On October 24th, I began to write a new book entitled Authentic Fire: A Response to John MacArthur's Strange Fire. By God's grace, three weeks (and more than 400 pages) later, with contributions from Craig Keener and Sam Storms and others, the book was completed and is now available as an e-book.
In the next few articles, I'll share some of the key contents of the book with the hope that this will help deepen our hunger for God's truth and God's Spirit. Here, I'll focus on Chapter Three of Authentic Fire, entitled "A Great Big Blind Spot," where I examine Pastor MacArthur's claims that:
1) "The Charismatic Movement as such has made no contribution to biblical clarity, no contribution to interpretation, no contribution to sound doctrine." 2) "People who have any connection to Judaism and Christianity have a connection to philanthropy. It is a striking anomaly, however, that there is essentially zero social benefit to the world from the Charismatic Movement. Where's the charismatic hospital? Social services? Poverty relief? This is a scam." 3) ". . . the movement itself has brought nothing that enriches true worship." 4) "I'll start believing the truth prevails in the Charismatic Movement when its leaders start looking more like Jesus Christ." more >>
Last Christmas season (2012) a fellowship of Christians from Orange County, Calif. partnered with believers in Santa Monica to deliver a Nativity flash mob gift to the popular Los Angeles County tourist destination. Watch soprano Lynette Tapia stun shoppers with her beautiful voice opening up the flash mob.
As a wonderful and heartfelt reminder of the purpose of Christmas, this was performed at the Santa Monica Place mall on December 16th, 2012.
The group decided it was time to encourage others, to let them know that celebrating Christmas with outward expressions of faith in the public square was OK. It did not matter that the city of Santa Monica decided that holding its 60-year tradition of Nativity scene displays at Palisades Park had become a hassle because of protesting atheists. It was not of major concern that the city cancelled the displays or that the Santa Monica Nativity Scenes Committee had to find private land to keep its tradition alive. more >>
Dr. William Lane Craig, philosophy professor and a leading Christian apologist, believes there is an urgent need for the church to equip its members to give good responses to tough questions about their faith, especially in light of a cultural climate that has made it easier for atheists to be more outspoken, sometimes aggressively so, in their attacks on religious beliefs.
Expressing skepticism over the accuracy of a 2012 Pew Research Center survey that found an increase in the number of religiously unaffiliated Americans, Craig suggested that the New Atheism movement inspired by the works of Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Christopher Hitchens, and others has removed "the stigma of being an atheist or self-identifying as an atheist."
The Pew survey, whose response rate is less than 10 percent, reported that nearly 20 percent of Americans are religiously unaffiliated, but many of them remain "religious" or "spiritual" in some sense. The survey also found that among that number were 6 percent who described themselves as atheists and agnostics more >>
Nick Vujicic, the "limbless" evangelist of Life Without Limbs ministry, plans to launch a new Web series documenting his travels this year to 24 countries where he preached the Gospel and shined a light into the lives of thousands and in some cases, tens of thousands who turned out at every event to hear him.
"This world really needs hope. This world really needs direction. This world really needs truth," says Vujicic in the four-minute promotional video for his "World Outreach" Web series.
The "World Outreach" series, which officially launches Dec. 16, is a first for Vujicic, whose story of finding strength and purpose for life in Christ has won him many admirers and supporters around the world. The 31-year-old married father has a rare disorder called tetra-amelia syndrome, resulting in his lack of limbs. Vujicic has often testified of attempting suicide as a child and growing depressed due to his disabilities, before realizing as a teen that his story could serve as encouragement to others. more >>
If we are going to impact future cultures, we will need young people who have a vision for what can happen when they enter into their destinies with a motive to solve problems and be used of God. Many of today's next generation operate from no moral absolutes. George Barna defined those born between 1984 and 2002 as the Mosaic Generation, because they're "very mosaic in every aspect of their life. . . . There's [no attribute] that really dominates like you might have seen with prior generations." They are comprised of nonlinear thinkers who cut and paste their beliefs and values from a variety of sources.
In a 2009 Barna Group survey, Barna describes the next generation like this: "Mosaics and Busters have come to expect experiences that appear unscripted and interactive, that allow them to be open and honest with their questions, that are technologically stimulating, that are done alongside peers and within trusted relationships, and that give them the chance to be creative and visual." He believes that connecting with young people has always been a challenge, but today that struggle is at a much deeper level.
"It's a completely different set of values based upon a very varied interpretation of the meaning of life and how to achieve success or significance in one's life," said Barna in an interview. "They want spirituality; they want faith experiences; they want a taste of religion; but they don't want to have to go through all of the stuff that they see the adults doing at the typical church. But, because the Internet fits with their schedule-it's a 24/7 opportunity-they're using it to explore things they might not have access to otherwise." more >>
Trinity Broadcasting Network aired a 3-hour tribute Sunday evening to its founding visionary, Paul F. Crouch, that included a fascinating documentary-style history of the media organization and short testimonials from many well-known Christian leaders. Wife and ministry partner, Jan Crouch, also spoke briefly about her husband, who died on Nov. 30, following a decade-long battle with degenerative heart disease.
"God called us on the same day to TBN," said Jan Crouch, relating an evening more than 40 years ago, when both realized at the same moment that they needed to start a TV station, "and I just always dreamed we would go home the same day. I never dreamed I would be left without his wisdom and his saying 'no' as only he could say," she explained, while momentarily giggling through her tears, "so lovingly, so lovingly sometimes. I never dreamed that one day TBN would be here and Paul wouldn't … Right now we just need your prayers and your love like never before."
The Rev. Franklin Graham, CEO and president of Samaritan's Purse, said during the television special, "TBN Remembers Paul F. Crouch 1934-2013," that he could not say or think about Paul Crouch without also thinking about his wife. more >>