From the Azusa Street Revival, which began in 1906, a movement has grown to bring more people to Jesus than any other movement in history. While secularism continues to be on the rise in today's society, many areas of the world still experience church growth, thanks to Pentecostal-Charismatic Christians. But the Pentecostal-Charismatic church is also plagued with sexual immorality, financial corruption, doctrinal error, personal flakiness, spiritual gullibility, prophetic abuse, and more. In many ways the state of the church today is not too different from how it was long ago in Corinth. To make matters worse, the church hides these acts under the cloak of liberty in the Holy Spirit. Michael Brown sounds a wake-up call to the church and addresses some of the most glaring problems, from inaccurate prophetic words that obscure true ones to ministries using scripturally armed marketing techniques in order to manipulate believers into giving. Brown shows us why we must clean up house so the church can grow, flourish, and fulfill God's kingdom purposes.
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About the Author
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 The Spirit Is Moving Mightily! 1
Chapter 2 Why Are We So Gullible? 8
Chapter 3 Mercenary Prophets 28
Chapter 4 Superstar Leaders 43
Chapter 5 Abusive Leadership 62
Chapter 6 Unaccountable Prophecy 80
Chapter 7 Sexual Immorality 96
Chapter 8 The Pep-Talk, Prosperity Gospel 111
Chapter 9 Celebrating Doctrinal Deviance 131
Chapter 10 To the Third Heaven and Back in a Flash 149
Chapter 11 Wanting to Be Wise Like the World 164
Chapter 12 Where Do We Go From Here? 182
Postscript: A Loving Word to the Charismatic Critics 189
What People are Saying About This
One of the best, most accurate, yet loving, critiques of the Charismatic movement to date. It is written by one who is unashamedly a Charismatic but sees faults and grave dangers that some are afraid to confront. Dr. Michael Brown hits the nail on the head. This is must-reading for anyone who values the Charismatic movement and its future. —R. T. Kendall Author; Former Minister, Westminster Chapel (1977–2002) I find myself saying, “Amen! Amen! Amen!” This book is so needed right now! People eager for revelation yet not grounded in Scripture make easy targets for charlatans to exploit them and unsound teachings to move them. May God awaken His church. —Dr. Craig S. Keener F. M. and Ada Thompson Professor of Biblical Studies, Asbury Theological Seminary Dr. Michael Brown offers a compelling, careful, and honest critique of the current Pentecostal-Charismatic movement. Michael astutely observes that while many wonderful things are taking place by and in the Spirit, there are also aberrations and abuses that require accountability and rectification. My prayer is that we all take heed and listen to what he wisely offers based on his observations and that we too once again learn how to more accurately and carefully discern what the Spirit is saying to the churches. —Mark J. Chironna, PhD Founding Pastor, Church on the Living Edge; Mark Chironna Ministries Orlando, Florida
The Pentecostal-Charismatic movement is very young and amazingly vibrant. It is by far the fastest-growing and most global phenomenon in the history of Christianity. It should not be surprising that something so dynamic would come with its share of challenges and issues. But for too long many of the abuses and errors in our midst have gone unaddressed. We are overdue for a much-needed correction. While some would love to throw out the baby with the bathwater, many of us see the precious work that God is doing and are willing to contend for it. This is what the apostle Paul did in Corinth, and it is what is needed in the Charismatic movement today.
