Takeaways from Strange Fire and the conversation it generated

1. Shai Linne is right. Today the only heresy is saying that there’s heresy.

2. For many, whether or not someone does something pridefully or with humility seems to be determined now by whether or not they are saying something you believe is wrong, and not whether or not what they’ve done is actually prideful.

3. For those who assert their neutrality in the question of cessationism vs. continuationism, but feel it’s a shame this conference took place when it’s dealing with an issue that they believe isn’t essential, how God has spoken is always essential. It seems no debate between those who profess the faith once for all handed down to the saints is worth having because it isn’t about the gospel. Get real. How God has spoken is a gospel issue.

4. My biggest beef with the gospel-centered crowd is their antipathy toward anyone who wants to assert any other non-gospel-specific doctrine is important. As if God hasn’t clearly revealed Himself in all manner of issues. The faux humble indignation should be directed toward your mirror, because if we can’t believe God has spoken clearly about things like creation, church polity, or revelation and gifts, then how can we be sure about what He has said regarding the gospel? (Hint: We can be sure.)

5. If you are a pastor and have a problem with what John MacArthur and Grace to You did, go read Titus 1:9. Then read it again. Then again. Then again. Whether you agree with MacArthur or not, that’s what he did. It was the pastoral thing to do. Someday you might need to address an issue in your church, or somewhere, that a lot of people aren’t going to agree with. Will you be faithful? Or will you cower from your convictions because some people might think you are unloving? It’s the easy thing in the world to do to make that accusation. The second easiest thing is to scream, “Misrepresentation! Misrepresentation!” The hard thing is to do what MacArthur and the rest did, and the mature thing is to actually listen and seriously consider what was said.

I grieve for my generation and the next if the consensus really is that what John MacArthur and the Strange Fire speakers did was wrong.

6. Speaking of maturity, I think I would have thought Mark Driscoll was cool twenty years ago, but then I left youth group. Seriously, this guy reminds me of the song “Cult of Personality.” Why does anyone take seriously a man who locked arms with T.D. Jakes and failed to seriously question him about the Trinity, and not ask a single question about his prosperity gospel? And why does anyone take him seriously after the publicity stunt he and buddy James MacDonald pulled on Friday? I’m telling you, these guys look more like Jannes and Jambres everyday.

Please go to the portion of this program that deals with a talk Driscoll gave to (I believe) some church planters last year. If you think he’s a good representative, please listen and defend that to me. His arrogance and condescension drip from the speakers. I am truly sad that people think this guy represents biblical Christianity and when the same tongue or keyboard accuse MacArthur of arrogance and condescension.

7. I really believe there is something to be said here, especially to people my age and younger, about respecting your elders. Have you noticed how it’s John MacArthur, who is in his 70s and has been a pastor-teacher at Grace Community Church for almost 45 years, who is getting the boatload of criticism? MacArthur and Phil Johnson, Executive Director of Grace to You, longtime friend and right-hand man of MacArthur, and fellow GCC elder? Steve Lawson hasn’t been castigated nearly as much, and surely not Conrad Mbewe (because that would just be politically incorrect). The so-called Young, Restless, and Reformed crowd and others need to check themselves. It seems to me the younger crowd is just looking for reasons to dismiss MacArthur’s influence in a day when it is needed most, for I dare you to name three other pastors still going who have been doing it for nearly as long and have been as faithful in expository preaching of the word of God.

I’ve already gone longer than I thought I would so I’m stopping. Comments are closed, not that I get a lot of comments, but the past few days it’s just been unfruitful. If you wish to dialog, old fashioned e-mail is welcome – m a t t p r i v e t t AT t h e m a t t r i x DOT c o m.

Update – 9:50pm EDT: I meant to add the following verses. I’ve been memorizing 2 Timothy and the Spirit has really illuminated them for me to show my own need for resolve in the ministry. I thought about them as I watched the Twitter vitriol against MacArthur and the Strange Fire conference:

“You are aware that all who are in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes. . . . You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” – 2 Tim 1:15; 2:1