Strange Fire: Every biblical argument refuted – Part Two

Strange Fire: Every biblical argument refuted – Part Two October 24, 2013

I must begin today with a shockingly offensieve quote from the book Strange Fire. My response to the Strange Fire Conference  is given yet more weight by this quote. Although there are a few places in the book where MacArthur does seek to nuance his assualt, places like this seem to make it clear that it really is the whole charismatic movement on which he elsewhere says he has declared war.

“It is a sad twist of irony that those who claim to be most focused on the Holy Spirit are in actuality the ones doing the most to abuse, grieve, insult, misrepresent, quench, and dishonor Him. How do they do it? By attributing to Him words He did not say, deeds He did not do, phenomena He did not produce, and experiences that have nothing to do with Him. They boldly plaster His name on that which is not His work.

In Jesus’ day, the religious leaders of Israel blasphemously attributed the work of the Spirit to Satan (Matt. 12:24). The modern Charismatic Movement does the inverse, attributing the work of the devil to the Holy Spirit. Satan’s army of false teachers, marching to the beat of their own illicit desires, gladly propagates his errors. They are spiritual swindlers, con men, crooks, and charlatans. We can see an endless parade of them simply by turning on the television. Jude called them clouds without water, raging waves, and wander- ing stars “for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever” (v. 13). Yet they claim to be angels of light—gaining credibility for their lies by invoking the name of the Holy Spirit, as if there’s no penalty to pay for that kind of blasphemy. . .

Put simply, charismatic theology has made no contribution to true biblical theology or interpretation; rather, it represents a deviant mutation of the truth. Like a deadly virus, it gains access into the church by maintaining a superficial connection to certain characteristics of biblical Christianity, but in the end it always corrupts and distorts sound teaching. The resulting degradation, like a doctrinal version of Frankenstein’s monster, is a hideous hybrid of heresy, ecstasy, and blasphemy awkwardly dressed in the tattered remnants of evangelical language. It calls itself “Christian,” but in reality it is a sham—a counterfeit form of spirituality that continually morphs as it spirals erratically from one error to the next. . .

The incredible irony is that those who talk the most about the Holy Spirit generally deny His true work. They attribute all kinds of human silliness to Him while ignoring the genuine purpose and power of His ministry: freeing sinners from death, giving them everlasting life, regenerating their hearts, transforming their nature, empowering them for spiritual victory, confirming their place in the family of God, interceding for them according to the will of God, sealing them securely for their eternal glory, and promising to raise them to immortality in the future. – John MacArthur, Strange Fire

It seems like an outrageous stretch to claim that we are somehow committing the inverse of what Jesus calls the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. But his main point here seems to be that we are running after the Holy Spirit in ways we should not. This leads to another biblical argument I must address, as the claim is that charismatics are overly obsessed by the Holy Spirit.

Argument: The Spirit draws attention to Jesus and not himself, so wouldn’t inspire the modern charismatic movement

“When the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me” (John 15:26).

Counter Argument: Firstly, who says the modern charismatic movement is obsessed with the Spirit and not Jesus? While that may be true in some cases, that is definitely nothing like universal.  The charismatics I know love Jesus, and are glorifying him in response to the work of the Spirit in their lives. Just as one example, we use the catchphrase “It’s all about Jesus” at our own church. But in any case, we would have to splice out of our Bibles the whole book of 1 Corinthians if the Spirit never inspired us to talk about and think about himself.


MacArthur’s next biblical argument is not fully developed in the part of the book I have read so far, but is one that is often used by cessationists:

Argument As “God is not god of disorder but peace” (1 Cor 14:33,40) charismatic meetings cannot be inspired by the Holy Spirit.

Counter Argument One of the first rules of interpreting Scripture is to pay attention to the context.  It is unbecoming of someone of the stature of MacArthur to ignore this so absolutely here. The God of order is a God who inspires all the gifts of the Spirit, and requires that all of them be done decently and in order. So to say that the presence of the very gifts of the Spirit discussed in the portion of the Bible which talks about order disproves that they are inspired by the same Spirit is ludicrous in the extreme,


Argument: There is No biblical evidence for falling over in response to the Spirit

