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The Theological Problem of Spirit versus Scripture

A radical move

In 2002 I was contemplating an interstate move on the basis of a dream. ‘Move to Sydney,’ the Spirit had said, ‘and you will become the Academic Dean of Hillsong College.’ At the time, I had been working two part-time jobs – one at a local Bible college, and the other, pastoring a church in Melbourne. I was thriving in both positions, happily settled in a lovely home and had no plans to move to an unknown city a thousand kilometres away. In Sydney, Hillsong College wasn’t advertising a new position externally, nor was it their policy to do so. I was an unknown entity, connected only vaguely through my current networks. Still, the guidance had been spectacularly clear. Dreams and prophecies from six to seven independent sources all pointed in the same direction. The Spirit’s leading had checked all the boxes.

At the same time, the idea of leaving my jobs, friends and family with no possibility of employment was a radical one, particularly for a risk-averse single woman. When the time came to move, I was confronted with the ludicrousness of my situation and the all-consuming question: could I trust what God said?

At first, the answer seems obvious. Scripture assures us that God does what he says he will do: the word from God’s mouth does not return to him ‘empty’ but ‘achieve[s] the purpose’ it was sent for (Isa. 55:11); ‘God is not a human, that he should lie … Does he speak and then not act?’ (Num. 23:19; also 1 Sam. 15:29). But then the question comes: did those verses mean the same for me as they did back then for Samuel? Would God’s words ‘not return empty’ for me just as they wouldn’t return empty for Isaiah?

The answer depends on your theology. Some would say ‘yes’. Others would say ‘no’. Most Protestant theologians would say that my ‘hearing God’ experience was not as authoritative as those in the biblical accounts and could not be trusted in the same way. The experiences of the Bible are seen to be ‘special’ and unrepeatable, while contemporary encounters are seen to be more subject to human influence. Hence, the only reliable way to hear God today is through studying the Bible, listening to sermons, reading Christian books and obtaining the ‘wisdom of counsel’. Conversely, another group of theologians (largely from the Catholic tradition) would say that we can hear from God in the same way as the Bible characters did. So, if my Spirit revelation was authentic, I should follow it and believe for it to come to pass. Still another group would say that my experience was illegitimate from the outset: God doesn’t speak like that any more, so it was either the product of mental instability or, worse, diabolical influences.

On the surface, there were no clear answers about what God’s direction was: The practitioners had limited theology and the theologians had limited experience.

The situation was made more complex when I sought answers in my local Bible college library. There I found two groups of books. One was written by Protestant theologians. They applied historical-exegesis skills to make claims about the nature of contemporary experiences such as mine. The other group was written by Pentecostal practitioners. They told of amazing hearing God stories that were akin to the biblical accounts but seemed to have little theological depth. I was left with no clear answers. The practitioners had limited theology and the theologians had limited experience.

My questions about moving to Sydney highlighted a theological problem that has existed ever since the Scriptures were canonised in the fourth century. It is the reason why many churches today reject the idea of direct Spirit-revelation. The problem boils down to how we view the relationship of our Spirit-talking experiences to Scripture: how do our Spirit encounters compare with those in the Bible?

How does the spoken word of the Spirit relate to the written word of the Scriptures?

As we’ve seen in Scripture, God’s words are both a vessel of his power and a reflection of his character. Therefore, the claim to hearing God’s voice represents a claim to divine authority. If God has truly spoken, then his words have bearing over our lives and the circumstances to which they refer. At a practical level, that means that when God speaks, we should obey. It also means we should expect God’s words to come to pass. So, in this way of thinking, it would be right for me to move to Sydney and I should believe for my circumstances to come into alignment with God’s words. Just as Abraham moved when God told him to go to Canaan, and the apostle Paul moved when God told him to go to Macedonia, so should I move when God tells me to go to Sydney. If their response was to treat God’s words as authoritative, so should I.

Can you see our theological conundrum? The practical realities of contemporary revelatory experiences make them as authoritative as the Bible writers. This looks as if we’re placing our experience on par with the Bible, something most Protestant Christians would emphatically reject as illegitimate. The question is: how does the spoken word of the Spirit relate to the written word of the Scriptures?

