Thomas Schreiner reviews Strange Fire
Over at The Gospel Coalition, Thomas Schreiner, Professor of New Testament at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and contributor to Credo Magazine, gives his review of John MacArthur’s new book, Strange Fire: The Danger of Offending the Holy Spirit with Counterfeit Worship. Here is how Schreiner begins:
In 1992 John MacArthur wrote Charismatic Chaos, and now he has issued a new book on the movement that is equally critical. Anything the pastor of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, writes garners attention, since his preaching and writing ministry has affected and blessed so many over the years. The thesis of the book is evident from the title: Strange Fire: The Danger of Offending the Holy Spirit with Counterfeit Worship. MacArthur argues that the charismatic movement misrepresents and blasphemes the Holy Spirit, offering false worship instead of worship pleasing to God. He is concerned that so many today endorse or are passive about the charismatic movement, even though its influence is deleterious.
In using the word charismatic MacArthur refers to all three phases of the “charismatic” movement, so his indictment includes the Pentecostal movement inaugurated in the early part of the 20th century, the second wave of the 1960s and 1970s, and the third wave that began in the 1980s and continues to this day. He acknowledges there are exceptions to his indictment but maintains the movement as a whole is seriously flawed.
MacArthur calls upon readers to “test the spirits” (1 John 4:1), documenting the many abuses propagated by false teachers in the charismatic movement and focusing on the ministries of those like Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Joel Osteen, and so forth. He rightly indicts those who teach a prosperity gospel, where health and wealth are promised at the expense of the clear teaching of the Scriptures. MacArthur also recounts many examples of sin and immorality within the charismatic movement. For instance, he questions how Paul Cain could be a prophet since he struggled significantly with alcoholism and homosexuality.
Read the rest of Schreiner’s review at TGC.