Strange Fire Controversy

Craig Huey wrote an article on the “Strange Fire” controversy:

My response:

Being a relatively young Christian (coming up on 19 years now) and having been saved later in life, I find it terribly odd that any Pastor anywhere would have anything against folks who are clearly spreading the gospel.

That said, I don’t go around seeking “Mystical” experiences, or try to find places where folks are “Letting go and cutting loose” from the bonds of this earth in an attempt to get more of the Holy Spirit, but mostly because I am scared of false experiences, and of being tricked by some lying spirit somehow. One thing that gives me some comfort and protection is the knowledge that truly saved believers cannot be taken over by demons. And yet, seeking out places like Azusa St. and churches where folks are lying around foaming at the mouth or spouting gibberish is not my particular way of worshiping God. Just not my style is all.

And I believe also that John MacArthur is wrong in the sense that he’s forgotten to “Major on the majors.” If the gospel is being preached, and folks are coming to salvation, then what does it matter how they spend their time worshiping? I guess it all boils down to the question of whether there is evidence of the Holy Spirit’s activity in our present world, and I think that is an unquestionable and resounding YES!

Cheryl and I have found ourselves at Hope Chapel now for the past 3 years, a church that was founded during the “Jesus movement” of the 1970’s also, and Ralph Moore was one who came to embrace the leading and guiding of the Spirit, rather than simply intellectualizing everything and trying to think his way out of situations and problems. That’s why he wrote his book: _Let Go of the Ring_ and tried to explain that to folks. He was a young, rather conservative Pastor at the time he came to Manhattan Beach in 1972, and he was not quite prepared for the direction everything took, though he learned to hang on and watch what God would do through “The lowliest of people” (hippies, bikers, drug addicts and so on).

I actually bought a book written by one of the people associated with the Azusa St. revival, and I tried reading it. There is something so profound about that whole experience that I can only read a few pages at a time in that book before I too am overwhelmed in my spirit by something. It’s something I’m not quite familiar with, and not being a strong Christian, meaning not strong enough to go off and explore on my own, I must be very careful when reading that type of material. I don’t want to get carried away and wind up somewhere I had no intention of being.

Years ago, Cheryl and I visited Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. It is the place where the Lakota Sioux tribe is located, and you probably will never find a more depressing place. Alcoholism rates for adults is above 85%, and unemployment is also near 90%. They have one of the highest infant mortality rates in our country. The life expectancy for adults is only around 45. We studied up as much as possible before going, and we called “Friends of Pine Ridge” to find out how we could help. The person I spoke with said “Bring diapers, infant diapers. Lots of them. Take them to …” We wound up driving way out on the Reservation to a lonely place where there was a women’s shelter, and we deposited about 10 cases of infant diapers, along with some food and clothes and such, we had just packed as much stuff in the back of our Tahoe as we could carry out there.

That Sunday we were up there, we also visited the only “Christian” church in the town of Pine Ridge (along with Wounded Knee, another place I had always wanted to visit). We got to the church early, had a pancake breakfast with the Pastor, his wife, and children, and some other folks from the church. It was a nice little family. The few adults who were there seemed happy to have a place where they could worship God. But the Pastor, he took me aside. He was native American, and he seemed genuinely concerned about something. He asked me: “Are you out here seeking some kind of mystical experience?” I told him we weren’t, and explained our mission (to get out to the Women’s Shelter and deliver our cargo) and he nodded. He didn’t explain his question, other than to say so many “White” folks come up there to go sit in the sweat lodges seeking something spiritual or mystical. I again assured him that wasn’t why we were there.

In fact, it was a bit crazy what we did, it was the middle of winter, and we were up there on a weekend, we drove nearly all day on that reservation and saw perhaps 10 other cars driving around (at most!). But we knew we had been sent out there to serve the Lord, even if it was just for the one day. But it definitely had nothing to do with anything like seeking out something mystical or spiritual, other than simply serving Jesus, and some hurting people.

That part, I have to agree with Pastor MacArthur, we aren’t to be about “Mystical” or “Experiential” things in this life, our first commandment given to us by Jesus is to LOVE one another. That’s the bottom line for us. And yet, we are at Hope Chapel. Interesting, isn’t it? I guess I’m just not that much into the mystical, it scares me, as I’m sure it does a lot of folks. But I’m not going to go and throw out the baby with the bath water either. I think there’s a time and a place for all of us to cast off restraint and give ourselves over to the Spirit and “Let go!” I don’t know if I, personally, will ever experience that on this side of Heaven. But I won’t deny it to others and won’t classify it as “Wrong” behavior or doctrine.

The only thing I will say is it must not be more important than the pure truth of the message of the gospel. Nothing must take place of Jesus’ message of repentance and forgiveness of sin, and life-everlasting for those who believe. That’s the “Major” part we all should put first and foremost and should concentrate on at all times. If we did that, then we’d never get into these disputes in the first place.

I guess I had more than a little to share on this issue.


One thought on “Strange Fire Controversy

  1. Update here. A few months back, somebody posted a link to the Joni Eareckson Tada presentation at the Strange Fire Conference. It was amazing!

    Highly recommended!

    A Deeper Healing
    Joni Eareckson Tada

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