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 🙂
What about John Knox (the father of Presbyterianism) he was as far from a cessationists as you can get as well. What would we do without him?
On another note it’s funny that Presby’s maintain a cessationist position.
That video was laughable and sick all at the same time. Although I agree that God and Christ are to be our all in all and that nothing is be higher than they, the premise of the video is false beyond belief. The idea that one can not put God first in everything and have an abundantly prosperous life that glorifies God is blatantly disagreeing with the clear example of Scripture. Abraham lived a life of abundance that brought Glory to God and yet he also sacrificed everything to worship the Lord. Remember God has been the one promising all of the Health and Wealth to people throughout Scripture. God is the one that called Himself Jehovah-Rapha not the Israelites and certainly not TV preachers.
On another note the Bible does speak quite extensively about suffering for Christ. Sufferings that are clearly spelled out in the form of persecutions and the crucifying of the flesh against sin. Those are the sufferings that God endorses, not sickness and not poverty. Jesus is the perfect example of Gods person manifested in visible form because He was God with us. He said if you have seen me, you have seen the Father. How many children did Jesus rescue from sickness and how many kids did he give cancer to? Jesus is the perfect revelation of God on the Earth and what the Church should look like because Christ lives in us, the Church. The disciples thought they understood what God was like when they read about Elijah sending fire down from Heaven to consume the enemies of God but Jesus rebuked them at the mere suggestion that this represented the spirit that exemplified Christ’s ministry. He said He had come to save men’s lives not destroy them. Save in the spiritual? Yes, but in this context he was referring to the physical healing ministry he demonstrated on a constant basis which He said was proof of his power to forgive sins. Ahhhh but the glorious self-reliant church does not need things so petty and archaic as miracles to demonstrate that God is in us and has given us the power to forgive sins through the Gospel. Maybe those Apostles needed that kind of special training wheels to get the Church off the ground but now we have education and the power of our intellect to confound the wise with the wisdom of our words and not the demonstration of the Spirit and Power. Now we can go toe to toe with the “Greeks”….. and the “Jews” that demand a sign will just have to wait for Hell to open up and consume them so that they will know that the Gospel was true. We will talk them into salvation or they will not be saved. Why would we need healing or Gods Blessing of prosperity like Abraham or Solomon when we can suffer in the same hospital rooms as the world and borrow money from the same banks to build our houses and our fund our steeples? Yes Jesus, Paul, and Peter may have needed those things but we the Church have got along just fine without them. Who knew that the church would become most effective when it became impotent. Congratulations Cessationists: you truly look nothing like Christ did on the Earth but sure do resemble a bunch of people who know the Bible inside and out but do not have any power and i guess that is what you were going for….?