Take note please - these are the views of an unregenerate Gentile.
The Tragic POLARIZATION:
Note: David knows full well that Charismatics are evangelical - but in this book, when he says "Evangelicals," he basically means "Cessationists."
In this important work, David addresses the tragic polarization beneath the "Evangelical umbrella" (my wording). With regard to "Formal"/"Cessationist" and "Charismatic"/"Pentecostal" folk, in a Cessationist setting we may find people sitting, in smart clothes, in front of a man known as "the minister"; in a Charismatic setting we may find people standing, in casual clothes, in front of a man or woman known as "the worship leader." The problem with the former, is that yes, they DO like listening to Holy Scripture being read, but what about the nine gifts of the Spirit for the building up of the Body - where are they? The problem with the latter is that yes, they ARE familiar with (some; but probably not all of) the gifts of the Holy Spirit, but what about weighty, effective, practical, objective, balanced, well-ordered, step-by-step teaching of Holy Scripture, for the training, correcting and equipping of the man [and woman] of God - where is that? Yes indeed, an oversimplification of the tragic polarization; but I hope you get my point. (Note: SOLID step-by-step teaching by a team of elders, must be given IN ADDITION TO - but never AT THE EXPENSE of - God's 1 Corinthians 11-14 TEMPLATE, in which ALL brothers and sisters in Messiah are welcome to contribute; indeed, that ONE-ANOTHER template is a means by which the men in the flock mature to the point of being eligible for ELDERHOOD themselves.)
Both sides may be in denial of their unbalanced position; both sides may (sincerely) believe/insist they are basing their practices on Holy Scripture; both sides need to take a leaf from the other's book. Undoing centuries of tradition is no small task, especially when you are dealing with sincere and well-intentioned people from both sides.
On the lack of MESSY Mangers:
But what about MISUSE of genuine gifts of the Spirit? The right response to MISUSE of the nine GENUINE gifts is PROPER USE - not DISUSE. Paul's response to the assembly disorder at Corinth was to write a CORRECTIVE (not a Cessationist!) letter. Paul even told them to ONGOINGLY covet the gifts; especially the gift of prophecy (ONGOINGLY meaning until Messiah's return; not until the invention of the printing press!).
Note Proverbs 14:4; which I believe is a proverb to keep very much in mind on the Cessationist front. Neither DRYNESS or DISORDER resembles 1 Corinthians 14:26-33. Unlike nice, clean, respectable Cessationist MANGERS (Proverbs 14:4), Paul's could be real messy! Oh for some MESSY MANGERS today; that like Corinth, were not lacking in any gift (of the HOLY Spirit); messy mangers that yes, have a wrong idea or two (who doesn't?!), but which send out HOLY Spirit-EMPOWERED oxen to heal the sick and raise the dead in Yeshua's name. Mind you, Western Charismatics have serious things to sort out on the gifts front: they do not tend to have a full tool box (so to speak); instead of all nine gifts, the gift of LANGUAGES seems to be the only one many have (and many of them do NOT use that gift PROPERLY).
On BEAUTIFUL ignorance:
I have heard that bumble bees are not supposed to be able to fly. Thing is, because no one has told them, they are wonderfully unaware of it, and so fly around busily doing what the LIVING God designed them to do. Likewise, and thankfully, many Eastern disciples of Yeshua Messiah have never been told that spiritual gifts and mighty works of power are a thing of the past, and so they too go around doing what Messiah told disciples to do!