Counter Argument:Without claiming that every modern case is genuinely caused by the Holy Spirit, there are biblical verses that suggest a similar phenomena (these include trance-states, and that like many instances of the modern phenomena, in some cases this is a voluntary response to the presence of God):  Genesis 15:12, Genesis 17:3, Genesis 17:17,Leviticus 9:24, Numbers 16:4, Numbers 16:22, Numbers 20:6, Joshua 5:14, Joshua 7:6, Judges 13:20, 1 Samuel 4:18, 1 Samuel 28:20, 1 Kings 18:39, 1 Chronicles 21:16, 2 Chronicles 20:18, Job 1:20, Ezekiel 1:28, Ezekiel 3:23, Daniel 8:18, Daniel 10:9, Daniel 10:7, Matthew 2:11, Matthew 17:6, Matthew 26:39, Mark 5:6, Mark 5:22, Mark 5:33, John 11:32, Acts 10:10, Acts 22:7, Revelation 1:17, Revelation 5:8, Revelation 5:14, Revelation 7:11, Revelation 11:16, Acts 22:17, Genesis 15:12, 1 Samuel 26:12

Interestingly, MacArthur later cites the case of Jonathan Edwards who recognised that strange things sometimes accompanied the moving of the Holy Spirit, and, like many charismatics today was less interested in whehter someone had falled over, than in the impaact on them and the evidence of a changed life:

Edwards argued with his usually lucid logic that intense physical phenom- ena such as “tears, trembling, groans, loud outcries, agonies of body or the failing of bodily strength” did not prove anything one way or the other about the legitimacy of a revival. He did not think that a time of extraordinary gifts of the Holy Spirit had arrived, so he denied (contrary both to some radicals of his day and to later Pentecostals) that ecstatic signs were the best evidence of a true outpouring of the Holy Spirit. At the same time, he insisted, neither were overwhelming emotional outbursts evidences against the presence of the Holy Spirit. . . . The real tests or “distinguishing marks” of a genuine work of the Spirit of God had nothing to do with such dramatic effects or lack thereof. Rather, these tests were found in the changed lives of those who were now living according to the dictates of the gospel and manifested the traits and virtues of true Christians

(cited in John MacArthur, Strange Fire)

MacArthur restates Edwards famous marks of a genuine move of the Spirit as follows:

We might frame these tests from 1 John 4:2–8 in the form of five ques- tions: (1) Does the work exalt the true Christ? (2) Does it oppose worldliness? (3) Does it point people to the Scriptures? (4) Does it elevate the truth? (5) Does it produce love for God and others?

Like all charismatics I know personally, I would agree with those tests. And, I believe that the majority of the moves of God that I have witnessed myself would pass those tests. I would also agree with the bulk of MacArthur’s many criticisms against both some of the historical early pentecostals, and many of the charismatics he has in his sights. The thing is though, not every charismatic and pentecostal movement today has a connection to those early founders. These phenomena and beliefs have a habit of springing up independently all over the place as people come to the Bible honestly, and seek God. Secondly, the very fact that we are told to test the spirits, implies that on occasion there will be something genuine going on. Oddly, I suspect that MacArthur would give Jonathan Edwards a “pass” for the odd things that happened in his time, but he seems highly reluctant to give any modern charismatic a similar pass. It is not fair to blame every charismatic for the excesses and failures of some.

I have now read over a fifth of the book, and there really have been surprisingly few biblical arguments so far. I should say of course, that I have not listed any arguments against the so-called “Word of Faith” or “Prosperity” teachings, as I do not view them as core charismatic values but an aberration. There will be more to come!



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  • Young Calvinist

    Can someone please explain why Charismatics – from my observations ALWAYS – fall on their backs? Are there Charismatics who fall on their faces?

    Adrian, some of your references are about falling asleep or falling on their faces not about Charismatic style of falling on their back. From the list I identified only one which refers to falling backwards: “As soon as he mentioned the ark of God, Eli fell over backward from his seat by the side of the gate, and his neck was broken and he died, for the man was old and heavy. He had judged Israel forty years.” 1 Samuel 4:18 (ESV).

    • Trezire Reforma

      See the Bible do not define any manifestation as how should it be. My problem with falling on the back is, why someone would need such a fall on the back? And second question, what effect would have such a thing over a person that practice such a thing? Is that edifying the falling person? But more then that for me a penticostal, gathering a mega church for falling on the back cannot be called revival because anyone goes there to fall on the back. For me I understand revival as an act of Holy Spirit where people become broken because their sins and repent.

    • David L Rattigan

      When I was a Pentecostal, I fell forward a few times. I think someone caught me.

