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  1. I went to YouTube and watched Shane’s “plea for balance” and was disappointed by his misrepresentation of both MacArthur’s words and the theme of the Strange Fire Conference in general. I don’t think it was intentional, but rather, a reflection of the tendency that many in the Charismatic Movement (which I’ll refer to as “CM” from here on) have to filter what they hear through their own erroneous presuppositions regarding that which Cessationists like MacArthur (and myself) advocate doctrinally. One example of this would be Shane’s contention that we deny the gifts and the power of the Spirit. That is patently absurd. There are many spiritual gifts discussed in the New Testament…in three separate places. We don’t deny “the gifts.” We understand that the Apostles had unique miraculous abilities given to them in order to authenticate their message and authority as messengers of Christ during a new era when the church was being started and Scripture being written. Those are called “signs” and II Corinthians 12:12 clearly states that such were “signs of an apostle.” We do advocate the gifts…and while we believe that God has, is and always will operate in the miraculous, we do see a distinction between the apostolic era and the current church age. I could say much more about that issue, but my purpose here isn’t to debate, but rather correct Shane’s misrepresentations. We do believe in the gifts – and understand that the Spirit’s power is manifest in a myriad of ways which transcend the supernatural and miraculous. Another of Shane’s errors can be found in his contention that the conference somehow broad-brushed everyone in the CM as in league with, or dangerously close to, Satan. I can’t tell you how disappointed I was to realize that Shane actually took that away from the conference. I was there – and I don’t have enough fingers (and toes) with which to count the number of times it was emphasized that many in the CM do not advocate for some of the more extreme, heretical viewpoints found in most of the mainstream, recognized Charismatic leaders. The distinction MacArthur repeatedly made, however, is that the seeds of errors which people like Shane may wish to fight in their own movement, are inherent in the very doctrines they believe. For example, while Shane may not advocate for the heretical prophecies coming from within the ranks of the CM, the allowance for new revelation of any kind takes the lid off by undermining Scripture sufficiency…and the result is Satanic involvement in the church through false prophets. If you believe that the Baptism of the Spirit is separate from conversion, you have now created two classes of believers – and worse, affirm that Salvation doesn’t really provide for us the “all things pertaining to life and godliness” Peter speaks of in his discussion of life in Christ. Thirdly, Shane’s contention that MacArthur stated that within the CM is only emotionalism is not accurate either. What MacArthur said is that emotion is a responder to truth, but does not lead to it – and pointed out that many in the CM are attempting to get to the truth through the emotion instead of the mind. Again, I don’t think these misrepresentations by Shane were purposeful – I can tell he is a godly man. But he needs to understand that as long as he is joined at the hip doctrinally with the CM in any regard, he is going to be called to give an account from time to time. In the video I just watched by Shane, he pointed to himself and said, “I am not like those extreme Charismatics…” While that may be true, Shane needs to understand that, as such, he is a maverick within his own community…because most in the CM do not have the kind of discernment Shane has, and are …whether intentionally or not, adherents to and advocates of, the extremes high-lighted at the Conference. From a personal perspective, I affirm what I just said….not only as a matter of reason, but also as a matter of personal experience. I have for decades been involved with a network of street ministries that are Pentecostal/Charismatic…most of them from the Assemblies of God camp – and I can tell you without hesitation that many of them are biblically illiterate and most of them undermine the position and place of strong doctrine…even giving credence to the terrible heresies of the Word Faith camp. This is inherent in the CM, thus while MacArthur doesn’t call people in the movement “demonic,” he acknowledges that Satan is having a field day in that movement because of their refusal to align beneath the all-sufficient Word. This is gangrene within the body of Christ and conferences like this are designed to expose it and root it out. Shane should have returned to his church with shouts of joy and glory that the truth of God’s Word was unleashed against error in a most profound way – rejoicing that he was privileged enough to take part in such an event.

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    1. Open Letter to David Pantele:

