The issue of John MacArthur’s recent Strange Fire Conference (and forthcoming book) is all the rage in the Evangelical blogosphere right now. Truth be told, I’m impressed by the attention the whole thing is drawing. If you know anything about MacArthur you know he is a cessationist, and that he has promoted cessationism publicly for quite some time.

I gather the issue is not MacArthur’s cessationism, which is well-known. The issue is that MacArthur has thrown down the theological gauntlet. He’s not merely saying continuationism is wrong, he’s saying it’s wrong and dangerous. While I was not at the conference, reports I read had MacArthur likening Charismatics to Mormonism, saying that Evangelicals will challenge 14 million Mormons, but are silent in the face of half a billion Charismatics. This is inflammatory, perhaps even reckless, speech.

But as you may have gathered from the title, I’m not writing this post to point out MacArthur’s errors or where I disagree with him (though such disagreements do exist). That I’m writing in general support of Strange Fire implies I have particular differences with the conference and some of its themes. This post is about my support of the conference, not my differences with it.

You might be curious about how I, as a Pentecostal pastor, could possibly support any conference that fundamentally challenges the theological foundation  of my movement and condemns many of its practices. My reasons are simple:

1. Any error John MacArthur espoused at the conference, and any recklessness he demonstrated, is far less than the errors and recklessness we see in much of the modern Charismatic movement.

We may say that things like barking in the Spirit represent the fringe of the Pentecostal Charismatic movement. In some cases, this is true. I have no doubt that if the General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God (George O. Wood) saw a congregant doing this that he would confront them about it. But George O. Wood is, unfortunately, NOT the public face of the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement. The most prominent and popular Pentecostal/Charismatic pastors tend to be TBN broadcasters. And what we get from TBN is error after error, from false prophecies galore to Prosperity “Gospel” nonsense. People hear “Charismatic” and they think “Todd Bentley” or “Bethel Church, Redding.”

I know many Charistmatic/Pentecostal leaders have responded to Strange Fire with calls for distinction. We want a distinction between those with common sense and Biblical fidelity in our movement and those who lack this (like Todd Bentley, Benny Hinn, and nearly every other pastor on TBN). But let’s be honest here, we Pentecostals have failed to make such a distinction, and that brings me to my second point.

2. Pentecostals and Charismatics are allergic to doctrinal distinction and discernment.

I wish I could say I was lying about the sentence I just wrote, but I am not. We want cessationists like John MacArthur to draw careful distinctions between different groups in our movement, but we ourselves refuse to draw such distinctions. This refusal has primarily come in the form of SILENCE regarding false teachers and false prophecies. While we Pentecostal pastors and academics often do not buy the Prosperity nonsense, we refuse to condemn those who teach it.

A few years ago, as an undergraduate student, I attempted to publish a paper in a peer-reviewed Pentecostal/Charismatic journal. In retrospect, my article was probably not up to academic par (I was an undergraduate student, mind you). The basic idea behind the article was to point out certain denials of the sufficiency of Scripture within some of the more popular teachings in our movement. I went after, for example, C. Peter Wagner and his book 7 Power Principles I learned After Seminary. I also challenged Prosperity teaching and one or two other things. My article was rejected for publication, but the editors of the journal did not cite academic quality (which could have been amended by adding a few more sources and revising a few footnotes) as the reason for the refusal. Instead, they said while they agreed with much of the content of my article it was too divisive and would not be published. I could have accepted something like “You don’t have the academic credentials we want” or “You need to add additional sources” or something like that. But no, the stated reason for the refusal was divisiveness.

I recognize the value of unity, but a unity not grounded in and centered on the truth is merely a superficial unity. If we Pentecostals want John MacArthur to make distinctions when he calls out the Charismatic movement for its abuses, then maybe we should be the first ones making distinctions and calling out heresy and excess where we find it.

Where are the orthodox Pentecostals condemning Oneness Pentecostalism (modalism)? Do we hold the nature and character of the Triune God in such low esteem? Where is the unified front of Pentecostal and Charismatic pastors speaking out against the Prosperity Gospel? Where are the Pentecostals warning about the creeping influence of Open Theism in our movement? Where are the Pentecostals upholding and demanding the regulative principle of worship in our services?

The answer is, sadly, that the Pentecostals/Charismatics speaking out on such issues are the real fringe. We put ourselves in the difficult position of upholding truth and doctrine in the midst of a movement that tends to value experience. When we do speak out against abuses and false teachings, even our brothers who agree with us tend to warn us about being too “divisive” and not being “sensitive to the Holy Spirit.” Perhaps those who are truly sensitive to the Holy Spirit are those offended by the abuses and lies taught in His Name. If we fail to expose known lies we become implicated in their continuation.

3. The false teachers have more influence than we think or admit.

While we’re on this topic, the abuses and excesses of the Charismatic movement are often rejected by certain pastors (though they are accepted and promoted by others) and denominational leaders. But let’s not forget the people in the pew. As an associate pastor, I often speak out against the Prosperity Gospel. But I know, despite this fact, that there are certain congregants who continue to believe it. In my involvement with Chi Alpha I’ve often spoken out against Joyce Meyer, Joel Osteen, and T.D. Jakes. It seldom fails that I offend a brother or sister when I do so.

Why does this matter? Because I’m on staff at a small church. I’m around average Pentecostals in my congregation and campus ministry. I’m not constantly around denominational leaders or scholars. And among most congregants the likes of Osteen, Meyer, Copeland, and Shuttlesworth are incredibly popular.

I’ve heard demands for MacArthur to evaluate us by looking at French Arrington or Stanley Horton. To be completely honest, my congregants have no clue who those men are (apart from perhaps a vague familiarity established by sermon references). My congregants do know who Kenneth Hagin is, or who T.D. Jakes is. I don’t think MacArthur’s concern is primarily with the Pentecostals who hold Horton in high esteem. It’s with the congregants who hold Jakes and Copeland in high esteem, and given that priority, MacArthur’s approach makes more sense.

MacArthur wasn’t looking to spark a debate in peer-reviewed literature. He was looking to engage at the popular level, and he has been wildly successful at this. It’s the popular level where the false teachers and excesses are often a problem, and it makes sense to aim there.

It should also be noted that TBN is exported to other countries. They broadcast all over the world. They broadcast to Christians who don’t have the benefit of owning their own Bibles. The incredible damage of Prosperity teaching in world missions must be carefully observed.

4. We routinely ignore the regulative principle of worship.

Much of MacArthur’s criticism has been aimed not merely at doctrinal issues like the Prosperity Gospel, but at practical issues like what is allowed in worship. If you’re Todd Bentley, you say the Holy Spirit demands things like kicking women in the face. If you’re like most Pentecostals/Charismatics, you permit being “slain in the Spirit” despite the fact there’s scant Biblical evidence for such a practice. If you’re like me, you think we should only promote and permit that which can rightly be found to be the normative practice of Scripture.

Honestly, this puts me at odds with many fellow Pentecostals/Charismatics. The people promoting the really strange practices, people like C. Peter Wagner and his “power principles,” and their followers are incorrigible. They are not open to rebuke, even if that rebuke comes from the Bible. I speak from experience as a Pentecostal. But we Pentecostals have allowed things that seemed harmless, even though they don’t seem to come from Scripture, and now we are increasingly seeing things that are harmful and that still don’t come from Scripture. But we have no experience saying “no” to anything in worship, so we implicitly or explicitly say “yes” to everything.

What’s really concerning about the whole thing in most Pentecostal/Charismatic circles a debate about the regulative principle of worship is not even underway. We just don’t care about it. We’re at risk of nullifying the commands of God for the sake of our traditions. We need to rigorously Biblically evaluate our movement’s practices in worship.

5. We functionally ignore Sola Scriptura.

This point follows from the last one. While we tend to uphold Sola Scriptura intellectually and verbally, we tend to ignore it functionally. This is true not only in worship, but in evangelism, church growth, counseling, and church government. Let’s be honest, most of our Pentecostal churches (mine included) are run by boards of trustees that have more in common with corporate America than anything we find in the Bible.

We want to grow our churches by applying the marketing strategies of corporate America. We, a movement dedicated to the work of the Holy Spirit, consistently outsource our counseling to bloody secularists. We buy into pop-psychology about love languages.

If what I’ve just said sounds like Evangelicalism as a whole, you can probably understand why John MacArthur is so upset. I don’t think all (or even most) of the above problems originated in our movement, but our movement’s adoption of the above practices along with it’s explosive growth has gone a long way to carry these things further into the identity of the broader Evangelical movement. We Pentecostals and Charismatics are now very influential, and we haven’t always used our influence intentionally or responsibly.

