Random Thoughts in the Aftermath of Strange Fire

So the internet  pretty much looks like this right now:

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Strange Fire talk is everywhere.

With all the rebuttals, responses and defenses being tossed out from everyone and their intern, I don’t even know where to start in addressing a tiny fraction of the stuff that’s being said.

Here’s an article by Trevin Wax on how to go about debating the conference.

Here’s a sliver of the rebuttals/attacks:

1.  C Michael Patton over at Parchment and Pen (and also Credo House Ministries) has declared that MacArthur is losing his voice among Evangelicals, and has also informed the whole world what someone who’s never been part of the charismatic movement thinks a Charismatic is.  Michael Patton’s fellow team blogger Clint Roberts has tossed out some thoughts on lessons to learn from the Strange Firestorm.

2.  Sam Storms has been on full alert.  He’s tossed up an alert that not all Cessationists are divisive meanies and he’s also posted the first part of his response to the conference.

3. Wallace Henley, over at the Christian Post, has vented his thoughts about how MacArthur is an extremist.

4.  Joel McDurmon, over at American Vision, basically has condemned the conference because it painted with a broad brush, and also because speakers at the conference spoke negatively about Dominionism and Postmillennialism (I don’t think they really cared much about the conference, but their two hobby horses got kicked and they had to put on their angry eyes).

MrPotatoHead_Angry

(photo credit)

5. Adrian Warnock had written a bunch of stuff on why Cessationists are wrong about prophecy, how there is plenty of good that has come from the Charismatic Movement, and has written a response to the conference.

6.  Ed Stetzer has written an overview of the whole Pentecostal/Charismatic/Third Wave Movements, and has also written a highly similar article on the Charismatic Movement.

7.  Andrew Wilson, over at Theology Matters, has posted his defense of continuationalism/Charismatic theology.

8.  Bob Hayton, over at Fundamentally Reformed, has tossed his rather bland response into the fray.

9. Kevin P. Emmert (white guy from North America) has written on Christianity Today how Conrad Mbewe (a black pastor from Africa) is wrong about the spiritual condition of Africa…after talking with a two American pastors, two American Bible College professors (one at a Pentecostal school), and two African Bible College professors (one at a Pentecostal school).  Someone needs to send Mr. Emmert this book badly.  He spoke with two pastors from Africa but he never spoke with a single pastor in Africa.

10.  Frank Viola has offered his thoughts on the conference.

11.  Samuel Rodriguez, over at Charisma, has come out guns blazing and writes that MacArthur is “ignorant of the (charismatic) community’s unbridled commitment to biblical orthodoxy”.  Ironically, this article and this article and this article were above it in the feed.

12.  Luke Geraty, over at Think Theology, has addressed the Strange Fire conference in general as well as attempting to rebut Tom Pennington’s case against Continuationism.

There’s a whole lot more, but those dozen should give you a good sampling of the responses from both the well known and not so well known.

Here’s a sliver of the defenses/affirmations:

1. Jeremy Egrerer, over at the Christian Post, has given out a thoughtful defense of MacArthur.

2. Melissa Barhnart, also over at the Christian Post, has interviewed John MacArthur about the conference and allowed him to defend some of his statements.

3.  Karl Heltman over at ParkingSpace23 has given his take on why he thinks the Strange Fire conference was not divisive and his co-blogger Darren Wiebe (who was one of the people that met and talked to Mark Driscoll when he showed up on campus) has written an open letter to pastor Mark regarding his misrepresentation of the whole scenario.

4.  Tim Challies has weighed in with his thoughts on the conference.

5.  Mike Riccardi has transcribed a response by John MacArthur to the conference complaints and tossed it up on the Cripplegate.  His co-blogger Clint Archer (also, an African pastor) has also written some thoughts in response to complaints.

6.  Over at the Pyromaniacs, Frank Turk has issued a debate challenge to serious continuationists and a previously linked response to Dr. Michael Brown, and someone anonymous has posted a Spurgeon quote on cessationism.  We’ll forgive them as they’re all really busy after the conference.

7.  Fred Butler has compiled a list of some relevant posts to the conference (from the day before the conference), and has written a short note on how he’s now working on picking which topics to address (and there’s a LOT).

