Christ centered only = Christo-monistic.

In responding to Jeff Clarke’s post here, in asking the question: Do Pentecostal, Charismatic, and Third Wave movements reflect the New Testament focus of the Holy Spirit?, Jeff makes this pertinent and hardly disagreeable assertion:

Every authentic move of the Spirit will always have as its primary focus the person of Jesus Christ.

For obvious reasons, at least to me, while a very good and quotable comment, so far as I see it, it is hardly disagreeable.  I mean, after all, is not the person and work of Jesus Christ front and central to the historic Christian faith?

At issue seems to be the notion the somehow a more “pneumatological” focus of Christian worship in Pentecostal or Charismatic settings somehow detracts from the person of Jesus Christ.  This is in fact, I think, a significant fallacy.   It is a fallacy because seeking the presence and power of the Spirit is a major element of the Christian live in relation to the Trinity.  To seek the presence of the Spirit isn’t taking from Christ nor the Father – if anything, most churches are Father centered enough.   Pentecostal and Charismatic churches are not less “Christ-Centered” than other churches – they may actually, in many ways, be more “balanced” (I would suggest rhythm more than balance), if not more Triune in their worship than many other settings.  This is of course not without exceptions.

But the main reason I wanted to post about this is to share my friend Monte’s thoughts of which he posted on the Facebook page.  He writes:

I thought I would offer several brief yet relevant strands for forwarding the conversation here, while acknowledging the warranted concerns and exhortations that Jeff has provided us.

PART ONE

Notwithstanding the excesses which Jeff calls attention to, I will first begin by pointing out, as has been argued by others elsewhere, that the historical Classical Pentecostal four/five-fold theological motifs of Jesus as Saviour, Sanctifier, Baptiser, Healer, and Coming King have in fact served, at least on a doctrinal level— to narrate the christocentric focus of a robust Pentecostal spirituality. Incidentally, the themes I am raising here largely reflect the following text: “Toward a Pentecostal Ecclesiology: The Church and the Fivefold Gospel,” ed John Christopher Thomas (2010). This is important to note because the four/five-fold motifs demonstrate that common Protestant/Evangelical assumptions that characteristically presume that Pentecostalism is largely pneumacentric are actually inaccurate.

As Church of God theologian Kenneth Archer points out, the experiential orientation of Pentecostalism is thus wholly centered on Jesus: encountering Jesus via the Holy Spirit. Yet also as Assemblies of God theologians Simon Chan and Frank Macchia respectively point out, this experiential orientation stresses coming to Jesus as our Spirit Baptizer. As both Chan and Macchia respectively demonstrate— “Spirit baptiser” is perhaps the most attested identity of Jesus in the New Testament, at least in the Gospels.

As many of the essays in the “Toward a Pentecostal Ecclesiology” text point out, and as consistently stressed in Macchia’s and Chan’s respective works elsewhere, we can attribute many of the failures that do occur in Pentecostalism, to a failure of adequately integrating the functional motif of Jesus as Sanctifier in Pentecostal spirituality. I moreover find this significant since both Macchia and Chan represent the more Keswickian orientation of Classical Pentecostalism (eg, AG).

However, while I appreciate Clark’s concerns, I am oftentimes a bit ambivalent when I read or hear admonishments suggesting that the primary criterion of an “authentic move of the Spirit” is that we keep Jesus as the “primary focus.” Well, on one hand, how can anyone argue with this? Yet on the other— I would argue however that the very weakness of historical Reformed Protestantism and much of Evangelicalism is— christo-monism, meaning, an overly nuanced stress on the Son, to the neglect of the Father and the Spirit.

Let me briefly further describe the problem of christo-monism. Given limited space here, I will focus on the “worship” of the Church. I would argue that actually, a consistent nuance on the Son as the centre of our worship and perhaps even preaching, is not healthy. What results is a very poor sense of spiritual direction in how, ironically, the life of Jesus should shape the direction of our life, both personally and corporately as a church. Hence, we end up with a very poor “via salutis” (way of salvation). We should rather consistently directly our address in worship and mediation towards the Father— and hence therefore more broadly— towards God as Trinity. I believe this is indeed a major theme stressed in Acts, which incidentally accounts for the greater emphasis on the “kingdom of God” in the preaching of both Jesus and the early church.

