Strang Report, by Steve Strang, Founder of Charisma magazine

Want to receive The Strang Report by email? Sign up here

I’ve known Dr. R.T. Kendall since he was pastor of Westminster Chapel in London from 1977 to 2002. Situated just yards from Buckingham Palace, this historic church has been led by great pastors such as Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. That an American from Kentucky would pastor this church for 25 years was amazing.

Equally remarkable was Kendall’s bold preaching on the Holy Spirit amid a mainline evangelical church culture. Given his staunch Calvinist background, some may think Kendall an unlikely candidate to defend the work of the Holy Spirit against the attacks of cessationists. Yet when Dr. John MacArthur’s Strange Fire book and conference caused a stir last fall, Kendall once again spoke out with boldness.

What MacArthur said isn’t new: that the gifts of the Spirit ended with the death of the apostles and that the manifestations of the Holy Spirit, including charismatics’ worship style, are “strange fire.” Yet when MacArthur characterized the entire Pentecostal-charismatic movement and all its elements as works of the devil, it couldn’t help but sound like blasphemy of the Holy Spirit to me.

Last month I wrote about how Dr. Mark Rutland and Dr. Michael Brown created their own stir online with their wise and thoughtful responses to MacArthur. But the real answer, I believe, comes out this month in an important new book by Kendall called Holy Fire. Full disclosure: Not only did I publish this book, but I also persuaded Kendall to write it because I knew MacArthur needed a response from someone who was his academic and intellectual equal (or, in my opinion, superior).

Kendall is the one to take apart MacArthur’s arguments and point out that he’s taken the hypothetical teaching of cessationism and turned it into dogma. Kendall told me he’s read every one of MacArthur’s major books and actually agrees with parts of his arguments, including that there are extremes in the Pentecostal movement that need addressing. But in a letter to MacArthur asking for a public debate, Kendall points out the fundamental flaw of the preacher’s argument: “If your book purports the danger of offending the Holy Spirit with counterfeit worship, I fear you are in greater danger of offending the Holy Spirit by attributing His work to Satan. Does this not worry you? You are risking an awful lot by counting on cessationism to be totally true.”

Holy Fire is more than just an answer to MacArthur and cessationism. It’s for anyone who wants a better understanding of how the Holy Spirit works today. That’s because Kendall writes from personal experience. He testifies how his wife, Louise, was healed of a serious chronic sickness when she was prayed for by revivalist Rodney Howard-Browne. And Kendall describes, as he has in other books, how he was baptized in the Holy Spirit as a student at Trevecca Nazarene College in the 1950s while driving in his car alone.

Kendall understands a key principle of our faith: that Christianity is more than religious creed and that the Holy Spirit’s work and outpouring are more than dogma. People such as MacArthur are comfortable with dogma; they aren’t comfortable with the experience of the power of God when it hits a believer’s life.

Advance copies of the book drew endorsements from 33 Christian leaders, ranging from John Arnott of the Toronto Blessing to John Hagee of Christians United for Israel to David Neff, former editor in chief of Christianity Today.

But the most effusive praise came in the foreword by globally respected pastor Jack Hayford, who wrote, “I am of the opinion this is a landmark book. By making that designation I am saying I believe Holy Fire will, with time, become noted as more than simply a good, useful and helpful book (which it certainly is). ... It will find enduring use for a generation or more ... helping bring people to a sure destination. ... This book is designed to teach, to feed the hungry and to satisfy the weary, nurturing hope and faith while balancing truth and love.”

Debate on the Holy Spirit has been around a long time and will continue for many years. In Holy Fire, Kendall sets the record straight about His role in the lives of individual believers and in the life of the church pertaining to miracles, blessings and spiritual gifts.

But Kendall also emphasizes that while healing and prophecy all have their proper place, you must rightly divide the Scriptures if you seek to represent the Spirit’s work in your life. That’s the right kind of fire for any believer.

Steve Strang is the founder and publisher of Charisma. Follow him on Twitter @sstrang or Facebook (stephenestrang).

Draw closer to God. Experience the presence of the Holy Spirit every month as you read Charisma magazine. Sign up now to get Charisma for as low as $1 per issue.

Get to know the Holy Spirit and how to interact with Him on a daily basis. Learn to enter God's presence and hear His voice clearly for yourself! Go deeper in your faith with Life in the Spirit and change your life and destiny. Are you ready to start your journey?

Did you enjoy this blog? Click here to receive it by email.

Your Turn

Comment Guidelines
View/Add Comments
  • Hillary Clinton

    What if Hillary Clinton Wins the White House?

    Polls have Mrs. Clinton leading by 11 points. The church must be prepared.

  • Holy Spirit prophetic

    7 Ways to Cultivate Sensitivity to the Holy Spirit

    Too many of God's people are led by fear, doubt, man-pleasing, presumption, assumption, idols ...

  • What if You Could Save $500 This Week?

    What if You Could Save $500 This Week?

    Start saving for emergencies today with the $500 Savings Challenge by brightpeak financial. It's chock-full of inspiration, great savings tips and the motivation to make a dent in your savings—for real! Go to to sign up!

  • Guarding the gates of your heart will keep the demonic and evil out of your life.

    Keep the Demonic Out of Your Life With This Oft-Overlooked Spiritual Warfare Strategy

    The enemy knows his limitations. Limit him.

  • Highway exit signs

    Prophetic Word: Watch for the Exit Signs to Light Up This Season

    Don't be afraid to get your hands dirty in the harvest fields. The "barnyard anointing" ...

  • There Are Times in History...

    There Are Times in History...

    While who becomes president is significant, the truth is, the change America desperately needs does not begin in Washington, D.C.

  • Finger pointing

    The Accuser vs. Donald Trump—and Us All

    This isn't a political persuasion piece, but a current-event case study in the strategies of ...

  • Passivity can be a real relationship killer.

    One Toxic Temptation Many Men Face—And How to Overcome It

    And no, it's not pornography or adultery.

  • Daily scripture reading, meditation and prayer can seem elusive with your busy schedule.

    10 Small Steps to Deeper Intimacy With Holy Spirit in Your Quiet Times

    If deep quiet times seem just out of your reach with your busy schedule, try one of these ...

  • Jezebel puppets

    10 Ways to Spot Jezebel's Spiritually Slick Undercover Con Artists

    It's time to stop tolerating Jezebel in all its many manifestations.

  • Continue Your Journey with the Holy Spirit

    Continue Your Journey with the Holy Spirit

    Follow God on the most fulfilling journey of your life with Encounter the Holy Spirit! Break away from past hurts and press into the One who wants a personal encounter with you.

  • Dream the Unimaginable In His Presence

    Dream the Unimaginable In His Presence

    Reach your full potential and be led by His Spirit. In His Presence takes you to a deeper understanding of who God is and how he communicates with us.

  • Set Your Spirit on Fire

    Set Your Spirit on Fire

    Receive the power and gifts that come through the Holy Spirit Baptism. Don’t go empty-handed; accept all that He has for you! His power is available to those who ask.

  • Put on the Full Armor of God

    Put on the Full Armor of God

    Break every stronghold with the power of the Holy Spirit. Use the power of your tongue to declare and decree the Word of God. Witness heaven move on your behalf.

Use Desktop Layout
Charisma Magazine — Empowering believers for life in the Spirit