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Kenneth Cain Kinghorn: The New Testament Gifts of the Holy Spirit

Kenneth Cain Kinghorn, The New Testament Gifts of the Holy Spirit (Lexington: Emeth Press, 2005), 120 pages, ISBN 9780975543566.

Kenneth C. Kinghorn, professor of Church History and Historical Theology at Asbury Seminary, herein offers a practical work for Christians. This book is not technical, nor necessarily academic in its orientation (though it is, of course, academically responsible). Rather, this book is seemingly focused to present practical information to the person in the pew. Not only are twenty gifts of the Spirit herein discussed, but Kinghorn also includes a personal inventory survey to help readers discover their own spiritual gifts.

Chapter one details three common problems that hinder our discovery and usage of the New Testament spiritual gifts. First, Kinghorn notes that there is unfortunately a lack of knowledge of spiritual gifts in the church. Second, he posits that a neglect of God’s laws and commands contributes to a lack of spiritual gift expression in the church today. Third, and perhaps most importantly, Kinghorn points out that an undisciplined life prohibits the expression of the New Testament spiritual gifts.

Although the New Testament does not give a forthright definition of a spiritual gift, Scripture nevertheless gives sufficient information regarding them. In chapter three, Kinghorn delineates the guiding principles that enable him to discern twenty spiritual gifts mentioned in the New Testament. Moreover, he gives three principles by which we may better understand spiritual gifts. First, he notes that true spiritual gifts are given by the Holy Spirit, and not another entity. Second, spiritual gifts enable one to do more than they are ordinarily capable of, which means that ‘natural talents’ do not qualify as spiritual gifts. Third, Kinghorn notes that spiritual gifts necessarily entail a responsibility for the employment of that gift by its recipient.

Kenneth Cain Kinghorn

In chapter three, Kinghorn lists the twenty New Testament spiritual gifts that he discerns, and comments upon them based upon the theological filter of the Wesleyan Quadrilateral (note, however, that he does not announce that he is doing such, but nevertheless it is apparent). Most readers of Pneuma Review will find no problems with the majority of the descriptions, though one needs to be aware that he does voice a distinctly Wesleyan understanding of tongues, which differs from the Pentecostal and charismatic understanding of the same. He notes, however, that minor differences in our doctrinal formulations about tongues-speaking should be allowed without breaking the fellowship wrought by the uniting Spirit. In an important note, Kinghorn believes in the continual relevance and availability of all twenty spiritual gifts for believers today.

I view it highly important that Kinghorn insists that all Christians have spiritual gifts, and that is our individual responsibility to discern and thereafter use them. Moreover, Kinghorn notes that God gifts us with spiritual gifts entirely without human merit (i.e., free grace), and that he grants them according to his sovereign will. Further, every gift is critical for a fully functioning church, as God intentions the spiritual gifts for ministry and service.

Kinghorn contends that Jesus left a promise, a legacy, and a mission to believers upon his ascent into heaven. Each of these three are being implemented and furthered by the Holy Spirit in believers today, Kinghorn contends. This book has two main aims, with one being to summarize the New Testament teachings regarding the spiritual gifts, and the other being to help one discover his or her own spiritual gifts. In my humble opinion, Kinghorn is successful in his venture.

Reviewed by Bradford McCall


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Preview The New Testament Gifts of the Holy Spirit

This review was originally published on the Pneuma Foundation (parent organization of website on June 18, 2008.

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Category: Spirit, Winter 2016

About the Author: Bradford L. McCall, B.S. in Biology (Georgia Southwestern St. University, 2000), M.Div. (Asbury Theological Seminary, 2005), grew up on a cotton farm in south Georgia. A graduate student at Holy Apostles College and Seminary, Bradford has particular interest in teleology, causation and early modern philosophy.

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