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Reports from Around the World
Nigeria: the story media outlets are not reporting
Author and professor, Craig S. Keener writes: http://pneumareview.com/nigeria-the-story-media-outlets-are-not-reporting
Middle East: Passion brings Jesus to the people
Yassir Arafat is not the only person to have a private screening of Mel Gibson's film "The Passion of the Christ," which he recently watched with two English Christian leaders in Ramallah. The film is everywhere, and Gaza's marketplaces offer illegal copies, too. "The impact of the film in predominantly Muslim nations in the Middle East is phenomenal," say Christians in the region.
Bahrain's cinema owners threaten legal action
In Bahrain, cinema owners threatened legal action to force the authorities to allow the film to be shown. According to a report in the newspaper Akhbar Al Khaleej, hundreds of Muslims and Christians complained that the Information Ministry initially banned the film, and supported action to force permission to be given to show it. Bahrain's Sunnite Muslims oppose the film's showing, but Shiite Muslims support it.
Breaking all records in the United Arab Emirates
The film has broken all records in the United Arab Emirates. 66,321 tickets were sold in Dubai in the first three days, relegating previous record holder 'Matrix Reloaded' with 59,000 tickets sold to second place. In Kuwait, other film showings were temporarily cancelled, so that for a time, only "Passion" was showing at one multiplex. The viewers included many completely shrouded Muslim women. When had they heard the Gospel?
Qataris meet Jesus
"In Qatar, it was previously only possible to show the Jesus film to handfulls of Qataris in secret home showings," writes a missionary. "The public showings of 'Passion' reach more Qataris in two hours as a missionary in five years of hard work," says the report. "The Arabic subtitles were absolutely correct, and the Muslims around us in the cinema were deeply moved — they wept, sobbed and were shocked by the brutality which Jesus had to suffer."
Love, not hate
"One of the reason why Arabic Muslims want to see the film is because they have heard that it is anti–Jewish. Because many of them hate the Jews, they want to see the film. Isn't it astonishing, that God uses this film to make exactly the opposite statement, that we should love our enemies, and that Jesus prayed for his enemies as they nailed him to the cross? That is particularly touching for Muslim viewers," says another report. Many Arabs are now asking Christian friends for a copy of the New Testament, or where they can find an Arabic Bible on the Internet. "We've never seen anything like this before," says one Christian from the area.
Source: FridayFax2004 18. Used with permission.
Guatemala: revival comes to Antigua
Jeff Mills, a British missionary serving with International Gospel Outreach (see www.globeeurope.de
) in Guatemala, writes about what God is doing in their midst:
"There are no other words to describe what is happening here in our church, Iglesia Restauracion Divina, in the very poor town of Ciudad Vieja, Guatemala, other than to say that the Holy Spirit has manifested Himself powerfully with his presence at each service. The harvest is here, people are being set free each week as they cry out to God for forgiveness, and He is releasing them of all their bonds. For 10 years both my wife and I have been on the misisonfield crying out for revival and a move of the Spirit of God and though we have been through the flames, God has answered our prayers.
"People passing the church have entered out of curiosity and then been seen to fall to the floor begging God to forgive them. One young man belonging to one of the gangs in the town came in and burst into tears asking for someone to pray for him. He was hardly able to stand and was not even able to speak as two helpers brought him to the front of the church. I was sitting at the front with pastor Fredy Lopez, as I watched him give his life to Jesus Christ and then he began to dance around the church. I watched as the whole church erupted into a wild dance and hands waved high in the air, with shouts of joy echoing through the building. Christa, my wife, was there in the middle of the floor helping the young girls who fell in the Spirit. I could only weep and shake my head thanking God for His presence.
One mother remarked, 'My son was on drugs and spent most of his time away from home mixing with gangs, and now I see him radically changed. I want what he has! God is healing and restoring relationships.
"It all started in a service on a Thursday night with a preaching on 'Being Set Free.' Since then the church has dramatically changed. It is not unusual to have services of up to 7 hours because of the powerful presence of the Lord. This was a church that never danced until that evening in November. It is quite something to see them now, dancing, laughing, and singing for joy to the Lord. Is this not what church is all about? Who wants to go home when the presence of God is so powerful! On each weekend there is not a place to sit or stand and the people spill out onto the streets to dance and hear the message. We don't have funds to build bigger but that doesn't worry these people. 'We will celebrate in the streets as we grow.'