      David my brother in Christ Jesus our blessed Savior, Lord of all and the Lover of our souls: Seems to me we just should divide on this theological issue, there has been a schism for a long time, and each of us at best should resolve we are on different sides of the same river. To us our side is the Promised Land side of the River Jordan. We think you stopped at the edge and when the waters parted you called it a subjective illusion—while we walked across and built a monument. Wild promises are here I know—and this side of the river and as on your side there are errors, but on this side we find a Presence that is here and now. And we are open to Him—in a manner you are not, or are so skeptical it is the same thing. We actually believe the prayer “on earth as it is in Heaven,” is a promise meant for today–and He told us to pray for that! To my mind the fundamentalist viewpoint is essentially a humanist viewpoint—you believe everything can be gained and all answers come from the correct hermeneutic and all answers can be discerned and you do not need the Presence of the Holy God because you have the Holy Bible–the Father,Son, and the Holy Bible. We see that as a grave error. The classic modern humanist believes all answers come from the correct human inquiry and all answers can be discerned from science. It is no different with you. After my baptism of the Holy Spirit, that happened outside any charismatic setting I had no option of leaving my faith—ever–that is a good thing.For anyone to say that it was Satan or a subjective delusion when it was so overwhelmingly complete with living water streaming out from my heart just as in John 7! I believe in engaging the Helper Jesus promised. As well I believe in being aware that He will engage me and I will undergo correction when needed. I know He enlightens some scripture in a manner that I cannot with my own intellect alone completely understand in its deepest sense. You’ve closed your mind to Scripture that points this out in favor of a traditional fundamentalist dogma, rather than the Spirit of the Living God Who would let you understand this, particularly in 1 Corinthians and Acts. Scripture is vital and the Bible is Holy. However, I do not believe it is everything—Jesus is everything. I don’t believe the Acts of the Holy Spirit are over—His mission is to show us Jesus is everything! I don’t believe the Bible is the end all and be all in the scriptural sense of ‘when the perfect comes,’ and since we’ve had the Bible the perfect has come, I don’t believe this because it is not perfect and it is not all sufficient, because we fallen folks interpret it from translations of translations and goof up the correct hermeneutic so regularly we need a Helper. I do believe that Jesus is all sufficient. While MacArthur has contributed to well thought out aspects of the Christian faith, he has plunged down a rabbit hole of Gnosticism in regard to the gifts, Baptism of the Holy spirit, and tongues grasping hard for a materialistic interpretation of scripture. You’ve followed him there believing there is a separation of the Spiritual and the natural and I believe that is the crux of our disagreement. Angels have always and always will, be moving from the Heavenly realm to here and back again, just has it is described in scripture. The Holy spirit is among us. There is no more inception then, than there is now. He will not go where His freedom is treated with derision–so you will likely not see it in your camp. I decided not to go to Seminary when I saw the staff of the one I’d chosen making a mockery of charismatic believers during the Promise Keepers era. I don’t believe Jesus would leave us just with a book when Christianity from the time of our blessed Savior walking in Palestine with his disciples until now when the vast majority of the planet could not read, and yet Christianity prevailed and continued to spread when they did not have the book—it spread because of the Helper. Yes He used the synagogues where they could read help this explode–but explode it did and for everyone not just those who could read the 70 books. He also used pagan built Roman roads, and pagan Roman government. The Holy spirit used all of this—and still does to this day. I believe He still uses white men in suits that cling and sing to the old hymns–while he uses a new song that is being sung in tandem. The disciples and Apostles were tools but their great knowledge of scripture was not what spread Christianity, the Holy Spirit did, and continues to do so. He used them to do it, and signs and wonders accompanied them, in about thirty years—pretty much a miracle. A young man from a congregation I once belonged went to Masters, and the night he told me he was going I dreamed that his wife of four children was weeping inconsolably–I believe the Bride of Christ weeps for this schism that has happened and that your side of the River has not tried to understand because of your religious spirit that prevails there–and we don’t think it is of God. You seem to believe your mind is the gift that allows you to discern, I say it is your heart, scripture agrees with me, you can’t define the term, “your mind,” scripture defines the term heart–it is the core of your being! both of our minds will become empty in the skulls that now contain them, David where will they go?
      On the side of the River where I stand this is what we want to tell you: “4 Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: 5 The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. 