Strange Fire...It won't have escaped the attention of either of my readers that John MacArthur is hosting a conference on the Charismatic Movement this week, called 'Strange Fire'. If you were in doubt, the title makes it clear that he's agin' it. By the wonders of modern technology - and they truly are wonders - we can all watch the conference 'livestream' if we choose - though for those of us here in the UK, the timing is awkward with some sessions beginning at 3a.m. GMT. (Having said that, Conrad Mbewe is speaking at 5pm GMT today - he's always worth watching.)
What's interesting to me, as a convinced cessationist, is the reaction of some really quite sane charismatic commentators: 'MacArthur shouldn't be doing this; he's dividing the body of Christ.' Even Adrian Warnock thinks that. (Adrian also quotes MacArthur while ignoring the context, and then defends himself for doing so. Even worse, one man in his comments plays the race card! Now we know that the charismatic movement is good - anybody who opposes it is like those who oppose racial equality. Note to anybody that's interested: THE MOMENT anybody plays the race card in a debate that's nothing to do with race, I lose all interest. It's like wearing a t-shirt that says 'I have no valid argument to make so shut yer face.')
It's interesting that when Charismatic churches (NFI, for example) and conferences hold meetings promoting charismatic theology, that seems to be a good thing. But let anyone speak out against it, and that's a bad thing. Are our charismatic friends becoming like some in the gay movement - wanting to stifle all debate, expecting all those who disagree to keep silent? Surely not. And yet...
The claims to renewed charismatic gifts in the church are either the biggest fraud to hit Christendom since infant baptism OR the greatest blessing to the church since apostolic days. I've no doubt which; I hope MacArthur and his fellow contributors are careful to make a good case.
One of my regular readers (hi, Martin, how are you doing?) thinks I give far too much attention to charismatic issues on this blog. He suspects that it's evidence I'm a repressed charismatic! (Funny - that's another tactic the gays tend to use...) Not repressed, brethren - recovering is the word. So, just in order to keep him happy - I'm working on a little series. Watch this space.