Archive for the ‘Pneumatology’ Category

The following quote is from Scot McKnight’s commentary on Galatians in The NIV Application Commentary series:

McKnight (1995:272):

I know of no Christian parents or youth leaders, or for that matter any pastors who seriously believe what Paul teaches in verses 16-26 (of Galatians 5), that the sole foundation of Christian ethics is dependency on the Spirit and a life of freedom in the Spirit….I have met only one person who ever expressed this view of Paul in a definitive and, to him, practical way. That person was F.F. Bruce…

I would add Gordon Fee to that list in my own experience as I also shared this same conviction in my study of the reality of Spirit-fullness in the New Covenant. McKnight continues:

To be sure, Paul knew that when a person was controlled by the Spirit, that person was holy. He also knew that a person who lived in the Spirit lived in a loving way. Thus, he knew that the Old Testament moral guidelines and the teachings of Jesus on holiness, righteousness, and compassion would be confirmed by anyone who lived in the Spirit (1995:273).

Needless to say that we can be accused, just like the early Galatians, of wanting to derive our ethic from the law or traditions of men. I am not opposed to the “3rd use of the Law” in relation to our sanctification, but if such is taught in a way that doesn’t necessitate the presence of the Spirit, then we may very well be acting like the early Judaizers.

It is sometimes said that the Holy Spirit is the neglected members of the Godhead. Study of Scripture, however, will make clear that the Spirit is the one who regenerates our hearts, accompanies the inward call, adopts us into our relational standing as children of God, seals the believer as an objective member of the New Covenant, empowers and guides our sanctification, as well as gifting the Church for ministry. I’m sure that there are pastors out there emphasizing this dynamic, however I resonate with McKnight when he claims F.F. Bruce as the first scholar which emphasized these points in Pauline Pneumatology. For me, it was the pages of Gordon Fee’s, “God’s Empowering Presence”, that had confirmed all that I had believed from my own study of Paul’s theology of the Spirit.

St. Vincent Ferrer
Famous Dominican missionary, born at Valencia, 23 January, 1350; died at Vannes, Brittany, 5 April, 1419.

“…It would be difficult to understand how he could make himself understood by the many nationalities he evangelized, as he could speak only Limousin, the language of Valencia. Many of his biographers hold that he was endowed with the gift of tongues, an opinion supported by Nicholas Clemangis, a doctor of the University of Paris, who had heard him preach.”

Before the end of the year 1392, St. Vincent being forty-two years old, set out from Avignon towards Valencia. He preached in every town with wonderful efficacy; and the people having heard him in one place followed him in crowds to others. Public usurers, blasphemers, debauched women, and other hardened sinners everywhere were induced by his discourses to embrace a life of penance. He converted a great number of Jews and Mohammedans, heretics and schismatics. He visited every province of Spain in this manner, except Provence and Dauphine. He went thence into Italy, preaching on the coasts of Genoa, in Lombardy, Piedmont, and Savoy, as he did in part of Germany, about the Upper Rhine and through Flanders. Numerous wars and the unhappy great schism in the Church had been productive of a multitude of disorders in Christendom; gross ignorance and a shocking corruption of manners prevailed in many places, whereby the teaching of this zealous apostle, who, like another Boanerges, preached in a voice of thunder, became not only useful but even absolutely necessary, to assist the weak and alarm the sinner. The ordinary subjects of his sermons were sin, death, God’s judgments, hell, and eternity. He delivered his discourses with so much energy that he filled the most insensible with terror. A great number of his sermons have come down to us, some in Latin and many in the vernacular. By them one seizes the man and the saint to the life. They are masterpieces of naturalness, intelligence, picturesqueness and, at moments, poetry. In their kind there is nothing better. And they all develop one same theme. (more…)

Charismata II

Posted: September 27, 2010 by joelmartin in Pentecostal/Charismatic Interests, Pneumatology, Theology
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From this general period on, records indicate that the most likely center of activity of tongues-speech is the monastic movement. Antony, founder of anchor-itic monasticism in Egypt, was involved with healings, extraordinary perceptions and exorcisms. Pachomius, who in the meantime established coenobitic monasticism in the southern provinces of Egypt, was reported to have prophesied and to have exercised xenolalia. Jerome relates the account of a monk, Hilarion, using xenolalia in a battle with a demon-possessed man.’

