- File Size: 1190 KB
- Print Length: 335 pages
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- Publisher: Thomas Nelson (November 19, 2013)
- Publication Date: November 19, 2013
- Sold by: HarperCollins Publishing
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00C5QA3NG
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- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #96,285 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Strange Fire: The Danger of Offending the Holy Spirit with Counterfeit Worship Kindle Edition
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I have one word of advice for Macarthur however. I understand your anger and annoyance with the pentecostals. I cannot help but feel it is a scam. But there are also many sincere people who have found their faith within the movement and are now trying to work out their salvation. Your book is the strongest exposition against pentecostal fallacies, but please tone down some of the language. Not that you shouldn't be angry, but many who read your book were once 'charismatics'.
MacArthur’s thesis is that the modern-day Charismatic and Pentecostal modes of worship, which focus on the employment of the charismatic gifts common to the apostolic church of the first century, constitutes worship foreign to what Scripture provides for the post-apostolic church—hence the title, “Strange Fire.”
While he treats the leading theological lights of the movement (genuine, credible scholars such as Grudem and Piper) with respect, nonetheless MacArthur makes a strong case that the movement in the main is theologically aberrant, having been swallowed up by the false gospel of prosperity and health. Using a deluge of well-documented statistics, he shows that the vast majority of the charismatic and Pentecostal movement have adopted the prosperity gospel—and that the number of responsible scholars in the movement who remain faithful to the true gospel is vanishingly small. These two charges (improper worship, and the majority pursuing the prosperity gospel) form the core of the author’s contention.
Part One documents the beginnings and history of Pentecostalism and its spin-off, the charismatic movement. Of particular note was the original Pentecostal view of modern manifestation of tongues (they were considered known languages by the founders of the movement), contrasted with the doctrinal change made necessary when it became clear the modern manifestation was not known languages. Uncomfortable to some readers will be the exposure of the doctrinal and behavioral deviations of the founders of the movement.
Part Two takes the charismatic gifts one by one (the gifts of apostleship, prophecy, tongues, and healing) and explores the movement’s doctrinal claims for their continuation. Using solid exegesis, MacArthur makes his case for why he believes these gifts have ceased and that the modern demonstrations of them are wholly illegitimate. Some readers will again be very uncomfortable with the heavily documented exposure of many of the movement’s leaders and adherents.
In Part Three, MacArthur lays out what he believes to be an accurate exposition of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. He concludes with “An Open Letter to my Continuationist Friends,” in which he pleads with them to consider the harm their positions are doing to the Church.
While John MacArthur can at times really turn me off with his harsh polemics, I find it very difficult to dispute with his contentions in this book. He has made a strong case for his position. One of the things I gain from the book is the understanding that the moment you allow subjective experience to govern your hermeneutics, you have just thrown away the guardrails of doctrine. Grudem and Piper, though I love them and read their books, are hard pressed to contend with the abuses of the movement they have aligned with. When subjective experience has been allowed to inform their theology, they cannot very well question someone else’s experience—they would have to saw off the limb on which they themselves are perching.
Four stars. Highly recommended.
I myself became a born-again Christian via the charismatic renewal era (1973). And there may be been some very flakey things going on along the way, but No One could ever convince me that what happened to me, and many people I knew personally, was not from God, the Father, Son, AND HOLY SPIRIT.
Now that I've read this book and understand the history and Bible verses better, I'm a cessationist. As MacArthur notes, even the good guys on the cessasionist side concede that many things have ceased (e.g, foreign language tongues, immediate/full/public healings, infallible prophets). So the debate is over what allegedly continues and why.
The history MacArthur provided was very helpful in understanding how this came about.
Read this book!
Spirit filled Christians do not like the crazy doctrines of Joyce Mkeyers, Bill Johnson or Kenneth Hagan any more than he does. But we have sense enough to tell it like it is and change the channel. I honestly wonder how Yeshua will greet you, Mr. MalcArthur when your time on earth ends and you must face Him. Opinions are one thing but vilifying millions of Yeshua's beloved followers cant have earned you any peace ;shame on you. If you are the example of Christian love and kindness, who would look twice at the Messiah? For the souls you've crushed and division you have caused, it would be a good idea to repent
I will never use your study Bible again
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More photos of the meeting were posted by British Prosperity televangelist Rodney Howard-Browne, who (according to the Washington Post article) wrote on Facebook that he was asked by Paula White to pray over Trump and the pastor asked God for “supernatural wisdom, guidance and protection”. “Wow — we are going to see another great spiritual awakening,” he wrote.' Also attending was Trinity Broadcasting Network's (TBN's) Jan Crouch (whose late husband, Prosperity televangelist Paul Crouch, once proclaimed, while on TBN with Kenneth Copeland, that "we are all little gods") and Prosperity televangelst Kenneth Copeland (who is also a spiritual mentor to President Trump).
The fact that such high profile prosperity televangelists have such an influence on the most powerful leader in the western world underscores the necessity to fully understand the false teachings of the Prosperity Gospel.
Too many young people want the Spirit but are not into the Word of God enough, if at all, to know that the Holy Spirit and the Word of God cannot be separated. They always work together. The Holy Spirit magnifies Jesus Christ and does not take the glory away from Jesus. Discernment comes through knowing the Word of God and searching it to find the truth. We are to test the spirits... the Bible tells us this because there will be many false spirits in the last days.