We need to recapture our dedication to the sufficiency of Scripture and the doctrine of Sola Scriptura. We need to articulate our understanding of spiritual gifts in such a way as to not conflict with the sufficiency of Scripture. If the effect of our teaching is that people look to a subjective experience for guidance and assurance before they look to Scripture for those things then our teaching is dangerous and needs to be corrected.

Conclusion

I know in what I’ve said I probably have not sounded much like a Pentecostal. But it is because I love my heritage and my movement that I grieve deeply for it. What we love greatly is capable of hurting us deeply. And I have been hurt by the abuses and lack of Biblical fidelity in my own movement.

This doesn’t mean I agree with everything John MacArthur says. I remain a continuationist, he a cessationist. We have some real differences. This doesn’t mean I always agree with the way John MacArthur stated his rebukes, some of them were too general and lacked necessary distinction.

But an overly broad condemnation of real problems is better than no condemnation of the problems at all. We Pentecostals and Charismatics needed to be offended, I’m afraid it may be the only thing that will make us think critically and Biblically about ourselves as a movement. And for this offense I want to thank John MacArthur and the participants in the Strange Fire Conference. The most hurtful thing about that conference is not the broad generalizations, sweeping condemnations, or lack of distinctions. For me as a Pentecostal the most hurtful thing about the Strange Fire Conference is my knowledge that far too many of the criticisms are true.

Read more on this topic, and learn about a book I have co-authored on it, by following this link.

God bless,

Joey

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Comments
  1. jcskye says:

    “For me as a Pentecostal the most hurtful thing about the Strange Fire Conference is my knowledge that far too many of the criticisms are true.” Wow. I really enjoyed this post and I can relate to a lot of what you say. I’ve been involved in the movement for 12 years (also at a ministry level). I blogged on it here I haven’t checked your bio – where do you pastor?

    http://jjcaldwell.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/strange-fire-conference-call-to.html

  2. jcskye says:

    Reblogged this on A View from the Pew and commented:
    Brilliant blog post in response to Strange Fire from a Pentecostal Pastor.

  3. Sorry about the confusion – your blog post has been reblooged here: http://jjcaldwell.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/pentecostal-pastor-responds-positively.html Having a bit of WordPress/Blogspot sign in conflict and in the process your blog was sent to a dormant site. By the way, I have shared your blog post on a number of social network sites – and it is getting quite a bit of positive feedback and response. Praise God for what he is doing in you.

  4. Truth Unites... and Divdes says:

    What a great post!! Because of its humility and honesty. Thank you sir.

  5. […] majority of their responses has produced way more heat than light (though there have been some notable exceptions, which has been encouraging; it’s nice to know that there are some who have understood the […]

  6. […] la gran mayoría de las respuestas ha producido mucho más calor que luz (aunque ha habido algunas excepciones notables , las que han sido alentadoras, es bueno saber que hay algunos que han entendido el propósito de […]

  7. Daniel says:

    I grew up in the A/G and Chi Alpha, and value both fondly. Today I’m a member of and deeply involved in a charismatic church. This is an excellent article, Josiah.

    I think from our (theologically informed, Pentecostal/charismatic) perspective, there are number of valid, wise, and necessary responses to Strange Fire: We can critique MacArthur et al. for their lack of nuance, and several rightly have. We can positively affirm the Spirit’s gifts and the beauty of God’s purposes in them, and several rightly are. And then we can do what you’re doing — Without a defensive attitude, we can humbly embrace the critique that we have not done enough to distinguish biblical truth from error and to distance ourselves from wolves. If MacArthur has erred by fearing lack of intellectual control and by being relationally cold, we have erred by fearing that too much intellect quenches the Spirit, and by sacrificing truth for the sake of relationships. By this I mean that we fear that if we confront certain “ministers” instead tacitly approving of them, it will weaken our movement somehow, and we fear that the Holy Spirit might abandon us relationally if we wisely “test” and “weigh” manifestations (as the Spirit Himself told us to!).

    We all have to face our fears. The same Paul that wrote Romans also wrote 1 Corinthians 12-14. By God’s grace, I believe followers of Jesus can live fully in Word and Spirit.

    • sweetswede says:

      Daniel, thank you for sharing that. I agree that we can live fully in Word and Spirit, to be discerning about spiritual gifts is not to deny them.

      Also, I’m always glad to run across fellow Chi Alphans!

  8. […] majority of their responses has produced way more heat than light (though there have been some notable exceptions, which has been encouraging; it’s nice to know that there are some who have understood the […]

  9. Christian Byler says:

    Great statement! I have some questions for you that some of your comments raised. Not about the topic exactly but certainly some of the content. If you are willing to entertain some inquisitiveness and possibly a bit of “interrogation” please let me know. I have never actually responded to a post like this so not sure if my email shows up for you or not. I’ll check the comments.

    Christian

  10. cpsoper says:

    Well written, timely and thoughtful.

  11. As a Pentecostal minister, I could not agree with you more. I did not begin my ministry as a Pentecostal, but after I experienced the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, I had to leave my previous denomination. I ended up in a start up charismatic church as a youth pastor. The senior pastor began to follow everything that came down the pike back in the mid 70’s. I left and came to the Assemblies of God because their doctrines were biblically sound and there was an accountability structure for their ministers. I have been saddened over the last few years that we have allowed excesses to creep into our churches with no discipline for false doctrines. It is time to pay attention or be paints into a corner by the likes of those who follow the teachings of MacArthur.

    • sweetswede says:

      Thank you sir. I believe as more of us take up the mantle of promoting doctrinal soundness within our movement we can turn things around.

  12. Steveo says:

    Wow. Great post. We are in the same ship. Great post.

  13. […] a grande maioria dessas reações têm produzido muito mais calor do que luz (apesar de existirem algumas excessões notáveis, as quais têm sido encorajadoras; é bom saber que existem alguns que entenderam o propósito da […]

  14. Andy says:

    Sir, though I am sure you and I might disagree on many aspects of the Holy Spirit’s gifting of believers, I must take a moment to commend you on your forthright response to the Strange Fire Conference. I believe you are exhibiting the highest example of moral courage in addressing what you see as failings within your own community. This in and of itself is worthy of imitation by all Christians whether charismatic or cessationist. Continue the good work of taking a stand for Scripture and the doctrines which flow from its pages.

    • Daniel Lee says:

      I am all for that: “taking a stand for Scripture and the doctrines which flow from its pages.” Scripture is set, but Doctrines & not doctrines seem to be the order for the day.

  15. Ashwin says:

    Dear Sir,
    I am a christian from India.I have been a christian for the past 11 years. I have seen some of the excesses you mentioned in God Tv and have read books by Benny Hinn and Kenneth Hagin in my early christian life. To be Honest, at that time i found them inspiring and in many ways a blessing.However, Being from a Hindu community before conversion, I have had the freedom of ignoring Denominational boundaries and concentrating on what the bible teaches, and so i have searched for proper biblical understanding on key issues considering the teachings of reformed denominations also.I have found that,the pentecostal Doctrine of Holyspirit Baptism as a second experience after salvation and the continuance of the gifts of the HolySpirit have strong evidence and support from the bible. But unfortunately, I am yet to hear a clear exposition of the same from the church in common forums such as pulpit messages .i am attending an AG church for the last year and half and have found Ag’s position papers on various Heresies like Latter Rain movement, Revival Excesses, Offices of Apostle and prophets and so on, To my delight, i found these papers taking clear Biblical stands on these issues.But i am yet to hear a single sermon specifically denouncing any of these teachings.Its unfortunate that those who know the truth dont teach it Authoritatively while So called Annointed Dreamers and myth mongers teach the people lies with Authority….. And now i Am even further saddened to See john McArthurs seminars attracting so much attention. He takes Authority from Reformed Theologies Interpretations of the Bible. When it comes to Cessationism, He is wrong. It is high time Pentecostals, Stand up and teach Pentecostal theology systematically in church pulpits and Sunday Schools…

    • sweetswede says:

      Dear Ashwin,

      Thank you for your post! It is always good to hear from a Christian brother from across the world. One of the missionaries my church supports is based in India (Tamil Nadu, I believe).

      I agree that we as Pentecostals need to preach authoritatively the deep doctrine you are discussing. The sound doctrine is there, it’s just not as popular. We are much more likely to come across a book by Benny Hinn than by Stanley Horton or Gordon Fee.