In Palladius’ Lausiac History 17 the story is told of Macarius of Egypt who received “the gift of fighting spirits and of prophecy.” Also the church historian Sozomen (EH 3:14) writes that Macarius was endowed with divine knowledge, wrought extraordinary works and miraculous cures, and restored a dead man to life. The work entitled Fifty Homilies of Macarius of Egypt was most probably not authored by Macarius but by someone unknown to us. Speaking of his own day the writer (Homily 36:1) specifies tongues as one of the gifts of the Spirit and tells (Homily 29:1) about some who possessed gifts of the Spirit but failed because they fell short of love. Isidore supported (Ep. 2:246; PCC 78:685) the exercise of spiritual gifts in the Christian community. Palladius’ Lausiac History 1:1–5 relates ecstatic experiences of Isidore and adds numerous accounts of the presence of the charismata among the monks up to his own day. Palladius tells about the problem with demons (18:6), about the gift of healing (12:1), the gift of knowledge (38:10), the gift of prophecy (17:2), and of visions (32:1).

Harold Hunter JETS 23:2

Charismata

Posted: September 27, 2010 by joelmartin in Pentecostal/Charismatic Interests, Pneumatology, Theology
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Writing in the Journal of Evangelical Theology 23:2 Harold Hunter says:

The Cappadocian fathers, all of whom had been monks, uniformly spoke of the contemporary exercise of charismata and perhaps also tongues-speech. In his Shorter Rules 278, answering the question of how a man’s spirit prays while his understanding remains without fruit, Basil states that “this was said concerning those that utter their prayers in a tongue unknown to the hearers.” Gregory Nazianzen talked (Oration 32; PCC 36:185; Oration on Pentecost 41:12; On the Holy Spirit 5:12:30) about the charismata and perhaps tongues-speech as still present in his day. Likewise Gregory of Nyssa spoke frequently of the charismata.
The reaction of Epiphanius to the Montanists and Alogi was that the church should maintain the veritable charismata (PCC 41:856). Using present tenses, Epiphanius says of the work of the Holy Spirit: “To this one is given wisdom by the Spirit, to another tongues and to another power and to another doctrine.” When enumerating the attributes of the Holy Spirit, Didymus the Blind says that the Holy Spirit is “a fountain of exhaustless charismata.”

Governed by the Spirit

Posted: March 19, 2010 by Andrew McIntyre in Pneumatology, Theology
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Galatians 5:25 reads: εἰ ζῶμεν πνεύματι, πνεύματι καὶ στοιχῶμεν.  It is variously translated:

  • “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” (NASB)
  • “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” (NIV)
  • “If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.” (NRSV)
  • “Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.” (NLT)

But my favorite rendering is by F. F. Bruce in his Expanded Paraphrase of the Epistles of Paul: “So then, if our principle of life is the Spirit, let our behavior also be governed by the Spirit.”

This is what makes Christianity unique.  The Christian life is not the exercise of a new religion, it is the outgrowth of being governed by the Holy Spirit.  The extent to which we experience the fullness of “Christ living in us” (Gal. 2:20) is determined by the extent to which we cooperate with the Holy Spirit’s ministry to us.  That’s why Jesus stressed the coming of the Holy Spirit to his disciples.  That’s why it is so important that the Church stress “life in the Spirit” from the moment that life in the Spirit begins – at conversion.  Note how F. F. Bruce translates Galatians 5:16:

“What I want to emphasize is this: live continually in the power of the Spirit, and you will not carry out the cravings of your old nature.”

That should be our consistent and constant focus – “Live continually in the power of the Spirit.”  Living continually in the power of the Spirit, being governed by the Spirit, is the Christian life.  And, if we stay in step with Him, he will lead us into all that life in Christ entails and equip us with every experience and gift that living that life “to the full” requires.

Remember, since the origin of your Christian life is the result of the working of the Holy Spirit, the continuation of your Christian life will be the result of the same.  Let Him govern your behavior.

I posted a review of some comments from William and Robert Menzies book, “Spirit and Power: Foundations of Pentecostal Experience” (here).

It drew a clarifying comment from Endued blogger, Matt:

I’m unclear Pastor Rick if it is your position that the baptism of the Spirit is BOTH conversion AND the initial filling, such as the Third Wave view (As I understand it), or is the Baptism of the Spirit what happens at conversion and then there is later an initial filling of power? Just curious, I’m still undecided on it.

