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Bill Hull: Straight Talk on Spiritual Power, reviewed by Robert Graves

According to Hull, there are “two simple reasons” to disbelieve that “every person who is baptized in the Holy Spirit speaks in tongues” (p. 111): first, the baptism in the Holy Spirit, per Paul, is conversion; second, not all speak in tongues, per 1 Corinthians 12:30. The reasons are far from simple! As shown above, Hull’s interpretation of 12:13a is suspect—certainly not definitive. His use of 12:30 is, likewise, suspect given (1) Paul’s statement that he “would that …all spoke in tongues” (1 Corinthians 14:5), (2) his belief that tongues edified the speaker (14:4), (3) the context of 12:30 was not that of private usage but public ministry, (4) the uniquely evidential quality of glossolalia, and, above all, Luke’s purposeful and explicit re-telling of the accounts of the baptism in the Holy Spirit of the Jews, the Gentiles, and the Ephesian believers, wherein ALL, not one or two or some, of those baptized spoke in tongues (cf. R. Menzies and W. Menzies, Spirit and Power and Howard Ervin, Spirit-Baptism: A Biblical Investigation). If the tongues of Acts were simply the gift of tongues, we would not expect ALL to speak in tongues, in violation of Paul’s injunction that only two or three should speak (1 Corinthians 14:27) and in violation of his teaching on gift distribution (1 Corinthians 12). Clearly these tongues were for a sign and different in function from the public use of the gift of tongues found in parts of 1 Corinthians 12, where the gifts are characterized as sovereignly limited in distribution by the Holy Spirit.

Hull rightly asserts that all the gifts and the power of the Holy Spirit are for today, but he gives an uncertain sound when it comes to explaining how the filling of the Holy Spirit comes, how you know it, and what it does for the Christian. 19th-century and 20th-century history is filled with dead or practically dead movements and denominations that espoused this nebulous teaching on the filling of the Holy Spirit. Only an appreciation of Luke as theologian and, thus, Luke-Acts as a primer of individual, prophetic Christian service will correct the epistle-weighted theologies of the bygone 20th century.

Reviewed by Robert W. Graves

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Category: Spirit

About the Author: Robert W. Graves, M. A. (Literary Studies, Georgia State University), is the co-founder and president of The Foundation for Pentecostal Scholarship, Inc., a non-profit organization supporting Pentecostal scholarship through research grants. He is a Christian educator and a former faculty member of Southwestern Assemblies of God College in Waxahachie, Texas, and Kennesaw State University (adjunct). He edited and contributed to Strangers to Fire: When Tradition Trumps Scripture and is the author of Increasing Your Theological Vocabulary, Praying in the Spirit (1987 and Second Edition, 2017) and The Gospel According to Angels (Chosen Books, 1998).

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