Both historically and existentially, we can in fact argue that “pentecostal experiences” in Spirit baptism are in actually, encounters with God’s Triune life and mission as Father, Son, and Holy Life. There is moreover, substantial literature arguing this thesis, which can be explored, including literature representative of early 20th century Pentecostalism.

We can conversely argue that a robust Pentecostal spirituality is not only primarily grounded on a strong consciousness of the Trinity, but conversely with primary understanding of Jesus according to recapulatory themes (eg, Jesus coming as the Perfect Human to re-script the human story) that are informed by the Spirit-Christology narrated via the Luke-Acts story. Hence, Christ is existentially present with us (christus praesens), He is “contemporaneous” with us (Kierkegaard)— and it is through the Spirit He is present with us. The recapulatory and Spirit-Christology themes of Luke-Acts also demonstrate that our coming to Jesus is indeed that of disciples following our model Teacher and Lord— looking to Him as our pattern for life. Given the true Trinitarian center of Pentecostalism, Pentecostal spirituality thus duly affirms on one hand, the Son and Spirit as the “two hands” of the Father,” while on the other— the Spirit as the “shared love” between the Father and the Son.

So to recap, the inherent resources within Pentecostalism that provide us the integrity we need as a healthy expression of Christian spirituality are:

1. Holding in tandem the Pentecostal vision of Jesus as both Sanctifier and Baptizer.

2. An understanding of Spirit baptism as existential encounter with the Triune life and perichoretic mission towards creation.

3. And a strong recapulatory understanding of Jesus as our standard for spiritual and life formation.

PART TWO:

Having shared quite a bit of theological musing in the preceding posting, I want to now add some thoughts more directly affirming certain experiential and transrational dynamics of Pentecostalism— with reference to how those dynamics are illustrated in the book of Acts.

I will begin here by drawing attention to Gordon Anderson’s illustration of Pentecostal resonance with spiritual encounter as narrated in Acts [“Pentecost, Scholarship, and Learning in a Postmodern World,” Pneuma 27, no 1 (Spring 2005)].

Anderson suggests: “If you want to see a funny movie, run this one in your mind. Picture Peter explaining what happened (Acts 11) to a . . . rationalistic . . . audience. His lines go like this:

“You see, I was in a trance, and saw a vision, and heard a voice, then some men came who had been sent by an angel, and so I went with them to the house of a Gentile and they were baptized in the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues, so I baptized them in water. And, despite my training in the scriptures, it just seemed to be the right thing to do!”

Incidentally, I would point out that every major missiological decision narrated in the book of Acts, was linked to some kind of transrational, “visionary” experience, usually involving hearing either the audible voice of God, or that of an angel, or some kind of visual vision. Of course, these dynamics are in truth, to be programmatically expected by believers— as demonstrated in Peter’s Pentecost sermon (Acts 2). Therefore, I whole heartedly affirm Terry Cross’ description of Pentecostals, as those who “are open to hearing voices.” [Terry Cross, “The Divine-Human Encounter: Towards a Pentecostal Theology of Experience” (Pneuma 31 (2009)].

Finally, I want to add a very shorter word about the Toronto Outpouring. As for myself, I was personally “touched” through one of the streams linked to the Toronto Outpouring back in the mid-90’s. the “touch” I experienced on several occasions included on one of those occasions, crawling around on all floors for some reason, then passing out for some time. It certainly does not make any sense, although I was obviously beside myself. Consequently, concerning other strange happenings and excesses that accompanied the “move,”

I don’t have all the answers, as I cannot help but leave a little bewildered space in my reflection— that allows the possibilities that sometimes such invasive outpourings of the Spirit may prompt people to behave a little strangely. Moreover, why else were also so many onlookers prompted to exclaim on the day of Pentecost, “Ha! These people have drunk way too much wine!”

