Mark Driscoll was prohibited from handing out free autographed copies of his upcoming book at John MacArthur's Strange Fire Conference last Friday. Driscoll, a continuationist known for his bold preaching, was in the area for a men's conference nearby.
John MacArthur hosted the Strange Fire Conference in an effort to expose what he calls "strange fire ... the charismatic movement that offers to God unacceptable worship - distorted worship," according to the conference's promotional video; it was held at MacArthur's Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California. MacArthur believes that many are being deceived and lead astray from the "false worship coming from the charismatic movement." He did caveat his claims, however, in a subsequent promotional video for the conference, saying that it would solely address aberrations within the charismatic movement. "I know there are many people in the traditional Pentecostal movement who love Christ ... who don't want any part of these aberrations that dominate charismatic television ... we know you're out there, and we know you want to honor the Lord and you want to be faithful to His Word," he said. MacArthur encouraged such believers to distance themselves from false teachers by speaking out against the hyper-charismatics who twist God's Word for personal gain.
Driscoll is a well-known Christian author and Pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle. He holds continuationist beliefs regarding the gifts of the Holy Spirit, some of which include prophecy, healing, speaking in and interpreting tongues, acts of mercy, faith, serving, and teaching (see Romans 12:3-8 and 1 Corinthians 12:4-11). The Mars Hill website notes that the gifts of the Spirit do not "prove the presence of the Holy Spirit, nor are [they] an indication of deep spiritual experience (1 Cor. 12:7, 11, 13; Eph. 4:7-8)," and that believers are responsible for developing whatever gift God sovereignly gives them.
Driscoll was in California for the Act Like Men Conference the same week, and decided to meet other believers outside the conference who had requested to meet with him, according to The Christian Post. Driscoll tweeted to let conference-goers know that he was on his way with copies of his new book, saying that the chapters on tribalism and the Holy Spirit might be of some help to them. He proceeded to hand out free autographed copies of "A Call to Resurgence: Will Christianity Have a Funeral or a Future?" until the security detail at the conference confiscated them, citing that they were not on a pre-approved list of books for the seminar.
Driscoll created quite a controversy on social media when he subsequently tweeted, "Security confiscated my books. #strangefire." Many fans were upset that this had happened, but Driscoll seemed to be unoffended by it - he said it was "gracious that they let me on campus at all." Others chided Driscoll for what they considered stirring up drama and promoting disunity in the body, when he should have confronted MacArthur personally about their differences in theology regarding the Holy Spirit.
Driscoll told the Christian Post that the Christian "tribalism" that he had tweeted about refers to the tendency of believers with similar theology to congregate together and bash other schools of theological thought without expressing their concerns directly to the other side, creating disunity in the body. Driscoll's book is set to be released on November 5. Its product description reads, "It's time to get to work. We can only do this if we unite around Jesus and the essentials found in His Word, while at the same time, appreciating the distinctives within each Christian tribe."