The Strange Fire conference closed with a final address from John MacArthur. In this address he responds to seven accusations brought against the conference, follows with eight appeals to his continuationist friends, and concludes by walking through 1 and 2 Timothy, highlighting the need to stand firm in guarding divine revelation against false doctrine.
Before addressing the accusations against the conference, MacArthur charged attendees to carefully read their copy of Strange Fire and to measure it against the Word of God. He is convinced that this book, with its well-documented research and extensive footnotes, will withstand careful scrutiny. He reminds us that this book and conference is intended for the Church. He has no expectation for either one to be helpful to non-believers, which he suspects makes up much of the charismatic movement.
MacArthur then shared from his heart responses to seven accusations against the conference. These accusations have arisen from the Internet. It is interesting to note that we live in a time where we are able to give more people access to information simultaneously like never before, which then puts us quickly under scrutiny as never before.
Here are the seven accusations, along with brief responses.
- They are accused of being unloving. MacArthur responds that the most loving thing for someone to do is to tell the truth. That is how love acts. It would be unloving to leave people in darkness and error. Paul spoke in Acts how he was moved to tears knowing that perverse men would lead people astray. Titus 1:4 directs pastors to fulfill their duty to point out error and give biblical arguments against false teaching. This is how to care for the sheep and protect them.
- They are accused of being divisive. MacArthur agrees. Truth is divisive by nature. Jesus came to bring a sword. Truth, by its very nature, is separated by error. It is more important to be divided by truth than united by error.
- This issue is not clear in the Bible. Candidly, MacArthur responds that if the issue is unclear as some claim, it is unclear under the influence of false teachers. This issue was clear to the Apostles, early Church Fathers, Reformers, and Puritans. It was clearly delineated by the creeds and confessions. More modern heroes of the faith such as Warfield, Spurgeon, Boice, Sproul and others have taken their stand. Is it now unclear because of Swaggart, Baker, and Copeland? The true historic stream of sound doctrine has made this issue clear.
- This issue is only true of the extreme lunatic fringe side of the movement. MacArthur believes that this statement is patently untrue. There is error in this movement all the way through it. 90% of the movement believe in the prosperity gospel. 24 to 25 million of these people deny the Trinity. 100 million in the movement are Roman Catholic. This is not characteristic of the fringe. This is the movement and it grows at a rapid rate.
- They are attacking a movement that has given us rich music. MacArthur disagrees with this opinion. He is convinced that the contemporary style of music in the charismatic movement is the entry point of false doctrine into our churches. A church rooted in historical doctrine and hymns will be reluctant to embrace this music. This movement has diminished music by taking it out of the area of the mind and reduces it to feelings of the flesh.
- They are attacking brothers. MacArthur wishes he could affirm this. From his vantage point, this is a movement made up largely of non-Christians that lacks accountability. No one polices this movement. Every faithfully reformed elder, pastor, scholar and teacher of the word should bear the responsibility of policing this movement. People accuse MacArthur of being fixated on this issue, yet in 45 years of ministry he has only held one 3-day conference on this matter. Rather he has devoted his time to preaching the New Testament verse by verse and exalting Christ.
- Finally, MacArthur does not care about offending people. He admits that he holds the truth with kindness and love. He does care about peoples’ feelings. He does care about offending them. Just not nearly as much as he cares about not offending God.