The danger of opening windows on a very windy day, is that the neat and orderly piled papers on the desk might actually be blown everywhere on the floor. The alternative of course, is to lock up those windows.

Well, whew!  Now THAT should give some good food for thought for a while!

Blessings!

Some new books

Thank you to the anonymous donor of a few new books that showed up in my mailbox yesterday!!  (Well, I hope they were for me and not sent to my address on accident!  lol!)  It was very gracious of you, kind person!   Thanks so much I really appreciate it!

Here is what they are:

Eugene Peterson’s A Long Obedience in the Same Direction (IVP).

Gordon Fee’s New Testament Exegesis (WJK).

Gordon Fee’s Paul, the Spirit and the People of God (Baker).

Jurgen Moltman’s The Trinity and the Kingdom (Fortress).

So… pretty much , nothing less than the BEST!!  🙂

Quote of the Day on Renewal

Great statement from Amos Yong:

Maybe one of the main reasons why we are not experiencing renewal is because we are really not ready to appear as drunks before a watching world. We have too much status to keep up, too much acceptance to compromise, too much respect to preserve. We have too many assumptions that get in the way. We have too many achievements to protect. After all of our hard work ofbuilding up the church, why would we now want to turn things loose to aliens and strangers who don’t even speak our language, not to mention women, the poor, and those who are uneducated?
Maybe that is precisely why we need more drunkenness, although not as the world supposes. Rather, we need a fresh outpouring of the Spirit that can shake us free from our inhibitions and renew us and the world along with it. Even so, come Holy Spirit!

(HT: Andrew Lovins).

The Holy Spirit in Mission

J.P. Moreland has posted a two part interview done by Joe Gorra with Gary Tyra on his new book The Holy Spirit in Mission: Prophetic Speech and Action in Christian Witness (IVP, 2012).  They are good interviews!

Here is a key part of the interview I found interesting:

In the Introduction, you speak to “the need for a new pneumatology” (14ff). Specifically, what is that need? How is (for lack of a better descriptor) the “old pneumatology” incomplete?As I’ve suggested, as an evangelical I’m much committed to the authority of Scripture and the need for all spiritual experiences to be evaluated on the basis of the sacred text. On the other hand, as a missional Pentecostal I am acutely aware of the possibility of, and need for, fresh, ongoing experiences of Spirit-empowerment that enable a missional faithfulness.

Over the years I’ve become more and more convinced that even though both evangelicalism and Pentecostalism have in common a commitment to mission and devotion to the Bible, what has been missing is a pneumatology that, because its focus is on mission rather than boundary-marking and boundary-reinforcing pneumatological doctrines, has the power to unite rather than divide evangelicals of all stripes. It is this kind of pneumatology I have attempted to put forward in this book.

Sadly this is the truth!  We have allowed our insistence on adherence to Pentecostal distinctives to hinder us in getting on with the mission of the church which is the mission of God.

You should read the rest of the interviews!  Part One & Part Two

Book Review: Walking in the Spirit.

It is with thanks to Angie from Crossway Publishers that I offer a review of Kenneth Berding’s short book Walking in the Spirit (Crossway, 2011).

My wife didn’t like me too much for saying this but if there were ever a book that could be truly described as “how to be a Pentecostal or Charismatic, without actually being one…”. Ken Berding’s latest book Walking in the Spirit would be it!  Really, I don’t mean to be presumptuous or condescending on purpose but the things Berding talks about in this book is what you hear about in your average Pentecostal church on a fairly regular basis.  For the average Pentecostal or Charismatic Christian (not the fringe folk you see all too often on Scott Bailey’s blog) this is what living the Christian life is all about, Walking in the Spirit. Hearing the voice of the Spirit in one’s heart and life; walking and or living in the power of the Spirit; praying in the Spirit (not necessarily in tongues); hoping in the Spirit (for the eschatological fulfillment of all things); living life led by the Spirit of God and so on.  This is the essence of what it is to live the Spirit led life.  Well, that is how I see it anyways.

