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Pouring Holy Water on Strange Fire: A Critique of John MacArthur’s Strange Fire and Charismatic Chaos

He further asserts that the charismatic’s tendency to avoid judging doctrine by Scripture has fostered confusion as well as the emergence of many bizarre teachings.

In general, I agree with these points. Many charismatics are weak in their understanding of Scripture and prone to de-emphasize the role of sound teaching.

And it is common for some in the “movement” to exalt emotional experiences above the teachings of Scripture.

However, MacArthur fails to acknowledge that there are many believers who accept the perpetuity of spiritual gifts who are “mighty” in the Scriptures and who practice the mandate to “judge all things.”

N.T. Wright, Craig Keener, Sam Storms, Gordon Fee, Jack Deere, Bernard Ramm, John Piper, Michael Green, James D.G. Dunn, Howard Snyder, Wayne Grudem, Russell P. Spittler, J. Rodman Williams, Charles Hummel, Robert Banks, the late Clark Pinnock, and Howard Ervin are just a few examples of men who embrace the continuation of miraculous gifts, yet take a highly academic approach to the written Word of God.

Moreover, their approach to spiritual gifts has been balanced, scholarly, and helpful.

Ironically, the academic credentials and works of scholarship that some of these men carry far exceed that of MacArthur himself. Hence, it is a gross mistake to denounce the entire charismatic world for failing to accept biblical criticism and embrace doctrinal soundness.

(page 27).



Purchase Pouring Holy Water on Strange Fire: A Critique of John MacArthur’s Strange Fire & Charismatic Chaos at Find other resources from Frank Viola at These excerpts are used by permission of the author.

Special thanks to John P. Lathrop for his help in selecting these excerpts.


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Category: Spirit, Summer 2014

About the Author: Frank Viola has helped thousands of people around the world to deepen their relationship with Jesus Christ and enter into a more vibrant and authentic experience of church. He has written many books on these themes, including God’s Favorite Place on Earth, From Eternity to Here: Rediscovering the Ageless Purpose of God, Reimagining Church: Pursuing the Dream of Organic Christianity, and The Day I Met Jesus: The Revealing Diaries of Five Women from the Gospels. He blogs regularly at Twitter

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