The Strange Fire Conference got a lot of people talking in the Church about a matter that the late Pastor Philip Powell (Founder of Christian Witness Ministries now gone to be home with the Lord) says “might prove to be the major issue confronting part of the church in our time”. See this statement in the second page of Pastor Powell’s introduction to his full thesis on this topic titled “Cessationism vs Biblicism” by Pastor PHILIP L. POWELL. Find it at http://www.cwmfellowship.org/articles/PhilipPowell_Cessationism_v_Biblicism_Part9.pdf
Yes Pastor Philip Powell was a Pentecostal.
So let us also hear from a “non-tongue speaking” theologian; the late Dr Walter Martin also now with the Lord. Listen to Dr Martin as he tackles the question; “Who is the Holy Spirit and what does it mean to be “filled” with His power? What does the Bible have to say about “Charisma” and should we throw the baby out with bathwater if some misinterpret, misuse or abuse this teaching? Dr. Walter Martin steps out into the deep water of the Charismatic controversy, on the Night Watch broadcast to be found at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/waltermartindotcom/2013/09/08/charisma-cultic-occultic-or-christian
The essence of the Strange Fire Conference is;
Aim has been taken squarely at the Pentecostal / Charismatic Movement – yes albeit with a broad brush! …. however it roundly challenges the movement to “Judge thyself …… ”
“For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.” (1 Corinthians 11:31-32)
Listen to and appreciate John MacArther’s position as he explains it in a posting on You Tube . See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EqK13wc-ycs – listen particularly to Pastor MacArther’s lament at time mark 23:52 to 24:20. Ps MacArther asserts his licence to make a judgement about the Pentecostal/Charismatic Movement as a whole because the Movement has not effectively regulated (judged) itself. He does have a point.
There have been so many examples of excesses emanating from the movement during the last 30 years that the author of this commentary has seen, that it is little surprise that this “Strange Fire Conference” eventuated when it did.
But does the “Strange Fire” / “Charismania” position throw the baby out with the bath water as Dr Martin suggests is the case?
Or, is it actually the doctrine of “tongues as initial evidence …. ” that is the real culprit, rather than tongues, per se. Could this be the crux of the matter?
Dr Martin sounds to have this covered very well. Listen to his broadcast.
Also, the Alliance Mission has a very helpful document on this topic. See http://www.cmalliance.org/about/beliefs/perspectives/spiritual-gifts
Many would say, ‘don’t speak about this issue ('tongues') because ….. well you know after all …. it is just a peripheral topic isn’t it?” Well, really, c’mon, let’s get real!! Truth is truth; Let us rightly divide the word of truth.
“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)
Let us speak about this issue yet with a right balance: “Dishonest scales are an abomination to the Lord, But a just weight is His delight.” (Proverbs 11:1)
The “Strange Fire Conference” demands that those God loving, Bible Believing, Biblical ‘tongue speakers’ (Continualist / Pentecostal / Charismatic ) who are not wanting to be branded with those who have embraced any one or number of the various winds of doctrine blowing around in the excesses of the spiritual world; must stand up and know how to give an answer for the faith.
"....... we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ... " (Ephesians 4:14-15)
“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15)
Some of those 'winds of doctrine' are indeed manifest through various excesses within the Pentecostal / Charismatic Movement – such as the Word of Faith / New Apostolic Reformation / Emerging Church types (to name but a few of the better known groups); those whose doctrines particularly stand out as ‘indefensible’ (as Ps MacArther describes their positions) under the “Strange Fire Conference” broad brush. There are, indeed, many of those.
However, it is those whom Ps Powell would have referred to as ‘Classic Pentecostals’ or those who ascribe to teachings espoused by people like Dr Martin and the Alliance Mission who are the ones now in a unique position to bring the right balance of Proverbs 11:1 into this discussion. It is these such views that are, in the polite and humble opinion of this writer; correct, balanced, biblical.
It is imperative that the church sorts this out such that a correct, balanced, biblical view can be presented to all whom may inquire, when faced with the claims of Jesus Christ; as Pilate did, 'what is truth?'. (John 18:38)
Let us dwell on what Jesus Christ our Lord said;
“I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.” (John 17:23).
"For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil." (1 John 3:8)
"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly." (John 10:10)
Recieve from Jesus Christ our Lord His Perfect Life
The Strange Fire Conference ( see http://www.tmstrangefire.org/ ) brought into focus a great dilemma that is challenging the Christian Church in these days. Some might call it Cessationism vs Continualism. Others might say Cessationism vs Biblicalism. Still others might say it is just plain controversial …. or they might put it into the ‘too hard basket’ because there is a fear going around that to face the issue might bring tension amongst brethren.