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John MacArthur on Making an Informed Response to Strange Fire

Friday, October 25, 2013 | Comments (24)

Below are some helpful thoughts from John MacArthur on the aftermath of Strange Fire and how best to respond to the teaching from the conference.

As John mentioned, all the Strange Fire conference audio is now available to stream or download for free. The videos of those same sessions are coming soon, as are the sermon transcripts—free to you for viewing and sharing with others. Order your copy of Strange Fire here through our website, weeks before you can get it anywhere else.

Our goal with all those resources is to deepen your love for Scripture, to help you understand the true work of the Holy Spirit, and to expose the false teachers who twist God’s Word and abuse His people. We hope you’ll be encouraged and uplifted by the teaching from Strange Fire, and that both the teaching and the book will bear much spiritual fruit for years to come.

GTY Staff


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#1  Posted by David Owenby  |  Friday, October 25, 2013 at 10:31 AM

I grew up in Cleveland, TN and was exposed to this at a very young age, was "taught" how to speak in tongues when all I did was repeat exactly what the guy was telling me, but I had the gift... It amazes me that when you scratch the surface of the understanding of people involved in the charismatic movement, they have no support for their stance other than what they have been told or experienced aside from what is written definitively in the bible. They haven't read the scriptures, they have accepted a severely flawed teaching and that is a shame. It completely blows orthodox presuppositions and hermeneutics, GOD centered leadership/accountability/teaching/etc. and replaces it with human centered experience and second hand accounts with no credibility whatsoever. This movement will simply not stand the test of time and one day it will be read about and people will scratch their heads.

#2  Posted by George Canady  |  Friday, October 25, 2013 at 12:56 PM

Thank you GTY for this conference. Most of my family is in the worst of this Charismainia. Because of the publisity of Strange Fire, I have hope now that a conversation may start in my family. Even if an angry discussion breaks out, at least we are talking about it. Even if it turns out in the end that I was mistaken about some of it, I hope that they would know I was trying to save them from a life of disapointment and eternity in hell. I know it is hard to take the lead when the hard work of a real examination of the truth is so unpopular. I just think in the end we will all be glad that someone was brave enough to take the heat for this. Thanks John and the rest of you.

#3  Posted by Alvis R Travis  |  Friday, October 25, 2013 at 3:22 PM

This is for George Canady, I know now that I am not alone. Thank you brother for doing what we as Christians are called to do. I have as a youth pastor run into the same issues with family and friends. My wife was recently disowned by her own sister because of our view and stand on the "TRUTH" of God's word. She and I have been accused of being HATEFUL, POSTING HATE ON FACEBOOK, AND SHE IS AN EMBARRASSMENT TO THE FAMILY. I see scripture coming to life as we speak. The warnings of these very things in the Bible are what gives me hope. Be encouraged brother that you are doing the right thing. If we say we love them then we have no other choice but to tell them the TRUTH. In this day and age the TRUTH is not very popular but it is the TRUTH that changes lives. I pray that this message will encourage you as much as you have encouraged me. Your brother in CHRIST. Remember that we are not of this world and we will be hated for His names sake.

#4  Posted by Joseph Cribley  |  Friday, October 25, 2013 at 6:56 PM

I have been listening closely to these sermons and am awaiting a copy of the book. I feel that the arguments presented are actually quite solid and Word honoring. The problem is that from the time of my rebirth up until now I have been a part of a pentecostal denominational church. While I do know certainly that charismatic music is sang there, and it is a foundation doctrine of the Assemblies of God denomination to affirm the gift of tongues, I am quite convinced by the things that have been taught at Strange Fire. This is my dilemma, if I change my position I'm quite sure that my membership will become void. I love these people dearly; they do indeed love the Lord. It would hurt greatly if I had to leave them, but I am determined to honor God's Word regardless of the cost. I am requesting that anyone that reads this would please pray for me. I am doubtful I can convince my church to leave their denomination and in the past my questioning of such doctrines leads to a very defensive reaction. I am not sure what is going to happen, but I am determined to honor God, His Word and my Savior Jesus Christ.

#5  Posted by John Wolf  |  Friday, October 25, 2013 at 8:21 PM

Some Charismatics accuse John MacArthur of attacking anyone whom disagrees with him and his interpretations. This is a FALSE claim as John only attacks those whom teach another gospel. I have yet to hear or read John attacking David Jeremiah, Charles Stanley, Erwin Lutzer, and other sound non Reformed teachers. John does not attack them because they have the right gospel message. The claim made by Charismatics is a false one.

#6  Posted by Michael Karpf  |  Friday, October 25, 2013 at 9:11 PM

I posted elsewhere, but thank you for making Strange Fire available to watch online. I live in Bankgok, but will look forward to watching the sessions I missed and reading the book. I wish a conference like this had been offered in 1979 when I got involved with a charismatic church. Oh there is also a conference on breaking generational curses going on here this week. These people need to stop blaming everything on generational curses. Read God's word instead.