      Please e-mail me at jbat07@hotmail.com, I would like to try to get some resources to you.

      Josiah

  16. Doug Greene says:

    I was at a home bible study that was instrumental in my receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit. One evening the young minister was praying over a woman whose back was to me. The minister signaled me with his eye movement, to hurry and stand directly behind the woman. What I did not know or expect was the woman was about to fall backwards quickly and like a stiff log, without trying to protect herself. I barely had time to get my hands out of my pockets to seemingly assist her to the floor. What I realized was, the woman was under God’s protection, with or without my “cosmetic” assistance. She would not have been hurt at all. I was only there for “eye” purposes to make her fall less of a scene. The woman was totally under the influence of the Holy Spirit and being blessed. If I am at an event and see things that are strange to my eyes and ears, I will count on the Holy Spirit to tell me if it is His supernatural work or something the flesh of man has developed outside of our Lord Jesus.

  17. Doug Greene, I find your account of being a ‘catcher’ (been there done that) entirely subjective, hyper-individualistic and has nothing whatsoever to do with the historical Christian faith. In fact, by your very own admission -you are indicating that this practice is deceptive – you are claiming that it does not need to happen because those who are falling have no need to be caught because they are ‘under God’s protection’ and that the catching is only for ‘cosmetic’ purposes.In other words, it is a deception to give the false impression to onlookers that churches who do this are taking ‘health and safety’ seriously. If this is supposed to be a manifestation of God’s power – would the absense of ‘catchers’ not allow the so-called power to be seen more clearly? Sadly, you seem to think that God is involved in this self-confessed dillusion. It is also scary that you seem to think you have some sort of infallible means of knowing which experiences are true and which are not. Doug, whatever you are into – it is not Christianity.

    • Daniel Lee says:

      Dear John, “it’s not Christianity is too harsh an expression, if someone falls because of being pushed by a unseen force would you not try to catch him or her? Let us assume that person has been made to fall by the Holy Spirit, [1] if you don’t know will you not try to catch him /her? If you do know, can you be sure that the Holy Spirit will not let the fall injure that person? And even if you are sure, will you have enough faith & trust in God the Holy Spirit to do that, or will you try to help? But to discover that the person has injured him/herself after the fall and not catching him’her tiom prevent it will be too late. ASll the above are plausible explanations to thae situation described rather than “Mot Christianity”

      • Eddie says:

        Daniel, John is right! And by the way, anyone who misrepresents the true doctrine and teaching of scripture are to be exposed, according to Paul…Jesus certainly did so with the Pharisees because of their false strongholds of enslaving, religious apostasy 2Cor 10:4. Jesus’ miracles were instantaneous! They never required human assistance or contribution, of any nature! His miracles were purely Divine…NO ONE from the countless tens of thousands who were witness to, or benefited from those miracles ever contested they occurred, not even Christ’s enemies (including the Pharisees). They were too public, too powerful, too supernatural; Sovereign Authority (Shutting down a raging storm instantly), transformational, re-generational (perfecting prenatal defected limbs instantly), creational (feeding thousands with bread and fish from nothing instantly)…And given the sheer power demonstrated, there was no question in anyone’s mind about the source….”We know that you…come from God because no one can do the works you do unless God is with him” (John 3:2). It is blasphemy to say that God, the Holy Spirit requires human involvement to do the ministry work assigned to Him by God the Father. It is dangerous to misrepresent what scripture clearly says is His ministry work (Ephesians 5:11;John 15:26,27; 16:7-11, 13-15; Matt 12:30-32;Rev 22:18).

  18. Lon says:

    Marvelous post that, to me, gets to the real point we should all focus on. Thank you!

    I tried to make this same point on my own blog–let’s debate what is true/false–though poorly, in comparison to this.

    (Full disclosure: I became a Christian in the A/G in 1979, pastored two A/G churches, and left the A/G in 1999 due to my growing disbelief in pentecostal theology and practice, and growing commitment to reformed theology. Have been PCA ever since.)

    my blog post: http://averageus.com/2013/10/21/strange-fire-dangerous-charismatic-teaching/

    • sweetswede says:

      Thank you sir. I enjoyed reading your post.

      I will admit my increasing affinity with reformed theology, and growing caution about much of what happens inside of modern Pentecostal/Charismatic churches. I still believe in non-revelatory gifts (I find myself in agreement with Grudem on this point), but Pentecostal practice needs to be deeply reformed in accordance with the Scriptures.

      God bless you,
      Josiah

      • Lon says:

        Well-said. I would love to see all Protestants reform in a way that resulted in more theological consistency and clarity, perhaps resulting in more organizational unity.

  19. Dawn says:

    Thank you for this humble, well thought post. I am appreciative of your willingness to agree that damage is being done. I am a casualty of this damage. I grew up in an AG pastor’s home during the 60’s and 70’s, and graduated from an AG Bible college in 1983. The spiritual excesses were evident then, also. The “Spirit” trumped over everything. While testing the spirit was preached, it was never practiced. If you questioned any of the “laughing in the spirit “, or “falling out”, or being “drunk” in the spirit, you were close to grieving Him, He may leave you and you were condemned to hell forever. As kids attending AG Bible camp, the more you cried, screamed and flailed at the altar, the happier God was because you were receiving His Spirit. Growing up under this erroneous teaching caused deep emotional damage. I am now Reformed and am finding spiritual stability in doctrines and theology that have roots and clarity. I have learned that the Spirit is subject to the Word. Period. Always. Every situation. My fear of offending the Spirit has diminished greatly. So thank you. You have taken a stand and are calling for a Biblical, theological definition of the Spirit’s role in an arena that traditionally and arrogantly considered theology unnecessary (“don’t give me theology, just give me Jesus” – the AG cry of the 60’s and 70’s).

    • sweetswede says:

      Dawn, thank you for sharing that. I believe there are many more Pentecostals and Charismatics who recognize the abuses, but who are scared to speak out against them.

      God bless,
      Josiah

  20. Andrew says:

    Well put. The best next thing to do is to reject Pentecostalism and join a Bible based church, as I have done.

  21. As a Pentecostal pastor from South Africa where the Spirit of God is moving with great power your comments are strange indeed and I agree with Andrew that you must look for a non Pentecostal Church to join where you will feel more at home.

    It is clear that you are in a church where nothing spiritual happen where the letter kills but their’s no Spirit to revive. It is natural for us to be slain in the power of the Holy ghost as the secondary meaning of the dopa/ kabod / glory of God means heaviness and when the heaviness of Gods glory fall on you you have to go down under that weight, but it is clear that you never experience this, and that is a great pity.To be under the influence of the Holy Spirit is a wonderful experience you will sense every time you are slain in the Spirit and you will be drunk from the Holy ghost like our brothers in Acts 2. The things of the Spirit cannot be fathomed with the intellectual mind:

    1Cor 2:14 But the natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned

    It is very clear that one cannot understand the things of the Spirit regarding the ministry. It makes perfect sense to me that the Holy Ghost told Tod Bentley to kick that old Lady so that she can receives her healing as this is in line with many other crazy Biblical examples. This incident don’t differs from the other instances in the Bible.

    Look at the newspapers headlines from the Jerusalem Post this last few thousand years:

    1)- Well known Prophet claim that God instruct him to be in his Adam’s attire for a thousand days. this sounds absolutely insane that the holy God of Israel will ever command someone to go about naked. His congregation members don’t know where to look on Sundays when this nude madman enter the pulpit. One very concerned member told our staff that there are hardly any members left as they cannot stand this nudity in the pulpit:

    Isa 20:2 At that time the LORD told Isaiah, son of Amos, “Take off the sackcloth that you are wearing, and take off your sandals!” Isaiah did this and walked around barefoot and naked.

    Isa 20:3 Then the LORD said, “My servant Isaiah has gone barefoot and naked for three years as a sign ……

    2) – Well known young and respected local prophet created an unprecedented hullabaloo when he announced his attentions to ties the knot to the infamous madam X, the well known prostitute in our town. He clams that the holy God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob forced him to married this harlot and by doing so leaving his fiance of two years absolutely devastated. She told our reporter from her hospital bed, where she is recovering from this shock, that God will never do a shameless, ludicrous and heartless thing like this and that the young prophet’s congregation members are already leaving his church as they will never accept Madam X as their first lady.