In Playing With Holy Fire Dr. Michael Brown addresses many of these challenges, not as an outside cynic throwing stones but as a concerned elder and father who has been a part of the movement for well over forty years. In the past Dr. Brown has often stood as a staunch defender of Charismatics and of the moving of the Spirit. But now he is bringing a much-needed word of correction to his own beloved spiritual family. He has managed to strike a nearly impossible balance, being not only brutally honest but also gracious and life-giving. Playing With Holy Fire is convicting but also constructive. Dr. Brown has earned the right to speak to our community, and now his message needs to be heard more than ever. It’s time for us to put our house in order and prepare for God to move as never before. —Evangelist Daniel Kolenda President and CEO, Christ for All Nations
Dr. Michael Brown is a prolific writer, dynamic speaker, and brilliant academic. His books and teachings have been a personal source of encouragement, inspiration, and guidance for me over the past twenty-one years. Playing With Holy Fire is another clarion call to leaders and Christians around the world, a sobering warning to the body of Christ. May the holy fire of God set you ablaze as you read this book. —Ward Simpson President and CEO, GOD TV
Some people have passion, and that is good. Some people have intellect, and that is good. Few people seem to have large doses of both. But there is an exception. Dr. Michael Brown has both! He is one of the most respected voices in the church today, especially in the Charismatic movement, combining a heart for revival with sound scholarship and prophetic insight. God’s people need to listen carefully when he speaks. —Jim Garlow, PhD Senior Pastor, Skyline Church San Diego, California
Dr. Michael Brown is one of the most important prophetic voices in the church today! In Playing With Holy Fire he calls out the dysfunction and challenges us in the Charismatic community to raise the standard—big time. We must do so if we are going to see the Lamb receive the reward of His suffering—which is the nations. As one who is constantly exposed to the inner workings of the Charismatic community—and a very proud part of it—I recognize there is much purity mixed with grievous error.
This book will give you an informed, balanced, insider’s look at some of the dangers that attempt to distort the Charismatic movement. Dr. Brown is not a critic on the outside looking in; he is someone who has been a part of the Spirit-empowered community ever since he came to faith in the Messiah. He doesn’t just call out issues; he calls forth biblical solutions, not attempting to “quench the Spirit” but to create a culture where the church can experience the Spirit in a greater measure because our experience is in complete agreement with what’s outlined in Scripture. —Larry Sparks, MDiv Publisher, Destiny Image Author, Breakthrough Faith; coauthor, The Fire That Never Sleeps
Dr. Michael Brown is a friend of mine who is never afraid of tackling controversial issues head-on. His prophetic call to the body of Christ, coupled with his high-level scholarship, enables him to speak and write as few can in the church today. In this book Dr. Brown brings a course correction and deals with some extremes found in the Charismatic movement. Both Evangelical and Charismatic leaders can benefit from this important work! —Dr. Joseph Mattera National Convener, US Coalition of Apostolic Leaders
I’ve known Dr. Brown for over three decades and have respected his unwavering, tenacious, and courageous commitment to God and His Word. Motivated by a passion for God and compassion for people, even those who may adamantly disagree with him, Dr. Brown continues to seek to reflect Christ in the love of the truth and demonstrated with grace.
I trust that those who read through this book with humility, honesty, and personal review will be encouraged to think deeper and to draw closer to the Lord. This book challenges the church to consider where we have allowed the enemy in our camp, even if he appears as an angel of light, and denounces the deception that seeks to misguide many believers. This book not only aides us but provokes and challenges us to get back to being lovers of biblical truth, shedding light on areas where we may have drifted from our moorings and helping us to get back to “high noon” with the Father of Lights, where there is no shadow turning. Personally I found the book to be heart provoking, yet refreshing.
We must keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, our plumb line of truth and righteousness, healing and hope. —Doug Stringer President, Turning Point Ministries International and Somebody Cares America
I have known Dr. Brown for many years and have found him to be a vigilant watchman for truth. This book is a must-read for all Christians who desire to honor our spiritual heritage while preparing for a tremendous future harvest. The passion, power, and purity of former days must be passed on with biblical clarity as we pass on practical and best practices. Dr. Brown’s book does this and more.
I read the book from cover to cover in one sitting. It affirmed many of my spiritual values and gave me hope for the future. I commend Dr. Brown for writing this page-turner that will instruct young and old, black and white, male and female during this season of division, dissension, and doctrinal imbalance. —Bishop Harry Jackson Founder and Chairman, High Impact Leadership Coalition Senior Pastor, Hope Christian Church Beltsville, Maryland