Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
RAR 3:2 (Spring 1994) p. 117
Perspectives on Pentecost: New Testament Teaching on the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, Richard Gaffin, Jr. Phillipsburg, New Jersey: Presbyterian & Reformed (1979). 127 pages, paper, $7.95.
Dr. Richard Gaffin has written a useful book on a vital subject. In the brief opening chapter we are informed of the two controlling convictions which underlie all that is written. The first is that the Spirit poured out on Pentecost is intent upon bringing unity to the church through guiding it into the truth. The second is that experience itself is not a source of Christian knowledge and doctrine; rather, the Bible is the standard for all genuinely Christian experience.
In the words of our author:
The ground plan of this book involves a progressively narrowing exegetical focus on the subject of spiritual gifts. It begins by trying to capture in a brief sketch something of the breadth and richness of the whole work of the Spirit in the church (chapter 2), moves on to survey a number of considerations that bear on spiritual gifts in general (chapter 3), then concentrates specifically on the gifts of prophecy and tongues (chapter 4) and the question of cessation (chapter 5). The final chapter seeks briefly to relate the exegetical conclusions of the preceding chapters to some of the fundamental issues raised by the renewed and intense interest of our day in spiritual gifts (p. 10).
The author has addressed himself to a controversial topic with a sobermindedness which is compelling. He speaks with both candor and respect to those who would differ with him. He is seeking truth which he desires will lead to unity. He does so with a gracious spirit often missing in such books. Some will feel that in seeking to be gracious the
RAR 3:2 (Spring 1994) p. 118
author has gone too far when he writes: “It ought to go without saying that what is usually termed the charismatic movement embodies the concerns and experiences of those who, for the most part, belong to Christ.” Yet it is because of this perspective that this book would be a good one to give to someone willing to examine his experience by the Word of God.
On the other hand, this reviewer wonders whether the author’s style of writing will find a ready audience outside the community of professional theologians and those with formal theological training. Several portions of the book are written in such a way that the untrained layperson will get lost. Greek words are not transliterated, technical terms (like eschatological, subeschatological, post-Kantian ontology and epistemology) are used without any clear definition given, and concepts are communicated which would be very complex for the untrained mind. These...
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