Thursday, April 19, 2018

Newbigin: the church lives solely by the power of the Holy Spirit

Thursday, April 19, 2018
    Commemoration of Alphege, Archbishop of Canterbury, Martyr, 1012
    After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. He made no distinction between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith.”
    —Acts 15:7-9 (NIV)
    We must frankly face the fact that there is in this teaching [that the church lives solely by the power of the Holy Spirit] a revolutionary element which could be dangerously subversive of our existing ways of thought. Let us admit that it is part of the fallen human nature of ecclesiastics, no less than of others in responsible positions, to desire always criteria of judgment which can be used without making too heavy demands upon the delicate faculty of spiritual discernment, clear-cut rules by which we may hope to be saved from making mistakes, or rather from being obviously and personally responsible for the mistakes. We are uncomfortable without definite principles by which we may guide our steps. We fear uncharted country, and the fanatics of all kinds who, upon the alleged authority of the Holy Spirit, summon us with strident cries in all directions simultaneously. Only those who have never borne the heavy burden of pastoral responsib ility will mock at the cautious spirit of the ecclesiastic.
    ... Lesslie Newbigin (1909-1998), The Household of God, London, SCM Press, 1953, New York: Friendship Press, 1954, p. 106 (see the book)
    See also Acts 15:7-9; 1:8; 2:4; 4:31; 10:44-45; 13:4; 16:6; 2 Pet. 1:21
Quiet time reflection:
    When You will, Lord, release me from caution.
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