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The Kingdom and the Power, reviewed by Jon Ruthven

The editors of Kingdom and the Power are to be commended for including a substantial section on the practical expressions of the foregoing theology (Section II). Chapters 8 and 9 integrate practice of healing and deliverance with its biblical grounding, while Chapter 10 by Kirk Bottomly, “Confessions of an Evangelical Deist” documents the charismatic awakening of a Presbyterian minister.

Section III, “Related Studies,” treat further objections to charismatic phenomena. Stanley Burgess traces substantial number of cases of the miraculous in the post-apostolic church. This is followed by two studies that have particular relevance to the recent critics of the charismatic revivals in Toronto and Pensacola. Psychiatrist John White offers “a psychiatric view of behavioral phenomena associated with healing and gift-based ministry” in Chapter 12, while David Lewis lays out “A social anthropologist’s analysis of contemporary healing” in Chapter 13. These thoughtful analyses represent a satisfying response to reductionistic books like Hank Hanegraaff’s Counterfeit Revival. Charles and Marguerite Kraft (Chapter 14) show that biblical, power Christianity is much more relevant to cultures who see the demonic and the power of God with much clearer eyes than even Christian missionaries from the rationalistic West.

Finally, one ought not to ignore the appendices of Kingdom and the Power. These treat in meticulous detail particular criticisms of the charismatic experience. Among them: (1) “that the New Testament does not teach that evangelism is to be done by cultivating miracles”; (2) that the “greater works” promised by Jesus (John 14:12) are primarily works of salvation; (3) that the only true “Great Commission” (Matt. 28:19-20–as opposed to the others in Matt. 10; Luke 9 & 10) alone is binding on Christians today and is devoid of the miraculous; (4) the denial of a miracle-working church today; (5) the reality and treatment of the demonic; (6) models of prayer for healing and related phenomena; and finally, (7) miracles and the sufficiency of Scripture.

In concluding, I would offer only some minor suggestions to round out this work in future editions. First, I think it would be useful to include a historical survey of how the doctrine of cessationism developed. Many of those throughout history who espoused the doctrine either simultaneously or later repudiated it. Moreover, when one examines the evolutionary stages of cessationism from the rabbis (who originated the essential arguments of cessationism against Jesus and the early church), through the church fathers, to the Reformation and the Enlightenment, one can discover more clearly its fatal flaws. It is not enough to show that miracles happened throughout church history. One must also note the theological grounding offered for them. For example, in the half dozen or so cases where 1 Cor. 13:8-10 was used by the church fathers in connection with prophecy they unanimously used it to prove the continuation of the gift. In all other contexts, they indicated that “the perfect” was the end of the age.

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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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