There was a lot of confusion among some experts on Christian apologetics in Brazil early this year about whether or not Justin Peters preached cessationism when, as a VINACC guest speaker, he taught against prosperity theology preachers by calling them “heretics.”
Actually, he wanted also to call believers in supernatural charismatic gifts of “heretics,” but he was hindered from doing so in his VINACC public meetings.
He was prevented from teaching his cessationist gospel in VINACC.
How did Peters become an intransigent cessationist?
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Apparently, after attending several meetings of prosperity theology proponents and receiving no miracle, Peters, who is a disabled man, let his bad experience create a bad theology: If he received no miracle in these meetings it’s because God gives no supernatural gifts in our days.
Today, he is an avid cessationist — a theological jargon to design adherents of the theory that says the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit ceased 2,000 years ago and that they are no longer available today. In fact, his non-healing experiences have been used by Calvinist theologian John MacArthur to back his anti-Pentecostal “Strange Fire” conferences, where Peters is one of the speakers.
In Campina Grande, Brazil, where the VINACC meeting was held, Peters was recorded as saying,
Anytime somebody says God has spoken to me and has given me a word, has given me a new revelation, has given me a prophecy, that you automatically write that person off as a false teacher as a false prophet. And we could talk for an hour at least about how God does or does not speak to people. Hebrews 1:1,2 pretty clear: God long ago spoke through the fathers in the prophets in many portions in many different ways, but in these last days has spoken to us in His Son Jesus who is the final speaking of God. We have the perfect, inerrant, infallible and sufficient record of that. So God is not giving certain individuals special revelations, special insight into His future plans. He’s not doing that anymore. Everything that we need is right here in the Word of God. We’re the dwellings of the Spirit who illumines the meaning of this Word in our hearts and minds. That’s all we need. The second thing: anybody who claims to be an apostle or a prophet, write that person off immediately.
After reading Peters’ words, Dr. Michael Brown, author of “Authentic Fire” (a book that exposes the fallacies of “Strange Fire,” a book by MacArthur), said to me:
What a bizarre statement about God not speaking today. The Word plainly says that Jesus, by the Spirit, continues to speak. If I believe the Word, then I must believe the Spirit is still speaking today. It’s troubling to see how Mr. Peters terribly misuses the Bible to justify his claims and rather than dealing with the detailed scriptural evidence I provided in my Authentic Fire book, he dismisses it all because I accepted Benny Hinn’s invitation to appear on his broadcast and preach the gospel to millions of viewers.
With his words, Peters showed that he has not a problem just with prosperity theology preachers. His problem is with all people professing Pentecostalism or charismatic experiences. In fact, his main foundation to attack Pentecostal leaders seems to be his fierce opposition to the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit today.
By the way, Brazil was a huge challenge for him, because most Brazilian evangelicals are Pentecostal. Brazilian evangelicalism is basically Pentecostal and neo-Pentecostal.
Peters would get a good audience among followers of Bishop Edir Macedo, the founder of the Kingdom of God Universal Church (KGUC). Macedo also believes that God gives no prophecy or revelation today. He said, “In former times, God used to speak through dreams, visions or prophecies, because there was not His written Word. Today, He speaks through His Word.”
What is to be done to people today who say that they had a prophecy or revelation? Macedo answers, “If someone learns that there is a ‘prophet’ or ‘prophetess’ in KGUC, denounce it immediately to the minister and also to the regional leader, so that we may take immediate measures.”
It would sound ok for Peters, wouldn’t it? After all, this is his theology!
Macedo is relentless in his anti-prophecy stance. Incredibly, he is a neo-Pentecostal (neo-charismatic) leader who preaches the prosperity theology. Yet, whether or not you bring Macedo a prophetic revelation or God’s Word about the value of life, he remains fierce and equally relentless in his defense of abortion and birth control.
If Peters’ attacks were directed to this real strange fire (abortion, birth control, partial cessationism and the Gospel together), it would be fair. But his attacks are directed to other issues and against all Pentecostals. For Peters, all gifts of prophecy and revelations today are “strange fire,” are demonic. Of course, Macedo would say, “Amen!”
There are false gospels and false miracles, but you should never use the false gospels and the false miracles to disqualify the true Gospel and the true miracles.
Because I am charismatic Christian, should I accept all manifestations of supernatural gifts coming from Christians? No. Some years ago, an American preacher said that he received a prophecy about Brazil winning the 2014 World Cup and also about an evangelical woman getting elected as Brazilian president in the 2014 election. His prophecy was interpreted as God supporting Marina Silva, a socialist militant who began in the Catholic Church and today is an Assemblies of God member.
Brazil suffered its worst defeat in the 2014 World Cup. I knew that his prophecy was not correct, especially for its interpretation favoring Marina, who has solid socialist stances. While many evangelical leaders were supporting her because of the prophecy, I was, before the election, exposing Marina and her avid socialism. Eventually, she lost.
