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French Arrington: Encountering the Holy Spirit

 

French L. Arrington, Encountering the Holy Spirit: Paths of Christian Growth and Service (Cleveland, TN: Pathway Press, 2003), 546 pages.

One hundred and four years ago (as of the time of this writing), two births took place: the birth of the twentieth century, and the birth of the Pentecostal movement. And in a little more than a century, that movement has become a global phenomenon, growing in size to the point where more than half of all Christians worldwide consider themselves to be Pentecostal/charismatics. This growth has helped to reawaken interest in and exploration of the person and work of the Holy Spirit, and Arrington’s new book is a welcome addition to that exploration. The recently retired professor of New Testament Greek and Exegesis at the Church of God Theological Seminary, Dr. Arrington expresses the importance of the Third Person of the Trinity very succinctly: “The critical element to the life, vitality and growth of the Christian church has been, and remains, the presence and power of the Spirit” (p. 19).

Arrington, no stranger to Pentecostal scholarship, presents us with an excellent volume on the subject of pneumatology, focusing mainly on the work of the Spirit in each believer, as well as in the local congregation and the Body of Christ as a whole. This focus occurs in an examination of seven main (and fairly comprehensive) topics (p. 20):

1. The Spirit in the Old Testament.

2. The Spirit’s role in conversion and the Christian walk.

3. Baptism in the Holy Spirit.

4. The relationship of glossolalia to baptism in the Spirit.

5. The results of baptism in the Spirit.

6. The gifts of the Spirit.

7. The challenge of living the Spirit-filled life in the church and in the world.

He concludes his book with a chapter filled with accounts of individuals’ experiences with the Spirit.

The worldwide growth of the Pentecostal/charismatic movement “has helped to reawaken interest in and exploration of the person and work of the Holy Spirit, and Arrington’s new book is a welcome addition to that exploration.”

Recognizing the controversies that the topic of pneumatology creates within Christian scholarship, Arrington is careful to keep his theology based firmly upon the Word of God. He defends the Pentecostal distinctives of the theology of the Spirit very well, while at the same time giving his discussions a feeling of simplicity, in such a way that it is almost like sitting down face to face with him for a friendly Bible study. His style is exhortational and encouraging, rather than preachy or confrontational.

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Category: Spirit, Summer 2004

About the Author: Michael J. Knowles earned his Bachelor of Theology degree at Summit Pacific College in Abbotsford, BC, Canada, and has published numerous articles and book reviews. He and his family currently live in Washington state, where he teaches health education at Skagit Valley College in Mount Vernon, and also works as a pharmacy technician in Bellingham.

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