There are not many books for people for whom being committed to Scripture is a non-negotiable, but desire to explore how much of contemporary charismatic practice is truly Biblical. Two good ones, from opposite sides of the table are Don Carson’s “Showing the Spirit” (which I have reviewed in detail here), and David Pawson’s “Word and Spirit Together”. Both books in their own different ways highlight strengths and weaknesses of the different positions, and offer ways in which evangelical non-charismatics and charismatics might find more common ground, and move towards a truly biblical unity.
But there are two very interesting new books that I feel will be able to contribute significantly to the ongoing debate between evangelicals about the charismatic gifts. Again, there is one from each side of the table, and both have the potential to be read and appreciated by those of differing persuasions.
First is Sam Storm’s new “Convergence: Spiritual Journeys of a Charismatic Calvinist”, in which he argues that one can be both a convinced Calvinistic evangelical and a charismatic – in fact, that they belong together. Unfortunately its not available in the UK yet, but I have high hopes for this book to help non-charismatics understand and appreciate charismatic evangelicalism better. Having said that, Tim Challies was not convinced.
Second is a collection of essays entitled “Who’s Afraid of the Holy Spirit? An Investigation into the Ministry of the Spirit of God Today” edited by Daniel Wallace and James Sawyer. Abstracts can be read here. This comes from a non-charismatic background, and is intended to address the issue of the missing dynamic of the spirit-filled life in many reformed churches. They propose “pneumatic Christianity” as the answer, without fully embracing being charismatic. Again, its not easy to get this book in the UK, but Justin Taylor records Wayne Grudem’s thoughts on it here. Its another one I am eager to read.
Despite our sometimes robust disagreements, there is a surprising amount of common ground between the charismatic and non-charismatic evangelicals. Let us not be too proud to learn from each other, and together move closer towards being fully obedient to God’s Word and fully open to God’s Spirit.