Apostle Paul, who had many charismatic gifts, never taught that you should reject prophecies, but that you should be free to prophesize and free to evaluate what each person says in prophecy: “Two or three people should speak what God has revealed. Everyone else should decide whether what each person said is right or wrong.” (1 Corinthians 14:29 GWV)
To reject all prophecies is not the Bible way. To accept all prophecies is not the Bible way. The Bible ways is freedom to prophesy and freedom do evaluate.
In Campina Grande, Brazil, Justin Peters lambasted prosperity theology preachers. He also lambasted the VINACC organizers because he wanted to teach cessationism (the strange doctrine that says God no longer grants supernatural gifts today), but they did not allow him. Even though several VINACC speakers are cessationist Calvinists, its public is mostly Pentecostal. Peters’ cessationism would have been extremely offensive to this public.
Peters’ declarations against prophecy and revelation were recorded in an interview with him in Campina Grande and show how eager he was to teach the VINACC public to reject “heresies,” misinterpreted by him as an acceptance of prophecy and revelation for today.
In his recorded declarations, Peters also attacked Dr. Michael Brown, a Jewish charismatic leader who has been prominent for his defense of the Gospel and Israel. He said,
A lot of pastors will have invite questionable people to come to their churches to preach. They will go on to questionable or maybe I should say questionable because it could sound like mad, television programs associated with false prophets. One good example is Dr. Michael Brown, who is considered to be one of the intellectual leaders of the charismatic movement. He blasted the Strange Fire Conference that was held at John MacArthur’s church, because he claimed that the Strange Fire Conference painted all charismatics with one brush and it was really as if the Strange Fire Conference should talk about the strange time fringe of the charismatics. He said that is not who we are. So he blasted the Conference and then three months later he goes on Benny Hinn’s television program and records five programs with Benny Hinn who is one of, if not the world’s most infamous bad influences on believers. If you can’t tell Benny Hinn is a false teacher then something is really wrong. And so associations speak volumes about who we are and what we believe.
In answer, Dr. Michael Brown clarified that, because Peters tried to misrepresent him in Brazil, he is open to a public debate about these issues. The debate could happen in Brazil. Brown said,
1) I invited Pastor MacArthur to private discussion or public debate on numerous occasions, but he refused to engage in private or in public; 2) I would debate Justin Peters in a heartbeat as to what the Bible says about divine healing; 3) I exposed false accusations made against Benny Hinn by Justin Peters; 4) my appearance on Benny Hinn’s show is not an endorsement of his theology any more than my appearance on Piers Morgan. Instead, I was able to reach his audience with the message of Jesus the Messiah. Is this wrong? 5) I have exposed errors in the Charismatic church for decades, and I continue to do so to this day, but I am Charismatic because of the plain teaching of Scripture and again, I would gladly debate what the Scriptures say with any qualified non-Charismatic leader.
Dr. Brown is willing to debate John MacArthur and Justin Peters, in Brazil or in the U.S., about their stance against prophecy, revelation and other supernatural gifts for today. He said:
I invite Mr. Peters to have a formal, moderated debate with me on what the Bible says – not what people say – about the gifts of the Spirit, including healing and prophecy, being promised by God in His Word for today. Let’s not engage in rhetoric. Let’s look at the Word.
I do not know if Brazilian charismatics are prepared for such debate.
CPAD, the biggest Pentecostal publishing house in Brazil, has published several books by anti-Pentecostal Calvinist John MacArthur, but it has not published “Authentic Fire,” by Dr. Brown. In contrast, cessationist Calvinist publishers in Brazil will never publish any book by Dr. Brown or by any other charismatic, even though there is no anti-Calvinist Pentecostal version of John MacArthur in Brazil.
CPAD belongs to the Assemblies of God, which has over 12 million members in Brazil. The Presbyterian Church of Brazil, the first Calvinist denomination in Brazil, has 1 million members, but not all of them are cessationist.
MacArthur’s “Strange Fire” has been published in Brazil by Thomas Nelson. Both Thomas Nelson and Zondervan, the two largest Protestant publishing houses in the world, belong to HarperCollins, which publishes the Satanic Bible, by Satanist Anton LaVey.
So the publisher and promoter of “Strange Fire” in Brazil is owned by HarperCollins, which publishes and promotes satanic books. This is satanic fire!
Yet, the publisher and promoter of other books by MacArthur in Brazil is Pentecostal giant CPAD. Does it make sense?
A schizophrenic contrast. Brazilian Pentecostals promote MacArthur. MacArthur does not promote Brazilian Pentecostals. MacArthur uses and abuses the Gospel to attack Pentecostals. Brazilian Pentecostals do not use and abuse the Gospel to attack MacArthur. Are Brazilian Pentecostals spiritual masochists who love to be labeled “heretics” for believing in supernatural gifts for today?
There is a real strange fire when “Strange Fire” and the Satanic Bible are published and promoted by the same source.
There is a stranger fire when books of an anti-Pentecostal Calvinist author are published and promoted by the biggest Pentecostal publisher in Brazil.
Portuguese version of this article: Justin Peters no Brasil: Deus não fala com você hoje por meio de profecia e revelação
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.