Church life

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Here is a book with a challenge, written by an author and missionary from a Pentecostal/charismatic background.  Is there an anti-intellectual slant present in the faster growing churches of the world?  Do charismatic ministers often belittle the realm of the intellect, mind and reason?  According to this author the answer to these questions is a clear ‘yes’!  For at least two hundred years conflict between two things has been common and frequently proclaimed, it says something like ‘believe with your heart, lay your mind to one side, this is a matter of faith and not of reason.’ The notion that the intellect is some kind of enemy to faith has afflicted many of us and is still promoted.  To read books is frowned upon and set against the reading of the Bible.  This is most unwise and does not match up at all to the scriptures themselves or to the taught experiences of multitudes of church leaders through the centuries. Apparently Nanez has conducted surveys of pastors and church members and all these have served to confirm that this confusion is present and undermines the fullness of life that the churches can experience.  This book is a call to use God’s gift of the intellect and the author declares that he has written ‘with professors, students, pastors and ‘lay-people’ in mind.  Although it is more readable than the book with similar aims written by J.P. Moreland entitled “Loving God with All your Mind” it really does need to be read by pastors and leaders in particular.  The thesis of the book is sound.  The way ‘mind and reason’ is set against ‘spirit’ is a sad fact in much charismatic ministry.  Alas, one of the risks run when these things are examined and this particular emphasis enforced is the idea that mind and reason is to be equated with college and university degrees.  The writer does not say enough to counteract that danger for there are many in the churches who should be encouraged to read, to think, to stretch their intellects who have no possibility of going through any kind of degree course.  That said there are helpful sections tracing the influences shaping the idea that mind and faith, intellect and spirit are not quite compatible.  He delves into church history, especially that of the last two hundred years and as he looks at influential leaders from Jonathan Edwards and John Wesley through to recent charismatic TV preachers the picture becomes very clear.  One thing surprised me though, he does not deal with the fact that where a more Reformed Theological view pertained the use of intellect tended to be encouraged and where a more overtly Arminian view emerged, particularly in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries the use of the intellect tended to be discouraged.  Mentions are made of Finney, Moody, and Billy Sunday and early Pentecostal pioneers all of who were far more ‘Arminian’ in their viewpoint.  So, this is a book of critical concern and we must remember it is a serious examination of the Pentecostal/ charismatic churches written by someone who is not an outsider.  His thesis should be read seriously and acted upon too. 

Last modified: June 28, 2021

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