Why must we eat our own? {A letter to John McArthur and Charisma Magazine}


1 Corinthians 12 The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body-whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free-and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15 If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 

I've heard a lot about the Strange Fire Conference lately. I didn't know much about it but quickly found your original sermon series on it. I listened to parts of it, trying to understand, and I have to admit, you have some good points. There are "weird" charismatic churches---I've been in those churches before. They exist. Fact.

But what I saw from your series and book were sweeping generalizations of a whole group of people--a broad group of people that encompass many different denominations and belief systems. I currently go to a church that could be cited as "charismatic." We believe in the Holy Spirit, in miracles, in speaking in tongues. But you'll almost never see that in a worship service because we follow Paul's admonition to be "orderly." There's a time and place for everything. Those "weird" churches who condone barking like dogs and running around wildly are no more indicative of my church, than Westboro Baptist is of yours. It would take too long to write about all the generalizations in your series, or to confront all the false assumptions, but I wonder, why you are doing this?

Because having a conference focused on the faults of one sect of Christianity doesn't seem to solve much. It's certainly not in line with Matthew 18. Imagine if we started to counsel people that if you disagreed with someone, you could just go have a conference on it. Talk to your friends and family about it, heck, shout it from the rooftops! Make a crusade even. That would be ludicrous and nobody could counsel someone in good conscience to do such a thing. It would be harmful, irresponsible, and divisive.

It certainly doesn't scream restoration or reconciliation. In fact, quite the opposite.

We are supposed to be a family, and right now there's a conflict. But what happened to sitting down and talking about it?  What happened to enlightening debates and loving conversation (and even confrontation)?

And Charisma Magazine, I read your article. You call it an 'appeal' but it sounds like more of a judgement. I don't see the word "love" in there once. Is this what we want to show to the world? A house divided? How, as the Body of Christ, can we preach on Jesus' love to the world at large when we cannot show it to each other? How can we talk about redemption and restoration when we don't offer it to those we disagree with?

I can't help but think that "perfect love casts out fear," and there's a lot of fear going on here. Fear of the unknown, of people who don't think like us. Each side is guilty of it, and as long as we fear each other, the divide will continue.

So John, here's my appeal. You are loved, valued, and clearly gifted. Some of your sermons really helped me during that first year I accepted Christ, and while I don't understand why you are doing what you are here,  I want to. I long to know your heart on this.  I might not agree with much of what you say right now, or how you are saying it, but know this, I love you anyway. 

**If you feel strongly about John's Strange Fire Conference, I urge you to write him a letter in love and honor to the following address. Let's come together instead of dividing, love instead of fear each other, and seek understanding and unity above all else! 13248 Roscoe Blvd, Sun Valley, CA, 91352


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