As a life-long Pentecostal-Charismatic, I recommend that every Pentecostal-Charismatic leader read Strange Fire by John MacArthur. I say this because we need to see how the bizarre “spiritual” behavior and doctrinal extremes by some in our movement are viewed by those on the outside and are used to whitewash the entire movement. We have done a very poor job of addressing these problems from within, so I do not doubt that God has raised up a voice that is fundamentally opposed to our movement to address these extremes. If God could use a pagan Babylonian king to discipline his people Israel for their sins (Jeremiah 25:8-11), could he not use a merciless fundamentalist preacher to point out our shortcomings?
That being said, MacArthur’s latest book does not represent an honest search for truth. It is obvious that his mind was already made up when he began his research for Strange Fire, and he found what he was looking for. He presents a circular argument, beginning with a faulty premise and proceeding with selective anecdotal evidence that determines the outcome. He begins with a commitment to cessationism, the belief that the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit were withdrawn from the church after the death of the twelve apostles and the completion of the writings of the New Testament. Since that is the case for him, that means modern expressions of Spiritual gifts must be false. He then utilizes the selective anecdotal evidence to buttress his presupposition, which leads him back to his starting point of cessation.
It seems that MacArthur wants to believe the worst about the movement of which he writes. At times I felt he was embellishing the bad to make it even worse. For example, Oral Roberts was not a Christian brother with whom he had profound differences but a heretic who did much damage to the body of Christ, “the first of the fraudulent healers to capture TV, paving the way for the parade of spiritual swindlers who have come after him” (155). Make no mistake about it, MacArthur is not out to bring correction to a sector of Christianity with which he disagrees; his goal is to destroy a movement he considers false, heretical and dangerous.