  • Jeremy Gomez

    There are two possible reasons, one is economical and the other is about proximity.
    The first one, since there is an increase of manufactured foods and an unfortunate rise in obesity it could be that modern man’s behinds are now heavier from the increase in fatty foods. This leads to more weight on the back, therefore we fall backwards.

    The second point is that since the spirit moves in congregational meetings and often during times of prayer, they is another person in closer proximity to catch the person when they fall forwards and place them on their backs.

    I’ve seen charismatics fall on their faces before, i’ve seen people who would be embarrassed of falling, falling in the spirit.
    Speaking seriously, I dont think Adrian’s point is that in these biblical references they fall exactly the same way as many charismatics do but rather that there are biblical references of when people fall (either way) under the influence of the spirit.

    • Young Calvinist

      I like your witty remark regarding falling, but I do not see biblical justification for falling backwards – except for 1 Samuel 4:18 (which is a bad example as the man dies).

      • Jeremy Gomez

        Im glad you liked it 🙂
        I think the essential bit of this discussion is that there is biblical justification for people falling under the influence of the Holy Spirit. The direction they fall in is superficial, the core issue is the falling. To deny that theres biblical justification for the core issue over a superficial issue, i think is unfair.
        If it was more common to fall forward, would you feel more comfortable exegetically? I dont think MacArthur would feel any more comfortable.
        I hope this helps

        • Young Calvinist

          If people were falling forward, at least it would give a whiff of biblical credibility to Charismatic claims about being ‘slain in the Spirit’.

          • Jeremy Gomez

            I do think you’re getting more of a whiff by seeing people in the scriptures falling.
            I think on this issue you are being over critical and arguing against something that has biblical foundations.

            But listen, this is one of many things that members of the church have disagreed on. I think my main concern with what i’ve seen so far with MacArthur is his dismissal of charismatics as sincere believers .

            I hope you don’t feel like that, as i believe 1) there is justification. 2) a love, trusting and following of Jesus is the definition of the believer, and we shouldnt dismiss each other over this issue

          • Young Calvinist

            I followed the conference closely, as I was ill during the weekend. Not even once I was under impression that speakers dismissed 100% of continuationalists as unbelievers. They always made a point to highlight that there are elect also among the Charismatics.

          • Trezire Reforma

            Most of videos I’ve seen made me get the impression that they were very subjective. That statement that charismatic do zero social work is totally pride and dishonest. It’s even a lie. How can explain J.M. over 500.000.000 Pentecostals/charismatics in the world? Who evangelized us? Did baptist came and preached the Gospel to us and we become Pentecostals? We have grown under communist rule and no missionary were allowed to come in the country. I still remember my grand-parents who repented after WWII under sever persecution. They did not have theology, music Church programs, but I can tell they had a Bible and prayed every morning almost one hour and after a hard labor day again before sleep. To hear from J.M. that most of us are not saved it’s humiliating at least in my case, the memory of many Pentecostal pioneers who fought for their faith and many paid with their life or many years of prison. Likewise, J.M. polarize most of his conclusions on SUA Christianity, while there are millions of Christians in total other contexts, where suffering, tears and brokenness are daily realities.

      • I don’t see biblical justification for communicating God’s word via an electronic device, therefore I guess it must be wrong.


        Sorry, am I missing something in your question? People fall because their legs become weak under the physically-palpable weight of God’s presence. I’ve had it happen to me many times. I don’t think it’s a fall forward vs. backward thing — everyone is different. 🙂

        • Young Calvinist

          So have you ever seen people falling forward on their faces “under the physically-palpable weight of God’s presence”?

    • Donna Carlaw

      If the pastor pushes me down, saying that I was slain in the Spirit, can I push him down, too, and claim the anointing?

    • Actually, many times the falling in the Bible is in no sense caused by the Spirit but is rather a legitimate response to the presence of God. Can’t see why people shouldn’t do that today any less than, say kneeling. I do think that pushing people over is totally wrong, as is seeking the falling rather than seeking God.

