Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Meditations of a Book-ophile

Dr Sam Storms wrote an extremely stimulating article on his "bottom 10" list - the ten books that he has read or reviewed and found most harmful; http://samstorms.com/article2.asp?id=572 - I am very concious that a lot of what I have written can be construed as somewhat negative or critical - therefore (as yet) I will resist that temptation to join him as enjoyable as that seems. I particularly enjoyed his description of John MacArthur's hideous book; "Charismatic Chaos". He wrote:

“Charismatic Chaos,” by John MacArthur (Zondervan). I have tremendous respect for MacArthur and cherish him as a brother in Christ. But this book is bad. It takes the worst in the Pentecostal-Charismatic world (and yes, there are some pretty bad things in that world) and portrays them as typical of charismatics in general. His arguments for cessationism and against the contemporary validity of so-called miraculous spiritual gifts is extremely weak. But I want to say again how much I appreciate most of the other books MacArthur has written.

So this list is my top ten favourite books that I have recently read:

1. "Joy Unspeakable" by Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones (Kingsway).

This book was crucial in providing the most solid foundation to my experience of receiving the baptism of the Spirit. As yet I have not read a book that proves the Doctor was wrong - therefore here I stand! Not only does he prove that historical event, but he goes on to gloriously urge for fillings of the Spirit and indeed the greater work of revival which he understands as a mass baptism of the Spirit - which I also believe.

2. "Does the Future Have a Church?" by Terry Virgo (Kingsway).

An absolutely outstanding book which is exegetical in outlook going through Ephesians 2 - 4. It paints a glorious canopy of the Church - the Bride of Jesus Christ. In the face of church closure, in the face of the multitude of church failures we are justified in asking - does the church have a future? Terry goes through carefully and biblically showing that not only does the church have a future, but it is a glorious one in which Jesus shall reign and rule through His people!

3. "God's Radiant Church" by John Hosier (Kingsway.

Similar yet radically different to the above. Hosier has penned the best "Systematic Theology for New Frontiers" that is possible. It is packed full of the doctrines and truths that we hold and love. He covers grace - restoration - revival - spiritual gifts - apostles. There is truly something for everyone who believes that the church should be somewhat more than the disgrace it is at the moment. Together with Virgo's book - these two tomes will transform your view of church life forever!!

4. "When I don't desire God - how to fight for joy" by John Piper.

Sam Storms describes this book as; "getting a desire you don't have and can't create". It has touched the very heart of what is the problem with most churches and most Christians. As Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote in his "Spiritual Depression" - miserable Christians are a disgrace to the gospel of Jesus Christ and are essentially an extremely poor witness. As are miserable churches. We do not want a flippant and inane grin on the other hand! What both Dr's Piper and Lloyd-Jones were seeking is a deep, glorious joy in the beauty of God.

What particuarly scratches where I itch is that Piper wrecks the notion that such joy is to be found in modern paper-backs and easy believism. He writes:

'I would challenge you to throw off the notion that weighty books of doctrine are joy-squelching, while light devotional books are joy-producing. It's true that the joy of serious reading and the thinking that goes with it (sometimes called study) may not be as immediate as the joy of singing in church, or seeing a sunset, or talking with a friend, or hearing a preacher with lots of stories. But the payload for joy may be greater. Raking is easier than digging, but you only get leaves. If you dig you may get diamonds' (emphasis mine).

5. "Showing the Spirit - A theological exposition of 1 Corinthians 12 - 14" by Dr D A Carson.

Cessationism is dead.

The only disappointment is his (like many other theologians who can't allow for a distinct experience of the Holy Spirit after conversion) obsession with 1 Corinthians 12:13. Read Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones on it! This verse has NOTHING to do with the baptism of the Spirit!

6. "The Gift of Prophecy" by Dr Wayne Grudem.

The most amazingly deep examination of the gift of prophecy ever written. It is truly exhaustive and surely should be on all prophets and pastors desks. Dr Kenneth Gentry attempted a refutation of this book but for all the excellent promise he usually shows in his writings, did not manage it - quite.

7. "A God Entranced Vision of All Things - the legacy of Jonathan Edwards" - edited by John Piper and Justin Taylor.

The Desiring God Ministries Conference held in 2004 put into print. Not only is this an absolutely rich and deep insight into one of the greatest Puritan/Revivalist/Reformers in the 18th century, but it also gathers together a whole host of essays from the foremost academics and writers in the world. We are privy to a treasure trove of men devoted to the glory and beauty and wonder of God - who's passionate desire is that we encounter the God Edwards loved and adored through Edwards and his writings.

8. Volume 4 of the Works of Dr John Owen; "On Mortification of Sin". (Banner of Truth).

C S Lewis said that to avoid academic snobbery, every third book that one reads should be outside his century. Therefore in adhering to that rule I very often find myself going to Dr John Owen and his works. They are exhaustive - yet one never can exhaust them. Volume 4 is one of the most easy to read because Owen's pastor's heart really shines through in his desire for men to mortify the flesh. There is even a hint of "Christian hedonism" shining through for the careful readers. Well worth the work.

9. "God's Passion for His Glory" by Dr John Piper.

This book is kind of a cheat because you get Jonathan Edwards hidden among John Piper - two greats together for the price of one book. Piper's amazing academic skills are evident in the republishing of this most important work of Jonathan Edwards. You can see his love and respect for Edwards in his biographical statements as well as the evidence of a long walk with the great man. But the Edwards work itself is just amazing - each page takes you deeper and deeper into God and a desire just grows to know God more as you learn about the end for which God created the world.

10. "The Sermons of Dr Stanley Jebb".

I am kind of cheating on this one too because these are audiotapes I am talking about. Yet they are worthy of book format. In leaving West St (my home church) I was fortunate enough to take about fifty sermon tapes of my former pastor Dr Jebb with me. Each of his sermons are masterful in his understanding of the Word of God. He is vigilent to get to the bottom of the text yet each sermon is undergirded with deep passionate prayer and a desire to show his people something more of the God that he also loves. On the academic side I do not think there is a more outstanding preacher in the UK today - he is a doctor of theology and well deserves it. On the spiritual side, each sermon is exhaustive and also never exhausted. I always learn something new about his text when I've finished listening to it.

Friday, August 26, 2005


They do say you find quotes in the most unlikely of places. I was watching the new Channel 4 thriller, "Lost" the other day and two of the characters were in conversation. And one of them came out with this profound quote:


Think about it ...

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

A Rapidly Diminishing Fire.

So C J Mahaney preached at John MacArthur's church in California on Sunday.


Ligon Duncan is pretty excited about it: "In my opinion, that is a sign of good things quietly astir in the evangelical and Reformed community today - new networks of friendship, kinship in the truth and cooperation in ministry. And it's something you wouldn't have guessed twenty years ago".

But I take a different line on it. C J Mahaney and SGM have prided themselves on being both Reformed and Charismatic, yet even in the 2 years that I spent mixing in their circles I noticed a definite but subtle shift in emphasis so that the "Reformed" track became stronger and stronger - and the charismatic less and less. Key points were the release of Jeff Purswell's paper on the Baptism of the Holy Spirit - highly acclaimed by Mahaney. They used to hold to a second blessing theology - now they don't hold to any. Or in other words churches can believe what they like. The aim of this was to make Reformed churches more happy to join SGM.

And now this. John MacArthur may be an admirable man and indeed I enjoy some of his books but he is still a vehement anti-charismatic. Doesn't it intrigue the reader that he would allow Mahaney into his pulpit? Such a man would strike me as being highly protective of his pulpit and would ONLY allow someone who he totally trusted - so it seems that MacArthur would detect nothing of Mahaney's "charismatic" emphasis at all. Hence Sunday.

Now this isn't a problem - if Mahaney and SGM want to be Reformed and anti-charismatic as they seem to be drifting, that is fine. They are still brothers in Christ - we still stand around the one and same Gospel. But doesn't anyone seem to appreciate that the Holy Spirit IS the dynamic of the Gospel they hold to? My feelings are that Mahaney doesn't have a true apostolic gift because my understanding of modern apostles are that they father and found - C J Mahaney on the other hand strikes one as easily persuaded and affected by those he spends much time with.

My prediction - and it isn't a prophecy is that within a few years SGM won't have that "charismatic emphasis" (whatever that is) that they cling to and will be resolutely Reformed and possibly anti-charismatic.

Friday, August 19, 2005

The Gift of Prophecy

One of the highlights of attending the Life in the Spirit Conference 2005 was hearing Dr Sam Storms preach on the gift of prophecy - it was Word and Spirit personified in my opinion. Not only did he bring a clear exposition of some key texts but afterwards ministered in power. However the one fascinating verse that he mentioned but didn't quite explain satisfactorily to me was 1 Timothy1:18 the focal point being: that BY THEM you fight the good fight.

By what? By the prophecies given to him!!Clear as crystal! So i am arguing that if we forget the words given us, if we ignore the words given us or if we deny prophecy is for today we will not fight as effective a fight as we should!! Why is this so important?

Well 1. Prophecy reminds me that i am significant!

We are all good at remembering not tothink of ourselves more highly than we ought. That has been my particular experience. My home church and indeed the SGM church I used to attend specialised in telling us that we should not think of ourselves more highly than we ought. Indeed quite often they would remind us that we are far worse than we think. That is a correct observation in part because the follow through is that it opens up the pure grace of God and the marvel and wonder of 'sins forgiven and conscience cleansed'. But i suspect some of us are not so good at remembering by the grace of God i am what i am!! That too is a verse in the Bible! What about the fact that because of His great love for us God chose us before the foundation of the world that we should be regenerated, justified, sanctified and glorified? Prophecy tells us who we are! It tells us that God has turned the smile of His favour upon us!

