensationalism.

  49. erunner says:

    I posted the link because I recall quite vividly the story done here in the past on Brian Michaels. I believe this may have been his father and I can’t recall if he was involved in that saga. My heart does go out to his family during this difficult time.

  50. PP Vet says:

    SW49, nicely said.

  51. Linnea says:

    Was scrolling down to hear B. Dread’s comments…nice!

    Seems to me John Mac has had issues with a whole lot of people, including leaders in his own congregation….

  52. Linnea says:

    The video sort of reminds me of this:
    Claymation from the 1960’s translated into today’s Johnny Mac expose.

  53. So, after another Dodgers win, I am watching a show on UFC fighting … I like boxing better. Is that a generational thing?

    Are younger folks just more amped up on more violence?

  54. Davey & Goliath are Lutherans.

    Let’s all sing the Lutheran song

  55. brian says:

    Bob Lar$on has a new revenue generating venue I mean it takes a real well never mind. I watched him taking his show on the road to Ukraine.

    It takes real moxie to work the system like he does in my opinion. The last part where a woman who seem to really need help of a spiritual kind was booted out the door of the show because her demon manifested itself at the wrong time.

  56. erunner says:

    brian, That was difficult to watch as this man supposedly represents Christianity. The atheist woman who narrated this saw right through everything and was spot on with her observations. The young girls he uses are nothing more than props who sadly have bought into his sham. And then to see an atheist casting out a demon and the guilt she felt afterwards was the most spiritual moment of this piece. I have no clue why Larson decided that an obviously troubled woman was not to be helped or even spoken to. This stuff is abuse and it’s a crying shame.

  57. Michael says:


    John Michaels adopted Brian.
    John Michaels was a good man and I grieve for his wife Dianna, who was very kind to me.

  58. Hello, my name is Paul,

    I have occasionally posted comments on both CCA and PhxP because at one time I personally knew a person that appears on both blogs. I only say this because it explains how I became familiar with both websites. After my personal experience of the fore mentioned I was involved in an accident that save the mercy of God, I should have died within six hours of the accident. Although I lived, I did have a brain injury that disturbs my cognitive thinking. For the first couple of years it was slight but as time goes by, it gets worse. To the point now that I must question myself. I say this not for sympathy but for explanation.

    In my personal opinion it matters not of how much more you are informed than anyone else regarding philosophy, theology or any other distinctive that separates brothers and sisters in Christ. The common ground of brothers and sisters is; is your consciousness driven by the Holy Spirit, or by your attempt to validate yourself. That is a question that should not be asked to other people but you should ask yourself that question. In other words, it is more important to keep yourself in check than it is to check others.

    It is easier to not be deceived by other people than it is to not be deceived by yourself. Remember that if you think you are not deceived, that is exactly how those being deceived think.

    Sorry for the sidetrack, I do have a purpose for this post. I would appreciate it if just for a while posters will not concentrate on how others are wrong but just answer a question: If you could ask God one question, what would that question be?

  59. brian says:

    Paul I hope you continue to regain your health, I am glad you are doing better.

    My one question would be why? I dont know what why just why, I will think on this more. Take care.

  60. erunner says:

    Thanks Michael. I had no memory of John being mentioned when Brian was a topic here.

  61. Michael says:


    There are stories that I can’t tell…but let me say I feel a loss tonight.

  62. erunner says:

    Michael, I suspect he was a very good man who did things the right way. He seems to have impacted you in a positive way. I suspect we could use more men like him. God bless.

  63. erunner says:

    Paul, You have a powerful story and thank you for the words you shared. I don’t think I would ask God a question. I believe He has provided me all I need via His word, other believers, and His spirit that dwells in me. In my life if I was to take advantage of what He has provided me with I probably would be content. My habit has been to question Him regarding certain things as if He owes me an explanation or needs to justify Himself. I would like to think I can wait until I see Him in glory where no questions will be necessary. Hopefully that makes sense. Praying things improve for you. Thanks for sharing.

  64. London says:

    Hi Paul, thanks for sharing your story and asking the question.
    I think if I could ask God one question, I’d have to ask if he knew Adam and Eve were going to sin and doom all of mankind forever and ever, why didn’t he just put a fence around that tree?

