Receiving the Spirit

Last week I outlined what I called a ‘taxonomy’ of Baptism in the Spirit. In essence I broke down the various questions we need to ask in order to clarity the terrain of the debate.

I originally came up with this a few years back when I was trying to figure out exactly what I thought about receiving the Spirit. No one that I had read really clarified the scope of the different views people hold or provided terms for describing similarities and differences between different thinkers on the question. Having the sort of mind that likes to place things in categories, I came up with a way of doing so myself.

This was part of a wider piece of work: I wanted to figure out what I thought about Baptism in the Spirit. I didn’t write frequently enough to call myself a writer at the time, but I took about six months to read and think and then around a month to write a paper. Around 60,000 words later I had the paper (book? thesis?) that I’ve linked below.

I suspect few will want to read to this depth, and that’s OK. For the one person who thinks that they’d like to dig into this topic, have at it.

Why write it?

Beyond figuring out what I thought, I’m a charismatic in a very small denomination that used to be part of Newfrontiers. One of our distinctive beliefs has always been a neo-Pentecostal understanding of receiving the Spirit. Without drawing out all of the nuances, this is a position which expects receiving the Spirit to be an experience, typically subsequent to conversion, that you know you’ve had. Typically, but not always, it is accompanied with the gift of tongues as its evidence.

In my circles, people became increasingly uncomfortable with what they felt like they were saying to those joining their churches from evangelical contexts, and slowly changed their thinking to match.

I appreciated the challenge, and think we’d often communicated poorly. Yet, couldn’t abandon what I believed the Bible to teach. The act of writing changed my opinion too, though not in the same direction.

Some weaknesses

It’s not a perfect piece. I’ve sat on it for years rather than share publicly because I half hoped to work on it further. Perhaps I will one day. I’ve tidied up the worst examples of overreach in my arguments. There are three areas of weakness that I’d love to improve but haven’t as yet:

  1. There are some key criticisms that I haven’t responded to (helpfully delivered to me by Derek Tidball, who kindly read it for me a few years back).
  2. I entirely ignore the Old Testament, which I think is a mistake.
  3. My method has shifted. This works closely in the relevant New Testament texts, engages in some arguments about hermeneutics, and then makes a series of pastoral comments in light of those findings. That’s all good work, but I’d want to make broader arguments attuned to story, and I’d want to read the text more typologically.

All that being said, why not read it and see what you think?

Receiving the Spirit

Click below to download.

Photo by Amadej Tauses on Unsplash

To subscribe and receive email notifications for future posts, scroll all the way to the bottom of the page.

Would you like to support my work? The best thing you can do is share this post with your friends. Why not consider also joining my Patreon to keep my writing free for everyone. You can see other ways to support me here.