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Matthias Wenk: Community-Forming Power, reviewed by Amos Yong

Wenk’s book is replete with such insights into the transforming word and work of the Spirit in Luke-Acts. The Spirit-inspired speeches in the infancy narratives (Luke 1-2) herald the new, restoring work of God that is about to transpire through Jesus (Luke) and the believing community (Acts). Jesus’ ministry of reconstituting a liberated community is itself anointed by the Spirit of God (Luke 4:18-19). Luke’s version of what we’ve came to identify as the Lord’s prayer (11:2-4) is the means through which the people of God ask and receive the life transforming and community-forming power of the Spirit of God (11:13). Pentecost (Acts 2) is a liberative event of the Spirit that results in the formation of the new messianic community (2:42-47). Elsewhere in volume two of Luke-Acts, the Spirit’s words and works level out socio-economic, ethnic, and gender differences, even while these same words and works identify, mark, and guide the people of God. Wenk’s exposition of Luke-Acts thus highlights the restoring and reconciling work of the Spirit of God that brings human beings into relationship with God and with each other. It turns out that my listening to what the Spirit is saying includes my being open to being transformed by what is said, and not just myself, but all those claim to be of the Spirit of God and are claimed by that same Spirit.

My listening to what the Spirit is saying includes my being open to being transformed by what is said.

Make no mistake about it: this is a scholarly book, extensively researched and heavily footnoted throughout. Pastors and lay leaders will probably be slowed not only by the technical apparatus accompanying almost every page, but also by the original Hebrew and Greek script in both the main text and the notes, and the ongoing scholarly discussion carried on with others, including those mentioned above. And, Part I which focuses on the Spirit in the intertestamental literature and takes up almost 20% of the book will almost surely appeal only to scholars. Nevertheless, those pastors, preachers, students and lovers of Scripture who persevere through this text will be amply rewarded with exegetical insights, and greatly enriched in terms of their biblical literacy.

The rhema word of the Spirit of God is formative and transformative for individuals-in-community.

The Pentecostal experience can no longer be understood in individualistic terms after Wenk’s book. Rather, the rhema word of the Spirit of God is formative and transformative, and that precisely for individuals-in-community. The entire Church, not to mention the communities of Pentecostal believers world around, will be challenged by Wenk’s prophetic word that insists the words of the Spirit go beyond conveying information to transforming those hearers open to what the Spirit is saying and doing. To those who have ears, let them hear what the Spirit is saying to the Churches in this book.

Reviewed by Amos Yong

 

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Category: Ministry, Spring 2001

About the Author: Amos Yong is Professor of Theology & Mission and director of the Center for Missiological Research at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena. His graduate education includes degrees in theology, history, and religious studies from Western Evangelical Seminary and Portland State University, Portland, Oregon, and Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts, and an undergraduate degree from Bethany University of the Assemblies of God. He is the author of numerous papers and over 30 books. fuller.edu/faculty/ayong/ amosyong@fuller.edu Facebook

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