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Steve Bremner: Nine Lies People Believe about Speaking in Tongues

Steve Bremner, Nine Lies People Believe about Speaking in Tongues (Destiny Image, 2016), 217 pages.

Steve Bremner is a missionary to Peru. He co-hosts and produces the “Fire on Your Head” podcast and contributes to Fire Press, which is an online Christian magazine he founded in 2008. This book addresses questions on the baptism and in-filling of the Holy Spirit, which are commonly asked among Evangelical, Charismatic, and Pentecostal Christians. This book is written in a non-academic format that targets most adult readers who want to know more about the theological topic of being empowered by the Holy Spirit. The book is divided into three sections: Bremner’s personal story, common misconceptions, and intimacy with God. He includes one appendix on how to receive the baptism on the Holy Spirit and another appendix on how to lead someone else in the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The book is not a theological thesis; it is a practical response to questions, written in the tone of a gentle pastoral mentor.

Bremner states his purpose as twofold. He wants, “to help remove the stigma surrounding the gift of tongues… to help clarify the unfortunate misconceptions that prevent people from walking in the fullness of the dimensions this gift unlocks” (25). Later, he clarifies, “I wanted to make the focus of this book on only speaking in tongues and not all of the gifts of the Spirit, or even specifically Spirit baptism” (68). In thus stating, he addresses the multitude of books and articles that explore a wide variety of theological perspectives, but, more importantly, his pastoral heart is drawn to helping people experience a fuller dimension of the Holy Spirit, in order that they will be empowered to effectively minister to others.

Nine Lies builds its argument through four primary means.

First, the opening argument of the book surrounds the premise that “The baptism in the Holy Spirit is not synonymous for receiving the Holy Spirit upon salvation. Jesus told the disciples to tarry in Jerusalem until they received power, and he did not tell them to wait until they ‘got saved,’ ‘reborn,’ ‘regenerated,’ or any other synonym we may use to describe the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives upon salvation” (75-76). Bremner argues for the filling of the Holy Spirit as an experience following salvation. He further builds his position by emphasizing the empowerment for ministry that is evident in the lives of the believers. Obviously, no one comes to knowledge of God without the Holy Spirit being at work in his or her heart. We were all pagans when we first experience the Holy Spirit at work, drawing us towards Christ. “Spirit baptism is an additional work of the already indwelling Holy Spirit. The empowerment that comes with the baptism in the Spirit is to strengthen their witness with other gifts and signs and wonders. As a result, the manifestation of tongues usually tends to accompany it” (83 – 83).

Second, Bremner leads the reader through common arguments against and for the gifts of the Holy Spirit, expanding on cessationist and continuist positions. He describes the cessationist argument against the gifts and particularly speaking in tongues as unneeded because, “the early church was immature and childish (Ephesians 4:11-13), and the gifts and ministries of the Holy Spirit were given to help mature the church in its infancy” (87 – 88). And he illustrated this with the example of adults not needing the persistent mothering in the same way that the infant needs it. Later, Bremner will use the illustration of an automobile. “Speaking in tongues in this sense is a mere indication that the engine is now turned on to a new level than when the car was parked. Once that contact is made from the key into the car’s ignition and turned correctly, something is ignited. It’s the same when the Holy Spirit comes on someone for the first time in this post-conversion way” (108).

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Category: Spirit, Spring 2017

About the Author: John R. Miller is an ordained minister with Elim Fellowship of Lima, NY and serves as Pastor of Education with Living Word Temple of Restoration, Rochester, NY. He has a degree from Elim Bible Institute, a B.Div. (Trinity Theological Seminary), C.P.E. (University of Rochester), M.Div. (Northeastern Seminary), and Ph.D. (Regent University). He teaches at Regent University and Elim Bible Institute & College.

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