2. Prophecy tells us we have a future of hope!

In His supreme sovereignity only God truly knows every step of the future. It is cloudy to us as that great Jedi Master Yoda would say. Yet from time to time He will draw back the veil and speak inprophecy to say, This is the way - walk ye in it.Pilgrim was taken up a number of mountains on hisjourney and shown the way ahead, especially the Delectable Mountains where he saw the celestial city. I think this speaks of the insight that the gift of prophecy brings! Surely this tied to vision will inspire us to those acts of faith! There is no song I love to sing more than that glorious New Frontiers song; "We will meet Him in the air! Then we will be like Him!". How can we truly grasp that truth without glimpses and tastes of that amazing future to come without the gift of prophecy?

3rdly Prophecy tells us of the Fathers passion for us.

In the poem Footprints he looked and saw one set of prints. Yet it was only when Jesus spoke that he understood. He was being carried! And sometimes our experience can mirror that of the one in the poem. We look back in our lives through the toughest experiences of all time that we know and see only one set of footprints. That is where I am at the moment. I look back and see how I was "disfellowshipped" from a church that carries the banner "grace" over it and still don't quite understand why it happened - I see only one set of footprints. My only crime was to be honest about my struggles. Yet I strongly believe that in time God will speak and explain in part. Even if He doesn't - then I will understand on that great and glorious day and to that end I have to be content.

I believe New Frontiers demonstrate each of these points so well. They have remembered prophecies from the past that have given them an insight into the future. That have spoken of their significance in their mission and how the Father is passionate bout them!! If it is true for them, how also for us! Yes some prophecies are instantly applicable and beneficial. But i think many need to be truly weighed and allowed to sink deep into our soulsand bear fruit! Thats why i have made a practice ofwriting down every prophecy given to me - right back to when i was dedicated by Alex Buchanan!! You neverknow when a word given will be given a NOW activation from heaven!! so in closing i would urge you not to beswift in writing off any words you may have given or words to you. You never know when it will make sense and fire your spirit into a furnace!! I wonder if theone thing we could learn is not to be hasty in putting time limits that we give to people. That isnt a problem! But lets be sure our time frame matches Gods!!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Holy Spirit Bibliography

While we are on the subject of the Holy Spirit ... a complete and utter favourite of mine by the way. My best friend and soulmate Scott became a Christian at the Brighton Leaders Conference 2005 and got baptised in the Spirit that night - my evangelising to him was somewhat avant garde - he knew about the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts and revival before he knew about Jesus Christ and His death and resurrection .... oops.

I've compiled a bibliography of some of my favourite books or ones that I have most referred to on every subject possible about the Holy Spirit. Worth making note of for further study!


Barron, Bruce. The Health and Wealth Gospel. Downers Grove: Inter-Varsity Press, 1987.

Baxter, J. Sidlow. Divine Healing of the Body. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1979.

Blue, Ken. Authority to Heal. Downers Grove: Inter-Varsity Press, 1987.

Bosworth, F. F. Christ the Healer. Old Tappan: Fleming H. Revell, 1973.

Brand, Paul, with Yancey, Philip. ?A Surgeon's View of Divine Healing.? Christianity Today, November 25, 1983, 14-21.

Brown, Michael L. Israel's Divine Healer. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995.*

Capps, Charles. Paul?s Thorn in the Flesh. Dallas: Word of Faith, 1983.

Clapp, Rodney. ?Faith Healing: A Look at What's Happening.? Christianity Today, December 16, 1983, 12-17.

Colson, Charles. ?My Cancer and the Good Health Gospel.? Christianity Today, April 3, 1987, 56.

Copeland, Gloria. And Jesus Healed Them All. Ft. Worth: KCP 1984.

_____. God's Will For Your Healing. Ft. Worth: Kenneth Copeland Ministries, 1972.

Dunkerley, Don. Healing Evangelism: Strenghening Your Witnessing with Effective Prayer for the Sick. Grand Rapids: Chosen Books, 1995.*

Fee, Gordon D. The Disease of the Health and Wealth Gospels. Costa Mesa, Calif: The Word for Today, 1979.

Fisk, Samuel. Divine Healing Under the Searchlight. Schaumburg, Ill.: Regular Baptist Press, 1978.

Frost, Henry W. Miraculous Healing. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1972.

Gardner, Rex. Healing Miracles: A Doctor Investigates. London: Darton, Longman, and Todd, 1986.*

Glennon, Jim. Your Healing Is Within You. Plainfield, NJ: Logos International, 1980.

Hagin, Kenneth E. Healing Belongs to Us. Tulsa: Faith Library, 1969.

_____. The Key to Scriptural Healing. Tulsa: Faith Library, 1983.

_____. Seven Things You Should Know About Divine Healing. Tulsa: Faith Library 1979.

Harper, Michael. The Healings of Jesus. Downers Grove: Inter- Varsity Press, 1986.*

Harrel, David Edwin. All Things Are Possible: The Healing and Charismatic Revivals in Modern America. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1975.*

Hayes, Norvel. How to Live and Not Die. Tulsa: Harrison House, 1986.

Jeter Hugh. By His Stripes: A Biblical Study on Divine Healing. Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, 1977.

Kee, Howard C. Medicine, Miracle, and Magic in New Testament Times. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986.

Kelsey, Morton T. Healing and Christianity: In Ancient Thought and Modern Times. New York: Harper and Row, 1973.

Kreeft, Peter. Making Sense Out of Suffering. Ann Arbor: Servant, 1986.

Kurtz, Paul. ?Does Faith-Healing Work?" Free Inquiry 6 (Spring 1986):30-36.

_____. "W. V. Grant?s Faith-Healing Act Revisited.? Free Inquiry 6 (Summer 1986):12-13.

Lawrence, Roy. Christian Healing Rediscovered: A Guide to Spiritual, Mental, Physical Wholeness. Downers Grove: Inter-Varsity Press, 1980.

Lewis, David C. Healing: Fiction, Fantasy or Fact? London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1989.*

McConnell, D. R. A Different Gospel: A Historical and Biblical Analysis of the Modern Faith Movement. Peabody: Hendrickson, 1988.

McCrossan, T J. Bodily Healing and the Atonement. Re-ed. Ray Hicks and Kenneth E. Hagin. Tulsa: Faith Library, 1982 [1903].

MacNutt, Francis. Healing. Creation House: Altamonte Springs, 1988.*

Masters, Peter. The Healing Epidemic. London: The Wakeman Trust, 1988.

Mayhue, Richard. Divine Healing Today. Chicago: Moody Press, 1983.

_____. The Healing Promise. Eugene: Harvest House, 1994.

Nolen, William A. Healing: A Doctor in Search of a Miracle. New York: Random House, 1974.

Osborn, T L. Healing the Sick. Tulsa: Harrison House, 1959.

Packer, J. I. ?Poor Health May Be the Best Remedy.? Christianity Today,May 21, 1982, 14-26.

Pearson, Mark A. Christian Healing: A Practical, Comprehensive Guide. 2nd Edition. Grand Rapids: Chosen Books, 1995.

Pilch, John J. Healing in the New Testament: Insights from Medical and Mediterranean Anthropology. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2000.

Price, Frederick K. Is Healing for All? Tulsa: Harrison House, 1976.

Randi, James. ?'Be Healed in the Name of God!' An Expose of the Reverend W. V. Grant.? Free Inquiry 6 (Spring 1986):8-19.

_____. ?Peter Popoff Reaches Heaven via 39.17 Megahertz." Free Inquiry 6 (Summer 1986):6-7.

_____. "W V. Grant?s ?Leg-Stretching Trick.? Free Inquiry 6 (Spring 1986):16.

Reisser, Paul C., Reisser, Teri K., and Weldon, John. The Holistic Healers: A Christian Perspective on New-Age Health Care. Downers Grove: Inter-Varsity Press, 1983.

Schafersman, Steven. ?Peter Popoff: Miracle Worker or Scam Artist?? Free Inquiry 6 (Summer 1986):8-9.

Seybold, Klaus and Mueller Ulrich B. Sickness and Healing. Nash- ville: Abingdon, 1981.

Simson, Eve. The Faith-Healers: Deliverance Evangelism in North America. St. Louis: Concordia, 1977.

Singer Philip. ?Grant?s ?Miracles?: A Follow-up.? Free Inquiry 6 (Spring 1986):22-23.

Sipley, Richard M. Understanding Divine Healing. Wheaton: Victor 1986.

Skinner, R. David. ?Is Healing in the Atonement? Or, The Question of Faith-Healing.? Mid-America Theological Journal 9 (Fall 1985):31-47.

Smedes, Lewis B., ed. Ministry and the Miraculous: A Case Study at Fuller Theological Seminary. Pasadena: Fuller Theological Seminary, 1987.

Steiner, Robert A. ?Behind the Scenes With Peter Popoff." Free Inquiry 6 (Summer 1986):10-11.

Tada, Joni Eareckson. A Step Further. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1978.*

Thomas, John Christopher. The Devil, Disease and Deliverance: Origins of Illness in New Testament Thought. Sheffield, England: Sheffield Academic Press, 1998.*

Urquhart, Colin. Receive Your Healing. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1986.

Vaux, Kenneth L. Health and Medicine in the Reformed Tradition: Promise, Providence, and Care. New York: Crossroad, 1984.

Wagner, C. Peter. How to Have a Healing Ministry Without Making Your Church Sick! Ventura: Regal, 1988.

Warrington, Keith. Jesus the Healer: Paradigm or Unique Phenomenon. Carlisle: Paternoster Press, 2000.*

Watson, David. Fear No Evil: One Man Deals With Terminal Illness. Wheaton: Harold Shaw 1984.*

Wilkinson, John. Health and Healing: Studies in New Testament Principles and Practice. Handsel Press, 1980.

Wimber, John. Power Healing. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1987.*


General Works on the
Person & Power of the Holy Spirit

Buchanan, James. The Office and Work of the Holy Spirit. London: Banner of Truth, 1966 (1843).

Carter, Charles Webb. The Person and Ministry of the Holy Spirit: A Wesleyan Perspective. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1974.

Congar, Yves. I Believe in the Holy Spirit. Translated by David Smith. New York: Crossroad Publishing, 1997 (three volumes in one).

