Review: Strange Fire, Holy Fire

“The spiritual gifts practiced in charismatic churches – including the controversial gifts – are legitimate and important.  Unfortunately, they can be abused and confused with hype, flesh, and misunderstanding.”
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This book by Michael Klassen is a well-written and interesting addition to the post-charismatic library. With a fair combination of critique and validation, the author expresses the desire to bring balance and maturity to both the beliefs and practices of charismatics.

A Few Favorite Quotes

Spiritual Pride

“Over time, people who only indulge in charismatic influences tend to see reality through a singular charismatic lens.  We begin to believe that only charismatics have something significant to say to the church and to the world.”

History

“Claims of spiritual exclusivity lead people – and movements – down dangerous paths.”

“As we study church history, we discover that many of the challenges and false teachings we face today have appeared sporadically since the first Pentecost.”

Power

“The pursuit of the charismatic and Pentecostal is power.  The charismatic movement is more about power than anything.”

“In our pursuit of power we lost sight of Jesus.  We tried so hard to be used by him that we pursued Jesus’ power more than his person.”

Hype

“God doesn’t need someone to whip the crowd into a frenzy in order to pour out his Spirit.”

“The Spirit is already at work in our lives, regardless of anything we do to manifest his presence.”

Overview

Michael presents topics relevant to the charismatic movement in easy to digest chapters.  While not an indepth study of the issues, the chapters provide enough points of background and scripture to begin the process of reflection and discussion for those interested in examining their charismatic practices.

There are chapters covering authority, titles, and the cult of personality.  Others address specific practices such as tongues and personal prophecy.  There are also much-needed chapters discussing peculiar behavior and strange theology.

Because he is a graduate of ORU and former card-carrying member of the word of faith movement, I was interested in the author’s perspective on prosperity teaching, positive confession, healing, suffering, faith, God’s will, prayer, and spiritual warfare.  The chapters devoted to these topics were an accurate portrayal of the word of faith teaching that I have been around.

The chapter title Is It Okay to Pursue a Spiritual Buzz? caught my interest.  This chapter deals with the legitimacy of experiential encounters.  Not throwing the baby out with the bathwater, the author states, “experiences with God play a significant role in our life of faith,”  but they should not be the sole substance of our faith.  He goes on to explain that true transformation is not a quick fix, but happens over time as we know and abide in Christ.

Michael finishes the book with a look at the future of the charismatic movement and the hope for a new kind of charismatic where the distinctions fade and we are simply known as brothers and sisters in Christ.

Final Thoughts

Over recent years, I have come to many of the same conclusions concerning the charismatic movement that Michael describes in this book.  Those who identify themselves as post-charismatic will find this to be an enjoyable read.

I am curious to see the response of the charismatic community.  Hopefully rather than reacting or responding defensively, there will be ears to hear the message of this book.

You can read more about the book here at the Bethany House publishing site.
It is available for pre-order on Amazon.

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28 thoughts on “Review: Strange Fire, Holy Fire

  1. “As we study church history, we discover that many of the challenges and false teachings we face today have appeared sporadically since the first Pentecost.”

    “The pursuit of the charismatic and Pentecostal is power. The charismatic movement is more about power than anything.”

    “In our pursuit of power we lost sight of Jesus. We tried so hard to be used by him that we pursued Jesus’ power more than his person.”

    My biggest issues with my former prophetic/renewal/Pentecostal background is the artificial inflation of uber-prophetic & uber-apostolic types. They have been elevated to their golden thrones by a naïve supporting cadre of groupies. The cult effect is very obvious once you get out of the glaring light of those so-called ministries & peer in from the outside. Even the attempted efforts at being unassuming are suspect. I just don’t trust them. So much so they are not even considered accurate representations of the kingdom…

    I do not accept any of the “titles”, “positions” or “accompanying authority/influence” of any of those high profile uber-unctioned ministries that promote a dominionist theology or claim signs & wonders as their divine endorsement. And their inner circle relationships & ‘recognition’ given to those they deem equally anointed simply a sham…

    It is a bastardization of the gifts as they were intended IMHO. I cannot see it part of Jesus’ design & desire after the original Apostles carried out the foundational ministry of establishing the church throughout the geographical areas they influenced in their lifetimes…

    It is self-aggrandizement. Self-appointment. Overly inflated egos. Even the “desire to be used of God” has been corrupted to infer greater influence, power, recognition & impact. It is a scary form of self-delusion. And just the thing that does encourage abuse. Power trips were never listed as a spiritual gifting or a fruit of the Spirit.