The spirit that many young people and some older ones believe is a so called holy Spirit that does not honor Christ Jesus nor magnify His name. This other spirit also mocks the Holy Spirit and too many young people are falling under its influence. I hope everyone will read this book and speak to their teens and young adults regarding comparing what the Bible says about the Holy Spirit, how the Holy Spirit never takes the glory away from Christ Jesus, and never works separately from the Word of God. Teaching your young ones discernment comes from being a good Berean and examining Scripture carefully to see if something contradicts it, or if something has been added or taken away from it. Without discernment, many will fall for these delusions.
This is serious - the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. I have read this and always wondered. I suppose I have never quite made the connection until I read Strange Fire, which unfolds in front of me the dire widespread consequences of defaming the Spirit by crediting works that are not His to His name.
In my early church-going days, there were murmurs about Toronto Blessing in the background. It was hailed as "revival" that the church leaders would like to bring into the church. I never quite understood what the hype was about. If there was any attempt to bring it into the church, I was not receptive to the movement, and I eventually left that church due to relocation.
More recently I was made aware of the popularity of the Prosperity Gospel. I knew instinctively that it was not the real gospel, and it was not real faith as it was based on self-love rather than cultivating the authentic religious affections of everything of God. Along the way, I met a person who got baptised at a charismatic church and she thought that she was a Christian. But actually she talked only about the Holy Spirit but did not know Christ. In fact she rejected Him. But then she thought she was a Christian, she lived in a false sense of security, so that she wouldn't hear the true gospel. That was sad, and I shuddered at a Christ-less gospel. About a decade ago, a very close friend of mine declared to me that she became a Christian. I was happy for her. But then she started prophesing on me, claiming that she had a gift of prophecy with visions and dreams. She told me her prophecy about me. This was a burden, no doubt (just as the book has pointed out). Eventually it did not fulfil, of course. By then, no one recalled it. Coming to here and now, I have friends who go to the local Vineyard Church. I looked up their website and thought perhaps I would try that church out one day. But so far, I have never been. Now I ask, "What kind of church is it when it won't state what it believes?" Does it ring an alarm bell?
So yes, the landscape of church is very confusing for ordinary people and sincere seekers. We could be very easily drawn to the friendliness and the "experience". Vast number and vibrancy also draw. Strange Fire therefore is very helpful in tracing the development of the Movement. I find that section informative, and tremendously helpful for me to put my encounters into context and in turn for my comprehension of what's going. MacArthur writes many pages to describe the Movement painstakingly referencing every single source - the end notes run on for 50 pages of the book. I thought it must have been rather frustrating and tiresome to spend so much time reading up something one knew as untrue and unedifying. Yet out of his love and concern and passion for the truth and for the lost, he does his research with diligence.
Yet this does not stop it from being controversial! There is no doubt that MacArthur is very critical of the Movement. The book has been criticised as broad brush. The question is what is mainstream and what is the fringe. Given the references that are provided in the book, I don't think anyone can dispute what has been described in the book as untrue (or we would have heard of some lawsuits); the question remaining is whether the account is representative. This is subject to personal opinion. For me, what is described in the book is clear and substantial enough to discern the dubious characters of the Movement. In this sense, it has served its purpose as when I see those things, I will remember I have been warned. For those who are in the charismatic movement and would wish to distinguish themselves from what is described in the book and defend themselves, they can do so by all means. But for me, I am a simpleton and like simple rules. I personally won't go into the murky waters and wish to create a pure stream from it for myself. I don't trust that I have that capability.
The third section of the book gives an account of the work of the Holy Spirit to contrast the counterfeit. This is solid and sound in biblical truths. There are simple rules to test the Spirit. A few principles stand out for me. The work of the Spirit always points to Christ and the Truth - a Christ-less gospel is not His work. "The Bible is the Holy Spirit's book! It is the instrument He uses to convict unbelievers of sin, righteousness, and judgement. ...Thus, to reject the Scriptures is to rebuff the Spirit. To ignore, disdain, twist, or disobey the Word of God is to dishonour the One who inspired, illuminates, and empowers it." (p.229) And we judge if someone is Spirit-filled by his fruit as the work of the Spirit is our Christ-likeness.
The more controversial subject but core to this debate is the one of cessationist versus continuationist. MacArthur is of the former and points out the dangers and inconsistency of the latter. I think I have been convinced by MacArthur. Some spiritual gifts (those of the apostles and prophets) were necessary for a time - the foundational time of the church. Now we have the bible (the canon of the Scripture is close) and these gifts are unnecessary. If one believes in the sufficiency of the Scripture, expecting and waiting for new revelations is distracting us in our walk with Christ, and often it is out of the wrong motives. I agree that it opens the floodgate to errors and heresies, leading to confusion. The concept of inaccurate prophecy is troubling for me. It is incompatible with God's characters and God's Word.
I can see the charms of the Charismatic Movement because it appeals to our fleshy desires and the stress on experience removes the demand of diligence and hard work required to study the Bible. To some, studying and reading the Bile may be a barrier - it took me many years to pick up the bible in my own quiet time, but everyone is capable of experience and feelings. But the sadness is that a false gospel does not save as it has no power; and it tends to prey on the desperate, needy and the vulnerable. To give them false hope is simply cruel.
It goes in deep about the history of movement and realy explain in deep and back everything up by the Bible