Strange Fire


Last week Pastor John MacArthur of Grace Community Church held a theological symposium on the work of the Holy Spirit. The conference examined how Pentecostal and Charismatic theology, in particular, view the doctrine of pneumatology.  This was needed because the Pentecostal/Charismatic tradition has become associated with the third member of the Trinity, almost to the point of having a corner on the doctrine in the popular imagination.

My Resplendent Bride and I were set to go.  We registered early and had the plane tickets bought before the conference sold out.

You see, my Resplendent Bride had gone into remission from a battle with cancer that had required 8 weeks (or so, it’s all a blur) of hospitalization.  We were ready to get out and about again: and what better way to live again than a theological conference in sunny California?  Yes, we are awful nerds, I know.

The cancer, however, came back.  So it was that we canceled our tickets, (you’re welcome reserve listers!) continued to trust in God’s good plan, and when October rolled around: glued ourselves to the Grace To You live stream.

As we have meandered through countless sterilized hospital waiting rooms this past year we’ve come into contact with charismatic thought swirling around and about the notion of healing.  I suppose that everyone facing chronic sickness has, in one form or another.

One man visiting my Resplendent Bride thrust his arm out like Darth Vader and prayed that the Holy Spirit “would just blow down on this place.”  Odd, we were under the impression that the Holy Spirit had made His home with us, forever 1 Corinthians 3:16, 2 Timothy 1:14, Ephesians 1:13-14.


Do healers keep a win/loss record?


Another man offered to come and lay hands on my Resplendent Bride because he claimed to have the gift of healing.  He claimed to have healed 18 or so people.  This brought a host of questions to my mind: Do healers keep a win/loss record?  How many losses (18-???)?, if a whole Church of saints beseech God for physical healing and God answers (in the way the Church desires, for surely He always does answer in one way or another) does the faith healer get to chalk that up as a win?  Does He add that healing to his win/loss record, or was God going to heal that person regardless?

I politely declined.

The Strange Fire Conference dealt with the problem of people making prophecies that do not come true, as well as the scourge of prosperity theology.  It is reprehensible to take a poor man’s offering as a down payment for God’s never-promised financial blessing.

…it is unspeakably cruel to morph a sick person’s God of refuge into a god of “do better and I’ll heal you”

But as a Husband and Pastor: it is unspeakably cruel to morph a sick person’s God of refuge into a god of “do better and I’ll heal you”.  We thought God was our refuge in the midst of this prison of sterilized halls and fluorescent light.  We thought God was our refuge through nausea and blood transfusions.  We had lost more than we even knew we had to lose.  We had fallen hard into the camp of the least of these, and we thought He was our champion.

We know that He is.

Yet there are those who believe that God wants us to show more faith before He will rise and spread His wings over us.

Do Better.

No shelter until you do.

Oh, always with the doing and what not.

If we are to give our Pentecostal brothers and sisters the benefit of the doubt we must need believe that there are those gifted with healing.  If this be so, please clear out all the hospitals I’ve spent the last year in.  Those of us without such gifts will happily set up charities to help the masses of unemployed friends who once worked for the medical profiteer complex.

If my Pentecostal/Charismatic brothers read this and ask for some convictional kindness on my part, i would kindly ask the same of them.

For the sick are always caught between the false prophets & profiteers.

For the sick are always caught between the false prophets & profiteers.

As the Strange Fire conference got underway all the usual suspects came out of the Twitter wood work and said all the typical things.

I gave my thoughts on the whole matter in 12 rapid tweets.  I stand by these, and as such, I stand by the notion that the Strange Fire Conference was sorely needed.















On this last tweet I ought to clarify that I am referring to individual assemblies when I refer to “houses of God”, or in other words: houses of worship.

I must also express my appreciation to Dr. John MacArthur for putting the Strange Fire Conference together.  I almost tweeted, “The Lesson is this, clean up your own house, or John MacArthur will.”  Some in Evangelicalism would label Dr. MacArthur a “Fundamentalist”, they would be wise to ask themselves if perhaps they care far too much what others think of them, as that is increasingly the hallmark of Evangelicalism.  Dr. MacArthur has preached God’s word for 45 years, and here at the twilight of his ministry he has stood up for the sick by reminding us all that healing is in the hands of a great & sovereign God, rather than the god who doles out healing after measuring one’s faith on the scale of “do better”.


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