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John MacArthur’s Strange Fire, reviewed by Dennis Balcombe

For over 100 years since the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Azusa Street, miracles have been extremely common in the Pentecostal Charismatic movement, and this has been one of the main reasons for its phenomenal growth. Many astounding miracles have accompanied the ministry of well-known evangelists who took the Gospel to the nations such as John G. Lake, Smith Wigglesworth, John Sung of China, T.L. Osborn, Reinhard Bonnke, just to name a few. But the majority of miracles have simply been due to the faith and prayers of ordinary Spirit-filled believers as they shared Christ with others.

One of the worst excesses of hate toward others during the Cultural Revolution in China was the practice of labeling of others as “capitalist road runners, counterrevolutionaries, imperialists, people holding to religious superstitions (which included all Christians), cult members”, etc. The government of China and other communist nations even today use labels for people promoting democracy, the rule-of-law, or calling for more autonomy for so-called autonomous regions. The blanket labeling according to religious belief, race, nationality, sexual preference, etc., is an obnoxious practice and actually illegal in many nations.

But MacArthur does this throughout the book, especially when it comes to well-known Pentecostal ministers. He rightfully points out some doctrinal errors, moral failures, failed prophecies and extreme practices of certain leaders, and then lumps all of them together. As Christian ministers, we have been taught to deal with issues, not personalities, and it is not appropriate to openly speak negatively of other Christian leaders in public speaking or print. Yet MacArthur does the same as his corresponding anti-Charismatic minister in Asia, Rev. Stephen Tong of Indonesia. It is well know this famous evangelist will openly attack by name any and every Charismatic minister in public, even denouncing the churches and leaders of the Pentecostal churches that have helped to sponsor his evangelical crusades throughout Asia.

MacArthur attacks by name many well-known ministers: Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, Ted Haggard, Todd Bentley, Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Fred Price, Oral Roberts, Paul Crouch, Joel Osteen, Myles Monroe, Creflo Dollar, Andrew Womack, Rodney Howard Browne, Peter Wagner, Bishop T.D. Jakes, David Yonggi Cho, Bishop Enoch Adeboye, Reinhard Bonnke, William Branham, Peter Popoff, Neville Johnson, Bob Jones, Robert Tilton, Bishop Clarence McClendon, Paul Cain, Robert Liardon, Eddie Long, Jack Deere, John Wimber, Mike Bickle, Joyce Myers, Kenneth Hagin, Ché Ahn, Marcus Lamb, John Arnott, David du Plessis, Dennis Bennett and others.

Some of these well-known Charismatic ministers have taught error, or at least are extreme in certain teachings, and a few have had moral problems. But several have been exposed by other Charismatic ministers or their denominations, and many have submitted to discipline. Having said that, it must be recognized that the vast majority are beyond reproach in doctrine, practice and character, and are truly being used greatly by the Lord. However, because MacArthur’s prejudice is against all Pentecostal ministers, they are all objects of his attack in this book.

It must be understood that MacArthur is basically addressing problems with ministers and movements in the West, specifically in North America, and has failed to see the whole picture of the church and the work of the Holy Spirit world-wide. If he were to take the time and effort to investigate the church in the rest of the world, if he had an objective open-mind, he would without a doubt come to a different conclusion, and admit this Pentecostal revival is truly of God and is changing millions of lives.

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Category: Spirit, Spring 2014

About the Author: Dennis Balcombe knew he was called to be a missionary to China while he was a teenager, and was one of the first to enter the mainland when it opened to the West in the 1970s. He founded Revival Christian Church in Hong Kong in 1969 and continues to plant churches, travelling and ministering in China and internationally. He shares his story in One Journey, One Nation: Autobiography of Dennis Balcombe, Missionary to China (2011) and he is the author of China's Opening Door: Incredible Stories of the Holy Spirit at Work in One of the Greatest Revivals in Christianity (Charisma House, 2014). Revival Chinese Ministries International

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