  • Thomas Rem

    I know GOD never changes , But yes i agree completely GOD will fill
    someone with joy fully. John 15:11 These things have I spoken unto
    you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.
    Isaiah 12:2-3 Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be
    afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is
    become my salvation.Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the
    wells of salvation.

    for GOD to give them joy so full they shows they
    are saved, can they stand yes because faith means to trust and if they
    trust they will be given strength and a song to apply that overflowing
    joy and Likewise we read

    Ephesians 5:18-19,21 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

    and latter we find Isaiah 11:2 And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;

    The fruit of the spirit Joy and peace is very important but in the whole counsel of the spirit we see the fruits gentleness and temperance/self-control under attack plus the Fear of the LORD and strength of GOD is brought to mockery , for even in Pentecost the mouths were open all speaking at once while sitting even peter stood up under the first and greatest anointing, Yet we see in scripture sighted in this article all those who are friends of GOD were allowed to worship in front of GOD with there face toward his face(presence) ; yet all the enemies were driven backward to the ground and hurt ; for we see that this is a spiritual battle the power of GOD in the kingdom of GOD vs the kingdom of Satan so we must look at these great moves of GOD as a battlefield for the lost that are totally depraved and there human will is enslaved by satan , so chaos is understandable…. If this is wrong correct me

  • Donna Carlaw

    You are still shockingly missing the point. What about Benny Hinn? Sheesh, Adrian. Look at what you do not want to see. Go ahead. Refute every word that MacArthur said. Benny Hinn and his ilk will still be the face of the Charismatic movement, and you and your friends will still be speaking in an echo chamber.

    You have jumped on the bandwagon of a man who was heavily involved in the Brownsville false revival. Now maybe he has gotten himself turned around and has distanced himself from those excesses. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt, but your outrage is misguided, still.

    • Young Calvinist

      I am under the impression that Adrian thinks that his position and one of his church affiliation Jubilee/NewFrontiers are the face of Charismatic Christianity. In fact these groups are tiny and a fringe of a Charismatic movement. This is why the response from the Charismatic fringe is so astounding.

      • Donna Carlaw

        Yes, Young Calvinist. Adrian and his friends are the Charismatic fringe, and Hinn is the Charismatic mainstream. You know, I’m a cross cultural missionary. That means that my husband and I did the hard work of learning a language and culture of a people no from our original culture. I get around. I am not speaking from a position of ignorance. I weep for the sheep who are dying of hunger because of the false Charismatic movement that has metastacized worldwide.

        So many sheep without, so many wolves within – Augustine

        • Young Calvinist

          Whereabouts in the world are you as a missionary? 🙂

          • Donna Carlaw

            We were in Chile for 13 years – from ’83-96. We are part of a mission that ministers to the poor worldwide, and we are mostly cessationist. One of our main ministries is pastoral leadership development. We try to provide Biblically sound, theologically sound materials to very poor pastors, as well as church planting and discipleship training. One of our PDL teams just got back from Uganda and South Sudan.

            We also have children’s homes, ministries to street children, ministries to children at risk, and so forth, even vocational training and agricultural support. My main focus for the last 10 years has been evangelism among children in the Yucatan and Cuba. I see great need, and I also see many wolves. No, not all of them are Charismatic.

          • Young Calvinist

            Thank you for sharing the story. 🙂

        • Thomas Rem

          it is true that the gate is narrow, so very few true shepherds/leaders but so many saved true sheep !

          Revelation 7:9 After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could
          number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood
          before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and
          palms in their hands. i wish they would be filled with the honey mustard wholeweat bread,lamb and fish with wine and water to drink in this candlelight more often yes the whole counsel of GOD and his word! Yes friends come in this house built on a rock with such delights i have prepared inside

      • Donna Carlaw

        I realize that most of the strange fire that MacArthur is talking about comes from the US, my country. So maybe it is not fair to ask Brits to address a problem that is coming out of the US. Still, I had hoped for better. I’ll keep praying. 🙂

    • Thomas Rem

      How ironic MacArthur no prophecy no healing no miracles but yes the gift of discernment is still for today , wait a minute hes using a gift to say no gifts? if not how does he dicern?

      • Donna Carlaw

        Well, Thomas, could it be that you are setting up a straw man argument?

        • Thomas Rem

          ya maybe your right i am not keen on debating ,Does he discern by the bible or the gift of the spirit ? if hes a cessationist by the bible right/

          • Donna Carlaw

            Hi, Thomas,

            Here is some of what he says about the spiritual gift of discernment. What do you think?

            “discerning of spirits(v.10)—Satan is the great deceiver (John 8:44) and his demons counterfeit God’s message and work. Christians with the gift of discernment have the God-given ability to recognize lying spirits and to identify deceptive and erroneous doctrine (see Acts 17:11; 1 John 4:1).”

