Tuesday, October 30, 2018

The Church Must Be Experiential if it Wishes to Be Biblical

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With Joe LaRoy in Bangkok
Craig Keener's Spirit Hermeneutics: Reading Scripture in Light of Pentecost, is amazing, confirming, and encouraging.

The whole point of the biblical text is to usher us into the presence of God, in experience. This is what the Bible means by "knowing God." With this in hand, Craig reasons that those who know God by experience (meaning the kind of experiences found in the Bible) will more accurately understand and interpret the Scriptures. This is "readng Scripture in light of Pentecost."

Craig writes:

"Scripture itself models an experiential appropriation of its message." (1)

"All of u as Christians should read [Scripture] from the vantage of Pentecost and the experience of the Spirit." (3)

"All Christians should read Scripture as people living in the biblical experience - not in terms of ancient culture, but as people living by the same Spirit who guided God's people in Scripture."

"While careful study of Scripture helps encounter the unbridled subjectivism of popular charismatic excesses, study that does not lead to living out biblical experience in the era of the Spirit misses the point of the biblical texts." (5)

"Many churches that in principle allow that the gifts are for today are, with respect to public worship, practical cessationists on any biblical gifts that do not fit their traditional order of service. This is true of many Pentecostal and charismatic churches..." (9)

"Life is full of subjective experiences, and those who genuinely heed Scripture cannot neglect spiritual experience. The Bible itself is full of dynamic experiences with God, and the broader church regularly needs to be reminded of these." (11) 

"Ideally, the entire church must be experiential if it wishes to be biblical." (11)

"An approach sterilized from any direct faith in the supernatural differs significantly from how the biblical writers intended their works to be read." (11)

Martin Luther said that "experience is necessary for the understanding of the Word," which must "be believed and felt."

See also my chapter "The Case for Experience" in Leading the Presence-Driven Church


It is the present Voice 
which makes the written Word all-powerful.

A.W. Tozer (14)

The words of Scripture,
though they are the Word of God,
do not give us life unless Jesus speaks them to us.

Oswald Chambers (14)