    Such ministry expressions are so accepted as valid now how will the true use of the gifts ever be established as the kingdom norm? I fear the continued make-believe of the extreme prophetic/apostolic types will bring greater division & confusion & a despising of the miraculous for those that only see the high-profile ministries as the main representations of Spirit-inspired workings in the earth today… :(

  2. Grace, it is interesting to hear the perceptions of power and hype.

    Have you read The Great Emergence yet. It was interesting to hear of the roll Azusa and charismatics played in the last century, especially Wimber. Tickle says it was huge.

    I grew up Baptist, but my mentor speaks in tongues when he prays over me. I think he taught me a great balance that the Spirit manifest is completely up to the Spirit. I just get to participate. But I can make myself available.

    In the Baptist side, we just forgot about the Spirit and had God, mostly Jesus, and the Scriptures. Sad.

  3. I’ve heard good things about John Wimber from those older than I (I’m not on SS yet ;o) )…

    One of the fallacies that I’ve encountered in the charismatic circles of my limited contact of which I’ve been a part is a certain confusion about “moving in the Spirit” and demonstrable Spiritual maturity–they don’t necessarily go together.

    Tom

  4. Having been in charismatic circles as well, I have to say that the quote on spiritual pride is very true, SADLY!! I’m not sure how it is in other denominations, but even though some are very denominational, I’m not sure they hold such a strong conviction of having the sole truth, as unfortunately charismatic circles have.

    Your other quotes were good too. I’d love to read the book! I was agreeing with it all. It is really important as well to not throw the baby out with the bath water, but to realise what the bath water is. Blessings!

  5. I am all for throwing out the bastard step-child of prophetic/apostolic charlatanism along with its putrid bathwater defilement as fast as you could say “WHOOSH!”

    And not even flinch…

    Flush it all down the toilet. It is the spawn of human ego & posturing & pride & false entitlement & an abomination! Nothing there worth preserving…

    If by the baby you mean the valid gifts of the Spirit in operation as they were intended to: “…strengthen, encourage & comfort” according to 1Cor 14:3, then yes, I would say we all want to keep the real deal & purge the cheap imitations. But people being what they are, they think they can get a spiritual low-cost effect & beat out the long-term step-by-step discipline regimen of the common saint…

    Short cuts & quick holiness & super-spirituality the golden carrot offered & that pseudo-spiritual vegetable can only feed the ego. No real maturity is desired nor expected…

  6. Grace, I really liked this book. I don’t remember where I wrote it but I would give Post Charasmatic? to one kind of person and this one to another. Many of my friends would not make it through Robby Mac’s as it is much more weighty and indebth. This one is much lighter. I loved Robby Mac’s and just gave it to one of my friends who will simply love it. But this one will be on my shelf too to lend to those who just need a simple discussion of the topics that he covers.

    Good review!

  7. Sounds like an interesting book, Grace.

    As far as what you wrote about it, there doesn’t seem to be anything I don’t already agree with (and I spent a lot of time in Charismatic churches). Is this something that would help in my spiritual journey/growth, or is it mostly affirmation of obvious stuff?

    I’d be interested in reading it if the author has some ideas about what genuine manifestations and operation in the Spirit would look like, and if you thought he was on target with his ideas. I know what the fake stuff looks like all too well.

    I do think that many if not most people involved in Charismatic churches honestly desire to follow Jesus. They end up wandering around, though, because that isn’t what is usually taught in these churches, even in those Charismatic churches where the leadership sincerely wants to follow Jesus, too. People are, as someone here said, side-tracked by the “power” manifestations. Kind of like Corinth–in fact, a lot like Corinth.