            “Those to whom God has given the gift of discernment have a special ability to recognize lying spirits, and this gift is the Spirit’s watchdog. Some ideas that are given as scriptural and that on the surface seem scriptural actually are clever counterfeits that would deceive most believers. Those with the gift of discernment are the Holy Sprit’s inspectors, His counterfeit experts to whom He gives special insight and understanding. The gift was especially valuable in the early church because the New Testament had not been completed. Because of the difficulty and expense of copying, for many years after its completion the Bible was not widely available. The Holy Spirit’s discerners were the church’s protectors.”


          • Sandra Saunders Traw

            Well…since we are expanding ideas…here is one. Donna as you said the Holy Spirit imparted to the church the decerning of spirits from the time of her foundation. The Church herself discerned the canon we have for the Holy Scriptures. At the time of the reformation…a turn was made that now said everything was contained in scripture…that scripture interpreted scripture and that interpretesion was given to each person individually. That thought has now resulted in what I have been reading in this “beating one another to a bloody pulp” in these last weeks. Now for Protestants there is no central teaching order within the church to take this all to “task” as it were. Now having heard NOTHING positive regarding the Roman or Orthodox churches…I have the take a look at The Magesterium….or the teaching body of their church and the history go the Fathers ….and I mean the EARLY church fathers to find some documentation about what the early church believed. This bickering back and forth means NADA….what did the early I mean EARLY church led by the Spirit of God ….and empowered to choose truth have to say

          • Donna Carlaw

            Where are you coming from? No one has said anything about the Roman or Orthodox churches. If you want me to say something, I’d ask when the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary became dogma of the Church? It is a recent dogma, and there is nothing about the veneration of Mary in the NT. Go back to the NT. That is where we need to be, and then judge everything by that teaching magisterium if you will.

  • Trezire Reforma

    Although I personally cannot see any kind of reconciliation with J.M. theology, especially in reference at the Holy Spirit, many claims he make are right at a certain extent. It is true that many of us do not want to stand and condemn abuses, money laundry, false prophets, manipulation and so much stupid teachings that were spread from USA to the ends of the earth. I see coming in Romania, where I live, things that are exaggerations. For a hundred years of Pentecostalism we did not need so many thing that are imported now, music, dancing, rock, etc. Maybe his book is an exaggeration that will act as a sounding alarm to many Pentecostals/charismatics that will take thing more seriously. Why not a Pentecostal reformation? Or charismatic reformation?

  • James

    How Jesus healed, at the time, was not scriptural. What happened in Acts 2 when the spirit came like wind and fire, at the time, was not scriptural. Did they stop and say “hold on guys, lets just check our scrolls to see if this is correct”? No! They understood this to be a move of God and acted accordingly, God started something new, why would he stop it? Answer, He didn’t. But we do need to make sure it is a move of God and not something else. Is J.M.’s views an over reaction to the excesses that can happen?

    And as for publicly bashing a group of believers for their views, shame on him, the only people I see doing that in the bible where the pharisees!

    • Ron Cash

      You said, “How Jesus healed, at the time, was not scriptural” Just not true, it was mentioned in scripture many times:

      “For the heart of this people has become dull,
      With their ears they scarcely hear,
      And they have closed their eyes,
      Otherwise they would see with their eyes,
      Hear with their ears,
      And understand with their heart and return,
      And I would heal them.’ Isaiah

      You said, “hold on guys, lets just check our scrolls to see if this is correct.”

      “Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.”

      “Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures”

      Caution: Read the WOG before speaking error!!
      What are you thinking? Better yet, “What are you reading? Do you own a Bible?

      • James

        Thank you Ron for your reply.
        Firstly, I read the Bible daily.
        Secondly, I would like to clarify my statement above. I wrote “How..”, I’m not stating Jesus didn’t heal, just how he healed, for example, (John 9:1-7) Jesus spat on some mud and put it on the eyes of a blind man, spitting in Jesus time was a curse and therefore could be seen as Jesus “cursing” the blind mans eyes, I would suggest He was cursing the blindness. Also, on the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit came like a roaring wind and flames touched those who were there in the upper room. Both cases hadn’t happened before and are not in the Old Testament and therefore, at the time of their happening, were not scriptural.
        My point is that Jesus not only came to correct the people, heal the sick and save us, but to do things differently showing that we cannot put God into a box!

