Now that the long awaited Strange Fire conference (Oct 16-18) has wrapped up at John MacArthur's Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, CA, I have a few thoughts on the conference overall and also on Mark Driscoll shameless gatecrashing publicity stunt.
First, some general thoughts. While listening to as much of the conference as I possibly could while homeschooling and doing housework (ahem) at the same time, I wasn't able to give the sessions my complete attention. But one thing I did take note of was a general excitement about this conference, and a joy over the seriousness of theology being deeply discussed. Social media was literally lit up with ongoing commentary and feedback about the Strange Fire conference as it was playing out in real time.
A few comments from listeners:
“Listening! Been waiting for this for a long time!”
“Live-streaming here too! Can't wait!”
“The music playing on the livestream is beautiful.”
“I'm so excited I can hardly stand it!”
“Watched all of it. Great great conference, all were great teaching but personally i really liked Steven Lawson on the sufficiency of Scripture (sola scriptura)”
“JMac's voice just soothes me! I have gone to sleep many a night listening to his voice on my ipod, giving this or that sermon.”
“Oh man! I have never seen Steve Lawson so on fire! I am a big fan of Steve, and he is bringing it during his lecture.”
“The Q and A is absolutely brilliant.”
“I have listened to almost every session. I went back to listen Justin Peter's session because I missed them both live :/ His session, 'Spiritual Shipwrecked the Word-Faith Movement,' answered one of my bigger personal concerns!”
“I have to agree with JMac that Steve Lawson's lecture was epic last night.”
“I am so thankful to hear the Word preached with power and conviction. It is a privilege to be here and I am humbled to be a part of it. God's Word held high. May we all be bold to continue.”
“One thing I would have liked might have been at least a mention of Christian Reconstructionism as being sort of the conservative flip side of the wackadoodle NAR stuff. Same core beliefs (take dominion of the earth), but coming from the theologically buttoned up Reformed camp, as opposed to the gold dust and angel feathers crowd (and thus more deceptive). But that's a minor quibble, and overall, big thumbs up for all the speakers/topics.”
“Thanks for informing us. I have heard about the angel feathers and gold dust. There was a lady in my bible study who was all pumped up cuz she had just come from a retreat in I think Neenah WIS and she said the speaker was sweating gold dust while preaching. So I googled it when I got home and read something about the feathers. You think they set this all up in advance? strange.”
“Listening to Justin Peter's Session and it is excellent!!!”
“I'm soaking it up. So refreshing to hear clear, strong, preaching!! They're not afraid to speak the truth!!”
“The ones I've heard are so good. Very insightful and not at all spiteful. All those men put their hearts into bringing truth. It was filled great teachings with a plea for true born again charismatic brothers to stand up and guard against the fringe chaos that is filtering into more and more church's.”
“I wonder what would happen if guys like John Piper were to speak out against some things. I pray he will.”
“It has been so good! What a wonderful encouragement this teaching has been for me. Phil Johnson was excellent!”
“And Joni Ereackson Tada! Isn't she a gem? I love how she'll be speaking and just break out into song! Beautiful lady!”
“The problem with these modern 'preachers' is they think everything is up for discussion. Nope! Truth is timeless. Discuss it all day long, converse, talk it to death, you won't change it. The Word judges man. Not the other way around.”
“Maybe it's the beard, but something about Justin Peters makes me think of a slimmer Robert Downey Jr in Ironman.”
“A gracious rebuke of John Piper. Not a body slam or anything like that. Thank you, Phil Johnson.”
“(The African Import of Charismatic Chaos by Conrad Mbewe) was possibly my favorite talk from yesterday, simply because it shows the true damage that the Charismatic Movement has been doing in Africa, exposing the lies we've been told about all the good the movement has done over there.”
“I hope all the Christians listening to Conrad Mbewe take note of how it is that the gospel message is (wrongly) presented in so many parts of Africa. Friends, we've GOT to get the gospel right, or else we're guilty of giving life-enhancement tips with no salvific power to those who will surely perish on the day of judgement.”