As was said, the most critical responses were the first day of the conference. My experience has been that when people refute a cessasionist they often do so by name calling, rather than offering scriptural arguments.

#7  Posted by Cindy McCann  |  Friday, October 25, 2013 at 9:44 PM

Joseph, I am praying for you! You are on the right track!

#8  Posted by Adam Wilson  |  Friday, October 25, 2013 at 10:42 PM

I am so thankful that the Strange Fire Conference has taken place and that my family and I were able to watch it live streamed!

I know that this information about the things that are taking place in our midst, in the name of Jesus, may have seemed absurd and crazy to many, judging by the amount of laughter heard during these sessions, but I would like to encourage those who have listened to remember that these are mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, and young children being taught these things, this is serious and not a time for laughter.

We give glory to God because we were some of those children brought up in the word of faith, health wealth and prosperity movement, and it was the Lord who drew us out! We warned our mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers but they are still in the movement.

Find out which churches in your area are teaching these deadly doctrines and pray for them, and be ready to receive these people when the Lord draws them out. It is a frightful thing coming out and not knowing where to go, we had no idea about any other forms of Christianity, but praise the Lord He brought us to the True Gospel!! (Thank you Paul Washer for your Shocking Youth Message on youtube)

Please don't make fun and laugh, but weep and moan over the atrocities being done in the name of our Lord and pray for the souls that are lost that think they know Jesus, but do not.

#9  Posted by Gian Monzeglio  |  Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 1:04 AM

As an ex-pentecostal writing from south africa where the charismatic movement is the mainstream church culture by far i have watched the sessions and seen the criticism from the other side including michale brown's interview with Phil Johnson. This issue has got so bad that something like this was extremely necessary and long overdue. Its a healthy thing. Luther was so focussed on justification by faith he dismissed james as non-canonical. Sometimes the situation gets so bad that someone with enough courage and conviction has to make some heavy statements. Charismatic brothers always end up sounding like muslims when confronted with these issues - terrorits are a small fringe group and not representative of our religion. But I never see a proper denunciation cause at the core the jihadists seem far more consistent with Mohammed than the guys not taking up arms. And I saw millions of people celebrating after 9/11 all over the world. If Michael Brown is mainstream why is he doing fundraising to get onto TV alongside Joel Osteen when the "minority fringe carnality preachers" have 24 hour global satellite networks to air their poison. John Macarthur once said that these guys make Tetzel look like a paragon of virtue. He is right. We applaud you sir for being willing to stand for truth again even if you have had to come down quite heavily, some would say too heavily. The proble mis as bad as indulgences were maybe worse cause of the way they manilupate the media which now exists and fleece the sheep. And you have earned the right to speak. Thank You.

#10  Posted by Chew Kek Liong  |  Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 4:58 AM

I prayed for you a moment ago, Joseph Cribley. I am from Malaysia (South East Asia). You are not alone in this. Be strong and rejoice. A true Evangelical stand is now known. God's truth is heard loud and clear. We need to speak up. I have prayed that the Lord will lead you to a church where God and his truth as revealed in scripture (remember SOLA SCRIPTURA?) is honoured. Moving to another church should be a last option only - but it is nonetheless an option.

Take comfort in knowing that we have a long line of Truth Proclaimers - centuries of it. As I see it, Christ' second-coming is on the horizon and 'His Truth is Marching On!'. Shout on the mountain top - its SOLA SCRIPTURA!

#11  Posted by George Canady  |  Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 6:27 AM

Thank you Alvis. Please pray for me as I have become part of the problem sometimes. I am afraid I have been unloving at times and give the name of our Lord a trip through the mud. I regret this deaply and need forgiveness from People and God. I am grateful for people that are more mature than me that I can point to on this and other issues.

#12  Posted by Tom Harmon  |  Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 6:34 AM

We had a church split in 2002 because of this confusion. It all started with our pastor joining the ministerial group for our small city. He was influenced by a church of God minister toward "the signs and wonders", vineyard movement. Needless to say, our pastor, being a very passionate person, influenced some of our leaders over to this. He even brought a "prophet" in to interrupt the sermon. This caused great confusion! The problem was Jesus Christ and His gospel was taking a back seat to "emotional" false signs, and strnage behavior. I confronted the pastor "toe to toe", on these errors..he would not budge. We had to painfully leave many of our dear brothers and sisters before many left.

#13  Posted by Cary Loughman  |  Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 7:14 AM

Joseph Cribley,

I did pray for you. Confronting error is very difficult and must be done with gentleness and respect, as we are instructed by Timothy. Blessings to you and trusting that you will handle this according to God's Word for confronting error. Some good advice is right at the bottom of this page from Proverbs 25:15.