Four answers to the theological problem

The answer to our theological problem is crucial because it shapes our understandings of how the Spirit speaks today, how we recognise it and how we respond to it. In turn, this frames our ideas about discipleship and ministry, as well as the nature and role of the Scriptures.

Four different frameworks have been proposed to address the problem of ‘Spirit versus Scripture’. In this chapter, we examine each of them closely. The first and third approaches assume that our contemporary experiences are discontinuous with the biblical experience. The second and fourth anticipate continuity with the biblical experience. We will see why the first three options are inadequate and why the fourth provides the only logical basis for a theology of hearing God’s voice.


1. God on mute

The first theological framework, ‘God on mute’, holds that the Spirit no longer speaks in the same way as in Bible times. As we’ve noted, this position, known as cessationism, holds to the belief that divinely inspired speech ceased with the close of the canon in the early centuries of the church (or when the original apostle died). Hence, the only way God ‘speaks’ today is via the Scriptures: God’s voice is heard through studying the Bible, listening to sermons and reading books that expound the Bible. Direct revelatory encounters are no longer plausible.

This perspective also holds that God can only speak about that which has already been said in the biblical past. The Spirit does not speak specifically on personal matters such as where to live or what job to take. Neither does God speak about his plans for the future or how to deal with ethical issues beyond the Scriptures. Instead, divine insight comes through careful application of the biblical text – we hear God best when we hone our hermeneutical skills. As evangelical theologian James Packer wrote:
While it is not for us to forbid God to reveal things apart from Scripture, or to do anything else (he is God after all), we may properly insist that the New Testament discourages Christians from expecting to receive God’s words to them by any other channel than that of attentive application to themselves of what is given to us twentieth century Christians in holy Scripture.1
The cessationist perspective has ebbed and flowed in the church since its inception. Today it is typically found in the Reformed and dispensational segments of the Protestant evangelical tradition,2 but it is becoming less popular under the influence of Pentecostalism and the Charismatic movement in mainline churches.3

The thinking behind contemporary cessationism largely stems from a desire to protect the authority, uniqueness and sufficiency of the Scriptures. This is not an unimportant concern, since history shows us that whenever the Scriptures lose their priority in the church, doctrinal compromise soon follows. For cessationists, then, any claim to extrabiblical revelation is invalid, subversive and even demonic. It is seen to ‘add’ to the canon and attack the Bible’s uniqueness. Any additional voice ‘weakens the power of the Word’ and results in a ‘spiritual free-for-all’, giving rise to heretical movements in the church.4 As one of cessationism’s leading proponents, John MacArthur laments: ‘New revelation, such as dreams and visions, are considered as binding on the believer’s conscience as the book of Romans or the Gospel of John.’5

The cessationists have a good point. As we’ve seen, when we claim to hear God’s voice, we are invoking divine authority. The Scriptures themselves tell us that authority derives from the speaker (e.g. Jer. 23:29; Heb. 4:12). If God were truly speaking, we would be expected to obey his words to us as much as the biblical characters were expected to obey his words to them (e.g. Rev. 1:3). Any valid perspective on Spirit versus Scripture must acknowledge that a true word from God is authoritative, whether situated within the Bible or outside it.

However, the great tragedy of the cessationist position is that it silences the voice of the Spirit in the church, the very pinnacle of the New Covenant. It defies the words of the apostle Peter when he proclaimed that Pentecost represented the long-awaited fulfilment of God’s promise for the communicating Spirit. Peter made it clear that the ability to hear God’s voice in the manner of the Old Covenant prophets (Acts 2:16–17) was not just for those gathered in Jerusalem that day but was also for all those who were ‘far off ’ (Acts 2:39) – in Judea, Samaria and the nations beyond. It wasn’t just for the first generation, but for their children and all those who followed. As prophesied by Joel, the Spirit would remain for ever under the New Covenant.6

The promise of the New Covenant remains today. God has spoken and continues to speak by his Spirit. While the preservation of Scripture’s role is crucial, there is another way to maintain it.