    Hos 1:2 When the LORD first spoke to Hosea, the LORD told him, “Marry a prostitute, and have children with that prostitute

    3-) The Rabbi that do great wonders and miracles done it again.Where ever He goes he upset the scribes and priests by breaking the strict Sabbath rules and they claim that this man are from the devil because no one send from God will break the commandments of Moses. This time he spit in the mouth of a poor man who was deaf and could hardly speak, it seems to us that the arrogance of this man is boundless. just think of the audacity to transfer your saliva to the mouth of a very sick man. think of the germs and the cherry on top is that this is done in the Name of God.

    Mar 7:33 After Jesus had taken him aside from the crowd, he stuck his fingers in the man’s ears. Then he spit and put it on the man’s tongue

    4)- The madman of Nazareth does it again. The ink of our previous edition was hardly dry when he done the very same thing. This time the victim was a poor blind beggar. Surely theirs nothing of God in this lunatic as a snake is the one animal that is obsessed with spitting and we all know that the snake is a symbol of the devil. It is about time that one of our respected scribes convene a conference to warn the religious world of this very dangerous spitting snake from the pit of the hell.

    Mar 8:23 Jesus took the blind man’s hand and led him out of the village. He spit into the man’s eyes and placed his hands on him. Jesus asked him, “Can you see anything?”

    Show me just one verse in the Bible that claims that God changes, He is the same yesterday, today and to all eternity and the same God that instructed Isaiah, Hosea, Jesus Christ and Tod Bentley to do crazy things, He still instruct others on numerous occasions to do even more weird stuff. Never tries to fathom the workings of the Holy Spirit with your intellectual mind, you will end up talking nonsense like many others.

    Come to Africa and experience first hand the power of God and you will never be the same again

    Your Spirit filled tongue talking brother

    Daniel

    • S3NTNT says:

      Actually Daniel I’m from South Africa too and the situation is pretty terrible here too. In a country filled with church’s very few of them hold to sound doctrine. and the argument is always the same. Doctrine divides, Don’t put God in a box, you’re legalistic etc etc. and a faith based on experience leads to one thing. That is why we now have eastern mysticism creeping into the charismatic churches. Palm reading to determine Pastors! seriously! I kid you not. literally anything goes. So don’t kid yourself. its a wicked generation that seeks a sign. The more you study God’s truth the clearer it all becomes Sorry there is no Baptism of the Holy Spirit its just not Biblical – fact. I have no doubt you have experienced something but if its not Biblical than its not from God and if its not from God its one of 2 things either its your own hysteria or its demonic. Fact! God specifically operates within Biblical parameters so that we know if it is from Him. That is our safeguard.

      • sweetswede says:

        I find it funny that my most recent post is about things we should not say when discussing theology, and you identify slogans like “doctrine divides, Don’t put God in a box, you’re legalistic” in this comment.

        Regarding baptism in the Spirit, it most definitely is biblical (1Corinthians 12:13). Even cessationists like John MacArthur and R.C. Sproul believe in baptism in the Holy Spirit. The question is not whether there is a baptism in the Holy Spirit, but how and when does this take place? MacArthur would say at conversion, classical Pentecostals would say it is separable from (though not necessarily subsequent to) conversion.

        God bless,
        Josiah

      • Yes, sweetswede, but what MacArthur means by “baptism of the Holy Spirit” is entirely different. The two camps are discussing two completely, and totally different things. Cessationists, if you’ll allow me to make broad statement, would always deny that there is a baptism of the Spirit that solely functions as a “second blessing,” empowering the believer with gifts that other believers lack.

  22. Interesting conversation, as someone who was in the pentecostal movement for approx 12 years and who has left recently, this conversation between Daniel and Josiah, is only confirming to me that pentecostalism is in an uncontrolable mess. Daniel have you read or watched the sessions led by the African pastor,conrad mbewe at the Strange Fire Conference? I urge you to do so. Here are the links:

    http://thecripplegate.com/strange-fire-the-african-import-of-charismatic-chaos-conrad-mbewe/

    http://thecripplegate.com/strange-fire-are-we-preachers-or-witchdoctors-conrad-mbewe/

    Josiah, this is one of the major problems with pentecostalism, the shared doctrine/experience that you and Daniel hold to, place you in the same fellowship but in actual fact there are incompatible elements held by each of you individually. One of you has a more biblical world view than the other. Josiah, your biblical worldview is keeping you more orthodox, but it is unable to provide the much needed discipline and boundaries within the movement as a whole.

  23. Edie Johnson says:

    This is one of the most reasonable, accurate and kind exhortations I have read on this topic. Thank you and God bless you for writing that which The Lord has placed upon your heart. About eight years ago our pastor allowed teachers (under the tuteledge of Larsen and C. Peter Wagner) into our
    church. The result has not been good and now there is only small minority of us who hold to sola scriptura. Some of us have been branded as sowers of discord and in need of ‘deliverance ‘ from ‘demons’. God help us.

  24. John

    I don’t know what do you mean with “Pentecostalism is in an uncontrollable mess”. The onlookers on the day of Pentecost could have entertain the same thoughts of what was happening in front of their eyes. But there is a order in disorder as strange as it might sound.

    There is absolutely no disagreements regarding Pentecostalism between Josiah and myself as I am in agreement with his statement that ” I believe that Baptism in the Holy Spirit is separable from conversion, and that the evidence of this is speaking in tongues as the Spirit enables. This is classical Pentecostalism” However, both of us are sort of frustrated that God keeps on using certain people that is an embarrassment for us and we know that God will continue doing so. I think Josiah is more frustrated than myself regarding this.

    I don’t want to use your phrase that “cessatiolism is an uncontrollable mess” but their are also disagreements between cessationists . Some cessationists believe that all the gifts have seized, others believe that there are still a few gifts in operation. Some believe that they must baptize infants, while others disagree with that, some of them cling to everything that Calvin taught, while others don’t believe that all of Calvin’s teachings are relevant today. Some hang on for dear life to the ”once saved always saved” dogma of Calvin, while others differ from that view. There are those among them that were baptized in the Spirit and they talk in tongues knowing well that they cannot refute what happened to them, while others next to them disagree with their experience. There were Spirit filled, tongue talking, gift bearing women in my church that decided to marry cessationists and end up in their churches and they told me since that they are dying in this dead and dry spiritual environment and they are tired to listen to those there trying to convince them that Pentecost is something of the past. It is like trying convincing a pitch black guy that he is lily white.

    No use to listen to a Calvinist named Conrad Mbewe as it will be a waste of time as we are on different planets. How can I inform you what is schooling about if I never attend school in my whole life? Pentecost is not an theory, it is an experience and I like Josiah can never refute this experiences of our life. Therefore it is sad to read and hear that some believers left Pentecostal churches before they could have experience the experience, before they met Jesus as the fire Baptizer. It is futile to listen to someone telling you there is not a sun while you are basking daily in the heat and light of that very same substance. The only thing that can change the view of a cessationists is that God must baptize him with the Holy Spirit and gave him utterances in a strange language. Therefore it is an waste of time to argue with each other as how do you explain to a guy the taste of a double thick toffee shake that never have a drop on his tongue? Many of us that are Pentecost use to be cessationists, but after a real life encounter with the fire Baptizer our whole life have changed we can never go back to the dead environment as the life in us craves for more of the Spirit .

    That is why I told Josiah that the devil is the only winner in the strange fire conference as the television preachers and teachers who were in their focus will ignore everything that was said. If they could have change the way that only one of them thinks and act, then everything was okay but not one of them will alter their ways.

    The only thing that MacArthur and friends achieved was to grieve the Spirit of God because of His deep desire that their must be a strong spiritual bond of unity in the body of Christ:

    John 17:11 I won’t be in the world much longer, but they are in the world, and I’m coming back to you. Holy Father, keep them safe by the power of your name, the name that you gave me, so that their unity may be like ours.

    Eph 4:3 Through the peace that ties you together, do your best to maintain the unity that the Spirit gives.

    Therefore the tender and gentle Holy Spirit was grieved. There won’t be any Pentecostals or cessationists in heaven, but only those that are pure in heart:

    Mat 5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

    Daniel

  25. Hi Daniel,

    Thank you for your response.

    “I don’t know what do you mean with “Pentecostalism is in an uncontrollable mess”.

    I’m sorry, but if you do not understand this, this is the basic problem. Even many leaders within Pentecostalism recognise this problem.

    Your comparison with Acts 2 is a false one. What you see in the modern charismatic movement, is nothing like that which took place in Acts 2. The tongues which were spoken, were actual languages which were understood. The gospel was preached. There was not the en masse confusion whih characterises charismania today.

    “There is absolutely no disagreements regarding Pentecostalism between Josiah and myself.”

