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.

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Lyndon and myself are offering a chapter-by-chapter review of Authentic Fire, Dr. Michael Brown’s rebuttal book against Strange Fire. So far Lyndon has reviewed the preface and the first chapter. Today, I come to the second chapter.

Rejecting the Strange Fire, Embracing the Authentic Fire

Chapter Summary

In the second chapter of his book, Authentic Fire, Dr. Michael Brown addresses the charge that charismatic and Pentecostal Christians never police their own ranks. He acknowledges that there are many, many terrible things done in the name of the Holy Spirit, especially by leaders on so-called “Christian” TV, [AF, 13]. He also acknowledges that virtually all of the abuses seen on TV take place in charismatic circles and that is inexcusable [AF, 38]. But such outlandish things do not represent the core of the charismatic movement and they certainly have not gone without severe criticism from charismatic leaders.

In order to prove his point, Brown lists a number of leading men from within Pentecostal and charismatic churches who have decried for years those terrible abuses propagated by TV preachers. For instance, David Wilkerson, Gordon Fee, Jim Cymbala, John Wimber, Lee Grady, Jack Hayford, and Derek Prince.  All of those men have been vocal critics against the prosperity Gospel, fund raising manipulation, and wild behavior that characterizes much of what is called “Christian TV.” Continue Reading…

The Chicago Statement on Inerrancy was originally drafted in an attempt to define for a generation of evangelicalism what it means to believe that the Bible is an inspired and inerrant authority. But now, 37 years later, there is fear among many Christian leaders that the importance attached to inerrancy is starting to fade. And when pastors lose urgency as it relates to inerrancy, they quickly lose the capacity to preach with clarity and conviction.

At The T4G conference Ligon Duncan (the CEO of Reformed Theological Seminary), Kevin DeYoung (Senior Pastor of University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan), and Al Mohler, (President of Southern Seminary) explained how that change happens.   Continue Reading…

Dead Germans.

They are the subject of a lecture I give every spring in my church history classes: a brief overview of German theologians from the 19th and early-20th centuries.

It’s kind of a depressing lecture to deliver — the sad tale of skepticism intersecting with scholarship; a dismal depiction of the disaster unleashed by unrestrained doubt and disbelief.

Despite standing in the shadow of the Reformation, many German Protestant theologians abandoned the historic truth claims of biblical Christianity due to the mounting popularity of Enlightenment rationalism. In so doing, they shipwrecked their own souls while simultaneously devastating the faith of millions of others.

Higher critics, such as Johann Eichhorn and David Strauss, denied the inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible. Moses didn’t write the Pentateuch, they claimed; nor did Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John write the four gospels. To make matters worse, they suggested that the Jesus of the Bible is not the same as the real Jesus of history. In their “quest to find the historical Jesus,” the critics created a “Jesus” of their own imaginations — essentially reducing him to a nice guy who couldn’t do any miracles, never claimed to be God, and was largely misunderstood by first-century Judaism. Continue Reading…

Last month we named our newborn daughter Adelaide. And this is why…

In 1831 King William IV became the oldest monarch to ascend the throne of the United Kingdom and Ireland, at the ripe royal age of sixty-four. His nickname was “The Sailor King,” a sobriquet he earned through years of maritime service in the Royal Navy, but retained his reputation by ongoing effort. He drank like a sailor, swore like a sailor, and fathered ten children out of wedlock by the time he became king. He was also such a prodigal spender, and was unable to live within the financial bounds drawn for him by Parliament.

Staring down the barrel of life as a broke bachelor, William resigned himself to the idea of a marriage of convenience. In vain he scoured the fertile European social landscape for a princesses who would wed a geriatric alcoholic philanderer and to raise his children.

Several proposals were declined, but eventually, as providence would have it, there was a single German princess, twenty-seven years his junior, who was willing to try her hand at reforming the king. She would become the neck to direct Britain’s head.

Her name was Adelaide.

Queen AdelaideWell, actually her name was Adelaide Amelia Louise Theresa Caroline, her Serene Highness, the Duchess of Saxony and Princess of Saxe-Meiningen. (Incidentally, the state of Saxe-Meiningen was the first with a free press who allowed criticism of rulers; Adelaide came from assertive stock, which would prove useful being married to William.)

The couple met once—a week before the wedding. William was surprised at how amiable and positive his new queen was. Unlike her fiancé, Adelaide was known widely for being deeply religious, kind, pure, sensible with money, and most dignified.

William wrote to his eldest son, “She is doomed, poor dear young innocent creature, to be my wife.”

Adelaide soon endeared herself to her husband and her new subjects, becoming one of the most beloved and respected queens in British history. She was loved for her kindness to the poor, her modesty, and irrepressible commitment to Christ. Not only was she able to put up with William, but slowly people began to notice her sanctifying influence on the old sailor.

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z222981615Autocracy, totalitarianism, despotism. The words alone make us cringe. History is littered with tragic abuse of peoples and cultures at the hands of tyrannical coercion. One need not travel far on a historical timeline for evidences of autocratic control over people. Dictatorial agendas have played out in much abuse under controlling leaders. And sadly, the church is not exempt. Heavy-handed church leadership does its far share of damage too.

