Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Strange Fire - By John Macarthur

In this book, MacArthur attacks the 'Strange fire'/worship practice of  pneumacentrism/Holy Spirit centrism(Major focus upon the Holy Spirit)particularly in the Charismatic movement, and does a good job too.  He starts by reminding us to 'test the spirits' and then moves on to how the modern charismatic movement got started and how they misinterpret Scripture.  We look at the Scriptures to see what the work of the Holy Spirit actually looks like and what 'Spirit-filled' really means. 

Speaking in tongues is addressed, of course, and we are given the history of how and why the Charismatics switched from viewing the word 'tongue' as being a human language to its being an unintelligible spirit babble.  They apparently tried out their 'tongues' on people in other countries, and it proved that their supposed 'languages' were not languages at all but merely gibberish.  They wanted to keep this babble and so reinterpreted the Scriptures to make it mean, essentially, 'holy babble'.   

Some Charismatics believe that there can be modern Apostles other than the twelve in the early church.  This is addressed by the author as well.  He makes the point that the Apostle's did not tell the Churches that new Apostles should(or would) be appointed, but rather pastors, elders and deacons were to be appointed.  Also addressed is the so-called 'prophecy' that is happening today.  While Charismatics believe that the early church(and OT) had prophets of God who always prophesied correctly, for some reason, today they believe that one can be a prophet and be wrong in your prophecy many times.  While giving Scriptural proofs against this view, this statement is made, "…the Bible only and always condemns erroneous prophets as dangerous and deceptive.  Fallible prophets are false prophets."   The Holy spirit does not give us new revelation but rather gives us illumination/understanding of the Scriptures. "After all, a foundation is not something that can be rebuilt during every phase of  construction.  The foundation is unique, and it is always laid first with the rest of the structure resting firmly above it. "

I found the look at 1 Corinthians 12:31 very interesting. The statement, "But earnestly desire the best gifts."..  rather than being imperative, the statement is probably indicative,  "The New International Version rightly captures the apostle's point in its alternate reading of this verse:  "But you are eagerly desiring the greater gifts."  The Syriac New Testament similarly states, "Because you are zealous of the best gifts, I will show to you a more excellent way."

It’s a good critique of the Charismatic movement along with excellent warnings about the dangers of this misfocus upon the Holy Spirit and His gifts. The ending of the book has a plea to pastors who are concerned with rightly interpreting God's Word, and yet are more accepting of the Charismatic doctrines, to seriously rethink this issue.
I'll end with one more quote, "By elevating the authority of experience over the authority of Scripture, the Charismatic Movement has destroyed the church's immune system - uncritically granting free access to every imaginable form of heretical teaching and practice."

Thanks to BookSneeze®/Thomas Nelson publishers for sending me a free review copy of this book!(My Review did not have to be favorable)

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