21.3.09

Smith on baptism in the Holy Spirit

My reactions to this interview are varied. First of all I'll disclose some of my own presuppositions. I find Mark Driscoll's style difficult and so I come to watch this interview about Smith, who preaches in Driscoll's place when he absent, with this in the back of my mind. Tim Smith spends a lot of time here talking about his influence, in effect how important he is. 'Primary worship leader',...'I have a lot of influence' ... 'fingers in a lot of things' etc but he does recover from this. I know that Driscoll has admitted that he hasn't always presented himself with humility and I guess it's a problem we all face as fallen individuals.


As regards the picture Smith paints of family life, it is only to say that he has had to build a 'man cave' 'a retreat to the den of masculinity', where 'the colour pink is banned' because there is so much 'oestrogen in his house with his wife and three daughters. That's where he keeps his theology books, guitar, and cigars. Doesn't this kind of imply theology books, a guitar and cigars couldn't possibly be anything that would interest women – cigars maybe ,but theology books – oh typical. But I'll stick with it. I've noticed that Warnock has filed this under Baptism in the Holy Spirit and so I'm interested in what he has to say. My presuppositions go like this – 'this guy is going to be one of those near-cessationists for whom it's all about doctrine and correct teaching and there is an underdeveloped pneumatology' but I know these are my presuppositions so I'll hang in there.


I'm reminded of my own baptism in the Holy Spirit. The complete helplessness I experienced in the face of such power, a power that literally swept me off my feet and had me fall over. A power that didn't start to drain away for about a week and where it was experienced again the following morning in just about the most traditional, high church, liturgical setting one could imagine. The next day I visited my parents' church for Sunday worship and had to grip the rails. It was a feeling that left me in agony of sorts for a while, I wanted to just be there already with the trinity and away from this earth, so beautiful and empowering had been the foretaste of the inheritance that awaited me. I have had two other very memorable experiences like this – two when someone prayed over me in tongues and the third in prayer ministry when a feeling of the most intense and amazing heat filled my back, travelled up to my neck and then down each of my arms. I remind myself of all of these experiences of the Holy Spirit if ever I feel unsure or a little disconnected from God – they are so important to me.


Anyway, back to Smith.


He has some good things to say about the glory of God. He speaks about our preferences. Mars Hill is antithetical – it reacts against charismatic expressions of evangelicalism. They are theoretical charismatics, he underlines they are not cessationists but they sometimes just don't understand what is going on. He claims that charismatics aren't always biblical!


He talks about how the Church of England is dead, 'hollow religion', he says.

It isn't where I worship, thanks be to God.

He says that sometimes in the Church of England we go so far in reaction, we have a 'holy ghost' party!

Woah, not too sure how I feel about what he's saying now!

Acts 29, CCK, New Frontires and Mars Hill hope to correct this in some way!

They have much to learn regards their pneumatology – I'm glad he admits this.


Baptism of the Holy Spirit – he discusses his reactions to teachings on this. He admits he's dismissed this. He's reacted against it, doesn't want to be associated with it because it's a more American expression. But he admits that there is something biblical about it. He was really convicted hat he has avoided baptism in the holy Spirit and so he has read up on it. He was deeply moved – he had gone so far as to avoid asking God for anything more. He doesn't understand how the Holy Spirit works, none of us do, but he admits it can't be wrong to ask God for more of his power through the Holy Spirit. The empowering work of the Holy Spirit needs to be talked about more. 'I believe it can happen' he says. The body of Christ is so diverse and we can speak into each other's lives and sharpen one another. Hooray! Absolutely!


They need pneumatology lessons! Great!


He goes on to talk about mission next. The gospel sits above culture and we can't compromise it but it can be contextualised. This makes sense and seems to be fairly obvious. He does harp back to the effeminised music which Driscoll and Smith seem overly concerned about. Love is above gender just like the gopel is above culture, I would say.


But he uses 1 Corinthians 14 appropriately, in that yes, we need to adjust our worship and behaviour so that it doesn't become a stumbling block to the seeker or the newbie Christian. Adrian is right, Smith is not saying anything new. We do need to constantly proclaim the gospel through our worship music afresh so that one particular style isn't deemed a worthier form of praise.


People, place and time – we need to dwell on these things – match what we do to whom we are reaching and when. We need spirit-filled preachers and musicians who aren't looking to simply copy Christian worship culture.


So, I leave it there. I'm glad for their epiphany. We can ask for empowerment. God wants to shower us with gifts.

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