2. Christians who don’t read the Bible

There is a tribe of Christians in Zimbabwe who are known as ‘Christians who don’t read the Bible’ – and proudly so. This group, known as the ‘Friday Apostolics’ (because Friday is their Sabbath), represents a second approach to the relationship of revelatory experience to Scripture.

Unlike the cessationists, the Friday Apostolics believe that contemporary experiences of hearing God are continuous with those of the biblical characters. That is, the outpouring of God’s Spirit meant that we can all hear from God in ways that are phenomenologically equivalent to the ways the Bible characters heard. Contemporary encounters are analogous to the biblical experience in purpose, manner and kind. At the same time, this capacity to hear from God directly is seen to make Scripture irrelevant. The reason the Friday Apostolics don’t read their Bible is because they say it ‘gets in the way’ of hearing from the Spirit.

To our ears, this perspective is an alarming one, but there is some sound reasoning behind it. The Apostolics recognise that God’s presence is always with them and cannot be limited to a material object. Rather than relying on a book, their emphasis is to live ‘like the apostles’ and have an experience of Christianity that is ‘as vibrant and alive as when Jesus walked the earth’. As leader Nzira says: ‘Here we don’t talk of Bibles. What is the Bible to me? Having it is just trouble. Look, why would you read it? It gets old. After keeping it for some time it falls apart; the pages come out. And then you can take it and use it as toilet paper until it’s finished. We don’t talk Bible-talk here. We have a true Bible.’7

Anthropologist Matthew Engelke, who spent time studying the group, notes that part of the Friday Apostolics’ aversion to the Bible is that it is seen as a ‘white man’s book’. As such, it carries the baggage of colonialism that has plagued the tribe ever since the whites came. Moreover, the Apostolics say that the missionaries often said one thing and the Bible said another. Polygamy is cited as an example. For one elder, ‘We learnt that we could not trust the whites or their book.’8

The Friday Apostolics also argue that because the Scriptures are culturally embedded, they are unable to adequately address the needs of modern-day Africa. The ancient Palestinian context of the New Testament means that it has limited relevance in a place that is haunted by AIDS and witchcraft. As they say, it is ‘out of date like a newspaper’. Instead, answers are found in hearing from the Holy Spirit live and direct.

The Apostolics even go so far as to say that the Bible acts as an obstacle to hearing from God. Like all religious artefacts, books are limited by their materialist nature. The very presence of the Bible, they say, threatens to detract from the immediacy of faith. When God’s voice is contained in a book, it takes away from the central focus of Christianity.

The position of the Friday Apostolics is not an option for those of us who place high value on Scripture. However, the Apostolics also raise some important questions. It is true that God’s presence cannot be contained in a material book. Whether a book, icon or building, God’s presence is never limited to a physical object. Solomon observed this in the building of the First Temple (1 Kgs 8:27), as did Paul with the Second Temple (Acts 17:24). People in our churches today can be guilty of this when they use their Bibles like a lucky charm or a magic tool, dipping into it whenever they want their wishes fulfilled. Like any object, the Bible can become an idol that is revered above its maker. Some scholars have even given this tendency a name: ‘bibliolatry’9 – described as worshipping the ‘Father, Son and Holy Bible’. As the Apostolics say, when treated in this way, the Bible can ‘get in the way’ of hearing the Spirit.

Any follower of Jesus that gives the Bible a low priority is in precarious place.

The Friday Apostolics are also correct in saying that as a first century Greco-Roman text, the Bible does not always speak to contemporary issues. We need to do a lot of hermeneutical back-flipping to make the Bible address the quirks and idiosyncrasies of contemporary ethical concerns. The wisdom insights of the Ancient Near East and the Greco-Roman world cannot always speak to the questions of our day. Indeed, Jesus never said they would. Jesus held to the veracity of the Scriptures (in his case, the Old Testament), but he didn’t position them as the one-stop shop for all our questions. This is why he sent the Spirit. Jesus knew there was more to say beyond what he could cover in his three-year ministry (John 16:12). The Spirit was given for the very reason of addressing the questions of Samaria, Rome and beyond. This is what makes Christianity such a powerful reality. As ‘temples of the Holy Spirit’ (1 Cor. 6:19), we can access the wisdom of Jesus wherever we go.

