Arminian Today

A Jesus-Centered Arminian Blog

Strange Fire: A Charismatic Response to John MacArthur

British blogger Adrian Warnock has written an excellent reply to the Strange Fire Conference and John MacArthur.  You can find the article here.

My thoughts are the conference are:

  • Grateful that the conference has caused people to once again study the person and work of the Holy Spirit.  So often we easily understand the Father and we understand the Son but we have a tough time understanding the Holy Spirit.  We tend to think of Him in terms such as “ghost” who flies around doing things for God.  We need to teach biblical His person and His work among us.
  • While I didn’t like John MacArthur’s words toward charismatics, most of the speakers were gracious and seemed to just want to teach on the Holy Spirit while addressing the other issues at they went.  The tone was good overall and I appreciate the acknowledgement some gave toward charismatics being Christians.
  • Had the conference been named with an emphasis on the biblical doctrine of the Spirit, most charismatics (including myself) would have just written it off as another conference on the Spirit.  But the emphasis upon the charismatics made it a conference that took cheap shots at the movement such as making TBN and TV preachers as the spokespeople for the movement or by saying that nothing good comes out of the movement. I have no problem with cessationists wanting to address the Holy Spirit and give their reasons why the disagree with charismatics but do so with grace and love and not with anger or by claiming that all charismatics are blaspheming the Spirit.
  • My favorite part was the story that came out about Mark Driscoll and James MacDonald crashing the party by coming to the conference and offering free books in the parking lot.  Various reports have said that GCC asked Driscoll to leave while some say that they were nice toward him.  I do find it ironic that on the Internet, non-charismatic Reformed guys were pounding charismatic Reformed guys over the issue, trying to make Driscoll look evil (especially since he is opposed to JM over the issue of cessationism).  While sad, it shows me how divided even the Reformed believers are.  We are so far from unity (John 17:22-23; Ephesians 4:1-6).
  • I would love to see the charismatic movement counter this with a conference on the Holy Spirit.  I would love to see men such as Wayne Grudem, Jack Deere, Adrian Warnock, John Piper, and Michael Brown all coming together to teach on why they believe the Spirit continues to give us the revelatory or sign gifts.  Make sure a book is coming out near the conference too!
  • Phil Johnson has agreed to appear on Dr. Michael Brown’s podcast, The Line of Fire.  I plan on listening and I pray that Dr. Brown and Mr. Johnson can show how to truly talk about these issues.  We can disagree but do so with a spirit of grace and love all while accepting each other as brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus.  God doesn’t save charismatics or Arminians or Calvinists.  He only saves sinners (Luke 19:10; 1 Timothy 1:15).
  • Finally, I hope a day will come when we can talk about our differences over the gifts of the Spirit without trying to use quotes from Kenneth Copeland to prove the charismatic position wrong (or any other Word-Faith teachers).  Let us wrestle with Scripture instead of propping up various teachers (who are mere flesh) as the example of why or why not you believe in cessationism.  Why does every debate over spiritual gifts have to turn into using TBN as a reason why you reject certain gifts?  Why not instead turn to Scripture?
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