Archives For Book Review

Authentic Fire is Dr. Michael Brown’s book-length response to John MacArthur’s Strange Fire conference. Because of the importance of this debate, TheCripplegate is using every Thursday to respond chapter-by-chapter to Authentic Fire. You can find an overview of this debate, as well as links to the reviews for each chapter by clicking here.

Chapter 1 Summary Michael Brown 1.  The chapter opens with Dr. Brown paying respects to John MacArthur, commenting on his extensive contributions to the church, his gospel proclamation and his integrity in both public and private spheres.  He then shifts gears into and writes several sweeping statements:

1a.  “Pastor MacArthur’s criticisms of the charismatic movement are inaccurate, unhelpful, often harshly judgmental, sometimes without scriptural support, and frequently divisive in the negative sense of the word.” (Kindle Locations 193-195)

1b.  “Where he rightly points out some of the most glaring and serious faults in the charismatic movement, I add my ‘Amen,’ having addressed these same abuses for many years myself.” (Kindle Locations 195-196)

1c.  “But when he damns millions of godly believers, demeans the real work of the Spirit, accuses true worshipers of blaspheming the Spirit, and calls for an all-out war against the charismatic movement, a strong corrective is needed, along with a positive statement of the truth of the matter. That is the purpose of this book.” (Kindle Locations 196-198)

condemned Continue Reading…

Authentic Fire is Dr. Michael Brown’s book-length response to John MacArthur’s Strange Fire conference. Because of the importance of this debate, TheCripplegate is using every Thursday to respond chapter-by-chapter to Authentic Fire. You can find an overview of this debate, as well as links to the reviews for each chapter here.

For those who haven’t been following it all, in the last six months or so Dr. Michael Brown has emerged as one of the more outspoken voices critiquing the Strange Fire conference that occurred this past October.  He has written a number of articles and has gained a fair amount of recognition as one of the leading “level-headed” Charismatics.  You can find a little recap of what happened before the Strange Fire conference here as well as check out this and this and this, and this and this, just to get a small glimpse of Dr. Brown’s comments and activities.  A whole lot more has been occurring, but documenting it all would mean writing a rather encyclopedic post.  More than a few people have spoken up (including James White, Justin Peters, Tony Miano, and more) about  what’s going on with Michael Brown’s recent activities, and to sum it up in two pictures…

How Michael Brown sees his cards…


How Dr. Michael Brown’s critics see his cards…   Continue Reading…

Authentic Fire is Dr. Michael Brown’s book-length response to John MacArthur’s Strange Fire conference. Because of the importance of this debate, TheCripplegate is using every Thursday to respond chapter-by-chapter to Authentic Fire. You can find an overview of this debate, as well as links to the reviews for each chapter here.

afIf you haven’t been paying attention the last few months, you may have missed a conference Grace to You put on last October called Strange Fire. Maybe you heard about it?

Of course I’m messing with you. Nearly everyone who participates on social media and runs in my circles heard about it and are well aware of the big stink it stirred up with charismatics and Pentecostals.

Anyhow, I would imagine the most vocal, popular-level critic of the Strange Fire conference was Michael Brown. As early as June of last year, four months before Strange Fire was to take place, Dr. Brown was rebuking John MacArthur for even thinking about holding a conference to address charismatic issues. He wrote two articles that we responded to, and then offered a rejoinder. Folks went back and forth with each other leading up to the conference until the night before the conference began, when Dr. Brown wrote one final article pleading for us to stop everything, send everyone home, and cancel the sessions.

Of course, that never happened. But just a month and a half after the conference ended, Dr. Brown managed to write and publish a 418-page book entitled, Authentic Fire: A Response to John MacArthur’s Strange Fire.   Continue Reading…

afAuthentic Firis Dr. Michael Brown’s response to John MacArthur’s Strange Fire conference. Because the ongoing use of the sign gifts (languages, miraculous interpretation of langauges, apostleship, healing, prophecy, knowledge) is one of the most significant theological debates of our day, The Cripplegate wanted to take time to respond to Authentic Fire a chapter at a time.

An explanation of why we are doing these reviews.

Review of the Preface

Review of Chapter 1

Review of Chapter 2

Review of Chapter 3

Review of Chapter 4

Review of Chapter 5

Review of Chapter 6

Review of Chapter 7

Review of Chapter 8

Review of Chapter 9

Review of Chapter 10

Review of Appendix 1 – Craig Keener

Here is a list of all of our posts on the Strange Fire conference itself, and here is a link to the conference audio.

I have three major concerns with Tim Keller’s Center Church (CC):

  1. CC and contextualization (which I wrote about here)
  2. CC and common grace (which I wrote about here)
  3. CC and the church

Today I want to address this third issue: how Center Church presents the church, and then end with an appeal aimed at pastors who are embracing CC as a guide to their methodology.   Continue Reading…

Center Church is Timothy Keller’s text book for pastors. It is Keller’s goal that this book be used to help pastors “maximize their fruitfulness for the sake of the gospel,” and there is no doubt that this book will have a lasting impact on evangelicalism.

