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The Mouse Under the Elephant in Strange Fire

 

Now I turn my attention to Cameron’s bullet-pointed “raft of questions and issues that need to be addressed.” But of course, I can’t address them all in this response. First and foremost, that’s because I don’t think they need to be addressed in the public way that Cameron believes. I believe that no man lives to himself, no man dies to himself, and whether we live or die we are the Lord’s. In other words, each of us will stand before the judgment seat of Christ to give an account of what each of us has done. Each of us—personally—not corporately. Cameron and I both will give an account for what each of us, individually and personally, have done. Any questions and issues that need to be addressed should be addressed by each believer, like the Bereans did, and do not necessarily have to be addressed in some public forum.

  • Is there any statistical evidence that proves the so-called ‘lunatic fringe’ of the charismatic world is not actually the mainstream of the movement? Compelling statistics were produced at Strange Fire that indicated the prevalence of prosperity theology in mainstream charismatic churches. Can those numbers be contradicted, or is it time to reconsider who is truly on the fringe?” Man, I just have no idea, honestly. John MacArthur presented “compelling statistics” which were obviously based on zero interaction with biblical charismatics and the movements and groups they represent. So I’d have to say those statistics are kind of like a prisoner of war: if you torture them long enough they’ll tell you anything you want to hear.
  • What is the responsibility of charismatic leaders to police their own movement beyond the walls of their individual churches? Who will be willing unequivocally to call out heretics and charlatans? And why are so many charismatics comfortable with false teachers serving as the face of their movement?” Again, there’s only as much responsibility as their sphere of leadership and influence extend or allow. I have no business calling out the heretics and charlatans of people I’ve never even met, nor that the people I lead even pay attention to. Preaching at my people about other people I don’t know or that they don’t even pay attention to is a waste of their time, and more importantly an unfaithful attending to the exposition of the Word for their sake.
  • What constitutes the true, biblical gospel? And what deviations from it qualify as apostasy and heresy? In particular, how do you make sense of the rise of charismatic expressions in the Catholic Church? Is it possible to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit while continuing to reject the biblical gospel?” Paul was pretty clear on what the true, biblical gospel was. It’s in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4. It’s that simple. He said in Romans 10:9-10 that if you confess that truth with your mouth and believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, then you’re a true follower of Jesus, even if you happen to find yourself in a Catholic church at the time. If you deviate from that, then you are not a believer. Therefore, it is impossible to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit if you reject the very biblical gospel that He was sent to affirm and promote. Again, I am only the steward and custodian of the gospel for those that God has put under my leadership or influence. I am not a broker of that truth. And the Strange Fire crowd really makes me feel that they believe they are.
  • Is Oneness Pentecostalism heresy? Or is perverting the doctrine of the Trinity not really such a big deal after all?” Yes and no, respectively. Oneness stuff is heretical, and the doctrine of the Trinity is a big deal after all. All biblical charismatics know that. Some charismaniacs do not know that. Yet. So we love them and lead them into truth, where we have authority and influence over them.
  • How are manufactured experiences—like seeding air conditioning vents with gold flakes and promoting man-made prophecies—helpful or encouraging for true spiritual growth? Why should the proliferation of phonies give anyone confidence that the real thing even exists?” The first question is obviously rhetorical. If you fake a work of God then you are a fake. No question about that. But regarding the second question, I ask in response whether the proliferation of hyper-Calvinists give anyone confidence that real Calvinists exists? I’d ask whether the proliferation of terrible preaching gives anyone confidence that expository preaching exists? I’d ask whether the proliferation of inept, local church leadership gives anyone confidence that biblical leadership really does exist? Here’s the bottom line that cessationism has a hard time accepting: the abuse of a good thing neither means there is no good thing in existence, nor that we deny ourselves the experience of truly good things.
  • Is the prosperity gospel biblical? If not, doesn’t it fall under the curse of Galatians 1:8–9?” No. It is a cursed gospel. And biblical charismatics believe that, and some charismaniacs probably do, too.

 

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Category: Fall 2014, Spirit

About the Author: Rob Wilkerson, M.Div. (The Master's Seminary, 2000), B.S. (Luther Seminary, 1994), is a follower of Jesus in Woodstock, GA, where he works in the tech industry as an analyst and consultant. From there he envisions and pursues missional-shaped business for the kingdom. He and his wife Sherri have been married for 21 years and together have three sons and a daughter. Rob believes the mission of the gospel is summed up in four simple phrases: know God, obey Jesus, love one another, and make disciples. www.robwilkerson.net. Google+ Twitter Facebook LinkedIn

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