Source: adapted from an email from Jeff Mills sent to the Pneuma Foundation.
Germany: God heals miraculously
"On 15th October 2003, I was cleaning the roof of our church building, together with a few others," writes Georg Kämpgen. "I fell about 10m (30 feet) to the ground. The ambulance took me to hospital, unconscious. I had broken my back and neck, ribs 5–8 and my right shoulder. The broken ribs had also damaged both lungs, and blood had entered my thorax, and had to be drained. On 19th October, a Christian, Mr. Fillhafer, came with two friends to the intensive care station to pray with me. While he prayed, I felt several clicks in my chest. The next day, the doctor came to my bed, agitated, to tell me that something extraordinary had happened; the latest X–rays revealed that the ribs and shoulder were healed. The inner bleeding stopped, too. I told him about the prayer; he just mumbled something and left. I needed further operations, but had told the doctor that as a Christian, I had no fear of death, because I knew where I would end up. I also told him that I would pray that God would guide his hands, for which he thanked me warmly. God answered my prayers wonderfully.
"Following the operation on my neck, I was on the intensive care station with a man suffering terrible pain. We spoke about the most important decision of our life. I asked him whether he wanted to give Jesus control of his life; he affirmed, and we prayed together. I have now been in the rehabilitation clinic for two months, and am doing very well in the circumstances, thank the Lord."
Source: FridayFax2004 15. Used with permission.
Other News and Headlines:
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- "'Under God' Stays Because of a Technicality" US Supreme Court leaves the phrase in the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag. (ChristianityTodayOnline)
- "English apostle to the Germans" by Uwe Siemon-Netto. One loving, dedicated follower of Christ brought civilization to Germania 1250 years before Allied soldiers began the re–civilizing by landing on the beaches of Normandy. http://www.virtuosityonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=898
See also: The Pagan–Buster How a brilliant monk laid the groundwork for Christian Europe (ChristianHistoryOnline) http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2004/123/54.0.html
- VOM Urges U.S. Outcry Over Chinese Christian's Death in Custody Will Voice of the Martyrs be heard? (AgapePress) http://headlines.agapepress.org/archive/6/12004d.asp
- Black Eye for Freedom. Report warns about religious liberty trends around the world. (ChristianityTodayOnline) http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2004/007/3.15.html
- USA: Park's Baptism Ban an "Egregious Violation of First Amendment" (CharismaNOW) http://www.charismanow.com/a.php?ArticleID=9206
- North India May Be Home To World's Fastest–Growing Church (The Christian Post) http://www.christianpost.com/dbase.php?cat=asia&id=499
- A story of persecution and abuse in Pakistan: "The Secret Shelter" by Deann Alford. A sliver of hope for Christian women who suffer beatings, rape, and forced conversions to Islam. (ChristianityTodayOnline) http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2004/006/17.46.html
- Uzbekistan: On 13 May, ordinary police and National Security Service secret police burst into a private home where six Protestants were meeting in the village of Gagarino, close to the Afghan border in the southern Surkhandarya region. They seized the Protestants' Christian literature and warned them they would soon be fined. Uzbekistan, like Turkmenistan and Belarus, specifically outlaws unregistered religious activity, in defiance of international human rights agreements. (Forum18) See Forum18's latest Religious freedom survey on Uzbekistan. http://www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=105
- Middle East: Fascinated with The Passion Gibson film draws big Muslim crowds. (ChristianityTodayOnline) http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2004/006/13.19.html
- Do Nigerian Miracle Ministries Discredit the Faith? The spiritual dynamism of West African Christianity is now well known even in the West. Do credulity–stretching, highly publicized miracles discredit what God is doing in that region? By Chris Armstrong (ChristianHistoryOnline) http://www.christianitytoday.com/history/newsletter/2004/may21.html
See also: Africa: The Christian continent The stunning twentieth–century "baptism" of Africa. by Chris Armstrong and Collin Hansen (ChristianHistoryOnline) http://www.christianitytoday.com/ch/2003/003/14.2.html
- Editorial: Why the "Lost Gospels" Lost Out Recent theories about church council conspiracies that manipulated the New Testament into existence are bad–really bad–history. (ChristianityTodayOnline) http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2004/006/7.26.html
- Christian Books Hit Secular Stores Why the popularity of Christian books is hurting Christian bookstores in US. (Associated Press) [link now expired as of 6/3/04]
- China: A Strategy of Persecution Crackdown on a Million–member House Church–the Leader Kidnapped, Over Fifty Coworkers Arrested, and One Tortured to Death. http://www.press-release-writing.com/primages/hhcpub-pr2.htm
- Pakistan: Kidnapped Christian preacher in Pakistan returns Pentecostal pastor escapes from his captors and returns to his home. (Reuters AlertNet) http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/ISL256413.htm
- Nigeria: Televangelists Told to Verify Miracles Or Pull the Plug (Sunday Times of Johannesburg, S. Africa). http://allafrica.com/stories/200405170376.html For more on this story, see also: Speaking Out: a Man And His Religion (Vanguard, Lagos, Nigeria) http://allafrica.com/stories/200405180239.html and Crackdown on Nigeria TV miracles (BBC). http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/3672805.stm
- India and Christianity: Prayers answered in India? For India's tiny Christian minority, as for the Muslims, the surprising defeat of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party may bring the end of a long nightmare, in which fanatics massacred Muslims, murdered priests and pastors, razed churches and ancient mosques, burned holy books and broke up religious services (Uwe Siemon–Netto, UPI). http://www.spacedaily.com/upi/20040518-16453200.html
Jayalalitha backs off, withdraws controversial decisions In a completely unexpected decision, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister took back an anti–conversion law that had been widely criticized (IANS) http://news.newkerala.com/india-news/index.php?action=fullnews&showcomments=1&id=17708
- Jailed for Christ Government harasses churches in Eritrea. (ChristianityTodayOnline)
- Religious violence in Nigeria leaves many casualties Muslim-Christian violence surges in Africa's most populous nation with thousands already dead. (ChristianityTodayOnline)
- Pakistani Christian Student Dies from Torture Muslim seminary implicated in forcible conversion attempt. (ChristianityTodayOnline)
- Pray for believers in Indonesia Muslim mobs last week set fire to buildings at a Christian–run university in the Maluku Islands, where at least 36 people died and more than 150 wounded in clashes between Christians and Muslims. (CharismaNOW)
We are looking for stories about what God is doing in the world, reports about the persecution of Christians, and information about significant trends and ministry opportunities. If you have a news item to report, please send an email
to the Informer.
- See other news to pray and praise God about in the Prayer Requests department below
Comments from Readers and Web Visitors
Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Thanks for your newsletter and website which provides a lot of encouraging information.
Hello, I just recently discovered your site and think your vision and purpose are marvelous. It's great to see a source of Biblically sound and balanced material from a pentecostal/charismatic/renewal perspective. I have the 3–volume set of Rodman's Renewal Theology and someday will go through all of it. But it's great to see all the good scholarship on your site.
I was wondering if back issues of the Pneuma Review could be purchased. I'd like to get one copy of each issue so that I have a complete set when I subscribe. Please let me know about availability and cost. I just became a member of the Pneuma Foundation tonight.
We're going through the 40 days of purpose campaign at our Church (starts this Sunday, but I've listened to Chapters 1–11 on audio already), and it's very, very good. It's helping me quite a bit, BUT—it has also been an opportunity to recall that to live out God's five purposes for my life will take Power—a power that I believe comes from being Spirit filled, not just indwelt by the Spirit. So, I will be delving into your site to gain more insight and power after the 40 Days of Purpose "Habit" is established so that the habit of living for God can be sustained in my life.
Thank you and God Bless You.
Response: Thank you for your encouragement. It is great to have partners like you with us in this vision of sharing and teaching the love, power, and forgiveness found only in Jesus Christ. Back issues are available; please write to Membership Services for more information and about our current specials.
I appreciate the work you are doing for the kingdom of God.
Thank you for your e–mail newsletter. Your reports are of immense help to me and my new ministry. I am happy to be a member of the Pneuma Foundation. Please keep in touch always.
Resources You Can Use
Fuller Theological Seminary will be bringing in healthcare professionals from throughout the world to host the 2004 Healthcare Missions Conference, Aug. 20–21. The conference, entitled "Calling the Church to a Healing Ministry," will have over 30 speakers from a variety of disciplines. Conference organizers hope it will inspire a diverse group of healthcare professionals, pastors, and missionaries within the church to work cooperatively to bring God's healing to the "least of these" (Matthew 25), equip Christians who are interested in physical, emotional and spiritual healing with practical tools to implement personal and church–based healthcare responses, as well as to network, to be informed of opportunities to serve and to become aware of relevant programs. Prior to the conference, Peter Yorgin, M.D. and Doug McConnell, PhD will be offering a one–week intensive course on Healthcare in Missions. If you would like to register for the course, prior to the conference, and are not presently a student at Fuller, contact their admissions office at (800)AFULLER or http://www.fuller.edu.
For more information on the conference go to: http://www.fuller.edu/cll/ce/healthcaremissions.asp.
Thanks for Brigada Today for information on this resource. http://www.brigada.org
Audio/Video Resource suggestion from one of our readers
"You probably have this one already. It seems that the resources are mostly non–charismatic. There's quite a bit from Walter Martin, especially a 12–part audio series on Hermeneutics Link suggestion:" http://www.blueletterbible.org/audio_video.html
More Audio Resources for Ministry
Audio Scriptures International in California is urging thousands of additional churches to observe an annual Talking Bible Sunday. For churches doing a Talking Bible Sunday, ASI provides a carefully prepared packet of information, including a short video and a FREE Talking Bible to demonstrate and then to keep for use in its own care–giving ministry. This makes it easy for any church to observe a Talking Bible Sunday. For more information point your internet browser to: http://www.audioscriptures.org
Thanks for Brigada Today for information on this resource. http://www.brigada.org
Global Recordings Network (GRN) has produced evangelistic recordings in over 5500 languages and dialects.
These are available to mission agencies, Church mission committees and individuals around the world to reach the unreached with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Many of the recordings are also accompanied by sets of pictures to help the non–reader to better understand the Bible teachings. Check the Language Catalogue on their web site to find out what materials are available in each language. Go to http://www.gospelrecordings.com
Thanks for Brigada Today for information on this resource. http://www.brigada.org
Pneuma Foundation Financial Needs
Please pray about God's provision for these needs:
- Cost of mailing the Pneuma Review to international ministries that have been sponsored by the Foundation. These ministries regularly express their appreciation for the journal, but the finances to continue this effort do not currently exist.
- Costs associated with upgrading the Foundation website. Upgrading the server, changing the email server, purchasing sufficient backup services and servers, and transitioning to pneumafoundation.org without losing traffic to pneumafoundation.com.
- Finances and volunteers to organize a thank you party for all of our volunteers. We need to express our appreciation to all of the volunteers that help with the Foundation and celebrate our accomplishments.
- Annual Bulk Mail fee. For the Pneuma Foundation to send Bulk Mail, there is an annual fee of $150 that must be paid.
- Upgrading the membership database. The cost of software to begin upgrading the membership database will be about $200. This will allow extensive revision and make interacting with the new web site server much more manageable.
I Cry at Weddings, Don't You?
by H. Murray Hohns
June is the month to get married. I don't know why but it's true. I've learned some important things about marriage, mostly the hard way by doing it wrong. You see, I reached 50 years of marriage a few months ago; unfortunately it took me three wives to achieve this accomplishment. My current marriage has lasted more than 20 years.
As a pastor I also have the privilege of perform marriages from time to time. In that role, I share the things I learned about this institution both from scripture and from experience. Since this is our favorite month to become a bride and a groom, I decided to write a little of what I have learned.
It all turns around a scripture found in Genesis 3:16. This is part of the passage where God tells the serpent, the woman and the man the consequences they each will face for their participation in eating the forbidden fruit from one tree in the Garden of Eden.
