Q11 for Bryan: How the Other Half Lives

Bryan, you offered 5 suggestions in your answer to Q5, and I now have questions about those suggestions.

Your first suggestion was, in effect, that cessationist critics ought to see how the other half lives and deeply consider the "cautious continualist" response to the excesses of the movement.  I think this suggestion exposes a decent amount of naivete on your part.  For example, Michael Brown has used Benny Hinn as a platform for his campaign in response to the Strange Fire conference - that looks like the sort of thing the men from GTY were complaining about at Strange Fire.  They have inspected it, and it looks unfortunate for the Continualists regarding any kind of credibility when it comes to saying that they really do some sort of moderating of the movement.

So my question: How do we come to agreement on whether or not the Cessationist has treated the alleged work of the moderates fairly -- especially given your ambivalence toward anyone's ability to measure whether the Continualist camp is mostly-orthodox or mostly-unorthodox?

First I'd point back to my answer to your last question which I think reasonably addresses the "ambivalence" and "measuring" you're talking about; and point out that your use of "Continualist camp" here, but "Charismatic Movement" elsewhere, is confusing the categories. Those categories aren't interchangeable. 

There is also a difference between the "cautious continualist" response to the excesses of the charismatic movement and the "open but cautious" position on the miraculous gifts of the Spirit. I would never encourage someone to be simply "open but cautious" about earnestly desiring gifts for the building up of the church, but to go all out and pursue radical intimacy with God, maturity in love, and to ask Him persistently for spiritual gifts and a heart of compassion that truly builds others up in Christ and advances the Gospel of the Kingdom. This is important, because much of what you guys interpret as indifference to charismatic excesses in the conservative continualist camp is really not that at all.
You'll find people that are passionate about worshiping,  seeking, pursuing, and knowing the Lord and how He speaks and heals today by the power of the Spirit. As I've thought about it, something stands out to me. I don't know of any person who while they were passionately pursuing the Lord, learning about the gifts of the Spirit, and growing in Him in this way, had at the same time, a demanding itch that someone patrol the excesses of the charismatic movement. You do however have people like me with backgrounds that make them more prone to struggle naturally with fearful and harsh skepticism--so though there is discernment, there is also a needed humble openness that doesn't necessarily come built in with instant maturity or the black and white controls that accommodate scared people. This openness is what Phil Johnson has called "willful gullibility" and what makes it hard for cessationists not to think that if they're open to any of it, then they're automatically open to all of it.  In fact, after watching the Strange Fire conference live, the overall message I kept hearing was, "We are afraid, so we want you to be afraid too."
So my first reaction is to say that we probably can't come to agreement (as much as I'd like to). Agreement won't happen primarily because what we have at play here, which serves as the basis for pretty much all conflict, is competing values. We both value something biblical and "right" in this conversation that the other person doesn't value to the degree that we'd like for them to. And these competing values have obviously played in to our use of Scripture as well during this exchange. 
So here we are.  We strongly want the other to see it our way, to honor our perspective with the amount of careful attention we feel it deserves. Yet neither of us it seems, has the capacity to demonstrate a priority to really understanding one another. We simply want to be heard, not to hear.  I know it can seem sometimes like we're puffing out our chests in the locker room, but I really think both of us are beyond wanting to just be right. We are both convinced of our positions. We're both fighting for something we really believe is the truth. And in my opinion, we are both right, and we are both wrong. 
I think for the most part that it's unfortunate that this is what you have taken away from those 5 suggestions. What it says to me Frank is that you don't care about the suggestions in my answer to Q5, the ones that if you seriously considered,  might significantly challenge your perspective and understanding of the issues--perhaps in ways you'd eventually be very thankful for. Yet, on the other hand, I do understand why--because your values, what you have pressing on your heart and perspective right now still speak louder to you than the other things I've written...and there's nothing I can do to control or change that. It is for the most part what I expected. However, I do hope in a minute I can demonstrate more understanding and acceptance of your position.  
I can't deny, however, that coming to full agreement on "whether the cessationist has treated the alleged moderating work of the movement fairly" would definitely involve you giving more value and fair consideration to the Q5 suggestions as well as other things I've written. That is, after all, what you're asking us to do as well. You are asking us to openly consider the arguments, read the book, and consider whether or not we are treating the concerns raised by Strange Fire with honesty, fairness, and seriousness. Essentially what I understand you communicating to me is this:

Note: Word limit ends here
"Bryan and other continualists, the fact that Michael Brown fraternized with Benny Hinn speaks louder. In fact it speaks volumes. What I value, what I and cessationists have been talking about throughout this debate, what we think is most important and that you and your one tent camp of orthodox continualists should take more seriously, frankly, is way more important and larger an issue than you are giving us credit for. Here's an example of what we're talking about right in front of you and even it gets brushed off...leaving you guys way less than credible. That, is in our opinion, evidence that we don't have a broad enough brush to paint you guys with, and more pressing, frankly, than anything you'd like for us to take more seriously. I mean, how can we take you seriously? It's simply ridiculous and sad for you guys to demand we jump through continualist theological hoops and criticisms before you'd allow us the biblical responsibility to call out widespread destructive error (what you're not taking responsibility for), and yet pitifully and ironically at the same time mingle indiscriminately with false teachers and false prophets. You guys are all about the "command" to earnestly desire spiritual gifts, but what about the commands to refute false teachers? Instead, you are giving them a platform while trying to undermine ours. Makes no sense. That's why we say you've a massive discernment problem."
Is that anywhere close to understanding what you've been saying?
If you are one of the five continuationists or charismatics reading this, I'd like for you to seriously consider what I am about to say. I've been harsh with Frank and the hard cessationist position and expression, though to be fair, Frank himself is not the hardest cessationist out there.  I thought most of Strange Fire was heart-grieving and that John Macarthur and friends said things that were horrible and pastorally irresponsible--and that they did so from the false doctrine of cessationism and a religious spirit that they confuse with love and discernment. You can see I've intentionally prioritized communicating that in my other posts. But to quote or paraphrase Douglas Wilson on the matter, "They didn't have the Strange Fire conference for nothing." And of course, most of you get that.
One of their most sustained points has been that while we seem hesitant to judge and discern our own camp, we are swift to discern and cast our stones at John Macarthur and Strange Fire. I think there are some reasonable explanations for some of that alleged double standard, but I also think they are right. Put yourself in their shoes. If you are an ex-cessationist, think about how difficult it was or perhaps still is, to transition. Think about the individual struggle you had with that paradigm shift and then consider how unreasonable it is to suggest that same shift (theological and practical) should happen corporately to Macarthur and friends before we'd accept their rebuke and correction. Maybe what we have to say to them is falling on deaf ears because we too have not listened.
Think about it. If what we are claiming about the present activity of the Holy Spirit is indeed true and beautiful, and worthy of being explored, why would we not want to honor that work and protect it with integrity, discernment, and love? Wouldn't we want to take I Timothy 4:1 and other warnings more seriously? Yet there is an obvious confusing overlap in our associations that I have to say can't be ignored. It's confusing to many in the continualist camp and the charismatic camp--imagine what it says to cessationists outside our camp who definitely won't check their brain at the door and accept the testimony of every "inside man" who wants to exonerate charlatans in hopes of alleviating the cessationists' concerns. It's true cessationists overplay the guilty by association card and reject many genuine manifestations of the Spirit and should consider strange things that've happened in historical revivals. It's true they draw the line in places that we wouldn't. It's true that this continues to be a very Biblically nuanced debate that may never resolve.
But why would we unwisely put unnecessary stumbling blocks in the path of others and cessationists that make it harder for them to take us seriously?
I think I'm guilty of it myself, but I want to speak specifically to Michael Brown since Frank used him as an example in this question. I've read Frank Viola's response to this (which has something good to offer including Macarthur's appearance on TBN), but am unpersuaded still that your decision to "partner" with Hinn or use his platform can be seen as wise or helpful or that should escape our critical gaze because you went in with the best of motives and redemptive purpose.  
I mean, come on, if we can suggest that John Macarthur and friends fit the biblical shoe of the Pharisee better than anyone else, certainly we can agree that Benny Hinn fits the biblical shoe of the false teacher and prophet better than anyone else. Of course you might say, "Well then if we can share the platform with John Macarthur with a view to reaching a larger audience with the truth though not endorsing his specific views, then why not Benny Hinn?" To which I'd reply: It obviously becomes very important how we discern who is a false teacher or prophet and how we think we are responsible to handle them Biblically. And the point of the Strange Fire conference, that you illustrated so well by your attempt at a redeeming sort of appearance with Benny Hinn, was that we continuationists and charismatics seem to be losing our ability or even willingness to call out anyone---that built in to our fabric is the growing inability to discern and willingness to discriminate and call a spade a spade. But when it comes to calling Macarthur out, well, we've no reservations. Put yourself in Macarthur's shoes and see if the same stumbling blocks we present don't trip you up.
One last thing and I'll wrap this up. As I've said, though my actual experience with the gifts and charismatic church life has been healthy, I noticed this "overlap" in charismatic/continualist associations early on.  Before my wife and I were married, she went with a group to IHOP in Kansas City for the New Year's One Thing conference. I was young in my charismatic journey and had very little knowledge about IHOP at the time and as I've alluded to before--I would occasionally pull back in to my self-protective heart helmet mode. Well, you can imagine when I came across Andrew Strom's documentary on Youtube about how the Kundalini Spirit was invading the church and he included IHOP and others in with his critique, I became very fearful and concerned. I did some "guilty by association" logic that literally made me freak out. In fact when she got back in to town, I actually made it a point to sit down with her to watch John Macarthur videos on discernment:) I look back at that time now and realize how my fear led me to control her though I was insistent my motives were mixed with something good as well.
No matter what you make of Andrew Strom's documentary or Randy Clark's response to his documentary, the reality is that "The Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons."--I Timothy 4:1 
How will we discern? Cessationism and fearful phariseesm doesn't protect us, but neither does indiscriminate overlapping associations and willful gullibility.  
So all that to say....Frank, I don't know how we can come to full agreement other than to say that you and cessationists are both right and wrong, just like I think we are right and wrong. You've treated our work fairly and unfairly as we have you guys--based on the competing values each side has. I've spent much time here trying to demonstrate I understand your side. But I will never deny that you guys have also, with Strange Fire ( The Half Truth Matters conference sponsored by Grace and Fear To You), created stumbling blocks for yourselves, the continuationist , and charismatic that I think you're going to have to address more honestly before you have more ears open up.