Fee, Gordon D. God's Empowering Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Letters of Paul. Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1994.**

Green, Michael. I Believe in the Holy Spirit. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975.*

Heron, Alasdair I. C. The Holy Spirit. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1983.

Horton, Stanley M. What the Bible Says About the Holy Spirit. Springfield: Gospel Publishing House, 1976.

Inch, Morris A. The Saga of the Spirit: A Biblical, Systematic, and Historical Theology of the Holy Spirit. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1985.

Kuyper, Abraham. The Work of the Holy Spirit. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1973 (1900).

Montague, George T. Holy Spirit: Growth of a Biblical Tradition. Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1994 (1976).

Moule, C. F. D. The Holy Spirit. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1978.

Owen, John. A Discourse Concerning the Holy Spirit. The Works of John Owen, Vol. 3. Carlisle: Banner of Truth Trust, 1972 (1674).*

Pache, Rene. The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit. Chicago: Moody Press, 1954.

Packer, James I. Keep in Step with the Spirit. Old Tappan: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1984.*

Palmer, Edwin H. The Person and Ministry of the Holy Spirit: The Traditional Calvinistic Perspective. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1974 (1958).

Pinnock, Clark H. Flame of Love: A Theology of the Holy Spirit. Downers Grove: IVP, 1996.

Rea, John. The Holy Spirit in the Bible. Lake Mary: Creation House, 1990.

Ryrie, Charles C. The Holy Spirit. Chicago: Moody Press, 1965.

Smeaton, George. The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit. Carlisle: Banner of Truth Trust, 1974 (1882).

Sproul, R. C. The Mystery of the Holy Spirit. Wheaton: Tyndale House, 1990.

Swete, Henry Barclay. The Holy Spirit in the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1976 (1910).

Swindoll, Charles R. Flying Closer to the Flame. Dallas: Word Publishing, 1993.

Thomas, W. H. Griffith. The Holy Spirit of God. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1972 (1913).

Veli-Matti Karkkainen. Pneumatology: The Holy Spirit in Ecumenical, International, and Contextual Perspective. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2002.

Walvoord, John. The Holy Spirit. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1954.

Winslow, Octavius. The Work of the Holy Spirit. Carlisle: Banner of Truth Trust, 1991 (1840).

Wood, Leon J. The Holy Spirit in the Old Testament. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1976.

Works on the Holy Spirit in
the History of the Church

Burgess, Stanley M. The Holy Spirit: Eastern Christian Traditions. Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1989. *

Burgess, Stanley M. The Spirit & the Church: Antiquity. Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1984. *

Burgess, Stanley M. The Holy Spirit: Medieval , Roman Catholic and Reformation Traditions. Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1997. *

Kydd, Ronald. Charismatic Gifts in the Early Church. Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1984.

McDonnell, Kilian, and Montague, George T. Christian Initiation and Baptism in the Holy Spirit: Evidence from the First Eight Centuries. Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 1991.

Works on Spirit-Baptism

Bruner, Frederick Dale. A Theology of the Holy Spirit: The Pentecostal Experience and the New Testament Witness. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1977 (1970).

Dunn, James D. G. Baptism in the Holy Spirit: A Re-examination of the New Testament Teaching on the Gift of the Spirit in relation to Pentecostalism today. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1970.

Eaton, Michael A. Baptism with the Spirit: the teaching of Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Leicester: IVP, 1989.

Ervin, Howard M. Conversion-Initiation and the Baptism in the Holy Spirit: A Critique of James D. G. Dunn, Baptism in the Holy Spirit. Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1984.

Ervin, Howard M. Spirit-Baptism: A Biblical Investigation. Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1987 (1968).

Hoekema, Anthony. Holy Spirit Baptism. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1972.

Lederle, Henry I. Treasures Old and New: Interpretations of "Spirit-Baptism" in the Charismatic Renewal Movement. Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1988.*

Lloyd-Jones, Martyn. Joy Unspeakable: Power & Renewal in the Holy Spirit. Wheaton: Harold Shaw Publishers, 1984.*

McGee, Gary B., ed. Initial Evidence: Historical and Biblical Perspectives on the Pentecostal Doctrine of Spirit Baptism. Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1991.

Stott, John R. W. Baptism & Fullness: The Work of the Holy Spirit Today. Downers Grove: IVP, 1976 (1964).

Works on the Gifts of the Holy Spirit

Bridge, Donald, and Phypers, David. Spiritual Gifts & the Church. Scotland: Christian Focus Publications, 1995 (1973).

Carson, Donald A. Showing the Spirit: A Theological Exposition of 1 Corinthians 12-14. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1987.*

Cartledge, Mark J. Practical Theology: Charismatic and Empirical Perspectives. Carlisle: Paternoster Press, 2003. *

Deere, Jack. Surprised by the Power of the Spirit. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1993.

_____. Surprised by the Voice of God. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996.

Gaffin, Richard B. Perspectives on Pentecost: Studies in New Testament Teaching on the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. Phillipsburg: Presbyterian & Reformed, 1979.

Grudem, Wayne, ed. Are Miraculous Gifts for Today: Four Views. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996.*

Hemphill, Kenneth S. Spiritual Gifts: Empowering the New Testament Church. Nashville: Broadman Press, 1988.

Keener, Craig S. Gift & Giver: The Holy Spirit for Today. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2001.

Lloyd-Jones, D. Martyn. The Sovereign Spirit: Discerning His Gifts. Wheaton: Harold Shaw Publishers, 1985.

Mallone, George. Those Controversial Gifts. Arlington: Grace Vineyard of Arlington, 1988.

Pytches, David. Spiritual Gifts in the Local Church. Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1985.

Ruthven, John. On the Cessation of the Charismata: The Protestant Polemic on Postbiblical Miracles. Sheffield, England: Sheffield Academic Press, 1993.

Schatzmann, Siegfried S. A Pauline Theology of Charismata. Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1987.

Turner, Max. The Holy Spirit and Spiritual Gifts: In the New Testament Church and Today (revised edition). Peabody: Hendrikson, 1998.

Wagner, C. Peter. Your Spiritual Gifts Can Help Your Church Grow. Ventura: Regal Books, 1994 (1979).

Works on the relationship of
the Holy Spirit to Jesus

Dunn, James D. G. Jesus and the Spirit: A Study of the Religious and Charismatic Experience of Jesus and the First Christians as Reflected in the New Testament. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1975.

Hawthorne, Gerald F. The Presence and the Power: The Significance of the Holy Spirit in the life and ministry of Jesus. Dallas: Word Publishing, 1991.

Works on the Holy Spirit
in the Writings of Luke

Menzies, Robert P. The Development of Early Christian Pneumatology with special reference to Luke-Acts. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1991.

Shelton, James B. Mighty in Word and Deed: The Role of the Holy Spirit in Luke-Acts. Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1991.

Stronstad, Roger. The Charismatic Theology of St. Luke. Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1984.

General Works on the Miraculous Ministry
of the Holy Spirit

Geisler, Norman. Signs and Wonders. Wheaton: Tyndale House, 1988.

Grieg, Gary S., and Springer, Kevin N. The Kingdom and the Power: Are Healing and the Spiritual Gifts Used by Jesus and the Early Church Meant for the Church Today? A Biblical Look at How to Bring the Gospel to the World with Power. Ventura: Regal Books, 1993.

White, John. When the Spirit Comes with Power: Signs & Wonders among God's People. Downers Grove: IVP, 1988.

Williams, Don. Signs, Wonders, and the Kingdom of God: A Biblical Guide for the Reluctant Skeptic. Ann Arbor: Servant Publications, 1989.

Wimber, John. Power Evangelism. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1986.

Works on the Charismatic and
Third Wave Renewal Movements

Cox, Harvey. Fire From Heaven: The Rise of Pentecostal Spirituality and the Reshaping of Religion in the Twenty-first Century. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley Publishing Co., 1994.

Grudem, Wayne. Power & Truth: A Response to the Critiques of Vineyard Teaching and Practice by D. A. Carson, James Montgomery Boice, and John H. Armstrong in Power Religion. Anaheim: Association of Vineyard Churches, 1993.

Hocken, Peter. Streams of Renewal: The Origins and Early Development of the Charismatic Movement in Great Britain. Exeter: Paternoster Press, 1986.

Hocken, Peter. The Glory and the Shame: Reflections on the 20th Century outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Guildford, Surrey: Eagle Publications, 1994.

Hummel, Charles E. Fire in the Fireplace: Charismatic Renewal in the Nineties. Downers Grove: IVP, 1993.

Jackson, Bill. The Quest for the Radical Middle: A History of the Vineyard. Cape Town: Vineyard International Publishing, 1999.

MacArthur, John F. Charismatic Chaos. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1992.

Moriarty, Michael G. The New Charismatics: A Concerned Voice Responds to Dangerous New Trends. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1992.

Nathan, Rich. A Response to Charismatic Chaos. Anaheim: Association of Vineyard Churches, 1993.

Pawson, David. Fourth Wave: Charismatics and Evangelicals, are we ready to come together? London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1994.

Percy, Martyn. Words, Wonders and Power: Understanding Contemporary Christian Fundamentalism and Revivalism. London: SPCK, 1996.

Smail, Tom; Walker, Andrew; Wright, Nigel. The Love of Power or the Power of Love: A Careful Assessment of the Problems Within the Charismatic and Word-of-Faith Movements. Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1994.

Wagner, C. Peter. The Third Wave of the Holy Spirit: Encountering the Power of Signs and Wonders Today. Ann Arbor: Servant Publications, 1988.

Works on the "Toronto Blessing"

Arnott, John. The Father's Blessing. Orlando: Creation House, 1995.

Belcham, Leigh. Toronto: The Baby or the Bathwater Bromley, Kent: Day One Publications, 1995.

Beverley, James A. Holy Laughter and the Toronto Blessing. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995.

Boulton, Wallace, ed. The Impact of Toronto. Crowborough: Monarch Publications, 1995.

Chevreau, Guy. Catch the Fire: The Toronto Blessing. An Experience of renewal and revival. London: Marshall Pickering, 1994.