One translation of this scripture renders this portion of this verse directed to the woman as "your desire will be for your husband and he will rule over you." Later verses in the books of Ephesians and Colossians also give the husband a similar role.
I realize that these are not popular words in today's thinking, but they are part of scripture and deserve consideration along with other passages that tell us that the man and woman who marry are to cleave together and become one flesh, and that this wonderful complete couple they can become is the desire of God.
Now rule is a regal term. It has to do with monarchy, kingdoms and dominion. The husband is to be the family King, but he is to be a Godly King—the Godly King of his domain. Letty Russell, a respected proponent of feminist theology for many years at Harvard University Divinity School coined an appropriate phrase that dealt with one type of reign. She said, "Too often dominion becomes domination" and in those five words lie the secret to being wonderfully or tragically married.
God's desire is that the husband rule over his wife by overwhelming her with his concern for her, by showing her approval and gratitude for all the things that she adds to his life, by being willing to die for her and to constantly show her that she is the most important person on this earth. Wise husbands realize that they are to care for the women God has given them by putting wife first and husband last in every situation. A good king serves his subjects and cares for them, not himself. He does not rule over them with a firm hand expecting respect. No! He looks out for them, he rules with an outstretched hand that signals warmth and welcome. Then real respect follows and endures.
I learned that my wife loves my rulership since she knows after twenty years that she can trust me to do what is best for her because I finally learned that this was the way God made us to function best.
June is the month we celebrate marriage. If you understand God's urgings how you are to cleave together and become one flesh, I can promise you that every day will be delightful and your delight will be in your beloved, the mate God chose for you. Even more wonderful, it's never too late to try it God's way.
H. Murray Hohns is a retired civil engineer and technical writer. He lives with his wife in Hawaii where he serves as an elder–at–large at Hawaii's largest congregation.
Thoughts to Ponder
"In reaction to modernism's radical individualism and lack of emphasis on group identities, the recent rise of postmodernism has helped to regain an appreciation for both the corporate dimension of the self and the influence of one's group or interpretive community on the interpretive process.
"Without embracing a relativistic understanding of texts and meaning, we should nevertheless be far more sensitive and healthily self–conscious about our interpretive assumptions. These assumptions are a major factor in the interpretive process, and we can no longer pretend that they do not exist. Rather, we should accept their existence as a very real part of our finite human experience. Nowhere is this truer than in the interpretation of very ancient and culturally distant texts like the Bible. This does not place the understanding of these texts beyond our reach. But it does demand a stronger emphasis on understanding those means that bridge these temporal and cultural gaps—that is, the genres of the Bible and the generic conceptions of each Biblical book and its various sections."
– Walt Russell
"Often the church has been guilty of a cheap benevolence that wants only to help the poor, but isn't willing to know them. At times we have strayed far from the example of the Good Samaritan, who did not toss canned goods and a tract at the wounded traveler along the Jericho road. He dirtied his hands as he bandaged the man's wounds. True mercy is, as church father Gregory of Nyssa taught many centuries ago, 'a voluntary sorrow that joins itself to the suffering of another.' "[The poor give us gifts]...but these blessings come to us only through an entanglement of our lives with the lives of people in need. [We are enriched] through a relational, holistic ministry. "Humility...faith...compassionate witness...satisfaction...worship...and supplicants' chance to become contributors rather than mere receivers [are gifts of holistic ministry]."
– Amy Sherman in "Loving Our Neighbor's Welfare" (Enrichment, Spring 2004, Vol 9, No 2, pages 50–56)
"What is the greatest crime in the desert?"
"Finding water and keeping silent."
– Arab proverb
"It makes a great difference in our feelings towards others if their needs and their joys are on our lips in prayer; as also it makes a vast difference in their feelings towards us if they know that we are in the habit of praying for them. There is no chasm in society that cannot be firmly and permanently bridged by intercession; there is no feud or dislike that cannot be healed by the same exercise of love."
– Charles H. Brent
Excerpts from the Pneuma Review
The Pneuma Review is a quarterly printed journal of ministry resources and theology for Pentecostal and charismatic ministries and leaders.
For more information about the Pneuma Review, and to learn how to subscribe, click here.