    I think you will find there is a vast gulf, theologically between you and Josiah. Josiah understands the problems, you do not.

    “both of us are sort of frustrated that God keeps on using certain people that is an embarrassment for us and we know that God will continue doing so. I think Josiah is more frustrated than myself regarding this.”

    No, in your first post you endorsed a heretic and false prophet (Todd Bentley).

    “No use to listen to a Calvinist named Conrad Mbewe as it will be a waste of time as we are on different planets.”

    It’s ironic, you claim to be so filled with the Spirit, but such a comment is actually a characteristic of pride and sectarianism.

    A waste of time? Listening to a brother in Christ is a waste of time? Why? Because he is a calvinist? Do you not know your history? If there was no calvinism, there would be no pentecostalism! It was calvinists who brought justification by faith alone, (still technically a core doctrine within pentecostalism). Anything solid that pentecostalism has comes from the historic catholic church (the trinity for example) or the protestant reformation.

    I would argue that people like Mbewe, have more in comparison with biblical prophets, than the charlatans of the charismatic movement. Perhaps you should be less afraid of testing the spirits and ‘prophets’ of charismania and more afraid of opposing a man who trully is declaring and expounding the Word of God. To shut your ears to truth is to seal your own condemnation.

    “How can I inform you what is schooling about if I never attend school in my whole life? Pentecost is not an theory, it is an experience and I like Josiah can never refute this experiences of our life. Therefore it is sad to read and hear that some believers left Pentecostal churches before they could have experience the experience, before they met Jesus as the fire Baptizer. It is futile to listen to someone telling you there is not a sun while you are basking daily in the heat and light of that very same substance.”

    You make a lot of assumptions. You made the same assumption about Josiah,until he corrected you, and you are now making the same assumption about me. I spoke in tongues for most of my Christian life (12 years or so).

    But your argument proves nothing. Mormons speak in tongues. Hindus speak in tongues. Have they been baptised by the Holy Spirit?

    You argue that you must experience something before you can understand it. According to this logic, you cannot speak against the experiences of the cults and false religions, because you have not experienced it. You are also proving that you have been caught in a snare. Classical pentecostalism, argues that experience must always be subject to scripture. This is not what you are arguing. I see very little in your arguments that bear any resemblance to classical pentecostalism (which I still have a lot of respect for).

    I would urge you to read the transcript by Conrad, and test what he says against scripture, rather than rejecting it on the grounds of prejudice.

    John

  26. Correction to previous post: It was calvinists who brought justification by faith alone *back to the forefront of the church*, (still technically a core doctrine within pentecostalism).

  27. Hi John

    It is sad to sense a acrimonious spirit in your reply, it is the same loveless harsh spirit that was reflected from this strange fire conference.

    “I don’t know what do you mean with “Pentecostalism is in an uncontrollable mess”.
    I’m sorry, but if you do not understand this, this is the basic problem. Even many leaders within Pentecostalism recognise this problem.

    I would like you to substantiate your allegations regarding the uncontrollable mess concerning Pentecostalism. Maybe you know more about this in America than I do here in Africa. As far as I know is there are leaders in the Charismatic movement like Tod Bentley, Benny Hinn, Joël Osteen, Kenneth Copeland and other that are the centre of attention in this conference.They are Charismatic leaders, not Pentecostals.

    Your comparison with Acts 2 is a false one. What you see in the modern charismatic movement, is nothing like that which took place in Acts 2. The tongues which were spoken, were actual languages which were understood. The gospel was preached. There was not the en masse confusion witch characterises charismania today.

    You have to read Acts 2 again. Yes it was languages that was human languages but they didn’t learn this languages. The scripture is clear about this:

    Act 2:4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit. They began to speak the words of God in other languages as the Spirit spoke through them.

    The Spirit speak through them, they didn’t recall these languages from their memory as the scripture said ” the Spirit spoke through them”. But you guys just adhere to the scriptures that suits your point of view.

    You said that the gospel was preached. I don’t know what gave you that assumption because the people was drawn to the loud noise and as they come nearer they heard the 120 praising God. The 120 didn’t wait for an audience before they started praising God in their new languages, they spoke the language the moment the Spirit put it in their mouths to gave utterance and the onlookers arrive after that.

    There was not the en masse confusion which characterises charismania today.

    Are you kidding! 120 people talking together and very loudly in many different languages at the same time, and you say there was no confusion?

    “No use to listen to a Calvinist named Conrad Mbewe as it will be a waste of time as we are on different planets.”
    It’s ironic, you claim to be so filled with the Spirit, but such a comment is actually a characteristic of pride and sectarianism.
    A waste of time? Listening to a brother in Christ is a waste of time? Why? Because he is a calvinist

    I am honest with you that I will not wasting my time listening to his ramblings regarding Calvinism and their unbiblical theology. I do not agree with that and for this reason it is a waste of my time. If I ask you for example to listen to a teaching regarding a Pentecostal or Charismatic leader and you know that they cannot convince you to follow their way of thinking will you do it? I don’t think so. If Mbewe will give a teaching regarding a neutral subject like the longsuffering of God then I would love to listen to him.

    Do you not know your history? If there was no calvinism, there would be no pentecostalism! It was calvinists who brought justification by faith alone, (still technically a core doctrine within pentecostalism). Anything solid that pentecostalism has comes from the historic catholic church (the trinity for example) or the protestant reformation.

    You don’t know your history. Pentecostalism can be traced back to Acts 2 and later the Holy Spirit revives the Pentecostal flames in Azusa street. Anything solid regarding Pentecost comes from the Bible. We don’t believe in the trinity because the Catholics or Calvin said so, for every Pentecostal theological doctrine there are ample scriptures to endorse it.

    I would argue that people like Mbewe, have more in comparison with biblical prophets, than the charlatans of the charismatic movement. Perhaps you should be less afraid of testing the spirits and ‘prophets’ of charismania and more afraid of opposing a man who trully is declaring and expounding the Word of God

    You accused me of endorsed a heretic and false prophet (Todd Bentley) when I gave four scriptural references to prove a statement. But you proclaim that Mbewe have more in comparison with Biblical prophets than the charlatans of the charismatic movement. Well Mbewe share the stage with the Charlatan of the Reformist movement, the liar John MacArthur. He accused many brothers left and right regarding many things while there is a wooden beam in his eye and he didn’t even noticed it.

    Look what the Bible said and how he contradicts this scripture while claiming that he as a Reformer and Calvinis are the only ones that can be trusted to police the Church of Jesus Christ because he is the only voice in the dessert that can be trusted. What a joke and you follow this guy like other uninformed Calvinist reformers .

    Rev 14:11 If you worship the beast and the idol and accept the mark of its name, you will be tortured day and night. The smoke from your torture will go up forever and ever, and you will never be able to rest.

    The scripture is clear that everyone that received the mark of the beast will receive eternal torture, but not according to John MacArthur. He stated that those that receives this mark will receive a second change to repent. Read and listen how he contradicts the scriptures and everyone who have a solid background in scriptures can also see how he force the scriptures to suit his man made theology by reading his commentaries on 1 Corinthians.

    click and you see this first hand: http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/1301-I/

    No, in your first post you endorsed a heretic and false prophet (Todd Bentley)

    Your hero is a false prophet because he twisted the scriptures but according to you that is fine. It is fine if one in your own camp twist the scriptures, but what a hel of a noise do you make if someone in the Pentecostal or Charismatic camp twist the scripture and then you accusing me of pride and sectarianism?

    I spoke in tongues for most of my Christian life (12 years or so). Really? Really? In which camp do you feel right at home, in the Pentecostal, Mormon or the Hindu camp?
    You argue that you must experience something before you can understand it. According to this logic, you cannot speak against the experiences of the cults and false religions, because you have not experienced it.
    I was talking about the baptism of the Holy Spirit. You claim to be a tongue talker but according to your argument it couldn’t have been an Acts 2 experience. Why don’t you try and convince MacArthur and his friends that you have a real Twenty one century experience with the Holy Spirit and that you talk in tongues and they will tell you that you lie because it stop centuries ago. Don’t you understand the tongues issue better now that you have that experience? At least you know it was genuine (if I can believe you?). If you never spoke in tongues you would always have doubted the relevance of that. You have at least an experience regarding that and no one can tell you that you lie.

    Daniel

  28. Hi Daniel,

    limited time to respond/severity of the topic/and the medium are probably all contributing to the tone. Where my tone lacks patience and gentleness, I apologise.

