Sunday, January 01, 2006

The Holy Spirit: A Comprehensive Study of the Person and Work of the Holy Spirit by John F. Walvoord.

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I recently read John Walvoord's book on The Holy Spirit. While I read it as required reading for a seminary class I'm taking, I found it very edifying and dealt with some topics that I really was not expecting. It would be my guess that the author wrote the book in response to Pentecostal teaching on the Holy Spirit, but it is more than a reaction. The book si a solid theological work explaining the Holy Spirit. When Walvoord is sometimes reacting to Pentecostal teaching on the Holy Spirit, instead of explaining how he came to his view, he occasionally gives in to the temptation of merely saying it is well established from a study of Scripture that his view is what is taught. While most of his fellow Dispensationalists would need little more than that, perhaps a few Charismatics and Pentecostals like to read his arguments against their teaching. Despite this weakness, the books strength is that he does not have an ax to grind against Pentecostal teaching and spends most of his time actually on the teaching of Scripture.

COMMON GRACE
Walvoord has a section on common grace and the Holy Spirit. In it he explains how the Holy Spirit is at work in the world preventing sin from being worse than it is. It is important to Dispensational thinking that during the Great Tribulation, the Holy Spirit will no longer stop sin in the same way that He does now. Being more covenantal in my theology, I still found it helpful to understand how the Holy Spirit is at work and benefits those who are not believes by restraining evil.

ONE BAPTISM; MANY FILLINGS
I read a book on the Holy Spirit by Billy Graham years ago. One of the main things I remember from that book was all Christians receive the Holy Spirit at conversion but as they walk with Christ, there are many times they may be filled with the Spirit. Walvoord does an excellent job discussing the differences between the Spirit's work in regeneration of the believer, the baptism of the Spirit, the indwelling of the Spirit, the sealing of the Spirit and the filling of the Spirit. According to some Pentecostal teaching, these can be different experiences which of course means more trips to the alter to take their Christian experience to the next level. His section on conditions for filling of the Holy Spirit held to a simple but helpful outline.

1.Quench not the Spirit – 1 Thess 5:19
2.Grieve not the Spirit – Ephesians 4:30
3.Walk by the Spirit – Galatians 5:16


The phrase “quench the Spirit” Walvoord says means to be unyielded to Him, to not be willing to do His revealed will. By “grieve the Spirit” the meaning is sin. And “walking by the Spirit” means continual experience of acting with the power and presence of the Holy Spirit.

HISTORY
Walvoord has in chapter 26 a history of the doctrines associated with the Holy Spirit. This provided a way to understand what the church has taught through the ages. While I did not particularly enjoy the section on modern liberal teaching and neo-orthodox teaching, it was good for me to read their views. The edition of the book I have is quite old, printed in 1973. I looked on Google Book Search to ensure I had all the sections, and it appears that I do. What seemed to be missing in the history section was Pentecostal doctrinal development. He did deal with this in his development of other topics, but still, it would be fitting to discuss the major thinkers and schools of thought in Pentecostal circles.

CONCLUSION
I highly recommend this book to other, I found it edifying and informative. In an age where the understanding of the Holy Spirit has caused much division, this is a work worth your time to read. This book does not solve all problems, but it does focus on many more issues than the Charismatic, Pentecostal, and Vineyard Movement controversies. I am of the opinion that it is often more helpful to discuss other topics than the point of controversy in order to get context for the subject in a more global perspective. This book definitely does that.
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