6 And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.” Matthew 11:4-6 New King James Version—not all are healed (perhaps that is because of our excesses and genuine errors–blame that on us) but enough to encourage—I’ve seen cataracts come off of people’s eyes and long atrophied bones from botched operations come back into place, cancers have left folks and not returned, sadly some do return—but hope is renewed, there is a blessed assurance–I’ve had a disc fused on its own foregoing the necessity of my third neck surgery. And why? Because He loves us. Because He told us to pray “on earth as it is in Heaven,” and we do. I firmly believe we should get in boats and visit each other regularly, talk, fellowship, perhaps even communion together. But right now you’ve dug your heels in and your heart is hard, perhaps mine is as well,so I still prefer to wave at you from the opposite bank. We don’t see ourselves as grasshoppers in the sight of the world, or the non charismatic Evangelicals, or in the sight of Dr. MacArthur. I discipled under a pastor that was in John MacArthur’s church for a decade. He was open to what God was doing in my life—made it clear it was not his theology but encouraged me to continue the path into the charismatic that God was leading me. My thoughts about engaging in dialogue about the particulars of CM v. Fundamentalism comes to a screeching halt when there are things you would reject out of hand as “not of God,” when it would be clear to us that you’ve not been in the Presence of God in a manner to know that He sometimes chooses to reveal Himself, as He has to countless Charismatics in settings and in a manner that makes most fundamentalists uncomfortable. Jesus made religious people uncomfortable. Religion and tradition, when it is held as paramount over the Holy One by the pharisees, this places the burden on the knowledge of scripture over the open and attested to, knowledge of God as the Father that ran to his wayward son and kissed them on the neck. This is tangible love. I worship a God who is there—not an idea. And like Karl Barth I believe only Jesus is infallible, the scriptures and our understanding of them and our salvation should be worked out in fear and trembling, and yes the correct hermeneutics should be applied, but Jesus loves us, promised us abundant life and a Helper who lives inside us and is there every day sometimes in supernatural abundance—and will not leave us. It’s all good. However, I don’t believe Dr. MacArthur is an honest broker I stopped listening to “Grace to you” one morning when he subjected all old earth creationists to the curses of Revelation. Switched it off and will not listen to him again. I tried to listen to some of the Strange Fire video on YouTube, I had the same reaction and I know where he is going. That this conference came out on the roll out of MacArthur’s new book is convenient for the publicity it bringing him. I picked up Strange Fire in a Christian book store on Saturday (it seems a rehash of Charismatic Chaos), and looked at what he did to the Pentecostal beginnings. He slammed Parnham as the racist bigot (and worse) which was fair, he was, yet Dr. MacArthur hardly mentioned Seymour the African American son of slaves who mostly launched that whole movement when all the miraculous that began on Azusa street went world wide. Seymour had studied under Parnham for a time in Texas, but Parnham would not allow him in his class room but rather relegated him to a just cracked door in hallway so he could listen in to what the white folks were saying about God. He took Parnham’s notion that the spiritual gifts had not gone away and took them to the Los Angeles area in 1906 to the African American community. Most all of those things from Azusa street in 1906 have happened in Toronto, Brownsville and Pensacola as well as those places it spread to. Please think about it David, Pentecostalism spread all over the globe and was accompanied by signs and wonders—and changed lives for the past 100 years—it is not going away and it began in a stable among the sons and daughters of slaves. I’m afraid the opposition to it is still racist to some extent. Parnham came to observe what was happening and rejected it out of hand largely because it was of mixed races and later began to champion the KKK. He really had noting to do with the founding of Pentecostalism. Azusa Street was for everybody: Chinese, Blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans, European immigrants, rich, poor. The move of God from Toronto, Brownsville and Pensacola as it continues is for everybody. The large Charismatic Church I attend has everybody, people come from Europe, Africa, South America, Asia, Australia here to North America just for a taste (one service! and then fly back home). Jesus came for everybody. I decided some time ago that I do not want to be part of an exclusionary group of fundamentalists that say God was alive and His Holy spirit was changing the world between 30 AD and 90 AD and since then we have been on our own but we have good books. Because I know He sent a Helper. As well I do not want to be a part of an argument that would allow an opponent who has come to an intellectual decision about the limits of their own credulity of God’s ability to move upon humanity and have them reject out of hand a genuine move of God and call it counterfeit, and thus blaspheme the Holy Spirit—this is why I won’t post any more of your comments, because I believe you have come dangerously close, or perhaps have stepped over the line in your second comment— therefore no one will see your second comment or any other on my blog. And I do this out of love. Lots of folks believe John MacArthur has done exactly that with Strange Fire and before. This is just my opinion, of course but again, I think we should just divide because in opposition to what you said, I think gangrene within the body of Christ is conferences like Strange Fire—and some of the pitched battles that follow it. The cure from gangrene is amputation in most cases. There seems to be cooler heads prevailing and I have seen reason attempted. Please know I’m always on the other side of the River (the non-cessation side) and always waving to you with all five fingers David! I pray that perhaps your Father God will embrace you and Holy spirit will touch you in a manner that you will see your error and the scales will drop off of your eyes — and you walk on water to see Glory with your own eyes.

      Written in Love,

      James Kelly

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  2. No David in my answer to your first post I said why I won’t post your invectives–nor will I post the most recent one. Stay on your side of the river unless you can respond in love, then perhaps I can love as well–still waving with all five fingers though, David let’s keep it that way. Yes I was a hippie, and I am a Veteran and defended your right to offend all of us on this side of the River, and I love the Lord my God with all my heart and all my soul and yes my mind as well, you just want to brawl as I see it but I love you anyway. Jesus loves you and wants to hug you and kiss you. Sorry about not posting.In Him

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