Drinking Deeply

Sunday, March 09, 2008 at 11:59 PM

Book Review: He Who Gives Life

Book Review: He Who Gives Life

Back in September, I received a book in the mail from Crossway, since I said I'd like to secure a review copy. Unfortunately, I didn't get the book (since it was mailed to my home address and not my Stanford one) until winter break. And I didn't get around to reading it until January. And I didn't get around to typing this up until now. Aren't you glad I'm so timely with things?

A survey of the book - The book is written from an Evangelical perspective dealing specifically with the Holy Spirit. It talks about who the Holy Spirit is, discusses old debates about the Holy Spirit, and addresses the role of the Holy Spirit today. The book does an excellent job of raising some difficult questions about the Holy Spirit, challenging long-held assumptions that I myself had (where in the Bible is the Holy Spirit spoken of as "illuminating"?). The author discusses the mystery of the Holy Spirit, where the Spirit fit in with the Trinity, the Spirit in the OT and the NT, and the Spirit and us.

Overall, it was not a bad book, but I was disappointed with how many great questions it raised but never answered. The book opens with a discussion of the mystery of the Holy Spirit and while I appreciate the humility in the position taken about how we ought not to be dogmatic about things Scripture is not dogmatic about, it seems that that position is taken the other way in this book. Chapter after chapter is filled with many excellent questions about what the role of the Holy Spirit really is and how clear Scripture really is but I was continually dismayed that after the questions would be raised and various people would be quoted, the book would seem to just move on without taking a definitive stance.

One thing in particular that really made me wonder was the continual use of quotations from people outside the stream of Evangelical thought. The author quoted Pope John Paul as if he was an authority on various topics, and while I appreciated the effort to demonstrate the overlap that we have with other streams of thought, I was always a little hesitant about including Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox theologians in what is called "Christian."

Those said, the last section of the book, on the Spirit's role in the church and the believer was greatly encouraging and informative. Though the weaknesses of the book were still evident, here there was a lot more definitive positions and exhortations and encouragements to love God and love His people.

All in all - a thought provoking book, but not one that left me satisfied. I wish there were more answers to the good questions being raised, more definitive "this is what Scripture says" and less statements that don't ever come out and throw their hands up, but seems like it at times. A good book for gaining perspectives on what people believe about the Holy Spirit, but didn't really do a great job laying out a position and defending it.


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