Full disclosure: I am a friend of Dr. Brown's, and like him, I identify as a Charismatic and as an Evangelical. I have experienced numerous gifts of the Spirit, and have seen them in operation - both in the United States, and abroad. I also hold a Ph.D. in New Testament and Early Christianity, and am committed to rigorous and careful exegesis of Scripture as the foundation for life and ministry of the Gospel.
Having said all this, I found Dr. Brown's book to be BOTH an expression of his sincere love for and solidarity with Pastor MacArthur in the One, True Gospel, AND a devastating critique of the historical, biblical and theological positions that motivated Pastor MacArthur's recent conference and book.
This book is characterized by such a gracious and irenic tone that it makes me proud to know Dr. Brown as a brother in Christ, and as a role model for those of us who sometimes struggle to be gentle when we find ourselves in controversy or disagreement. Certainly this book does not lack for passion! But, neither does it lack for charity. If believers of all theological convictions could imitate Dr. Brown on this point, Christ's Kingdom would advance in profound and powerful ways in our day!
Lest Dr. Brown's meekness be mistaken for a lack of clarity and insight, let me also say that I found his arguments compelling and satisfying on nearly every level - from the historical assessment of the presence of superantural manifestations throughout the church's story, to the widespread and global presence of Jesus-loving, suffering and empowered, biblically-literate Charismatics, to the systematic logic of the ongoing function of charismatic gifts, to the fair-minded and contextually-sensitive exegetical treatment of the relevant biblical texts.
An additional bonus of this helpful book is the collection of four appendices, which features key leaders offering both anecdotal accounts of their own Spiritual lives, as well as more measured, analytical assessments of key issues supporting the thesis of 'Authentic Fire'. I always love it when scholars take the opportunity to talk about their own experiences of the truths they analyze so carefully in the text!
Authentic Fire ably defends its fundamental thesis: that the long-awaited era of the Spirit anticipated by the Hebrew prophets, which was inaugurated by the Messiah/King Jesus, remains up to the present time, along with its already/not-yet expressions of power and life, and will continue to be so expressed until this very same King returns to consummate God's Master Plan for all creation and history.
Thank you, Dr. Brown, for a plain-spoken and theologically-substantive 'Response' to a misguided, misinformed and ill-advised broadside against millions of members of God's own household (Gal 6:10). May it offer many the chance to soften their hearts and change their minds, giving the devil a black eye and bringing much glory to the Lord Jesus Christ.