Dr. Berding (PhD, Westminster; Prof at Talbot) then, has written a tightly focused work centering on one of the more significant passages in the Bible on the person and work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer, Romans 8. It is not a scholarly work and does not interact too much with major scholarly commentaries on Romans.

Instead, he seeks to talk specifically about a life led by the Spirit and draws his points from the text of Romans 8:1-24.  In a lot of ways it reads a bit like a 7 part sermon series on the Holy Spirit since he fills the texts with plenty of personal stories and anecdotes and points of application along with questions for consideration at the end of each chapter (hint, hint, wink wink, for those wanting to do something like that in their congregation).

It is a short book with only 112 pages (7 chapters) of main text with two appendices one of which he seemed to write to calm some scholars down who might read the book (it addresses some basic academic issues with regarding the passage, i.e., some OT in the NT stuff with regard to the use of the “law”).  It could easily be read in one sitting but I think the better approach would be to read one chapter at a time and let the concept and points sink into one’s heart and life.  Personally, I found it quite stirring and am still feeling the effects of having read it).

Each of the chapters talk about a different element of the work of the Spirit and follows the flow of the text so the first chapter hits on the first instance of the work of the Spirit in the passage.   So, for example, one chapter focuses on what it means to set one’s mind on the things of the Spirit.  Another focuses on what it means to put to death the misdeeds of the body by the Spirit.  Yet another, what it means to be led by the Spirit, and what it means to know God as our Father by the Spirit (no, Abba doesn’t mean “daddy”), to hope in the Spirit and also what it means to pray in the Spirit.

FWIW, I actually agree with him that “praying in the Spirit” is not about tongues per se, but, that it is to pray in conjunction with, or alongside the leading of, the Spirit.  For example, all too often a person gets sick or is injured in some fashion, prayer requests go out for quick healing and such for said person.  Well, to the consternation of many, it should be asked, is this the leading of the Spirit as to how we should pray for this person?  Maybe we should simply pray that they be strong through the process and so on.  How is the Holy Spirit leading us to pray regarding various situations?  That is what it is to be led by the Spirit.

So, if you want to be invigorated in your “spirit-ual” life and walk this book is certainly a good place to start.  I really do recommend it to any and all, and even maybe especially to scholars who tend to get all too heady about stuff (not that there is anything wrong with that per se).

Blessings.

Barth on the deity of the Spirit

Barth has some really good things to say about the Person of the Holy Spirit:

In what has been said we have stated already that according to the testimony of Scripture the Holy Spirit is no less and no other than God Himself, distinct from Him whom Jesus calls His Father, distinct also from Jesus Himself, yet no less than the Father and no less than Jesus, God Himself, altogether God.  (CD 1.1, 459)

notes follow this discussing 2 Cor 3:17, John 4:24; Acts 5:3ff; Mark 3:28,29 where Barth writes: however we may understand it, there could not possibly be a blasphemy against the Holy Ghost which makes man guilty of an unforgivable, eternal sin, if the Spirit were less or something other than God himself.

That not only these and similar verses but the whole New Testament doctrine of the work of the Holy Spirit implies the deity of His essence can properly be contested only if one has first explained away the fact that with its “Iesous Kurios” the New Testament community confessed its faith in Jesus Christ as faith in God Himself.  If the Christ of the New Testament is a demi-god from above or below, then naturally faith in Him becomes a human possibility.  Then, extraordinary though the phenomenon may be, one can show how faith in Him has arisen on certain grounds and presuppositions which we ourselves can perceive and control.  But in this case there is in fact no need for the deity of the Holy Spirit who creates this faith.  On this view the name “Holy Spirit” may very well be a mere name for a particularly profound, serious and vital conviction of truth or experience of conscience, or one may equally well omit it altogether when describing the basis of faith according to the New Testament.  (CD, 1.1, 460).