Indeed, because Cessationist TOXIN has permeated the Western contingent of the Body for centuries, sincere and dedicated (but GROSSLY incompetent) Western Bible teachers can get away with teaching Cessationism over here; but, I'd like to see them try teaching it among the huge network of Chinese congregations where "as many as 80 percent of believers first come to Jesus because they have a miraculous healing or deliverance from the Lord"; see Back To Jerusalem (Chapter 9). Indeed, the Chinese co-authors/elders continue speaking in "Back to Jerusalem" as follows: "They [the 80%] give their lives unreservedly to God in response ... If they were ever to deny Christ, they would not only have to reject God's word, but also their own experiences." In Western congregations, such is the grip of Cessationism and intellectualism, that "experience" has become a dirty word! But in the East, their disciplehood is PRACTICAL and EXPERIENTIAL. Here in the West, we have thousands of "DOCTORS" with DIPLOMAS on the wall; over there in the East, they've got millions of nine-yard, cross-carrying DISCIPLES who've had a DIP in the HOLY Spirit. Which would you prefer? (Make sure your e-reader or bookshelf lacks "Back to Jerusalem" no longer; get a copy ASAP.)
On David's STELLAR effort to UNITE what tradition and MISTEACHING have put ASUNDER:
David Pawson's "Word and Spirit Together" is MEATY and INFORMATIVE. It contains an outside the box/wineskin overview of Second Covenant history, which in itself is all too rare. In chapters 1-6, David gives a very INFORMATIVE overview of the last 2000 years, taking a look at how the (Western contingent of the) Body went from signs and wonders to seminaries and blunders (my phrase; not his). Chapters 7-12 are each split into two sections: In the first section, he commends "Charismatics" for what they've got right; and then (in love), he urges them to search the Scriptures and come to a more accurate understanding in the areas in which they have erred. Vice versa for "Evangelicals" (i.e., "Cessationists") in the second section. The three appendices are meaty snacks in themselves; the third one being a talk given to the National Assembly of Evangelicals, in London, 1966.
The book is so DENSELY PACKED with key information, that it may be best to first read it at a brisk pace, in order to break up the soil (so to speak); and then, to read it through again on a lower gear, in order to harvest all the information. The book is TREMENDOUS, and VERY challenging for both Cessationist and Charismatic/Pentecostal alike.
David Pawson was converted around 1947, aged 17, but it was not until 1964 that he understood what it was to RECEIVE and be BAPTISED in the HOLY Spirit in a manner consistent with Acts 2:4/8:18/10:44-47/19:6; he does not want anyone else to have to wait that long. His own inadequate initiation perhaps explains why making sure responders have been properly evangelized is one of the biggest burdens of his life. David wants believers to know the Holy Scriptures OBJECTIVELY, and the HOLY Spirit CONSCIOUSLY - not one without the other.
ALAS, there is rather more to be said (i.e., regarding seriously COUNTERPRODUCTIVE "Constantinian Temples" and "Curtain Menders"):
Take up your trowel? (And said who?): Without intending to, and from Constantinian Temple "pulpits" (i.e., the "church buildings" that dot the Western landscape - Yeshua told disciples to take up their cross, it was Constantine who told folks to take up their TROWEL), "pastors" have (albeit unintentionally) brought the Body back to First (Old, Mosaic) Covenant dynamics. These temples are staffed by (albeit sincere) Curtain Menders (Pulpit Kings; "1 Samuel 8" deja vu?): courtesy of their unscriptural "job," Catholic/Anglican "priests" and Protestant "pastors" have actually stitched together what God tore asunder (Matthew 27:51).
Instead of Second (New, Better, Messianic) Covenant dynamics, wherein there are many many house-based meetings, in which God wants (all) ORDINARY disciples to take part "in Spirit and truth," we have this Temple-based ("church building") model, whereby "the faithful" gather to ONE PLACE on Sunday, and in which ONE "ORDAINED" "pastor"/"priest"/"vicar" conducts "the service." It is thus a reversion to a Levitical "them and us"/"clergy and laity" situation. Truth be told, a Constantinian Temple mindset, together with "Cessationism" and "LeviTICKLE Pastorhood," actually PREVENT biblical meetings from taking place; meetings that are truly according to the [1 Corinthians 11-14] pattern (Hebrews 8:5; i.e., meetings where all may participate/contribute; and where disciples enjoy a full meal together). The levy being the unscriptural salary given to the RESIDENTIAL "pastor" (Scripture DOES teach financial support of ITINERANTS); the TICKLE being the cozy one-sided message that bites NOT the hand that feeds. A primary consequence of "the pastor WRENCH" is that it DECOMMISSIONS the Body! In PASTOR-Has congregations (vs. scriptural EACH-ONE-Has congregations; see 1 Corinthians 14:26-33), they have basically gone from the PRIESTHOOD to the PEW-Hood of all believers!!!