However, our human nature can tend towards overreaction. We can label things “controlling” which are not. Loving shepherding can be mislabeled dictating. Administering Christ’s care can be confused as controlling. Biblical discipleship can be accused of despotism. Encouragement can be falsely called exploitation. And these are not insignificant accusations. But too often, these serious allegations are lobbed at faithful, loving Christians administering needed care to one another, thus they are erroneously cautioned of controlling boogeymen. But these boogeymen have outstayed their welcome among God’s people and in the church, and for that reason, they need to be shooed away.

Here are 8 controlling boogeymen we need to shoo away:

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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)

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Inerrancy and the Prophetic WordLast week, Nate drew attention to the 2015 Shepherds’ Conference Summit, which will be devoted to understanding and defending the doctrine of the inerrancy of Scripture. As we anticipate much conversation related to inerrancy to take place between now and then, I thought it would be helpful to post the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, originally published in 1978, in its entirety.

The CSBI has been a key point of reference in the inerrancy debate, clearly spelling out what its signers believed about the integrity and authority of Scripture, and why they believed “inerrancy” was a necessary designation to use.  Among the original signers were  James Montgomery Boice, John Frame, John Gerstner, Carl F. H. Henry, D. James Kennedy, John MacArthur, Roger Nicole, J. I. Packer, R. C. Sproul, and John Wenham. (A complete list of the signatories is available here.) The statement also was the frame of reference for the recent book, Five Views on Biblical Inerrancy.

Given its great importance to the discussion, I’m surprised at how many people I’ve spoken to about this issue who have heard of the statement but have never actually read it. For this reason, I’ve reproduced the statement in its entirety, which includes a preface, a summary statement, articles of affirmation and denial, and an exposition explaining the framers’ intent. It’s an extremely edifying read, and includes some things that many might be surprised to see. Let us know what you think in the comment thread!

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It was almost six years ago when a group of fifteen Southern Baptist evangelists met together to bemoan the growth of Calvinism within SBC circles.

When asked about his concerns, Jerry Drace (the evangelist who initiated the meeting) explained that some Baptist pastors are so Calvinistic “that they almost laugh at evangelism. It’s almost to the extent that they believe they don’t have to do it. So [Calvinism] gives them an excuse not to do evangelism.”

Drace’s comments raise an important question. Does an affirmation of God’s sovereign election in salvation (commonly called “Calvinism”) deter people from faithfulness in evangelism?Calvin and Company

An answer to that question could be approached from several different angles.

One could, for example, consider evangelistic efforts among Baptists — comparing those who embrace the doctrine of election with those who do not. An SBC study “found that Calvinistic recent graduates report that they conduct personal evangelism at a slightly higher rate than their non-Calvinistic peers.”

A much better place to go, of course, would be the Word of God. There are many passages to which we could turn (from John 6 to Acts 13 to Ephesians 1); but I would start in Romans 9–10. Pardon the anachronism, but it is no accident that the most “Calvinistic” chapter in the Bible (Romans 9) is partnered with the most “evangelistic” (Romans 10). Clearly, the apostle Paul saw no disconnect between the reality of God’s sovereignty in salvation and his own evangelistic zeal. Continue Reading…

What makes a conman so pernicious is his ability to conjure a convincing illusory identity based on trust. Thus the moniker, confidence man. At some point in every scam, the prey entrusts money to the predator, with full confidence that it will be returned. But occasionally the hunter’s camouflage is stripped, and he finds himself in the crosshairs of justice.

masksSelva “Silver Fox” Carmichael is Britain’s most notorious petty serial fraudster. He went from surreptitious sneak to celebrity superstar overnight, when caught trying to fleece some beloved TV personalities. The scam was quite simple. He approached two erstwhile Big Brother contestants an offered them a role in a new reality series. The couple then permitted a TV crew to follow them around for 18 hours a day, filming the type of banal, unscripted, melodramatic routine that attracts viewers like gawkers to a car wreck. Carmichael then used the footage like bait in a snare to attract a bevy of salivating investors who fronted the cash for the production of the show.

Later he would put on his saddest face when informing the actors that the network reneged on the deal, and that there was no money to pay them, as per the contract it had to be returned to the investors. His next stop was an investor meeting where he apologized for not being able to return their money, due to contractual obligations to pay the actors. After everyone fussed and fumed, he slunk out with the entire investment in his bank account.

Ironically, it wasn’t the investors who sued him, it was the forlorn would-be actress. Her lawyer, Amir Saleem, recognized some of the details of the story his client told me to be telltale traces of the craft of a scam artist. Saleem successfully sued Carmichael for the amount owed plus damages, and in the process tore off his mask exposing him as The Silver Fox. Carmichael was arrested for criminal charges. But here’s the rub…he too recognized in Saleem’s methods traces of his craft. He tipped off his lawyers who dug a little deeper into the legal credentials of Amir Saleem who had defeated them in open court.

They were astonished to learn that not only was the law practice Saleem worked a fake, but his law degrees had been forged too. Amir Saleem too, was a serial fraudster. The two rival conmen were the undoing of each other. I love the irony that the case in which Saleem was unmasked as a fraud was the case he brought against a fellow conman.

You can’t write this kind of drama; not even for a fake reality TV show. But it goes to show that you can fool most people most of the time, but not all people all the time.

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In Little Rock ArkansasHow many times have I read or watched a news report about the devastation, caused by a tornado in some part of the country? Dozens maybe. I might have paused for a while, to think about the unimaginable power of the violent winds, or pondered what it would be like to lose everything I own in a storm, or I might have remarked how sad it was that a number of people lost their lives… over there.

This time it was different. This time a friend of mine–and two of his children–died.   Continue Reading…