Published Online Books
A Theological Pilgrimage
The Gift of the Holy Spirit Today
The Pentecostal Reality
Published Online Writings
Prophecy by the Book
Scripture: God's Written Word
The Holy Spirit in the Early Church
In this theological pilgrimage over the years, I have arrived at the point of much hopefulness. Millions of people around the world are experiencing a personal and communal Pentecost with profound results. It is much like the Book of Acts reopened and relived. I believe that what is happening today is but the precursor of greater things to come.
Now I would like to conclude by stating my conviction that in the fullest sense this contemporary Pentecost is a recovery of the primordial reality of the church's witness. The roots go back to that first Pentecostal occasion when the Holy Spirit filled those gathered with His presence and power. The penetration of the Spirit was of such intensity as to go deeper than the mind into the human spirit and bring forth spiritual utterance. It was a church intensely filled and overflowing with the Holy Spirit that was to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ. Such, I believe, is happening again.
Pentecost signifies "primal spirituality." 1 It is that spirituality which runs deeper than what much of the church embodies in its life and activity. The depths are generally so covered over that Pentecost seems distant, and the spiritual fervor of that occasion of little existential significance. Such views as Pentecost having only historical significance, and thus non-repeatable beginnings, are serious barriers to a recurrence of the spiritual dynamics represented by the event of Pentecost.
The recovery of Pentecost is essential to the full range of the church's life and ministry. It is the dynamic power that when released brings to worship, upbuilding, and mission a deep undergirding. There is to be sure no guarantee of balance and maturity in any area. Pentecost is an explosion of primordial force that sends new impulses-even shock waves-in many directions. Existing forms, institutions, systems may render invaluable service, but without a powerfully charged and challenging dynamic the results can only be inadequate. This release of primordial power makes for the rejuvenation and reordering of all of life.
I rejoice today in seeing so much of the church coming alive to the Pentecostal reality. In the situation of a growing sense of need for more spiritual results, people are seeking and finding greater spiritual depths. The present worldwide Pentecostal and charismatic movement, that has gone far beyond what I first knew in 1965, is testimony to the explosive force of the Holy Spirit. There is to be sure resistance on many fronts; however, there is growing recognition of the need for Pentecost and increasingly many who are participating in the unleashing of spiritual power.
For many years I have kept a verse of Scripture in an old English translation on my desk and have read it almost daily. I close with it as a personal prayer:
1I borrow this expression from Harvey Cox's book, Fire from Heaven. Cox writes about the Pentecostal movement: "It has succeeded because it has spoken to the spiritual emptiness of our time by reaching beyond the levels of creed and ceremony into the core of human religiousness, into what might be called 'primal spirituality'" (p. 81).
Content Copyright ©1996, 2001 by J. Rodman Williams, Ph.D.
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