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Michael Brown’s Authentic Fire, reviewed by John King

Brown offers personal testimony to show that fellowship with God—essential for unity—is both relational and rational. Worship, as a characteristic of that relationship, to charismatics is not “superficial hysteria” as MacArthur maintains. MacArthur sees true worship as a “rich theology” preferring thought over sensation—limited to organ arrangements. Brown shares that worship may employ the use of an orchestra of harmonious sounds accompanying all solidly biblical forms of praise including: singing, dancing, jumping, and even shouting.

MacArthur sees loud music that is youth-centric as manipulative—getting them drunk on the sound rather than addressing life—a sensual experience disconnected from reality. Brown sees such music, if Spirit-led, as enhancing worship and making youth more receptive to truth and the sick more open to anticipating God’s healing touch. Brown proceeds to use a number of Scriptures and comments from well-known church leaders from the past in support of his position.

Going forward, Brown believes Strange Fire will backfire. As Pentecostals clean house and show an increased interest in evangelism and holiness, and as a true effusion of the Spirit leads charismatics more to repentance and a genuine passion for truth not just a ceremonial excitement, cessationists will approach less cautiously and less skeptically. Inevitably, the non-hostile cessationists and the non-crazy charismatics will connect. Brown believes it is already beginning.

If you see yourself as a picked-on Pentecostal, reading Authentic Fire should help you hold your head high. But not too high.

Reviewed by John H. King

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Category: Spirit, Spring 2014

About the Author: John H. King, M.Th., retired from the pastorate after serving congregations in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts for over 24 years and now develops software for the financial services industry. He is the author of Challenged: Living Our Faith in a Post Modern Age.

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