Monday, March 31, 2008

Pentecostal/Charismatic Quote of the Day

"The experience of the Holy Spirit is so important to me. I am not a Christian because of good arguments, I am because of an experience of God, multiple experiences, and the arguments help give rationality and coherence to those experiences. As I learn more and more every year I find that my knowledge does not sustain my faith. My experience of God does. The presence of the Holy Spirit is what keeps me going." -Bryan L.



At 8:36 AM, Blogger Eric said...


Let me play "Devil's Advocate" for just a minute.

When we lived in India, we got to know many Hindus who would say they experience God. That is what keeps them going. How is that different from what Bryan is saying?

At 10:45 AM, Blogger Brian said...

Eric, I apologize for taking so long to get back to you. My daughter Mercy has been pretty sick the last few days (ear infection) and I haven't had much time to reply.

I think you ask a great question and I cannot say I have a lock-tight answer, if really an answer at all. It would be interesting to think about from a missions perspective.

I think this validates the fact that "experience" is common to humanity and to religions in general - but that does not necessarily validate its veracity or make it right per se.

As to the Pentecostal experience, what makes it different? Certainly even at Pentecost there were other religions that had tongues speech so how was what happened at Jerusalem different?

I think the Christian Scriptures make it different. Especially how Luke and Peter chose to interpret certain OT passages in light of the event, particularly Joel's prophecy (2:28-29 English Bibles). Obviously they saw the Pentecost event fulfilling Joel's prophecy.

Whereas, in previous times certain people received God's Spirit now God's Spirit is given to everybody.

As to the role of experience in religion (at least in the Christian religion) it can serve to balance the intellectual aspects of the faith but must be guided by the Scriptures. If everything was intellectual all the time I think faith would be boring for people. For example what is it that people like about going to Starbucks (or most coffee shops)? Or even a music concert? Certainly not the dry intellectualism?

At 10:57 AM, Blogger Eric said...


Thanks for answering back.

When I read the quote you posted, my main concern was the following, "As I learn more and more every year I find that my knowledge does not sustain my faith. My experience of God does."

It gets dangerous whenever we begin to emphasize knowledge over experience or experience over knowledge. The first can lead to dead orthodoxy. The second can lead to heresy.

In reading a book like I Corinthians, we get a picture of Paul having a healthy balance of knowledge and experience. For him, and I hope for us, the two did not compete but rather complemented each other.

I think you and I agree. It was just the emphasis within the quote that concerned me.


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