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Rodman Williams: The Gift of the Holy Spirit Today: Effects, Part 1

3. “Acts of the Apostles” is a title frequently given to the book. The title is doubly misleading: first, the book of Acts while mostly containing narrations about apostolic activity also relates the acts of “deacons” such as Stephen (Acts 6 and 7) and Philip (8), of churches such as at Antioch and Jerusalem (see above), of teachers such as Apollos, Priscilla and Aquila (Acts 18:24-28) and of a prophet such as Agabus (Acts 11:28 and 21:10-11); second, the focus of the title is off center, for the main feature is not the acts of the apostles or any other believers but the acts of the Holy Spirit, or the acts of the exalted Lord through the Holy Spirit, the continuation of “all that Jesus began to do and teach” (Acts 1:1) in His earthly life.

4. “Death of God” terminology used by Nietzsche, and taken up in the mid-sixties by so-called “death of God” theologians, says far more about the human than the divine condition. For all practical purposes God is dead when there is utterly no sense of His living reality.

5. “In an era that cries, ‘God is dead,’ and questions whether ‘Christianity’ has a future, the charismatic renewal comes as a vigorous affirmation that God is indeed a living God, and that Jesus Christ is active in the world with sovereign power.” So begins Pentecost in the Modern World (Notre Dame: Ave Maria Press, 1972) by Edward D. O’Connor, C.S.C.

6. In his autobiography, Nine O’Clock in the Morning, Dennis Bennett describes the sense of Presence that came to him just following his receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit: “The Presence of God that I had so clearly seen in earlier days to be the real reason for living, suddenly enveloped me again after the many, many years of dryness. Never had I experienced God’s presence in such reality as now. It might have frightened me, except that I recognized that this was the same Presence of the Lord that I had sensed when I first accepted Jesus …only the intensity and reality of my present experience was far greater than anything I had believed possible. If those earlier experiences were like flashbulbs this was as if someone had suddenly turned on the floodlights! The reality of God was something that I felt all the way through” (p. 24). Here, verily, is the answer to “the death of God!”

7. KJV. The RSV translates the text as “unutterable and exalted joy.”

8. Cf. also John 16:24: “ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full,” and John 17:13: “these things I speak …that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.”

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Category: Spirit, Spring 2004

About the Author: J. Rodman Williams (1918-2008), Ph.D., is considered to be the father of renewal theology. He served as a chaplain in the Second World War, he was a church pastor, college professor, and key figure in the charismatic movement of the 1960s. Beginning in 1982, he taught theology at Regent University School of Divinity in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and became Professor of Renewal Theology Emeritus there in 2002. Author of numerous books, he is perhaps best known for his three volume Renewal Theology (Zondervan, 1996).

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