“One other thing. Continuationists may believe that the Strange Fire guys are throwing the baby out with the bathwater. But they should begin their response by acknowledging that in the contemporary charismatic world, there is an awful lot of bathwater, and — even on their accounting — not very much baby. This is something that needed to be done, and because there has not been (to my knowledge) a large continuationist conference rebuking the manifest excesses of the wahoo brethren, this conference was inevitable.” (Douglas Wilson, Excesses of the Wahoo Brethren)
by Stephen Rodgers
Since the Strange Fire conference was such a significant topic recently, I wanted to do a post collecting a number of resources and perspectives related to it. After trying to organize the material a few different ways (topically? chronologically?), I finally threw up my hands and decided to do a mix of both: some of this will be organized by source, and some by chronology. So without further ado, here we go.
I also may add to this article as more resources become available, but I wanted to get this up since a number of folks at the church have asked about it.
Editor’s Note: This page has been updated numerous times since it’s original publication. The most recent update was on 3/10/2015.
Lyndon Unger wrote a series of posts that laid out the origins and issues relevant to the (then) upcoming Strange Fire Conference. They’re still probably the most interesting and readable introduction to the subject.
Primary sources are important. Before you spend too much time studying what other people thought about the messages, you should probably listen to the messages yourself. I’m also including Pastor Patrick’s reflections on the conference since this is the LBC Beacon after all.
Grace to You is the ministry of John MacArthur and Grace Community Church. These are the folks who who organized the conference in the first place.
Here are their articles recounting the specific days of the conference:
And here are several articles responding to particular issues after the conference:
- Strange Fire: What Now?
- John MacArthur on Making an Informed Response to Strange Fire
- The Broad Brush
- John MacArthur’s Interview at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
- Four Points About Tongues from 1 Corinthians 14
- The Holy Spirit As Illuminator
- Strange Fire Q&A: Answering the Critics
- The Apostles Who Don’t Do Anything
- False Apostles and the Case of Todd Bentley
- Discernment and Disaster
- Marks of a True Apostle: Chosen by God
- Marks of a True Apostle: Appointed by Jesus
- Marks of a True Apostle: Witness of the Risen Christ
- Marks of a True Apostle: Unique Ministry Duties
- Marks of a True Apostle: Foundation of the Church
- Ignorance Is Not An Option
- Calling Out the Wolves
- Has Benny Hinn Repented? (notable charismatic spokesman Dr. Michael Brown has responded: Justin Peters, Benny Hinn, and the Pursuit of Truth)
- Beware of False Teachers
- Fruit Inspection
- The Pathology of False Teachers
- Naming Names
- When Silence Is Sinful
- Damnable Deception
- The Responsibility to Rebuke
- Dances with Wolves
- Biblical Prophecy and Modern Confusion
- Prophecy Redefined (in response to John Piper’s What Is Prophecy Today?)
- Fallibility and Female Prophets
- Prophecy, “the Perfect,” and the End of What?
- Drawing Lines
- The Case for Cessationism Stands (Andrew Wilson has responded: Does Cessationism Still Stand?)
- Charismatic Teaching Is Breeding Spiritual Havoc
- Strange Fire Redux (Part 1)
- Strange Fire Redux (Part 2)
- Strange Fire Redux (Part 3)
- The Elephant in the Strange Fire
The Cripplegate is a teamblog from a number of pastors and seminary students who either are directly associated with Grace Community Church and TMS, or used to be and have moved on to ministry in other areas.
Here are their articles summarizing the specific sessions of the conference:
- Strange Fire – Session One – John MacArthur
- Strange Fire – Undervaluing Pentecost – R. C. Sproul
- Strange Fire – Calvin’s Critique of Charismatic Calvinists – Steve Lawson
- Strange Fire – The African Import of Charismatic Chaos – Conrad Mbewe
- Strange Fire – Testing the Spirits – John MacArthur
- Strange Fire – A Case for Cessationism – Tom Pennington
- Strange Fire – Is There a Baby in the Bathwater? – Phil Johnson
- Strange Fire – Panel Q&A 1 – MacArthur, Lawson, Pennington, & Peters
- Strange Fire – The Puritan Commitment to Sola Scriptura – Steve Lawson
- Strange Fire – Are We Preachers or Witchdoctors? – Conrad Mbewe
- Strange Fire – Providence is Remarkable – Phil Johnson
- Strange Fire – Panel Q&A 2 – MacArthur, Mbewe, Johnson, & Busenitz
- Strange Fire – A Call to Respond – John MacArthur
And here are several articles responding to particular issues after the conference:
- Where There’s Smoke, There’s Strange Fire
- As the Smoke Clears: A Few Afterthoughts on the Strange Fire Conference
- Strange Fire & Modern Prophecy (Steve Hays has responded: How To Recognize a False Prophet)
- Myths about the Strange Fire Conference
- Strange Fire & Miraculous Gifts
- The Smell of Napalm
- So Who Exactly IS the Mainstream of the Charismatic Movement?
- So What Exactly is an Apostle?