“Joni's testimony really blessed me, I loved watching and listening to her break out in hymn and rejoice in the midst of her pain--what a testimony of God's grace!! What a beautiful living picture of rejoicing in suffering, being patient in affliction, constant in prayer. It was a blessing to me!”
“Joni's message blessed me greatly today.”
“What hurts me and I came from a Pentecostal upbringing, is that some think that if we don't speak in tongues then we aren't filled with the Holy Spirit. I saw my dear sweet dad try so very hard to speak in tongues and couldn't. He was a shy Native American. Looking back it breaks my heart. I've also had experiences with some people telling me what God supposedly revealed to them about me that were entirely wrong. I claimed so many things for myself and others in Jesus name. I can't think of a time that I got what I claimed. In my hunger for truth I found John MacArthur somehow. I kept listening, searching and also tuned into Steven Lawson's teachings of reformed doctrines of grace. When I heard these I literally cried my eyes out! I realized how much Jesus loves me and keeps me!!! I was free to love Him without fear of losing my salvation. But the really cool part was hearing all the wonderful works of the Holy Spirit. He not only comforts but teaches truth, He helps me live for the glory of God instead of for myself, and He intercedes for me. Romans 8:26. I love my Pentecostal family with all my heart and they love me. It is the ones that would abuse the name of the Holy Spirit that hurts me. I am not a 'has not' as compared to ones who 'have.' If the Holy Spirit wasn't present in my life I'd still be doing the same sins I did for years!!!”
“I grew up in (Pentecostalism) and it scared me some. I would see my dad go up and be "slain in the spirit" and it scared me..... He died of cancer a long time ago, and I wish he had seen or heard these broadcasts of Strange Fire...”
“I just wish pentecostals could see how much people like us do rely on the Holy Spirit and how real and powerful He is in our lives-that we are not quenching him. They have tried to usurp him and make non pentecostals shy away from the Holy Spirit which has caused much damage.”
“I wish Pentecostals could understand that we're not dry and boring and quenching the Spirit, just because we love to study doctrine. The more I study doctrine, the more I love God and others, and the more sanctified I become. And the steadier my walk becomes.”
“The resources from this conference (are) already helping and will continue to help young people avoid being caught up in the Word of Faith heresy. I can see that already. We were caught up in it when we were first married. Not enough Bible knowledge and discernment. It is priceless to be able to help young people see these errors before they waste years of their life chasing the wind, so to speak, and ultimately end up in hell for eternity. Jmac and his brothers are not perfect, but they did a wonderful job to help their brothers and sisters in Christ!! Thank you LORD.”
“Livestreamed---loved it as one that came out of this movement 10 years ago.”
“I haven't gotten to listen to all the sessions but I really appreciate Joni Eareckson Tada's testimony. Especially 'I can't wait to get to heaven and have a glorified heart!'”
“Boom! Where has Nathan Busenitz been all my life? That guy was bringing it!!”And now for a few thoughts about Mark Driscoll and his shameless publicity stunt....
Mark Driscoll's Publicity Stunt
Mark, Mark, Mark......what are we to do with you?
But let me back up and explain what happened.
A minor dust-up occurred on the last day of the Strange Fire conference, in which megachurch pastor Mark Driscoll (who is a continuationist/charismatic, and thus holds views contrary to those being taught at Strange Fire) showed up at the conference and tried to hand out his books, probably for the purpose of "correcting" what he sees as the errors of the cessationist movement in general, and the Strange Fire conference specifically. To be clear: Mark Driscoll was NOT a registered participant for this event, and his materials had not been cleared for distribution. Every vendor present at Strange Fire had to go through an extensive vetting process before being allowed to set up their tables. When the GTY security team approached Driscoll and explained this to him, according to those present, Driscoll continued to give out his books. Driscoll was then very kindly told that the security team would help him carry his materials back to his car. At that point, Driscoll told the security team that he would like to give his books to Grace Community Church as a gift. They accepted this "gift," (again, Driscoll's word), and yet when they parted company, Driscoll immediately began broadcasting via social media that his materials had been seized. It was an outright lie, as the video below plainly demonstrates.
