Yet another work written by John MacArthur, Strange Fire is a book that quite literally unleashes MacArthur's indignation upon the charismatic and Pentecostal communities. Pulling its title from the biblical account of Nadab and Abihu, the son of Aaron, who after being instructed by the Lord about offerings, instead chose to offer "strange fire" and were thus themselves consumed in the fire of the Lord's holy wrath (Leviticus 10:1-3). How does this pertain to the charismatic communities? MacArthur argues that His divine judgment was upon the two brothers because they dishonored the Lord, worshipping Him with contempt, and refusing to treat Him as holy. In like manner, MacArthur declares that the leaders and their flock are dishonoring the Holy Spirit with their ignominious behavior, reprehensible deceit and false teachings.
After giving a few praise testimonials from the general believing public in the beginning (vs praises from fellow well-known authors), MacArthur introduces the subject at hand (easily summarized with his subtitle, The Danger of Offending the Holy Spirit with Counterfeit Worship) and then divides the book into three main parts. Part One focuses on the counterfeit revival, and uses Jonathan Edwards' 1 John 4, 5-point "distinguishing marks" to validate whether the current charismatic movement is a work of the Holy Spirit. (It should take only one guess to figure out MacArthur's conclusion). The second part focuses on some of their defining doctrines, namely present-day prophets and apostles, tongue speaking, and faith healing. In his third part, MacArthur focuses on the identity of the Holy Spirit, as evidenced in Scripture and discovering what His true work is in the lives of believers. MacArthur ends his book with a letter to continuationist believers (those that believe that the miracles and gifts identified in Acts and I Corinthians did not end with the Biblical apostolic era), "Voices from Church History", and his notes, topical and Scriptural indices.
Although I do not agree with MacArthur on some doctrinal minutiae, I admittedly enjoy reading some of his work, because he consistently includes indepth research on whatever is his focus, copious notes and citations, and an ubiquitous usage of Scripture. In relation to these points, Strange Fire did not disappoint. I was a bit taken aback, though not surprised, by his pointed and accusatory tone towards those within the Charismatic movement. Since I noticed it in a Christian mailing and knew it was out, I did a quick google search and saw that there has been much hoopla over his viewpoints already. My thoughts? Good for him. As Christians, we are called to shed light on areas of darkness and pastors especially are supposed to guard their flocks from ravenous wolves. Is he causing disunity within the body of the church? Perhaps, but I think no more then he does in any of his other works where his beliefs might differ from others within the evangelical world. The only difference with this one versus others I've read, is this book does not hide it's direct accusation from the beginning. Do I agree with him on everything he has written within it's pages? No, but I don't always. I think he tended to lump sum every Pentecostal and charismatic believer as being at fault, though I noticed on at least a couple of occasions he used the non-absolute of "most"... but this could easily be overlooked with page after page of disdain directed towards those within the charismatic world. I for one, know of several believers that consider themselves Pentecostal, and I would not even begin to question their faith as their lives are easily defined by the fruit they bear. But there is a danger of allowing this movement and it's well-known leaders (Hinn, Meyer, Osteen, Dollar, etc) to continue to be associated with evangelical Christianity. I remember in high school, a skit portrayal of Benny Hinn and one of his ill followers desiring healing. I had no idea who Hinn even was, but the skit still produced a hearty laughter from the audience. But to think that the secular society at large might view my beliefs and his as similar and a member of the Trinity as a source for entertainment? Oy vey. Or no wonder people are confused and see us as narrow-minded when outspoken leaders such as Joel Osteen declare that Christ is not the only way to heaven, and justification comes not only through faith, but through your pocketbooks. Que lastima. For that, I'm grateful for MacArthur's bold, albeit controversial book.