So, in sum, the Holy Spirit is God and is as much God as the Father and the Son though distinct from them – He is not merely some extention of them but rather, he is his own person. He is not “a mere name for a particularly profound, serious and vital conviction of truth or experience of conscience,” rather, he is God!  God the Spirit.  Our Lord and Life Giver!  The Holy Spirit is not some spooky feeling one gets or the warming of the heart some experience or any thing of any such notion – the Holy Spirit is God and because he is God, he is a person with personality, with a will and a purpose – what is the purpose?  To reveal to us God the Father and God the Son.  To conform us into the image of Jesus Christ.  To work in and through us the will and purposes of the Father for our lives and for his Kingdom in this world.

I guess all this isn’t exactly a newsflash or anything, most of us know and understand the Holy Spirit to be God – but I think we need the reminder now and again – that the Holy Spirit is altogether God.  This is important because I think one tendency in the church at large is the tendency to go the opposite direction of what we see in many a charismatic setting – we don’t want to be all over the top in our pursuit of a life in the Spirit yet, when we go too far the other way, we need to be reminded that we are seriously at risk of leaving out God himself from our pursuit of him!  Strange as it may seem, that can happen.  It is okay to pursue a life in the Spirit – for in so doing, we are pursuing a life in God!

Barth on the Holy Spirit

So now that I have Karl Barth’s 14 vol Church Dogmatics (Hendrickson, 2010), I get to put up my own quotes!  🙂

And as a Pentecostal pastor I will naturally open the first volume, peruse it and see that Barth talks quite a bit about the deity, person, and work of the Holy Spirit in his relation to the Trinity (1.1 – p. 448-489).  He talks of the Spirit as ‘God the Redeemer’ and ‘The Eternal Spirit’ – and trust me, there is much there to chew on and think about and especially in relation to his exposition of the Nicaeno-Constatinoplitan Creed.  He even has a section on Acts 2!  🙂

So without further ado, let’s see if we can process the following (which comes under ‘God the Redeemer’):

In both the Old Testament and the New, the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, is very generally God himself to the degree that in an incomprehensibly real way, without on this account being any less God, He can be present to the creature, and in virtue of this presence of His effect the relation of the creature to Himself, and in virtue of this relation to Himself grant the creature life.

The creature needs the Creator to be able to live.  It thus needs the relation to Him.  But it cannot create this relation.  God creates it by by His own presence in the creature and therefore as a relation of Himself to Himself. The Spirit of God is God in his freedom to be present in the creature, and therefore to create this relation, and therefore to be the life of the creature.  And God’s Spirit, the Holy Spirit, especially in revelation, is God Himself to the extent that He can not only come to man but also be in man, and thus open up man and make him capable and ready for Himself, and thus achieve His revelation in him.

Man needs revelation, for he is certainly lost without it.  He thus needs to have revelation become manifest to him, i.e., he himself needs to become open to revelation.  But this is not a possibility of his own.  It can only be God’s own reality when it does happen, and therefore it can lie only in God’s own possibility that it can happen.  It is God’s reality in that God Himself becomes present to man not just externally, not just from above, but also from within, from below, subjectively.

It is thus reality in that He does not merely come to man but encounters Himself from man.  God’s freedom to be present in this way to man, and therefore to bring about this encounter, is the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit in God’s revelation…. The Holy Spirit is not identical with Jesus Christ, with the Son or Word of God (450-451).

Notice Barth states that “the creature needs the Creator to be able to live.”  The Spirit of God is and and was as much part of the creation event as God himself and he his part of the creative work God does in and through our lives even today.

In sum, as Christians, we NEED the Holy Spirit in our lives!! For without him we cannot truly know God or be known by him.  He is, in part, God’s revelation to us and in turn reveals God to us and again, in turn, reveals us to God.  He is also our Lord and Life Giver.  For without him we cannot truly have life – he is our life, our breath, our source.  He us our Sustainer.  He is the Spirit of Life.

