Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Strange Fire Debate - Michael Brown Versus Phil Johnson

This is a very interesting, candid discussion/debate between Phil Johnson and Michael Brown concerning the claims made especially by John MacArthur at the Strange Fire Conference. When Phil gets the chance, he does a good job of challenging Michael.

Although I have myself criticized John (here) for painting with too broad a brush in his own criticisms of open-but-cautious men in Reformed circles, in the main I agree with the warnings being issued against the Charismatic Movement.


  1. see the debate between Sam Waldron and Michael Brown?

  2. Keith,

    Here are a couple of relevant thoughts about the # of TBN-type Charismatics and the "sin" of over-generalizing...

    1. Majority of Charismatics Are TBN-type Prosperity Followers:
    "Being irrationally generous, there are 4.013x more people influenced by absurd charismatics than cautious ( 21.825 /5.438= 4.013). At ridiculously generous, there are 7.560x more people influenced by absurd charismatics than cautious (15.816 / 2.092 = 7.560)...

    On the basis of the numbers, I’d suggest, that the “level headed” continuationists are the obvious fringe. They are quite outnumbered by the mainstream theological circus acts where church services end with the church looking like there was a chemical weapon attack..."

    2. Jesus Generalized:
    "...Yes, its true. Jesus generalized the Pharisees (Matt 23), broadbrushing them all into a group of people who were hypocrites that always put on displays of religion in various ways. Jesus also treated the lawyers as a whole group (Luke 11:37-52), as well as the scribes, and even the whole generation of that time calling them unbelieving, wicked, and perverse (Matt 12:39, 45, 16:4, 17:17, Luke 11:29-32, 50-51; Peter even followed suit, Acts 2:40).

    1. Your first point is well taken, brother, for the majority of those who make up the Charismatic Movement definitely do appear to be just as exgetically and doctrinally weak as the majority of other so called Evangelical groups, but this weakness shows up in different ways among them, and the errors to which they are prone happen to be of a different sort than other groups.

      I cannot wholly agree with your second point, however, since I do not think either Jesus or Peter provide an example of the same kind of thing I myself have criticized MacArthur for here:

      To be sure, the Lord Jesus did at times speak in general terms, but He did so in contexts in which his intentions were clear and in which the exceptions that proved the rule were obvious. No one could have missed who it was Jesus was referring to in these cases, namely the religious elite primarily in Jerusalem. And no one could have missed the fact that Jesus excluded any who believed in Him from among those whom He was criticizing. To the extent which similar qualifying facts were clear in the context in which MacArthur made his remarks concerning the Charismatic Movement (and it seems to me there were such qualifiers), I have no problem with what he said.

  3. I watched the conference on the net and I just finished Mac's book, Strange Fire. I strongly disagreed with two of the speakers but the purpose of the conference achieved its goal, to expose the heresies of the Charismatic Movement and the Pentecostal denomination. I witnessed those heresies and abuses for 9 years as a part of the charismatic community in my city. I still love the folks I associated with back then but after 9 years of arguing with them about the heresy being spewed by the leaders in the movement and the bizarre behavior that was springing up back then, I had to sever my association. I am not a cessationist but I agree with Mac concerning the innate possibilities of deception within the movements. I am a little confused about Mac's soteriology and his Calvinism. Being a convinced Calvinist myself, I am going to have to re-read parts of his book to see where he's coming from. Overall I like the book and the end Mac hopes to achieve.

  4. Phil Johnson did a fantastic job in this debate. I want to research the so-called Brownsville Revival. I've heard about since its occurence but have no idea who led it or what actually happened there. I've been to Michael Brown's church which is just around the corner from my home and will not go back. It's not my cup of tea.