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Would You Invite a Charismatic to Strange Fire?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013 | Comments (7)

Registration for the Strange Fire conference is filling up fast, and we wanted to remind you that the early-bird pricing window closes at the end of the month. There are only a few hundred seats remaining and we don’t want you or your friends and family to miss this great opportunity.

Recently we asked John MacArthur about who should attend Strange Fire. Specifically, we asked him if we ought to invite our charismatic friends to the conference. Here’s what he had to say:

You can view this or any of our other Strange Fire media at the conference website. We look forward to seeing you in October and sharing in rich fellowship around the teaching of God’s Word.

GTY Staff


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#1  Posted by Hau Thang  |  Wednesday, April 24, 2013 at 10:32 PM

I wish I could be there...I will miss it due to military training. I will get all the resources when available. God bless GTY.

#2  Posted by Lois Begly  |  Thursday, April 25, 2013 at 11:27 AM

I am a former Charismatic and was in the movement for 20 plus years. I'm pleased that Dr. MacArthur is addressing the movement so aggressively, however, as we attack the unbiblical nature of charismata, we need to be very careful how we do this. I can tell you that most charismatics who are true believers will be difficult to persuade. Here is the reason why: the experiences they have remind them of things they read about in scripture so that they have validation in that. Now we non-charismatics would say that is not really possible, but they are not willing to part with the very pleasant feelings they get from the type of worship they have, and the belief that God is able to speak to them directly. They won't want to give this up. They would equate leaving this environment with being cut off from God.

When I was first confronted by my own examination of the sign gifts after years of being immersed in all the euphoria of charismatic services and experiences, I felt an accute sense of isolation. What would fill the void? How would I function? If there is no more direct speaking from God, how would I hear from Him? He would be silent. It was such an empty feeling at first. The problem was that I was so involved in a spiritual counterfeit, that I didn't know what the true walk with the God of the Bible was like.

As I began to explore authentic Bible doctrine it was as though the Lord Himself was pouring fresh water onto me and into me. I didn't know what I was missing all those years of being captive to a false view of what it meant to know God. When my husband and I went to speak to our pastor about how we were now convinced that the 'miraculous gifts' were not needed any longer, he wanted us to stay in the church. We felt compelled to leave over the doctrinal issue. We told him that 'Charismatic Chaos' explained so clearly what we now believed. He said he had read the book, and agreed with 95% if it! The reason he gave for not leaving the charismatic/pentecostal church was because he so loved the glorious feeling in his tongues experience that he worshiped God with.

My prayer is that any attempt to unveil the spurious nature of this type of worship will be guided by an understanding that so many truly love Jesus Christ and want to honor Him with their lives and their enthusiastic praise for His salvation. They derive so much satisfaction from the tongues, words of knowledge, binding of Satan, what all they perceive as biblical phenomenon, that they can't see themselves any other way. Please help them to understand that they are experiencing 'something,' but what is that 'something' if it's not real? What will take it's place?

I'd love to get the new book by the same name, somehow.

The Lord's blessings on the conference, I will be praying for this as we all should bathe it in prayer.

Lois Begly

#3  Posted by David Smith  |  Friday, April 26, 2013 at 5:11 AM

Lois Begly,

I really appreciated your comment, and you have great wisdom and maturity. Thank you for sharing your story.

You may be interested to know that there's been quite a lot of research into religious experiences, including speaking in tongues. Few christians (let alone charismatics) are aware of this as it originates from secular academics. One hypothesis that I found particularly convincing is that speaking in tongues is associated with altered states of consciousness (hypnotic trances), which are induced by repetitive music. These produce extremely pleasant feelings, which can even become addictive. Your pastor's comments are totally consistent with this.

It was actually this research which caused me to reject charismatic beliefs. Biblical interpretation is something that can be argued over, and I didn't find either side of the cessationist / continuationist debate to have a particularly strong case. What tipped the balance for me was the fact that the natural explanation for charismatic experiences is far more convincing than the supernatural one. Once I realised this, pretty much everything found within the charismatic world made perfect sense. (I can say more about this if others would find it helpful).

I think one key reason for the popularity of the charismatic movement is the sorry state of conservative evangelicalism. When I became a christian many years ago, there were two evangelical churches in town. One was charismatic and one was not. Quite frankly, the charismatic church seemed to have all the love and all the joy. The people at the non-charismatic church were miserable, grumpy, and hard-hearted, and so who would not be drawn to the charismatic church? They may have been wrong about the gifts of the spirit, but the fruit of the spirit was also in evidence. Yes, that's my personal experience from the past, but it's a stereotype that has definitely has a lot of truth in it.

Things are a lot better now, and the culture within non-charismatic evangelicalism has improved considerably. The challenge is to continue this and allow the Lord to further reform us and our churches such that the life of the spirit and the joy of the Lord is visible to all. I pray that this conference will not only challenge charismatics, but also present a better way.

#4  Posted by Bjuster Baarlik  |  Friday, April 26, 2013 at 11:50 AM

Hello David Smith. you stated: (I can say more about this if others would find it helpful).

It will be evry helpful to me if you would say more about this subject. Thanks!

#5  Posted by James Mickle  |  Friday, April 26, 2013 at 2:14 PM


Please elaborate on your research on the natural explanations for charismata.

I'm coming out of 27 years of pentecostal/charismatic teaching. Over the last 3 years, I've been studying reformed doctrine intensely and have found that the illumination of the Holy Spirit on the Word and the truth blows the experientia off the map.

Like you said, David, it is hard to confirm either cessationist or experientia application, but it is very obvious that most of what goes on in Charismatica is not biblical.

#6  Posted by David Smith  |  Friday, April 26, 2013 at 3:16 PM

To Bjuster and James, I'll be glad to provide some further explanations, but it may take a few days due to other commitments. I appreciate both of you asking for my input and I'd ask you to pray that the Lord will give me clarity in what I write.

#7  Posted by Maria Billingsley  |  Tuesday, April 30, 2013 at 5:49 PM


I would like to attend this conference. I left a Hindu belief system with all its signs and wonders, for Christ. I became born again in an AOG church in 1984 before the signs and wonders took over. The youth pastor laid hands on me and I did begin to speak in another language, much to my surprise. But within a year it became apparent that life goes on with or without tongues. I became pregnant with my daughter Rachel in the midst of my sinless so called life. The AOG Senior Pastor said that God (god) was very angry with me and that what I did and what I was about to deliver was not God's (god's) plan. So l left the church never to return again. Now I am a truth seeker. And know the love God has for all of us including my daughter Rachel.

Next chapter: The Charismatic movement reminds me of the Hindu experience I had. Especially the slain in the spirit, involuntary body movements and speaking utterances. I do hate that fact that this is in God's Holy Place, inside the believer, and I want to equip myself with as much armor to combat the "great apostasy". One thing we must remember, God is sending this great delusion among the believers, just as He planted the serpent in the garden of Eden. He keeps giving us chances to believe in the truth, but many still do not want to believe.

I look forward to the conference.