If you haven’t been paying attention the last few months, you may have missed a conference Grace to You put on last October called Strange Fire. Maybe you heard about it?
Of course I am messing with you. Nearly everyone who participates on social media and runs in my circles heard about it and are well aware of the big stink it stirred up with charismatics and Pentecostals. John intended for that to happen, just so that you know.
Any how, I would imagine the most vocal critic of our Strange Fire conference on a popular level was Dr. Michael Brown. As early as of June last year, four months before Strange Fire was to take place, Dr. Brown was rebuking John for even thinking about holding a conference to address charismatic issues. He wrote two articles that we responded to (I had the privilege of doing the principle writing of it), and then he wrote a follow-up article to it. Folks went back and forth with each other running up to the conference where on the eve of the first day, Dr. Brown wrote one final, pleading article for us to stop everything, send everyone home, and cancel the sessions.
Debate continued afterward, and still continues to this day, but out of all the discussion, Dr. Brown published within just a month and half after the conference ended a 418 page book titled, Authentic Fire: A Response to John MacArthur’s Strange Fire.
To date, it is probably the most substantive response available. I say “the most substantive” because there really isn’t any others. Sure, Frank Viola thinks he published a slamdunk of his own against John, but it only takes a few pages of reading for his entire rebuttal to come unraveled and expose him as a hack. So that leaves us with Michael Brown.
Because Brown has been the most vocal critic of Strange Fire and his work will more than likely become the standard that charismatics will use as a club against non-charismatics, it deserves a response.
Seeing that Authentic Fire will be the one book most individuals encounter and will want someone from the “MacArthur” camp to provide something of an answer, I am joining with Lyndon Unger to write a chapter by chapter review of the book. He will take all the odd numbered chapters and I will take the even numbered chapters. There are also four appendices written by other men.
For those who don’t have the book, the table of contents break down thus,
1. A “collective war” against charismatics
2. Rejecting the strange fire, embracing the authentic fire
3. A great big blind spot
4. The genetic fallacy and the error of guilt by association
5. Testing the spirits: another look at the evidence
6. Sola Scriptura and therefore charismatic
7. Shall we burn one another at the stake?
8. Spirit and truth, right brain and left brain
9. A God to be experienced
10. Moving forward after Strange Fire.
And then four appendices:
A. The ongoing evidence of miracles, and thoughts on African charismatic Christianity by Craig Keener
B. Why NT prophecy does NOT result in “scripture-quality” revelatory words (a response to the most frequently cited cessationist argument against the contemporary validity of spiritual gifts) by Sam Storms
C. Did the authentic fire cease in the first century? A response to Tom Pennington’s, “A case for cessationism.” by Steven Alt
D. A missions perspective on charismatic and cessationists by David Shibley
BTW, and I forgot to mention this on the earlier posting of this article, Dr. Brown, by his own initiative, kindly sent me a copy of his book. In fact, he even signed it. So I appreciate that he at least wants to have some interaction with his material even if I so profoundly disagree with his main arguments.
None the less, by the looks of the table of contents, there is a lot of good material to work through. AND, just so that everyone knows, it is all easily answerable. In fact, having skimmed through the book and spending concentrated efforts on my first two reviews I will offer, the arguments put forth are, well for a lack of a better word, facile. Frank Viola’s gushing praise upon the book claiming Michael Brown shreds John MacArthur is greatly exaggerated to say the least.
So look for the introduction and first chapter review this coming week at Lyndon’s place. I plan to link when it becomes available. Then my 2nd chapter review should come online this Friday, and we will go back and forth for a few weeks until we have finished the book. The articles will be archived for future reference.
That means my blogging will be centered around writing my reviews, so things will probably slow down a bit for me. But I think in the long run, these reviews will be beneficial for folks, especially the lay people in the pews.
Now, just in case anyone thinks I am judging motives when I begin to take apart Dr. Brown’s material, I added a picture of Kenny Loggins wearing a bathrobe and holding a lamb. Hopefully people will understand that what I write, even when it may hurt and sound harsh to the undiscerning ear, is meant in love. Because Kenny Loggins is tenderly holding that lamb on his shoulders and that blue sash accents his bathrobe splendidly.