Book Review of Sam Storms’ “The Beginner’s Guide to Spiritual Gifts”

Posted: August 7, 2008 by Rick Hogaboam in Biblical Studies, Book Reviews, Discipleship/Sanctification, Pentecostal/Charismatic Interests
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Storms, Sam. (2002) The Beginner’s Guide to Spiritual Gifts. Ventura, CA: Regal Books.

Dr. Storms stays true to the title and offers an insightful introductory primer on Spiritual gifts, namely the “charismata” mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12 by the apostle Paul. Storms weaves non-technical exegesis in related texts, personal testimonies of his relation to the exercise of gifts, historical citations of the Spiritual gifts, cautions, and encouragement.

 

At 165 pages, it is not overwhelming and will serve as a very good book for the curious, as well as for an initial study guide for a church that wishes to introduce to its members the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Sam Storms also heads up his own website (http://www.enjoyinggodministries.com), which is a tremendous resource for Biblical Studies, Theology, and Church History. At that site, you will find additional material relating to what he touches on in this book.

 

In relation to my personal thesis research, this book mentions Peter’s usage of Joel on two specific occasions: one dealing with the potential for participation in the gift of prophecy and the other dealing with the inclusion of females in the exercise of prophecy.

 

In answering the question, “Is it okay to pursue prophecy?”, Storms (2002:87) replies:

                                Not only is it OK, it’s mandatory. In 1 Corinthians 14:1 Paul commanded us to desire earnestly spiritual gifts, “especially that you may prophesy”….This is truly an astounding statement….The pursuit of prophecy is a moral and spiritual obligation to which we must devote ourselves.

 

The guiding texts behind Storms conclusion not only lays in Paul’s desire that the church especially desire prophecy as mentioned in 1 Corinthians 14, but also in Peter’s quotation of Joel on Pentecost (2002:88):

We must also keep in mind Peter’s quotation in Acts 2 of Joel’s prophecy concerning the outpouring of the Spirit. The result of this effusion of the Spirit is that “your sons and your daughters shall prophesy” (Acts 2:17). The characteristic feature of this present church age is the revelatory activity of the Spirit (dreams and visions), which forms the basis for prophetic utterance. Not all will be prophets…but it would appeal that all may prophesy.

 

On the point of the church age being one of God’s presence through Spirit-endued gifts, I am agreed. There is some debate among scholars on whether this epoch began even before Pentecost and is preceded by the revelatory activity Luke records early on in his gospel. Luke begins his gospel with some accounts of prophetic utterance that aren’t found in the other gospels, namely Elizabeth’s Spirit-inspired speech (Lk. 1:41-45), Zechariah’s prophecy (Lk. 1:67-79), Simeon’s prophesy that prompted Joseph and Mary to marvel (Lk. 2:25-35), and Anna’s ministry to all in the temple (Lk. 2:36-39).  It appears that Luke intends to bring attention to God’s presence among His people even before and during the birth of Messiah.

 

Zechariah was praying for a child and God responds with revelation. Mary is chosen to bear the Christ-child. Mary utters praise in response to being chosen, which immediately follows Elizabeth’s own Spirit-inspired speech. Zechariah later prophesies and then we are introduced to Simeon and Anna. Simeon is said to have received revelation that he wouldn’t die before seeing Messiah and to have attended the Temple “in the Spirit” (Lk. 2:27), only to subsequently speak blessing over the Christ. Anna is actually called a “prophetess”, whose reputation as such must have preceded the birth of Jesus and continued beyond the birth of Messiah. Luke doesn’t restrict prophetic activity solely to John the Baptist, though he plays a pivotal role as such, but Luke wishes to validate the Spirit’s revelatory activity beyond John and Jesus. It can be argued that Luke’s intent is to show that God was indeed speaking to “normal” people and using them to bless others, as prompted and led by the Spirit. Though only a few are mentioned in Luke’s initial narrative, the Spirit’s ministry intensifies and culminates in the Pentecostal outpouring, to be viewed now as an immersing of Spirit activity upon “all flesh”. I would venture to guess that Storms is led to his conclusion that all may prophesy precisely because of the enduring theological significance Pentecost has for us within the even larger scheme of Luke’s theological intent throughout his narrative.

 

Lastly, Storms also mentions Peter’s quotation of Joel in relation to the question, “Did Paul allow women to prophesy?”. Storms (2002:97) states:

                                I believe women can and should prophesy. In Peter’s  speech on the Day of Pentecost he explicitly said that a characteristic of the present church age is the Spirit’s impartation of the prophetic gift to both men and women.

 

While Storms contends that the office of Pastor/Elder should be held by qualified males, he does believe that women may participate in the congregational worship of the church as gifted by the Spirit, which would expectantly include the speaking gift of prophecy. I think that Luke has already answered the question by calling Anna a prophetess and specifically mention her ministry in the temple to those who gathered.

 

Dr. Storms is a blessing to the church and I have long appreciated his academic contributions to Evangelical scholarship. I highly commend this book to you, as well as the many others he has penned, especially “Convergence”, which examines even further Storms engagement with charismatic ministry as well as his theological convictions in the form of Calvinism. I, too, am a Calvinistic Charismatic and belong to a small but increasing number of folks who align themselves as such.

You can purchase the book directly from Dr. Storms website at http://www.enjoyinggodministries.com/books/the-beginners-guide-to-spiritual-gifts/

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