In a recent debate discussion with IHOP founder Mike Bickle, I focused on the importance of certainty versus uncertainty in the Christian life, and near the end of our discussion I wanted to pose a challenge to Mike regarding his level of certainty in following the path he has followed (based on his assertion that the path had been chosen in part on the basis of prophetic utterances). My question to Mike was whether or not it was possible that the prophetic voices that helped lead him to his current understanding and ministry may have misdirected him and caused him to be in a distraction rather than in the most effective ministry possible: “Is it possible that someone has influenced so as to distract from something bigger..?” Mike’s candid response was, “I think…that has to be in the conversation.” I appreciated Mike’s response, and thought it helped illustrate a sharp and vital contrast between a cessationist view (which would find certainty through the completed revelation of God in Scripture) and a non-cessationist view (which would have at least some degree of uncertainty regarding what was and what was not revealed of God).
I wish I had stopped there. In further illustrating that particular contrast I spoke of an instance when I recalled John MacArthur admitting a lack of absolute certainty regarding his own salvation, in part based on his view of Lordship salvation and how assurance works. Of course, MacArthur is a strong advocate of assurance and the importance of assurance – but I recalled in this particular interview he was simply caught in the logical challenge that if assurance is in part based on our works and lasting commitment, then it would be impossible to have certainty at any given moment, because if one were to change in those works and that commitment, then perhaps (from that perspective) it might be reflective of an unsaved rather than a saved person. I didn’t give the reference much thought, as I recalled an interview from seven or eight years ago.
A diligent observer who watched the debate discussion asked me to provide the source of the statement, because he wanted to verify what MacArthur had actually said. This was a very reasonable request, and one I should always be prepared to answer regarding any quote. In doing the research to identify the exact interview in order to fulfill the request, I was surprised that I simply couldn’t find it. Nor could I find anything even close to John saying what I had recalled him saying. Now, there may be a diligent researcher out there who can confirm what I said was correct, but absent any such confirmation, I have to assume that my specific recollection was wrong, and consequently, that I have misrepresented John MacArthur. And since I did that in a public forum, then I owe John MacArthur – and the listeners and observers, a public apology.
I apologize to all, and especially to John MacArthur – please know that my apparent error was unintentional and was based on what I remembered as an accurate representation. I would never knowingly misrepresent anyone, and did not do so in this case.
I also offer a special “thank-you” to that diligent observer who was willing to hold me accountable. I am in your debt. I am certain of it.
EDIT 12/1/2017 2:18pm – A diligent researcher sent a document recording the interview I had recalled (from the 1990 ETS). Quote from John MacArthur: “We can have assurance, but not 100% certainty.” Thank you, diligent researcher! It is good to know my memory is not (yet) entirely engaged in fiction.
The document is below: