Friday, October 10, 2008

Jack Deere - Surprised by the Power of the Spirit

This is a remarkable book. Usually, when I hear charismatics (as Jack Deere is) trying to persuade non-charismatics, they say silly things along the lines of it being important not to be scared of the work of the Holy Spirit. That's silly because the non-charismatics by and large aren't scared of the work of the Spirit - they just disagree over what the Spirit does and doesn't do. Nor does it help when charismatics tell them that God is bigger than their box - usually the question isn't whether God can do things, but whether he does.

Jack Deere, however, used to be a cessationist, and this book is different because it is a charismatic ex-cessationist writing to try to persuade cessationists, and doing a fairly good job of it.

Deere's basic argument is that cessationism is inconsistent because it claims to disallow arguments from experience, while at the same time cessationism itself is an argument from experience (or lack of it). He argues that the natural reading of the Bible is charismatic rather than cessationist, and dismantles the classic cessationist argument that miracles occur in three periods to authenticate revelation.

I have to say that on balance I think he does a good job. But then, for me the question isn't over the existence or continuation of the so-called charismatic gifts, but about how they are used.

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