For those of us who are in solid churches but sadly see it beginning to creep in, here is a Strange Fire Q&A which addresses the practicalities of being a bulwark against Charismatic practices. How do we combat this? But first, a short backgrounder:
One hundred years ago, the modern Pentecostal movement was born. By October 2013 the Pentecostal movement has morphed into the Charismatic movement with its particular brand of false doctrine, had infected much of western Christianity and polluted quite a bit of Christianity abroad. The excesses of the movement include faith healing, reports of raising the dead, babbling tongues, alleged prophecies and direct revelation, disorderly church services and worse. The movement assaulted the sufficiency of scripture, the inerrancy of scripture, besmirched the name of Jesus Christ and damaged the faith of many.
John MacArthur and his team at Grace To You took a stand against this movement and sought to bring clarity to why its doctrines needed comparison to the Bible correction. To that end, they organized the Strange Fire Conference, held in the fall of 2013. One of the main purposes of the conference was to initiate a substantive discussion about these issues. It achieved its purpose. Every sermon preached at the conference rebuked the movement simply by preaching the truth, and brought correct biblical doctrine to the fore. Given the outcry, it seems that the effect was immediate.
There were many good questions asked at the various seminars and Q & A sessions held during the conference period, but not all of them could be immediately answered. After the conference concluded, ministers and theologians at Grace Community Church and The Master's Seminary wrote out answers to these unanswered questions, compiled them, and put them on one web page.
The page is a treasure trove of good, solid rebuttals to and practical helps about what to do if encountering Charismatic doctrines in your church, in your family, or in yourself. FMI go to the Strange Fire Q & A page. Here is today's Question and Answer:
The errors of extreme charismatic theology and practice are relatively easy to see and critique, but more subtle errors, such as spiritual formation, are more difficult. The unbiblical ideas of this movement have already seeped into many churches, Christian colleges, and seminaries. How can we combat such stealthy error?
The battle for sound doctrine and spiritual health in the church and believers’ lives depends upon whether individual Christians, and particularly pastors, accurately interpret Scripture, courageously teach it, and faithfully apply its principles and commands. A rigorous approach to sermon preparation and a rock-solid commitment to the authority of Scripture for all areas of life will result in healthy churches and maturing Christians.
Those qualities have been largely lacking in the church around the world for many years, and the resulting widespread error and spiritual weakness is the predictable and inevitable result. The church is suffering from decades of weak teaching, and we should not expect the current trends to change rapidly.
But as more and more pastors and Christian leaders take a stand for biblical authority, the sufficiency of Scripture, and the importance of sound doctrine, churches will progress toward spiritual health. Those who understand the gravity of the situation must continue to champion the sufficiency of God’s written revelation and to practice expository preaching. God will bless His Word and the church will grow as we continue to faithfully proclaim Scripture.
To learn more about spiritual formation, please read this definition and this critique on the Grace to You blog.