And there is much that is helpful in Center Church (CC). Yesterday I summarized the book, and you should really read today’s post in light of that. And I noted that there are three major areas of disagreement that I have with the approach to pastoral ministry presented in CC:

  • Contextualization—this immediately shapes our view on the methods of evangelism and equipping, how the church is built, who gets the credit for building the church, and how we evaluate ministry efforts
  • Common Grace—this immediately shapes our view on the cultural mandate of the church and the goal of the church in the world
  • The Church—the definition of who makes up the church has an immediate impact on how the gospel is manifested to the world

Today’s post will focus on that second point: Continue Reading…

Timothy Keller’s recent work, Center Church (CC), is a substantive book on ecclesiology and philosophy of ministry.  It has received a lot of attention since it was released last September.  With its graphic, glossy hardcover, and double columns throughout, the 395-page volume has the look and feel of a textbook.  I believe that is what it was intended to be—a textbook for pastors (particularly in an urban context) to maximize their fruitfulness for the sake of the gospel.  Keller’s popularity and acceptance within mainstream evangelicalism have positioned this book to hold significant influence on the American church.

After thoughtfully considering this book and weighing it against Scripture, I have a few concerns.  In spite of areas of agreement, I found the heart and soul of the book to be biblically off-center.  I fear that the theological vision of CC will cause more harm than good in American churches.

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All true Christians understand how the cross has an effect in the past—because of it, we have our sins forgiven; and in the future—because of the cross we will go to heaven when we die. In other words, the cross directly affects our justification and our glorification. But what about the present? How does the cross affect our sanctification?

Time out. Stop. When you read that question (“how does the cross affect our sanctification?”), did you think I meant “how does the gospel affect our sanctification?” I didn’t. I meant the cross. The wooden cross on which Jesus was crucified. The actual death of Jesus. How does the death of Jesus affect our sanctification?  Continue Reading…

swashbucklersWith the publication date of Things that Go Bump in the Church only eight days away, the marketing machine is in full swing. I’m not as well-connected as the other authors, Mike Abendroth, and Byron Yawn, but int he tradition of the little drummer boy, I have this blog’s Monday slot to give…

The book deals with intimidating and misunderstood doctrines, poking some fun at the Amityville Horror genre. Here is an excerpt from my chapter on demons, called “Spiritual Swashbuckling.” 

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It was a dark night. Raining. I awoke to frantic knocking on my cabin door. Youth camps often come with various genres of drama, from relationship angst to teary confession sessions. As a camp counselor I had encountered my diverse array of spiritual emergencies on my watch, ranging from the need to rebuke a bevy of mean girls, to confiscating contraband magazines from the guys’ dorm. But the look in this kid’s eyes was one of genuine terror. Something was wrong. I grabbed my Bible and charged through the pouring rain in pursuit of the young man who had been sent to summon me. When I got to the dorm room, all twelve teenage boys were standing outside, shivering wet.

They sheepishly confessed that they had been experimenting with an occult game, glassy-glassy. This is where people supposedly channel spirits, which move a glass over a lettered board to eerily spell out instructions from the netherworld. The boys breathlessly recounted what they had witnessed. Shortly after they had turned out the lights and sealed the door, they heard an intense crying sound in the room like a baby had been pinched. This was followed by hissing noises and more high-pitched cries. The stunned boys all looked thoroughly traumatized. This was no prank being played on the camp counselor. I wanted to ask which one of them was disturbed enough to bring Satanic paraphernalia to a Christian camp, and why none of the others were man enough to put a stop to it. Instead, I clutched my Bible, boldly kicked open the door, and flipped on the light switch.

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The book, Things that go Bump in the Church (Harvest House) is being released on April 1st (no, really).Bump Cover

The work deals with intimidating doctrines that Christians sometimes fear. I was privileged to co-author the work with Mike Abendroth and Byron Yawn. Our goal was to provide accessible, biblical presentations of teachings that are often misunderstood, and to do so in an engaging style (we at times lapse into satirizing the Amityville horror genre). The subjects we cover include demonology, elder rule, election, homosexuality, controversial liberties, among several others.

You can pre-order the paperback or Kindle version by clicking here.

To get a taste, here is an excerpt of the introduction to my chapter on church membership, titled…

“Anuptaphobia and Church Membership”

He was new to the creepy little town, but not a visitor. This dot on an Appalachian map was now home. His Christian upbringing had left his conscience averse to the “Solo Lobo Syndrome”— a lone wolf is a dead wolf was Grandma’s sagacious mantra. So that first Sunday he dutifully visited the only church in town. Its shabby, unkempt exterior didn’t put him off. It matched the ageing appearance of all the local buildings, and their occupants. He wasn’t expecting much from the service that morning, but still there was something slightly off-kilter about the experience, like when a painting has been hung askew, just enough to pique one’s awareness but not enough to be called crooked.

The bald greeter at the door seemed genuinely happy to meet the stranger. And although he never removed his right hand from the pocket of his suit pants, he warmly gripped the visitor by the shoulder and led him toward the sparse, seated congregation. The evidently tight-knit cohort of a dozen or so regulars greeted him enthusiastically. Everyone was friendly, though one or two could not mask their bemusement that this stranger had chosen to worship with them.

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