a strange thing about Strange Fire

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.

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getting what matters most

I have great confidence in this next generation. They get what matters most.

So says Matt Olson, president of Northland International University, here: “Confidence in the Next Generation”. Matt is infused with this confidence after spending a Sunday at Grace Bible Church of Philadelphia, PA. From the way he writes, it sounds like several Northland grads are involved in the ministry of this church and a NIU staffer will continue to be on the staff of Northland while moving to Philadelphia and becoming part of this church.

Matt describes the church this way:

My soul was refreshed and encouraged as I saw a variety of things taking place at Grace. At Grace they focus on Christ in all that they do. This was evidenced by their worship, expository preaching, and deliberateness of their service. This is a church that is multi-ethnic, has a heart for the city, thriving with young people, and getting ready to launch a church plant in the next 9-12 months into another part of the city. They get what matters most.

One would expect a Christian college president to be pleased with graduates who are busy serving the Lord. No surprise there! But there is something surprising for a fundamentalist who formerly included Northland International University among his recommended colleges and universities.

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what do you think about apostles … today?

I grew up in Alberta, Canada, for any who might not know. Alberta is one of the wealthiest provinces in Canada due to huge oilfields. The oilfields were mainly discovered after World War II. Prior to that, Alberta was largely an agricultural economy subject to the ups and downs of world markets. And of course, the Great Depression was a huge downer.

During those years, a radio preacher got interested in the theories of Social Credit. He lobbied the government to adopt these policies, but when rebuffed formed the Social Credit party and became Premier of the province in 1935. He was Premier for eight years, but died suddenly, to be replaced by his right hand man.

The preacher’s name was William Aberhart. He was a complicated individual, very insecure as a person in some ways, and very eclectic in his theology, although we would probably think of him as basically orthodox.

When I say eclectic, I mean that he would pick up new theology as he went along, becoming an enthusiast for some new quirk as it came to his attention. He mostly served as a lay preacher, but at one point he led a Baptist church in Calgary to designate him as its “apostle”. Under him, there served a pastor, but he was the “apostle.”

What do you think of that?

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the charismatic impulse

I have observed that the desire for experience manifests itself in many different ways. In some circles, there is a lot of hooting and hollering (in the vernacular, hootin’ and hollerin’), shouts of ‘Amen!’, emotion laden sermons that tell sob-stories to invoke an emotional response, and so on.

There is another kind of push for emotionalism that finds expression in terms like these, “intensely”, “intentional”, “relentless”, “passionate”, “saturated.”

What drives this desire for experience? I am not advocating that we become as expressionless as Heimie the robot on the old Get Smart series (my all-time favorite which seriously dates me…), but why do we see such a desire for emotion in religion? Has it always been this way?

If we look back in history, we see the rise of charismatism since the 1970s, the Pentecostal movement in the 60 years preceding that, the camp-meeting/revivalist emphasis (especially rural) in the 19th century, and the Pietist movement before that. I wonder if what we are seeing today is an increase in the desire for experience or if it is the norm. I wonder if it is the product of popular culture: music, movies, television, video games, etc. or if it is simply the natural expression of most humans (stick-in-the-muds like me as exceptions).

I wonder if it is good or bad. I kinda think bad, but, then, maybe that’s just me.


charismatic calvinists?

I’d like to call your attention to a series of sermons I ran across on SermonAudio. The series is in five parts, apparently just recently completed, preached at the First Baptist Church of Parker, TX by pastor Hal Brunson, Ph.D.

I  have never heard of this church or this pastor heretofore. I don’t know how the pastor or church would classify themselves in the ecclesiastical spectrum.

Here is the blurb that accompanies the first message:

If ever there were a jewel of gold in a pig’s snout, charismatic Calvinism is it. What should be a humorous and ridiculous oxymoron, “charismatic Calvinist,” is now a nauseating and repugnant reality. Charismatic Calvinists open the door for false teaching in the Calvinist church; they blemish the reputation of orthodox Calvinists; they expect legitimacy, thinking that their claim to be Calvinists insulates them from the charge of heterodoxy; they denigrate the primary work of the Spirit in regeneration and sanctification, ultimately denying the scripture that affirms “of His fulness have we all received”; they inherently and unavoidably align themselves with the most despicable charletains of contemporary fundamentalism; they create a false expectation of sensational spiritual experience for young and naive believers; they are apparently unsatisfied and unsatiated with the primary work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration and sanctification; they have pirated and defamed the phrase “sovereign grace”; and they are an embarrassment and an annoyance.

I have listened to the first message. I heartily recommend it. I plan to listen to the rest. I hope you will take them in as well.

Pastor Brunson shows more clarity and courage than many wishy-washy Calvinists who talk nice about the Charismatic Calvinist false teachers.

Charismatic Calvinists, Part 1

Charismatic Calvinists, Part 2

Charismatic Calvinists, Part 3

The Most Dangerous Verses in the Bible

Charismatic Calvinists, Part 5



everybody sing!

Back in May, Scott Aniol posted Leading Music at the Conference on the Church for God’s Glory on his site, Religious Affections.

In the article, he commented on the music at the Together for the Gospel conference he had attended earlier in the year. Among other things he said this:

Although every hymn choice for that conference was in and of itself conservative, and although the accompaniment was simple in theory, a completely different underlying philosophy bled through. The leader of the singing, who led from the piano, was a master at emotional manipulation stimulation. How he accompanied the hymns moved and swayed the audience in certain emotional directions. He constantly shouted out unintelligible exclamations that further roused the audience. And the audience did respond. Hands waving in the air, enthusiastic shouting, vigorous singing, and even some jumping around.

I would recommend you read Scott’s entire article. There is some discussion following, but the article is the main thing. Now, I don’t have the time, the $$$, nor the interest to attend such conferences. I didn’t really have a full picture of what Scott was describing, but I had an idea what it was like. Now you can get a sense of exactly what Scott is describing…

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who is your God?

To address this question today, I’d like to link to two quite widely divergent internet resources. One is a local paper from the interior of BC and the other is my online friend, Scott Aniol.

First, consider this lifestyles article from the lakecountrycalendar.com, Keepers of the sacred. The article discusses the decline in Canadian church attendance, among other things. The article comes to no real conclusion, certainly to no conclusion satisfying to me, but it does contain a telling observation concerning the focus of affection in Canadian hearts:

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terms matter

While words are elastic and meaning changes over time, terms do matter. For example, would you say you “pro-life” or “anti-abortion”? (For the other side, it would be “pro-choice” or “pro-abortion”, eh?) While either one of the first pair is not all that offensive to me, the second term “anti-abortion” is primarily used by the “pro-choice” side as a pejorative against their opponents.

Many of the terms used in the debate are seen as political framing: terms used to validate one’s own stance while invalidating the opposition’s. For example, the labels “pro-choice” and “pro-life” imply endorsement of widely held values such as liberty and freedom, while suggesting that the opposition must be “anti-choice” or “anti-life” (alternatively “pro-coercion” or “pro-death”). Such terms gloss over the underlying issue of which choice or life is being considered and whose choice or what kind of life is deemed most important.[1]

But my topic tonight isn’t what you might suspect. What I want to talk about are these terms: “cessationist” and “non-cessationist”. Here is my question: who is ‘framing’ whom with these terms? Where did they come from and what is the purpose of this terminology?

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