We tend not to honor this important liturgical day as we do Christmas and Easter. (And certainly not as we do, say, the Fourth of July or Boxing Day.) So, a brief Pentecostal post.
In preparing for an Adult ed class I am teaching on Pentecost, I have consulted the first volume in what will be a truly remarkable set of theological commentaries. Called the Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible, the first one out is Acts, penned by the esteemed, late Jeroslav Pelikan. Of course much of the dualism that we so often rant against in the Western church can be traced to the misreading of texts and the pagan accommodation (can you say neo-Platonism?) in the earliest of Christian centuries, so a Patristic reading ought not be privileged unconditionally. Still, the erudite Dr. Pelikan’s vast knowledge of church history makes him a helpful interpreter of Dr. Luke’s second book. (For instance, in the section on Acts 2 he naturally was drawn to questions of the early church’s view of the Trinity, the debate about the Nicene Creed, and the East-West split over the filioque clause. Of course, it is unwise to speak of Pentecost without addressing the notion of the Triune God.) This would be a very valuable edition to your library. (Brazos Press; $29.99.)
We are really happy to see the newly re-issued, very handsome paperback of James Montgomery Boice’s expository messages on Acts (Acts: An Expositional Commentary, published by Baker; $24.99.) This isn’t the place for an exhaustive list of Acts commentaries, but I did find this very helpful in my preparations.
I also enjoyed re-reading one of the earliest Leonard Sweet books, New Life in the Spirit which is now available again as a reprinted paperback. (Lightening Source; $19.95.) What a great little book, clever and insightful and learned! In a couple of pages, Len offers some very helpful and balanced critique of the two errors of charismania and charisphobia. I loved the line, working with the notion of ruach meaning “breath” where he says,
Breathing is unconscious; we don’t think about it. When we do we can hyperventilate---which is what happens spiritually when some Christians focus on the respiration instead of the application of the Spirit.And, speaking of which: may we recommend the old, small, and exceptionally helpful Baptism and Fullness: The Work of the Holy Spirit Today by John Stott. (IVP; $8.00.) It still stands as the best, brief treatment of the once-for-all experience of receiving the Spirit (in regeneration) and the ever-present need to be anointed, filled and re-energized in the fullness of the Spirit. I long for greater charismatic power in my life and community, but agree with Stott’s critique of the Pentecostal doctrine that implies one needs to “get” the Spirit at some point after conversion. (See, for instance, Romans 8:9.)
Many modern writers, including those in mainline circles, who have taught on the Spirit properly note the Spirit's role in the Bible in creation, re-creation, and in public matters of all sorts. An excellent way into that conversation is Wheaton College prof (and Jubilee 2006 speaker) Vincent Bacote's fabulous book on the ways in which Dutch neo-Calvinist theologian and statesmen, Abraham Kuyper's understanding of the Spirit fueled his public work. See The Spirit in Public Theology: Appropriating the Legacy of Abraham Kuyper (Baker; $18.99.) It compares and contrasts other “public theologians” who wrote on the Spirit, like Jurgen Moltmann. Very, very nicely done, readable and important. Maybe the wind will blow you to it. If so, give us a ring. You don't have to speak in tongues to get this discount on any of the aforementioned titles.
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