And yet, the Friday Apostolics put themselves in a precarious situation by giving the Bible such a low priority. When you discard the Bible, you risk displacing the church’s very foundations. We need the Bible. We need the Spirit. We must not dispense with one at the expense of the other.


3. Good, but not as good

The cessationists dismiss the Spirit; the Friday Apostolics dismiss the Bible. The third approach to our theological problem of ‘Spirit versus Scripture’ seeks to preserve both. This position says that contemporary revelatory experiences are valid, but they are phenomenologically inferior to the experience of the Bible-writing apostles and prophets. In other words, you can hear from God outside the canon, but just not in the same way as the Bible-writing characters did. Our Spirit encounters are ‘good, but not as good’.

The position is best articulated by Baptist theologian Wayne Grudem in his widely known book The Gift of Prophecy. Here, Grudem advocates for two types of revelatory experience. The first is the ‘special experience’ of the canonical writers, namely the Old Testament prophets and their ‘equivalent’, the New Testament apostles. The experiences of these characters are held to be flawless; God put his words directly ‘into their mouths’ and, as such, they are always accurate, infallible and authoritative. The second type is the ‘ordinary experience’ of New Testament and contemporary church members. For Grudem, these experiences are of lower quality and authority compared with those of biblical figures such as Paul and Peter. Contemporary revelatory messages are described as ‘a report in human words which God has brought to mind’. Because they cannot be God’s exact words, they are neither authoritative nor trustworthy. They can bring ‘strength, encouragement and comfort’ (see 1 Cor. 14:3) but should be treated in the same way as counselling and pastoral advice. As per the cessationists, Grudem argues that the only reliable way to hear God’s voice is via the Scriptures.

This ‘two-tier’ position is also reflected in the logosrhēma schema so popular in churches today. Like Grudem’s framework, this envisages two different types of experience and is based on the idea that there are two meanings for the Greek term ‘word’ in the New Testament. The first term, logos (λÓγος), represents the ‘written word’ of Scripture, which is seen to be objective, infallible and fully authoritative. The second term, rhēma (ῥῆμα), represents the ‘spoken word’ of our contemporary experience, which is seen to be subjective, fallible and of minimal authority.

The goal of the two-tier schema is to preserve the role of the Bible while still allowing for the possibility that the Spirit can speak beyond the canon. As such, Grudem’s work was welcomed by Pentecostal–Charismatic Christians around the world. However, there are some real problems with this position. Perhaps the most obvious has to do with what Scripture says about the New Covenant in relation to the Old. While the two-tier position advocates for contemporary experience to be viewed as inferior to the Old Covenant experience, Scripture emphasises the opposite. The Old Covenant prophets, Jesus, Paul and the writer of Hebrews all strongly affirm the superiority of the New Covenant (see Chapter 6). The church era was long awaited because it was an upgrade of the old regime. This improvement would not just be for the leaders who were responsible for establishing the church, but for everyone. It cannot be that the New Covenant church has a harder time hearing from God than the Old Covenant prophets.

A second problem points to the biblical evidence used in support of Grudem’s position. His work has sustained heavy criticism from cessationist and Pentecostal–Charismatic scholars alike. This has largely been based on exegetical grounds and the grammatically unlikely notion of correlating the role of the Old Testament prophets with that of the New Testament apostles (in Eph. 2:20). It is also clear that Scripture reveals a spectrum of quality among the revelatory experiences of biblical characters. Most got it right, but some got it wrong (see Chapter 10). Furthermore, there is simply no textual evidence that God explicitly changed his way of speaking when the original apostles died out.

There are additional complexities with the two-tier position when it comes to its practical outworking. Some of them are seen in my own story as I contemplated relocation from Melbourne to Sydney. The question became: if what I heard was non-authoritative, should I move? And if I did move, should I believe for God to fulfil his word? Unfortunately, Grudem does not address the implications of his position in real-life experience since, as a New Testament scholar, his focus is on the text.

