Previous | Next

October 1972 · Vol. 1 No. 4 · pp. 131–32 

Book Review

Encounter with the Holy Spirit

ed. George Brunk. Scottdale, PA: Herald, 1972. 245 pages.

Reviewed by Peter Peters

There has been a tremendous increase of awareness and interest in the person and work of the Holy Spirit in all denominations all over the world. In an effort to bring about proper understanding and teaching regarding the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, Eastern Mennonite Seminary invited pastors and seminary professors of several Mennonite churches and colleges to highlight various aspects of the Holy Spirit.

Encounter with the Holy Spirit is a symposium of fifteen papers that were presented at the Seminary on January 18-21, 1972.

Several things impressed me about the book.

One major emphasis that is born out by several papers is that the gift of the Spirit or the work of the Spirit is there to glorify Christ. The Spirit does not work apart from Christ but rather always points or directs the person to Christ. “We are not joined to a Spirit Jesus, but to an incarnate Christ by the Spirit.” Believers have been begotten of God. They are completely remade. Membership in God’s kingdom is restricted to those who are born again, those who are recreated and redirected.

Noise, wind, and flames of fire were all evidences of God’s presence and creative breath. The new age had begun. The baptizing work of the Spirit has to do with the out-pouring of the Spirit at Pentecost, the gift to those who believe, and their incorporation into the body of Christ. Those who have experienced the new birth by the Spirit witness to the reality of it. The fruit of the Spirit is to be seen in terms of a transformed ethical life and character and not in terms of mystical experience. The Christian experience of the Holy Spirit has as its content the encounter with the living Christ.

A second important concept that emerges from the book is the way in which the Holy Spirit energizes and equips the different members of the Church for the development of the church and the proclamation of the Gospel. “From beginning to end, whether in references to our personal Christian lives or to the life of the Church, the profound and unmistakable fact is that every inch of progress toward the accomplishment of that ultimate will of God is both inspired, empowered, and accomplished in and through us by the energizing work of the Holy Spirit.” The gifts of the Spirit are to be seen in this light. Only those anointed by the Spirit of God can be considered as having the proper credentials for service and only through such service will their work be acceptable and effective.

Several gifts are illustrated in the book. Administration, for example, is shown to be a gift of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the personal directive agency in the church.

The Holy Spirit also empowers some in the work of proclamation and evangelism. Still others serve to promote the enrichment of the {132} Christian life rather than the ends of personal holiness. Christian community is a gift of God, it is a creation of the Spirit. We discern by the Spirit the gift and role God has for our brother.

It is in connection with the gifts of the Spirit that we find several contributors giving a word of caution and concern. One says, “We must not let gifts, endowments of power, and answers to prayer become more important than worshipping or seeking the Giver.” As we pray in the Spirit, our thoughts and concerns go beyond ourselves to the needs of others. The unity of the church is not to be destroyed by diversity. Our concern should be that all members use their gifts to serve God and to build His Kingdom. As each has received a gift, employ it for one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace (1 Peter 4:10).

There are some today who have the gift of healing, and the gift of prophesy in terms of foretelling. The accounts given speak of individuals with a very meaningful prayer life and with a deep humility before God. God works in mysterious and wonderful ways. This reviewer reserves judgment because he does not understand.

The book shows that both experience and knowledge of the Holy Spirit are needed as a solid base for living the Christian life in today’s world; it is well written and interestingly arranged in terms of the topics included. Three of the fifteen chapters represent the lectures given by David Ewert, formerly of the MB Bible College (“The Baptizing Work of the Holy Spirit,” “Born of the Spirit,” “Glossolalia in the Church Today”).

Peter Peters, Principal
MB Collegiate Institute, Winnipeg.

Previous | Next