These posts are based on my commentary on 1-2 Thessalonians, available from Zondervan Publishing.
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Last month, Zondervan published my commentary on 1-2 Thessalonians, a volume I’ve been working on since 2005 (click HERE). When I saw it on display at the annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society, I heaved a sigh of relief, and not just because finishing a book, any book, lightens the spirit. (My 1 Corinthians commentary is available for free download HERE).
I was pleased because the whole production seemed like a gamble from the outset. I had to figure out how to write a commentary without a library. I felt like the first person to invent the flourless cake.
I teach at a Bible college and seminary located in Costa Rica. Most Americans know it as a land of natural wonders, with beaches, rafting, rainforests, volcanoes and of course, gold-standard coffee. We are located in San José, a city of a million: not exactly the “bush,” but I might as well be when I sit down to do my writing. (more…)
Please read Part I before starting Part II; click HERE
Chapter Three – My Sojourn in Pentecostalism
Until I turned 14, the only charismatic person I knew anything about was JFK. Since then I have been charismatic (one year, give or take); then post-charismatic; anti-charismatic; teacher of charismatics; bridge-builder with charismatics; regular spokesman against neo-Pentecostals and Word of Faith teaching.
If you haven’t read Part I of my testimony, it might interest you to read Chapter One – I react against false teaching. While I was working through the life-and-death question of what it takes to be saved, in tandem for some months I was figuring out what it meant to be a charismatic believer. I am the only person I’ve ever met who was a practicing Adventist and a practicing charismatic at the same time; now Wikipedia tells me that there are thousands of people who have managed to combine the two.
After supper on September 15, it was warm enough to go to the local swimming hole for a dip. When I got back, I saw that someone had lent my mother a copy of Dennis Bennett’s The Holy Spirit and You: a guide to the Spirit filled life. This was 1972, and the charismatic movement had been moving outward from the Pentecostal churches and the Assemblies of God; people in many denominations began to pursue a more direct experience with the Spirit.
Days later and the news began to circulate around the Baptist church that “Gary got baptized in the Spirit!” My pastor said that I should read 1 Cor 12-14, a passage I devoured as being relevant to my life today. A few people from our church went to a Thursday night prayer meeting in a school across town, and they offered to take me. For about an hour and a half we would have choruses, Bible readings, and at some meetings someone would speak in tongues or give a “message” to the group. I learned later that it was a group of mainline charismatics, and in fact the Rocky Hill School was an Episcopalian prep school – so, no jumping around, no shouting or confusion, just a quiet and orderly time of worship. When someone spoke in tongues, they waited for someone to interpret.
It was there that someone gave me a pocket New Testament, which was a constant companion – I wore out a couple, and still have my last copy. (more…)
On May 21, it was all over the news, that Harold Camping’s prediction of the rapture had not taken place and that a worldwide earthquake had not wracked the planet. We predicted on this blog that Camping would
- Backpedal: for example, change the date, say that the earthquake was “symbolic” not literal
- Denial: Jesus really did come for the faithful, you just can’t see it
In fact, he did what many false prophets have done throughout history, interpreted the rapture and the earthquake symbolically. Without a doubt, though, Christ would literally return on Oct 21, 2011.
This time I didn’t see Harold Camping on CNN (more…)
It was 9pm EDT and I was hooked up to Family Radio by internet, since I live outside the US. Harold Camping was going to speak and explain why the Rapture didn’t come on May 21. Remember, Camping had been absolutely clear about what was going to happen: the Rapture of 200 million people and a massive worldwide earthquake. This was not supposed to be symbolic. He did not offer a Plan B. He said anyone who disagreed with his interpretation did not believe in the Bible – his words, not mine.
Neither happened. (more…)
May 21 has come and gone. You won’t hear an “I told you so” from this Christian. No jokes. No funny looks. No condescending pity. Only concern.
When someone predicts a date for the rapture, it is not a miscalculation, but an actual sin. It is a sin that has dreadful consequences for those who believe a lie. Harold Camping’s teaching is one such lie.
Nor can we say, well, he was wrong about the details of the rapture, but it was good because at least it got people thinking about God. Nonsense! People are using the failed prophecy right now as an excuse not to think about Christ or his coming. May 21 at 6pm, and you know what was happening at the Family Radio headquarters? People were dancing to rock music and making jokes about the Lord. Family Radio has set back the course of the gospel.
What will Camping do next? If history is any guide, he will take one of these options: (more…)