An additional problem lies in the fact that Grudem’s work is directed almost entirely towards prophecy (where a person hears from God for someone else), rather than the universal experience of hearing the Spirit first-hand. This means that most of his discussion is limited to the specialist gift of prophecy in church meetings, as described in the Corinthian letters (esp. 1 Cor. 12 – 14). While these passages are helpful in providing guidelines for the regulation of prophecy in the public service, they do not give us details about the universal experience in the context of everyday life. For that, we need to look


It is in the books of Acts and Revelation that we find copious examples of the full revelatory experience. We learn how God spoke, how it was discerned and how it was then responded to. It is here that we see that the New Testament characters all treated their revelatory experiences as authoritative, irrespective of whether they were apostles or Bible writers (e.g. Philip, Stephen, Barnabas, Agabus, Ananias and James). Once God’s words were received and discerned, they were seen to be reliable enough to act upon in expectation of fulfilment. Their testimonies provide us with clear principles for hearing God in the contemporary church. We cannot ignore them.

And yet oddly we do. In spite of their prevalence in the Bible, these experiences are rarely addressed by academics in the Protestant arena.10 Grudem’s emphasis on the specialist gift of prophecy to the exclusion of everyday revelatory experience is typical of scholars. Part of it has to do with a tradition that values the teaching of the epistles over the New Testament narratives and a mistrust in deriving theology from stories. But if we are to talk about how to hear, recognise and respond to God’s voice today, we must take into account how the early Christians heard, recognised and responded to God’s voice. After all, it is their revelatory experiences that form the backdrop of the epistles.11

In spite of the problems, the idea of an ‘inferior quality’ for contemporary experience has been adopted by most evangelical Christians in the West, including those in Charismatic and Pentecostal churches. This is a better place to land than cessationism. However, it is still a modified form of cessationism. It is good, but not as good. We maintain a belief in the ability to hear the Spirit’s voice but lose the fullness of its power. It also means that we don’t take hearing from the Spirit as seriously as we should. We make it an add-on rather than an essential part of the normal Christian life. It may bring ‘strength, comfort and encouragement’ (see 1 Cor. 14:3), but it has a low priority in the discipleship process.

As we’ve seen, the good-but-not-as-good position also leaves us with serious problems when applied to the practice of hearing God’s voice. Without a framework that assumes consistency with the biblical characters, people end up applying ‘discontinuous’ thinking to understand their experience and, in doing so, say one thing and practise another.12 They say their experience isn’t ‘authoritative’, but then they act as though it is by obeying it and expecting it to come to pass. The good-but-not-as-good position simply doesn’t work. It’s as if one of our legs has been broken by cessationism but hasn’t been properly reset, and now we walk with a limp. It is time to adjust our thinking. Either we can hear from God in the same way as the biblical characters could, or we can’t. If we can, then we must follow the same practices as the biblical characters. Only then can the stories and testimonies of Scripture truly become our model.


4. ‘This is that’

The final theological framework in our discussion allows for the fullness of the Spirit’s voice to continue today without compromising the uniqueness of the Bible. This approach sees no phenomenological distinction between biblical and contemporary experiences. That is, we can hear from God today in the same way as the New Testament church did. It may be surprising to learn that this fourth perspective is found in the Catholic tradition.

Our reference point here is the Day of Pentecost when the apostle Peter proclaimed his famed words to the crowd: ‘this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel’ (Acts 2:16, kjv). God’s promise of the communicating Spirit was for people of all nations and generations. The voice of God that spoke to the Old Covenant prophets and the New Testament church is still the voice that speaks today. The Spirit speaks to continue the mission and ministry of Jesus. This means that the forms and patterns of revelation depicted in the early church continue in today’s church. The Bible itself is a collection of God-conversations – the ‘journals’ of people who heard from God and responded to it. It provides us with the models we need in order to understand and respond to our own experiences.

The ‘this is that’ position is based on the principle of consistency. This consistency applies first to God. It assumes that God’s ways of working haven’t changed. The God who spoke to the prophets aligns with the God who spoke through the incarnate Jesus and the Spirit in the early church. God continues to speak with love, power and authority. His voice still expresses the divine character, will and plans. Just as God spoke to the early church to apply the message of Jesus to the Greco-Roman setting, God speaks to the contemporary church to apply the message of Jesus to ours.

