By Ray Anderson
Westminster John Knox Press
Reviewed by Thaddious M. Privette, Stewardship Director, Allegheny East Conference of the North American Division
This book was provocative to me. For instance, Anderson speaks of the Sabbath as being a rest from the 6th day—a sort of something out of nothing. He talks about Moses’ burning bush experience as being the theological beginning point on the Bible. He notes that the Creation story was Moses’ way of soothing Israel’s slavery-damaged morale caused by Egyptian bondage.
Anderson points out that Christ came to humanize humanity. The Holy Spirit was the soul agent for this purpose following the resurrection. Pentecost had more to do with empowering through the Spirit than being filled with the Spirit. Empowerment comes before equipping. Before we load people up with methods and equip them with concepts and theories of ministry, we need to empower them by having them learn spiritual empowerment in their daily lives.
On the day of Pentecost, three things happened that made the disciples effective: They were empowered by the Holy Spirit; they preached a risen Christ; and they promised the Holy Spirit to all who believed. Pentecost meant power for mission—not the name of a church. Anderson suggests that without identifying the mission, there is no need for the filling of the Spirit. The church must develop a ministry that includes discernment, caring, and community.
This quote on page 143 jarred my senses: The powerlessness and irrelevance of the church is not that it lacks tactical encounter with the world, but that its strategy is one of survival rather than sacrifice, of success rather than service, of reputation rather than responsibility.
Speaking of Jesus, Anderson notes that Jesus was clearly a student of the Scriptures but was also a servant of the Spirit. Those who set the standard and character of Christ’s ministry included blind Bartimaeus, the despised Samaritan woman, the scorned prostitute, the desperate father of the demon- possessed boy, etc.
The soul of ministry is Christ/ Holy Spirit empowerment that brings life to the church and results in ministry within the body of believers, extending to those who are dying in sin.
The world’s needs did not set Christ’s agenda. His agenda was set by the Father’s priority—the redemption of fallen man.