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Manifestations and Gifts of the Spirit: An Interview with Andrew Gabriel

Pneuma Review: Please tell our readers about your Pentecostal roots.

Andrew Gabriel: I grew up worshipping in primarily Pentecostal churches, although we did, at times, attend some other denominational churches. After graduating from high school, I studied at a Pentecostal Bible college, and eventually I was ordained in the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada, as I still am today.

Pneuma Review: In your book, Simply Spirit-Filled, you said that at one point in your life you were a spiritual experience junkie. Please explain what you mean by that and why you went through that phase.

Andrew Gabriel: As I think about it now, the term ‘junkie’ might sound pejorative, but I don’t mean it to be. My heart was certainly in the right place. I was a young, somewhat naïve, Christian who wanted “all that God has for me,” as the preachers used to put it. As a result, you could say that I was “all in” when it came to trying to experience God.

The result was that, like some others around me, I wasn’t too concerned with trying to discern if experiences were authentically from God, or if they were emotional experiences that were being manufactured by the groups that I worshipped with. And, for the most part, I think the people that were manufacturing those experiences had good hearts too. They also wanted to experience God, but they thought that there were only certain ways to do so. So, for example, the music had to be a certain way, or maybe they would “encourage” you to fall down.

Pneuma Review: Later in your life you became quite skeptical of spiritual experiences. What factors contributed to that skepticism and what eventually brought you back to again appreciate the value of these spiritual experiences?

Andrew Gabriel: I think my skepticism was simply me over reacting to my realization that not everything I had experienced in the church was truly from God. And it probably stemmed from the same thing that made me a spiritual experience junkie in the first place—namely, a desire to experience God. Only now, I was more concerned with having authentic experiences of God.

My education nurtured a profound sense of the majesty and love of God.

My education contributed to both my skepticism and my recovery from that skepticism. First, my education encouraged me to be more discerning—that contributed to my skepticism. But, second, my education also nurtured a profound sense of the majesty and love of God. And as I recognized the beauty of God, it drew me back to the value of some of the spiritual experiences that I had become skeptical of in my overreaction to the inauthentic.

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Category: Spirit, Spring 2019

About the Author: Andrew K. Gabriel, Ph.D. (McMaster), is an ordained minister with the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada and associate professor of theology at Horizon College and Seminary, an affiliated college of the University of Saskatchewan. He has focused his research on the doctrines of God, the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, Pentecostalism, and Karl Barth. He is the author of Barth's Doctrine of Creation: Creation, Nature, Jesus, and the Trinity (2013), The Lord is the Spirit: The Holy Spirit and the Divine Attributes (2011), co-author of Johannine Writings and Apocalyptic: An Annotated Bibliography (2013), and a forthcoming book for pastors and laity, Simply Spirit-Filled: Experiencing God in the Presence and Power of the Holy Spirit (2019). You can download his free e-book Spirit Baptism in the Old and New Testaments (Not Just Acts) at his web page, www.AndrewKGabriel.com.

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