_____. Pray with Fire. Toronto: Harper Collins, 1995.

Dixon, Patrick. Signs of Revival. Eastbourne: Kingsway Publications, 1994.

Fearon, Mike. A Breath of Fresh Air. Guildford: Eagle, 1994.

Fitz-Gibbon, Andy and Jane. Something Extraordinary is Happening: The Sunderland Experience of the Holy Spirit. Crowborough: Monarch Publications, 1995.

Gott, Ken and Lois. The Sunderland Refreshing. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1995.

Hilborn, David. Editor."oronto? in Perspective: Papers on the New Charismatic Wave of the Mid 1990s. Carlisle: Acute (Paternoster Press), 2001.

Hill, Clifford, ed. Blessing the Church? Guildford: Eagle, 1995.

Jebb, Stanley. No Laughing Matter: The 'Toronto' Phenomenon and its Implications. Bromley, Kent: Day One Publications, 1995.

McHale, Gary W. The 'Toronto Blessing': A Renewal from God? Ontario: Canadian Christian Publications, 1995.

Mikhaiel, Nader. The Toronto Blessing: Slaying in the Spirit, the telling wonder. Self-published. 1995.

Morphew, Derek. Renewal Apologetics (A Position Paper of the Association of Vineyard Churches in South Africa), 1995.

Oropeza, B. J. A Time to Laugh. Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1995.

Pawson, David. Is the Blessing Biblical? Thinking through the Toronto phenomenon. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1995.

Poloma, Margaret M. Main Street Mystics: The Toronto Blessing & Reviving Pentecostalism. Walnut Creek: Alta Mira Press, 2003.

Porter, Stanley E., and Richter, Philip J., eds., The Toronto Blessing - or Is It? London: Darton, Longman, & Todd, 1995.

Roberts, Dave. The "Toronto" Blessing. Eastbourne: Kingsway Publications, 1994.

Stibbe, Mark. Times of Refreshing: A Practical Theology of Revival for Today. London: Marshall Pickering, 1995.

Warner, Rob. Prepare for Revival. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1995.

Williams, Don. Revival: The Real Thing. LaJolla: published by the author, 1995.
Does Anyone Disagree With the Doctor?

A word about one of my greatest heroes ... Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones.

I was first introduced to the great Doctor through his series on Revival that he preached at Westminster Chapel and I was gripped. But I gained more of a "working" relationship with him when my home church in Dunstable went through a dramatic change on their doctrinal stance concerning the Holy Spirit. Once they believed in the baptism of the Spirit, now they didn't. Once they believed in gifts and welcomed them, now they didn't. (A ghastly stereotype - but I don't want to talk about cessationism). And it was through reading a small section of Dr Lloyd-Jones' sermons in John that I began to realise that Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones agreed ... with me!!

Namely that the baptism with the Spirit is a very definite experiential event that is distinct from and may be subsequent to salvation and regeneration. I tracked down his key book "Joy Unspeakable" and my views became grounded. Consider his following comments about revival - the wider, broader work of the Spirit:

"The essence of a revival is that the Holy Spirit comes down upon a number of people together, upon a whole church, upon a number of churches, districts, or perhaps a whole country. That is what is meant by revival. It is, if you like, a visitation of the Holy Spirit, or another term that has often been used is this--an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. What the people are conscious of is that it is as if something has suddenly come down upon them. The Spirit of God has descended into their midst, God has come down and is amongst them. A baptism, an outpouring, a visitation.

And the effect of that is that they immediately become aware of His presence and of His power in a manner that they have never known before. I am talking about Christian people, about church members gathered together as they have done so many times before. Suddenly they are aware of His presence, they are aware of the majesty and the awe of God. The Holy Spirit literally seems to be presiding over the meeting and taking charge of it, and manifesting His power and guiding them, and leading them, and directing them. That is the essence of revival".

How glorious!! What rich awesome amazing words!! But my point is that the Doctor passionately believed in a deep rich experiential knowledge and relationship with the Holy Spirit. And what puzzled me was that the anti-charismatics that I had the unfortunate pleasure of encountering all loved to slag off "tongues-speakers". They loved to dish "experience" and "froth". Mention any well known charismatic and you got a sneer. If they were really bad then Alan Morrison or Peter Masters would dissect them with their blunt axe heads. But no one would talk about Dr Lloyd-Jones ...........

Banner of Truth publish his awesome books (and I thank God for their ministry) but I don't think they would claim to be sympathetic to charismatics in the least - and yet you don't hear them talking about the Doctor's view of how one receives the Holy Spirit!! Even better the websites of the Martyn Lloyd-Jones Recording Trust http://www.mlj.org.uk and the FIEC are linked (and the FIEC seem even more anti-the Holy Spirit than the Banner!). And noone talks about Dr Lloyd-Jones ..........

Noone has published a book to rebuff his careful and minute exegesis of the doctrine of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit laid down in "Joy Unspeakable". Noone has explained what exactly happened in John 20:22 then on the Day of Pentecost other than mumbling that the disciples were "special". Noone has dealt with his pointing to the Lord Jesus and why the Holy Spirit descended on Him like a dove - when He was the Son of God. Noone has explained away his understanding of Peter's sermon "this is that which you SEE and HEAR" - and how on earth that can EVER be "quiet and non experiential when you get converted".

I am truly interested and intrigued! I absolutely adore the Doctor and will read anything he has written but I don't pretend to agree with everything he taught - especially his view on apostles and prophets. It was a great project rebuffing how I thought he had missed the point in the continuity of Ephesians 4. Yet I wonder why noone has done the same for him with the baptism of the Holy Spirit? I have no doubt he would have welcomed and loved the prospect of "taking him on". Ian Murray's great biography paints a picture of a man who welcomes debate - something I strive to emulate.

I challenged Dr Jebb's successor at my old home church - if he could present a more convincing case than Dr Lloyd-Jones about the baptism of the Holy Spirit then I would be quite prepared to change my views. Obviously he couldn't - he didn't even try. So called me old fashioned - but I still passionately believe that the great inheritance open to all the saints is that they will be clothed with power from on high!! That as Ern Baxter called it; "the great coronation gift" has been poured out. The Davidic anointing of the Holy Spirit! And as Thomas Goodwin said so rightly - the next step in glorious experience MUST be heaven itself!!

So come Lord!! Pour out Your Spirit again on a dry and barren soul!! Flood me as You promised!! Give me joy unspeakable and full of glory!! Let my spirit cry with Yours; "Abba! Father!!". I want to receive an experience of You - an encounter with You that the world will SEE and KNOW!! Come Holy Spirit!!

PS: An excellent biographical look at Lloyd-Jones on the Holy Spirit and in particular his baptism, filling and gifts is Dr John Pipers - a presentation at the Bethlehem Conference for Pastors in 1991. http://desiringgod.org/library/biographies/91lloyd_jones.html

Key quote showing that Dr Lloyd-Jones wasn't afraid of speaking out:

Those people who say that [baptism with the Holy Spirit] happens to everybody at regeneration seem to me not only to be denying the New Testament but to be definitely quenching the Spirit" - "Joy Unspeakable" - p241. Ouch! :)

Monday, August 15, 2005

The Ministry in Scotland.
Now I thought that was the end. I thought, “Well, we’ve come over to do this”. I had another conference in Hove near Brighton and another conference up in Edinburgh in Scotland but I thought these would be kind of anticlimactic. We went down to Hove where we were expecting two or three hundred. Well we had 1300 and some tremendous ministry there.

Then we went up to Edinburgh. When we got to Edinburgh the fellow sponsoring the conference was already a little frightened because he was a denominationalist. The first two or three days were a bit edgy, but about the fourth day it began to break. The next to the last night, I had another one of those strange things happen to me. All through the message I felt God nudging me in one direction. I sensed a spiritual thrust to speak with vehemence into the spiritual condition in Scotland. It seemed to be one of those anointed “outbursts” which was responded to by the audience in the form of a congregational cry to God for a visitation of spiritual power to that nation.

The next night the church was filled and the Word of God was received with a deep awareness that something was transpiring which was larger than the confines of the building. I can hardly wait to go back next year because I’m a Scot.

Let me share a story that happened before the Dales Bible Week in Harrogate. In June we had two days in Glasgow with a young minister. Now I didn’t have any idea who he was. The trip had been arranged for us, and when Ruth and I arrived, we were driven to a Presbyterian church where I met this young minister. Now it was one of the few hot nights we had. Last year it was 106 degrees so Ruth and I took 106 degree clothing over this year and almost froze to death. Anyway it was a very warm night and when I walked in, he had his clericals on but no jacket. I was carrying my jacket and he said; “You’ll not need that”. I thought, “I don’t know if I want to go into a Presbyterian pulpit in shirt sleeves. He at least had a clerical collar! But he assured me that it would be all right. And it was. We had one tremendous meeting. The second one was even better and as he followed me off the platform he said, “We’ve never heard this before! You’ve got to come back. We’ll get a marquee. We’ll do this; we’ll do that”. Well when the time came for the Dales Bible Week at Harrogate, Ruth and I both felt this young Scottish minister and his wife should be there. I said to the coordinator of the conference; “I want that Scottish fellow to come down”. He said, “I’ll phone him”. When he phoned, he said that he couldn’t come down because he’d already taken his vacation and he had no money. We told him, “You never mind the money. If you can get permission from your elders, come on down”. Well a miracle happened in his own life to start him off. He needed £60 to come down from Glasgow to Harrogate. By the time he was ready to go, various people came to him and handed him £96 each of them saying, “We feel you ought to go down to the Dales Bible Week”. So he and his wife came down.

We he came unglued; but the beautiful thing was that his wife who had tended to be rather reserved came unglued too. Up in Glasgow I had gotten a polite handshake from her, but at the Dales when she hugged me, I couldn’t believe it was that same woman. Ruth said, “That girl is absolutely transformed”. The first Sunday night after they returned home, the leader of the conference phoned him and said, “How did you get along?”. His reply was enthusiastic as he told one of his leading elders receiving the Baptism in his car during the week he was in Harrogate and the first Sunday morning back in his church, nine had received the baptism in the Spirit. He was filled with holy enthusiasm and he was looking forward to a conference we want to plan in Glasgow next year.