  • Ron Cash

    Interesting references you list concerning what is now a days called, “slaying in the spirit”. Not one of the verses you sight mention the Holy Spirit. Go figure? Guess that would be proof that the modern day practice is indeed “Strange Fire”! And yes I have seen first hand the modern day practice. VERY Strange Fire!! And the Holy Spirit within me testified that it was indeed Strange Fire!! And quite perverted at that!

    Is that the best you got?

    I will stick with the Holy Spirit inspired WOG, instead of some made up mumbo jumbo.

  • Guest

    Adrian, I am really disappointed. I was hoping for a much deeper analysis and rebuttal. I am really interested in seeing a biblical response to MacArthur’s conference, and I was looking forward to your argument. Your first post was one that I was hoping would go well, but …… hmm no real nice way to say it.
    This post, your second attempt, is not really a rebuttal!

    Argument #1 – Was not really a rebuttal to MacArthur’s teaching nor was it a Biblical response to push against his view, instead you should be applauding him, and also suggesting that yes there are churches that do. Praise God if yours does!

    Argument #2 – I dont understand how you come to your conclusion! If the Spirit gifts people, wouldnt He also inspire people so that the gifts would be used appropriately? Also if the Spirit points to truth especially in the scriptures, than anyone practicing the gifts should be seeking to do it in an orderly way. Can i also add a little personal note. Many services I have been to (I’m in Australia and most of the services I went to are pastored by one of the top leaders of AOG church Australia, and one that was heavily involved in training and sending people out, probably with the same practices) involve the disorder MacArthur talks about, when mentioning order to the ministers in these types of church services, they brush it off and encourage chaos. MacArthur has a strong point!

    Argument #3 – There were no instances in this that actually showed your point. In fact the scriptures also say all people (saved and unsaved) will bend the knee before Jesus (Is 45:23, Rom 14:11, Phil 2:10), does that therefore mean they are Spirit filled or even Christians? Worship of the Lord, also Angels in the Bible happens as people bow down in worship, fall to the ground out of respect and honor, with a deep acknowledgement of their personal unworthiness to be in the presence of something Holy!

    May I ask that if you continue in this pursuit, give an objective, clear point to the argument, and consider outlining your argument carefully, and reference where you are getting MacArthurs arguments, so when we can get a copy of the book, or check with the recordings of the conference we can look up where you are referencing to make sure we are informed when considering your arguments.

    Many thanks and God Bless

    • I’m just trying to show that there is nothing in this book that is an unanswerable biblical argument against the charismatic position. So far I’ve read almost half the book and there are actually remarkable few attempts to disprove what we actually believe there are.

      • Adrian –

        I’d probably also add that, where he does present arguments, even from Scripture, they very much fail on an exegetical effort. He even still argues things like 1 Cor 13:8-12 and 2 Cor 12:12. Most cessationists have abandoned the 1 Cor 13 argument, and I think many misunderstand 2 Cor 12. I’ve pointed out in this article how cessationists wrongly approach some of the major biblical passages they point to.

  • What is very interesting to me is how many over-emphasize the one passage in regards to “order,” and we think this somehow supports a particular kind of “order” established within western, upper middle-class evangelicalism. You focused on the context of 1 Cor 14, but here is something I think we fail to note as well.

    I’m always struck when I read in Scripture and see folks walked around nude, married a sexually unfaithful woman, cooked bread over poop, Jesus used spit & mud to heal, Jesus sat with prostitutes, handkerchiefs & aprons were used for healing, people spoke in languages they had not learned & others labelled them drunk, the Spirit falls on a group of people before Peter can finish his sermon, buildings shake, people are teleported, etc, etc.

    How about that for the order prescribed by us nice & tidy folk?!

    Now, I’m not advocating that we go bonkers. But I am noting that God’s order doesn’t always fit within our prescribed desires. In the end, when God moves, it isn’t so nice & tidy. He’s repairing some very broken folk like I. It can take some shaking to do so. Of course, many will remind us that there are only a few strange instances in Scripture, but firstly, we need to at least remember that they are there in Scripture. Secondly, when most of the major actions of God are done through 1 or 2 specific folks in each successive generation written of in Scripture, you’d expect a low number. And even in Acts as the rule of God expands, we start gaining some ground. But, nowadays, we’re looking at estimates of 2 billion Christian in the Earth. I’m thinking we’ve got to widen our eyes a little more than within our own slice of the pie and see God is doing some great things across varying cultures, peoples, nations and continents. The comparing of numbers from a few folk to a few thousand to 2 billion calls for us to rethink the “numbers argument”.