Matt

My response:

Matt, I hold that the prescribed patter of initiation into union with Christ comes from Peter in his Pentecost sermon: “Repent, Be Baptized, Receive the Gift of the Holy Spirit”. Let me clarify that a bit…I don’t believe in baptismal regeneration, nor do I believe that their is a singular reception of the Spirit that comes AFTER one repents and is baptized. In the Ordu Salutis (order of salvation), I believe that one can’t repent apart from some work of the Spirit, which I would call regeneration. Even my Wesleyan friends would acknowledge a prior work of the Spirit in bringing one to faith. Once one repents and is baptized, it is impossible for them to be a believer and not have the Spirit of Christ (Rom. 8:9). So, in a theological rendering of initiation, one isn’t a Christian apart from the Spirit.

Now what does Peter mean when he says that one will receive the Gift of the Spirit in the package including repentance and baptism? I actually DON’T hold that this is the gift in a “Sonship” paradigm, or merely a converting work of the Spirit that Peter is offering. I think Peter is referring to the work of the Spirit has had been witnessed in the disciples. So in my ordu salutis, I would make a distinction between the work of the Spirit preveniently bringing one to repentance (Regeneration), the adoptive sealing work of the Spirit that indwells the believer who has repented and is baptized, the sanctifying fruit-bearing work of the Spirit that follows the life of the believer in a gradual manner that is different for various believers, and the empowering work of the Spirit that now proceeds from the life of the believer in context to their union to the Church for the edification of the Church.

If anything, I am willing to make even more than 2 distinctions in the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. What I am opposed to is stating that their is a primary secondary work that necessarily requires tongues as the infallible proof that you have gotten the second work. Luke doesn’t give an exact paradigm. The Samaritans reception of the Spirit in some sense was lacking following their repentance and baptism (Acts 8). This is seen as exceptional and not normative. I think folks argue for too much when they say that the Samaritans weren’t “saved” (James Dunn) and that Pentecostals argue for too much when they claim Acts 8 as a prooftext for what they consider to be normative. I’m willing to grant that Acts 8 was a “two step” process and don’t even feel the need to give some practical reasons for why it needed to be that way. For Peter in Acts 10, the Gentiles got up and spoke in tongues while he was preaching!!! Their repentance was assumed and they were admitted to the waters of baptism following this demonstrative act of God’s acceptance. It would be silly of me to say that Acts 10 is normative and that people must get up and speak in tongues in the middle of a sermon before they can be baptized. Essentially, Acts is a unique transitional period and God is pretty much doing things as He wills. While Peter prescribes repentance, baptism and reception of the Gift of the Holy Spirit, we have two accounts here: where full reception of the Spirit was lacking following baptism (Acts 8 and where tongues preceded baptism in Acts 10).

I’m okay with attributing to the Spirit His sovereign freedom in these matters. If someone insisted that they were baptized with the Spirit subsequent to salvation and spoke in tongues, I would affirm that as a work of the Spirit. If someone spoke in tongues during an evangelistic message at some local park, I would accept that as a work of the Spirit and encourage baptism. So while I hold the “one baptism many fillings” paradigm as the prescribed norm, I am okay with the Spirit working in a “two step” process if that’s how people want to read it. Essentially, I am opposed to the doctrine of “initial physical evidence” which dogmatically asserts that Spirit-baptism is a “necessarily” distinct second work of grace that is validated solely by the manifestation of tongues, thus dogmatically asserting that this is how the sovereign Spirit MUST WORK. Like I said, I am the first to say that the Spirit has worked this way, and continues to work this way, and does give tongues as a manifestation of the reception of the Spirit (in fact I would argue that the Spirit not only bears fruit, but will normatively manifest Himself in a “charismatic” manner, whether it be tongues or a great zeal for administering mercy). What I am not willing to say is that the Pentecostal position is the prescribed normative view. While I hold the broad “Evangelical Charismatic” position as what I see as the normative paradigm, there is room enough for me to acknowledge that the Spirit can act in an analogous fashion to what the Pentecostals expect. They, however, can’t grant such charity to me. They can’t say, according to their doctrine, that I have been baptized with the Spirit in an empowering fashion unless I give testimony to tongues in my life. They would have to say I am lacking the baptism of the Spirit and am still deficient in some sense for having not spoken in tongues.