    I don’t have time to respond to all your points just now. But I want to touch on one aspect. You said:

    “I would like you to substantiate your allegations regarding the uncontrollable mess concerning Pentecostalism.”

    We are at risk of hijacking the blog topic here, so perhaps it would be good to turn our atention back to the main points identified by the blogger in the above post. If what Josiah claims is true, we are dealing with a movement which is an uncontrolable mess.

    In addition to this, I have identified that pentecostalism was a mess from teh start here: http://jjcaldwell.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/as-strange-fire-conference-has-led-to.html

    And I have identified the weaknesses of its trajectory (charismatic movement) here: http://jjcaldwell.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/the-origins-of-pentecostalcharismatic.html

    I have also identified the concersn raised by a classical pentecostal pastor here: http://jjcaldwell.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/pentecostal-pastor-warns-about-false.html

    To be honest, if the pentecostal movement is not an ‘uncontrollable mess’, the burden of proof rests with you.

    • Hi John

      Thank you brother we all err and I has also apologize to Josiah for entering the discussion pool with a wrong attitude from a wrong angle, but hey, we are all in the business of forgiveness. You are correct that we can’t continue like this on his blog.

      If what Josiah claims is true, we are dealing with a movement which is an uncontrollable mess.

      I don’t know about the settings with the Pentecostal Churches in the USA and Josiah’s assessment regarding the situation there but this is a far cry from the current situation in South Africa.

      Thank you

      Daniel

  29. sweetswede says:

    Daniel,

    I want to ask a question here, and perhaps this will help us as we seek to evaluate our movement. I know this is only hypothetical, but I think it’s worth considering. My question is, suppose it were definitively shown from Scripture that the cessationists are right. If this were the case, would we abandon our Pentecostalism? Would we even say that our own experiences had been errors?

    My answer to this is “Yes, if I came to believe cessationism is the position taught by Scripture I would amend my beliefs and practices.”

    But you and I both know that large segments of our movement would give a negative answer to this question. And I think THAT is the real uncontrollable mess we face. As you pointed out, classical Pentecostals do seek to ground our beliefs and practices in Scripture. But we classical Pentecostals are not the public face of the movement. In fact, in the United States at least, that public face tends to be people of the sort you listed, the Benny Hinns and Todd Bentleys and Joel Osteens.

    Regarding testing Todd Bentley (I do apologize that I’ve hardly been able to keep up), if a clear violation of Scripture is not enough of a test (and I do not accept that he repented, because he proceeded to go on an marry his secretary), nearly six or so years ago he prophesied that a revival would break out in Finland with mass conversions comparable to the meetings of Charles Finney (I’ll skip commenting on Finney for the moment). Bentley seemed to be under the impression that this would happen soon.

    To this day, I am aware of no great awakening taking place in Finland. I don’t hear any reports of it, I can’t find any blogs or news reports that talk about it, or anything of that sort. Bentley made a prediction, and it has not come to pass. This means he is a false prophet.

    And let us not forget that many false prophets will come (Matthew 24:11), even claiming to do miracles and drive out demons (Matthew 7:21-23). Our method must not be to assume someone is a true prophet and exempt them from criticism on that basis; it must be to evaluate their teachings according to the Bible and determine on that basis whether they are a true prophet or not.

    God bless,
    Josiah

    • HI Josiah

      I want to ask a question here, and perhaps this will help us as we seek to evaluate our movement. I know this is only hypothetical, but I think it’s worth considering. My question is, suppose it were definitively shown from Scripture that the cessationists are right. If this were the case, would we abandon our Pentecostalism? Would we even say that our own experiences had been errors?

      Amen! I will subject myself to the scriptures. I will change my mind and focus if I realize that I was wrong in my judgement and opinion of the scriptures. Yes I will do it because I must stay true to myself and I cannot pursue anything if I know that it is not the real McCoy.

      The second half of your question is verrrry difficult to answer because I have experienced the most wonderful encounters with God in my life and I cannot retract from that because I will make myself and the Holy Spirit a fraud and liar. Can you turn your back on encounters with God?

      But we classical Pentecostals are not the public face of the movement. In fact, in the United States at least, that public face tends to be people of the sort you listed, the Benny Hinns and Todd Bentleys and Joel Osteens.

      I don’t see these brothers as Pentecostals, but as Charismatics and if I am wrong I will agree with you that we are in a mess. That’s why I have told John that we are frustrated with the public face of most of the television preachers and teachers because they are an embarrassment for us as people tend to classified us as one. Concerned Pentecostals like us may between sixes and sevens at the moment but the only way forward for me is the scriptural way:

      Mat 13:24 Jesus used another illustration. He said, “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who planted good seed in his field.
      Mat 13:25 But while people were asleep, his enemy planted weeds in the wheat field and went away.
      Mat 13:26 When the wheat came up and formed kernels, weeds appeared.
      Mat 13:27 “The owner’s workers came to him and asked, ‘Sir, didn’t you plant good seed in your field? Where did the weeds come from?’
      Mat 13:28 “He told them, ‘An enemy did this.’ “His workers asked him, ‘Do you want us to pull out the weeds?’
      Mat 13:29 “He replied, ‘No. If you pull out the weeds, you may pull out the wheat with them.
      Mat 13:30 Let both grow together until the harvest. When the grain is cut, I will tell the workers to gather the weeds first and tie them in bundles to be burned. But I’ll have them bring the wheat into my barn.'”

      God did not appoint John, me, you, MacArthur or anyone else to do His work for Him. He instruct us specifically to leave the weeds, the disappointments and embarrassments for Him as He will sort them out. The reason why we see this leaders keeps on embarrassing us is that they keep failing the tests for purity, self control and righteousness time and again.

      If we run to another camp to avoid this we will find in due time that those guys have the same cancer in their midst because we are all human and fallible. The only difference will be that ours will be more visible than theirs. But their is no difference between a person that have cancer in his face and everyone can see it, or having cancer on his chess and hide it under his cloths, cancer is cancer and we all live in this era of iron and clay feet where the integrity, ethics, morals and values goes faster and faster down the drain.

      Regarding testing Todd Bentley (I do apologize that I’ve hardly been able to keep up), if a clear violation of Scripture is not enough of a test (and I do not accept that he repented, because he proceeded to go on an marry his secretary)

      There are different understandings of repentance so I am not quite sure to what you are referring to. The angle that I will take is that he broke Gods commandments and yes he did, and I agree with you that it is a sin and that he is guilty before God and his brothers and sisters in the body of Christ, Yes I agree 100% with you that it was a wrong sinful thing to do.

      But don’t you think there will be forgiveness for him if he repents before God acknowledge his sin and wrongdoings and ask God to forgive him and we know that God is a forgiving God and for this very same reason Jonah flee from God and went to Tarshish:

      Jon 4:2 So he prayed to the LORD, “LORD, isn’t this what I said would happen when I was still in my own country? That’s why I tried to run to Tarshish in the first place. I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, patient, and always ready to forgive and to reconsider your threats of destruction.

      The forgiveness of God is like the waves of the ocean, never ending and unceasingly

      1John 1:9 God is faithful and reliable. If we confess our sins, he forgives them and cleanses us from everything we’ve done wrong.

      We both know that adultery and divorce are not the unforgivable sins. This is my take on this. If he repented before God, went to his ex- wife and ask her to forgive him, ask the body of Christ to forgive him and then ask God to forgive him, he is a forgiven man .

      Nearly six or so years ago he prophesied that a revival would break out in Finland with mass conversions comparable to the meetings of Charles Finney (I’ll skip commenting on Finney for the moment). Bentley seemed to be under the impression that this would happen soon.

      To this day, I am aware of no great awakening taking place in Finland. I don’t hear any reports of it, I can’t find any blogs or news reports that talk about it, or anything of that sort. Bentley made a prediction, and it has not come to pass. This means he is a false prophet.

      This is news for me and I was not aware of this. I am not one of his fans and don’t follow his prophecies and teachings. If this is true what you have said than I have to agree with you 100% that Tod Bentley is indeed a false prophet and that I will not take his word seriously if it happened to comes under my attention.

      I gather from your blog that you are between sixes and sevens yourself:

      I will admit my increasing affinity with reformed theology….

      It will be a good thing if you can get clarity on this issue as it is not fair to your Pentecostal congregation that you as their leader don’t lead them into the things of the Spirit via the Pentecostal road. I mean that is the reason why they associate with a Pentecostal church. It is also not fair to you and your wife as I think that this uncertainty at present gnaws at both of you as I sense that you are not a jackal and Hyde type of person that want to delude your overseers, your church leaders and your members.

