Strange Fire

Strange Fire by John MacArthur  strange-fire-the-danger-of-offending-the-holy-spirit-with-counterfeit-worship

a review

One area many – dare I say most – current day evangelicals have gone astray from orthodox Christianity is the topic of MacArthur’s latest book. From Southern Baptists to contemporary “Christian” radio, slogans and anecdotes fill space and airways with the message that it’s normal to hear from God. This is not the biblical message of “hearing” from God as you read and study His Word – it’s the dangerous practice of believing inferences and confirmations from myriad sources are God’s way of “speaking to your heart”. It is this claim of extra-biblical revelation that MacArthur addresses in Strange Fire. If your blood isn’t stirred up by the thought of reading and entire book detailing the train wreck of uninhibited charismania, it’s important, maybe more so – that this book also provides the child of God very good counsel on the identity, mission, and work of the Holy Spirit.

MacArthur’s book is comprised of 12 chapters on topics covering new apostles and prophets, gifts of healing and tongues, the work of the Spirit in salvation, sanctification, and the Scripture; the last chapter is an open letter to his continuationist friends. And he provides a handy appendix with several pages of quotes from the past on the topic of the continuation of spiritual gifts, in support of his claim that the current craze is not part of historic, orthodox Christianity. I’ve heard from some who think MacArthur has lumped all continuationists into one bucket of heresy – drawing equivalence between some respected theologians and the likes of Benny Hinn. But MacArthur’s letter to his friends is very clear that he sees much good in the work of these friends, as well as much thin theological ice that their “open canon” represents. He considers them dear brothers who need to be awakened to the danger they pose by sharing some views with flaming heretics – sometimes endorsing and appearing with them.

I will leave it to you to read the chapters detailing the train wreck of the strange fire doctrines, and focus some attention on the last third of the book. Citing an observation from A.W. Tozer, MacArthur says our “view of God is the foundational reality in our thinking, and it encompasses all that we believe about the Holy Spirit.” He points out the truth that while many miracle seekers flock after Benny Hinn and Todd Bentley, a true miracle takes place every time a spiritually dead sinner is raised to new life in Christ. This is too mundane for experience-based Christians, but is glorious to behold by those who inhabit the heavens – and ought to be recognized as such by us. The Holy Spirit works in the birth of new saints by a.) convicting the unredeemed of their sins, b.) convicting unbelievers of righteousness, and c.) convicts sinners that divine judgments are real and necessary. The Spirit of the living God then regenerates the elect – removes the heart of stone and gives a heart of flesh by granting faith to believe the gospel. This is work man cannot do, any more than man can bring about his own natural birth. Salvation is of the Lord, as Jonah declared from the belly of the fish, and the triune God does not share His glory with anyone.

Still in this vein, the Holy Spirit also brings repentance to those He regenerates, liberating us from the power of sin and death and producing love for His righteousness. He enables fellowship with God and makes sweet the fellowship of the saints. We are heirs of the kingdom, free from the dread of God and drawn to Him as our Father, enabled to joyfully sing praises to Him. And here, then, is one biblical truth that cannot be reconciled with the “second baptism” doctrine: the Holy Spirit indwells every man, woman, and child He raises to new life in Christ. He is our Comforter and Helper; protecting, empowering, and encouraging us.

MacArthur delineates the difference between being filled with the Spirit of God and the heretical notion of being drunk on the Spirit. Drunkenness is irrational, out-of-control behavior, while filled with the Spirit is joyful, self-controlled submission to God. Being filled with the Spirit of God is an ongoing experience in the life of every Christian – not an occasional orgy with John Crowder. “Rather than being hopelessly distracted by charismatic counterfeits, believers need to rediscover the real ministry of the Holy Spirit, which is to activate His power in us through His Word, so that we can truly conquer sin for the glory of Christ, the blessing of His church, and the benefit of the lost.”

His last chapter on the true work of the Holy Spirit focuses on the Spirit’s role and identity in the Scriptures. MacArthur gives us a very quick run through history, highlighting a few of the faithful men used by God and several of those who fell or jumped into heresy and have misled countless simple folk. “By departing from the sole authority of Scripture, bot Roman Catholicism and theological liberalism became enemies of true Christianity, fraudulent versions of the very thing they claimed to represent. … Because He is the God of truth, His Word is infallible. Because He cannot lie, His Word is inerrant. Because He is the King of kings, His Word is absolute and supreme.” The Spirit inspired the writing of Scripture, provides illumination for the minds of Christians, and the Spirit gives power to the reading and preaching of Scripture. To reject the Scriptures is to reject the Spirit of God – and the entire trinity.

In his “open letter”, the last chapter, MacArthur observes that, “rather than confronting charismatic errors head-on, continuationists leaders find themselves flirting with aspects of a movement that is full of serious error and corrupt leadership.” These otherwise solid theologians allow the charismatics to set the vocabulary, changing the meaning of words and phrases from what the Bible and history show them to be, in order to justify the nonsensical babbling that passes for tongues in modern churches. “The continuationist position invites any personal impression or subjective feeling as a potential revelation from God. Moreover, it removes any authoritative, objective standard for questioning the legitimacy of someone’s supposed revelation from God.”

All in all, this should be a welcomed book in any Christian’s home. We do need to be provoked to think biblically – about gifts and the One Who gives them.

Old Mormon vs New Mormon.

