Full disclosure: I grew up in a Pentecostal church with a decidedly charismatic bent. I remember hearing older saints cry out in the middle of service in an “unknown tongue” and then wait while someone else declares the “translation.” It was normal for me, but eventually I learned it wasn’t normal for everyone.
Scot McKnight didn’t grow up like I did. And because of that, he has a different take on the work of the Holy Spirit. Rather than providing a fully-fledged theology on the topic, he’s written Open to the Spirit. The book has a more devotional slant to it. And because of that, it outlasts the endless theologies written on the topic.
But the real element of uniqueness is McKnight’s personal perspective on the topic. He provides some of his own biography as a way to frame the argument in favor of a more fervent and vital presence of the Holy Spirit in our churches. He didn’t grow up in a charismatic church, he doesn’t serve in one now, and his own experiences were mostly positive. As an outsider, though, he may have a better handle on it and gives a fuller polemic for churches who resist the move of the Spirit.
Unfortunately I felt several times in this book that being open to the Spirit meant going halfway. He is not willing to fully embrace all aspects of the charismatic perspective – including prophetic and miraculous gifts. That’s to be expected, though. But I wonder if writing in conversation with two other voices – one for and one against these items – may produce a fuller examination. Regardless, the work presented by McKnight is definitely worth your time!
Disclaimer: The publisher provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for a fair review.