Strange Fire Was… Strange

Strange Fire

The Strange Fire conference led by John MacArthur at Grace Community Church has concluded.

And it was a bit strange.

Pentecostal and Charismatic indictment was in order.  Any manifestation of the miraculous spiritual gifts (even biblical) was put in the same category as mysticism.  That’s too bad.

The conference had its lighter moments too, especially when neo-Calvinist charismatic and controversial pastor Mark Driscoll showed up and set up shop on campus with a bunch of his new books.  He was kicked (ahem, gently asked) out.  Todd Friel of Wretched also had a great line in one of the sessions: “This conference is called Strange Fire, maybe next year’s conference will be called Strange Water, about that infant baptism stuff…” 🙂 That was a jab at MacArthur who was joined by the cessationist infant baptizing crowd in this endeavor.

On a more serious note, the conference did nothing but drive a wider wedge between people who love the Lord. Initially, MacArthur asked the “faithful Pentecostals” to join him and denounce Word of Faith, Toronto Blessing, New Apostolic Reformation and Bill Johnson type of charismatism, but then he turned around and slammed anyone who is not a cessationist with respect to spiritual gifts and miracles in the strongest possible terms.

So the conference failed on that front. Instead of winning over on his side those of us who continue to believe in the miraculous gifts as described in 1 Corinthians 14 and practiced biblically, MacArthur slammed us as demonic and mystic. Typical cessationist approach.

Well balanced and well-respected pastors and theologians like John Piper and Sam Storms were criticized from the pulpit. Again, for something that is black on white in the Bible.

There was however, a bright spot in the conference: Conrad Mbewe, the so-called Spurgeon of Africa. He is a reformed preacher used by God in a mighty way in Africa to denounce the prosperity gospel and charismatic abuses. He was the only speaker who actually differentiated between those involved in charismatic abuses and continuationists who are grounded in Scripture. He made the point that the latter are fewer and fewer in Africa.  He used to have university colleagues in Pentecostal circles, and they would exchange doctrinal points and Bible study experience.

That’s right, Bible study among Pentecostals and Charismatics.  It is sad that such a concept is rare now-a-days.

That is where the baby is found in the murky bath water.  There are still those of us who study the Word of God and are committed to its prescriptions, and continue to believe in the gifts of tongues and prophecy.

The Body of Christ should not be divided over secondary issues like continuation of spiritual gifts.  We should denounce heretical theology and manifestations found in some charismatic circles, but accept those believers who are grounded in the Bible and have experienced the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit.

photo: the Christian Post

16 comments on “Strange Fire Was… Strange

  1. Hi Delight.

    The only part of the conference that I saw was the talk by Mr. Mbewe. It sounds like It’s a good thing I didn’t see the rest.

    I am in complete agreement that “those of us who continue to believe in the miraculous gifts as described in 1 Corinthians 14” are correct.

    It’s a shame that “MacArthur slammed us as demonic and mystic.” I feel that Mr. MacArthur’s rash statements are partially responsible for my brother’s schizophrenic relapse. Mr. MacArthur said, in one of his broadcasts (mid-80s), that basically Christians should rely on God and not medicines.

    Since then he has taken back that statement, I think, but it didn’t help my brother at the time. My brother stopped taking his medicine, causing irreversible damage.

    I know that Mr. MacArthur has done some good things but this was something that directly impacted my family.

    Thanks for giving your view on the conference. It is very sad that “the Body of Christ is divided over secondary issues like continuation of spiritual gifts.”

    God’s blessings…

    • Always good to hear your voice of reason, Chris. I have noticed over time that you are very well composed and very well balanced in engaging issues. It is the fruit of the Spirit I believe at work in you.

      • Thank you for your kind words, Delight.

        I appreciate your efforts to bring the truths of God to those who are in darkness. No Christian agrees on everything, but I think our views are quite similar I think you and I and several who “congregate” here are truth seekers. We wish to understand God’s Word to the best of our ability as the Holy Spirit gives us wisdom.

        I always like to hear that someone sees the Spirit working through this lump of clay in some way. Jesus said, “Apart from Me you can do nothing.” It is a verse I think of daily. We are to be a humble people and yet understand that we have tremendous worth because of what God has done for us.

        I see God’s Spirit working in you too, my friend. Thank you for the platforms you have created to discuss God’s Words and the issues of our day.

        God’s blessings…

  2. I am surprised to hear that Mbewe took a balanced approach.
    He is widely criticized by Pentecostal scholars in African. Great post! I was looking forward to hearing about this conference, but was suspicious that it was going to be exactly how you describe it.

    • I watched a good portion of the conference, Walter, and the conference was extensively discussed in my circles. Most were disappointed. We thought MacArthur would soften his stance on continuationism, but it was quite the opposite. We just hope other believers would see that there is a biblical approach to practicing the gifts of the Spirit.

        • V, not anymore idiotic as the charismatic movement… at least these guys were decent and they didn’t bark, holy laughed, fall on their backs , hit people in the stomach, claim that they talk to God, rain gold dust from the heating vents, faked healings, shiny suits, expansive cars, personal jets, women pastors, tithing terrorism, hip hop worship, head banging music, and this is only half of the idiotic stuff that goes on there

    • In the words of Nelu Brie (probably the most respected Romanian pastor/teacher right now), the Toronto movement was a “blasphemy” toward the Holy Spirit. I was surprised to see you thought it was an authentic godly movement.

      • the most respected (whatever that means) usually get it wrong–Jesus was considered a blasphemer too by the most respected of His day. So, go figure 🙂

      • The most respected (whatever that means!) usually get it wrong. Jesus was considered a blasphemer by the most respected of His day. So, go figure! 🙂

        PS–Nelu Brie never attended one of the Toronto’s meetings, so he speaks out of imagination, at best. 🙂

        • Youtube is full of barking holy laughter back falling full of weird spirits examples of Toronto “blessed” followers… You don’t need to be there

        • youtube is not the same thing as being there, but if you insist that it is, I suggest you no longer go to your church and no longer read A.W. Tozer–just watch video clips posted by the opposition and see what you’ll come up with

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