Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Come Holy Spirit (David Pytches)

I came across this in the church library the other day, and as I am starting to pursue an exploration of charismatic thinking and practice, it seemed remarkably heaven sent. I found it to be a very interesting book, and a reassuring one, although a little dated in some ways (it was written in 1985). David Pytches is one of the founding figures of Charismatic Spirituality in the UK, being particularly involved in New Wine. I'm attending a New Wine conference next April in Harrogate, which should be illuminating.

Things I liked about it: first and foremost, the theological grounding for expecting 'signs and wonders' as a normal and routine part of apostolic ministry. I'm persuaded of this, and I suspect this is the most important thing I need to digest. I also liked the way in which the exercise of a healing ministry (for example) was separated off from any sense of controlling the outcome or feeding the ego of the minister (one of the things that had always steered me away from charismatic spirituality).

There were two things I didn't like. The first was a sense of spiritual confinement, in that prophecy, for example, is a much larger and more dynamic gifting than is expressed in Paul's letters - but Paul's letters seemed to set the parameters for the exercise of that gift. This seemed sub-biblical; bizarrely, I would want to enlarge the active role of God beyond what was argued for here. The other element which seemed wrong was the lumping together of other faiths with a general sense of the demonic. I am not persuaded that, for example, the practice of yoga is Satanic; indeed I would argue quite strenuously for the opposite - that this sort of opposition to yoga is Satanic, in that it is embedded in skandalon and the taking of offence.

Yet those criticisms are not central to the book. I'd recommend it as a first step - it has certainly helped me.

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