    Some version of that theme anyway

  65. brian says:

    the one reason I would give MacArthur’s strange fire conference any credence is this women Joni Eareckson Tada. She is on an entirely different level.

  66. Hi Paul,
    You posted,

    “Remember that if you think you are not deceived, that is exactly how those being deceived think.”

    There must come a point where one has faith that they are living in an objective and verifiable universe, but when that becomes increasingly impossible to know it is time to seek professional help.

    Is that something you are struggling with?

  67. G,

    When I said, “Remember that if you think you are not deceived, that is exactly how those being deceived think.” I was merely pointing out that it is easy to deceive yourself if you do not continually check yourself.

    I was just curious what other people would ask God if they had the chance to ask one question. My question would be, “Lord, why is my action and especially my thoughts not as Christian-like as I want them to be?”

    I am not sure what you are asking if I am struggling with. What does anything I commented have to do with the universe?

    God bless you,

  68. Lol…”What does anything I commented have to do with the universe?
    So true!

  69. Paul,
    It was meant purely as a compassionate concern. Based on your statement about the cognitive issue. No offense meant.

    I have a great deal of confidence that my grip on reality and avoidance of self delusion is balanced by the fact that I love in and work in an environment overwhelmingly populated by those of the opposite gender.

    As to my one question for God,

    “What’s with the grudge holding and blame shifting? I have never seen a forbidden fruit…”

  70. Josh Hamrick says:

    Which self deluded person ever said, “Hey, I am self-deluded!”? Wouldn’t that person cease to being self-deluded at that point?

  71. I would ask. Why are you so hidden? Why is it all so hard to trace? Lots more but the awe would wreck the need for explanations I am sure.

  72. Ricky Bobby says:

    ” If you could ask God one question, what would that question be?”

    What will the next winning lottery numbers be? 🙂

    Seriously, I’d ask him…no, I’d beg him: You are all powerful, capable of doing anything you want, can you redeem your entire creation and set all things right?

    I imagine he’d say, “Yes”.

  73. Ricky Bobby says:

    MLD said, “So, after another Dodgers win, I am watching a show on UFC fighting … I like boxing better. Is that a generational thing?

    Are younger folks just more amped up on more violence?”

    No, it’s more about authenticity and reality.

    UFC’s evolution exposed the fact that boxing and other fighting systems like karate, judo etc are lacking in a real fight situation.

    Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) proved once and for all that the “best” fighters in the world need to be trained in multiple disciplines: Muay Thai/Thai Boxing (better than boxing due to the clinch, knees, kicks, elbows, throws etc), Judo, Ju Jitsu/Grappling, etc all combined.

    Personally, I could take a boxer-only, even if he was a good boxer. If he didn’t knock me out quickly, I would take him to the ground where he’d be a fish out of water and I’d choke him out or break his arm, etc.

  74. RB, but that’s like saying the best skeet shooters are the ones who are trained using guided missiles

  75. Xenia says:

    I don’t have any questions for God. He has already told me all I need to know.

  76. Ixtlan says:

    Interesting to read here some of the charismatics bash Johnnie Mac about bashing charismatics. Aah, the church……

  77. London says:

    That’s the beauty of the story though I think.
    We all have our own version of “forbidden fruit” and we cave every time. (except if there was a real talking serpent, I’d never hear what it was saying because I’d be 1 mile down the road about 10 seconds after I saw it)

  78. Xenia says:

    (except if there was a real talking serpent, I’d never hear what it was saying because I’d be 1 mile down the road about 10 seconds after I saw it)<<<<

    That's because:

    And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed… (Gen. 3:15)

  79. Xenia says:

    G, you have seen many forbidden fruits and you have partaken of them. That is why you need a Savior. All of us.

  80. Josh Hamrick says:

    Odd place to argue MMA vs. Boxing, but I can’t resist.

    I, and I think most people, would find boxing more entertaining. The “real fight” argument doesn’t matter. It’s a sport. A real fight would involve crotch shots, eye gouge, biting…all things not allowed in MMA. The question is, which is better to watch? The ground game of MMA, while skillful and athletic, is incredibly boring. It’s the same reason that greco roman wrestling is not much of a spectator sport. The stand-up part of MMA is what the crowds want to see. However, the striking that takes place in these matches is about the level of a local tough man contest.

