Adam Ericksen 10-25-2013
Illustration of the Holy Spirit flame, AridOcean / Shutterstock.com

Illustration of the Holy Spirit flame, AridOcean / Shutterstock.com

I first heard about the Strange Fire controversy when my Twitter feed started tweeting up a storm on Monday. The drama centered on a confrontation between two conservative mega church pastors, John MacArthur and Mark Driscoll. Most of my Twitter friends are theological liberals, and we liberals love it when our conservative brethren get in fights.

Woo-hoo! A scandal! 

This scandal, like most scandals, was overblown. Driscoll says that MacArthur and his people were “gracious that they let me on campus at all.” What was Driscoll doing “on campus?” He crashed MacArthur’s conference on the Holy Spirit called Strange Fire to meet with people and hand out free copies of his upcoming book, A Call to Resurgence, which has a chapter on the Holy Spirit. Conference officials told Driscoll he had to stop, and so he did. Driscoll’s books ended up in the hands of conference officials. The drama between the two has to do with whether Driscoll gave the books as a gift to the conference or if conference officials confiscated them.

Like all scandals, the drama distracts us from what really matters, which is the conference theme. The work of the Holy Spirit is vitally important for Christians, yet the Holy Spirit is usually treated like the ugly stepchild of Christian doctrine. (No offense to ugly stepchildren.) I think MacArthur radically misunderstands the Holy Spirit. The conference website provides an overview of its mission, which will help me explain his misunderstanding:

The eScapegoat, an online creation of a San-Francisco non-profit to help people

The eScapegoat, an online creation of a San-Francisco non-profit to help people get ready for Yom Kippur. Image via G-dcast.

The weeks leading up to the Jewish High Holy Days are supposed to be marked by self-questioning: What failings must I atone for, and to whom must I apologize?

A group of artists, writers and animators are hoping a cartoon goat may help.

They call it the eScapegoat, and it’s supposed to approximate the original scapegoat, described in Leviticus as an important player in the atonement ritual of the ancient Israelites, who symbolically placed their sins upon the animal and sent it into the wilderness.

Cathleen Falsani 11-03-2011

"God helps those who help themselves," is, unfortunately for Mr. Carney, NOT in the Bible.

Rather it's an oft-quoted aphorism that sounds like it should be in the Bible but isn't. A "phantom scripture," if you will.

Eugene Cho 05-20-2010

I know that there are many of you that are engaging, debating, learning, and wrestling with the issue known to most as immigration reform or known to others as, "What the Arizona?" And these debates and discussion will continue with more and more incidents like

Larry James 12-04-2009
Last week we received word from Houston, Texas, that some charitable organizations would screen out the children of undocumented residents of the city when it comes time to distribute toys and othe
Charles Gutenson 12-03-2009
A popular argument amongst political conservatives goes like this: while they grant that Scripture requires concern and care for the poor and marginalized, that concern is one to be addressed by in
Matthew Soerens 11-11-2009
A few weeks ago, I sat and listened attentively as a series of American religious leaders explained to several members of a http://www.faithandimmigration.org/blog/faith-leaders-testify-se
Justin Fung 10-15-2009

Today is Blog Action Day 2009, an annual event that unites the world's bloggers in posting about the same issue on the same day.

Rachel Anderson 10-14-2009
After all the financial turmoil that 2009 has already brought, one would think that it would somehow be logical and practical to bring accountable reforms to the same banking institutions whose re
Lynne Hybels 10-08-2009
Nearly five years ago my friends, Hector and Gabby and their five kids, entered the U.S. legally from Mexico in order to join the pastoral staff at my church, Willow Creek.
Anne Dunlap 07-14-2009

The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.

Efrem Smith 11-20-2008

In this clip, taken from a Nov. 2 sermon, Pastor Efrem talks about the implications of the commandment not to covet, and a biblical approach to wealth and ownership.