      What ever you decide, be true to yourself and do what you feel you must do.

      Daniel

      • Daniel Lee says:

        Dear Daniel,
        It is not reformed theology, which is a creation of men, howalbeit sincere Godly men at that. But what the word of God, the Bible says that really matters. I fear the Reformed Theology has become the Magisterium for many Xns rather than the Bible.

  30. Daniel, and Josiah,

    Interesting discussion about the hypothetical ‘What if it turns out to be unscriptural?’ scenario.

    That is exactly what I have been evaluating for some time.

    Here is where I have landed.

    Pentecostal teaching and experiemce is a mixture of truth and error.

    Pentecostals can have valid spiritual experiences, but often use the wrong biblical terminology. E.G what many experience during a season of seeking God in prayer – is interpreted as ‘baptism in the Spirit’ but (technically that is what happens at conversion – even Gordon Fee, the best pentecostal scholar, admits that the pentecostal doctrine has no biblical basis) does this mean all experiences are false?No. The experience can be genuine, but it is just understood wrongly from a theological perspective.

    In reality, pentecostalism has started to recognise this with the emergence of tcharismatic movements who do not hold to classical pentecostal doctrines on Spirit baptism.

    So, recognising a wrong doctrine, does not mean we have to deny every experience we ever had. It just means we grow in knowledge.

    On the other hand, some experiences may have been false. Maybe we are unsure. But we do not build on experience. We build on Christ.

    I have had many deep experiences of the Spirit. Moving towards a non-pentecostal position has not caused me to deny these experiences.

    I have spoken in tongues most of my Christian life, however having studied the texts – I now believe that biblical tongues were known languages. Therefore I think this experience was false. What was it then? I believe it was a psychological activity. Consequently, I now pray more in my native tongue than I did before – this can only be good.

    Prophecy. I have experiences where I have known things and they have happened – and I have also made mistakes. Likewise people have revealed things that either were to happen or had happened to me/about me that were right – and other things that were wrong. Do I deny all the genuine things now? No. Again, I realise that I was assigning them to the wrong theological category. I now understand these things as God’s providence. God ‘does stuff” I don’t need to make a doctrine out of it, neither do I need to turn it into a regular practice.

    Has this led to a less spiritual walk? I don’t think so. If anything my walk is far more Christ centred. I have also found that the Reformed tradition has a far more robust theology of the Holy Spirit.

    They also have a history of genuine revivals – not revivalism – but real, deep Christ exalting revival.

    I would argue, the way for pentecostals and charismatics to reform – is to get back to the theology and practice of the reformers.

    • Hi John

      In less than six hours I will be on my way for a three week holiday/ ministry assignment and will move around in some remote areas where I will no have internet reception. So you have to wait for an answer but I will just touch here and there.

      I think it is a questionable remark by Gordon Fee that Pentecostal doctrine has NO biblical basis. I don’t know his reasons for reaching his conclusions, but it is clear to me that he overlooked a lot of scriptures.

      It is my experience with cessationists that they refuse to accept scriptures that refute their argument although they boast to adhere to the scriptures. Unlike you I can never move to the reformers camp and although there are people in my camp that have lost their values and integrity I will be more at ease with them, than with those that denies the virgin birth of Christ, that denies His resurrection and even denies that He is God the Son.

      Daniel

  31. Praising God for your wonderful response and heart for your people! Praying that God blesses you and that you can help those that are being led astray by error. You have a wonderful, teachable spirit and praying that God will continue to lead you in His Knowledge. You are one of the few that actually got what Dr. MacArthur was trying to express…so many others are just angry 😦 Thank you.

    • Daniel Lee says:

      What I want to know is whether John MacArthur is teachable, my impression of his reply to criticisms of his conference & book is that he thinks he knows it all.

  32. […] estábamos tratando de lograr a través de la conferencia y libro Fuego Extraño. Yo recomendaría su artículo a todos mis amigos carismáticos (y […]

  33. thomptim says:

    Reblogged this on Thoughts While Walking and commented:
    I am not fully supporting MacArthur or the Strange Fire conference, but I find the points of this Pentecostal pastor interesting.

  34. sam says:

    That was courageous and really good stuff. Thanks for speaking your heart out so well 🙂 You can be assured that there’s still some of us that love the Bible truth.

  35. elderj says:

    I find this discussion fascinating, particularly as one who has been ‘pentecostal’ all his life. The post itself is interesting and I think fairly charitable, though I am unsure if I agree with all of the conclusions drawn. It occurs to me that much of the ‘errors’ we see in Pentecostalism / Charismatic movements are the results of two things primarily. The first is that Pentecostalism is expressive Christianity, and therefore its errors are more immediately apparent. Fake tongues, or people faking being slain in the Spirit, or fake prophetic and healing movements are much more visible than the errors that abound in cessationist, Calvinistic reformed camps, because they are outward and not inward. Secondly, Pentecostals and Charismatics have a default and historic posture of ‘openness’ to spiritual innovation because Pentecostalism itself emerged as something ‘new’ (or at least renewed) that God was doing and a lot of people were opposed to it. The same critiques that are now lodged against Charismatics on TBN were earlier lodged against the founders of the Classic Pentecostal denominations. So there is a hesitancy to immediately adjudge something as wrong.

    It can be argued in fact that all of it is merely the consequence of the principle of sola scriptura taken to its logical extreme. By rejecting the teaching magisterium of the church, Protestants opted for a much more dynamic interpretive relationship with scripture where there really is no reason why it cannot be simply a man and his Bible. It seems more respectable for MacArthur and his lot only because they’ve been doing it longer, but they’re basically saying, ‘well I read the Bible and this is what it says to me and my experience confirms it’. Nevermind that much of what they do is in fact a radical break from previous orthodoxies.

    As an aside, the mention that TBN and other messages are broadcast into Africa was mentioned as a kind of warning that the American church is exporting the prosperity gospel. What it conveys (albeit unintentionally) is that the African church can only be a passive recipient of what it receives and is not the arena of active theologizing, which is in fact in correct. The teachings that are popular in Africa are popular because they resonate with African experiences.

  36. […] A Pentecostal in (General) Support of the Strange Fire Conference – “The most hurtful thing about that conference is not the broad generalizations, sweeping condemnations, or lack of distinctions. For me as a Pentecostal the most hurtful thing about the Strange Fire Conference is my knowledge that far too many of the criticisms are true.” A great article I appreciated / via Dr. MacArthur […]

  37. Not much to say- I am also thankful for your post. I’m an ex-charismatic (though I always felt like an outsider looking in), and I’m interested in how this plays out now that the book is available.

    I’m also not sure this is a primary issue, though with how destructive charismania has been, and seeing its potential for danger and error first hand, I’m equally not sure I disagree with how harshly MacArthur has addressed it.

  38. […] 4) A Pentecostal in General Support of the Strange Fire Conference […]

  39. Phil says:

    Hello,
    I hope you don’t mind me making a comment following on from something Daniel said above (9th November at 8:25pm). In reply to Josiah’s question: “If it were definitively shown from Scripture that the cessationists are right, … would we say that our own experiences had been errors?”, Daniel replied: “I have experienced the most wonderful encounters with God in my life and I cannot retract from that because I will make myself and the Holy Spirit a fraud and liar. Can you turn your back on encounters with God?”

    I have no way of telling whether those wonderful experiences Daniel describes are genuine encounters with God, but they sound plausible and I have no a priori reason to doubt them. But such experiences are not the monopoly of continuationists. There is nothing about cessationist doctrine that excludes such experiences. I don’t label myself Pentecostal or Charismatic but I too have had deep, beautiful emotional experiences during times of prayer that defy words and are very precious to me. I suspect John MacArthur and his ilk would say the same. So even you were definitively shown from Scripture that the cessationists are right, you would not have to turn your back on your past experiences of God, and you wouldn’t have to suppose that your future life on earth is going to be a dry barren joyless wilderness experience of loving God mechanically or merely cerebrally. As another commenter said, you may simply have to re-label your experiences without having to deny their genuineness.

    However, I have heard some testimonies given by non-believers who practise Kundalini yoga. When they enter a trance, some of them claim to experience an intense feeling of being loved, and feeling very close to some kind of transcendant divine Being, with an overwhelming bliss and peace and oneness with everything, and deep mystical experiences, visions of light, a hot glow in certain parts of the body, etc. I would never dabble with Kundalini yoga but I am struck by the similarity of what those practitioners describe and what a Christian describes when he claims to have a deep experience of God. In my opinion, just because I feel close to God during a time of prayer or feel that God loves me deeply is not sufficient grounds for believing that those feelings are true experiences of God or that they truly indicate whether God is close to me or not.

