on the strange fire conference

so john macarthur’s strange fire conference has been going on.  what’s it all about?  well it is mac’s attempt to confront and call out the pentecostal/charismatic/third wave movements as anything but christian.  this is the basic thesis of the conference:

The charismatic movement offers nothing to true worship because it has made no contribution to biblical clarity, interpretation, or sound doctrine.

he calls it an “alien movement.”

it really does seem that any self respecting Christian who’s really given time to reading and reflecting on the Bible and or has done a wide enough reading in christian theology and or biblical studies (especially in the area of the person and work and theology of the Holy Spirit) would know this statement is totally ridiculous.  the problem is that macarthur has put all his eggs in one basket and i think most know that is a big no-no.  he’s ignorant of the movment historically and theologically.  period.  (i just heard him list 1966 and the drug culture that lead to vineyard leads to excesses… gosh, he just doesn’t know does he??)

it seems to be becoming more obvious that “Mac and the pack” has to be speaking to the TBN related crowd and the WOF folk and those that write the “pop” theology type books, of which, sadly, he would could be correct – they have nothing to offer they can be frustrating to deal with (listen to, read, interact with)…. yet this statement reveals massive significant ignorance of the wider world of Pentecostalism and the Charismatic movement….

it denies the work of true pentecostal and or charismatic and or third wave theologians and scholars – there are many to mention, and while overall the movements are young – much good theology and scholarship has come of it – in fact it really is consider the third stream in historic christianity – catholicism, protestantism (word), and the pentecostal (spirit) movement.

well, anyways much as been said and for macarthur to critique a folks like piper and then weirdos like crowder in the same sentence is like comparing apples and oranges.  you just can’t do that.

much has been said already and i wanted to share some links for consideration (this isn’t an appeal to become a charismatic so much as to show some sensibility in taking this issue on – really, agree or disagree, these folks should know better.

Marc Cortez – covers the good, the bad, and the ugly

Luke Geraty has addressed the strained polemics of the conference and countered pennington’s case against contiuationism (which reveals even more the poorly thought out nature of it all).

Rodeny shares on Latino Pentecostalism

Michael L Brown – and AG pastor, scholar, apologist has had a few things to say as well, here and here (among others).

Michael Patton (a non charismatic) talks about how John MacArthur is “losing his voice.”

Scott Lencke confronts the odd [weird] approach of it all.

Here is an nteresting take on the Strange Fire conference titled: John MacArthur and the New Atheism: http://t.co/ggVjMbuTnD

David Hayward reflects on how John MacArthur consigns millions of Christians to Hell.

well, that should get y’all going on learning more about it all.

on Spiritual Gifts

spiritual-giftsAndrew Ferris has posted an updated interview he had with Ken Berding on his 2006 book What Are Spiritual Gifts?: Rethinking the Conventional View (Kregel) that I think is well worth your time to read and consider.  Especially in light of Tim Gombis’ recent post, Disnefying Spiritual Gifts.

What Berding does and Gombis too, is take the whole longstanding notion of what spiritual “gifts” are and turns it on its head!  Traditionally and probably also because of our highly individualistic culture in the West we tend to view view the “gifts” in terms of the individual and in terms of abilities. what can an individual person do with the gifting or abilities the Holy Spirit has given him or her: teach, pastor, faith, knowledge, healing, serving, etc.

Berding re-thinks this conventional view – he turns it on its head.  Instead of a spiritual abilities view it is about ministry – a spiritually empowered ministry.  Consider the following from the interview:

Could you summarize some of the reasons you think the spiritual ministries approach is correct—as opposed to the special abilities approach?

Yes, let me limit my response to ten reasons. If you want to see these explained more fully kenneth_berding(along with other key arguments), you will need to take a look at the book. But these will get you started.

1. Many people assume that the Greek word charisma means special ability. This is a misunderstanding of how words work and confuses the discussion.

2. Paul’s central concern in Ephesians 4, Romans 12, and 1 Corinthians 12-14—the “spiritual gifts passages”—is that every believer fulfills his or her role in building up the community of faith. That’s what he’s writing about; that’s what he cares about. The Corinthians, not Paul, were the ones who were interested in special abilities.

3. Paul doesn’t use any ability concepts in his extended metaphor of the body in 1 Corinthians 12:12-27. His illustration is all about the roles—or the ministries—of the various members of the body.

4. The actual activities that Paul lists in Ephesians 4, Romans 12, and 1 Corinthians 12 can all be described as ministries, but they cannot all be described as abilities.

5. The idea of ministry assignments is a common thread that weaves its way through Paul’s letters. The theme of special abilities is not an important theme in his writings.

6. In approximately 80 percent of Paul’s one hundred or so lists, he places a word or phrase that indicates the nature of the list in the immediate context. There are such indicators in all four of Paul’s lists. This is significant because indicators such as the words appointed, functions, and equipping instruct us that we must read these lists as ministries.

7. When Paul uses the words grace and given together, he’s discussing ministry assignments—either his own or those of others—in the immediate context. This combination appears in two of the three chapters that include ministry lists.

8. Paul talks in detail about his own ministry assignments and suggests that, just as he had received ministry, all believers have also received ministry assignments.

9. The spiritual-abilities view suggests that service should flow out of our strengths; Paul says that sometimes—though not always—we’re called to minister out of weakness. The weakness theme in Paul’s letters does not work with the idea of spiritual gifts as strengths.

10. Neither Paul nor any other New Testament author ever encourages people to try to discover their special abilities; nor is there any example of any New Testament character who embarked on such a quest.

There you have it.  You can read on to learn more but I think this is a much needed paradigm shift in thinking about the person and work of the Holy Spirit in the life of both the believer and the believing community, the People of God.  I am not sure where Berding stands on the issue but I see this as a highly egalitarian view not just of the gifts (keeps individuals from being elevated over others) but of ministry in general.  It really does put service back into the purpose and intent of the ministries of the Spirit.  Helps to downplay the “disnefying of gifts” to take this view.  This is good stuff!

Spiritual Ministries

Here is a post from Dec 9, 2005 (while I was still at AGTS):

Heard something new the other day at my professor’s house.  Spiritual gifts should not be called “gifts” but instead “ministries.”  The term spiritual gifts no longer seems to be appropriate because of widespread misuse of the gifts.  Too often they are used for selfish means instead of the benefit of others.  Well, perhaps they may be called gifts but their function in the body of Christ is ministerial.  The Spirit of God “gifts” us to minister to the body and to individuals, but even then, the “gift” is really to the body or the individual who receives the ministry more than the person who mediated the ministry.  Make sense?  God is the giver and the gift of encouragement is give to the person who received the encouragement, not necessarily the one who said the encouraging words.  So, the purpose of the “gifts” is the edification of the body of Christ, not the glorification of the individual.  Amazing stuff huh?  What do y’all think?