There’s a lot of discussion still going on after all of the dust has been settling from the Strange Fire conference. It seems as if a majority of the feedback has been negative, with the primary criticism being how MacArthur and the conference misrepresented a great deal of “charismatics” and basically judged all of them as being identical. I’m not going to rehash what I previously wrote on the subject (here and here). I have something else in mind here.
Grace to You, the ministry of John MacArthur, posted a video of John MacArthur on “making an informed response” to the conference, as well as a blog that gave some advice on what people should do now that the conference is over. I will refrain from addressing some of the discrepencies I find in these two links. Instead, for the sake of discussion, I’ll grant that the primary target of the Strange Fire conference and MacArthur’s almost unbelievable statements were directed at people and ideas that I myself would also target. For example, the Word of Faith prosperity “gospel” preachers who are simply trying to get rich and many of the folks on TBN and anyone who is pretending to operate under the power of the Holy Spirit or who gives the impression that God is a puppet on a string or any of the other significantly problematic things that occur in some churches by some pastors who self-identify as “charismatics.” For the sake of discussion, let’s assume that MacArthur and I agree on this issue, because we do.
If that was the primary target of MacArthur’s wrath, why not partner with the numerous Continuationists who share equal concern, dismay and anger at such nonsense? Why not invite Piper or Grudem to come and speak on these excesses? Hasn’t MacArthur seen the video of Piper dismantling the prosperity “gospel”? Oh, you haven’t seen it? Well here it is:
If MacArthur, and all of those who are defending him and supporting him, is being honest about the conference’s intentions, it seems as if Strange Fire could have been much more affective. I’m convinced that most Reformed Cessationists will agree that we want to keep John Piper, Sam Storms, and Wayne Grudem on the team, right? Why not make it crystal clear that the problem is the excesses that we all take issue with? Why not be specific? Why paint with such a broad stroked brush? Is the concern really for truth, or is it to get everyone to purchase a book?
And after one of these dear brothers had shared their issues and concerns with what most Pentecostals/Charismatics/Third Wave people and Cessationists agree upon, have a public debate/discussion on the nature of the charismata.
Had this been the makeup of Strange Fire, the conference would have been a lot more effective and much more would have been accomplished for the Body of Christ.
And yes, I assumed you wanted my opinion on the subject 🙂
Luke is a pastor-theologian living in northern California, serving as a co-lead pastor with his life, Dawn, at the Red Bluff Vineyard. Father of five amazing kids, when Luke isn’t hanging with his family, reading or writing theology, he moonlights as a fly fishing guide for Confluence Outfitters. He blogs regularly at LukeGeraty.com and regularly contributes to his YouTube channel.