#15  Posted by Benjamin Mcmillan  |  Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 9:15 AM

David, if you grew up in Cleveland Tennessee I'm betting you were part of the Church of God, either "of Prophecy" or "elders". If you were, we share that in common.

Probably the most striking historical reality that Mbewe mentioned in one of his sessions was the fact that Pentecostals, of which the Church of God originated, were more apt to at least render some deference to the Word.

My father was a pastor all of his life in the CGOP and had memorized vast portions of the Bible. He was fond of both Finney and Edwards and used Matthew Henry's commentaries along with reading Norman Vincent Peale.

Your point, in relation to their lack of understanding, is well made and I couldn't agree more . My dad preached from a 3"x5" note card and had no comprehension of systematic theology. To this day he is anti-intellectual in relation to his understanding of God and His Word.

I have found that using the Word to communicate the doctrines of grace, and specifically the preservation/perseverance of the saints, can impact Pentecostal/Charismatic believers profoundly.

My heart breaks for these people. I am convinced when they come to the full realization of God's enduring love for them apart from what they feel or experience they are on the road to freedom from their powerful delusion. I pray that God uses you to open the eyes of those blinded by this system/movement.

#17  Posted by Chantel Strunk  |  Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 9:50 AM

Joseph Cribley,

I too have prayed for you. May the Lord bless you and help you through this challenging time.

A sister in Christ

#18  Posted by Ramon Jones  |  Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 5:02 PM

I learn from Pastor MacArthur EVERYDAY. I have growth so much over the last three years. I'm learning more and more on how be an expositor of the word. I have gotten in some trouble at church when we discuss spiritual gifts and the scriptures that refer to them. This conference brings joy to my heart.

#19  Posted by Mary Kaye Campbell  |  Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 5:36 PM

Dear John,

Our church has been praying for you and giving praise to God for your calling throughout the years. We lifted you up in prayer during the Conference.

My closest friends and I have been listening to your sermons and doing your studies in our Saturday Bible study for years. Your teaching is sound... black and white because you speak God's word. We are able to see the "red flags" more easily because of your sound teaching.

I have ordered "Strange Fire" and am looking forward to reading it.

In closing, God bless you, John, for your devotion and determination to making disciples of Christ.

Kaye Campbell

Mequon, WI

#21  Posted by Alejandro Gonzalez  |  Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 8:51 PM


Brother Joseph, I read your post and want to encourage you to continue steadfast in the faith. You are one among many in similar situations (myself included) and although a separation from a church family (or even your relatives) is often painful, I submit to you the words of Paul: For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us - Romans 8:18

I will be praying for you!

#22  Posted by Armando Valdez  |  Sunday, October 27, 2013 at 7:09 AM

Thank you for this conference. In the days when the transcripts were published by Cripplegate and Challies, I could translate to Spanish and I had an average of 4,000 visits to my blog. So it really was good diffusion. And there were some unfounded criticism. defendant has really been a great blessing and has provided a good incentive to discern more about these issues.

#24  Posted by Scott Reed  |  Sunday, October 27, 2013 at 7:09 PM

Joseph Cribley,

I know what you are going through and I am not going to sit here and tell you it will be easy and everyone will understand. My wife and I had been raised in this and it's all we knew, 40 years worth. To make a very long story short, God revealed his truth to us in his word and through other friends who were not Charismatic and we just could not sit and condone what we considered to be abuse and neglect of the true work of Gods Spirit(Holy Spirit). We did eventually find a true Bible teaching/preaching, God honoring Church and we are so thankful for our new church family. Yes, we lost a lot of friends because of our decision and it's always a little uncomfortable when we are with our family, because all of them are Charismatic. I truly believe God's Spirit will not sit comfortably in an atmosphere of unsound doctrine and I truly believe that is why we did not stay long after his truth was revealed to us. If you listened to Strange Fire and could not deny what you heard(which is what happened to us when we listened to Pastor Johns sermons on the Charismatic movement) then you probably know already what you need to do. We are all praying for all our friends and family in this movement, thank you Pastor John and all who stand for TRUTH!

#25  Posted by Jamiu Ekiyoyo  |  Monday, October 28, 2013 at 2:54 AM

It reminds me of Prophet Elijah lamenting to God that there is no more true Prophet again that he was the only remaining one and to this God told him that there are still Prophet who have not given themselves to the worship of Baal.....

I was making a research for my project in my final year at L.I.F.E Theological seminary in Nigeria concerning "false claims of visit to heaven and hell" by some so called Christians when i stumble to this site.

Since that time my intellect, will and emotion has been to know more....I was converted to this movement mentioned and when i was given this project, i dont want to do it cos i felt what i believe, our dogma is right but i patiently listen to JohnMacArthur, there was illumination in my mind. I search the scriptures and there was clearity,no confusion......