    I’m glad God doesn’t ask my permission of what is acceptable. The cross is foolishness par excellence. I’d also expect many to think much of what God does is foolish.

  • In reading the comments, I’ve seen some talk about whether falling backwards is “biblical”. Now, I’m not opposed to thinking this through in light of Scripture – of course we do this. But do we really think this is as simple as saying: Well, the Bible doesn’t show anyone doing it, so then that means it isn’t of God at all.

    I think this comes out of some kind of mindset that says: If we can determine exactly what those first Christians did, and then emulate it, we’ll be doing God’s will exactly.

    As far as I can tell, that’s not a solid, holistic approach to developing a robust theology. Otherwise, we’d be noting that the first Christians were being used in prophecy, miracles, hearings, etc, and we’d hopefully want to imitate that as well. But everyone functions within some kind of trajectory, including cessationists with regards to certain gifts of the Spirit. And others have a trajectory with tithing, foot-washing, head coverings, women in leadership, etc. A healthy theology is more than perusing Scripture for a verse to tell us exactly what to do.

    Also, if it’s all about finding one verse to support one particular action, then we’ve got A LOT of problems with a lot of what we do. Trust me when I say that our western, evangelical services look very little like those of the first century. Still, the main thing to note is that’s actually ok. I’d expect 21st century westerners to walk things out a bit differently than 1st century middle-easterners. And I’d expect the same difference between, say, 21st century westerners and 21st century Africans. The dress, the songs, the movements, the liturgy, etc, will take some different shape.

    We’ve got to be careful to argue: Well, the Bible doesn’t it say it, so that means it’s wrong. The argument holds very little water.

  • John B


    Just a thought that I think is telling and reveals just how out of touch the Strange FIre folk are with our “movement”. Almost every Hymn that was sung at the conference was also routinely sung at my Pentecostal church I was part of for 35 years. These Hymns were standard for the Pentecostal denomination I am part of. Just a thought.

  • Martin Smith

    I don’t know about this John MacArthur guy, but I remember where it all started, let me take you back in time …

    ~~~~~~> to the Kansas City profits, whoops, Prophets. That Charismatic movement ended as a total farce, in the end a “prophet” would stand on stage and guess the phone numbers of members of the audience… I don’t say random members of the audience, because of course they could not do that. LOL…. OH THE ANOINTING.

    ~~~~~~> a little later we have the Toronto Vineyard, another choice “Move of God”, which n the end degenerated into members of the audience making animal noises. Yes, THE LORD GOD WAS RUNNING A BARNYARD SIMULATION IN CHURCH. oh the newness, oh the freshness.

    ~~~~~~> only a few years ago, the Charismatics unleash Todd Bentley, a man covered head to toe with tattoos. It turns out that GOD TOLD HIM TO DO IT. God also told him to kick an old woman in the head, he also routinely heard from angels and could not keep his p**** in his pants.

    About time someone called these people out.

  • Sandra Saunders Traw

    Well…since we are expanding ideas…here is one. Donna as you said the Holy Spirit imparted to the church the decerning of spirits from the time of her foundation. The Church herself discerned the canon we have for the Holy Scriptures. At the time of the reformation…a turn was made that now said everything was contained in scripture…that scripture interpreted scripture and that interpretesion was given to each person individually. That thought has now resulted in what I have been reading in this “beating one another to a bloody pulp” in these last weeks. Now for Protestants there is no central teaching order within the church to take this all to “task” as it were. Now having heard NOTHING positive regarding the Roman or Orthodox churches…I have the take a look at The Magesterium….or the teaching body of their church and the history go the Fathers ….and I mean the EARLY church fathers to find some documentation about what the early church believed. This bickering back and forth means NADA….what did the early I mean EARLY church led by the Spirit of God ….and empowered to choose truth have to say

    • Donna Carlaw

      Where are you coming from? No one has said anything about the Roman or Orthodox churches. If you want me to say something, I’d ask when the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary became dogma of the Church? It is a recent dogma, and there is nothing about the veneration of Mary in the NT. Go back to the NT. That is where we need to be, and then judge everything by that teaching magisterium if you will.

      I would also inform you that the RC church has been well known for literally beating people into bloody pulps. Not sure why you would want to remind Protestants of that. As for the Orthodox, unfortunately that one true church never showed up in my neighborhood, so you will have to forgive me if I was reached for Christ through the ministry of a Sweedish Baptist Church.

