January 27, 2006

baptism in the holy ghost

I'm afraid I have little or nothing to add to what's already been said here. I too noticed the connection between this and the Tower of Babel that Crystal discusses.

So lets open this up a bit. What are the elements of reversal here. At Babel, humans try to reach the heavens through a human agency. They think they can get to the divine by a construction project. God thwarts them by confusing their languages and incidentally creating the system of nations and ethnicity and division which has plagued us ever since. Our divisions, our nation states including wars, the game of empire, and all that stuff is basically the result of our attempting to reach heaven through our own efforts.

At Pentecost, the disciples are told to wait (tarry in the King Jimmy). They do as they're told (something they don't do much) and the spirit descends (they find themselves praising God in differing tongues). So this reversal happens through the agency of God and the obedient waiting of humanity. This leads directly into the spiritual wisdom Twyla describes in her posting.

In modern charismatic traditions the attraction is often the speaking in tongues. But the modern practice of tongue speaking isn't quite the same thing here. Here the listeners are hearing God's praises in their own languages. That's not what happens in most Pentecostal revival type services - although I have had people say that the experience does happen occasionally.

I think what interests me and also the first Friends is the experience of power. This small group has suddenly been empowered to go forth and minister, to preach, to heal, and to build a new spiritual community, not in their own strength but in the power of God.

Where I am right now in my life -- I do not feel I know that kind of empowerment.


At 12:38 p.m., Blogger Larry said...

Thanks for that good post, David. Re your last paragraph: I suspect that most of us are what may be called pre-pentecostal (still waiting?).

I also suspect, based on my acquaintance with her, that Twyla isn't, and I feel the same way about many Pentecostals I've met, in the hospital and other places. I get the feeling that they have something that many of us lack-- and of course this feeling is not confined only to Pentecostals; there are others!!!

At 2:18 p.m., Blogger crystal said...

You raise a great question, David ... what is it that makes a person, or makes a person feel, able to go forth and preach, etc? There is a whole range of what could be called "preachers", from high profile religious leaders at one end, to the person who simply shares their feelings on the subject with a friend, at the other. I've never felt "chosen" to do that kind of thing, myself.

At 5:27 p.m., Blogger Twyla said...

Some interesting points, David. I was thinking about what you said about the division brought at Babel, and it got me thinking of the division between ourselves and God. There seems to be, along with the constant invitiations to intimacy and wooing that God does all through the OT, a promise of future intimacy. The promise Christ fulfilled. I think of the veil torn, top to bottom. What a beautiful expression of God's heart.

When I think of the Holy Presence descending, I think of the opening of the hearts. I imagine weeping, tears, laughter. I envision eyes that suddenly see through a filter of divine love. I consider the joy that must have been almost uncontainable. Perhaps the tongues, besides being a miraclous tool for touching all of those who spoke other languages, was just like tears. The overflow of an earthen vessel that cannot hold such love and power.

Either way, power (dumamis) was a direct result. Power to love. Power to cross the dividing lines between male and female, master and servant, jew and gentile, rich and poor. Power to dream dreams and then interpret them. Power to touch a broken person and bring healing to them. Power to cross the dividing line between man and the direct experience of the Presence of God.

This is a long comment, I know, but one more thing. I love your point about the reversal of division happening through the agency of God and the obedient waiting of humanity. Do we know how to wait any more? The old timers used to call it "tarrying". They would meet, pray over the night. They wouldn't let go. We are so impatient. I am so impatient. God help us to wait. God, fill us with Presence and Power and Love. Your world is desperately in need of a people who will tarry. Make us that people.

At 3:00 p.m., Blogger jeff said...

I am really enjoying your posts friends....sorry I am not contributing but I have been on a course and will be for the next few days.

I know a number of people who were formerly Charismatic Christians....and now have no particular faith. Most of them 'spoke in tongues' and still do in their own personal spiritual lives...As a psychospiritual phenomenon I find glossolalia fascinating and there is a rich vein for reflection here.Anyhow just a thought...


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