If 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.
To date, it is probably the most substantive response available. I say “the most substantive” because there really aren’t any others. Sure, Frank Viola thinks he published a slam dunk of his own against John, but as Lyndon pointed out in his review of that book, it only takes a few pages of reading for his entire rebuttal to come unraveled. So that leaves us with Michael Brown.
Seeing that Authentic Fire will be the one book most individuals encounter Lyndon and I are going to offer an extended review. He will take all the odd numbered chapters and I will take the even numbered chapters. There are also four appendices written by other men that we’ll address.
For those who don’t have the book, the table of contents breaks down like this:
1. A “collective war” against charismatics
2. Rejecting the strange fire, embracing the authentic fire
3. A great big blind spot
4. The genetic fallacy and the error of guilt by association
5. Testing the spirits: another look at the evidence
6. Sola Scriptura and therefore charismatic
7. Shall we burn one another at the stake?
8. Spirit and truth, right brain and left brain
9. A God to be experienced
10. Moving forward after Strange Fire
And then four appendices:
A. The ongoing evidence of miracles, and thoughts on African charismatic Christianity by Craig Keener
B. Why NT prophecy does NOT result in “scripture-quality” revelatory words (a response to the most frequently cited cessationist argument against the contemporary validity of spiritual gifts) by Sam Storms
C. Did the authentic fire cease in the first century? A response to Tom Pennington’s, “A case for cessationism.” by Steven Alt
D. A missions perspective on charismatic and cessationists by David Shibley
I do want to thank Dr. Brown, who on his own initiative, kindly sent me a signed copy of his book. So I appreciate that he at least wants to have some interaction with his material even if I so profoundly disagree with his main arguments.
Nonetheless, by the looks of the table of contents, there is a lot of good material to work through. And, just so that everyone knows, it is all easily answerable. In fact, having spent some concentrated effort in reading through and reviewing the book, I can confidently say that the arguments put forth are, for the lack of a better word, facile. Frank Viola’s gushing praise upon the book claiming Michael Brown shreds John MacArthur is greatly exaggerated to say the least.