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The Theological Pillow Fight from the Nosebleed Section


John’s fundamentalism and watch-dogging definitely turned into fact-fogging. Michael’s book has many examples which show plainly that John simply did not seem to get, discover or investigate all the facts. But the real question is, why? There are so many examples of this that if I were to start sharing them now, you’d probably quit reading this review. Chapter three, “A Great Big Blind Spot,” offers many of these examples, and appropriately opens this way.

“According to a popular blog, Pastor John MacArthur spends thirty-two hours putting together a single sermon, meaning eight hours a day for four days. That speaks of precision, care, detail, focus, and preparation of devoting oneself carefully to a subject before addressing it. How then can a man of this caliber make such patently false statements about charismatics, statements that even common sense would preclude?” (p. 49).

In Strange Fire I read zero concessions to even the possibility, much less the probability, that John might have said something that went too far, was oversimplified, exaggerated, or ungracious. This is not a manifestation of grace, and it is not being responsible with the facts. In all humility, I say, “John, that’s not the way you taught us to study.”


Fundamentalism Can Introduce a Fear of Feelings

I still feel the knot on my head when I read this statement made by John—dealt with by Michael in chapter three.

I’ll start believing the truth prevails in the Charismatic Movement when its leaders start looking more like Jesus Christ (p. 74).

Frankly, that’s probably the most judgmental statement I’ve heard in a long time. And it comes from someone I’d lay down my life for.

This version of fundamentalism negatively affects communication by disconnecting one’s facts, reasoning, argumentation and conclusion from the human being they are talking to. Talking to someone quickly turns into talking at someone, which almost always sounds like talking down to someone. One becomes so passionate about what they perceive as truth that they exalt that truth over the person. The effect is that the person they think they are trying to help with truth is actually hammered with something else in the name of Jesus, and sound doctrine, and the right music, and Bible version, and haircut, and dress code,[9] and all that. Honestly, it’s just a rerun of the Galatian fiasco, except instead of Jesus+circumcision it becomes Jesus+reformed theology, or Jesus+dispensationalism, or Jesus+fill-in-the-blank-with-your-favorite-theology. And I still like reformed theology today. And to use John’s confession of being a “leaky dispensationalist”, I’d say I’m probably a dispensationalist with a few small drops left at the bottom of the cup.

In that world in which I once lived, something or someone I disagreed with was never allowed to be just different. Their viewpoints, if different from what the church or seminary espoused, was looked at with distrust. Michael did a great job putting this reality on the table in the second best chapter in the book, Chapter eight, “Spirit and Truth, Right Brain and Left Brain.”[10] He wrote that, “it seems as if we sometimes have fundamentally different ways of looking at the same things – fundamentally different perspectives and, in a sense, fundamentally different ‘spiritual personalities’” (p. 251). But that doesn’t seem to be allowed in the camp I came from. Personality differences were never allowed to affect or influence anything.

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Category: Spirit, Summer 2014

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. Google+ Twitter Facebook LinkedIn

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