It drew the following comment from Assemblies of God Pastor Andy Harris (http://www.centralonthehill.com):

Rick,
The “initial, physical evidence” doctrine as you note is the primary thing that distinguishes traditional Pentecostalism from the wider evangelical world. That, of course, and the fact that the largest Christian missions force in the world is led by those who hold to the “initial, physical evidence” doctrine. The Pentecostal explosion in global missions is the greatest defense of a subsequent experience of empowerment for Christians and
that speaking in other tongues is the initial, physical evidence of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit which is promised to all believers (Mark 16:16-17; Acts 1:8, 2:4, 38-39, et al).

My response was as follows:

Andy, I am grateful for the success of “Evangelical” missions, including the Pentecostals. I would even go so far to say that there is a correlation to the success of distinctly Pentecostal missions in various parts of the world. Their emphasis on the empowering work of the Spirit, spiritual warfare, and the imminence of God in an experiential fashion are all good. I am still 99% Pentecostal. It is my heritage and I don’t repudiate it. I also differ on how I understand God’s Sovereignty from most Pentecostals, but that would still be compatible within the confession of faith.

I would disagree with you however in stating that the success of Pentecostal missions validates “initial physical evidence”. My goodness, Mormons and Islam is growing as well, does that validate Joseph Smith and Muhammad? They would argue along the same lines. I am gracious enough to say that there is a correlation of Pentecostal pneumatology and practice on a broader level to their “success” on the mission field, but to insinuate that the success is owing entirely to “initial physical evidence” and that such a doctrine is validated by the “success” is logically erroneous. Does the success of non-Pentecostal missionaries validate their convictions that none should speak in tongues? Does the overwhelming “success” of the Anglican Church on the African continent validate the 39 Articles of Religion and prove infant baptism to be true?

And now, a recent friend I have met, who is a former Assemblies of God pastor, Any McIntyre has chimed in:

First, let me frame my comments, especially for Andy, by saying that I used to be an Assemblies of God minister for 22+ years and had been a member of the Assemblies of God for over 40 years. I also have two degrees from A/G schools (B.S. & M.A.T.S.). And, finally, I have no axe to grind against the A/G; instead, I have many great memories from the two churches that I was privileged to pastor. (more…)

I think that Pentecostals William and Robert Menzies, whose scholarship I much appreciate, are misunderstanding Charismatic Evangelicals like me in suggesting that I am undermining the Pentecostal emphasis of an empowering work of the Spirit. My thoughts are below:

Menzies and Menzies (2000:48) respond to Dunn’s argumentation that Pentecost was not a subsequent work designed for empowerment, but rather the inception of New Covenant experience and sonship:

In other words, for the Evangelical, Spirit-baptism is equated with conversion. It is that which makes a person truly a Christian. By way of contrast, most Pentecostals insist that the Spirit came on the disciples at Pentecost not as the source of new covenant existence, but rather as the source of power for effective witness. Thus Pentecostals generally describe Spirit-baptism as an experience (at least logically, if not chronologically) distinct from conversion, which unleashes a new dimension of the Spirit’s power; it is an enduement of power for service.

I am pleased to see that Menzies and Menzies are willing to grant that Spirit-baptism need not be chronologically distinct from conversion. I would say an amen to granting a logical distinction within Pneumatology regarding the empowering work of the Spirit from the regenerating work of the Spirit; however Menzies and Menzies (2000:48) don’t seem all that pleased by such a concession on my part, and the part of most of Evangelicalism:

The differences outlined above cannot be simply dismissed as semantic games played by theologians, ivory-tower stuff with no bearing on the life of the church. While “one baptism, many fillings” may be affirmed by Evangelicals and Pentecostals alike, our different understandings of the nature of this baptism (and subsequent fillings) dramatically impact the contours of our faith and practice. Consider this: If the Evangelical is right, then Pentecostals can no longer proclaim an enduement of the Spirit that is distinct from conversion and available to every believer—at least not with the same sense of expectation….Furthermore, if the Evangelical is right, Pentecostals can no longer maintain that the principle purpose of the Pentecostal gift is to grant power for the task of mission. In short, a Pentecostal perspective on Spirit-baptism is integral to our continued sense of expectation and effectiveness in mission.

Well, I am either some weird Evangelical or Neo-Pentecostal for saying this, but I think that Menzies and Menzies create a false “either or, all or nothing” dichotomy. I hold the Evangelical position and still believe that we need to note that Pentecost was an empowering work, that is part of the ongoing work of the Spirit in the life of the believer. I hold to the “one baptism, many fillings” position and see how it is wholly consistent with emphasizing both regeneration and the need for ongoing empowerment. (more…)