Friday, April 15, 2011

Scared of the Spirit

I read a very interesting interview with Francis Chan this morning on a topic that frankly scares me: the Holy Spirit. Let me clarify. I am quite comfy with the view of the Holy Spirit that I have typically surrounded myself with, a nice and neat Spirit that works in conjunction with the preaching of the Gospel to regenerate the unbelieving heart, bringing a dead sinner to newness of life and a new creature replaces the old. Once He accomplishes this work? That is where things seem to go off the rails in one of two ways. Either the Spirit is relegated to a theological concept off in a corner somewhere where He is expected to be on His best behavior during church or the Spirit is used as cover for all manner of emotional excesses that have little to do with actual workings of the Spirit. The fact that this interview appears on the webpage of Charisma magazine made me uncomfortable, like I was reading Maxim magazine at work or something.

It is quite clear from Scripture that being a Christian involves being filled with the Holy Spirit and that the indwelling presence of the Spirit should have a discernible impact on us. How that looks in the daily lives of Christians and in the community of faith is a little harder to pin down, largely because of the ways the Spirit is represented and taught in most of the church. I think I tend to dismiss much of what passes for movements of the Holy Spirit based on the excesses of some parts of the Charismatic movement. That is partly understandable but mostly inexcusable.

So I am going to try to really study this quiet but vital member of the Trinity. It fits in with my general interests in blogging. One of the things that I think the traditional church has inadvertently done is put so many structures in place that we leave no room at all for the Holy Spirit to manifest Himself in our gatherings. In an effort to be orderly, we have removed the truth that the church is Spirit-infused and Spirit-led and made the church leader-led and doctrine-infused. We need to recognize and embrace the role of the Spirit in the gathering of the Church while staying firmly grounded to avoid the sort of abuses and shenanigans that have cropped up over the centuries.

First and foremost I need to turn to the Word and intentionally seek out places where the Spirit is given special prominence. I also need to read up on Him in a wide variety of works. I have three books on my shelf that I have skimmed through that approach the Holy Spirit from a Reformed perspective, written by John Owen, Sinclair Ferguson and R.C. Sproul. You aren’t going to get much more Reformed than that! I just added Francis Chan’s book, The Forgotten God, to my Amazon cart. I think Chan’s book will be a solid but different perspective and one I need to look at. I would be open to other suggestions for books on this forgotten/neglected member of the Trinity (not Benny Hinn). I am not so much interested in more books written by Reformed folks because I think I have that covered nor am I looking for way out in left field charismatics. Just looking for some good, solid, balanced works that look at the Spirit in the life of believers and the church. So if you have any suggestions for good books on the Holy Spirit, please fire them up in the comments!


Don Litchfield said...

I am presently reading a book by Arthur Katz and Paul Volk entitled, The Spirit of Truth. Arthur Katz has done some extensive study, teaching and experience in Christian "community." This book gives an important aspect of the character and work and conviction of the Holy Spirit. It is easy to draw further conclusions into the body of Christ, although that is not necessarily his central point in the book. If you want to check out some of his teachings, I think there are some on SermonIndex. It would be worth it to listen to the testimony of his conversion from secular Jew to devout believer in Christ.

Anonymous said...

You might consider a book by Watchman Nee. While I personally haven't read any of his books on the Spirit, my parents have always been quick to recommend him. From what I've read from him, he's pretty good, and his books are pretty cheap.

Arthur Sido said...


I will check that one out!


I saw that one on Amazon, The Communion of the Holy Spirit, it is only $4.50 so that is a winner!