I want you to pray for these people. I’ve never come away from a nation still carrying it on my heart like I’ve come away from Scotland and England. The last night we were in Edinburgh, the minister’s wife came to me and said, “It’s wonderful but I’m frightened”. And I knew what she meant. Some of us who have been trusting God outside of denominational attachments for years have forgotten what it means to suddenly realise that all you have is God. That may sound odd but if you’re well into a movement or a denomination and suddenly … well this couple had no alternative; it was very clear that they had to leave. As this minister’s wife opened up her heart, Ruth took her in her arms and really ministered love to both of them after the meeting and told them the brothers in England would be up to support them. In fact they’ve already appointed brothers to go up and minister life and strength into Scotland.
When we got back to have our final evaluation meetings with the leaders, they said that already people were phoning from all over Scotland and some from Wales saying, “We don’t know what’s going on but we want to get in on it”.

Seeing Our Responsibility.
It’s my sincere belief that God did something this summer in England and Scotland. I believe all of that was a manifestation of God’s intention to confirm His Word that Jesus Christ is Lord and He’s not going to take backchat any longer. I believe governments are going to be increasingly in trouble because God is on their case. Jesus Christ the Lord is calling them to account and I believe you’re going to see government after government in trouble. Now that puts a tremendous burden on us. If we as the redeemed community cannot put it together and offer them an alternative, it will be the greatest cosmic failure of all eternal history. But I think we’re going to put it together.

I’d just like to end by noting four things by way of evaluation. I don’t know how much this will relate to you but I know it relates to them.

1. Restoration

God is not renewing; God is restoring. I know that raises the blood pressure for some people, but I don’t believe God is going to renew a whole lot of old things. I believe He’s bringing into being a brand new thing. It’s not unrelated to the past but it’s a brand new thing. I believe that the coming restoration is based on strong foundations. I believe God is taking us back again to the matter of personal foundations and corporate foundations and building according to God. For “except the Lord build the house they labour in vain that build”. (PS 127:1). I think that there is a restoration of the supernatural not only in the apostolic planting of churches in virgin territory but also of the gifts of the Spirit in the redeemed community – not primarily for the redeemed community but as the supernatural dynamic for outreach to touch the world around us.

I’m 100% for relationship and commitment and submission and shepherding, but I think that if we become so introverted that we don’t realise the intensity of our relationship is for the purpose of being able to go out shoulder to shoulder to lay hands on the world and heal them and cast their demons out, deliver them, set them free, then we’ve missed the real plan of God. So I believe that in restoration there must be a restoration of foundations and a return to the supernatural as the norm.

2. Covenant Commitment.

I believe that there has to be covenant commitment. The only places Ruth and I ran into problems on our England trip was where we had gone at the behest of the brothers who’d asked us if we’d mind going even though they were not committed people. Both places we had problems. I don’t believe that you can enter into marriage saying, “Now look I’m going to spend most of my time with you. But there may be a few times when I’d like to date someone else”. I don’t think either a man or a woman would sign that kind of covenant.

I believe we also must recognise that covenant commitment is basic to taking Zion. David would not receive men who would not enter into commitment with him in covenant. They had to be able to say to David, “Our heart is as your heart”. And they said it by the Spirit of God. It was only when David brought the nation into covenant at Hebron that he was able to go up and put the Jebusites off the heights of Zion and establish the city of God. I believe I saw in Great Britain an intensity of relationship functioning on a level that made it possible for God to do what He did.

3. Spiritual Warfare.

Through recent experiences I have a new respect for Satan. I haven’t reverted to any of the flippant frivolous references to Satan that I’m afraid I was guilty of using in the past. Satan is a very powerful created being who was once the head angel under God. By pride he fell. And in the permissive will of God, for many reasons – one of which is to make you and me dependent on God’s power to deal with all of his minions – you and I cannot laugh him off. He is a well-organised power. His kingdom is well organised. Jesus paid him a compliment when He said Satan wouldn’t cast out his own because a kingdom divided against itself will fall. Satan’s not that stupid.

I believe that we have got to recognise that you and I individually cannot handle the corporate kingdom of Satan. One a one to one basis every believer can handle a demon but when it comes to kingdom to kingdom basis, we’re only going to take on his kingdom as a kingdom ourselves. In fact I have run across a few stories in the last few months where people felt strong enough to take over powers bigger than themselves and almost got themselves killed. The Bible says, “Two are better than one”. Don’t go playing hero. I will not personally come against one of the deputies of Satan. I am not that stupid. I did it once and almost got myself killed. I think God let me learn that lesson. When we take on a principality or power we’d better have our armour on, we’d better have our heart right; we’d better have our right shoes on our feet. And that just isn’t individuals; that’s corporately because all the pronouns in the Ephesians 6 are plural pronouns.

Our problems in America and in the world are not basically human problems. They are problems that are manipulated by satanic powers and if the redeemed community will become the mature man in the earth and will start to deal with them corporate to corporate, we will emerge victorious.

Furthermore the one thing I said to the men as I left England was this, “Brothers I believe we had a tremendous meeting in Harrogate. But when Jesus met Satan in the wilderness and defeated him, Satan departed for a little season. This warfare is unceasing. I want you to go back to your responsibilities and realise that he’s going to confront you. But based on what we did at Harrogate as a responsible representation of the redeemed community in Great Britain, let us believe that his power has been broken. But let us continue warfare with his deputies and his underlings and the demons that are holding men enthralled. Let’s start to believe that we can spoil his goods. Take Bath, take Exeter, take Brighton, take every town. Don’t think in terms of getting a little bigger congregation. Think in terms of bringing God’s government into your community”.

4. Victory Orientated.

Finally we need to be victory orientated. Do you know what I mean by that? I am not interested in the fact that when we left England, all the bakes in England were going on strike. I’m not interested in the fact that there were riots in the streets. It was just like all hell broke loose. Even though that’s to be expected, I am not interested in a pessimistic orientation. I believe Jesus Christ must reign until He’s made His enemies His footstool. It’s God’s purpose to have the sceptre or rod of His authority go out of Zion.

Now you can’t spiritualise Zion in one place and naturalise it in another. If we have to come to Mount Zion and Mount Zion is the symbol of the redeemed community then the sceptre of God’s reigning power is to come from us. You’ve got to expand your vision. You’ve got to change your mind and your perspective and start to think victoriously because the destiny of nations lies with you. The responsibility for God’s plan for the world lies in our hands. We’re the people and we’re His Body. Hallelujah!
With Signs Confirming.
About the second or third night after I’d finished speaking, I sat down for just a few minutes before leaving. I felt impressed to pray and as I did, something happened that has happened to me several times lately – especially over there. I started to pray out of my spirit but not out of my head. Most of my praying is a combination, but this just came right out. I prayed like this; “God, let something supernatural happen on this campground tonight that will be a demonstration of Your glory”. I had no idea what I was asking for, but I knew it was God. I slipped over to one of the leaders and told him what I’d done. I said; “We’re not going to tell the audience because that sets up the power of suggestion. I just want you brothers to know that I’ve prayed this way”. About 2:30am that morning, beautiful choir music was heard coming from the congregation hall which seats 10, 000 people. The unique thing was – there was no one in the congregation hall at the time! Now it wasn’t one or two people who heard it. The whole camp heard it! And it wasn’t only the whole camp that heard it; the neighbourhood heard it! And they protested; “Now we don’t mind you people singing until midnight but 2:30 in the morning is a bit ridiculous”. How could we say to these people, “We weren’t there?”.

This continued. There was a nightly angelic concert. And then other supernatural events started to happen all through the grounds. We’re documenting all of this, but what I’m saying to you, I’m just saying out of memory because I don’t have all the details. There were 750 children in the children’s group with two very fine men over them – Hugh Thompson and Mike Stevens. Hugh Thompson is a man of great competence in God, and his little boy said to him after one of the meetings, “Daddy, wasn’t it wonderful seeing all those gold angels with flames flying across the room?”. Hugh said, “What angels?”. The child said, “Daddy, didn’t you see them?”. He was telling us later, “I was the man of power; I was the leader but here’s my kid seeing angels and I didn’t see any angels!”.

By the way, I didn’t see any either but it reminded me of H. A Baker and others who, when they started to experience breakthroughs on a national scale discovered that it started with little children.

I couldn’t help thinking that at the moment of Israel’s apostasy when Jesus went into the temple for the last time, the bearded rabbis were demanding that Jesus show them His ordination papers while the little children were crying, “Hosanna!”. And I thought of Great Britain where so many religious people can’t understand the glorious things God is doing and the little children are seeing angels.

A book by seven leading Anglican clergymen had just come out over there attacking the virgin birth. I thought, “For a people who apparently need God and His divine revelation so desperately, the attack seemed to indicate an insensitivity to the real needs of the people. They didn’t need attacks on the faith. While they are attacking the virgin birth, little children are seeing angels”. It’s a matter of faith. If you want to get heady and discuss the biological impossibility of the virgin birth you go right ahead. I’d rather see angels!

On the last night a little boy got lost and they were organising a group of men to go out and hunt for him. About the time they were going out the door, the little boy walked in all smiles. They said; “Where were you?”. He said, “I was lost”. “Well” they said, “How did you get here?”. The child said, “A kind ghost brought me, but he’s gone now”.

We spent three days with the leaders evaluating the meetings. The brothers whose children had seen the angels are men in the top echelon of leadership. They said that they talked to these children again and again, but they couldn’t budge them. They know what they saw. Three and four children at a time saw them. Three girls saw an angel enveloped in light – dancing. There were some thirty sightings of angels altogether.

Now I don’t want to say “I told you so” but for the last two years I’ve been saying that if we are living in the time of the end, the Bible says God is going to send forth His angels to do a whole lot of things. And I’ve been saying we’re going to start to see angels. So this is a great confirmation of my own faith and in a very real sense, a great confirmation that we’re actually living in the time of the end. And if that’s the time we’re living in, a lot of exciting things are due to happen.

