Introduction to The Gifts of the Spirit
by Verna M. Linzey, D.D.
(To be released in 2011)
To introduce a book that hopefully will be used in an academic setting is very exciting. “The Gifts of The Holy Spirit” must be understood as an expression of the fullness of the grace of God--for none of God’s creatures are worthy of God’s unmerited gifts. This book will investigate the historical understanding of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, as well as the more contemporary understanding and practice, of what is commonly known as the ‘nine gifts of the Holy Spirit’, known typically among Pentecostal and Charismatic circles. Different Christian traditions have approached this subject matter from different perspectives, and it is my desire to bring clarity to any confusion that has been created by any overemphasis. Dr. Gordon Fee in his Commentary on 1 Corinthians makes the same observation regarding the “lists” of the gifts, even though he would come from a more classical framework due to his tradition. We do not want to confine the work of the Holy Spirit to one Biblical text, but instead understand all of the work of God in the context of the entire corpus written on the person and work of the Holy Spirit. Before one can talk coherently about the “gifts” of God the Holy Spirit, one’s focus must be on the Giver of the gifts, the person of the Holy Spirit. The theology of the third person of the Godhead must be rooted in a historical understanding of Triune theology. This can be traced to the New Testament (Matthew 28:19) and also to Patristics, i.e. the Father’s of the Church. After a thorough investigation it will be obvious that there has been no evolution of understanding as some might suggest, regarding the Church’s understanding of the individual functions of the Triune God. The distinct persons of the Godhead, sharing the same substance and essence, all have different functions as regards humanity, salvation and redemption (1 Corinthians 12). Holiness, the characterization of the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity should provide for us the means of not grieving the same Spirit. Frightening passages, such as in Matthew 7, about the abuse of the gifts of the Holy Spirit should give one pause before enthusiastically seeking for such empowerment. The person of the Holy Spirit is the Person of the Godhead who now resides with humanity on earth. I hope that you enjoy this study as much as it has given me joy to prepare it.
Verna Linzey, D.D.
Scholarship and the Pentecostal Experience
By Verna M. Linzey, D.D.
(An excerpt from The Gifts of the Spirit, to be released in 2011)
Composing a scholarly work and attempting to capture the Pentecostal experience is like describing a love relationship with purely technical terms. In describing some experiences, words give the impression that they are inadequate. I will attempt, however, to put substance onto structure, using persuasion rather than pure reason, to substantiate my work. Faith is certainly reasonable; however, in this case, it is above reason, while not defying reason.
Experience is very subjective, yet it has a basis from which it draws its credibility. The early Apostles interpreted their experience on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), by the insight and illumination which they received from the person of the Holy Spirit. They appropriated their experience to prophetic utterances in the Hebrew Scriptures (Joel 2). They learned to substantiate their external experiences, by the parameters of the sacred Scriptures. Their use of the Septuagint also known as LXX, was extremely helpful in establishing these parameters. Experiences have an innate need to be clarified, and understood deeply, if the experience is going to direct the thinking, and redirect the behavior of the recipient. There have been ‘strange’ and curious experiences recorded all over the landscape of Holy Scripture, which have challenged the scholar beyond their linguistic and historical insight. There is something about personal experience that shores up the credibility of theory. I propose to share these experiences which have taken place within the sphere of the “Pentecostal Movement”, and to prop them up with substantial theological reflection and exegesis. I will examine the thought of the “Apostolic Fathers”, the “Doctors of the Church”, as well as leading theological thinkers in both the ancient Church, and those of the last two centuries. Special emphasis will be put on those thinkers that have experienced the Biblical experience of glossolalia. Exegesis and not eisegesis will be the method of inquiry applied to this important work.
Verna Linzey, D.D.