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The Kingdom and the Power, reviewed by Jon Ruthven

After a Forward by C. Peter Wagner, the editors introduce the work by laying out its rationale and structure (pp. 18-20). The format of Kingdom and the Power rests loosely on presenting a disputable quotation or allegation from a critic of the charismatic movement, such as John MacArthur or D. A. Carson, followed by an extended response. Overall the book’s responses to the critics are at a markedly higher level in terms of scholarship and argumentation than that of the critics. We older Pentecostals are not used to the scales being tipped like that!

The writers and editors are also to be commended for their sensitivity to their audience by anticipating and astutely treating the standard evangelical objections on many points. They seem to know as well just how far to push it in one sitting—“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now” (John 16:12). The writers of Kingdom anticipated the criticism against them that charismatics supposedly minimize the doctrine of the atonement (the cross). Later, J. Niehaus countered this criticism by emphasizing the charismatic flavor of Isaiah 53—healing in the atonement (pp. 32-33). Elsewhere, in fending off critics who wish to emphasize the experience of suffering in the New Testament to play down its charismatic power, the editors stress the need to maintain one of the key tensions in New Testament theology: power in weakness (pp. 332-33).

Chapter 1 by Jeffrey Niehaus offers the “Old Testament Foundations” for the remainder of Part I. Niehaus shows the parallels between the miracles of Moses and the later prophets, particularly those in the Elijah/­­Elisha cycles with those of Jesus, “the greatest of all the prophets,” as a fulfiller of those patterns. Niehaus moves on to describe the “deliverance ministry” in the Old Testament—an intriguing concept when one considers the close parallels of Old Testament idolatry with modern Satanic rituals. This section might have been strengthened by showing that each of the miracles of Moses and those of Elijah seem to confront systematically the corresponding province of the respective competing deities. In Moses’ case each plague was a direct assault on a specific Egyptian deity and its turf, as was each of Elijah and Elisha’s miracles, where Baal was thought to be the producer of lightning, thunder, rain, fertility, food, and children. Similarly, throughout the New Testament there is a strong tie exhibited between the miraculous and the struggle against the demonic. Further, an examination of some of the Old Testament passages on the promised new covenant would show how normatively the presence of the Spirit of prophecy was to be expressed in each believer at the coming of the Messiah. As Moses said, “Oh, that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them” (See also Isaiah 42:6-7; and especially 59:21; 61:8 with vs. 1; and Jeremiah 31:33).

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Category: Fall 1999, Spirit

About the Author: Jon M. Ruthven, Ph.D., spent his entire adult life in ministry, starting with David Wilkerson in Boston and New York City in the mid-60s. After spending a dozen years pastoring, a couple a years as a missionary in Africa as the head of Bible school, he ended up teaching theology in seminary for 18 years. Always interested in training and discipleship, Jon is developing a radically biblical approach to ministry training that seeks to replicate the discipling mission of Jesus in both content and method. Jon has written numerous scholarly papers and books including On the Cessation of the Charismata: The Protestant Polemic on Postbiblical Miracles (1993 and 2009) and What’s Wrong with Protestant Theology? Tradition vs. Biblical Emphasis (2013). He continues to emphasize the biblical grounding for a practical ministry of healing, signs and wonders in the power of the Spirit. Facebook.

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