Monday, December 16, 2013

Strange Fire, Familar Ice

John MacArthur's new book, Strange Fire, is a 300 page attack on Pentecostals and Charismatics. He has nothing nice to say about them. As I plowed through the diatribe, Mother's sage advice rang in my mind, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything."  Well, John ignored Momma and said a lot.

 In some respects, MacArthur raises a valid concern. Many bizarre antics occur under Pentecostal circus tents. There is a disturbing lack of accountability in many of those circles, and thus, manipulation, heresy and abuse often go unchecked. Prosperity preachers, using this false theology, take advantage of gullible people, and that's wrong.

 Like MacArthur, I abhor charlatans who build personal empires by fleecing the flock, using false claims and empty promises. He is right in protesting self-proclaimed prophets who equate their own words as divine inspiration. Too many uncritical suckers swallow the bait hook, line, and sinker.

 However, Strange Fire tosses the baby out with the bathwater. It is grossly unfair to misrepresent all Pentecostals and Charismatics by lumping them into one camp. Doing that is the same as matching up John MacArthur with Fred Phelps.  Neither John nor Fred would appreciate being lumped in with each other.

Although I am neither a Pentecostal nor the son of a Pentecostal, I have a deep appreciation for the movement. Some of the most warmhearted, solidly biblical, deeply devoted servants of Christ I've ever met have been Charismatic brothers and sisters.

 Despite lunatics at the fringe, I believe God is powerfully at work in Pentecostal/Charismatic circles -- and I won't disparage them. MacArthur cites cases of immorality and extremism, as evidence that this movement is invalid. He should be careful in doing so. I can point to several similar cases from MacArthur's own fundamentalist circles.

Yes, wildfire can be dangerous -- but so can hypothermia.

 I received a complimentary copy of this book through Booksneeze for review on this blog.

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