It wasn’t easy, but as I acted in obedience and faith, I saw God’s hand moving pieces of the puzzle together.

The notion of consistency also applies at the human end. Humanity has been and always will be flawed, imperfect and sinful. Until Jesus returns, the testing and discernment of our experiences will always be necessary. Regardless of who can hear from God – the specialist prophets of the Old Covenant or the sons and daughters of the New – we can all get it wrong. Getting it right comes with learning and development in the context of a two-way relationship. God hasn’t changed his ways of working and neither have we. But in spite of our flaws, we can still hear God’s plans and act on them. This is the good news of the New Covenant!


Where experience and theology meet

The fourth ‘this is that’ position was the one I arrived at when contemplating my interstate move back in 2002. It made sense that if God was the ‘same yesterday and today and for ever’ (Heb. 13:8), the divine principles embedded in the lives of the biblical characters could be applied to my life. So, I resigned from my two jobs, farewelled my home and moved to Sydney.

It wasn’t easy, but as I acted in obedience and faith, I saw God’s hand moving pieces of the puzzle together. One by one, the picture took shape. Watching God’s words come to pass was breathtaking. At every step, I witnessed his genius manoeuvres and piercing foresight. Even though my story was vastly different from that of Peter, Paul and other biblical characters, the same patterns remained. God was still faithful, sovereign and deeply personal. Hearing, recognising and responding to God’s voice not only helped to build the college in Sydney; it also transformed my life. The kingdom of God moved forward and I began to know God in ways I had never experienced before.

It was experiences like these that also led me to study for a PhD in practical theology. I longed to fill the gap between academia and practice that I had discovered as an undergraduate student in the Bible college library. Driven by a deep conviction that theology must work, my goal was to address the problems created by the ‘inferior position’, as well as to understand why the cessationist church believed as it did. From my vantage point, they have tragically missed out.

The field of practical theology is unique in that it takes Spirit-experience seriously. Practice and theology meet together as scholars bring the voice of everyday people into dialogue with experts. This approach is based on the simple idea that ‘everyone’s a theologian’.13 Whether we are aware of it or not, we are all constantly reflecting on how God is working in our lives. This ‘ordinary theology’ is worked out in the context of everyday circumstances and church traditions, rather than just by theologians, who may be removed from them.14 It values the insights people have gained from their experience because it assumes that the Spirit operates consistently in us all.

The data from my study was gathered over a nine-month period and involved listening to the ‘ordinary theology’ of people from three different Pentecostal churches as they reflected on their own ‘hearing God’ experiences. Each interview lasted up to an hour and involved questions such as: How did you hear God’s voice? How did you know it was God? What happened afterwards? After recording, transcribing and collating the findings, I identified notable patterns and themes. Then I examined them closely in the light of the four theological perspectives and the experiences of Scripture.

In the end, my research provided the answers to many of my original questions. Some were surprising; others were not. Many of them challenged the ideas of those I was raised with. Others provided solutions to the problems we face in our churches. The problems of Spirit-revelatory encounters have not gone away. My own experience with the ministry of God Conversations has been a constant reminder of the widespread confusion throughout the global church. I have seen evidence of cessationism and its impact. I’ve heard the tales of disillusionment and defeat. Experience continues to be held at arm’s length in the name of theology. We need to address the problems that Luther faced, deal with the dilemma of Joseph Smith and learn from the story of the murdered abortion doctor. We need to maintain the vital role of the Scriptures while still allowing the Spirit to speak as powerfully to us as he did to those in the first century.


Some people find theology a daunting topic. Perhaps it is because we tend to complexify what is really rather simple. Theology is simply our ideas of how God works. This is why this chapter, though theoretical, is so important. Whether we realise it or not, our thinking about hearing God starts with our theology of Spirit and Scripture.

In this chapter we’ve seen that there are four different approaches to the contemporary revelatory experience. These diverge at the point where Scripture comes to the fore. Either we see continuity with the experiences of the biblical characters or we see discontinuity with them.

There are answers to our questions. There are solutions to our problems. Good theology always works.