Wow, heavy stuff to think about – more Pentecostals need to read Barth!  It will bring some depth to their own oft shallow pneumatology.  The Work of the Spirit is far more than speaking in tongues and things – he is the reason we live, and move, and have our being in Christ.  He us our enabler, our sustainer, our giver of life – the means of how we encounter God and Christ in our hearts and lives.

I think Evangelicals also need to read what Barth has to say about the Holy Spirit – they too can be shallow or lack depth in their own Pneumatology – too often I think an Evangelical view of the Trinity is as Mark Driscoll put it once: Father, Son, and Holy Bible.  It can be tempting, because of the excesses of the Charismatic movement to want to leave out the work of the Spirit or to minimize his work in us to that of simply revealing Christ or pointing us to Christ without recognizing that the Holy Spirit can and does do his own work in us and through us.

While the Spirit does point us to Christ we need to remember Christ isn’t going to be offended if we pursue a life filled with the Spirit and empowered by him – Christ is the giver of the Spirit after all and it was Christ who told us, it is better that I go away so that the Holy Spirit can come.

We all need revelation of God, who he is, how he works and more – and that is only going to come through the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

Pentecostalism and Scholarship Can Coexist!

Charisma Magazine interviewed Gordon Fee noting him as the first person with a Pentecostal background to earn a PhD in Biblical Studies.   You should read it!

If I manage to go further into biblical studies academically Fee would certainly be an inspiration along with Craig Keener, Ben Aker, the late Gary B. McGee, Keith Warrington, Gerald Hawthorne and a host of others out there who are Pentecostal biblical scholars or theologians.  I want to share a few quotes:

For the most part, though, Pentecostals remain resistant to—or indifferent toward—theology and scholarship. After all, modern Pentecostalism was birthed in spiritual experience, not intellectualism. As the movement spread, Pentecostals simply didn’t see a need for theological pursuits. “We don’t need scholars; we just need the Holy Spirit!” has been the mainstream Pentecostal cry for the last 100 years.
And this is a crying shame!  It gets so frustrating to see this – the anti-intellectualism going on in Pentecostalism with regard to biblical studies – to me it reveals quite a bit of insecurity.   Fee goes on to note:

The question is not do we need Bible scholars, but are we willing to embrace them?” Fee responds. “If we are willing to embrace someone with a Ph.D. in history, why not embrace someone with a Ph.D. in New Testament studies, which, after all, is a branch of history?”

Fee adds: “Having a Ph.D. has not stopped me from being Spirit-filled.”

And why should it?  Are we not a people of the Spirit?  Pentecostals need to realize we are all believers empowered by the Holy Spirit to engage the biblical text.  Yes, we Pentecostals need to embrace biblical scholarship not keep it at arms length.

On the issue of women in ministry (which we all know means women as lead pastors/elders) the article states:

Yet the arena of biblical interpretation, or “textual criticism” as it’s known in scholarly circles, can be a minefield of controversy. Fee has found himself repeatedly and unwittingly in the center of the debate over the role of women in ministry. After years of battling the issue, Fee is weary of confronting it. But he is adamant: God does gift women for ministry.

“It’s a given,” he says. “The real question is, Which comes first, gender or gifting? What [opponents of women in ministry] are trying to tell me is that gender comes above gifting. How can that be? The Spirit gives the gifting. If a woman stands and prophesies by the Spirit, and men are present, does the Spirit not speak to them? Come on! How dumb can you get?

His advocacy, Fee says, is on behalf of the Holy Spirit rather than women. “The Spirit is gifting women,” he says, “but many evangelicals are not prepared to adjust because of the ‘box’ they’re in.

“I’ve been blacklisted over this issue,” he adds. “People have said, We can’t have Fee speak because he’s pro-women.’ I am pro-Holy Spirit! I just can’t get over that some people think gender comes before gifting.”

And Fee just helped me with something here!  Yes, Yes, Yes!  Pentecostals aren’t necessarily pro women in ministry as they are pro living the Holy Spirit empowered and gifted life! This is the issue.  The Holy Spirit of God empowers all people irregardless of race, class or gender to do and to speak and live out the Word of God both in the church universal and in the world.   Thank you Dr. Fee for standing up for all people, especially the Pentecostals.