There is also subscription information further on in this newsletter.
From "Rightly Understanding God's Word: More Principles of Context" by Craig S. Keener
. . .
Anticontext methods to avoid
One must be very careful with word–studies, and should entirely avoid the usual sort of word–study sermons: These are equivalent to preaching from a dictionary rather than from the Bible! Thus some ministers preach on the different "kinds" of love in different passages, agapao
love versus phileo
love. But the distinction between these two "kinds" of love had virtually disappeared by the New Testament period, so they are often (probably even usually) used interchangeably! Tracing all the uses of a particular word in the Bible is helpful for finding out the different ways that word can be used. It should never form a sermon outline, however (the exception might be some passages in Proverbs), because that is preaching from a concordance rather than from a text studied in its context.
One should also avoid determining the meaning of words by their etymologies. That is, you cannot break a word down into its component parts and always come up with its meaning, and you usually cannot determine the meaning a word has by looking at how it was used centuries earlier or how the word originated. For a contemporary example, if one of my students called me a "nice professor," they might intend it as a compliment. But if I were committed to understanding words according to their origins, I could grow very angry. In English, "nice" is a friendly term; but its Latin source means "ignorant" or "foolish." So I could misunderstand someone calling me "nice" as that person calling me "ignorant"! We know that English does not work that way, and we should not expect ancient languages to work that way, either.
For example, some take the Greek word for "repent," metanoieo
, and divide it into two parts, of which the second, noieo
, is related to thinking. Therefore, they say, "repent" simply means a change of mind. The problem with this interpretation is that the meaning of words is determined by their usage, not by their origins! The New Testament generally uses "repent" not in the Greek sense of "changing one's mind" but in the sense of "turn" in the Old Testament prophets: a radical turning of our lives from sin to God's righteousness.
Another example of this problem occurs when interpreters speak of the Church as the "called–out ones" based on the Greek word for church, ekklesia
. We are, to be sure, "called–out," but we know that for other reasons, not because we can determine that from ekklesia. Some divide ekklesia
, meaning "out of," and kaleo
, which means "call." But ekklesia
had already been used by Greeks for centuries to mean an "assembly" or "gathering"; Jewish people who knew Greek spoke of the congregation of Israel in the wilderness as God's ekklesia
. So the New Testament does not make up a new word to call Christians the "called–out–ones"; rather, it uses a standard term for an assembly, and probably the first Christians thought especially of God's own assembly in the Old Testament, his people.
People can twist Greek the way they can twist English, the Hausa language, or anything else. When Jehovah's Witnesses claim that John 1:1 calls Jesus "a God" because there is no definite article ("the") in front of "God," they neglect several factors. I will briefly summarize two of those. First, "God" does not always have a definite article in John's Gospel. The God who sent John the Baptist does not have a definite article (Jn 1:6), but Jehovah's Witnesses never say he was simply "a god." Second, grammatically "God" is a predicate nominative in "the Word was God," and predicate nominatives usually omit definite articles. Even without moving any further, we can see that the Jehovah's Witness interpretation here is based on a lack of knowledge of Greek.
Some people speak of zoe
as the "God–kind–of–life," but zoe
refers to human life just as easily. Some misinterpret Greek grammar, claiming that "faith of God" must mean "the God–kind–of–faith"; it could mean that, but in context probably means "faith in God." Some claim that "now" in Hebrews 11:1 means present–tense "now;" but the Greek term in that passage means "but" or "and." Someone once claimed to me that Christians would all become Christ, because he would come with "ten–thousands of himself" in Jude 14. The person's error was simple–"ten–thousands of him" is the appropriate way to say in Greek, "ten–thousands belonging to him"–but it led them into a serious doctrinal error. Although there may be some exceptions, when someone comes up with an interpretation based on Greek or Hebrew that contradicts what one would have thought from reading the rest of the Bible, they may be reading into the Greek or the Hebrew something that is not there. It is helpful to learn Greek and Hebrew for yourself, but if you cannot, sticking with a couple good translations is usually safe.
