Why I Am Still Surprised by the Power of the Holy Spirit

Reviewed by:

G. Connor Salter, Professional Writing alumnus from Taylor University, Upland, IN.

Title:

Why I Am Still Surprised by the Power of the Holy Spirit

Author:

Jack Deere

Publisher:

Zondervan Reflective (an imprint of Zondervan)

Publication Date:

March 31, 2020

Format:

Paperback

Length:

320 pages

OVERVIEW

In 1985, Jack Deere didn’t believe miraculous healings were possible. An associate professor of Old Testament at Dallas Theological Seminary, he was a confirmed cessationist, a strong believer that studying Scripture was all that was necessary to live the Christian life. Then he began meeting believers who had spiritual experiences and began experiencing unusual things as he explored their ministries. This led him to a complete turnaround, especially as careful Bible study showed there wasn’t any good evidence for the classic cessationist arguments. In this updated version of his original 1993 book on the subject, Deere unpacks the history of the cessationist movement and the flaws in its arguments. Then he finishes with a series of chapters on how to wisely take part in Holy Spirit-guided ministry, using new stories from his own ministry.

Spiritual experiences are difficult to write about. An experience with God is very personal and it’s hard to communicate what happened in ways that others can understand. Many writers make the problem worse by building their theology too much on their experiences without going back to what the Bible teaches on the matter. Add to these problems the fact that many Christian authors are verbal communicators who struggle to write well in the first place, and it’s no surprise that many books about the Holy Spirit don’t read well.

Deere manages to avoid the pitfalls that so many other authors have fallen into. His writing style isn’t always incredible, but it’s also solid. Occasionally he makes classic verbal communicator mistakes, writing as if talking to his local church and not a wide group of readers who may not know anything about him. For example, in one chapter he starts telling a story about “Leesa and I,” not realizing the reader won’t necessarily realize he’s talking about his wife. By and large though, Deere communicates well. He also does a terrific job of grounding his ideas in what Scripture teaches about the Holy Spirit. Readers who’ve experienced Holy Spirit teaching that was emotional but vague will find Deere’s Bible-based approach to be a breath of fresh air.

The only part where Deere perhaps leans too much into his own opinions is in a chapter on teaching. There he uses his own experiences, working in contexts where exegetical preaching became a way to make Christianity all about principles without any relationship, as a basis to argue that it’s not a very wise practice. His points are perhaps too colored by his own biases, but Deere does make a valid point. Christianity is first and foremost about relationship, and preaching styles that turn faith into a long list of rules end up missing the point. Add to that the fact that exegesis is very hard to do, and you’ve got a preaching style that can be misused very easily.

These slight issues aside, Deere delivers a terrific book on The Holy Spirit and why Christians should believe it’s still active in the church today.

ASSESSMENT

Rating

4 stars

Suggested Audience

Christians seeking what he Bible says about spiritual gifts and whether they ever cease, as well as a good introduction to the cessationist movement and its key arguments.

Christian Impact

Deere guides readers toward a Biblically-based view of spiritual gifts which will sustain them where other teachings will come up short. One of the best introductions people can get on spiritual giftings.

Why I Am Still Surprised by the Power of the Spirit: Discovering How God Speaks and Heals Today


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    […] about whether Christian can be influenced by demons (Jack Deere takes that view in his book Why I Am Still Surprised by the Holy Spirit) and when influence becomes […]

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