8.  The Domain For Truth has been buzzing out posts (like this one and this one and this one) dealing with the prosperity gospel and signs & wonders movement; how it’s absolutely run off the rails in Asia (I have a draft that I’ve been working on along those lines, and I might just post it as is and add some firepower to the fray).

There’s definitely more as well, but the Cessationist side hasn’t been overly busy yet…

Here’s one great thought that I’d like to see milked out a little more:

Over on Facebook, my friend Dave Mora linked to John Piper’s conference where Tope Koleso slapped Cessationists and asked “Anybody remember this conference? I do. Anybody remember Cessationists accusing Piper of being divisive? Nope – I didn’t think so…”

That got me thinking.

How many Charismatic Conferences have Cessationists been bashed at?  How many times have we been lambasted as second class Christians?  How come nobody ever calls Charismatics “divisive” when they bash Cessationists?

So, a half dozen guys host a few thousand guys in a single conference and write a single book and get right up in Charismatic faces about theological error, and everyone gets wet diapers.

Charismatics will publish dozens of books in response, write thousands of pages of blog articles, and will have dozens of conferences where the level of rhetoric will escalate beyond what was said at StrageFire…but they won’t ever see any of that as possibly being divisive for that…will they?

Not in a million years.

I’ve heard it said many times that only an arrogant person thinks that they’re the measure of what is humble.

Only a divisive person thinks that they’re the measure of what is not divisive.

All the people who cry out “you’re being divisive” are already being divisive.  They’re assuming that they’re the ones who are being exemplary (in their silence, lack of conviction about the matter, or even toleration of sin and heresy) and using themselves as the measuring stick for the rest of Christianity, myopically dividing and judging who is building up and who is beating up the body of Christ.

In all these matters, the scriptures are the judge of what’s building up and what’s beating up.

Until Next Time,

Lyndon “All this confirmed prophecy is bad for my Cessationism” Unger

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15 thoughts on “Random Thoughts in the Aftermath of Strange Fire

  1. I think I might somewhat understand what’s stirring up a lot of this post-Strange Fire firepower. Back in my late, unlamented charismatic days, I tended to get thrown into a major tizzy if anyone dared to raise the slightest question about my doctrine or practice. I was pretty much living in a constant state of spiritual warfare against doubt and unbelief, so I think I perceived even the most well-meaning critics as being instruments of Satan. It was hard to be spiritually secure while trying to defend spiritual gifts that are–by my own camp’s universal admission–subject to error and even outright counterfeits. Since then I’ve learned that the Holy Spirit is well able to defend Himself against criticism, so I feel free to take my time to respond to my critics in a calm and patient manner. Perhaps something like my former spiritual insecurity is behind the charismatic side’s vehement response to the Strange Fire conference and book.

    Dave

    • Thanks for the thoughts!

      That could well be a part of it Dave. I used to be like that myself.

      I’d also suggest that when a person’s theology comes from scripture as interpreted by personal experience, then a challenge to their theology is perceived as an attack against their person (the underlying source of their belief) rather than the scriptures. I’ve often been surprised at how challenging someone’s theology comes across as “You’re not a real Christian”.

      • Can I put the boot on the other foot? If your theology/belief is determined by scripture (or at least your understanding of it) and this ties up with what you experience, an attack on that experience can be interpreted as an attack on the bible itself.

        That our understanding of scripture may need to change is true, but the cessationalist angle can be perceived by continuationists as an attack on scripture itself, and this is why it meets resistance. It is also treating God with disrespect to be expected to deny something you are pretty certain God that did if it falls outside what others think you are allowed to experience.

        I don’t want anything false, but scripture obligates me to believe that God doesn’t give bad gifts. Both ‘sides’ need to keep this NT balance.

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  4. DIVISIVE! So terribly DIVISIVE! screams the crowd.

    “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace but a sword. 10:35 For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.”
    ~ Matthew 10:34-36 NET

    Yep, it is as The One said. The crowd is untruth. The One is the truth.

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  6. If there’s unity being shown at the moment, it’s that BOTH sides on this are showing they are capable of having an ‘attitude problem’. “Now the works of the flesh are plain: … enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy.”

    A bit more self-control instead of passions running high would do no harm at all.

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