Sunday, March 22, 2015

On the non-review of Strange Fire

I posted a long review of Strange Fire (Macarthur) at Goodreads.  I might post it here later.  One of the problems is that any discussion of Strange Fire will immediately focus on whether continuing prophecy violates sola scriptura.  That's frustrating because that is not relevant to Macarthur's thesis.  It sounds odd, doesn't it?  Macarthur's thesis is that it is wrong to elevate experience over doctrine (Macarthur 17).  Fair enough. That is completely independent of whether prophecy continues today.

Therefore, if the discussion of strange fire collapses into that, we've really missed the larger point of the book.  But that might not be a bad thing.  The book had interesting moments, but whenever Macarthur had the chance to advance interesting discussion, he derailed himself to attack Benny Hinn.  I don't mind that.  Hinn is a truly diabolical individual.  But attacking Hinn when you should be finishing a discussion on more substantial points is irresponsible.  And the average reader of Strange Fire is not a lay pentecostal.  It is a more or less Reformed continuationist like me.

So what did not Macarthur deal with?

Demon possession:  Does demon possession happen today?  It's hard to find any conservative evangelical (Or Catholic or Orthodox) who denies this?  If you think it happens today, then the obvious question is whether Christians have the power to cast out demons.  Again, it is counter-intuitive to deny that Christians have this power today.

So let's reverse one of Macarthur's original arguments.  In his chapter on apostles--which I mostly agreed with--he argued that if the office of apostle died away, then it is possible that other "super" gifts died away.  Okay, let's take that line of argument and return it:  if it is possible that the gift of casting out demons is still operative, then perhaps other gifts are operative.

Is this a good argument? Of course not, but it is a perfect rebuttal to Macarthur's argument.

And on a more practical note.

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