In his introduction, MacArthur states that his prayer is that the "Spirit Himself will give you a clear understanding of His true ministry in your own life, that you will embrace a biblical perspective on the Spirit and His gifts, and that you will refuse to be duped by [those which]... vie for our attention today." That was my prayer as I read its pages. And that was the result for me. Would I recommend it? Yes. It is an informational tool for those like me who had no idea the ubiquitious presence of this in the mainstream society today. But I think I would also tell them to in the end, look not on whether someone is "charismatic" or "pentecostal" or any other titular identity, but to test the spirits (1 John 4:1), and look to see if they are bearing the fruit associated with the work of the true Spirit of God (John 15, Galatians 5).
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneezeÂ® book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255
Mr. MacArthur is not the final authority on Scripture. Scripture is the final authority on Scripture. You don't need to be a Bible scholar to read your Bible. Jesus promised "But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you." John 14:26
If you truly desire to grow spiritually and draw nearer to the Lord Jesus Christ, read your own Bible with a humble and open heart. Pray to God and ask HIM to reveal the truth to you. "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you." Matthew 7:7
Mr. MacArthur does not believe in the whole Bible, he believes parts of it has expired. There is nothing in Scripture to corroborate this error in thinking. On the contrary Scripture says:
"Your word, LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens." Psalm 119:89
"All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal." Psalm 119:160
"The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever." Isaiah 40:8
"But the word of the Lord remains forever." And that word is the Good News that was preached to you." 1 Peter 1:25
"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." Hebrew 13:8
This is an awesome read. Everyone that claims to be a Christian needs to read it and examine themselves to see if they or their church is part of this mass abomination... to see if in fact they are part of those grieving the Holy Spirit! And if they are to stand up and shout!
May the Lord Bless John MacArthur for having the courage to write it... to warn all those that are blindly led by men that belong to the enemy of our Holy God.
"Strange Fire" is not only a great book to read, but it's material is very necessary for believers and charismatics alike. We need to understand the false doctrine of charismania, so that when we encounter it, we can recognize it.
John MacArthur is, by far, my favorite author ever. God has gifted him uniquely to expound the scriptures, and he has done a fantastic job of that in this book.
I enjoyed most of the book. The point of the book is what is the correct way to worship and praise GOD and the wrong way! The book talks about counterfeit worship and how it can offend GOD and Jesus. Yet the book talks about how real the trinity is and that is totally false. GOD is the father, Jesus is the son and the holy spirit is what they give us to help us worship him. They are not 3 in one like many people believe so the author is totally incorrect on this. Also the author got one thing wrong about Jehovah's witnesses, we do not believe the world will end in 2033, where did he get that? We do believe the world will end one day but we do not know when.
I enjoyed the quote on in the opening pages, the page xiii which says " it is a sad twist of irony that those who claim to be the most focused on the Holy Spirit are in actuality the ones doing the most to abuse, grieve, insult, misrepresent, quench and dishonor him...." The next quote I like on the next page is " They have become like the Israelites of Exodus, who compelled Aaron to fashion a golden calf while Moses was away." Another quote I like on page xvi that says " People proclaim a gospel of health and wealth, a message completely incompatible with the good news of scripture...The incredible irony is that those who talk the most about the Holy Spirit generally deny his true work."
On page 11 I like this quote " Some backing up their false teachings by twisting the scriptures or claiming new revelation from GOD". I also like the quote on page 12 " Many have over to ideas and practices which come straight from pagan religions, and large numbers of young and impressionable believers have been spiritually corrupted in the process." "Let each remind himself of the prohibition of taking anything away from scriptures or adding anything to it. "
One way to test who is the real religion ask yourself these 5 questions, Does the work exalt the true Christ, does it oppose worldliness, does it point people to the scriptures, does it elevate the truth, does it produce love for GOD and others? Another good reason to know if you have the true religion is to find Joy in it. "Their joy is found serving the Lord Jesus,and their love for GOD is seen in their obedience in him." (Pg 57)I like the quote on page 78 " It chooses bible verses selectively to fit a name-it-and-claim-it theory but it does not love Jesus." I like the quote on page 191 which reads " The spirit bestows his people with teaching and serving gifts for the building up of the church. "
All in all I enjoyed this book because the author really brings out the errors of those claiming to be people of GOD and how they trick you and how they really not of GOD at all.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.