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Clive Calver: Descending Like a Dove


Clive Calver, Descending Like a Dove: The Truth About the Holy Spirit (Lake Mary, FL: Charisma House, 2004) 177 pages, ISBN 1591852900.

More than 20 years ago, David Wilkerson voiced concern about a “Christless Pentecost.”1 Today, the concern is about a Spiritless Pentecost, a charismatic experience that treats the Holy Spirit as a “silent partner, the forgotten member of the Trinity” (2).

In his new book, Descending Like a Dove: The Truth About the Holy Spirit, author Clive Calver invites readers to have a more intimate relationship with God through the power of the Holy Spirit. He argues that the Spirit and His workings are often misunderstood in both the charismatic and non-charismatic traditions. Calver contends that while the ministry of the Holy Spirit may differ in some ways from the ministry of Christ and the Father, He is “no less than the very Presence of the living God making His home in the life of the believer” (3).

According to Calver, the charismatic experience should not be limited to material blessings, emotional highs or speaking in tongues. He believes that “God gives us His Spirit so that we might be supernaturally equipped to live as God Himself intended that we should” (6).

Clive Calver

Calver, a very capable writer, has been involved in Christian ministry in the United States and abroad for many years. He is president of World Relief, an organization that serves as the humanitarian aid arm of the National Association of Evangelicals. He has served as director general of the Evangelical Alliance of the United Kingdom, and program director of Billy Graham’s Mission England. He has also worked as national director of Youth for Christ in Britain.

Calver covers his topic from many angles. He uses 20 chapters to present a discussion of the Trinity and the role of the Godhead in salvation, holiness, spiritual growth and practical ministry. He gives particular attention to the importance of the Holy Spirit. Using colorful and sometimes heart-warming anecdotes, he shows how the Holy Spirit operates in and through believers from the moment of salvation. His opening chapter, “The Missing Person of the Trinity,” sets the stage for the theme of the book. He writes:

Tragically, our struggle to understand the nature and character of the Holy Spirit has often resulted in our unconsciously but effectively deleting Him from the Trinity. But the Holy Spirit is the One who draws us near to God; He is the Person who lives in us and is intimately connected with our lives (3).

In discussing the work of the Spirit, Calver writes about demonology and provides careful instructions for exorcisms. He also takes a look at the Spirit in divine healing. While noting that healing is for the church today, he offers a word of caution:

We must be careful not to presume that God’s intention will be to heal every person on every single occasion. Although healing should remain our expectation and hope, we must be careful to encourage faith, not foolishness. We must first seek to find God’s will and then act in obedience to that will rather than our own desires, however good they may be! (138)

With regard to the anointing, Calver believes the church is anointed to help the poor and to deliver those who are bound. He also asserts that believers are anointed for suffering: “As the people of God we have been promised two things: success and suffering. … The success that is promised in Scripture relates more to our future than to the present circumstances in which we find ourselves” (130). Calver also calls for balance, arguing that God has promised to meet all of our needs.

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Category: Spirit, Spring 2008

About the Author: Roscoe Barnes III, Ph.D., is a prison chaplain, former award-winning journalist, and independent scholar of church history. He holds a doctorate from the University of Pretoria, South Africa, a M.A.R. from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, and B.S. and A.S. degrees from East Coast Bible College, Charlotte, N.C. He is the author of numerous books including F.F. Bosworth: The Man Behind “Christ the Healer” (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009), The Guide to Effective Gospel Tract Ministry (Church Growth Institute, 2004) and Off to War: Franklin Countians in World War II (White Mane Publishing, 1996). His articles have appeared in Refleks Journal, The Journal of the European Pentecostal Theological Association, The Africa Journal of Pentecostal Studies, and in numerous newspapers and popular magazines. He blogs at Roscoe Reporting and shares his F. F. Bosworth research at Professional: Roscoe Barnes III. Twitter: @Roscoebarnes3

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