Shortly before we left, we found out about a man and his little boy who had come to the camp. When they went back home to Leicester they were talking to a couple of friends – a man and a woman who were unbelievers. The couple asked how it had gone at the meetings. The father was trying to explain and share rather delicately when his little boy said, “Tell ‘em about the angels Daddy”. The father said, “They wouldn’t understand son”. But the man said, “Oh I think we would. Tell us about the angels”.

So he started to tell them about the angels. And he told them what we had done on the last night – which I’m going to tell you about in a minute. The unbelieving couple said that as they were driving into the city of Leicester that night, there had appeared over the city a flaming cross, right at the time that we as a host of people under leadership were taking authority over the Prince of Great Britain.

Another remarkable thing was when Bryn Jones, who’s not a very excitable fellow said, “Ern look at this. We have never had UFO sightings in this area. There have been sightings in other areas, but we’ve never had them here”. But there in bold type in the Bradford paper, which is adjacent to Harrogate, were reports of UFO sightings.

Now I’ve made this subject a study throughout the years, having seen at one time a phenomenon in Arizona myself. I’ve been interested in it in a purely objective way. I don’t have any opinions about it, but I’ve read enough to know that they invariably involve some mechanical reference. “They look like this … They’ve got lights flashing … They look like saucers”. There’s always a mechanical factor in it. I said, “Let me read those”. And as I read those reports all those people saw were flames of fire and gold in the sky. There wasn’t anything mechanical to report. Now I’m satisfied that they were seeing angels manifesting in that entire area. I believe that entire area was literally and I use the expression respectfully, infested with angels.

Because of the singing in the middle of the night and the complaints of the neighbours it looked a little bad for us. The Harrogate showground and Harrogate itself is the place where all the upper class people, including kings and queens, dukes and duchesses, have come through the years (and when you say “years” over there, you’re talking in terms of centuries). They came to the beauty of Harrogate. And the Queen had just been there to see the horse show – before the “King” arrived! I’ll tell you, angels sure have horses beat a long way! But we were concerned because it looked like the protests of the neighbours would militate against our getting the grounds next year and there are no grounds in northern England comparable to it.

So we were praying about it because we not only wanted the grounds for next year but we were going to propose to the board of Harrogate showground that they add 3, 000 seats to the show building which would then seat 14, 000 people.

It looked like the angels had gotten us into trouble but we trusted God. Well, a retired major from the army who lives and has influence in Harrogate wrote a letter voluntarily to the board of the Harrogate showground. He said, “I understand that some of my neighbours are upset with the singing that’s coming from the grounds at night. First let me say, that we’ve never had a better-behaved bunch of people in that show ground in my living memory. And as far as the singing in the middle of the night is concerned, I enjoy it very much. I think it’s really sweet”. That letter did the trick. We not only have the showground for next year, but they’re going to put in 3, 000 extra seats.

We saw God working in mighty ways to bring in the unconverted. One night they were taking an offering for the poor. The offerings were running to about £2, 500 a night and that’s a lot for over there. An unbeliever had come with his wife that night to the meeting. He had come half disgruntled because she wanted him to and half under conviction because God wanted him to. As they were taking the offering for the poor, the basket came down by him and he looked and saw that some man had dropped in his gold watch. He looked at the watch and said, “This is real!”. Immediately he repented and began to talk in tongues and the next morning we baptised him.

The Climax to the Conference.
This was all a time of preparation leading up to Friday night. Through the ministry of the Word, which really came out of plurality because we constantly met as leaders before the services to go over everything, I believe we covered all the ground. We covered the area; “Are you personally right with God?”. Then we dealt with it community-wise; “Are you right with your neighbour? Are you right with your family?”. We did all that because the leaders knew that what we were going to do Friday night would either be maximised or minimised by the state of the people of God. So we let it be known in the camp that everyone was to get ready for Friday night. I don’t want to be irreverent but it was almost like the Lord telling Israel how to prepare for His coming down among them. They were all moving towards Friday night.

I think if ever there was a number of people that size ready to do a job, it was that people. They’d go back from the meetings under their shepherds and they would have Bible studies and talk sand they’d pray and minister to one another. It was like having a hundred meetings going on in the context of a large conference.

When the last night came we met an hour early as leaders to talk. One of the leaders is a retired army major and as I sat there and started to outline and list what I wanted, this major smiled and said, “Ern I’ve sat in plenty of military officers strategy meetings and this isn’t any different than a group of military officers getting ready to go into battle. The only difference is I like this kind of warfare”. When we went into that meeting we knew what we were going to do. Before Ruth and I left our hotel, we got down to pray and God seemed to say to me, “As Michael and Gabriel helped Daniel so the angels this night will help you”. As I began to minister about taking the Strong Man, there was a dynamic content of God there that I really cant describe to you. I shared that we were not now just going to hand out tracts and save souls one by one (not that we were going to stop doing that) but that as the redeemed community, our responsibility was to light the world and salt the earth and exercise spiritual authority. I told them that the leaders in the redeemed community were more essential than even the aldermen who were elected by unregenerate votes; that by spiritual weaponry and authority the redeemed community under its leadership should be able to alter legislation, change the life of the city and change the course of history.

Well these people were ready to go. By the time we got through speaking, they had cleared the platform of all the musicians and on the platform were the lead brothers – the top echelon of leadership in England. They came together and we linked our arms – this great host linked arms - and I have never felt such a strong anointing as came out of that kind of plurality. I came against the Prince of Great Britain to break his power that we might spoil his goods. And the cry of triumph that went up after that was something that I’d not seen ever before. You talk about victory! There was no fear; there was just a consciousness and a confidence that the evil power over Great Britain had been broken.

As the men started to go home to their various commitments and communities, in almost every case there were people waiting, wanting to know how to get converted, how to receive the Holy Ghost, how to be delivered. They were waiting for them! There were people waiting at the dungeon doors just for somebody to pull the door open and let them out. It was like God was giving a token that the power of the Prince of Great Britain had been broken. When I left it was still going on.
A Demonstration of His Glory - Ern Baxter in the UK - 1977

There can be no denying that the 1970's were a remarkable decade when God moved in the United Kingdom in a unique way bringing the Charismatic Movement to churches across the nation. Ern Baxter was a unique man at that time for a unique purpose. He first came in 1975 and addressed the Lakes Bible Week on "The King and His Army". He then came again to the Dales Bible Week in 1976 and spoke on "Where Are We Going?" - one of the most significant series of addresses I have ever heard. But in 1977 he came and his subject was Spiritual Warfare or "Binding the Strongman". These next 3 postings are a transcript taken from the New Wine Magazine (printed in the USA) of Ern's own report to the leaders in the USA with whom he was related.

It makes for a stirring read.

A Demonstration of His Glory
By Ern Baxter – A personal report on Ern’s recent time of Ministry in the UK.

England is a country that is embattled and besieged – on the verge of economic collapse. But there is an ever-growing army of people in England who are proclaiming that the Kingdom of God is being built in the earth and that it’s going to come to pass by the miraculous power of God through them. These people are Kingdom-minded. They’re talking about the government of God coming to Great Britain. They’re not confined to little “bless-me” groups. They’re thinking big; their vision is expanded and they’re ready to help Queen Elizabeth get the country out of trouble.

Coming Together in Commitment.
Ruth and I went to Great Britain knowing we were going to do a lot of work. We didn’t go over there thinking we were going to have a lot of “hallelujah” meetings. We really had a sense of destiny in going. I think we have had it ever since we returned from there last year. During the first six weeks – from the first of June up until we came back to the Kansas City Conference for a few days – we went to the major committed bodies all over England, meeting with local leaders on a committed and interdenominational basis. In addition we had some general public meetings as well as some committed meetings. It was a kind of potpourri, but basically it was for the purpose of finding out how each of the main leaders in Great Britain was getting along in his committed area and to survey the national bodies. And I’m happy to report that we found healthy pockets of spiritual power all over England.

I knew the large conference at Harrogate, which is called the Dales Bible Week, was going to be the climax to which we were moving. I kept saying to people every place we’d go; “I’m not going to tell you what we’re going to do; I just want you to be ready”.

An interesting thing was that I found myself constantly going back to foundation truths; Was everybody’s life in order? Was the community in order? Were the leaders relating properly? These things are tremendously important. The day of the individual is over. We’re not marching as lonely adventurers anymore; we’re moving as an army. And until we get it together in all the various dimensions of our relationships – well, God’s going to do His job with those who are together, and those who aren’t are going to be left out.

One tragedy in Great Britain is that religious life is at a low ebb. The national church attendance is alarming and they’re having real financial troubles. In contrast, among those who are experiencing the mighty moving of God, the economic pressures are not an issue. I asked them last year, “What do you do about the inflation?”. They said, “Ignore it”. And they’re still ignoring it. All expenses are covered. They’re getting money. They don’t know where it’s coming from but they don’t have sticky fingers, and they’re investing it well and building the Kingdom of God.

Knowing where we were going and what we planned to do, we felt it was right that we should call all of the national leaders together near London and tell them what we felt God wanted to do – for their judgement and evaluation – because we felt that what we were going to do would affect the nation. So we called together about 120 committed men in leadership under Arthur Wallis and Bryn Jones from all over England, and we told them briefly what we planned to do. Now the English people are not like the Americans. They are pretty staid and pretty conservative. They don’t get too emotional because they’ve got the British “stiff upper lip” and the “see it through” attitude. So when they get excited, you know it’s genuine. Also you can’t “con” them. You can’t sell them a bill of goods. They’ve been around longer thank we have, and they are pretty wary of anybody coming over to try to sell them something. When I told them what I was planning to do, they didn’t just accept it as a fait accompli. They said, “We’d like to talk about it”. So I answered their questions and received what adjustment we felt was necessary.

