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Gary Tyra’s The Holy Spirit in Mission, reviewed by Malcolm Brubaker

Pneuma Review Fall 2012

Holy Spirit in MissionGary Tyra, The Holy Spirit in Mission: Prophetic Speech and Action in Christian Witness (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2011), 206 pages, ISBN 9780830839490.

Tyra, an experienced Assemblies of God pastor and Christian college teacher, has written a biblically based, academically conversant, and culturally informed appeal for Western evangelicals to seek for and exercise a Spirit-empowered Christianity. While not breaking new ground the book is an accessible synthesis of leading scholars with a view of how individual believers, local churches, and denominational leaders can implement such a revitalized and robust New Testament faith. The footnotes of The Holy Spirit and Mission reveal the author’s familiarity with current scholarly discussion. Missional church movement writers such as Darrell Gruder, Alan J. Roxburgh, and Alan Hirsch have exposed the weakness of Western Christianity due to an increasing secular culture. Leading renewal theologians such as Clark Pinnock, Gordon Fee, Amos Yong, Frank Macchia, and Robert Menzies have argued that Luke-Acts is more than a historical record but a “missional pneumatology” that should be a template for us today.

We will briefly review the content of this work. In the opening two chapters Tyra sets out the biblical foundation for a Spirit-empowered Christianity. The Old Testament is not ignored as he mines the Scripture for the actions and words of Spirit-empowered saints: Moses and the 70 elders in Numbers 11, Gideon and Samson in the book of Judges, and Saul’s prophesying in 1 Samuel 10:10 are some of examples associating the Holy Spirit with either speaking or acts of miraculous power. The New Testament evidence is centered on Luke-Acts which Tyra defends as giving a prescriptive and theological model for believers to emulate today. Thus the ministry of Christ and the stories of Stephen, Peter, Philip, and Paul provide windows into how the Spirit works in doing the will of God.

In his third chapter Tyra suggests that the explosive growth of pentecostal-styled Christianity in the “majority world” is due to the reliance of believers there on the powerful demonstration of the Spirit’s work. Other factors are mentioned but Tyra argues that the key to this numerical increase is the missional faithfulness of such Christians to speak and act under the spontaneous direction of the Spirit. It is what he calls a “theological realism” of being Bible-based, eschatologically driven, and obedient to the “call” of the Spirit to engage in personal and corporate evangelism. Anecdotal stories from Pentecostal missionaries such as Loren Cunningham’s Youth With A Mission and the Church of God provide illustrations of this thesis.

Chapter four returns to missional church literature to boldly underscore the book’s main idea that a new way of “doing church” in the West is imperative. Relying heavily upon Roxburgh and Boren’s Introducing the Missional Church, Tyra envisions the contemporary church focusing on community, service, and proclamation to represent God’s kingdom to the world. In the last chapter, Tyra returns to the biblical story of Ananias as a spiritually-obedient servant of God. The latter provides a model of missional faithfulness for local church leaders, denominational officials, and also academic faculty.

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Category: Fall 2012, Pneuma Review, Spirit

About the Author: Malcolm R. Brubaker, Th.M. (Westminster Theological Seminary), M.Div. (Trinity Evangelical Divinity School), B.A. (Evangel College), is Professor of Bible at Valley Forge Christian College in Phoenixville, PA, extension faculty for Assemblies of God Theological Seminary at VFCC, and a Ph.D. candidate at Regent University (Virginia Beach, VA). Malcolm has experience serving as a pastor and is the author of numerous articles and papers on biblical theology and homiletics, including the Ezekiel (1999) commentary for the Complete Biblical Library (World Library Press).

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