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Holy Spirit Invasion: An Interview With Dean Merrill

PneumaReview.com speaks with Dean Merrill, the author or co-author of almost 50 books, about his latest book that investigates amazing and true stories of the work of the Holy Spirit today.

 

PneumaReview.com: Please tell our readers about any ways in which the Pentecostal or Charismatic movements have touched your life.

Dean Merrill: My parents, originally Quakers, were edging into a fuller life in the Spirit about the time I was born. So I was plunged from the beginning into the notion of taking Scripture, especially Acts and the Epistles, at face value; this was “normal Christianity” as far as I was concerned. My salvation occurred during my grade-school years, and my initial infilling with the Spirit on a Sunday night in an Assembly of God church took place a year or so later. I’ve never relinquished my trust in the empowering Holy Spirit to do what only he can do, regardless of contrary opinions. Despite my decades of work in the wider Christian publishing field, I’m as Pentecostal today as I’ve always been.

 

PneumaReview.com: Where did the idea for the book Miracle Invasion originate?

Dean Merrill: It started with my good friend Jeff Farmer, president of the Pentecostal/Charismatic Churches of North America (PCCNA), who envisioned a collection of true, authentic, credible stories of spiritual gifts in OUR time (not 80 or 100 years ago) on OUR continent (U.S., Canada, Mexico). I quickly signed on to do the research and writing. The book came onto the market in February 2018.

 

PneumaReview.com: How were the testimonies that were included in the book gathered?

Where does the Bible tell us that the charismata have ceased?

Dean Merrill: At first, I did a lot of asking and networking for story referrals. I then proceeded to sort them into groups that represented all the gifts listed in 1 Corinthians 12. To be honest, I discarded many of the suggestions: either they were from outside North America, or they were third-hand (“Somebody said that somebody said that something happened …”), or they were healing stories that a skeptic could attribute just as easily to sharp medical intervention. I wanted only material that bore the undeniable imprint of the Holy Spirit.

Following this, I began doing dozens of phone interviews with the actual people or their pastors. From these, I wrote drafts for sending back to get their approval and adjustments before proceeding to publication.

 

PneumaReview.com: The stories you shared in the book all come from North America. Why do you think that many believe that the exercise of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is more common in the Global South?

Sometimes we in the educated West are too sophisticated for our own good. We encounter a problem and think we know how to solve it by ourselves.

Dean Merrill: Sometimes we in the educated West are too sophisticated for our own good. We encounter a problem and think we know how to solve it by ourselves. A related problem in North American Pentecostalism is the current desire to fit in to the larger church culture, to be accepted in “the evangelical club,” to win the approval of others. In such cases, I wonder if the Holy Spirit doesn’t stand back on the curb with folded arms saying quietly, “You think you know all about how to do church, with careful scheduling and predictable components. Okay, go ahead … do your thing. I’ll just watch.”

I love what the brilliant missionary scholar Del Tarr (Ph.D., University of Minnesota) wrote in one of his books about “the dangers of any attempt to make God’s dealing with humanity through the cross of Christ or His baptism of fire a ‘reasonable’ one. Pentecostals are not meant to be ‘mainstream,’ and God help us if we get there.” (The Foolishness of God: A Linguist Looks at the Mystery of Tongues, p. xvi. [Editor’s note: Read the review by Jon Ruthven.])

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Category: Spirit, Spring 2018

About the Author: Dean Merrill has been published in over 40 Christian magazines and is the author or co-author of 49 books. His most recent title is Miracle Invasion: Amazing True Stories of the Holy Spirit’s Gifts at Work Today (BroadStreet, 2018). He has also written Damage Control: How to Stop Making Jesus Look Bad (Baker, 2006) and seven other solo titles. As a co-author, he is perhaps best known for the award-winning “Fresh Wind” trilogy with Jim Cymbala, pastor of New York City’s Brooklyn Tabernacle, which sold more than a million copies in hardcover (Zondervan). The initial book, Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire, was named Christian Book of the Year in 2000. He also assisted Gracia Burnham, missionary survivor who endured a year of captivity with a Muslim terrorist group in the southern Philippines. That book, entitled In the Presence of My Enemies (Tyndale), made the New York Times bestseller list and won a Gold Medallion award from the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA). Other notable titles have included a second book with Mrs. Burnham, To Fly Again (Tyndale); More than a Hobby, with Hobby Lobby founder and CEO David Green (Nelson); a book with Compassion International president Dr. Wess Stafford on the value of children, Too Small to Ignore (WaterBrook); and Every Man’s Bible (Tyndale), for which Merrill was the general editor. www.DeanMerrill.com

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