These 120 men represent a deposit of God. In these men who came from all over England, I saw probably the finest, purely, most gifted, well-informed body of leadership that I’ve seen in corporeity anywhere in the world. Now let me qualify that by making a proper equation. I don’t think it’s fair to equate America with Great Britain in terms of size; you’d have to equate Great Britain with California or Florida or New York – one of our larger states. And if we were to get all the committed men together in America, I suppose it would be pretty much the same.

These brothers in England are men who are being stretched in an aspect of their faith. It’s my personal conviction – going back to the days in Finland after World War II – that it almost seems necessary for a people to feel an economic pinch before they can feel spiritual power and revival. I’m not saying that poverty is spirituality, but I am saying that when the judgements of God are in the earth, men learn righteousness.

There’s something about these people. They’ll tell you in their quiet way that they know their nation is “down the drain” apart from God. And then having said that, they’ll tell you they’re going to save their nation. They’re saving souls but they’re really out to save a nation. They’re taking the Great Commission seriously. They believe in discipling nations and they intend to do it for theirs. And I believe they will succeed.

We came to the Kansas City conference and then hurried back to Great Britain where we walked right into a conference in Exeter with Arthur Wallis and Bryn Jones. It was held in a large tent or “marquee” as they call it over there, with about 2, 000 people in attendance. I would say it was a highly profitable, blessing meeting. On the last night our host had to return to the conference grounds to take care of some things, and when he came back home, he reported that at 12:30 am people were still lined up about half a block waiting to get the tapes from that night’s meeting.

I was very aware during this time of the special anointing God gave me. I don’t usually get too thrilled with my own preaching. I don’t know if any of the other brothers sit around listening to themselves. I don’t. But as I heard my message being duplicated, I couldn’t help but stop and listen. I was moved as I heard myself reading the Word. I was moved as once again I lived in the special anointing that I believe God gave me for that job. I don’t have that same anointing now. We don’t live in those special anointings. I can tell you about it and as I do, I’ll probably get as thrilled about it as you, yet I can’t recapture it. I don’t need it now. I needed it then and there.

I’ve come back from Great Britain celebrating the grace of God. I guess all of us think that we have something to offer. I don’t think we’ve gotten rid of self-congratulation. We probably think we’re fairly good preachers or fairly good students or something. But when I got through that week, I came away knowing that this man was a pretty earthy vessel to handle that kind of gift. And I came away with a higher evaluation of the grace and goodness of God than I’ve ever had in my life.

I believe that there’s a key in that. If we can be to the praise and the glory of His grace, I believe He’ll release an awful lot more among us than we’ve yet experienced. I’m afraid it wouldn’t do for any of us to be too much of a miracle worker. It’s difficult for us to see miracles and signs and wonders among us as something that is fairly common place because if we did – if we saw an angel – we’d immediately go out, buy a briefcase, have some cards made and go out giving out our testimony about how we saw the angel. I don’t mean that unkindly but that kind of attitude is in opposition to the way Jesus handled His miracle ministry. The Scripture tells us, “You’re attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus; Who being in very nature God did not consider equality with God something to be grasped but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant …”. (Phil 2:5-7, NIV), taking the place of absolute submission to the Father. There was nothing in Him that wanted to take any of the glory. Everything He did, He did because the Father told Him to, and thus He could say, “Learn of Me for I am meek and lowly in heart”. (Mt 11:29).

Laying the Groundwork.
From Exeter, we went up to Harrogate. That was the place we were heading for. Ruth and I knew it. We’d known it for a year and we’d been preparing for it. In coming to Harrogate we’d asked all of the leaders to camp with their people as companies and as committed bodies. One man brought his entire church of 200 members! In many instances, whole committed bodies came so that all over the ground there were committed bodies under their shepherds and their leaders. In each group there was a certain amount of autonomy; there was a certain amount of freedom. You’d find one group fasting for a day. They didn’t ask any other group if they wanted to fast; they just felt God wanted them to fast. Another group would be doing something else. But there was a kind of flow through the entire campground.

There were others of course. There were people who were just starting to get interested. There were others coming in from the charismatic dimension, but in the main, the people camping there were in some kind of relationship.

Again I found that as we moved from Monday, the first night, to Friday night, which I anticipated to be a call to commitment and action, it became very clear to me that we couldn’t go into battle if we weren’t rightly related to God. I found myself going back again to foundations. I found myself taking one entire service and saying; “Now look, if you’re going to be in condition to do what we’re going to do Friday night, your foundations have got to be strong. How’s your repentance? Your faith? Your baptism? The Holy Spirit? Are you walking in resurrection life and under the moral government of God?”. That really started to clean house!

Incidentally the praise was so intense that during the last night it reached an absolute roar. It started to do this about the third night and it picked up. The exciting thing about it, personally, I believe there are dimensions of worship we haven’t gotten into yet. And there’s something about that roar. It is like a waterfall. It’s the voice of God and it’s also the voice of God’s people according to the book of Revelation. I wasn’t surprised to learn that many people were receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit during that time of praise. They were just coming through. It was commonplace.

Also they had a swimming pool on the grounds and for two and a half days it was the most beautiful sight. It was almost like the tribe of Dan coming to get all its people straightened around. And then up came the tribe of Benjamin. They would come from the campground by their groups and they would baptize any of their people that hadn’t been baptized along with anyone that had been converted from their geographical area. We would not baptize anyone who wasn’t coming to be submitted to an authority. That is, we wouldn’t baptize an Anglican who was there just by chance. But anybody who would come under an authority, we baptized. For two and a half days the waters were being stirred. In fact the last morning after the camp was over, they were still baptizing a few latecomers.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Library Jealousy.

This link is hilarious - I've found a fellow lover of books who is currently studying at Regent College, Vancouver - under Gordon Fee ... oh how my heart bleeds.

50 Most Influential Churches in the United Kingdom

I wonder if anyone remembers me discussing this in previous blogs. Well I've finally completed the list and here it is below along with websites to the respective church sites. Like the USA version, I have compiled it in order of most influential (beginning at 1) through to not-so. It was an incredibly difficult thing to finish and sobering in many ways. It demonstrated above all how lacking we are in the United Kingdom compared to the USA for churches of glorious quality and New Testament style life. And above all has driven me to my knees again praying for revival - oh that this list would be difficult to compile because of which church to choose!!

As always - feel free to comment, criticise, complain. If you want to know why I put a particular church where I did, or why I didn't include your church - ask. But back up what you say - the "unexamined opinion isn't worth holding" - Dr Stanley Jebb.

1. Church of Christ the King, Brighton. - the founding church and flagship of the hugely successful New Frontiers family of churches. While membership remains modest by US standards at just over a thousand, the vast influence of this church is felt in every area. Terry Virgo - the father and apostle of the movement is based here. Some of the most popular and influential worship leaders in the UK are based here including Kate Simmonds, Stuart Townend and Phatfish. Also on the eldership team is the teacher John Hosier who has written a variety of books and Dave Fellingham.

Senior Pastor: Peter Brookes. Website: http://www.cck.org.uk/

2. All Souls, Langham Place. - home to Dr John Stott.

Rector: Hugh Palmer. Website: http://www.allsouls.org/

3. Holy Trinity, Brompton. - home to the hugely successful Alpha Course.

Vicar: Sandy Miller. Website: http://www.htb.org.uk/

4. Kensington Temple, London.

Senior Pastor: Colin Dye. Website: http://www.kt.org/

5. Kingsway International Christian Centre, London.

Senior Pastor: Matthew Ashimolowo. Website: http://www.kicc.org.uk/

6. St Helens, Bishopsgate.

Rector: William Taylor. Website: http://www.st-helens.org.uk/

7. Westminster Chapel, London.

Senior Pastor: Greg Haslam. Website: http://www.westminsterchapel.org.uk/

8. Metropolitan Tabernacle, London.

Senior Pastor: Dr Peter Masters. Website: http://www.metropolitantabernacle.org/

9. St Andrews, Chorleywood.

Vicar: Mark Stibbe. Website: http://www.st-andrews.org.uk/

10. Community Church, Southampton.

Team Leader: Billy Kennedy. Website: http://www.community-southampton.org/

11. Soul Survivor, Watford.

Senior Pastor: Mike Pilavachi. Website: http://www.soulsurvivorwatford.co.uk/

12. Metro Church International (UK), Sunderland.

Senior Pastor: Ken Gott. http://www.mci12.org.uk/

13. Eden Baptist Church, Cambridge.

Senior Pastor: Julian Hardyman. Website: http://www.eden-cambridge.org/

14. Ruach Ministries, Brixton, South London.

Senior Pastor: Bishop John Francis. Website: http://www.ruach-ministries.co.uk/

15. Pioneer People, Surrey.

Team Leader: Gerald Coates. Website: http://www.pioneer.org.uk/

16. Abundant Life Church, Bradford.

Senior Pastor: Paul Scanlon. Website: http://www.alm.org.uk/

17. New Life, Lincoln.

Senior Pastor: Stuart Bell. Website: http://www.newlifelincoln.org.uk/

18. South-West London Vineyard.

Senior Leader: John Mumford. Website: http://www.vineyard-swlondon.org.uk/

19. Hillsong, London.

Senior Pastor: Gary Clarke. Website: http://www.hillsong.co.uk/

20. Peterbourgh Community Church, Peterbourgh.

Senior Pastor: David Smith. Website: http://www.pcc-uk.org/

21. St Pauls Cathedral, London.

Dean: Dr John Moses. Website: http://www.stpauls.co.uk/

22. Renewal Christian Centre, Solihull

Senior Pastor: David Carr. Website: http://www.renewalcc.com/

22. New Community Church, Sidcup

Senior Pastor: Matt Hosier. Website: http://www.newcommunitychurch.org.uk/

23. Cornerstone Church, Nottingham.

Senior Pastor: Peter Lewis. Website: http://www.cornerstoneuk.org.uk/

24. Riverside Church, Birmingham.

Team Leader: Nick Cuthbert. Website: http://www.riverside-church.org.uk/

25. Kingdom Faith Church.

Senior Pastor: Brain Nish. Website: http://www.klc.org.uk/

26. Christian Fellowship Church, Belfast.

Senior Pastor: Paul Reid. Website: http://www.cfc-net.org/

27. Christian Centre, Nottingham.

Senior Pastor: David Shearman. Website: http://www.christian-centre.org/

28. Methodist Central Hall, London.

Superintendant Minister: Martin Turner. Website: http://www.methodist-central-hall.org.uk/