I created these videos and posted them on DefCon back in September of 2010. Since then, we’ve received many new readers to the blog that may have missed them. So I’ve decided to dust them off and re-post them here so that our new readers can see what happens when a 19th century Mormon meets a 21st century Mormon.

Enjoy!

Celestial Marriage

The Missouri Prophecies

Free cult flyer and gospel tract download.

Back in 2008, I made a cult flyer/gospel tract combo available to the readers of this blog to download for free. Since then, this flyer/tract combo has undergone refinement and is now in its fifth printing.

This flyer/tract combo was drafted as a way to inform the public about the truths of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons, and to provide them with the true gospel of Jesus Christ. It was originally designed to hang on doorknobs in the area where I live and was in response to the constant canvasing of neighborhoods by these two cults. But since its inception, this flyer/tract combo has also found its way into the hands of numerous people throughout America and has even found its way to the shores of Africa (with another box full currently en route to Liberia as I write this).

The cult flyer is a single tri-fold (printed on the front and back). The tract comes three to a page (printed on the front and back). Each tract fits nicely inside the cult flyer as an insert.

Please feel free to download, print, and make as many copies of each of these items as you wish to distribute as you see fit. You can even put your church name, website, or other personal information on them to help in your evangelistic contacts if you so desire.

The Great Exchange

Who’s Really Knocking at Your Door?

Book recommendation: “Under the Banner of Heaven” by Jon Krakauer.

I recently finished Jon Krakauer’s book, Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith. I found the book to be very revealing of early Mormon history (much of the stuff modern day Mormons prefer you didn’t know about). Namely this book tackled Mormonism’s twin doctrines of polygamy and Blood Atonement (and detailing the hellish results those unbiblical doctrines wrought on Mormons and non-Mormons alike).

Although this work was a scathing revelation of Mormonism’s twisted and violent history, I could not help but detect the author’s occasional sympathetic bent toward Joseph Smith and the Mormon organization as a whole.

Sympathy or poor research in some instances (I am not certain which), but one example of less-than accurate reporting is when Krakauer said that when Joseph Smith fired his gun at the angry mob (the gun that was smuggled into the Carthage jail), he wounded “at least one.”

However, Mormonism’s own History of the Church cites that Jospeh Smith actually “snapped the pistol six successive times; only three of the barrels, however, were discharged. I afterwards understood that two or three were wounded by these discharges, two of whom, I am informed, died.”

I must say that there’s a chasm of difference between “wounding at least one” and “two or three were wounded . . . two of whom . . . died.”

Another instance in the book where the author would have done well to have done better research is when he writes that Calvinists teach that God is “bent on making humans atone for Adam’s original sin.”

If Krakauer did his homework he would have known that that is not the historic Calvinist position (and never has been). Calvinism teaches that God’s Son (and Him alone) is the only One able to atone for mankind’s sin that was inherited through Adam and for the sins man commits daily. It is actually the belief of Mormonism (and Roman Catholics, and Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Seventh Day Adventists, and Muslims, etc.) that man can atone for or add to Christ’s atoning work on the cross; and this in direct opposition to Galatians 5:4.

In all, although the author was incorrect on a few points, I found the book to be a fascinating look into both the mainstream LDS organization (the one’s who broke away from the original teachings of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young) and the varios fundamental LDS organizations (the one’s who still follow the original teachings of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young) with the Lafferty brothers’ murder of Erica Lafferty and her baby, Erica, on July 24, 1984, as the back drop of the book.

The book, although containing a critical overtone toward all religion, horrifyingly exposes the results of following Joseph Smith and Brigham Young’s teachings faithfully, showing that Mormonism (much like Islam) is a violent religion full of lies, deception, adultery, sexual immorality, and forever marked by the bloodshed of innocent men, women, and children.

Like a lamb to the slaughter? The final moments of Joseph Smith.

The following article from the Mormonism Research Ministry was written by Bill McKeever:

“The events leading to the death of Mormon founder Joseph Smith are much like the events surrounding his life—full of contradiction. To hear Mormons tell the story, Smith did no wrong; for others, he did no right. Like most stories, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.”

Continue reading here.

False Teachers

Several years ago, my wife took up the job of organizing the library of the church we were members of. She found some material that looked questionable and asked me to help her figure out which authors should be put in the closet on the “heresy shelf”.

I spent several weeks reading books and researching popular authors and developed a “cheat sheet” of false teachers and a sample of the heresy they taught. Below is a screen shot, the file (6 pages) can be downloaded here.

While I hope this is useful, please note that it is not up to date – some of the newer false teachers this site has brought to light are not included. But the people on this list are behind most of the folks now popular that we should be aware of.

Be on your guard, for the deceiver prowls around like a lion looking for his next meal. A little leaven leavens the whole lump – so do not buy the lie that you should “chew up the meat and spit out the bones.” Test everything – hold to that which is good. When you determine a man (or a woman) to be a false teacher, from such, turn away.

A video on the LDS by the BBC.

This was a well done piece on Mormonism by the BBC.

Although the impetus for the documentary was presidential candidate Mitt Romney, this video uses his potential presidency as a springboard to delve into Mormonism’s seedy underbelly (unfortunately they never mention such morsels as Mormonism’s racism and blasphemous doctrines like Blood Atonement, paying for your own sins in Hell, and their god having physical relations with Mary to conceive Jesus . . . just to name a few).