on experiencing the Holy Spirit

or “on why I support initial evidence.”

When journalist John Sherrill investigated “the Pentecostals” (see his book: They Speak with Other Tongues)  he ran into a wall with his objective nature and was exhorted by one Baptist minister in New Jersey in regards to Sherrill’s attempt to isolate language in tongues.  He writes:

“Are you sure you’re not making a basic mistake?” asked Dr. Ervin.

“I must be I am not coming up with any answers.”

“I think the mistake is to divorce tongues from the essential whole of which they are a part.” said Dr. Ervin. “Let me tell you a little story. I happen to be fond of church architecture. One day when I was out driving I found an exquisite little Gothic chapel. I stopped my car and got out to admire it.”

“But that church happened to have at its entrance a bright, red door. My eyes would try to follow the soaring lines lines of the building upward as Gothic architecture makes you do.  But every time they were jerked back to that red door. It was so flamboyant it kept me from seeing the whole picture.

“Tongues, John, are like that red door.  As long as you stand outside your attention is going to be riveted there and you’re not going to be able to see anything else.  Once you go through. however, you are surrounded by the thousand wonders of light and sound and form that the architect intended.  You look around and that door isn’t even red on the inside. It’s there. It’s to be used. But it has taken its proper place in the design of the whole church.

“That’s what I’d hope for you, John.  I think it’s time for you to walk through that door.  If you really want to discover what the Pentecostal experience is all about, don’t concentrate on tongues, but step through the door and meet the Holy Spirit.”

And go through the red door and meet the Holy Spirit he did.  Have you?  Too often we get over focused on the tongues aspect of experiencing the Holy Spirit – but as Dr Ervin is suggesting, the experience of speaking in tongues is simply the doorway in to the greater experience of a life lived the Spirit – once we get through the door there is so much more and then we tend to forget about the red door, or we just know it is part of the larger picture but the larger life lived draws us from over focusing on the smaller parts.

Does this make sense or no?

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3 responses to “on experiencing the Holy Spirit

  1. It makes sense but I think it puts more emphasis on the experience of speaking in tongues over and against other forms of experiencing the Spirit than tongues deserves.

  2. I guess all I see he’s trying to say is don’t get stuck on the red door – or don’t get stuck over thinking tongues, they are just part of the larger picture of the Spirit filled life.

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