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Doug Bannister: The Word and Power Church


Doug Bannister, The Word & Power Church: What Happens When a Church Experiences All God Has to Offer? (Zondervan Publishing House, 1999), 208 pages, ISBN 9780310227106.

Doug Bannister is one of an increasing number of voices crying out for the Church to awaken to its full potential in the power of the Word and of the Spirit. Here, this Evangelical Free Church pastor recounts his own pilgrimage from a cessationist seminary education to the pentecostal experience and a Spirit-filled life. He writes with both passion and concern—passion to share his life-transforming encounter with the Spirit, and concern that the Church not be one-sided in either direction, but fully embrace life in, through, and with Word and Spirit.

The structure of the book thus reflects Bannister’s own journey. Part One contains his appeal to transcend the former antagonism and suspiciousness that characterized evangelical-charismatic relationships. It includes a brief history of evangelicalism in layman’s terms which retrieves and highlights charismatic elements as part and parcel (rather than outside intrusions) of that heritage. The distinctive strengths of both evangelicalism and the charismatic movement are delineated to lead the reader to appreciate Bannister’s pastoral convictions regarding the importance of a Word-and-Spirit Church. Here, the balance between Word and Spirit is depicted at its best, and will appeal to both evangelical charismatics—committed charismatics who yearn for more of the Word—and charismatic evangelicals—committed evangelicals who yearn for more of the Spirit.

In Part Two, however, Bannister turns to address his target audience: conservative evangelicals and cessationists who have traditionally placed a premium on Word because of either neglect or experiential ignorance of Spirit. In successive chapters, he discusses what it means to believe in a God that speaks today, presents a evangelical-charismatic theology of tongues, explains the dynamics of a Spirit-filled and empowered life, and describes the contemporary revival of worship in the Church that is both edifying for believers and evangelizing for unbelievers or those on the margins. Yet Bannister is not oblivious to the concerns that many conservative evangelicals have had about the charismatic experience, especially given some of the excesses which have followed the movement. His chapter on “Power and Pain” is an even-handed treatment of how evangelicals and charismatics should respond to situations when prayers for the sick are unanswered. The theology of healing proposed strikes a balance between charismatic enthusiasm/fanaticism and conservative evangelical stoicism/determinism.

A number of features make this book eminently useful. It is readable, anecdotal and personable. Almost every page contains captions which highlight important points. Each chapter concludes with study questions to facilitate review and reflection. And, readers of the Pneuma Review will not be disappointed to find a theologically sound engagement with cessationist arguments in the first appendix. This book will stimulate thought and discussion for church study groups, weekend retreats, and even pastoral ministry seminars. It makes a nice gift for evangelical friends—pastors and layleaders alike—who are open to or looking for more of the Spirit-filled life.

Reviewed by Amos Yong


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Category: Spirit, Winter 2001

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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