    God bless,

    Cindy

  8. Having been involved with Charismatic ‘apostles and prophets’ for most of my spiritual journey I would have to agree with most of Joseph’s thoughts.They are usually loners by personality type who play the role as long as the groupies follow.The idea of relating to them as a brother or sister is an anathema to them.They usually want to ‘head up’ their work and not ‘share it’ with fellow believers who may have the same kind of gifting.My reading of the New Testament seems to suggest that these gifted men/women always worked in teams for their own mental /spiritual health as well as that of the poor saints.The Didache gives very wise teaching as to how to recognise
    genuine ‘charismatists’ who travel around churches.Maybe we should dig out the Didache again for some discernment.The other problem is that these ‘special’ ministries become models for other believers who try and grab their sense of ‘transcendence’ by imitating their mannerisms and lifestyles.A climbing of the spiritual greasy pole then ensues resulting in rivalry among the pole climbers.I have seen it indeed I have have lived it being one of those who eventually fell off the pole!

    Finally I still believe in manifestations of Holy Spirit but in the hype less environment where broken people reach out to each other in mercy and agape.

    Charlie ( recovering ‘prophet’)

  9. Charlie, maybe you are a prophet. I’m the author of Strange Fire and in my book, I use the Didache as a litmus test for distinguishing between legitimate and illegitimate ministries.

    The underlying premise of the book is that whenever you see the Spirit at work, you will inevitably find the flesh at work, too (hence the title). Some of the ministries that repulse me most, at some level, have redeemable qualities. God can draw straight lines with crooked sticks. My hope is that my book can help straighten out the stick a bit–not into my image but into the image God intended.

  10. Grace, thanks for the review. I’m very much looking forward to reading this book. BTW, I did reconnect with Mike in Denver, and enjoyed that, too. (Hi, Mike.) :)

  11. Grace,

    Thank you for the review. For those of so us so posty (post-evangelical, post-charismatic, post-seeker-sensitive, post-christian, post-liberal, post-modern, . . .) that we are toasty it is good to reflect on where we have come from. Perhaps now I will take a deep breath and move forward into something that I will no doubt in the future apply post to so as to describe myself.

  12. Michael

    They say the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable – I am a kind of Prodigal prophet over here in Ireland having run away from the whole Charismatic thing for 16 years to rediscover some level of sanity.God kind of jumped on me from a great height a few years back and put a new kind of fire in my belly to love all and to challenge legalism and elitism.

    Looking forward to reading your book and the accompanying Didache.

    Charlie

  13. joseph,
    Wrong attitudes of authority and power are one of the biggest mistakes of the current charismatic leadership. No news on Todd. Last I heard, he was being counseled by Joyner, Bill Johnson, and Jack Deere.

    jonathan,
    I haven’t read Great Emergence. I am currently reading The Becoming of G-d (which you likely have). I appreciate some of the thoughts in that book concerning the charismatic movement, the emerging church, and a restored understanding of the trinitarian nature of the church and particularly the role of the Holy Spirit. He also mentions how in the Western church, Scripture seemed to replace the role of the Spirit.

    tom,
    I’ve heard good things about Wimber also. I believe that overly focusing on gifts, signs, and revelation without a balancing focus on character, care for one another, and outward service contributes to the lack of maturity.

    mimou,
    I think the charismatics have the corner on the market when it comes to spiritual pride. It is almost inevitable and inherent with the tendencies toward gnosticism.

    barb,
    I look forward to reading other reviews. I would love to do a book club with this book.

    cindy,
    The author obviously has experienced both the genuine and the fake and holds to a sincere appreciation for true manifestations. In my opinion, that is the only valid position for critiquing charismatic practices. Those who are simply anti- are not credible on this topic.

    I believe the book is helpful in providing a balanced explanation of charismatic practices that should be examined. The scriptural background and explanations would be reassuring for those who have had uneasiness or questions about aspects of charismatic belief.

    charlie,
    In my experience, many of the prophets we encountered were more willing to serve and empower the body than those who claimed to be apostles. However, there was still the element of platform ministry and rivalry also. I have shared my thoughts on the apostolic ministry we experienced. Entering “apostolic” in the search box will pull up a number of those posts. In spite of that, I still believe in real apostolic function. I just don’t think it looks like what is being passed off as that today.

    michael,
    Thanks for weighing in. I share your hope that charismatics will more accurately reflect the Spirit.