The fourth theological framework, ‘this is that’, allows us to emulate the revelatory experiences of the early church while preserving the unique and foundational role of Scripture. Part II of this book unpacks this position further by exploring the fundamental questions of how we hear, recognise and respond to the voice of the Spirit. There is no competition between Spirit and Scripture. You do not need to subvert one for the sake of the other.

Bringing experience and theology together also allows us to address the theological and ministry problems that threaten the potential of our prized New Covenant gift. Some of these solutions will become apparent in Part II. Others will be addressed in Part III, ‘Strategies for Building the Church Who Hears God’s Voice’. There are answers to our questions. There are solutions to our problems. Good theology always works.





[1] James I. Packer, God’s Words (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 1981), p. 39.

[2] Wayne A. Grudem, The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament and Today (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2000), Kindle edition: location 98.

[3] Douglas Oss, ‘A Pentecostal/Charismatic View’, in Are Miraculous Gifts for Today? (ed. Wayne A. Grudem; Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1979), p. 239.

[4] Tucker, God Talk, p. 64.

[5] John F. MacArthur Jr, Charismatic Chaos (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1992), p. 64.

[6] See Jon Mark Ruthven, ‘“This Is My Covenant with Them”: Isaiah 59.19–21 as the Programmatic Prophecy of the New Covenant in the Acts of the Apostles (Part 2)’, Journal of Pentecostal Theology 17 (2008): pp. 219–37; and Jon Mark Ruthven, ‘“This Is My Covenant with Them”: Isaiah 59.19–21 as the Programmatic Prophecy of the New Covenant in the Acts of the Apostles (Part 1)’, Journal of Pentecostal Theology 17 (2008): pp. 32–47.

[7] Matthew Engelke, A Problem of Presence (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2007), pp. 1–2.

[8] Engelke, Problem of Presence, p. 5.

[9] James K.A. Smith, ‘The Closing of the Book: Pentecostals, Evangelicals, and the Sacred Writings’, Journal of Pentecostal Theology 11 (1997): p. 59; Daniel E. Albrecht, Rites in the Spirit: A Ritual Approach to Pentecostal/Charismatic Spirituality (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1999), p. 246.

[10] As observed by Robert E. Sears in ‘Dreams and Christian Conversion: Gleanings from a Pentecostal Church Context in Nepal’, Mission Studies 35 (2018): pp. 183–203. Recent exceptions include Anna Marie Droll’s work on dreams and visions in Africa, ‘“Piercing the Veil” and African Dreams and Visions: In Quest of the Pneumatological Imagination’, Pneuma: The Journal of the Society for Pentecostal Studies 40 (2018): pp. 345–65; and John B.F. Miller’s work in biblical studies, Convinced That God Had Called Us: Dreams, Visions and the Perception of God’s Will in Luke-Acts (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2007).

[11] Paul explicitly mentions his own Spirit experiences on multiple occasions: 1 Cor. 9:1; 15:8; 2 Cor. 12:1–7; Gal. 1:11–16.

[12] Cecil M. Robeck Jr highlights this disconnect between theory and practice in ‘Written Prophecies: A Question of Authority’, Pneuma: The Journal of the Society for Pentecostal Studies 2 (1980): pp. 26–45.

[13] Pete Ward, Introducing Practical Theology: Mission, Ministry, and the Life of the Church (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2017).

[14] For further discussion of this theory, see Jeff Astley, Ordinary Theology: Looking, Listening and Learning in Theology (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2002).


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Copyright © 2022 Tania Harris
Paternoster is an imprint of Authentic Media Ltd
PO Box 6326, Bletchley, Milton Keynes MK1 9GG, UK.
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Category: Biblical Studies, Fall 2022

About the Author: Tania Harris, PhD, is a pastor, speaker, educator, and the founder of God Conversations, a global ministry that equips people to recognize and respond to God’s voice. With a diverse history as church planter, pastor and Bible College lecturer, her ministry is known for its biblical depth, practical wisdom and “God-stories.” She is the author of The Church Who Hears God’s Voice: Equipping Everyone to Recognise and Respond to the Spirit (2022) and God Conversations: Stories of How God Speaks and What Happens When We Listen (2017). Tania is an ordained minister with the Australian Christian Churches. She resides in Sydney, Australia. LinkedIn Twitter

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