The most common anticontext method is practiced by cults like Jehovah's Witnesses but is also widespread in churches of most denominations. We read into the text what we already expect to find there, because of our doctrine or because of how we have heard a story told! How often have we read a Bible story only to realize that part of the story we always heard is not in that passage? How often have we read our doctrine (maybe even a correct doctrine, supported by other texts) into a text or texts that did not really address the issue? When this happens, Christians from different groups can no longer use the Bible as a common basis for seeking truth, because we are all "sure" of our own interpretations, which we sometimes cannot defend from context! It is important to respect the Bible enough to let it speak for itself. If our doctrine is not in a passage, we do not need to read it in; our doctrine is probably in some other passage–or else respect for the Bible's authority may require us to fix our doctrine. In this way we are open to fresh discoveries in the Bible each time we study it. At the same time, this does not mean that we throw away everything we have already learned and start with nothing each day. We build on what we have already learned, and go back and change particular interpretations only as we study the text as honestly as possible and find a need to change. This way we can also dialogue with other honest Christians around the Scriptures.
. . .
- Read the rest of this article in the Summer 2004 issue of the Pneuma Review.
Encountering the Holy Spirit: Paths of Christian Growth and Service. French L. Arrington. Pathway Press (Cleveland, TN: 2003), 546 pages.
One hundred and four years ago (as of the time of this writing), two births took place: the birth of the twentieth century, and the birth of the Pentecostal movement. And in a little more than a century, that movement has become a global phenomenon, growing in size to the point where more than half of all Christians worldwide consider themselves to be Pentecostal/charismatics. This growth has helped to reawaken interest in and exploration of the person and work of the Holy Spirit, and Arrington's new book is a welcome addition to that exploration. The recently retired professor of New Testament Greek and Exegesis at the Church of God Theological Seminary, Dr. Arrington expresses the importance of the Third Person of the Trinity very succinctly: "The critical element to the life, vitality and growth of the Christian church has been, and remains, the presence and power of the Spirit" (p. 19).
Arrington, no stranger to Pentecostal scholarship, presents us with an excellent volume on the subject of pneumatology, focusing mainly on the work of the Spirit in each believer, as well as in the local congregation and the Body of Christ as a whole. This focus occurs in an examination of seven main (and fairly comprehensive) topics (p. 20):
1. The Spirit in the Old Testament.
2. The Spirit's role in conversion and the Christian walk.
3. Baptism in the Holy Spirit.
4. The relationship of glossolalia to baptism in the Spirit.
5. The results of baptism in the Spirit.
6. The gifts of the Spirit.
7. The challenge of living the Spirit–filled life in the church and in the world.
He concludes his book with a chapter filled with accounts of individuals' experiences with the Spirit.
Recognizing the controversies that the topic of pneumatology creates within Christian scholarship, Arrington is careful to keep his theology based firmly upon the Word of God. He defends the Pentecostal distinctives of the theology of the Spirit very well, while at the same time giving his discussions a feeling of simplicity, in such a way that it is almost like sitting down face to face with him for a friendly Bible study. His style is exhortational and encouraging, rather than preachy or confrontational.
Some unique facets of Arrington's book would make it well suited for class settings (as well as individual study). He includes a summary at the end of each chapter, along with helpful tables of information summarizing the contents of the chapter, and study/discussion questions. He has a talent for taking the main points and presenting them in a manner that aids in memory and referencing. Encountering the Holy Spirit would make a great textbook for any Sunday school or Bible school class on the subject of the work of the Spirit.
The only two criticisms I would offer are not really criticisms, but observations. First, I felt that Arrington's apologetics of the Pentecostal theology of the baptism of the Spirit could have been filled out more (especially in a volume dedicated to describing the work of the Holy Spirit). As a Pentecostal reading the book, I found myself developing unanswered questions that a non–Pentecostal may also have in mind. (However, I do recognize that Arrington's book is not meant to be an exclusively apologetic work, but rather a systematic introduction to the work of the Spirit. Perhaps he may consider a more defensive work in the future.)
Second, his chapter on the personal testimonies of individuals could have been shortened, while still possessing the same edifying qualities. His desire to present multiple testimonies for the various works of the Spirit resulted in some seemingly repetitive and redundant stories. Perhaps giving one testimony for each work of the Spirit may have been a possibility for consideration in preparing this chapter.