Mark Driscoll to the GTY personnel: "Why don't y'all just take 'em and do whatever you want with 'em......I'd like to give them as a gift."
Mark Driscoll on Instragram, his Twitter feed, and Facebook: "Security confiscated my books."
Just because nobody in Christendom knows the names of the GTY security personnel doesn't mean that they aren't every bit a part of the body of Christ as all the rest of us no-namers out there. In other words, it's not just the big names like MacArthur and Driscoll that are deserving of focus here. Sure, I might potentially like to see a public interaction between MacArthur/Driscoll at some point, but it surely cannot be like this, not with Driscoll gatecrashing an event at which he was not a paid registrant in order to pass out unvetted materials, and then leveraging himself up over the no-name bodies of security personnel to get what he wants. That's not right. (But of course, Mark Driscoll has in the past shown a casual disregard for the little people who don't share his vision, as we've documented here.)
A few graphics were generated in the aftermath of the Driscoll dust-up, some of which I've posted here. Please note that in posting these pictures, I'm not meaning to be flippant about what happened at Strange Fire; I'm just showing some of the funnier online commentary that came out of Christians trying to process Mark Driscoll's stunt. For myself, this is where I land: Pastor Driscoll has a very serious responsibility before the Lord and before his flock to be a sober-minded man of the Word, not a prankster or a publicity hound. He's no longer a young man who can blame the brashness of youth; he's middle-aged now, and it's time for him to grow up. I pray for him to repent publicly for his immature actions and for lying about how the Grace Community Church security team handled what happened.
Chris Rosebrough of Fighting For The Faith radio weighed in on Driscoll's gatecrashing stunt here and Erin Benziger of Do Not Be Surprised gave commentary as well.
Answering The Charge That Those With Concerns About the Charismatic Movement Are "Painting With a Broad Brush" (Phil Johnson)
"Is There Even A Baby In the (Charismatic) Bathwater?" (Phil Johnson)
Strange Fire Conference
Two Quick Thoughts About Strange Fire (Tom Chantry)
So Who Exactly IS The Charismatic Movement? (Mennoknight)
Adrian Warnock Buys The Strange Fire Broken Record Talk about "Painting With A Broad Brush" (Mennoknight)
Strange Fire Audio (Grace To You)
Phil Johnson Interview with Michael Brown (The Line of Fire)
Resources Specifically About Mark Driscoll
Mark Driscoll: A Timeline of His Downfall (Sola Sisters)
Paul Petry, Former Mars Hill Elder, Speaks Out (Sola Sisters)
An Elder's Wife Gives Her Testimony About Mars Hill Church (Sola Sisters)
Mark Driscoll's Church Discipline Contract: Looking For True Repentance At Mars Hill Church? Sign On The Dotted Line (Matthew Paul Turner)
Another Fired Mars Hill Elder (Bent Meyer) Breaks His Silence (The Wartburg Watch)
Freedom For Captives Blog (Blog of Former Mars Hill Elder Bent Meyer) (Freedom 4 Captives)
Mark Driscoll: "What do you do with someone who is rebellious, hard-hearted, stiff necked and stupid? You break their nose." (The Wartburg Watch)
Mark Driscoll Proud of the Dead Bodies Behind The Mars Hill Bus? (Sola Sisters)
See You In Seattle, Pastor John MacArthur? (The Resurgence)
Mark Driscoll: "Look, I had this vision. Let me tell you about it." (Sola Sisters)
Mark Driscoll speaking to demons: "I want to know who all is involved here and what we're dealing with." (Sola Sisters)