Great. Great article!

HT: Nick

on 2 Corinthians

I have been reading Timothy Gombis’ new book The Drama of Ephesians: Participating in the Triumph of God (IVP, 2010), and it has really been doing a number on me, and in me.  lol!  I LOVE this book!  I have a fuller review forthcoming but there has been so much of this book I have wanted to blog on but if I did, there’d be a copyright violation (since I’d quote so much of the book that is worth quoting and talking about)!  🙂

Anyways, in reading chapter 5 in this book he is talking about Paul and his approach to ministry and leadership.  As I read it, I finally think I understand why 2 Corinthians as a whole tends to be under represented in biblical studies.  We love to talk up 2 Cor 5:21, especially in the recent debates going on at this years ETS and other conferences between NT.Wright, Schriner, Theilman and Mike Bird among others (did Wright actually admit despite his writing to the contrary that salvation is not based on merit?!) – but how much of the rest of this theologically under represented and rich letter gets noted in any leadership conference, theological seminar or other venue?

Gombis notes Paul as the Apostle of weakness and that it is only through our weakness and dependency on God that we can experience his power or that God’s power them becomes fully manifest – listen to that carefully: it is only when we are completely and utterly and fully dependent on God and function in our own weakness that God’s power is made complete in us or that his power is fully manifest – this is true biblical and Pauline leadership.

Gombis confronts modern evangelical notions of leadership ability as firmly rooted in idolatry – many have given over to worldly notions of leadership that stand on stark contrast to what we see in Paul the Apostle.  Frankly, it is possible and more than probable, Paul would not be most people’s first choice to pastor any modern large congregation in any denomination, anywhere.  Why?  Well, he wasn’t a strong leader with a strong personality (something modern leaders want, expect, and demand), he operated out of weakness and not strength; he relied completely on God and on the Spirit’s power (most moderns, we rely on our knowledge, understanding, education (proper understanding of the Greek and Hebrew, etc), training and so on, not always on God or the power of the Holy Spirit) – one of the first ministry positions Debbie and I interviewed for, I knew very soon into the interview there was no way we’d be considered as I knew the pastor had it predetermined what he was looking for and that was a strong leader, which I am not.

Let’s face it, probably for many pastors and leaders, a deep sense of inadequacy leads us not to fully rely on God and the manifest power of the Spirit, but to run to the nearest MDiv, DMin or PhD program for better training, afterall we want to be equipped the best we can right?  🙂   I mean really now, who appreciates the idea that suffering validates true ministry in the Spirit, and that it is primarily through suffering God mediates the gospel to the those whom we minster?

Nien!  🙂  It is through strong effective leaders God mediates his gospel power!  People of good standing and strong character, well dressed and well spoken, well organized and without any flaws, well educated and on and on!  No weakness allowed, no flaws, no poor speech or speaking skills, none of that right?  And probably too, many of us would not last long in a congregation lead by weak leadership would we?  or leadership that was perceived as weak….

Well, that’s what I realized about 2 Corinthians anyways.

good article on healing

from one of my professors from Seminary, Ben Aker is out in the AG’s Enrichment journal – a journal sent out to all licensed and ordained ministers in the US AoG. I think it is worth reading and considering on the issue of healing in relation to Pentecost and the New Covenant.

Here is a brief comment:

It is important to note that Acts 3:1 begins with such distinction of matters and people. Flowing from the summaries of chapter 2 about the beginning of the new age of the new covenant, chapter 3 serves as a distinct model for ministry in this new eschatological age of Jesus and the Spirit.  Luke slows down and blows up a picture of one of these wonderful incidents to begin to show how believers should go about doing ministry in this new time.  Because it is the first descriptive incident in the scheme of Acts following the epochal coming of the Spirit, it becomes typical;  that is, it provides a model indicating the nature of new covenant ministry — the age of Jesus and the Spirit.  From this account we learn what God deems important.

It’s an excellent piece!  Do let me know what you think.