- Making a List and Checking It Twice: Listing the Spiritual Gifts
- Glorifying God When the Gamma Gets You Green
- Burning Away Misconceptions About “Holy Fire” (the author later wrote an article expanding on this one on his personal blog: Getting Flamed Over Fire)
- Michael Brown, Authentic Fire, and John 14:12 (notably charismatic spokesman Dr. Michael brown has responded: The Master’s Seminary Professor and John 14:12)
- Are Tongues Real Languages?
- Sam Storms and Two Types of Tongues
- Did Cornelius Speak In Non-Human Languages?
- Various Kinds of Tongues
- John MacArthur Responds to John Piper Regarding Strange Fire
- Spurgeon, Impressions, and Prophecy (Reprise)
- The Tongues of Angels
- Battalogeo and a Heavenly Prayer Language
- 3 Truths About Spiritual Gifts
- Why I Am A Cessationist
The Cripplegate is also re-posting the Butler / Unger review of Authentic Fire (original links below in the “Reviews, Responses, and Books” section):
- Reviewing Authentic Fire
- The Preface
- Chapter 1
- Chapter 2
- Chapter 3
- Chapter 4
- Chapter 5
- Chapter 6
- Chapter 7
- Chapter 8
- Chapter 9
- Chapter 10
- The Appendix of the Doctor
Pyromaniacs was originally the blog of Phil Johnson (a speaker at the conference and the Director of GTY). He retired a while back, but Dan Phillips and Frank Turk have been keeping the doors open in his absence.
Since the conference, Dan Phillips has been doing a series of articles (and a sermon or two) recounting his thoughts on the conference:
- Strange Fire Conference #1: Personal
- Strange Fire Conference #2: Session 1, John MacArthur
- Strange Fire Conference: My Report To Our Church
- Strange Fire Conference #3: Joni Eareckson Tada and R. C. Sproul
- Strange Fire Conference #4: Steve Lawson on Calvin and the Charismatics
- Strange Fire Conference #5: Conrad Mbewe
- Strange Fire Conference #6: Tom Pennington
- Strange Fire Conference #7: Phil Johnson
- Strange Fire Conference #8: John MacArthur
- Strange Fire Conference #9: Concluding Thoughts
Tim Challies runs one of the more prominent sites in terms of conservative Christian blogs. He also has a reputation for being a fairly level-headed guy. He watched the conference on livestream and blogged his thoughts on the sessions:
- John MacArthur and Strange Fire
- Strange Fire Conference: John MacArthur’s Opening Address
- Strange Fire Conference: Joni Eareckson Tada
- Strange Fire Conference: R.C. Sproul
- Strange Fire Conference: Steve Lawson
- Strange Fire Conference: Conrad Mbewe
- Strange Fire Conference: First Day Reflections
- Strange Fire Conference: John MacArthur Tests the Spirits
- Strange Fire Conference: A Case for Cessationism
- Strange Fire Conference: Scripture Alone
- Strange Fire Conference: Preachers or Witch Doctors?
- Strange Fire Conference: MacArthur’s Appeal to His Continuationist Friends
- Lessons Learned at Strange Fire
Reviews, Responses, and Books
There have been a couple of books published in response to both the Strange Fire conference and the Strange Fire book. This section collects responses and evaluations of those books.
The first book to respond was Frank Viola’s Pouring Holy Water on Strange Fire. Lyndon Unger reviewed it (unfavorably, to put it mildly), and eventually an updated and corrected version was released.
- Evaluating Holy Water Part 1 – Chapters 1 & 2
- Evaluating Holy Water Part 2 – Chapter 3
- Evaluating Holy Water Part 3 – Chapter 4
- Court’s Cash Crazy Quote Catch Correction
- Pouring Holy Water on Strange Fire 1.2 is now out!
The second book to respond was Michael Brown’s Authentic Fire. Lyndon Unger and Fred Butler teamed up to do a response to that book. As I write this, that review is still in progress. Since they cross-post a lot, I’m going to list the relevant links according to the corresponding chapters in the book.
- Chapter 1 (additional comments)
- Chapter 2 (additional comments)
- Chapter 3 (Part 1) and Chapter 3 (Part 2) (additional comments)
- Chapter 4 (additional comments)
- (early comments) Chapter 5 (Part 1) and Chapter 5 (Part 2) (additional comments)
- Chapter 6 (Part 1) and Chapter 6 (Part 2) (additional comments)
- Chapter 7 (additional comments)
- Chapter 8 (additional comments)
- Chapter 9 (additional comments)
- Chapter 10
- Appendix (additional comments)
- A Little Authentic Fire Announcement
Lyndon Unger (again)
Since this all began, Mr. Unger has written enough that I really can’t fit him into the “misc” section anymore.
- A Tiny Indicator of Charismatic Influence
- Some Clarification on the Indicator of Charismatic Influence
- Michael Brown and My Break-Dancing Dog
- Does Michael Brown Know More About Benny Hinn Than He Lets On?
