All Right. Let’s get down to brass tacks on the Strange Fire…and Holy Ghost Smoke

I’m going to write a little more in response to the whole “strange fire” talk between the continuationist camp and cessationist camp, mainly as seen between Michael Brown and Fred Butler from Grace To You (with some minor contributions by myself).  Things are moving quick and comments are flying like mad, as is to be expected with an issue involving so many millions of people.  There’s a lot of talking past one another, and a lot of rhetoric.  So let’s make things really simple.


You ready?

I’m going to lay down a simple challenge for people on both sides of the fence.

Here’s a video of what one group would consider a manifestation of the Holy Spirit and another would consider, well, the headlining act at the gospel gong show. (Shout out to Tony Miano for the link).  Watch the following and then consider the questions after the video:


1.  For both sides (cessationist and charismatic), is that a biblical manifestation of the Holy Spirit?  Why or why not? (back up what you say from the scripture)

2.  For both sides, are the spoken utterances coming from them biblical tongues?  Why or why not? (back up what you say from the scripture)

3.  Is the message of their conversion (and the stories of their evangelistic exploits) presenting the biblical gospel? Why or why not? (back up what you say from the scripture)

4.  For both sides, would you allow this to occur in, or associated with, your church and support it? Why or why not? (back up what you say from the scripture)

5.  For both sides, what should happen to the pastor (rev. Matthew Ford) sitting between these two?  Should he be heralded as some sort of apostle for unleashing a new outpouring of the Spirit or tarred, feathered and ran out of town for being a false teacher?  Why or why not? (back up what you say from the scripture)

We can dance around the issues all day long.  Let’s stop dancing.

I know this sounds stupid or silly, but the kicker is in the answer to the question of why.

Why is it a modern day example of Acts chapter 2?

Why is it a wonderful work of the Holy Spirit?


Why is it stupid?

Why is it unbiblical?

I’d suggest that any charismatic who would suggest that this is not an authentic movement of the Spirit would be unable to rule out this alone, if they were being biblically consistent with their reasoning…and a wise cessationist once said “Inconsistency is the sign of a failed argument”.

Until Next Time,

Lyndon “If Bob and Doug McKenzie do the call to worship in your church, it’s time to go church shopping” Unger

P.S. – This song expresses my feelings on the previous video:


19 thoughts on “All Right. Let’s get down to brass tacks on the Strange Fire…and Holy Ghost Smoke

  1. I have seen this before . In fact I am sure this so called Pastor is from Australia and had a ” church ” close by here. It is demonic Activity, no doubt .

    • The Wine Barrel Church! That’s a good one. It’s not just a wine glass, it’s the whole barrel.

      There was a charismatic church in our town here in Santa Clarita called “The New Wine Church.” After they realized people thought they were a bunch of odd balls because of the name, they now call themselves “Bouquet Canyon Community Church”

  2. I suppose Mike. Bickle would dodge the issue by referring to this as an example of the 80% of charismatic manifestations he admits are bogus.

  3. Okay, there have been no responses from any continuationists as far as I can tell. I think I see the dilemma. If this is not a manifestation of the Holy Spirit, it would need more than just a “Well, I think that…” However, to say it is not requires some sort of objective method of making that judgment, the only qualified one being Scripture. I would be very interested (no snark implied or intended) to hear a well reasoned Biblical response. I suppose there’s always the “We are not in the position to judge what is or is not a genuine move of God” type of answer, which would in itself speak volumes. Perhaps someone might choose to post a video of what they do believe is a genuine manipulation of the Spirit.

    • That’s totally where I was headed Ed.

      There are multiple problems if everything claims to be a genuine manifestation of the Spirit and yet nobody has any concrete way of testing what is and what isn’t.

      Some people would suggest that they “feel” that something is off, but that argument falls flat because the other several hundred (or thousand) people that are there may not “feel” the same feeling…and consensus tends to win the day.

      Some people would suggest that they have to “check the fruit”, but the definitions of fruit are as numerous as they are unbiblical. If “people getting saved” is the “fruit” of a movement, then the charismatic movement needs to face the fact that the back door is swinging as fast as the front door and consider the implications of that. If “people getting healed” is the definition of the “fruit” of the movement, then Todd Bentley should never have had to step down from his “ministry” when he cheated on his wife. If sexual purity is the definition of the “fruit” of a movement, then something is basically authentic until the pastor/leader falls into sin. The list goes on and on, and the definitions all ring fruitless…and if the biblical definition of “fruit” is used (something which I’ll address in a future blog post), the whole charismatic movement is on the chopping block.

      Some people would suggest that certain things are “unbiblical”, like being “slain in the Spirit”, because it doesn’t appear in the scripture. That argument also falls apart when someone like John Whimber or Jack Deere give proof-texts for people being “slain in the spirit” (i.e. Adam in Genesis 2) because you then have to establish that the texts either are misinterpreted or misapplied. That calls for an objective hermeneutic that, if consistently applied, dismantles far more of the charismatic movement than most people are willing to give up.

      The sword that cuts off Rev. Matt Ford cuts of a WHOLE lot more than him, unless it’s applied totally inconsistently.

  4. That was a hard video to watch and I had to stop it before the end because it was so awful. This video did not follow 1 Corinthians 14:28 as they were randomly shouting without an interpretation. This video did not follow 1 Corinthians 14:39-40 as their display was not done in an orderly and fitting way.

    • Good thoughts Sherry T! Thanks for being brave enough to interact. I agree that the lack of interpretation is problematic, and I agree that it was definitely not orderly.

      Did you catch Rev. Ford’s defense of what they’re doing? Any thoughts on how he defended the “toking the ghost”?

      • It sounded like he was defending “toking of the spirit” because there is a drug epidemic and this is a way to reach people. It seemed like they were trying to “modernize” the Holy Spirit which is wrong. He also mentioned various scriptures, none of which supported what they are doing.

  5. Sherry T: glad to hear your response, and don’t want to rush the exchange between you and Lyndon. As one who spent a number of years in charismatic circles, I was intrigued by what you wrote, describing it as “so awful”, and I agree. Was the awfulness of it because of the disorder and lack of interpretation, or was there something else that for you didn’t pass the sniff test?

  6. aH!!!! please be kind to the wounded! I burnt my stomach badly with a Thermacare and when I read … “gong show” I started laughing spluttering giggling and getting short of breath!!! LOL LOL LOL (sorry could not help letting you know how funny I find the wit and sarcasm).

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