  14. jeff mcq,
    I read that on your blog. I’m sure it was great to reconnect and discover the similarities of your journeys.

    jeff,
    Post-toastie? We are always building upon, aware that everything so far, both good and bad, contributes to where we are today.

  15. The underlying premise of the book is that whenever you see the Spirit at work, you will inevitably find the flesh at work, too (hence the title). Some of the ministries that repulse me most, at some level, have redeemable qualities.

    Michael:

    This has always been a big issue for me. The argument always come back to that inevitable ‘mix’ of flesh & spirit for anybody that wishes to operate in the ‘gifts’ as we understand them. I just cannot accept that duality. It just does not compute…

    You cannot expect me to believe that the writers of Holy Writ were such a mixture, do you? Those that penned the New Testament really didn’t get it right after all? Were they somehow exempt? Or more favored?

    In this instance, those that were Apostles & those that were identified as prophets, did they set into motion incorrect traditions or teachings that were an admixture of flesh+spirit?

    When the example of Peter being ‘corrected’ by Paul at Antioch is used, does this imply that such misrepresentation is to be expected even today? That bugaboo for Peter & the Jewish Christians not wishing to fellowship with Gentile believers or forcing them to live like Jews; is this equivalent to C. Peter Wagner creating his own inner sanctum of Apostolic cronies that are ‘set apart’ from the rest of the body?

    False apostles & false prophets can be rebuked by whom? Is that even possible? Our fascination with that idea of Protestant denominational independence precludes any such actions Paul did when addressing his fellow Apostles. If you are not considered a ‘peer-on-the-pedestal’ no such ‘counsel’ is possible. Do we need to wait until God shakes the pedestals & knock ‘em all down?

    We are a disjointed body at best, & paraplegic at worst. Too many chiefs; not enough indians. Too many cooks. Too many apostles. Too many prophets. Too many uncoordinated members hearing different things & going off in opposite directions. Lord help us all… :(

  16. Joseph
    I agree with much of what you say.Some of the problems stem back to the nature of ‘Church’ in a location.Watchman Nee had many faults but he was correct in saying that there is only one church in a town or city.When that is the case’rebuke’ as you have suggested in the Paul/Peter episode is possible.Our trouble is that we have absorbed the free market economy into our Protestantism where it’s everyman for himself and no-one tells me what to do – hence so many religious splits and sects.Poor old Luther and Calvin didn’t know what monster they had unleashed when they split from Rome’s monolithic empire.If they saw the religious marketplace today I wonder would they change their mind?

    Charlie

  17. Our trouble is that we have absorbed the free market economy into our Protestantism where it’s everyman for himself and no-one tells me what to do – hence so many religious splits and sects.

    Charlie:

    You have a similar perspective as mine. Not to imply that “great minds think alike”, but at least post-charismatic spirits do resonate with similar perspectives… ;)

    Charismatic, non-denominational, independent churches are the norm are they not? I think that phrase “non-denominational/independent” really a badge of honor they affix to themselves with the implication that they are only answerable to God…

    Once the “leadership” is ensconced in their velvet thrones no one best point out any logs in their eyes or they will call down curses from on high! Where is the accountability? It is all within the same camp, certainly no outside scrutiny is going to be heard or heeded…

    Such a form or model of a church body seems like a macabre form of organ experiment to see just how long it can be kept alive apart from its original donor…

    What would Luther & Calvin think? They would have been sober & repentant I believe. They didn’t get it right the first time either. It may have been a radical attempt to ‘revive’ the Body, but maybe it instead turned out to be a Frankenstein in-the-making? So many disparate parts crudely sown together in some form of grotesque accommodation that represents the thousands of separate denominations today?

