On Sunday, August 16, an intruder wearing a backpack mounted the pulpit at John MacArthur’s Grace Community Church while Dr MacArthur was preaching the Sunday morning service, put his fingers in his lips and emitted a piercing whistle, pointed his finger at the pastor and began shouting that he had a message from the Lord to deliver to him.
The man, a Scottish “evangelist,” was angry that Dr MacArthur had preached in the past that the charismatic gifts have ceased, an interpretation termed “cessationism.” This biblical teaching was most recently delivered at the Strange Fire conference at Grace Community Church two years ago. That conference was a much-needed response and rebuke to the Charismatic movement which claims that Jesus delivers personal revelation to individuals today in the form of the temporary sign gifts of prophecy, tongues, interpretation of tongues, and also that people can and do perform miracles like raising people from the dead and healings, as the first century apostles performed.
Charismatics believe these temporary gifts intended as a temporary sign were not temporary at all and have never ceased. They believe the gifts continue. They are continuationists. Continuationism and its heresies and false notions of Christianity are rapidly overtaking the faith all around the world. If you have ever seen a “church service” where people are shouting, jerking, fainting or otherwise gyrating, this is a Charismatic church. If you have ever seen people lined up for healing by “an anointed preacher” at a healing crusade, this is charismania. If you ever have seen claims from ‘pastors’ who shout for the Holy Spirit “to show up” and He supposedly does by showering the congregation with gold dust from the ceiling, you’ve seen a charismatic congregation.
Not all Charismatic churches are so wild, but the ones that seem quieter are just as dangerous. They speak in tongues which are gibberish. They claim that the canon of scripture is not closed and have a word delivered by the Lord to share. Beth Moore makes claims all the time that Jesus speaks to her and commands her to teach what He tells her. Disgraced pastor Mark Driscoll claimed to have had many visions and audible revelations from God. So you see it is not just the Benny Hinns and Kenneth Copelands of the world engaged in dangerous twisting of God’s word in regard to the temporary sign gifts, but even conservative segments of the faith have now accepted personal revelation and mystical practices associated with Charismania.
The Strange Fire conference of 2013 sparked angry outbursts and heated reactions from certain segments, mainly from the people who claim to possess these gifts and are going around performing them. Apparently this intruder was one who feels he is a prophet from God, as he said while on the podium at GCC last Sunday. The reaction to the Strange Fire conference is continuing and satan is still inspiring people to anger over the biblical rebuke the preachers and teachers at that conference delivered. The warfare is real and ongoing. (Ephesians 6:12)
Here is video of the intruder at Grace Community Church. You can see he mounted the pulpit rapidly and got within 20 feet of MacArthur before anyone noticed or stopped him. Even though two men in the front row immediately rose and approached the intruder, I was shocked at how fast it happened. When the intruder points his finger at the esteemed pastor, it could as easily have been a gun. GCC fellow pastor Phil Johnson said the intruder got “way too close” to MacArthur.
Here is a video of Dr MacArthur’s gracious reaction afterward. It is a 3-minute video from SO4J, but it’s “exclusive” to SO4J.com so I can’t embed.
VIDEO OF MACARTHUR’S RESPONSE: JOHN MACARTHUR IS VERBALLY ATTACKED BY A FALSE PROPHET
This brings to mind safety concerns, of course. The congregants at Charleston’s Emmanuel African Methodist Church last June certainly didn’t expect to be shot while praying and singing inside the church, but that shooting shocked America and the world. Nine people were killed.
Even though Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church is not a church and Osteen is not a pastor, many people think it’s a church, and some had no compunction about mounting an orchestrated rebellion while services were going on this past June. These hecklers were outraged at Osteen’s brazen falsity and began calling him a liar as Osteen prepared to ‘preach’. There were six individuals ushered out from the Lakewood arena by security that day.
Unfortunately we are seeing these scenes of bouncers or security men ushering away some intruders more and more often. Here is GCC Pastor Phil Johnson with comments on the incident:
Here are some comments about church security and the performance of the GCC security team in particular. These are compiled mainly from my own replies in a couple of recent comment threads. The one comment below that I have put in quotation marks was made by one of my FaceBook friends. All the other comments from which I compiled this are mine:
I agree that it’s both irritating and scary to see someone with mischief on his mind get that close to John MacArthur, but we are not going to erect a barrier between the pastor and the people in our church. I imagine the security team will henceforth put their most young and spry guys on the front row. But it’s a simple fact of life that if someone bent on doing harm is determined enough, it’s not possible to guarantee that every possible threat can be thwarted. On the other hand, all of us who preach Christ at GCC are willing to die for Him–but not willing to permit miscreants to force a barrier between the people and the elders. John MacArthur isn’t going to move around among his own congregation in a plexiglas bubble like the Popemobile.
I know for a fact that the security team is carefully examining Sunday morning’s incident with an eye to improving or beefing up the measures they take. But they DID handle this situation without injury to anyone involved, and the entire interruption lasted less than sixty seconds.
Bear in mind that over the years, the vast majority of criticisms aimed at our security team have come from people who seem to think ANYTHING they do is too hasty, too heavy-handed, or otherwise unChristlike. In fact, Martha Mac’s front-row video of Sunday’s incident (posted on her FB page) drew dozens of comments from charismatic critics and postmodern bleeding hearts who complained that the treatment our Scottish “prophet” friend received was overly harsh. So people should appreciate and have some empathy for the difficult position the security staff are in.
Finally, here’s a comment someone else posted elsewhere regarding security’s handling of this incident:
“As a former LEO and member of my church’s security team, who knows a few of the GCC security team members, well done fellas. I agree with Phil that it was a measured and gentle approach, and they took care of business without incident. Praise the Lord! It will be good for them to do a review this incident to see how a response could be improved or tweaked next time, but there will always be lag time in any response, and there is always the risk that someone can get to your pastor first. Also, there is a delicate balance between what is the desired level of response by security, both from the pastor’s perspective and the congregation’s perspective. Go too hard, and there is criticism; go too soft, and likewise. John and his security team have an understanding on what is expected of them in their response, of this I am sure, and this appears to have played out. If you notice, John points at the disorderly subject, and the men react immediately and start to approach the stage. The subject stops away from John, and is merely pointing and yelling, with no visible weapon, which calls for a less dynamic response from the security team. Professional job, gentlemen. In under a minute, the situation is resolved, and it’s back to business as usual. Thank you for posting this, Phil, as a good reminder to those who protect our faithful pastors each and every week.”
In short, I think people who don’t actually have hands-on responsibility for church security at this level should probably keep their Monday-morning quarterbacking to themselves.
We are not guaranteed safety in this world. Though we believe church should be a safe place, and we strive to make it so, it is actually ground zero in the warfare in which we engage. Sometimes that warfare shows up in the form of an angry person…sometimes the angry person has a gun. We are not guaranteed safe passage from this world to the next, what we are guaranteed is trouble.
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said. (Acts 14:22)
Ultimately the take-away is… PRAY FOR PASTORS. The pastors who unflinchingly preach the truth of God are most at risk. Pray for them for God to keep them spiritually safe, and physically safe. And He will. Until it is the day ordained from the foundation of the world for them to be called home.