    So, why aren’t people watching boxing like they used to? Several reasons, but I’d say the main one is TV. Ali used to fight on Network TV. It was like the SuperBowl or something. 30 years ago boxing saw a potential goldmine in Pay Per View, and started putting all the big fights there, instead of “free” tv. This worked great for a while, because people already new the named fighters and were willing to pay for the big fights. The problem came years later, when those guys retired, and they are now trying to sell fights with people no one knows.

    UFC puts stuff on TV. The Ultimate Fighter reality show basically saved the UFC from death several years ago, and now they put about 8 free cards on TV per year, along with the PPVs.

    So, I don’t think it’s a generational thing, or a “real fight” thing. I think it is poor marketing fro the last 20 years on boxing’s part, and good marketing for the last 5 years on UFC’s part.

  81. London says:

    X –

    I REALLY don’t like snakes

  82. Josh Hamrick says:

    Agree with London and Xenia about Forbidden Fruit.

    While I believe Adam and Eve to be historic, I also believe the story to be an allegory about how sin entered the world, and continues to enter the world every day. We have so much freedom, but always want what we can’t have.

    And G- maybe you can elaborate – I don’t understand the “grudge” question, to a God sent His Son to die…for the purpose of reconciliation. I think I am missing your meaning?

  83. Ricky Bobby says:

    X, do you believe the talking snake was the devil/satan incarnate or did the devil possess the snake? How did the snake talk without vocal chords? Or was there a snake that had vocal chords that is now extinct or didn’t make it on the ark?

  84. Ricky Bobby says:

    Seems the devil appeared to Jesus in the NT as not a snake, no? isn’t the devil an angel? Or is the devil some sort of shape-shifter, able to be a snake or an angel or a human appearance etc? Lots of fun stuff in the bible.

    My take (again): it’s metaphor and a form of anthropomorphism/animorphism and not a literal talking snake…or things get really whacky if you take it through to its logical end.

  85. Josh Hamrick says:

    RB – It was a talking serpent. That is super-natural in some way. We’ve had this discussion before, but you’re never gonna find a scientific explanation for a talking serpent.

  86. Josh Hamrick says:

    “it’s metaphor and a form of anthropomorphism/animorphism and not a literal talking snake…”

    I think the whole blog we agree with me in saying, we know that is your view, and you are entitled to have it even if we disagree.

  87. jamesk says:

    Josh, I have seem way more boring boxing matches than MMA fights. Wrestling is like baseball, it’s only boring to those who don’t fully understand it. Also, the refs in UFC won’t let the ground game get boring. If they go to the ground ond don’t stay busy, they stand them up.

  88. Josh Hamrick says:

    “Wrestling is like baseball, it’s only boring to those who don’t fully understand it. ”

    True, but it’s been around for thousands of years, and most just don’t take the time to understand it. Doesn’t mean it’s bad, it’s just not a great spectator sport. Take the stand up out of MMA and absolute no one would watch it. The stand ups in UFC should be WAY quicker. They should give you like 30 seconds to secure a submission, and then automatic stand up.

  89. Ricky Bobby says:

    and Josh, likewise, I know your views and opinions as you’ve expressed them over and over…and over…over the years and I can state for the entire blog that we know your opinions as well (but it doesn’t stop you from sharing your take over and over either).

  90. Ricky Bobby says:

    Josh, do you think the snake was the devil/satan? or was the snake possessed by the devil/satan? Or was it just a rogue talking snake?

  91. jamesk says:

    “They should give you like 30 seconds to secure a submission, and then automatic stand up.”

    Not if you are able to pound on the guy while you have him down. It’s not just about submissions.

  92. Ricky Bobby says:

    jamesk, were you an assistant pastor for Rommel Gil?

  93. RB, there is a very good chance that the snake had vocal cords – it may have even had legs, as the curse was from that point to crawl on it’s belly. So, the snake in the garden was changed from something we see today.

  94. Josh Hamrick says:

    “I know your views and opinions as you’ve expressed them over and over”

    You’re telling me that I’VE brought up the talking snake on more than one occasion? OK. Don’t remember that, but whatever.

