My background is interesting. I was raised Southern Baptist (and cessationist), became a Christian at a Pentecostal revival, began attending an Assembly of God church (and became a continuationist), and now am back in a Southern Baptist church, though not back in my cessationist roots. Needless to say, I don’t feel I fully fit in with either group. I believe that the gifts of the Spirit are for today, but I also feel there are many excesses and abuses that occur in many churches that practice them. I cannot agree biblically with cessationism in total, but I cannot merely accept everything that passes itself off as being Spirit-led today, either. Trying to find material that bridges that gap is very difficult. Now, however, I have one book I can certainly point to as a starting point for those interested.
Practicing the Power by Sam Storms is, in my opinion, a wonderful book that is a great balance between theology and Scriptural exegesis with an emphasis on embracing God’s ongoing movement through the gifts of the Spirit. I am very glad I was able to read and review this book published by Zondervan.
Let me preface by saying that the book is, in some ways, surface level. But I believe that was the book’s intention. There are other books out there that go deeper, and Storms points out several throughout this book. But as an introduction to the issues, this book excels.
For those concerned that this book may be too excessive and perhaps not biblical, let me assure you that Storms is Reformed and the foreword is written by Matt Chandler. While I may be wrong, I don’t think Chandler would have written the foreword for something that he felt was unbiblical.
Throughout the book, Storms tackles issues like prayer and fasting, deliverance, and especially the prophetic, which is where he spends quite a bit of time, as there are many issues surrounding that gift. I think Storms does a great job throughout at tackling objections and concerns with continuationism, and I believe he does an outstanding job of bringing Scripture to bear on the issues.
For example, when talking about healing, Storms does not shy away from the fact that not everyone we pray for is healed. But it doesn’t prevent him from pointing to the Scripture verses that say we should be praying for healing anyway. He does not move so far to the God’s sovereignty side that he is hesitant to pray for healing, but he also does not move so far to the healing side that one feels healing must come no matter what. I like Storms’ balance.
I think that Appendix 2 was probably one of the most helpful parts of the book. In that appendix, Storms lays out 12 bad reasons for being a cessationist and 12 good reasons for being a continuationist. Since it is an appendix, the reasons given must necessarily be brief, but I liked his overview.
I have often lamented that most doctrinal/theological churches tend to neglect (intentionally or otherwise) the reality of the Spirit in our lives, while most churches that are more open to the Spirit tend to neglect deep doctrinal/theological study and thinking. Storms has done a wonderful job of bringing the two together in this book, and I hope it is the beginning of a merging that will be very powerful in the Church as a whole.
If you are interesting in understanding why some are convinced the Spirit still operates with the gifts mentioned in the Bible today, and you want to do so from a balanced, biblical, and well-thought-out perspective, Practicing the Power is a good place to start.
*Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers program in exchange for my honest review.