Author John MacArthur; published in Nashville, TN, by Nelson Books, an imprint of Thomas Nelson. Nelson Books and Thomas Nelson are registered trademarks of HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc.
After recent interaction between Dr. MacArthur and a couple of charismatic ‘leaders’ I wanted to purchase this book and read it, but never got around to ordering it. When home in West Virginia (Dec 2013-Jan 2014) both my mother and brother-in-law offered it as a gift. Dare I say, “a sign” that I should read it. (sly evil grin Dr. John!). I accepted Mom’s because she had read it already and I love her margin notes. We have shared books a few times over the years. I learn something of my past or her’s every time.
I have heard Dr. MacArthur’s sermons on occasion and read other material he has authored. I enjoy and learn from his body of work to a great degree. In this book MacArthur strongly, with reasoned argument opposes charismatic theology/doctrine. If you must use man’s terms to define my belief system charismatic fits in there somewhere. I strongly encourage my charismatic friends and pastors to read this book only if you will commit to read it entirely. Dr. MacArthur considers many of us brothers and he cares deeply for our souls and the souls of others. As hard as his words are sometimes, he comes at this with a passion for the church as a whole, and the edification of believers. If you do take this book in hand read to the end and his closing letter. Don’t through it down at chapter 4! smile.
Technically there is some redundancy and heavy use of quotations. Arguably he is confirming the opposition’s position – or complying with his publisher’s word count requirements. The book is extensively footnoted and uses website/online sourcing which allows one to confirm the truth of his argument. I learned much from reading Strange Fire.
Agreeing with much of what Dr. MacArthur says, I believe his error is that he lumps everyone that uses any tenant of charismatic movement together with the charismaniacs. Every promise of God, every truth, every good and holy doctrine of God has in Satan’s realm and the realm of man’s mind and heart a hundred counterfeits. We are fully capable of making God in our image in so many ways. John MacArthur blunts his critique with compassion in the final chapter, ergo one reason to read the whole book.
The pastors I have worked with in the Calvary Chapel movement are continuationists by MacArthur’s definition. But I have never seen abuse in any of the services I have been in. To lump these men in with the likes of Benny Hinn and his ilk is pragmatically, intellectually and theologically an insult. They are not guilty of the teaching that tongues are a sign of salvation that is linked with hyper-Pentecostalism. These heresies are actively opposed by the charismatic pastors I have rubbed shoulders with. But this is not a defense of such as these.
MacArthur does effectively and for the benefit of the church, the Bride of Christ go after the idolaters that take the tenants of charismatic movement and abuse their congregations. Scripture and our God has not changed. A false prophet is a false prophet and an abomination to our LORD. Therefore when a pastor or one in the congregation makes a “prophetic word” that either immediately or in time becomes clear it is false, that one is a false prophet. That brings harm to the true church and should be disciplined firmly and with haste. I agree with MacArthur’s take on prophecy. Why are we seeking a new revelation? We are living in an age where we are seeing the prophectic words of existing canonized Scripture ‘ripening’ almost daily. That’s enough excitement for me!!
In regard to healing – to take on this issue. MacArthur is correct in that tele-evangelist showmanship is – struggling for the word here since this is a Christian blog. It is done for show, pride of the man/woman leading the service and keeps them wealthy. It is more than heresy. Does that mean that healing does not occur? NO! First there is the healing that comes from God’s design of the human frame. MacArthur and I agree on that I am sure. From 40 years in surgery I am amazed at what surgeons can do and what response the body gives… it is miraculous but not a miracle.
On the other hand James encourages the sick to call the elders together to pray and to anoint with oil. IT IS NOT DONE FOR SHOW, FOR MONEY, for the glory of man. I have participated in and led these sessions. I have seen tumor in breast tissue, with positive diagnostic imaging disappear after faithful prayer and anointing in obedience to Scripture not be found when our friend was sent for biopsy a couple days later. In fact the primary doctor and the doctor to do the biopsy argued standing at the view box. I led that particular prayer meeting of about 6 believers – I do not consider my self an anointed healer. I did what James said in faith – to Jesus Christ be all the glory. I work in medical missions I know of other incidents that can not be explained away by ‘misdiagnosis’ etc. NONE of these are bragged about publicly by the individuals involved. When we get to the end of our resources, exhausting our skills and are left with only an out cry to God… we know that He did what we His child could never do. The Holy Spirit is involved, but in these times I have only heard glory given to Christ Jesus.
So Dr. MacArthur I am a continuationist at least by degree… I actually hate the terms we come up with to divide, define, parse our theology. Brother, I will join you in searching the Scripture and wrestle to get as close to truth as possible. I thank you for caring for my soul and doctrine.
Mom, I read every word! Actually, I enjoyed the ‘iron sharpening iron’ moments.
Again I encourage my Charismatic, Calvinist, Reformed, etc. friends to read this book. Then get in the Bible and get as close to the Fountain of Truth to drink the Water of Life.