    Protestants champion their so-called independence, but at what cost? They think it freedom to withdraw from what they consider a cadaver to reattach to their vision of the source of Life? We have missed it somehow. Not that I want to minimize the Reformation or the problems that had infected the Catholic Church, but did the attempt at ‘standardizing’ doctrine, liturgy, tradition, organization, etc. reflect a spreading necrosis undiagnosed by those within the established Church then & those that wanted to ‘reanimate’ their version of “the church”? Is it a problem still plaguing the Body today?

  18. Joseph, thank for your comments. I’m aware of the Greeks’ dualistic perspective, which culminated with Gnostic dualism. I’m not referring to that. But taking your argument to its logical conclusion, good people only do good and bad people only do bad. Did the New Testament writers sin? Obviously yes. Could they have sinned on the same day they worked on their New Testament writings? Undoubtedly.

    Scripture is fully inspired by God and authoritative for daily living and belief, but not all of the details in Scripture coincide. I’ve worked as a theological reviewer for at least 16 study Bibles and I DREAD working through the Gospels. Why? Because the details differ so greatly between them. Who arrived first at the tomb? Mary Magdalene? Mary Magdalene and the other Mary? Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome? In John, the tomb is empty and Mary runs out to tell Peter when she encounters Jesus. In Mark and Luke the women encounter two angelic beings in the tomb and are told that Jesus isn’t there. In Matthew, the angel is sitting on the stone outside the tomb. In Mark and Luke, Jesus doesn’t appear in the story which he does in Matthew and John. All that to say, the details don’t always coincide, but that’s okay because getting the details exactly right wasn’t a value of that time as it is in our modernistic age. So in our Bible, we see a mixture of Spirit-led writing while the facts aren’t exact.

    James wrote, “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing (James 3:9-10 NIV). Where does praise begin? With God, not with us. So out of the same mouth, God can bring forth praise, and yet moments later we can criticize the person next to us.

    Paul lamented his inability to obey his God-induced desires to do right by saying, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin (Romans 7:24-25 NIV).

    Not to belabor the point, but let me offer a personal example. When I was in high school, I brought a friend in need of healing to my church. It was 1981 and we were hosting a young up-and-coming healing evangelist. He was arrogant, pushy, demanding of the pastoral staff–so much so that in the midst of the meetings our elders vowed never to bring him back. Yet the man prayed for my friend and her pelvis, which was broken in 7 places, was healed. The man’s name? Benny Hinn.
    Anointed men and women can be used of God and still do bad things. Unfortunately, people assume that if God is using them, then their lives must be okay, which isn’t the case.

  19. The man’s name? Benny Hinn.

    Michael:

    I have had my fair share of rants on grace’s blog (yes, she still let’s me post :) ) about the serious abuses of high profile ministries, most recently the Todd Bentley fiasco…

    You mention Hinn. I have enough of a ‘repulsion’ factor for his antics & questionable theology & dubious financial integrity that I do not see him as anointed or chosen of God or empowered or whatever it is we think is that spiritual ‘umph’ or unction to perform divine miracles.

    I would not attend his services. Would not want him touching me or praying for me as if I were ‘affirming’ his supra-natural ability…

    Now it could be the ol’ argument concerning a real need as you shared poses a conundrum of sorts for those that make the miraculous a show vs. real ministry. A business more than a blessing. And those results are because of Hinn’s supposed ‘gifting’, or in spite of it?

    Was it your faith & that of your friend that is what secured a healing? Hinn not necessary, in fact, maybe even hindering the miracle through his unChristlike behavior? God is not so mysterious in my mind. Seems anybody willing to build up a ministry of sorts that derives its support from the truly needy will appear to be ‘effective’ only because of the faith of the faithful, not because of special empowering from on high…

    It is charlatanism IMHO. A fraudulent misrepresentation of true spiritual giftedness & how it is intended to operate. Results do not confirm content, motive, source or divine approval. It is up to us to discern the true from the false & the sweet from the sour.

    Human ability can be underrated. I think people can elicit faith by their actions & words, but it does not qualify as divine unction. And really, does the church ‘need’ Hinn’s ministry? Really? He is some critical cog in the miraculous workings of God in the world today?

