And which is worse? To preach a carnal prosperity message or to give people false assurance that, once they are saved, no matter how they live, no matter what they do, even if they renounce Jesus, they are still saved? Which message will result in more people being misled and finding themselves in hell?It seems like Brown is suggesting that a carnal prosperity message actually has power to save souls. I would strongly disagree.
Pastor MacArthur rightly renounces the carnal prosperity message, yet many non-charismatics who follow him embrace an extremely dangerous version of the "once saved, always saved" doctrine. Why the double standard here?
Again, I am not for a moment excusing doctrinal errors, emotional manipulation, financial greed or other spiritual abuses often perpetuated in the name of the Spirit, but it is absolutely outrageous that Pastor MacArthur claims, “The charismatic movement is largely the reason the church is in the mess it is today. In virtually every area where church life is unbiblical, you can attribute it to the charismatic movement. In virtually every area—bad theology, superficial worship, ego, prosperity gospel, personality elevation. All of that comes out of the charismatic movement.”
Of course, I'd also disagree with Brown's characterization of MacArthur's view on perseverance. The elect will certainly persevere to the end. This will be accomplished by God, just as all of salvation is by God. That may even include them temporarily falling into very heinous sin, such as denying Christ multiple times (recall Peter's sad example). Yet ultimately they will repent (as Peter did).
MacArthur's claim does not seem outrageous to me. What does seem outrageous, however, is Brown's following two paragraphs (immediately after his paragraphs above:
And he is quite wrong when he states, “Its theology is bad. It is unbiblical. It is bad. It is aberrant. It is destructive to people because it promises what it can't deliver, and then God gets blamed when it doesn't come. It is a very destructive movement.”Brown's response to MacArthur's claim that the theology is not Biblical is to allege that it has been successful. Yet one wonders about this claim. No doubt the charismatic movement has widely proselytized, but if it is preaching a false Gospel and a false spirit, then what good are its large numbers? One might just as well point to the billion plus Muslims as evidence of the good of Islam. Surely Brown has the sense not to do that, so why can't he discern the fundamental theological problems of the charismatic movement?
In reality, more people have been saved—wonderfully saved—as a result of the Pentecostal-charismatic movement worldwide than through any other movement in church history (to the tune of perhaps a half-billion souls), as documented recently in Allan Heaton Anderson’s To the Ends of the Earth: Pentecostalism and the Transformation of World Christianity. And professor Craig Keener has provided overwhelming testimony to the reality of God’s miraculous power worldwide today (see his brilliant two-volume study Miracles).
Thanks to LUBunkerman for pointing this out to me.