    AND @ 93, apparently you don’t remember because you asked again.

    My answer: Satan, in the form of a serpent.

  95. Josh Hamrick says:

    jamesk – YEah, I mean end the fight..TKO or sub within about 30 seconds. Obviously you wouldn’t stop a guy in the middle of a ground and pound, but the minutes of working for position are the problem.

  96. Ricky Bobby says:

    josh, you’ve shared your opinion that you disagree over and over and you’ve shared your same opinion over and over about a whole range of stuff…as do others. It’s a blog where the same opinions are shared over and over about the same issues.

    I can pre-write the next article and then write in all the comments by all the regulars…it’s that predictable.

  97. Josh Hamrick says:

    @ 99 – That’s probably true. You are just obnoxious with your opinions, and I may be too, but many others here are not. Really, no one else is.

  98. Ricky Bobby says:

    Agreed, I can be, often.

    Do you think the snake was the devil/satan or a snake?

  99. Josh Hamrick says:

    See my 97, last sentence.

  100. “Do you think the snake was the devil/satan or a snake?”

    What difference does it make?

  101. jamesk says:

    @95 I’ve never been an assistant pastor for anyone.

  102. “It’s a blog where the same opinions are shared over and over about the same issues. I can pre-write the next article and then write in all the comments by all the regulars…it’s that predictable.”

    RB, I think you’re being an ass. Yep, pretty sure I’ve shared that opinion before.

  103. crownedone1 says:

    CK @ 103 “What difference does it make?”

    I was thinking that myself. With no tangible proof for any scenario, why does it matter if the snake was real, a hologram, had legs, etc. etc.

    I mean, say you have convinced yourself that the snake was a metaphor. Why does that matter? You still have no proof it was a metaphor.

    1) You either have proof or it isn’t real
    2) You either have proof it isn’t real, or you can’t prove it isn’t.

    Circular reasoning no matter which side you take imo.

  104. London, Xenia, Josh,
    I love and appreciate each of you and your answers, though they don’t address the core question for me, and I’m being pretty specific here, not about my personal peccadilloes, predicaments or projected perfidy.

    Adam & Eve transgressed.

    God chose an eternity of His own personal and volitional unforgiveness, and didn’t stop with them, but applied that unforgiveness to all of their offspring including you and me.

    God chooses to make the penalty the curse upon their descendants, thereby creating a problem only He can solve, by His choice to forgive conditionally. He makes a rock too big for Himself to move without Archimedes’ leverage.

    We insert a theology which unfolds as a requirement for God’s Holy Son to be sacrificed as a penalty for Adam and Eve’s sin, but anywhere along the story of humanity God could simply choose to forgive, unconditionally, as an act of volition, pure will, from a pure source, Himself.

    My point is simple, why doesn’t’ God simply forgive, just in the exact same manner that I am to forgive?

    And the answer will be, “That’s an imponderable, it can’t be known…”

    …and that answer makes me cue up

  105. Ricky Bobby says:

    Love it G!

    And this one speaks to the issue as well (I believe). Bono’s quite a theologian 🙂

  106. Xenia says:

    A little off topic, but not really:

    For folks who live in southern Oregon, have you ever noticed some Orthodox icons on the lawn, off to the right as you head north into Rogue River on Hwy 5? It’s St. Innocent Church.

    Here’s an interview of their pastor, Fr. Seraphim Cardoza, on the topic of “Why America is having a spiritual decline.” He covers many of the things we discuss here on the PhxP.

    This might be of interest for people who have driven by and wondered what it was.

  107. RB,
    “Mystery” is the phase of our faith that each of us is forced to come to terms with, along with our own end game.

    I’m so very glad the gospel writers included Jesus being OK with a poor schlub who says to Him, “I believe, help me with my unbelief!”

  108. Xenia says:

    I forgot the link to the interview:

  109. Josh Hamrick says:

    I love Miracle Drug. I always took it as Bono (or the singer character) looking at his dad die and basically say, I’d give up everything to have you back for a moment. Beautiful song.

    G – “God chose an eternity of His own personal and volitional unforgiveness, and didn’t stop with them, but applied that unforgiveness to all of their offspring including you and me.”

