Is it “Strange Fire” or “Holy Fire”? by Charles Carrin
You will soon be hearing about two books: Strange Fire by Dr. John MacArthur and Holy Fire by Dr. R.T. Kendall. Dr. Kendall has written only in the emergency to defend Scripture and charismatic Christians from Dr. MacArthur attack.
John MacArthur is a man of significant Christian stature. He is the author of more than 150 books, a study Bible, other best-selling material, and a College President. R.T. Kendall is equally a man of great achievement. He holds a PhD. from Oxford University, authored more than 60 books, for twenty-five years was pastor of London’s Westminster Chapel near Buckingham Palace and a leading voice in Reformed theological circles around the world. More recently he has become an outspoken defender of the plenary inspiration of the New Testament, including spiritual gifts. I Corinthians 12,13,14. Unlike Dr. MacArthur, Dr. Kendall does not believe that portions of the New Testament or miraculous gifts of the Spirit have passed away.
While no group of Christians has ever been exempt from undesirables in its ranks, Dr. MacArthur has taken the position that all ministers today who claim to experience spiritual gifts are “Satan’s false teachers … spiritual swindlers, con men, crooks, and charlatans.” One would think that such an indictment leveled against godly men and women would be beneath Dr. MacArthur standard. Of necessity, his accusation points toward Jack Hayford, Mark Rutland, Derek Prince, Kenneth Hagin, Sr., Duncan Campbell, David Du Plessis, Demos Shakarian, Smith Wigglesworth, and a thousand other saintly believers.
My purpose is not to attack Dr. MacArthur. Instead, I want to speak defensively for the Bible’s full message and its reliability. The New Testament contains six passages in which gifts of the Spirit are identified. I have now been in ordained ministry 64 years and have been on both sides of this tragic fence. In my youth I was taught that all gifts identified in I Corinthians 12 were obsolete. Later I was told that only knowledge, tongues, and prophecy, had been removed. My denomination preached nothing about it. For us, those verses weren’t even there and in the confusion I walked away from all of it. For me, there was no sensible answer. Then, in 1977, I had a personal encounter with the Holy Spirit that changed everything. The decision was no longer left to me and I emerged from that holy explosion not only believing but experiencing spiritual gifts. To my amazement I found they were very, very real.
Believe me when I say that the gospel that is blazing in first-century-power in remote parts of the globe today is not coming from those who deny the truth of the New Testament. These are marooned in their own religious mud. Only “full gospel” believers are winning. If you don’t believe that, go!, find out for yourself. Millions of Africans have come to Christ in recent years through charismatic preaching.
Am I “charismatic?” Yes! Absolutely!, and as such believe that the New Testament is still intact, none of the Scripture has lost its validity and every line should be accepted by the modern church. Opposing Christians–usually called “cessationists”–believe that many New Testament passages have lost their authority and should be ignored. Though still in the Bible, these select scriptures are no longer true. Astonishingly, no one has yet been able to supply a list of these invalid verses. While the argument usually centers on the reality of spiritual gifts, the debate fundamentally regards whether or not the New Testament is reliable.
My question is this: If Moses sanctified the Old Testament by sprinkling it with the blood of animals and Jesus sanctified the New Testament by sprinkling it with His own blood (Hebrews 9:11-23) and Moses’ book was unalterable–can Jesus’ book be less so? Was the Old Testament inviolate while the New Testament is not? Was there spiritual power in animal blood that Jesus lacked? For myself, I can take only one position: The New Testament was, is, shall ever be, true in each line. None of it has lost is power or purpose. The need of the church is not to edit the Bible but to believe it.
Observe these Scriptures and their obvious message:
Jesus said: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4
Jesus said: “Heaven and earth shall pass away but My words will by no means pass away.” Matthew 24:35.
God the Father said: “My Covenant I will not break nor alter the Word that is gone out of my lips.” Psalm 89:34.