Craig S. Keener, Gift & Giver: The Holy Spirit for Today (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2001), 224 pages.
Craig Keener, a New Testament professor at Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary, has already made a name for himself in the world of biblical studies. The present work on the Holy Spirit will undoubtedly introduce his name also to the field of pneumatology. Gift & Giver is a concise and well-written book on the Holy Spirit. Its outline may as well be called exemplary, its goal and informative value priceless. Published by an academic publishing house, the book speaks well to a much wider audience than the academic world. From the perspective of the latter, one could also entitle the book “Discerning the Holy Spirit.” The framework of the book is formed by a discussion of the discernment and recognition of the Spirit and spiritual gifts. However, the decisive question for Keener is, “How do we discern the Spirit’s work today?” It is this question of applicability to our lives today that elevates the book beyond many of its academic contemporaries.
Keener admits that much of the material of the book is based on his earlier work 3 Crucial Questions about the Holy Spirit. However, the reorganization of that material and the application of biblical principles to daily life through personal stories of the author make Gift & Giver a more accessible book for a wider Christian audience than its predecessor. The sharing of personal stories is no longer limited to authors of the charismatic and Pentecostal movements but has long found entrance into theology as a valuable tool of teaching, confirmation and illustration. Difficult biblical and theological issues are dealt with in a scholarly and pastorally sensitive manner that offers a refreshing perspective on the work of the Holy Spirit. Even if one disagrees with Keener’s conclusions and personal insights at some points, the reader will remain challenged by the presentation of the biblical texts and their application to contemporary life.