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Between Two Extremes: Balancing Word-Christianity and Spirit-Christianity, a review essay by Amos Yong

On the other hand, Kendall acknowledges that whereas Cain “was to have represented the ‘Spirit’ side,” and Kendall himself the Word, yet “he [Cain] turned out to emphasize the Word more and I the prophetic” (p. x). Cain is coming from a charismatic tradition which has generally neglected the Scriptures and understand any emphasis on Scripture as “dead orthodoxy.” Clearly, then, Cain has been and remains on guard against the kinds of charismatic excesses that occur in environments devoid of an adequate Biblical foundation. Kendall, meanwhile, being a newcomer to the charismatic movement from a High-Church tradition, has found renewal and revival in the ways of the Spirit. It is Kendall who prophetically calls for a “post-charismatic era” (Ch. 5). This heralds not a new theology of Christ or even of the Spirit, but a new Ecclesiology—a new way in which the Church goes about the business of being the Church. So, both Cain and Kendall anticipate a fresh outpouring of God in this convergence of Word and Spirit.

I would simply add that as keen-sighted as the vision of both these men of God is, what they or any of us may envision would still be relatively short-sighted in comparison to the glory that will be revealed. The work of God is both “nothing new under the sun,” and yet something that “eye has not seen and ear has not heard.” There is something exciting and truly unforeseeable in the unity of Word and Spirit that Cain and Kendall speak so forcefully about.

Unlike the Biblical shepherd from Tekoa after whom I was named, I am neither a prophet, nor the son of a prophet (Amos 7:14). However, insofar as we are all obligated to discern the messages of prophets (1 Cor. 14:29), this book should be read prayerfully. Through it and other instruments sovereignly appointed by God, may the Holy Spirit continue to blow fresh winds and renew the Church, and indeed—the whole world…

Reviewed by Amos Yong



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Category: Spirit, Winter 2000

About the Author: Amos Yong is Professor of Theology & Mission and director of the Center for Missiological Research at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena. His graduate education includes degrees in theology, history, and religious studies from Western Evangelical Seminary and Portland State University, Portland, Oregon, and Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts, and an undergraduate degree from Bethany University of the Assemblies of God. He is the author of numerous papers and over 30 books. Facebook

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