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Michael Brown: Playing With Holy Fire

Michael Brown (center) with John and Cindy Lathrop in 2014.

In the chapters that follow the author begins to address some of the problems. Without question there are problems with some of the leaders in the movements, this was true in the past and it is true now, their errors will become clearer as one reads the book. However, problems can also be found among some of their followers. In chapter two, Brown discusses the gullibility of some people in the Spirit-filled movements. Why do some Charismatic/Pentecostal believers so readily accept beliefs and practices that fail the test of biblical orthodoxy? Brown mentions two positive characteristics of charismatics that if not tempered with discernment can cause them to buy into error. The two characteristics are child-like faith and a respect for their leaders. In the chapters that follow Brown deals with various errors in the movements, these included both faulty beliefs and faulty behavior. The errors in large measure are in three areas: morality, money, and fame. In dealing with these Brown cites specific cases of abuse in each area.

One feature of the book that I found to be particularly enjoyable were the positive examples of the gifts of the Spirit in operation. Some were particularly striking. The account of Smith Wigglesworth shouting the text of John 3:16 through the keyhole of the door of a house was powerful. Another one which I found to be especially powerful was a prophetic word that a man gave to a young woman. The man with the prophetic word said “I hate mommies and daddies.” On the surface this sounds bizarre. However, it had a very powerful impact on the woman it was spoken to. The reason for this is that it had direct bearing upon some events in her life that other listeners (and readers) did not know about. The book tells you why she was so powerfully moved.

Playing With Holy Fire is a call for reflection and action on the part of those who call themselves Charismatics or Pentecostals. As the book closes Brown lists a number of things that Spirit-filled believers can do to address and curtail the abuses that currently plague our movements. His list is below.

  • We must pursue intimacy with the Lord and immerse ourselves in the Word.
  • We must put our emphasis on being disciples and making disciples.
  • We must get our own houses in order and redemptively confront those who are in error.
  • We must have a fresh encounter with the Holy Spirit.

These are timely words. May the Lord help us to hear and heed the message in this book, for it is a fresh call to return to truly biblical faith and practice.

Reviewed by John P. Lathrop


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Category: Spirit, Spring 2018

About the Author: John P. Lathrop is a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and is an ordained minister with the International Fellowship of Christian Assemblies. He has written for a number of publications and is the author of four books Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, and Teachers Then and Now (Xulon Press, 2008), The Power and Practice of the Church: God, Discipleship, and Ministry (J. Timothy King, 2010), Answer the Prayer of Jesus: A Call for Biblical Unity (Wipf & Stock, 2011) and Dreams & Visions: Divine Interventions in Human Experience (J. Timothy King, 2012). He also served as co-editor of the book Creative Ways to Build Christian Community (Wipf & Stock, 2013). Amazon Author page. Facebook

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