  40. Phil says:

    Sorry, I made a typo in my post above. I meant to say:
    “So even if you were definitively shown from Scripture that the cessationists are right, you would not have to turn your back on your past experiences of God, and you wouldn’t have to anticipate that your future relationship with God would be a dry, barren, joyless, mechanical, and merely cerebral experience.”

  41. […] think it is possible and I came across an example of it as I read a  rather measured honest article by a self-described Pentacostal pastor in response to MacArthur’s conference. I would hope […]

  42. […] The Strange Fire Conference continues to get a lot of attention. Here is an article by a Charismatic (or Pentecostal) in favor of the […]

  43. Dan Martin says:

    Amen! I trust that the truth spoken in love will always be not only acceptable, but but accepted in our circles.

  44. […] You might be curious about how I, as a Pentecostal pastor, could possibly support any conference that fundamentally challenges the theological foundation of my movement and condemns many of its practices. My reasons are simple: Read the rest of the article here …. https://questiontradition.wordpress.com/2013/10/24/a-pentecostal-in-general-support-of-the-strange-fi… […]

  45. suez62 says:

    Amen Brother preach on!! I have felt this way for years. I still claim to be Pentecostal, because I believe in the baptism of the Holy Ghost, as in Acts, but disagree with where so much of it has gone over the past years, due to false teachings, and people walking in the flesh! I have grown from what I have been taught, by man, but, I see others that I was once in church with, they are still in the same place doing the same things in the flesh, and listening to the same false teachers in the P. and Charismatic circles…It makes me so very sad!! I thank the Lord for your knowledge and stand. Please know, I stand with you in what you seem to believe and wrote about. I pray more are waking up, by the help of the Holy Ghost and his leading. We only need to be willing to get rid of our mind sets, and man’s teachings, then the Lord will open his word up to us in his truth, and we will start seeing with new eyes!! Praise God!! I am very much needing good christian fellowship. If anyone else does, we could exchange emails, or go to some chat room, but I’m not on Facebook anymore. The Lord led me away from me too!! But that is OK, as I must be obedient to him. He has never failed me yet. Bye for now and keep up the good work. Your sister in Christ, suez

  46. Daniel Lee says:

    I am sure we all realise that there are good and bad teachers on both sides, I pray that all Xns will read and search the scripture with a humble heart so the Holy Spirit will reveal His real, true meaning to each of us, teachers not withstanding.

  47. suez says:

    @Daniel Lee. I’m sure you weren’t trying to be offensive, but I for one am not a xns! I am a CHRISTian, and very proud and thankful for that fact!! 😦

  48. Pablito says:

    very good points. Especially #5 hits hard. Here we are hitting hard at Catholics and non-protestants for putting too much emphasis on tradition instead of the Bible, yet we’re doing the same exact thing in a different area. Putting the charismatic experience at the same level or even above the Word of God. OUCH!

  49. Pablito

    “Putting the charismatic experience at the same level or even above the Word of God. OUCH! ”

    There is a very fine line between the scriptures and the leading of the Holy Spirit in conducting church services that we must find and keep. If you gravitates only to the proclaiming of the Word then you encounter a spiritual deadliness in your church services:

    2 Cor 3:6 who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

    On the other hand if you rejects the written word as your guideline then you can fall prey to all sorts of unbiblical extremes which are just as spiritual unhealthy as a graveyard church atmosphere.

    Therefore the Pastors as the MINISTERS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT COVENANT must find that fine line. Pastors that are unable to find that fine line are according to the scripture not ministers of the new covenant

    Although we all differ in temperament, we overlook one of the most important utterances of the Lord Jesus to the guys that walks and lives with Him for forty two months:

    John 16:12 “I have SO MUCH MORE to tell you, but it is too much for you to accept now.

    John 16:13 But when the Spirit of truth comes, he will lead you into all truth. He will not speak his own words. HE WILL SPEAK ONLY WHAT HE HEARS AND WILL TELL YOU WHAT WILL HAPPEN IN THE FUTURE.

    Here He declares that only the Holy Spirit will reveal that volumes of information regarding us as His followers in future time. He will reveal the discussions between the Father and Son regarding our future what He overheard, and the instructions and plans of the Son regarding us.

    We will never find that volumes of information that He wants to reveal to His Church in the pages of the Bible. It is nowhere to be found in the whole Bible. That information regarding our future will only be disclosed to us by the Holy Spirit.

    The Holy Spirit however works and manifests only through the mouths of the prophets:

    Amos 3:7 For the Lord God will do NOTHING without revealing instruction to His servants the prophets.

    If you read in the New Testament book of Acts you will see that He is still works trough His structures, namely PROPHETS to revealed Paul’s FUTURE to him:

    Act 21:10 We had been there for several days when a PROPHET named Agabus arrived from Judea.

    Act 21:11 He came to us, took Paul’s belt, tied up his own feet and hands with it, and said, “This is what the Holy Spirit says: The owner of this belt WILL BE TIED in this way by the Jews in Jerusalem, and they will hand him over to the Gentiles.”

    This future revelations regarding my future and your future can only be revealed through the mouths of the prophets and via the gift of a word of wisdom. This is a biblical fact that neither me, you, John MacArthur or the devil can change.

    As human error can creeps in, the Holy Spirit gave an safety measure to protects ourselves:

    2 Cor 13:1 ….In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established

    To safeguard ourselves we have to receive more than one prophetic word regarding a specific future revelation so that we can know that this instructions are really from God.

    This is the dilemma that the Christians in churches that wrongly believe that the workings and the prophetic utterances have seized face ; how on earth will they received the plans and intentions of God regarding their future if the messengers of the Spirit are not welcome in their churches?

    God never change:

    James 1:17 ………… He does not change and he makes no shadow by turning

    God nor His structures cannot change. What MacArthur don’t want to reveal to you is that Jesus as the Logos (Word) handed the whole Church over to the Holy Spirit and His structures two thousand years ago while He was still with them:

    Act 1:2 until the day He was taken to heaven. BEFORE He was taken to heaven, He gave INSTRUCTIONS THROUGH THE HOLY SPIRIT TO THE APOSTLES, whom he had chosen.

    Even before Jesus the Logos of God (John 1:1) ascended to heaven He start to gave INSTRUCTIONS via the Spirit to His church and we know that the Holy Spirit work only THROUGH His prophets. The most wonderful aspect of the book of Acts is that there is no Amen at the end of it, because the workings and the gifts and the dealings of the Holy Spirit never stops.

    The point I want to make after I gave all this scriptures is that there are still a lot of information that the Lord Jesus as the Head of the Church wants to reveal to you and me regarding His future plans and we will not find that in the scriptures, no it is not there, but it will be revealed via the prophets on that time when the Lord deems it fit.

    My experience with guys that clings to this unbiblical teaching called cessationism is that they rejects the scriptures that refute their teaching then they shout that the Pentecostals have no scriptural basic for their argument. Show me just one scripture that refutes the scriptures that I have just quoted and I will join your camp.

    Daniel

  50. […] reflections and summaries of the conference sessions, to John Piper addressing the situation, to a Pentecostal pastor reflecting on his own movement, to Macarthur responding to some of his critics. You could certainly spend a long time wading […]

  51. Heather Offringa says:

    Thank you so much for this thoughtful, biblical and level-headed article. I appreciate the humility w/which you express your thoughts. As a believer who was raised in a charismatic church and now attends a church that is part of the RCA (Reformed Church of America), I have recently been exploring the scriptures and other books to understand the TRUE role of the Holy Spirit in my life today. I can’t tell you how difficult it is to find balanced viewpoint re: the gifts of the Spirit. It seems most are firmly planted in their opposing views and some even site the same scriptures to support their “cause”! It saddens me that there is much divisiveness in this area, but my prayer is for more of us to do what you are doing and allow the conflicting views we hold to cause us to look with fresh eyes at those views. Continually going back to the Word with careful study to determine if our beliefs and practices are in line w/what God says and asking the Holy Spirit to help us understand what the Word says are so crucial to helping us all stay on the narrow road of Truth. Thanks again for having the courage to remind us to always measure ourselves to the plumb line of God’s Truth.

  52. […] *Recently, I came across this post and I deeply admired this brother, who describes himself as one who grows up in the Pentecostal movement, for embracing MacArthur’s points of view while reflecting upon himself with humbleness. His article: A Pentecostal in (General) Support of the Strange Fire Conference […]