    Fold up the Hinn show & he would not be missed. Maybe it is my skepticism that makes a case to not affirm or humor him. Don’t pay into his ministry. Do not bill him as a healing evangelist or Holy Ghost dispenser. Don’t attend his services. I don’t believe we need more like him. We need less of this type of admixture of flesh & spirit, not more…

  20. Joseph,
    I couldn’t agree with you more. We need men and women of character to back up the gifting.

    I’ve never met Benny Hinn, although I wrote a book for him seven years ago–for which he paid me and promptly decided he wanted to go a different direction. Friends of mine who know him believe he’s ADD.

    Like you, whenever Benny Hinn comes to town, I don’t think twice about attending his meetings. I don’t go nor do I want to. He pushed me into my seat when he prayed for me as a teenager–as he did everyone else–and the mutual friends we have say he’s more or less an absent father and husband. News reports tell us that he lives a lavish lifestyle (I explain how televangelists get all that money in my book). I warn people about him and encourage them to avoid him.

    But I still can’t get beyond the fact that people get healed when he prays for them. We can’t say definitively that a person’s faith is solely responsible for their healing.

    Although he tended to be formulaic, I much prefer(ed) John Wimber’s healing ministry over Benny Hinn’s. We need godliness along with the gift. But if God chose to use us solely based upon our purity, he would use no one. Even our faith isn’t enough to get healed. It’s grace.

  21. But I still can’t get beyond the fact that people get healed when he prays for them. We can’t say definitively that a person’s faith is solely responsible for their healing.

    Not to belabor a point, but have you prayed for someone to be healed? If so, & they are indeed healed, was it because you believe you were gifted? Anointed? Empowered? Did you feel healing power flow out of you as Jesus described?

    The gift of healing or of miracles is just that, a gift. Not a calling. Not a ministry. Not a talent. Not even a guarantee. It is not a verification of anything other than the mercy & grace you rightly address. I think God does things in spite of our faith more than because of it. And healing is one of those ‘head scratcher’ deals that appears to be neither/nor more than either/or…

    God is the only source of divine healing as I understand it. And the expression of the miraculous would not be compromised at all if the Hinn’s of the world simply dropped off it. No, I do not believe Hinn is gifted. He is clever. He has reaped his public reward. But he may be in for the big surprise of the Matthew 7:22 retort when reviewing his spritual resume on judgment day…

    It takes no faith on my part to believe he is not gifted. Any doubt as to the results of Hinn’s methods does not discount God’s divine power, it simply eliminates Hinn as the vessel. Being a paid dispenser of gifts or healings or blessings is no less a perversion than Simon the Sorcerer was. If I were to think for a minute such an arrangement were ordained of God I would switch vocations in a heart beat!

    Did Simon eventually repent? If so, was he then gifted to heal? Do we have any record of Simon the Healer in Samaria? Any record of those the Apostles healed offering to finance a healing crusade or travelling ministry? No. Hinn’s methodology & those like him are a perversion, not a validation. I am not so sure God is in the business of ‘using’ anyone as we may understand it. That type of Old Testament election not the standard for the New Testament saint. Those gifts we talk about so much were given to the church, not to individuals. As such being willing to accept the accolades of men a sure sign in my book that it is not the real deal.

    But I am not out to dissuade anyone that leaves wiggle room for the Bentley’s & the Hinn’s of this world to be somehow selected by God to represent Him the way they do. God can be crazy I suppose. Totally out to confuse & keep His children second-guessing. Maybe He does ordain such controversy just to see who is paying attention. But I do not leave any such room open for such conclusions. I simply do not ‘see’ God as the causal agent. Maybe there is no firm ‘test’ to apply, but I will not blame God for Hinn’s results. It just not add up…

  22. People come to these things, often desperate for healing. God does a work out of mercy, and despite the fact that he knows the “evangelist” is going to hog the glory (even as he intones, “To Goooooood be the glowry”, it’s brother so and so who takes the praise (and the offering).

    Why does God do this? How should I know? And why does this one get healed and that one not? God’s foolishness is wiser than our wisdom. I’ve seen a lot of phony “healings,” too, and a lot of “healings” of things that can’t be seen or confirmed. And a lot of genuine healings as well.

