28/02/2009

When the Spirit comes with Power (by John White)

I've come across books by John White once or twice in the past. He writes well, and is not afraid to tackle difficult, often controversial subjects. His background is that of a Christian psychiatrist, and he writes in clear, well-balanced way.

'When the Spirit comes with power' (subtitled: 'signs and wonders among God's people') has been sitting on our shelves for many years, but I don't think I have read it before. I picked it up a couple of weeks ago, and have read about a chapter per day.

John White basically investigates the 'Signs and Wonders' phenomena that hit the churches in the 1980s, asking questions from a scientific and practical point of view. Are they caused by mass hysteria? By hypnosis? By the devil? Is there any Scriptural evidence of people behaving bizarrely when under the influence of the Holy Spirit? Do these things have any special significance in world terms?

He begins with a fairly cynical outlook, as an observer, but quickly finds that God works in His own way, in His own time. While there are undoubtedly cases of mass hyteria, or over-emotional leaders producing fake symptoms, White discovers many times when the teaching was simple and unemotional, and the people were if not cynical, at least calm and in no expectation of God doing anything unusual. Towards the end of the book, there are a few case studies, including the late John Wimber, founder of the Vineyard movement.

I found the book well-written, interesting, and sometimes challenging. I was less impressed in the final chapter when the author seems to think that worldwide revival was indicated by the many outpourings of the Holy Spirit during the 1980s.

Certainly it must have been exciting to see God at work in Communist (and former Communist) countries, as mentioned. Perhaps, at the time, it did seem as if a worldwide revival was close. History shows that this didn't happen - yet God still continues to move.

Recommended to anyone wanting to know more about the 'signs and wonders' in the church in the latter part of the 20th century.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 28th February 2009

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for telling about this book. I am wondering if there indeed is a work of the Spirit afoot. I find more and more people searhing up here in Lafayette, Indiana

Martyn Haggerty said...

The revival of eighties has been a preparation for the last great outpouring prophesied by Joel .

Martyn Haggerty said...

The revival is on its way the charismatic renewal of eighties was just a warm up!