When we recite the Apostles’ Creed, we say the words, “I believe in the Holy Spirit.” It’s a fine idea to believe in the Holy Spirit, and, of course, it is essential to proper Christian doctrine. But what are the practical implications of this affirmation? What does the Holy Spirit do in the life of the believer? John Wesley once said that one could be as orthodox as the devil, and just as lacking in the true religion of the heart. An encounter with the Holy Spirit is, I believe, the key to the religion of the heart that was so crucial to Wesley’s theology.
As I walk alongside other United Methodists, as well as Christians of many other stripes, I don’t often see a great deal of emphasis on the power and work of the Holy Spirit. Too often, God seems to function as a construct that gives weight to our ethical principles, but we do not see God as an agent who actually works in our lives.
Perhaps this is why I am so drawn to the work of Aldersgate Renewal Ministries. This is a renewal movement within the UMC that is often identified as charismatic. Yes, I know the term “charismatic” carries a lot of baggage, but it simply refers to a way of being Christian that involves a strong sense of divine agency and the belief that God gives gifts to the church. Paul talks about these gifts in 1 Cor 12:4-11:
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone.To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.
12 thoughts on “Renewal is happening NOW!”
Dr. Watson, thank you for this post! I will also add that what is happening at UTS is amazing as well. I am beginning the DMin program this fall (super excited), and I will be in the Randy Clark program. I imagine that the RC program and the ARM program is very similar. I am thankful that God used UTS to open my eyes to the beauty of the Charismatic movement. Not only do I see the beauty in this movement, I have come to believe that it is normative NT Christianity. God bless you as you serve at UTS… Jdg
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