Posts Tagged ‘Strange Fire’

In October of 2013 John MacArthur hosted the Strange Fire Conference (followed quickly with the publication of a book by the same name). This re-ignited a serious debate among biblical Christians, one that split people within certain denominations and theological traditions while also uniting people of diverse denominations and theological traditions with one another.

The nature of the Strange Fire conference and book evoked a certain degree of outrage within Pentecostal and Charismatic circles. Having a great gift for remaining uncontroversial, I wrote a blog post titled “A Pentecostal in (General) Support of the Strange Fire Conference.” This blog, much to my surprise, drew a lot of attention. John MacArthur himself positively quoted it in an interview he did with Tim Challies. My guiding conviction in that post was that, while I believe the gifts have continued, they need to be exercised and practiced biblically. Far too often continuationism has provided cover for every kind of abuse, absurdity, and at times even heresy.

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Dear Pentecostals and Charismatics,

If you know me, you know I am one of you. I am an associate pastor at a Pentecostal church. I volunteer with Chi Alpha, the Assemblies of God college ministry. A Pentecostal church was founded in my paternal grandmother’s home. At times I have even undertaken to defend our doctrines from cessationist critics.

Yet I’m an awkward Pentecostal. I don’t really fit in very well. I stand between two families of Christians, Pentecostals and charismatics on one hand, and my more reformed Baptist and Presbyterian brothers and sisters on the other hand. This is not a normal place to be. My reformed friends find my belief in the gifts a curiosity, an enigma, an outlier and anomaly. My Pentecostal and charismatic friends find my Calvinism to be strange, if not antithetical to Pentecostalism itself. This despite the fact that the Pentecostal and charismatic movements have always been highly ecumenical, spanning denominational boundaries and finding homes in a vast array of theological contexts.

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