    Why does God use these people? I have no idea. But I do know I trust Him. And I believe He wants to use His humble and obedient servants as well. Maybe he doesn’t use us as much as He’d like to because, in the words of Dallas Willard, one genuine, incontrovertible miracle might just be enough to ruin us completely if we’re not grounded in Him. So maybe we need to go deeper, closer, fall hopelessly in love with Him. Then maybe it’ll be safe for God to let us use the dangerous power tools.

  23. Benny came to Belfast a few years ago to the largest arena in the city – it was only 1/3 full however as the sceptical/discerning Evangelical Northern Irish stayed away.Strangely enough most folk there were black church parties from England among whom Hinn is adored.The lighting was blacked out over the 2/3 empty arena so that on film it would not be noticed.As the financial appeal approached I decided to visit the toilets in order to miss it.Unfortunatly I discovered that the arena’s sound system was also wired into the toilet area so I heard every word of Benny’s ‘appeal’ for cash as I sat with my trousers around my knees!It was a distorted exposition of some Proverbs about sowing bread etc.In other words rubbish.As I returned to the arena friends had one of Benny’s envelopes for me that had been dispensed during my time away.I tore it up and put it in my pocket as a prophetic act.My wife had advised me not to take my wallet to the event but as it happens I would not have given any cash after hearing the appeal which suggested in a not so subtle way that if you were there for healing you first needed to sow finance to God i.e. to God’s representative Benny. By the way Benny stayed in the presidential suite of the best hotel in Belfast along with a huge number of his staff.My friend who works in the hotel says the cost was astronomical.

    Paul seems to suggest that God will send great delusions in the church age?A strange suggestion but one built on the premise that the hungry will search out God’s action in the world and not follow some showmanship bandwagon.Watch Steve Martin’s movie ‘Leap of Faith’.

    Charlie

  24. I just want to thank you Michael for writing this book. I have been in the Charismatic church for many years and have raised my 4 children in this church. You have clarified for me, concerns that I have had for MANY years in this church. Our family left the Chromatic/Pentecostal church extremely wounded, as did many others of our congregation. Much of that was due to arrogance in leadership and lack of spiritual discernment of leadership. We withdrew our membership with the Assemblies of God and have not looked back, happily. The longer I am away from the deceptions, the more relieved I am that we left. A friend of mine was visiting the non-denominational church we attend ( a very large and thriving church that has a huge heart for missions and spreading the gospel), she and her husband attended for quite awhile and when I missed her for several weeks, I contacted her and told her I missed her…she told me that she and her husband “missed the presence of the Holy Spirit” and decided to attend a Charismatic church much farther away! Can you believe it !? I assured her that the presence of the Holy Spirit is very present at Oak Pointe (my present church) and that He is just not manifested in the way she is used to…How sad..
    One last thing, A dearly loved friend of mine and my husband’s passed away this past week. Many of the visitors to the funeral home were our former Charismatic “family” . At one point, a young man had everyone be silent for a moment. He told everyone that God told him 6 months ago to start fasting and praying as he (Kyle) would be used to bring someone back to life by the power of God. Well, evidently, our friend that had passed away was the one “God ” had chosen to bring back to life. Kyle prayed several times for Charlie to “in the name of Jesus, RISE UP ! “. Well, I’m sure Charlie in the arms of God, was cringing and saddened by the events taking place in the funeral home…..eventually a pastor stepped up and announced that “we believe in miracles and healing and now it is time to continue comforting the family”. Thankfully, I had gone the night before and was not present that night. My husband and daughter were. I am still deeply disturbed by this. I have already read your book but have it in front of me to read again. I know I must take the good with the bad. Right now I am feeling that all/most Charismatic’s are deceived.

  25. Hi I like your book, I just wanted to say that 3 years ago I seen two fire lights above the cross of a Cathlic church when I was driving at night even though I am a Christain I don’t know exactly why that happened I tried to take a picture of the fire with my camera on my phone but I couldn’t move my arm but I felt a sense of renewal like I was refreshed it was a life changing experience, and it inspired me to read your book to learn more on strange fires holey fires.

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