Strange Fire Conference… or Just STRANGE!

Strange FireJohn MacArthur Slings Mud From His Pulpit at Charismatics.

While I respect his desire to get at the truth, and I believe he has many good things to contribute to the body of Christ, his latest crusade (actually this subject has always been on his radar) culminating in the Strange Fire Conference is a sad display in Christian apologetics and scholarship from John MacArthur. You can watch the talk he gives to kick off the conference as well as read articles on what was said here…

I won’t bore you with a lot of my own insights except to say that I think MacArthur and others have it all wrong. They have essentially lumped in all people who believe in the gifts of the spirit being active today into this pile of trash that I don’t believe everyone belongs in. Granted I feel like there are plenty of people in the charismatic movement who need to be rebuked and have some bad even destructive theology … but I certainly don’t believe this relates to everyone or the majority for that matter who would consider themselves a Charismatic believer. Here’s some of the mud-slinging. I’d love to hear if you agree or disagree with his stance, his generalizations, and this conference. As I listened to some of the talks given, there was a lot of spiritual and biblical gymnastics going on because let’s face it… to deny the gifts of the spirit which are clearly active in the very bible he claims has no mistakes, you must explain away things or ignore those things exist in a large portion of the New Testament.

The strange fire tag of the conference comes from Leviticus 9 and 10 where people’s offerings are either accepted by God or not… those that have offering not accepted by God using “strange fire” are then consumed themselves and judged immediately by God… MacArthur says, “”What I’m talking about is the charismatic movement that offers to God unacceptable worship, distorted worship. It blasphemes the Holy Spirit. It attributes to the Holy Spirit even the work of Satan. People are caught up in it, deceived, led astray.” I guess Jesus had not entered the conversation yet… but let’s see what happens.

He starts with a “Blaspheming of the Holy Spirit” line of thinking. Basically saying that because what is manifest in the Charismatic movement is not from the Holy Spirit but Satan they are doing the unthinkable and blaspheming the Holy Spirit… even though the true definition of Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is attributing something that is from God to Satan and not the other way around. I find it interesting that a man so knowledgable of the scriptures is actually blinded to his own arrogance stating that this fact is “lost on them” referring to people who are not cessationists (meaning the gifts of the spirit ended when the last apostle died). Anyone in Utah think that sounds familiar!

MacArthur is in deed in danger of this blasphemy himself; he spent 15 minutes in his talk stating that anyone engaged in a church that teaches charismatic doctrine is engaged in, “Paganism, Satanism, and the Kingdom of Darkness.” PLEASE!

Is he allowed to disagree with the prosperity gospel and call out men and women who pray on the vulnerable with a false gospel… absolutely! Is he allowed to act like everyone not like him is wrong… nope! But that is exactly what he does in just about every doctrine and theology, and his tone wreaks of arrogance and pride.

He goes on to say that anyone who takes the Lord’s name in vain is in danger of this hell fire… last time I checked my salvation was found in Christ and not my own ability to keep all the commandments. Can you picture a non believer sitting in his service… they would be like I guess I have no shot in hell of making it to heaven so why even try.


His own doctrines of grace are trampled underfoot, and he now practices what I dare call idolatry with works based worship. He seems to indicate that we must work hard to be able to worship the Lord correctly, and if we don’t worship correctly we are in danger of being consumer by this angry God!

Sad his “doctrines of Grace” ONLY apply to pre-destined and elected salvation and not worship or living the way of Jesus in the kingdom of God here and now.

He goes on to arrogantly connect real worship to the reformed tradition. The real understanding of the gospel and proper doctrine lies within the reformed tradition according to MacArthur. The rest of us are basically in danger of missing God, even being consumed. Relying heavily on Sola Scriptura (scripture alone) as his mantra for believing that we need nothing but the bible to worship and follow Jesus. Then he says that the Charistmatics have not added anything to sound doctrine, or understanding of worship and caps that off stating, “The gospel is the reason they are saved… and they didn’t invent the gospel”. I’m not too sure what that has to do with anything but it didn’t make him sound smart or funny in my opinion.

I loved this quote (insert tongue into cheek), “the charismatic movement is loaded with non christians. People who are there for carnal reasons.” Because everyone who goes to his church has died to themselves and lives their lives totally unselfish and without carnal desires… the reformed churches he loves so much have none of these problems I’m sure : )

He also says, “Its success comes from its connecting to the kingdom of darkness. It’s the Trojan horse of evangelicalism in the city of God.”

Why do I write this?

The church has been missing the presence and contribution of the holy spirit for a long time. We have been taught by MacArthur and others to rely on sound doctrine and the preachers exposition MORE than we have been taught to personally follow the Holy Spirit in a daily relationship with Jesus. And frankly… I’m sick of it! People’s claim to sola scriptura flies in the face of how Jesus and The Holy Spirit have always interacted with people. Does it happen within the scriptures… YES! But is that the ONLY way… NO!

In fact the scriptures and our selfish arrogance can be a stumbling block, just ask the pharisees. “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” (John 5:39-40)

We can love the scriptures, and miss the ONE whom the scripture point us too!

I also write this because if you study the Holy Spirit (start in Acts 1 and read to chapter 4 and tell me that The Holy Spirit is not something that is manifested in people’s lives… to do so would require biblical gymnastics! Period!

I also write this because the Church is so good at pointing the finger from the inside out. We judge those outside of our walls because we find it so easy to judge those inside our walls. If we hate those in the camp, why would we love those outside of our camp?

Many in the reformed camp are not cessationists and one guy went to the conference to sell some books that might suggest a different route to the argument and was not received too well. Mark Driscoll actually went to the conference and tried to hand out his upcoming book and sign some for the conference attenders and he was stopped and the books were taken by the Strange Fire Conference army.

Driscoll Visits Strange Fire Conference

One last thought… Jesus said the world will know we are his disciples by our love for one another. I realize that false teaching should be addressed, but lumping everyone who believes in the gifts of the spirit being active today is not the answer nor is their biblical reasoning consistent with the rest of their theology. MacArthur himself states that “the bible means what it says”. To understand it is to read it and that the meaning of the scripture is what the scripture says.”

May the church rise up and see the Holy Spirit move in the lives of people all over the world and may we see Jesus lifted up so that He will draw all men to Himself (John 12:32)

So, what say you?



5 thoughts on “Strange Fire Conference… or Just STRANGE!

  1. You’ve hit the nail on the head! I’m glad you wrote it before I dove in! I watched video of this conference utterly appalled. MacArthur is in serious error and cannot see it. I’ll say no more…informative post.

    1. Thanks Michael. I want to watch the other videos just to see if everyone lumps all believers into two categories or not. I hope they don’t but will not be holding my breadth 🙂

  2. Its hilarious to me that this is one situation where Driscoll is partnered with charismatics in a debate against a reformed protestant. I doubt Mark ever saw this day coming!

  3. No doubt Driscoll finds himself in a weird spot. We all know he’s not a fan of many within the name and claim it movement… who is? Unfortunately we are forced to avoid that part of the argument, because MacArthur insists on throwing out the baby with the bathwater. He insists on cessation of the gifts therefore even Driscoll is lumped in with Osteen and Benny Hinn : )

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