It sure will be interesting to see how things shape up in the coming months on this issue. Foundations for Pentecostal Scholarship recently released its new book on continuation theology. Strangers to Fire is the charismatic answer to the Strange Fire conference at Grace Community Church where the cessationist theology of John MacArthur and others was leveled against the wild excesses of the charismatic world and continuation theology in general. The Strangers to Fire book has a collection of contributors from a broad scope of theological perspectives ranging from Arminian to Calvinist, liberal to conservative and left to right on a host of issues. What the book claims for itself:
“This is an anthology of 35 essays by 26 authors of the Pentecostal, Charismatic, and Third Wave movements or non-cessationists of traditional denominations responding to John F. MacArthur’s Strange Fire or cessationism and the abuse of the charismata in general.”
Grudem, Storms, Moreland, Keener and others are all contributors to this 600 page tome which will no doubt solicit further response and conversation. One wonders if those representing the continuationist camp will actually address the abuses by those whom they represent: Vineyard, Third Wave, Assemblies of God and others who are all guilty of gross scriptural abuse, scriptural violation (particularly with the issue of speaking in tongues chaotically), and egalitarian theology not to mention the lamentable “Five-Fold” ministry that covers much of the Third World. This is quite an amalgamation of contributors with many conflicting theological perspectives (e.g. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit). One only wonders if this book is going to only worsen and encourage the mass spiritual abuse that exists in many charismatic churches where prophecy, open dreams, visions, heavenly visitations, angelic visitations, special words of wisdom and uncontrolled and unregulated tongues speaking is a regular commodity. These are the real threats to charismatic people. Confusion, spiritual abuse, false prophecies (and thus false prophets), hyper spirituality, psychosomatic manipulation, false healings, second blessing theology etc.; the contributors and supporters will hardly agree with each other on all of the issues that charismatic theology leads to.
It is quite sad that in a world where ISIS and radical Islam is on a global jihad, homosexuality is creeping further and further into the church, militant Atheism is trying to eradicate any trace of Christianity in the culture and churches are ever decreasing their emphasis on exegetical preaching so that biblical illiteracy is at an all-time high, we have to debate spiritual gifts. One has to wonder who is the real winner here?
Emilio Ramos is the preaching pastor of Heritage Grace Community Church. Pastor Emilio is committed to the expository and exegetical teaching of the Word of God. Emilio is also the author of Convert, From Adam to Christ and the founder of redgracemedia.com- a media ministry devoted to the glory of God’s redemptive grace through Jesus Christ. He and his wife Trisha live in Dallas, TX.