Here is James White’s thoughts on the Strange Fire Conference…Skip to the 50:33 mark
My last post on the MacArthur’s Strange Fire conference seems to have gotten a few people going on Twitter. Some are questioning how I can write the post I did without having actually watched the whole of the conference. I have a difficult time understanding how watching the entirety of the conference relates to what I had written. I admit that I have not watched the whole of the conference however the purpose of my post was not to comment on the content of the conference but to point out the reaction that the conference has had upon many people on the internet. I had read at least a dozen reviews of the conference that were, to my knowledge, accurate representations of what went on at the conference. With that said, I still was interested at some of the critiques that were address towards MacArthur even some that were written prior to the conference beginning. My point in the last article was that people were arguing that MacArthur didn’t have any desire to dialogue with continuationalists on this issue even while invited by Christians such as Michael Brown. I felt that having a dialogue, not necessarily at the conference, would be helpful to point out that not all charismatics are heretics (such as John Piper or Sam Storms). I also felt that come charismatics were being unfair in their representation of MacArthur since some of the guest speakers were posting articles that were explicitly stating that they didn’t lump Piper, Storms, Mahaney and the like with Word of Faith Preachers. My whole point was that both sides were speaking past each other and a dialogue between two representatives could clarify these issues.
With all this said, I will add that a healthy debate between brethren of both camps would be very useful to everyone. The Proverb tells us that The first to plead his case seems right, Until another comes and examines him (Proverbs 18:17) and it would be useful to have an in-house discussion. Dr. James White has even offered to mediate such a discussion between two representative parties on his radio show. I would even invite two representatives to do it in written form on this blog if they are interested in doing so.
I also wanted to mention that I read another article this evening on the conference by Trevin Maxx which I felt worthwhile to mention. Maxx points out well the right way and wrong way to address this whole circus.
One final note, Twitter conversations are not exactly my preference when it comes to discussing some of these items. I have a comments section on this blog that allow more that 120 characters hence if you wish to reply, please feel free to use the comments.
The Strange Fire Conference was held last week at Grace Community Church in Southern California. The conference was put on by none other than Dr. John MacArthur who is the Senior Pastor of GCC. The purpose of the conference was an attempt to promote the cessationist view of the gifts of the Spirit especially in light of the growing movement in places all over the world. The official Strange Fire website describes it as followed:
Strange Fire is a conference that will set forth what the Bible really says about the Holy Spirit, and how that squares with the charismatic movement. We’re going to address in a biblical, straightforward manner what many today see as a peripheral issue. On the contrary, your view of the Holy Spirit influences your relationship with God, your personal holiness, and your commitment to the church and evangelism.
Guest speakers at the conference included Dr. MacArthur, R.C. Sproul, Steve Lawson, Conrad Mbewe, Justin Peters, Todd Friel and several others. The conference was a three day event that attracted a large audience (approximately 3000 people) not to mention those who were able to watch via live stream. The conference is a predecessor to a new book by Dr. MacArthur that is going to be made available this November.
Needless to say this conference didn’t sit well with many individuals among the charismatic community who are arguing that MacArthur is being divisive. What has especially seemed to have drawn some criticism is that MacArthur has been accused of lumping all charismatics into the same pot and attacking godly men who hold to continuationalism. Still, others seem to think that MacArthur is just plain wrong about his cessationist view. Michael Brown, a well known continuationist wrote:
For a man of his stature, a man who has done so much good for the Body of Christ, this is a tragic error, a decided step in the wrong direction, and a rejection of both the testimony of the written Word and the work of the Spirit today. (Source)
Names such as John Piper, Sam Storms, Wayne Grudem and many others were said to be included in the same category as Creflo Dollar, Benny Hinn and Kenneth Copeland. There have been several accusations of failing to differentiate godly Christian teachers from heretics.
Brian Borgman has done a number of great series on various theological doctrines and his preaching is certainly worth looking into. While he has done a series in the past on the doctrines of grace, I saw on Monergism that he has posted a new version of this series. It is a more complete version and I thought it would be worth sharing with you all.
Please also feel free to visit our theology section on the doctrines of grace to find further resources on these precious truths! I especially recommend John Piper’s series on T.U.L.I.P.
There are ongoing discussions and debates going on amongst those who hold to Calvinism and profess a reformed theological heritage. Those dialogues are being addressed on various subjects and they are being conducted with respect and with a goal to shed light on these issues. One of the current subjects being addressed goes back, in essence, to the differences between the Westminster Confession of Faith and the 1689 London Baptist Confession. The topic being scrutinized is the different understanding of what is called Covenant Theology. Many among the reformed circles understand that there is a difference between what is called Paedobaptism (or infant baptism) and credobaptism (believer’s baptism) but what many fail to understand or have not encountered is the significant differences in their understanding of the covenants. The differences between these two positions is not merely baptismal methodology but a significant difference in their understanding of Covenant Theology itself.
I ran into a website recently called 1689 Federalism which really makes a point to help people understand the differences between these two positions. It made me appreciate that there is a reason the 1689 London Baptist Confession was drawn up and that these differences in theology should be explored. I have not looked at the entire website so please approach with caution but for the most part they had some interesting thoughts on this important matter.
Also, on this website, I found this debate between Michael Horton who wrote a book (which I own) on covenant theology called “The God of Promise” representing the paedobaptist side and a Jeffrey Johnson who wrote “The Fatal Flaw” representing the credobaptist side. I have posted it to the debate section but thought I would also mention it here in case anyone is interested in learning more about this very important issue.
Please feel free to also to visit our theology section on Covenant Theology for more information.