Word and Spirit Revisited ...
I was encouraged to see my friend Mark's latest post on Dr Sam Storms seminars at Bethlehem Baptist Church on "Convergence". It reminded me that much of what is discussed, debated and sometimes fought over (particularly the Colson-Draw Me Close issue of recently) is married to this whole issue of Word and Spirit (I believe). I would echo Mark's passion to see "churches grow in both faithfulness to the Word and fullness of the Spirit". It is because of this passion that I am so grateful to men like Sam Storms - who by the way, will be the keynote speaker at the Life in the Spirit conference next Easter.
Just as similarly it thrills me to read Terry Virgo's invitation to the Brighton Leaders Conference in July. He says: "Perhaps in Wayne (Grudem) and Rob (Rufus) we most of all underline our commitment to Word and Spirit ... We, therefore, come full of anticipation of outstanding Bible teaching and the potential for glorious encounters with the Holy Spirit’s power".
I find myself fluctuating in this issue that is so vital to me, from depression that we are constantly having to make choices between Reformed doctrine and Charismatic experience, to then being greatly thrilled when I hear men like Sam Storms and Terry Virgo.
This post is going to bring together a number of thoughts and quotes that I have seen over the past few days that relate to this whole issue. Firstly I was doing a night shift last week in the community with a child who happens to have Sky - so I was able to watch God TV most of the night - a new experience for me! Some of the programmes were not quite to my taste. Some of them were downright scary ... for example, a sermon by Cindy Jacobs where I panicked that she was shouting at me ... personally. But the highlight for me, was a sermon of David Holden's at the Brighton Leaders Conference 2000. The sermon was titled after the theme of the conference; "Does the Future Have a Church?".
One quote gripped me. He said:
"Your eschatology affects your ecclesiology".
The second quote was by Professor J D G Dunn from a book I've just read: "Truth Aflame - Theology for the Church in Renewal". I haven't always been the biggest fan of Prof Dunn but this quote is unarguable and excellent.
"Ever fresh religious experience, in dynamic interaction with the original witness to the Christ event, was the living matrix for NT theology. Without the latter, faith all too easily becomes fanaticism and burns itself out. But without the former, without God as a living reality in religious experience, faith never comes to life and theology remains sterile and dead". (p22).
What is one to make of these two aspects? My post was titled; "Word and Spirit Revisited". I think that David Holden's quote is key - eschatology has joined the ranks of pneumatology and many other "tology's" as that class of "secondary matters". In other words we realise that it will cause argument and wimp out by not discussing it if we can help it for the sake of "unity". However it has been my conviction that if a negative eschatology is held, a church's mission will be affected undeniably. So I would argue that eschatology must be included in our Word and Spirit "Convergence" discussions.
And secondly I think that excellent quote by Prof Dunn sets the boundaries well and it is my suspicion that despite the Pentecostal Movement, despite the Charismatic Movement, despite the Toronto Blessing, we are still in danger of living our Christian lives without "God as living reality" and therefore our faith is damaged and our theology is in danger of being dead and sterile as it is worship-less.