You know am blessed and am challenged to go back and bury my self in the scripture and not waiting aimlessly for the next word from above(rhema) before i go to the scriptures....

Its funny after i listen to MacArthur on some of his sermons and i confirmed it in scriptures with basic principles of hermeneutics,i discussed it with my (charismatic believers)colleagues, one of them said i should go and ask for forgiveness.....they have been so buried in dogma given to them by so called leaders and on their on part lazy to do exhaustive study as to bring every word to the light of the scripture....

I pray for you John that the Spirit of God will continue to uphold you to preach the truth in face of any challenges ....I want to know more on the Trinity cos this is Foundation where charismatic movement are getting it wrong and they are building on a shaky foundation...Pls teach more on that....thanks

#27  Posted by Joseph Cribley  |  Monday, October 28, 2013 at 12:47 PM

To everyone,

Thank you everyone for your encouraging comments. For the multitude of prayers offered up for my behalf, though I have never met any of you personally. I am thankful also for your testimonies, showing that I am not alone with the sacrifices that are to be made in order to continue in worship in truth and Spirit.

I would like to mention that the church I am a part of is probably best defined as Reformed Charismatic. I wouldn't say that there have been many manifestations since I have been a member, and the stranger non-biblical practices were ousted whenever they became present. This church upholds the authority of the scriptures and adheres to the gospel message of Jesus Christ as well as the standard for holiness as presented within the Bible. This, however, is not a valid excuse for adhering to error.

I could never understand why the leadership showed a fundamental flaw at calling out heresy in the mainstream. Instead of pointing out error in preachers such as Olsteen and condemning the following of such a man, members are encouraged to eat the meat and spit out the bones. I understand now that the calling out of such aberrant teachers would weaken the claims of the Charismatic movement, and it is fear of losing the baby in the bathwater that allows such blasphemy to be supported.

I would like all who read this and have commented to know that each of you hold a special place in my prayers as well. I am fortunate that my involvement was not full immersion as it was and is with some of you, neither do I have a family that I would have to effectively reteach as I am a single man. I am prepared to depart but I feel it is best to raise these objections first, having been studied in the evidences presented within Strange Fire. Will this church completely depart from even there very denomination? Though I may be in doubt of that I have no doubts whatsoever in the power of God and the revealing nature of His Word. Before I am cast out if that is my fate, I wish to at least make my position known and alert others both pastor and lay-men to examine this for themselves.

By counsel of non-charismatic reletives I have been advised that I should not act hastily. As I have said prior, these people are not unregenerate apostates, but rather mislead believers that understand not the denial their dogmas and biases create. For a good period of time I have watched my pastor deliver sermon after sermon in frustration concerning proper response to doctrinal living, and yet there is no movement within the fringe of the congregation to take that initiative. Why? Due to the intuition-based guidance of Charismatic doctrine, they do not listen intently to the Word of God. Perhaps I can be used as an agent for bringing forth reformation concerning these ideas. Only God could truly know how this will all turn out in the end......

#28  Posted by Rick Ayers  |  Tuesday, October 29, 2013 at 7:23 AM

Joseph Cribley, I hear you. I spent 35 years in independent charismatic and A/G churches, yet all along resisting the excesses. Today, we (like RC Sproul) are in the conservative Presbyterian Church in America (not to be confused with the liberal Presbyterian Church USA). Yet, because of my A/G background, I have been feeling somewhat displaced. I DON'T KNOW WHO I AM ANYMORE. And while I confess, I've never met anyone with the gift of the working of miracles, or some of the other "sign" gifts, nevertheless, I'm not a cessationist to the same degree as John MacArthur. But, by combining and mixing the various labels listed by Phil Johnson, I suppose you could say I'm a "mildly C-type, Reformed believer (LOL) as I've always opposed charismania, but I'm now far more Reformed than charismatic. Nevertheless, the hardest thing I currently face is that ALL my lifetime friends are still charismatic. Very few understand my theological paradigm shift, and very few are willing to honestly look at the movement or themselves. But remember, God is Sovereign and against all opinions, it was He who had us in that movement for a season, and it is He who by his love and grace is moving us onward.

#29  Posted by Cesar Jr Centeno  |  Tuesday, October 29, 2013 at 5:19 PM

We lived in Brunei and with no better church to grow spiritually we ended up in pentecostal with arminian views and many excesses word of faith, slain in the spirit, gibberish talk. There is no calvinist church here and we really are in the minority. We only grew stronger by Sir Johns preachings online. And we listen to RC sproul and steve lawson as well. But indeed it has bring us more mature in the Word by its proper and simple exegetical approach to preaching with less application as John leave it to the Holy Spirit.