Evangelical, Sacramental, Pentecostal (Gordon T. Smith)

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Gordon T. Smith gives us a neat idea and probably predicts the direction the church is going. Various Evangelical streams are recovering the sacramentality of the ancient tradition and realizing that there aren’t any good arguments against cessationism.  While some chapter are outstanding, the book never really develops in satisfactory detail what such an integrated tradition would look like.

Thesis: There are three distinct angles by which we live in the grace of the ascended Christ. If this is true, then the key question becomes: “What is the mode in which we participate in the ascended Christ?”  How do we “abide in him?”

The Evangelical answer: The Word transcends heaven and earth.  We are drawn into fellowship through the Word.

The Sacramental answer: Since God in Christ assumed materiality, material objects can serve as means in our participation in Christ. We are born of “water and Spirit.”  Water is the stuff of creation.

The Pentecostal answer: the gift of the Spirit is the connection between heaven and earth.

The Spirit and the Life of the Church in Luke-Acts

Thesis: Luke-Acts “pivots” on the Ascension. 

The Grace of God: Evangelical, Sacramental, Pentecostal

God’s grace is sufficient, but we are irresponsible if we do not follow up with the God-appointed means.  How do we integrate these streams? Smith suggests that the grace of God in the Spirit is found in God’s very self.

There is an overlap of 2 streams in the Eucharist.  There is the sacramental stream, obviously, but then there is the epiclesis.  He then ties this in with standard Calvinist treatment on Eucharist and Ascension.  Notes that Calvin was resistant, however, to a direct access to the Spirit.

Theology of the Word

There is a sequence of Creation-Logos-Apostles-Scripture

Sacramental Symbols

The sacraments are symbols, but this is far more real than anything low-church groups would be comfortable with.  A sign points to another reality (like a green light). Yet, it isn’t necessarily connected with that reality (i.e., there is nothing essential in the nature of a green light that means “go”).

In a symbol, by contrast, we enter into and beyond that which is symbolized.  Church symbols and rituals are also “inherently communal.” Symbols integrate our heart and mind in our bodies.

Pentecostal Spirit

Origen and Discernment of Spirits. 

Thesis: Our response to the Spirit arises from a personal encounter with Christ.  

Spirit practices.  Unfortunately, Smith gives us zero guidance or discussion on how to integrate these.

>> Anointing the sick.  I agree 100%.  So, what is the symbolism of oil?

>>Discernment and prophecies

>>Prayer

>>Tongues-speaking

>>Anointing with oil.

Review: Christless Christianity (Horton)

Simply wonderful. Reinforced the truth of the gospel as a proclamation of good news, and if any message/method doesn’t line up with that, but rather focuses on how I can be good, or win back city hall, or stop pollution, is not preaching the gospel but is preaching law.

Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church

There is a bit of repetition and too many Barna quotes at once can be depressing (both for what Barna himself believes and what he reports Evangelicals’ believing).

This book is highly recommended and easily read (I read it in one afternoon).

“Jesus was not revolutionary because he said we should love God and each other. Moses said that first. So did Buddha, Confucius, and countless other religious leaders we’ve never heard of. Madonna, Oprah, Dr. Phil, the Dali Lama, and probably a lot of Christian leaders will tell us that the point of religion is to get us to love each other. “God loves you” doesn’t stir the world’s opposition. However, start talking about God’s absolute authority, holiness, … Christ’s substitutionary atonement, justification apart from works, the necessity of new birth, repentance, baptism, Communion, and the future judgment, and the mood in the room changes considerably.”