All in all, Arrington's new book is one I would heartily recommend to any Pentecostal or charismatic believer who desires to gain a more complete understanding of how the Spirit works in the life of the Christian and the church. I pray that Brother Arrington continues to be used by the same Spirit for years to come in providing us with wonderfully edifying works.
Reviewed by Mike Knowles
- Marie Wedge, sister–in–law to Pneuma Review book and periodical review editor Mike Dies, is preparing to go to Sudan as a missionary and teacher. Please uphold her in prayer for God's protection and favor in this volatile society in which she will be ministering.
- Pray for believers in Bhutan: Police recently raided three house churches. No arrests were made on April 11, following Easter Sunday services, but church members were warned to stop meeting together in Sarpang District, located in the country's southern region, Compass Direct reported.
However, three pastors and one elder were asked to report daily to the local police station. Officials also reprimanded the homeowners and warned them not to allow their homes to be used as worship facilities.
Police told the believers that their meetings were viewed as "terrorist activities" by the Bhutanese government. The raids seem to confirm a growing crackdown against Christian activity in the Southern Asia nation, located between China and India, Compass reported.
Officially, Christianity does not exist in Bhutan, where Buddhism is the official religion. It is illegal for Christians to gather for public worship.
The country is still recovering from a border conflict that broke out between the Royal Bhutan Army and the United Liberation Front of Assam in December. Believers say persecution may increase as a result of the conflict.
"We need your prayer support and words of encouragement," a source told Compass. "Please do pray for all the believers in Bhutan, that we would remain faithful and strong in Jesus."
Source: CharismaNOW http://www.charismanow.com/a.php?ArticleID=9116 Used with permission.
- Please remember the De Haan family in prayer. Marge De Haan passed away on May 10, after a struggle with cancer. Marge was the widow of Bible teacher Richard De Haan, and mother of Radio Bible Class (RBC Ministries) president, Mart De Haan.
- A Pentecostal pastor in Poland asks for prayer for an evangelistic outreach this summer: "We work with youth people in prison and have a clinic in our church. God is strong and He opened closed doors! Alleluja. We have evangelizations plans this summer. It will a big and holy time in our KANAAN, because the last evangelization was in Namyslow 10 years ago. Please, pray for this time in our city. We need your encouragement and Gods Hand! Please, pray for us, because we are in big spiritual battle. Thank you very much for all you do. God bless you!"
- Richard Twiss of Wiconi International writes: "I am disappointed to report that due to finances, the entire Canadian / Egyptian cultural exchange concert in Cairo has been cancelled. There were problems on the Egypt end and at the last minute they were forced to cancel. They are trying to reschedule later in the year. Our team was looking forward to presenting Christ in this Muslim country through our traditional First Nations dance and music. ... during our Pakistan trip two years ago, we saw 4800 people come to faith in Jesus Christ. I spoke with a Iranian Christian leader today who heads one of the most fruitful ministries in that nation about taking a Dancing Our Prayers Team to Iran. In the next eighteen months we will be in Iran!" www.wiconi.com
- Remember the family of Loly Liverance after her death on May 27, and new residence in the presence of the Lord. Remember especially her husband Howard and their sons John and Howie. Howard serves as the European director for RBC Ministries and is a voice for Pentecostal/charismatic believers in this well–known Bible teaching ministry.
- Pastor AJ in India writes: "My orphan street kids are suffering from lack of food and clothes. Please pray for them." Reference Number: 90011816
- Pneuma Foundation helps create a unique reunion: A visitor to the Foundation's website found an article by a relative he had not had contact with in over three decades. This individual then wrote to our Member Service Representatives to learn of how to contact this cousin. The author of the article wrote back a few days later: "I have heard nothing from anyone in his family since 1969. Thanks for putting us back in touch." The Internet, the Pneuma Foundation, and 35 years came together to provide a family reunion that might not otherwise have ever occurred. Praise God for opportunities to serve.
- Joe Joslin, a contributing editor to the Pneuma Review, wishes to express thanks for prayer after his wife Kim was in an accident and their car was totaled. The vehicle has now been replaced, and they received a good deal when they bought it.