Sunday, June 03, 2007
I've bemoaned a couple of times that there is a distinct lack of theologians that are Pentecostal/Charismatic. Sam Storms and Wayne Grudem are indeed two of my heroes but I find again and again that their view of the baptism of the Holy Spirit frustrates my reading of their largely excellent theology. I was recommended J Rodman Williams as an author to read and use quite soon after I was baptised in the Spirit in 1997. I brought his "Renewal Theology" as soon as I could possibly afford it and it is probably my favourite and most-used Systematic Theology. I was very encouraged therefore when it was present in the bibliography of Jesse Phillips' excellent paper on the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
So in my latest shopping spree in the second hand section of the Christian bookshop near my parents, I was interested to find and buy for a bargain 10p, Professor Rodman Williams book, "The Pentecostal Reality". It is an excellent stirring book again full of charismatic theology that motivates and stirs to life. He makes the following points;
"1. The most important happening in the church today is the rediscovery of the Pentecostal reality.
This rediscovery is of such foundational importance that the whole church needs seriously and openly to consider it ... something is happening in the lives of many people of so vital a nature as to make possible impulses of power for the complete round of Christian activity.
2. By the "Pentecostal reality" is meant the coming of God's Holy Spirit in power to the believing individual and community.
A word needs to be added about the background of those for whom the Pentecostal reality has become a personal experience. They all came into this through believing in Jesus Christ. Many had been devoted servants of Christ long before it occured, others only a short time, some found it happening at the moment of their coming to faith. All however had experienced His forgiveness and received His grace. But at whatever time the Pentecostal reality occured, they knew that it came from Jesus Christ".
3. The "rediscovery" refers to the fact that for the church as a whole this experience of the Pentecostal reality represents the coming to light of a dimension of the Holy Spirit's activity that has long been unrealised or overlooked.
Truth re-opened and re-lived does not set well with tradition long established.
4. The word "happening" suggests that the Pentecostal reality is event, occurence, action and takes places in the context of God's free promise and man's open readiness.
Because the promise is free, the Holy Spirit comes as a gift. The Pentecostal reality therefore is none other than "the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38). As a gift it cannot be earned but comes as a gracious bestowal from God the Father to His sons through Jesus Christ. Those who receive this blessing can never claim to have gained it by works or merit. One who has experienced the Pentecostal reality therefore can only be gladly and humbly thankful for God's gracious action.
5. The fact that the Pentecostal reality is being rediscovered in "the church today" could bring about a renewal of incalculable proportions.
It is imperative that the church of today be fully acquainted with the nature of the Pentecostal reality and adopt a positive attitude towards it's occurence ... Even more however than just developing a positive attitude, the church at large needs to open itself to the Pentecostal reality.
How tragic indeed when the church was intended to be a dynamic fellowship of the Spirit through whom the world is transformed! Thus nothing is so urgent for the church throughout the world as to heed the word of the Lord, "Stay ... until you are clothed with power from on high".
Who can begin to imagine the full scope of what might happen if the church took that command seriously?"
I absolutely love the "cosmic world view" of that final challenge. So often we can reduce the Pentecostal reality to an individual experience of blessing for ourselves and indeed that is partly true. But what we need to re-discover again and re-preach again is the fact that the coming of the Holy Spirit in power was intended to transform the world!