    That’s where the metaphor comes in. Transgression didn’t stop with Adam and Eve. I transgress too. I eat the forbidden fruit daily. I LOVE the forbidden fruit. If you want me to eat fruit, all you have to do is slap a “forbidden” label on it.

    That’s why Jesus came. Not because God would not forgive, but because He wanted so desperately to forgive that He sent His son to die.

  110. RB,
    I particularly like this one…

  111. Michael says:


    Thank you!

  112. Ricky Bobby says:

    “That’s why Jesus came. Not because God would not forgive, but because He wanted so desperately to forgive that He sent His son to die.”

    Agreed. Only every knee shall bow and tongue confess and the part of the story that is not specifically addressed is that eternal torment is not a loving, merciful, reconciliatory punishment once the folks give in and confess and repent in the next life, once they have all the evidence they require (like Doubting Thomas got his evidence).

    A loving, merciful, forgiving and just God would not nuke someone forever simply because they weren’t presented with the gospel, weren’t given the belief at that time in their eternal journey or missed the faux-deadline of physical death.

  113. Josh,
    Respectfully, my friend, that does not address the volitional decision on the part of God, as He is represented by the writer(s) of Genesis. What you offer is a solution to a different problem.

    What my question is, and remains, is why the unforgiveness?

  114. Ricky Bobby says:

    Is there any disagreement that we are “all” eternal beings? That all of us will live on after physical death?

  115. RB,
    Let’s respect Michael and limit the discussion. I’m just glad there is space to admit how imponderable it is for you, me, your and my friends who lurk. Hoping they can somehow still seek to know God in the face of our realities as skeptics who really want to believe

  116. R Crumb’s Genesis was one of those creations I would have never expected to see. It’s pure Crumb style while he sticks really close to the text, which is as graphic of a novel as anyone would want to experience.

    Certainly not for VBS!

  117. Ricky Bobby says:

    OK, G. Good idea. I’ll check back tonight or tomorrow so I’m not tempted to respond to others.

  118. You’re a good man, RB

  119. You guys who do not think that God has forgiven everyone do not read the Bible. Perhaps you are thinking of a different God … one of your own making.

    2 Cor 5 is very clear “18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.”

    God no longer holds our sin against us – God is fully reconciled to us. The issue is unbelief and those who continue to fight God refuse to be forgiven. It is of their own doing.

  120. Michael says:


    I’m multi tasking so I have to be brief.
    The short answer is that the creation God made was good.
    When sin was introduced into that good creation, the effects were not good.
    God is now in the process of making it good again.
    To simply overlook injustice and all things unrighteous in favor of some blanket amnesty would not make the creation good, it would sanction all manner of evil…a God who allows injustice and unrighteousness to go without correction would be neither a just or righteous God.
    It took an act of God to set things right again…and that act was the giving of His Son to cover the sins of the world and to some day come and finish the work of re creating creation.

  121. Michael,
    Thanks! I truly continue to appreciate your patience with my question(s).

    I’m going to ponder your posted pondering whilst pondering my imponderable, whilst playing U2 and doing some crummy sketching…

  122. Josh Hamrick says:

    G said – “why the unforgiveness?”

    I don’t see a lack of forgiveness. I see a God willing to give everything in order to forgive. By Gen 3 we a promise of redemption. In Gen 12 we are introduced to Abraham, the man through his lineage God is going to redeem the world. Gen 12-50 are all about Abraham and his descendants. That’s the beginning of the redemption story. I don’t see why you frame this as a story of unforgiveness. I’m just not understanding.

  123. RB misses the point as usual. The serpent in the garden is only an issue because RB makes it an issue, over and over ad nauseum.
    And was it a snake or the devil? My answet is yes. 😉

  124. Xenia says:

    Michael, you are welcome! The interviewer (an evangelical) must have read that article by RH Evans you linked to because he uses some of the same phrases.

  125. Michael says:


    That’s Perry…he owns the local Christian radio and tv station.
    He’s an ultra Republican who needs to spend more time with Father Seraphim. 🙂

  126. Xenia says:

    Gen 3:1

    Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”


    Revelation 20:2

    He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.

    ….tells us that the serpent in the garden was Satan.

