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Strangers To Fire: When Tradition Trumps Scripture, reviewed by John Lathrop

Are Pentecostals offering Strange Fire? (Panel Discussion)

Robert W. Graves, ed., Strangers To Fire: When Tradition Trumps Scripture (Woodstock, GA: The Foundation for Pentecostal Scholarship, 2014), 604 pages, ISBN 9780996044509

If you are a person who stays current with regard to books related to the work of the Holy Spirit, the first part of the title of this book may sound familiar to you. If you find this to be true, it is probably because there was a book published in 2013 that had a somewhat similar title. I am, of course, referring to John MacArthur’s book, Strange Fire. MacArthur’s book was very provocative, indeed antagonistic, toward Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians. The book attracted a lot of attention and drew responses from key Christian leaders from both inside and outside of the Pentecostal/Charismatic movements. The preface of Strangers To Fire tells us that Strange Fire was the impetus that caused this current volume to be published (xxvii). Strangers To Fire was published to address and correct some of the issues that were raised in MacArthur’s book. In fact, some of the chapters were written in direct response to Strange Fire.

Cover for the November 2016 re-release by Empowered Life.

The introduction states that this volume consists of thirty-five chapters of which the first seven were written in direct response to MacArthur’s book (xxxi). These chapters make up Part One of the book. The majority of direct responses to Strange Fire were previously published online by Charisma News and Part Two of the book, “Classic Replies to Cessationism and the Misuses of the Charismata,” consists of chapters drawn from other books and publications written between 1968 and 2013 (xxxi). While these additional chapters were not written in direct response to MacArthur’s book, they do touch on issues pertinent to his book, indeed to the cessationists’ view in general. The afterword of Strangers To Fire states the purpose of the book. “It is our fervent prayer that this anthology may aid in the release of cessationists so they might be able to pray the biblical prayer, ‘Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief’ (Mark 9:24 KJV)” (523).

The contributors to this work are: Stanley M. Burgess, Randy Clark, Ronald Cottle, William De Arteaga, Jack Deere, Paul Elbert, Andrew T. Floris, Robert W. Graves, Gary S. Greig, Wayne Grudem, James Hernando, Melvin L. Hodges, Eddie Hyatt, William K. Kay, Craig S. Keener, Robert Menzies, J. P. Moreland, Douglas A. Oss, Cecil M. Robeck Jr., Jon M. Ruthven, Mark Rutland, Omer Jaye Sharp, Gary Shogren, Sam Storms, Horace S. Ward, and David A. Womack. A quick look at their biographical information will demonstrate that they are highly educated people, many with earned doctoral degrees.

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Category: Fall 2014, Spirit

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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