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John MacArthur’s Strange Fire, Reviewed by R. Loren Sandford

Are Pentecostals offering Strange Fire? (Panel Discussion)

MacArthur Strange FireThis is a pre-publication review of John MacArthur, Strange Fire: The Danger of Offending the Holy Spirit with Counterfeit Worship (Thomas Nelson, Nov 12, 2013) 9781400205172.

Strange Fire by John MacArthur is basically an attack on anything and everything related to the Charismatic Movement and the various movements descended from it, as if the whole of it were composed of one monolithic set of doctrines and practices that all of us espouse. It invalidates anything that smacks of the supernatural or of emotion freely expressed in God’s presence. MacArthur pours his vitriol – and I mean vitriol – through the filter of his own prejudices and theological presuppositions in a way that blinds him to the differences between the various movements within the charismatic stream and causes him to deny the existence of the majority of us who do not agree with or practice the abuses he objects to. In doing so he ignores or reinterprets, through very poor exegesis, the clear teaching of much of the Scripture as well.

Ironically, as he formulates his attack, he builds upon concerns that many of us in the movement share. I share his concern over abuses in prophetic ministry, aberrant doctrines, fallen leaders, manipulative fundraising, acting out in fleshly ways that are not of the Spirit and fakery on the part of some associated with the movement. As an insider, I confront these things as well, seeking what is genuine and calling for biblical grounding. MacArthur commits grievous error, however, in claiming that these abuses characterize the movement as a whole. They do not.

For example, I am a charismatic and have been from my childhood in the 1950s. I am also a graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary, 1976. Consequently, I have been steeped in exegetical principle and the doctrines of the historic faith from a time when Fuller described itself as “reformed” in its theology. Consequently, I do not embrace aberrant theologies. Reading MacArthur, you’d think that all charismatics espouse prosperity teaching. We do not. You’d think that we are all Word of Faith adherents when, in fact, they constitute a small minority and promote a doctrine many of us oppose. I actually wrote a rebuttal of those two doctrines in my own book, Purifying the Prophetic.

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Category: Spirit, Winter 2014

About the Author: R. Loren Sandford is the eldest son of John and Paula Sandford, widely recognized as pioneers in the charismatic renewal, prophetic ministry and inner healing. A graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary, Loren has been in ministry full time since 1976 and is the founding pastor of New Song Church and Ministries in Denver, Colorado. As well as traveling internationally as a conference and seminar speaker, he is the author of Purifying the Prophetic: Breaking Free from the Spirit of Self-fulfillment, Understanding Prophetic People: Blessings and Problems with the Prophetic Gift, The Prophetic Church: Wielding the Power to Change the World, Renewal for the Wounded Warrior: A Burnout Survival Guide for Believers and Visions of the Coming Days: What to Look for and How to Prepare. Married since 1972, he and Beth have two daughters and one son who have collectively given them nine grandchildren. Loren is also a member of the Osage Nation, a Native American heritage he deeply treasures. rlorensandford.com Twitter: @pastorrls

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