  127. Xenia says:

    Michael, he keeps telling his audience that Fr. Seraphim is “fun,” and in doing so, completely misses the point! But it’s good of him to have Fr. Seraphim on his program.

  128. Josh,
    Genesis 3:15 is where, according to the story, God made a choice.
    Genesis 3:15 is a time stamp and record of the choice made. The choice could have been different. The story could have been written, “But God knew full we’ll He had made limited beings who He then gave free will to choose any infinite number of outcomes which He could see ahead that they would choose, but He held them accountable to punish them as if they were able to fully weigh out their actions and carry the responsibilities for those actions, so He took all of that into account, and choose to forgive them straight away, lest He create a conundrum and box Himself into some kind of scenario that would require Him to brutally murder His yet to be revealed own Son on a hot and sunny Friday afternoon…”

    I cannot soften the implications of the Genesis record of unforgivness, only point out the incongruities that make this an imponderable, right up there with the near sacrifice of Issac.

    …but, like I said, I’m gonna step away and let others ask their own single question, per our friend’s invitation.

  129. Michael says:


    Perry is a very good, godly man.
    He is very, very, influential in my homeland.
    Unfortunately, he is so overcome by politics that someone who is speaking of spiritual things is speaking a different language than he is.
    I cannot even listen to the station anymore and I’ve never even turned on his tv station…so I was delighted to see Father Seraphim allowed to speak.

  130. Michael says:


    The “choice” was made long before Gen 15…

    “and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.”
    (Revelation 13:8 ESV)

  131. Michael,
    That means that regardless of anyone’s choice, even if they thought they were being a follower of YHWH / Jesus / The Holy Spirit, then they could live a life, be a follower / disciple, then discover that they had been not included in the book, living a life completely deceived.

    And, as it’s being presented, God had a pre-creation Book of Life that He was dealing with as well, so He couldn’t volitionally choose to forgive because the book trumps God’s free will, even though it’s a book He wrote, and knew that those uncreated, unborn humans would simply choose to reject Him, even if He chose to forgive them?

    So, If God unilaterally chose to forgive, without sacrifice, He would be overruled by a book He wrote?

    I’m not trying to be a twit or a jerk. This just doesn’t make a shred of sense to me.
    But thanks for remaining my friend, even in my confusion.

  132. Tell ya what, this is going to be, for me, placed under the heading of, “Things too Great for Me”

  133. London says:

    G- was just thinking out loud on line.

  134. …yeah, that gets dangerous. You should see when I doodle 😉

  135. Heads up. Two free books on Amazon.
    The first is “In Christ Alone” by Sinclair Ferguson. I bought it last year and it is excellent! Free for all of August.
    The second is “A Place of Healing: Wrestling with the Mysteries of Suffering, Pain, and God’s Sovereignty” by Joni Eareckson Tada.

    Share the love by posting it on FB and stuff for friends!

  136. Had a long post about The Story but lost it.

    I see the bible as a huge epic story. (True and historic, but still a story)

    Its like art that sometimes implies and sometimes is explicit. Sometimes you wish the artist would point at ever brush stroke and explain why it is there. He doesn’t, but you can still back away some and see the gorgeous bigger picture.

    A story without conflict isn’t much of a story.

  137. Ricky Bobby says:

    Hate to break it to you Presuppositionalists, but Answers In Genesis, “the” Presuppositionalist Fundie Gurus see the problem with the devil/satan being a literal snake in the Garden and disagree with you, LOL:

  138. Ricky Bobby says:

    Martin Luther and Answers In Genesis say that the devil/satan either entered the snake or influenced the snake…so how did it speak if it had no vocal chords? What language did it speak in to Adam and Eve if this passage is literal?

  139. RB is the most fundamentalist, doctrinaire person on this blog. He is an absolutist – who not only is absolutely convinced in his skepticism, but is also absolutely sure that everyone who thinks differently than himself is absolutely wrong.

  140. RB,
    Why do you keep asking the same question after it has been answered (I answered it this this morning with my #96. You so not know that the snake of that day did not have vocal cords.

  141. London says:

    My favorite version of the Genesis story.