- Quick Links – Michael Brown’s Appearance on the Benny Hinn Show
- Quick Thought – The Reason I Write About the Charismatic Movement
- Jonathan Edwards, Enthusiasts, and the Brownsville Revival
- Quick Thoughts: Guess What Charisma Magazine Just Did?
- Should I chase dreams, visions, experiences and miracles to know more about God?
Post-Event Roundup / Miscellaneous Articles
Here’s a collection of articles from various folk who I consider interesting and/or noteworthy.
- Ligonier Ministries posted both the video and the transcript of RC Sproul’s message.
- Thabiti Anyabwile – Why You Should Care About The “Strange Fire” Discussion
- Kevin DeYoung – The Puritans, Strange Fire, Cessationism, and the Westminster Confession
- Trevin Wax – The Right and Wrong Way to Engage John MacArthur’s “Strange Fire” Conference
- Fred Butler – My Concerns with Bloggers Concerned about Strange Fire and Muslim Dreams and Visions of Jesus and Questioning Modern Tongues and Hypocritical Fire and Articles on Cessationism, Continuationism, and Spiritual Gifts and Thoughts About Muslims Seeing Jesus and Grady’s Six Really Bad Charismatic Doctrines and My Five Additional Ones and Dead Charismatics Appearing in Dreams and Visions
- Douglas Wilson – Excesses of the Wahoo Brethren, You Have to Think It Is What You Think It Is, Prophecy and the Fear of God, and Beach Boys Glossolalia
- Justin Taylor – Why (Some) Cessationists and (Some) Continuationists Don’t Disagree about Prophecy as Much as (Some) People Might Think
- Tom Chantry – Two Quick Thoughts About Strange Fire
- Tim Challies – John MacArthur Answers His Critics (part 1 and part 2)
- Dan Phillips – A Word About J.I. Packer on Charismatics, Answering Todd Friel About the Emblematic Charismatic Michael Brown, and Why No “Killer” Verses Against Charismaticism?
- Frank Turk – A Cornucopia of Good Will
- John Piper – Piper Addresses Strange Fire and Charismatic Chaos
- Credo Magazine – Should Christians Pray in Tongues?
- The Gospel Coalition – Where Did All These Pentacostals and Charismatics Come From? (Someone owes Mark Dever royalties for riffing off his sermon titles!), How Is God Working in the World?, Why I Am a Cessationist, Why I Am a Continuationist, and Why Don’t We See Miracles Like The Apostles Did?
- Colin Smith – Confessions of a Former Charismatic (part 1 and part 2)
- Michael Kruger – No Holy Spirit, No Scripture
- Thomas Schreiner – A Review of Strange Fire (the book)
- Craig Keener – A Review of Strange Fire (the book)
Editor’s Note: Craig S. Keener is a noteworthy charismatic scholar. I don’t mind including his review here for the sake of completeness, but the website that is hosting it (pneumareview.com) seems to be splitting the review across a riduculously-large number of pages, most likely in an effort to exploit pageviews. Shame on them. Just be aware.
The Driscoll Incident
So one odd thing happened at the conference: Mark Driscoll showed up on the last day and made an impromptu and unscheduled appearance. Here are a few articles related to that event (including his own explanation of what happened).
- Mark Driscoll Crashes the “Strange Fire” Conference
- Austin Duncan Is Hilarious
- So Is Phil Johnson
- See You In Seattle, Pastor John MacArthur?
- Reviews of Driscoll’s new book (the one he was passing out at the conference) can be found at both Challies.com and The Gospel Coalition.
Editor’s Note: this is included for the sake of completeness; if you somehow are under the impression that this is central to the content of the conference itself, then please stop…do not pass GO…do not collect $200. Remember Tim Challies? He wrote a book a few years ago that might help you with your much more immediate problem.
For Further Study
If there’s sufficient interest, it might be worthwhile to build a full-blown hub post on charasmaticism in general and the sign gifts in particular. In the meantime, here are a few resources you can avail yourself to:
- The Cripplegate did a series on cessationism. The series can be found here (scroll down). The article tag is here.
- Pyromaniacs has a number of tags that might be helpful: da Gifts, Charismaticism, Holy Spirit, and Strange Fire.
- Fred Butler has also written on the topic: Resources on Cessationism and Articles on Cessationism and Continuationism. He also has a number of tags that deal with these topics: cessationism, charismatic gifts, and John MacArthur.
- There’s something of a classic debate/discussion between Richard Gaffin Jr. and Wayne Grudem on the topic “Prophecy for Today.” If memory serves, this is from 1989.
- There’s a more recent (but still friendly) debate on the issue of prophecy that took place between Ian Hamilton and Wayne Grudem
- There was also a more recent debate on the question “Have the New Testament Charismatic Gifts Ceased?” that took place between Michael Brown and Sam Waldron. Turretinfan has a summary of Waldron’s “cascade argument” here.
- Triablogue has been supportive of some aspects of the conference, and critical of others. Articles related to these issues can be found under the following tags: cessationism, Pentacostalism, Miracles, Prophecy, and John MacArthur.
- And there’s always Stoogle.