Thursday, August 08, 2013

Strange Fire conference

John MacArthur's Strange Fire conference is drawing the ire of some Pentecostals. There's a dustup between Fred Butler and Michael Brown. 

The fact that this conference is "controversial" doesn't bother me. Also, MacArthur is a long-time critic of Pentecostalism. So this is nothing new, except that the players change. 

There's lots of fraud in the ranks of Pentecostalism, especially among the televangelists. Exposing that is a good thing. 

However, when attacking dishonesty in charismatic circles, critics need to guard against dishonesty, too. Otherwise, critics are just as bad as the charlatans they (rightly) deride.

The problem I have is that, at least in my admittedly limited observation, some members or follows of the MacArthur circle suffer from Richard Dawkins syndrome. Dawkins has such contempt for Christianity that he can't bring himself to take Christianity seriously even for the sake of argument

And some members/followers of the MacArthur circle reflect the same mindset. They exhibit such unbridled contempt for charismatic theology that they can't take it seriously even for the sake of argument. They demand evidence, yet they don't make a good faith effort to be informed. So the objection is circular, given their studied ignorance. 

There's a word for that: prejudice. 

This also results in a distressing display of spiritual pride. Consider Dan Phillips' endless stream of smug, back-patting tweets–which receive self-congratulatory kudos from his fawning fans. 

Don't become the thing you hate.  


  1. I've posted a few items about the "Strange Fire" conference. What I'm most concerned about is that Dr. MacArthur does not seem to be a responsible critic of the charismatic movement. I link to comments made by J. I. Packer and show how he much more even-handed in his criticism of the charismatic movement. MacArthur fails to see anything worthwhile in the charismatic movement. His criticisms are so broad and without any nuance that he borders on caricature.

  2. I would hesitate to start beating up on MacArthur too much just yet. I just read "Charismatic Chaos" a few months ago, and I still think that much of what he has to say is very useful, even though the book was written (I think) in the 80s.

    Granted, I know that Steve was just focusing on a very narrow aspect of Pentecostalism/charismaticism, which is whether healings/miracles can still happen in this day and age, and how we evaluate the evidence for miraculous claims.

    But the book, as well as some of MacArthur's other criticisms, do well as an antidote to the unbiblical nature of many of Pentecostalism's presuppositions, like whether experience supercedes Scripture as a valid test of truth, whether there can still be revelation and/or prophecy in post-biblical times, whether we should expect a "baptism of the Spirit," and so on.

  3. All I have to do is go into my local conservative baptist church library and find that the leadership has filled the shelves with charismatic/penecostal/contemplative/mystic manual after manual of doctrinal mistakes and ecumenical error; to realize that this is a subject that needs to be addressed NOW!

    Sadly that whole congregations and elder boards cannot even take the time to GOOGLE book reviews, or apologetic web pages (Sola Sisters, Apprising Ministries, Lighthouse Trails, Watchman's Bagpipes, Berit Kyos) the saddest part of all. The discernment level is about "zero" these days as to false teaching.

    I pray that many will purchase "Strange Fire" Conference DVD's and donate those to the church library!

    May a few church elder board members check them and out and start to ask questions ....

  4. This is actually an interesting conference. Have been following it since day-1. To criticize the speakers would advise to listen to all of the messages. Specifically focused on those pervert the gospel (not broadly) - We are called to expose those who are making double the sons of hell. This from what I am hearing is all biblical,

  5. MacArthur claims to be biblical but try finding anything about the end of the 1st century or the death of the last apostle in the New Testament. They use ideas like these which are not in the Bible to negate what actually is in the Bible about speaking in tongues and the Charismatic gifts.
    They seem to want a mostly intellectual only version of Christianity without any outward manifestation of charismatic gifts. Therefore, it's not surprising that they don't like the charismatic gifts because the 9 gifts are described collectively as "the manifestation of the Spirit" and MacArthur and his crowd don't want to feel obligated that they should do such things.
    It's not that hard to make something look bad if you only focus in on the worst example and excesses thereof.
    Riley Brown
    Corpus Christi, Texas