I want to thank Energion Publications for this review copy.
From the outset, several things are apparent. First, Dr. Robert C. McKibben is not writing to the hardened theologian, the pentecostal, or those with a balanced view of the work of the Spirit of God in the Church. Instead, he is writing a pastoral letter to those who he feels are abusing, or perhaps, not using properly, the gift of the Spirit.
First, the drawbacks. This is not a book written towards theologians, but one to be made use of the lay people. Because of this, I believe that those trying to find support for one position on the issue or another may not make use of this book. Simply put, I do not agree with several of his positions, as he takes the standard Billy Graham position on sanctification.
One of the best things about this book, is that it is not written towards theologians. It is made to be read and used by those who encounter, perhaps daily, the ill effects of hyper-pentecostalism/charismaticism and by those who not only encounter it, but are starting to explore it. While I don’t agree with his position on sanctification, I do agree with many of his positions on evidences and the need to balance those evidences with Scripture.
His writing style is light and loose and I can imagine that he is mimicking his preaching. Not to say that he has not filled a few of these pages with a great wealth of Christian devotion. Dr. McKibben, I believe, has a deep concern for Christians to mature around the aspect of an active Holy Spirit in the Church, but while basing it on New Testament understanding. He fills his pastoral letter with a personal connection, admitting his past short comings and failures, calling others out while remaining sensitive to them, and allowing you in to see how his views were formed and shaped throughout his life. He comes across as a deeply likable person with a passion for his congregation and the right teaching on this subject. Like any pastor, he shares with his readers sometimes rather personal insights into his life to build his story.
At the end of each chapter is a series of questions meant to make the reader ask him or herself questions about the preceding work and to examine their current and changing viewpoints on the material as presented. While some of the questions betrayed a self-importance of the material, some of these questions need to be asked by many readers today, in that all too often, people are unhappy to live a life unquestioning of their belief system.
I can recommend this book, because it presents a middle road into the field which, while I may disagree with some of his doctrinal positions, I agree with him overall that what is going on in much of the pentecostal/charismatic world is entirely unscriptural. Christians must get back to testing things by the words which they purport to hold most dear.
I have to wonder how the book would have been written in a post Lakeland Revival Florida?