I thought I would do a brief follow-up to my post “The strange thing about strange fire” that I wrote last November which turned out to be one of my most responded to posts to date.
Two things I want to bring to your attention here.
Secondly, one of my favorite authors (I have many!), Frank Viola, interviewed Dr. Brown this week on his blog, Beyond Evangelical, which I recommend as a good read for you if you’re interested in the dialogue going on about this subject. To read this interview, go here…
While I will leave the doctrinal details and debating over these kinds of things to the theologians and scholars, I think this is an important subject for two reasons:
John MacArthur has great influence on the body of Christ at large. And this is rightfully deserved because he is a phenomenal teacher of God’s Word. But this is also precisely why a thoughtful, gracious and biblically sound response is needed. For I believe his sweeping condemnations against fellow believers for just being Charismatic–throwing the proverbial baby out with the bathwater if you will–will cause needless confusion and harm. Certainly, the self-appointed witch hunters and watchdogs will use this as welcome ammunition to further bash their Charismatic brethren (whether it’s deserved or not). And some honest seekers of God will be kept from authentic expressions of the fuller experience of the Kingdom of God because of his influence.
The second reason is that his attack on a whole segment of the body of Christ over doctrinal interpretation on secondary issues–like how a believer is supposed to function in the gifts (rather than the central tenets of the faith established in the creeds)–is not only unhealthy for the edifying of the body of Christ at large, it potentially undermines the witness of the Church on the earth to the world God dearly loves. Don’t the scoffers and naysayers already have enough of this kind of ungracious fire between believers to point to for reasons why they would never become Christians? After all, Jesus said the world will know us by our love for one another, not by our doctrinal correctness or agreement (Jn.13:35).
I have not read Dr. Brown’s book yet but I was fascinated with the interview and have purchased the book and it’s now on my Kindle ready to be read at a future date. I did read Dr. Brown’s blog post “Preface to Authentic Fire” on the purpose of the book. Here is an excerpt from that post…
“Authentic Fire is not meant to be a rebuttal of Strange Fire at every point. Instead, while interacting at times with material from the book and conference, and while correcting what I believe to be serious errors and misstatements, the book is more of a positive response to Strange Fire. So it is my hope that Authentic Fire will serve a lasting, worthwhile purpose even for those who will never read Strange Fire.”
I also join Dr. Brown in his gracious prayer, “that the Lord Jesus, John MacArthur’s Savior as well as mine, would be glorified through this book, that His people would be built up and unified, and that together, we would touch a dying world in the life and power of the Spirit.”
Amen and amen.