Summary: Pastor John MacArthur sheds some light on the background of the modern Charismatic Movement in his newest book Strange Fire. MacArthur looks at everything from the prosperity gospel preached by many to the New Apostolic Reformation. He uses Biblical backing to show how many Charismatic groups are playing with “strange fire” and calls for Christians to stand for the true Gospel.
Review: I’m going to start by saying that I like a lot of what John MacArthur writes. There is truth in much of his preaching and books. However, there’s also a bit that I don’t agree with. John MacArthur is a cessationist. There’s nothing wrong with that, he does back up his beliefs with Scripture rather than just say flat out “This doesn’t happen anymore, too bad, so sad.” If you don’t know what a cessationist is, a cessationist is someone who believes that certain spiritual gifts are no longer present in the modern day. Spiritual gifts like speaking in tongues, healing, prophecy, etc. And while I agree with the core message of his book, that there is a lot of fraud and deception within the modern Charismatic Movement, I don’t agree with the cessationist viewpoint. Please know that my disagreement with the viewpoint doesn’t mean it’s wrong and I’m right, or that the book is trash. That’s not it at all!
That said, I do agree with his assessment of some of the modern Charismatic leaders like Benny Hinn, Joel Osteen and a few others that he mentions. As Christians we do need to speak up and say something about the errors in their messages. Jesus didn’t die so that we could live the high life with money and an easy life. And yes, the Holy Spirit is worthy of worship too because the Holy Spirit is part of the Godhead. But the focus needs to be on bringing glory to God, and within much of the movement that’s not the focus. I’ve spent my time in Charismatic churches and like MacArthur says, there are a lot of honest and genuine Christians in them, but the message of God’s Salvation isn’t being preached and that’s not ok.
Also, it’s nice to see that a pastor actually capitalizes pronouns when used in place of God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit. Words like “He” and “Him” need to be capitalized in those cases, I believe.
Would I recommend this book? That’s tough. It has its good points and it has its less good points. If you can read it without taking it all as inerrant truth, then go for it. There is a lot of good background information on the Charismatic Movement and the general message has value. I’ll leave you the trailer and you can decide for yourself if it’s something you should/want to read. On the whole, I did like the book. Just a few pieces here and there that I didn’t like.
Disclaimer: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own, I was not required to write a positive review. No other compensation was received.