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Peter Hocken: The Glory and the Shame

 

The insights of this work fill every chapter. Chapter two centers on the “Surprises of the Holy Spirit:” that the Spirit acts in ways that are far reaching and beyond the “received theology” of the Christian community. The original Azusa Street revival was a surprise to the many Methodists and Holiness groups praying for revival. It came in a most undignified place, in an inter-racial, interdenominational setting, and was led by a poorly educated African-American preacher. Similarly, the charismatic revival of the 1960s was a surprise to the Pentecostals of the era as their received theology had argued that the mainline denominations were beyond redemption and renewal. Hocken points to two other “surprises of the Sprit,” the Catholic Charismatic renewal, and the newer movement of messianic Judaism. All these surprises are not without biblical precedent, as the Book of Acts shows how the Apostles were shaken out of their received theology by the surprising work of the Spirit in bringing the Gentiles into the Kingdom (chapter three).

For Fr. Hocken these surprises do not represent caprice on the part of the Sprit, but are the product of the profound wisdom of God (chapter four). The surprises act towards the ultimate goal of creating and perfecting the Church into its final glorious form. Only in historical perspective can we catch a glimpse of the reasons behind the surprises. For example, the Azusa Street revival was rejected by the mainline denominations, and the Pentecostals forced into a exile from Evangelical approval and cooperation. This seems like a tragedy, but in fact can be seen as the Spirit’s providential plan. The period of exile and disdain allowed the Pentecostals to formulate the theology and pastoral practices of the gifts of the Spirit unencumbered by the ill fitting traditions of the mainline churches.

Hocken’s attitude towards denominational differences is another major insight of this work. Rather than imagining some sort of ultimate amalgamation of Evangelical and Pentecostal Christianity, he sees the Unity of Church as in the heavenlies. This is reflected in the glorious moments of worship common to many interdenominational meetings and conferences. Fr. Hocken does not dismiss the serious doctrinal differences that exist among denominations. Rather, he sees the Spirit moving in each denomination, whether from the old churches (Catholic or Orthodox), the Reformed family of churches, or the newer Pentecostal/charismatic groups, to affirm their original grace of foundation and insight, while chipping away at their exaggerations and errors. Thus the Spirit both constantly affirms what is good and corrects what is amiss. Fr. Hocken writes:

Each church grouping has a responsibility before God for its own faithfulness to the Word of life. Each body or network of believers has a responsibility to preserve at all costs, and to live as deeply as possible, all that the Spirit of God has given. Each Church body has a responsibility to repent for its infidelity to the Lord. This means seriously seeking the sifting of the Spirit of God to make clear what in its inheritance is of the Spirit…and what is a defilement for which to repent. (p.194)

Hocken was led to this insight by his discovery of little known French Pentecostal prophet and pastor, Louise Dalliere. In the 1930s Dalliere foresaw that Pentecostalism was a grace to the whole church, and that the old churches and Reformed denominations would eventually all be touched by it. But rather than a new amalgam being formed, the grace of Pentecost would restore the best of their original grace and eliminate the elements of sin and pride (chapter eleven).

 

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Category: Church History, Summer 2001

About the Author: William L. De Arteaga, Ph.D., is known internationally as a Christian historian and expert on revivals and the rebirth and renewal of the Christian healing movement. His major works include Quenching the Spirit: Discover the Real Spirit Behind the Charismatic Controversy (Creation House, 1992, 1996), Forgotten Power: The Significance of the Lord’s Supper in Revival (Zondervan, 2002), Agnes Sanford and Her Companions: The Assault on Cessationism and the Coming of the Charismatic Renewal (Wipf & Stock, 2015), and The Public Prayer Station: Taking Healing Prayer to the Streets and Evangelizing the Nones (Emeth Press, 2018). Bill pastored two Hispanic Anglican congregations in the Marietta, Georgia area, and is semi-retired. He continues in his healing, teaching and writing ministry and is the state chaplain of the Order of St. Luke, encouraging the ministry of healing in all Christian denominations. Facebook

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