  142. “…Answers In Genesis, “the” Presuppositionalist Fundie Gurus see the problem with the devil/satan being a literal snake in the Garden and disagree with you.”

    And again I ask, what difference does it make?

  143. Thanks for the links, Derek. Just got ’em both.

  144. CK,
    I really enjoyed “In Christ Alone”, I hope other people get as much out of it as I do.

    I agree, RB is the most fundamentalist person on here, he just can’t see it.
    People answer a question and then he attempts to show how every view but the one he holds (which is usually a resounding “dunno” if pressed, which leaves him wriggle room) is wrong.
    He never convinces anyone and should see that by now.
    Maybe he convinces his atheist friends who always supposedly read here, but they don’t seem to be convinced enough to give a hearty secular amen.
    You could post up the best arguments, like Michael frequently does, but he will find something else in your argument to take offense at and then change the conversation to that, thus avoiding the first argument in the first place.

  145. Oh, and “A Place of Healing” was only free for the day. It is $2.51 now, not free, but cheap if you wanna pick it up.

  146. Ricky Bobby says:

    MLD, if by absolutist you mean the Standard I appeal to and apply is Reason and Conscience applied to the very subjective text and the less subjective quantifiable facts available to us today…then by all means…though the vast majority (besides you) would probably label me more of a relativist…but in the MLD Universe, your comment makes sense.

    CK asked why the Talking Snake being the literal devil/satan or a real snake makes a difference.

    It makes a huge difference in helping to understand whether Genesis is literal or metaphorical.

    Answers in Genesis and Martin Luther understand the dilemma if the devil/satan is the “snake” in the Genesis account…if it’s not real snake, then the snake is metaphor for the devil and lends to the argument that Genesis is a Metaphor and Allegory with the “snake” being the devil, God walking through the Garden being anthropomorphism and the Tree of Life being a metaphor vs. a literal tree etc. Even the Garden would or could become a metaphor.

    To get around the dilemma, literalists like AIG and Luther have to make the snake a literal snake and have to have the devil either possessing the snake or influencing the snake to talk to a literal Adam and Eve.

    So, if the devil merely possessed the snake…this causes its own set of philosophical implications and the results are quite interesting.

  147. “MLD, if by absolutist you mean the Standard I appeal to and apply is Reason and Conscience applied to the very subjective text and the less subjective quantifiable facts available to us today…”

    No, what I meant was you are just stuck on yourself. See, when you say that you appeal to reason, you are saying that anyone who disagrees with you is not appealing to reason – in fact in your mind you go further and would say that anyone disagreeing with you is appealing to nonsense.

    Since you are so big on “proof” can you prove to us that what you appeal to is actually some “universal reason”? I have heard great minds over the years describe reason – but yours must be some new fangled version

  148. “It makes a huge difference in helping to understand whether Genesis is literal or metaphorical.”

    So it could be possible that Jesus wasn’t real, but some guy strung up on a cross was a metaphor for God’s, love and redemptive power. Hmmm, interesting concept.

  149. I just got around to watching the MacArthur video above – actually I saw nothing offensive in it.
    It’s funny, when JMac first came out with his materials about the Charismatics in the late 70s or early 80s it could have been directed right at Calvary Chapel … who in retrospect must have agreed with JMac when they booted the Vineyard – for I guess doing exactly what JMac was talking about.

    The LCMS had a charismatic movement in the 70s – 80s led by Larry Christensen who was big nationally leading charismatics. But the LCMS wised up and dispatched them by the very early 90s.

    The fact that David danced after a military victory does not in any sense allow that he would have been allowed to take off his clothes and dance in the temple. And that is what I think many charismatics are trying to do.

  150. Michael says:

    I have yet to consult Answers in Genesis for anything, nor will I ever.
    For those interested in understanding the creation account in a manner beyond arguments about the snake I suggest consulting Packer or Kidner, or Waltke or Blocher, or N.T. Wright who have all recognized the literary devices at play in the text and move the discussion beyond such superficial nonsense.

  151. Nonnie says:

    And there you have it, RB…….. “move the discussion beyond such superficial nonsense.”

  152. Kevin H says:

    But staying in that superficial nonsense for a moment, here RB, a talking snake:

    There. Issue settled. Now you can believe. 🙂

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