      I’m not sure what Adrian is discussing, but he seems to be working out something that is bothering him.

      As for John MacArthur and the conference that sparked all of this discussion, – which you call beating one another to a bloody pulp – he is wondering why we just let guys like Benny Hinn roam the planet, hijacking the Charismatic movement, without barely even saying a peep. I wonder that myself.

      In the meantime, Hinn has preached to untold millions in places like India.

      • Sandra Saunders Traw

        Hey, Donna….I don’t recall mentioning anything about the doctrines you brought forth. Nor do I in re-reading my post see any of those things referred to in any of the previous posts. I think students of history will admit there were horrible atrocities done by the Catholic AND horrible atrocities done to her. These were certainly not the issues that I have been seeing addressed here. Again, it is this hyper-reaction and assumptions that prevent communication at every level. If you have been following this, you surely realize that it has been an ugly site to follow as one group throws a left punch as the other returns a right. I am well aware of Doctrines of those churches….that however, was not the point That I hoped would be heard. The early church and early fathers were able to work through some basic doctrines and fight off great heresy by the power of the Holy Spirit and yet here we are today……so many years later….Who rules on these matters of faith? I am saying that for myself church history and the writings of those EARLY Fathers of the faith are extremely important and one that I had not heard anyone refer to…..I suggested it as a point of expanding knowledge…..NOT getting into another fight…”Well I quests you could have Charismatic Catholics…..NOW that would be the worst of the worst!! I guess my point was proven in this post….for the moment I mentioned something that could be in anyway construed to be catholic or orthodox in nature….the conversation immediately went for what was immediately assumed to be a Catholic jugular!….

        • Donna Carlaw

          Hi, Sandra,

          I had and still have no idea where you are coming from. You brought in Catholicism and Orthodox churches. Not sure why. Still not sure.

          Not sure why you called me out in your first post.

          I mean, why not just join in. What references to the early church fathers are you talking about? It would be interesting, I think.

          The worst of the worst? Witch doctors pretending to be preachers of the Gospel and having sex with the women who have been deceived by them is right up there. Conrad Mbewe spoke about that at the Strange Fire Conference.

          The corruption of the Gospel message is probably the very worst.

          Part of the difficulty is that the Conference was mainly about one thing, and the discussion is mainly about something else. The guys want to discuss the finer points of doctrine and theology, which is fine.

          • Sandra Saunders Traw

            I have found it amazing in reading writings from the early church Fathers…going as far back as Polycarp who studied under St. John…following on down just how many times they had to stand against heresy in the early church. What did they do to address the heresies… did they deal with early threats to the Gospel. Your question as to why I would mention those churches has to do with the fact they have an administrative difference very distinct from what I see today. There certainly was a point in time when that difference was extremely important.. In selecting scriptures …defining the Trinity among a few. In other words each person there did not pray individually and ask The Lord to reveal to them which books they should accept…I became a Christian in 1972… Each year I see more and more “Lone Rangers”…starting independent works with accountability to only those they choose. I have been reading the re-formed/non-reformed charismatics write. I have been listening to this doctrine vs that doctrine. I’ve even read on this site that some should be treated as JW or Mormons because the God they worship is not the God we worship!! It is all very sad to me! There certainly isn’t the fellowship across denominational lines that I enjoyed in the early 70’s. Maybe I just have this horrible feeling that while all this time an energy. ( including me) is spent on this I could be getting on with life….there was some reason that I addressed my first response to you…”but truthfully….I have long forgot the point I wanted to make. I’ll leave it up to you all to figure this out

          • Donna Carlaw

            Well, I have personal reasons for being interested in this subject, but what you say is spot on, IMO, if I am finally catching your drift. I will refer to the subject at hand, the Strange Fire Conference. MacArthur’s main point was about why Evangelicals as a whole do not stand up to the false Charismatic movement which is eating its way through Evangelicalism worldwide.

            I see no interest at this site, with a few exceptions, to even respond to that. I see a lot of quibbling over this or that point of doctrine, while the wolves are freely feeding on the sheep and redefining Christianity. The blog owner freely admits that these are secondary doctrines, and I agree.

            What about the big picture? It’s too painful to even look at. I’m reminded of the quote from A Few Good Men. “You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth. ”

            I hope I understood you this time. One of the pastors who helped me a lot on a certain subject was Chrysostom. I love those old guys.


        • Donna Carlaw

          YES! My initial response was stupid! Sorry about that, Sandra. Good points, actually.