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Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Word, Spirit and Neither-We're in the middle of something called the Word, Spirit and Power conference that our church is putting on; this is an expository tag-team of three "chronologically gifted" gentlemen named Jack Taylor, R.T. Kendall and Charles Carrin, who banter like a AARP-eligible Rat Pack (if you've ever seen clips of the Sinatra gang in Vegas) before launching into some excellent preaching and ministry time. As R.T. Kendall put it on Sunday, evangelicaldom generally breaks down into two camps, the Spirit (Pentecostal/Charismatic) camp who go to church looking for signs and wonders and want to bring back the Acts to life and the Word (Baptists and other non-charismatics) camp who focuses on the written Word of God and goes to church looking for good expository preaching wants to bring back to the days of Luther, Calvin and Jonathan Edwards. If you can tap into both the Word and the Spirit, things happen that you don't get alone; the loose cannon of the Spirit-filled believer gets GPS targeting. If you combine Word and Spirit, you get the Power to see God move in a potent way. Sounds downright Bapticostal. All three of the guys are ex-Baptists who by focusing on the Holy Spirit have come over to the charismatic camp, yet haven't left their reverence for the Word behind. Bible study helps to guardrails on a Spirit-filled life, allowing the believer to better understand what God is looking for and keeping him away from a lot of heresy and sloppy theology that Spirit folks tend to fall into. It was interesting to see the pastors who came to the conference. I got introduced to the "Fullness Movement" that hit the Baptists in the 80s. Most of the pastors were either Baptists or Vineyard folks who were Baptists before discovering the Holy Spirit in His fullness, including Pastor Lykes who started what is now the Lakeland Vineyard after being given the left foot of disfellowship from the Baptists over a decade ago. What if you have neither the Word or the Spirit? You have the modern mainliners. Having neither the Bible nor the Holy Spirit to guide them, they tend to drift along as part of a greater culture. That's why I questioned Martin Roth's assessment that the mainline church had "capitulated to the culture." It's not that the mainline denominations give into the culture, they are part of the culture. They take the Bible on an a-la-carte basis, throwing out the non-PC parts and turn their backs on anything supernatural. If you have the Word or the Spirit, you have protection from the worst parts of culture. If you have both, you have some real power. If you have neither, you're rudderless and without an engine, lost on a cultural sea.

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