I’m listening to the audio of the Strange Fire conference. Good stuff for the most part. I am sure there are points to quibble with in content from time to time, no one gets it one hundred percent right all the time. I have to say, overall, that this is an impressive effort. I encourage everyone to listen. Having said that, there are two things that stick in my craw, one is perhaps minor, the other may be major.
The Minor Deal
All the messages I listened to so far are interrupted by applause at points. Is it just my cantankerous ornery soul that bothers, or does it bother anyone else as well? I know that in independent Baptist circles we sometimes have the “Amen chorus” interrupting the preaching. That bothers me as well, but to a somewhat lesser degree.
I have to admit, as a preacher, that I like applause. It strokes my flesh to hear folks speak well of my preaching. When I get with it in one of those really “Amen-ing” churches, it can be gratifying. At least with “Amens”, one can suppose that they are calling out in prayer to God to “make it so” over something you just said. When it is applause, I am afraid that is just a little too man-centered for me. That goes straight to the preacher, not to heaven, I’m afraid.
But the real irony of the practice comes when you ask this question: “where did it come from?” Isn’t the applause the fruit of charismatic influence in the evangelical churches? Isn’t it part and parcel of the CCM culture, the entertainment model, and all the trappings that charismatism brought into evangelicalism? Does anyone else find it extremely ironic that applause permeates a conference devoted to condemning, in no uncertain terms, the charismatic movement?
Maybe its just me.
The possibly Major Deal
I read an interview of John MacArthur in the aftermath of the Strange Fire conference. The interview is quite good and MacArthur says a lot of good things in it. I commend that to your attention also.
But at the end, when he is talking about his continuationist friends, Piper, Grudem, etc., what does he call for? “What they need to do, of course, is rise up and condemn those kinds of aberrations, and I would like to see more of that.” He has just concluded a conference where he calls the doctrines they espouse doctrines of devils! Some of the speakers plainly say that the fruit of this movement is not Christian. They really pull no punches on this. In their talk.
What would you expect to then be the response to friends, long in the ministry, mature in the faith, but supporting the doctrines that lead to such error? No rebuke? No call to repentance? No call for change?
Or is that just me, too?