29. Heath Evangelical Church, Cardiff.

Senior Pastor: Wyn Hughes. Website: http://www.heath-church.org/

30. St Aldates, Oxford.

Rector: Charlie Cleverly. Website: http://www.staldates.org.uk/

31. Oxford Community Church, Oxford.

Senior Pastor: Steve Thomas. Website: http://www.occ.org.uk/

32. All Nations Church, Cardiff.

Senior Elder: Dr Roger Aubrey. Website: http://www.allnationschurch.org.uk/

33. St Ebbes, Oxford.

Rector: Vaughan Roberts. Website: http://www.stebbes.org.uk/

35. Basingstoke Community Church, Basingstoke.

Team Leader: Phil Norris. Website: http://europe.saltlight.org/

36. Folleys End Church, Croydon, London.

Senior Leader: David Markee. Website: http://www.follysend.org/

37. Worthing Tabernacle, Worthing.

Senior Pastor: Mark Weeden. Website: http://www.worthingtab.org.uk/

38. St Johns, Harbourne, Birmingham.

Vicar: James Grier. Website: http://www.stjohns-church.co.uk/

39. Winchester Family Church.

Senior Pastor: John Groves. Website: http://www.winfam.org/

40. Above Bar, Southampton.

Senior Pastor: John Risbridger. Website: http://www.soton.ac.uk/~wphg/

41. Christchurch Clifton, Bristol.

Vicar: Mike Cain. Website: http://www.christchurchclifton.org.uk/

42. St Mary Redcliffe, Bristol.

Senior Curate: Dr William Beaver. Website: http://www.stmaryredcliffe.co.uk/

43. Worldwide Mission Fellowship, West Norwood, London.

Senior Pastor: Dennis Greenidge. Website: http://www.wwmf.org/

44. Hockliffe Street Baptist Church, Leighton Buzzard.

Senior Pastor: Phil Hill. Website: http://www.hockliffestreetbaptistchurch.org.uk/

45. Kings Community Church, Hedge End, Southampton.

Senior Pastor: Martyn Dunsford. Website: http://www.kcc.uk.net/

46. Every Nation Church, London.

Senior Pastor: Wolfgang Eckleben. Website: http://www.everynation.co.uk

47. St Marks, Sheffield.

Vicar: Adrian Alker. Website: http://www.stmarkssheffield.co.uk/

48. South Manchester Christian Fellowship, Manchester.,

Senior Pastor: Andy Barclay-Watt. Website: http://www.smcf.org.uk/

49. Open Heaven Church, Loughborough.

Senior Leaders: Rich and Ness Wilson. Website: http://www.openheaven.org/

50. City Temple, Holborne Viaduct, London.

Senior Pastor: Dr Rod Woods. Website: http://www.city-temple.net/

Sunday, August 07, 2005

No Longer Welcome?

I've just read an essay by a graduate that I found very poignant because it has almost exactly mirrored my own experience. While I suspect I may strongly disagree with the author's conclusions about "sexualities" and "orientations" the treatment at the hands of a church has been to me just as devastating. So I think it's an essay well worth including and well worth reading. The gauntlet is laid down - are church leaders really going to be bothered with those who aren't the bog standard married couple with 2.4 children?

No longer welcome?
A plea from a young gay evangelical Christian

The author is young graduate who, for a number of years, has been deeply involved in a leading evangelical Anglican church belonging to the Reform group. Having admitted to a church leader and some of his Christians friends that he is gay, he no longer feels welcome and has reluctantly decided to leave.

After the agony of Gethsemane, the pain and hurt of betrayal and denial, the injustice of his trial and the cruelty of a Roman flogging, Jesus was led up a hill to his death. His bloodied footprints pointed the way to a reality that even he had shrunk from - a place where the Son would come face-to-face with His Father's judgement on the world. His mind must have been reeling with the prospect of what was still to come - the loneliness and hopelessness of outer darkness. But in the midst of that semi-consciousness, the gospel writers record for us some of the most incredible words ever spoken, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." We cannot know, but perhaps that prayer was the last communion Jesus had with his Father before their link was severed and, for the first time in eternity, the Son's prayers became useless. It is a matchless prayer that reveals the depth of the Son's love for his Father and the Father's love for the world.

It is often wrong to draw emotive comparisons between the experience of Christians and the incomparable event of Jesus' death. That was a unique thing, unrepeatable and once for all. For the rest of the New Testament, the apostles urge Christians to believe in the Cross-Resurrection event and to stick with it as being the very heart of Christian hope. Yet it is right too for a suffering church to look to the suffering master as a model of church experience. In that context, I want to point out a very particular, a very peculiar, suffering of Christ's church. The true church is persecuting the true church. Christ's people are hurting others of Christ's people. Perhaps for that reason, I have every hope that the suffering might soon stop because it is enough that the church is already persecuted by the world. Tragically, this persecution leads to the world being a refuge from a hostile church.

I hope that those Christians who suffer like this will not have to pray Jesus' prayer any more in relation to their brothers and sisters. It is a painful thing to do. If you are reading this as a Christian, please realise that there are gay Christians in your church. Do not speculate on whether or not they may or may not exist, whether their struggles are real or perceived, psychological or childhood related. Come to terms today with the reality of gay Christians. Even in the conservative evangelical church there are gay people, whose identity is constantly undermined by a church culture that won't even trust them to exist! There is no scripture that says that.

Some thoughts on what this means:

Firstly, think about the cultural assumptions that underlie your church life. Gay people are there and while they are there, they are bombarded with seminars on marriage and relationships (in which this issue is rarely discussed), with friends who speak about relationships ad nauseam, with the wedding season and the family announcements. In the middle of all this noise, the gay person is possibly coming to terms with a very isolated and lonely life. Please try to make it easier. Surely that is the part we must all play in growing up to be the body of loving believers that Christ wants us to be. If you are going to say "celibacy for life", then you had better make absolutely certain that as a church you make that bearable - what sort of a family will you be to the gay Christian? Will you bear with his or her frustrations, emotional ups and downs, with the unpredictability of those deepest feelings? Do not talk about change. I say that primarily because the "change concept" is unscriptural. But it is also a cop-out. When you seek to impose the yoke of celibacy upon a gay Christian, you are saying something very severe and very profound. A proposal of change is so patently silly for some gay Christians that it merely adds to the hopelessness that goes with the church's injunction. Perhaps more perniciously, the emphasis on change shows the church shrinking away from the consequences of its own command. Gay Christians never took a vow of celibacy. They are not monks or nuns who chose that life. Imagine bearing such a burden yourself - imagine bearing it when you have fallen in love! - and then contemplate the heaviness, the weight of your words.

Secondly, please provide a context of explicit, absolute, total trust. Gay Christians are not used to trusting people because in our experience people rarely prove themselves trustworthy. If a gay person tells you something then you are privileged because you may well be the first person that he or she has ever spoken to. Do not be shocked by what you hear. Do not suggest 'quick-fit' solutions or be quick to speak. Instead, listen and start praying for that brother or sister whose pain and hurt has been bottled up for so long. You will do the greatest service by ministering the love of Jesus to someone who knows that love for themselves, but rarely experiences it through the church body of which they are a part. A critical part of this is to give your trusting friend the space to think through their situation. Do not make conservative evangelical assumptions. It may well be your view that the Bible is absolutely clear on this issue. But to the gay Christian it is not enough simply to turn to the obvious passages, point at them triumphantly and say, "There, you see! The meaning of the text is clear and the consequences of ignoring the text are just as plain". Maybe you are right, but will you dare to give your gay friend the space to consider and question? To reject your view, even? Will you give them the opportunity to come to terms, or not, with hard sayings that really are hard? It is too neat to say, "It would be unloving for me not to say this". Ultimately you are right, of course, if you hold to mainstream conservative evangelical convictions on this issue. But this is a friend you are speaking to, someone who cares for you and for whom you care. Give them the dignity they need and speak at the right moment, not the wrong moment. If you are wise, you will know the difference.
Thirdly, how will you deal with Christians who believe the gospel, but disagree with your view on practising homosexuality? Will you welcome them or reject them? Do you truly believe that it is impossible to believe the gospel and have a different view on this issue? I do not doubt that you will refuse the practising homosexual a position of leadership. But will you be a church that welcomes or rejects the practising homosexual Christian?

Lastly, this has become a very political issue in the wider church and I personally have little doubt that the Anglican Church will soon split. As an evangelical I would not see that as any great loss since no denomination defines the eternal church of Christ. Christ will build his church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. But at the moment many evangelicals have the bit between their teeth. My plea to those limbering up for this fight is simple: look over your shoulder to some of the faces on your own side. Not to the front few rows of your troops, not even back a little further to the middle ranks - I know that you are rightly suspicious of their over-enthusiasm and militaristic bullishness - somehow they don't seem to appreciate the sheer reality of underlying eternal issues. Instead look further back to the shadowy wings of your mustered forces. There you will see faces staring sorrowfully back at you, faces belonging to brothers and sisters in your midst who are pained and torn by this battle to come. As you look more closely, you will see that these brothers and sisters already have bleeding wounds that are hurting. 'Yet the fight hasn't even begun', you think to yourself. This little group is more confused and upset than ready for war. A few of your young men are coming up to urge them to get stuck into the battle, patting them encouragingly on the shoulder and offering them each a weapon, shockingly blind to their helplessness. You pause a moment longer and as your eye roams some more, you notice one figure in the background who is working his way round that pitiful group, binding up the injuries and soothing the pain. His eye is not on the front line and he seems oblivious to the shouts and enthusiasm of the rest of your army. You can't see his face but you recognise him of course, as any faithful servant would.

As you turn back to the oncoming, relentless forces of secularism and liberalism, what will you do?