Therefore, in addition to sorting out this tragic polarization on the Word and Spirit front, disciples need to get back to the biblical pattern of meeting in FAMILY HOMES; with a TEAM/plurality of homegrown, unsalaried, MALE servant-leaders/elders JOINTLY guarding and EQUIPPING the flock. With that in mind, do ALSO GET these: Leadership is Male by David Pawson; and Pagan Christianity?: Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices by Frank Viola and George Barna.
An Esther book; for this time of incredible DOUBLE STANDARDS:
MISUSE of genuine gifts of the Spirit; PLUS strange counterfeit manifestations; PLUS our day's array of "PROSPERITY teachers," have together driven some sincere (but mis-evangelized and mistaught) individuals, to the point where they organized a "Strange Fire" Conference (which was held in October 2013). Given some (or all?!) of these mistaught individuals reside in the BLOOD-polluted TULIP/Calvinist camp, the irony (and Matthew-7-log in the eye) of the situation, is off the charts! (See Leonard Verduin's classic, The Reformers and Their Stepchildren (Dissent and Nonconformity), for an account of the BLOODY, Zechariah 4:6-defying, Caesar-yoked methods that were used to establish TULIP TOXIN.) For a REVOLTING example of "Strange [nay; REPULSIVE BAD FRUIT] Fire," the organizers need look no further than the very methods that were used to establish their own TULIP/Calvinist camp (unless they somehow think burning people to death at the stake is NORMAL love-your-enemies fire)!!! So, the sincerity and dedication of the organizers is rather overshadowed by their incredible display of double standards. In effect, they dare to throw peanuts at Charismatics/Continuationists, while sitting upon the shoulders of deadly, religious thugs. Note Matthew 23:29-33 (deja vu?). (What would you think about a gang of violent thugs in your town, if they organized a conference to denounce school children for dropping bubble gum wrappers on the sidewalk?)
The "Strange Fire" conference is basically the 2013 harvest of tragic theological seeds; a theology which holds fast to Augustinian (rather than APOSTOLIC) doctrine; a theology which is trinitarian in creed, but BINITARIAN in practice. Alas, mainstream Western "Evangelicalism"/"Protestantism" is rooted in the BAD Fruit Reformation, in which genuine gifts of the Spirit were thrown out with the superstitious bathwater of the day; thereby reducing the Narrow Way to a dry, intellectual "Doctrianity" (to borrow David Bercot's term). For centuries, the shortchanged have been leading the shortchanged. INCREDIBLE double standards aside, while the organizers are right to denounce the strange counterfeit manifestations (that have zero resemblance to what is found in Acts and 1 Corinthians 12-14), Paul's words in Romans 10:2 (regarding unbelieving natural branches), also seem tailor-made for the conference organizers - they have a ZEAL for God, but NOT in accordance with [APOSTOLIC Word AND Spirit] knowledge. The "Strange Fire" organizers could do with spending a few weeks/months in Henan province, teachably observing the Chinese contingent of the Body. (Man; what a dose of medicine such an experience would be.) China is now perhaps the global hub of nine-yard disciplehood. John the Immerser was rather busy at Aenon near Salim, for there was much water there (John 3:23); Jesus the Immerser is rather busy in China, for over there is MUCH FAITH!
"Word and Spirit Together" is something of an Esther (so to speak): a book for such a time (and conference!) as this. For those who really want to get to grips with this tragic polarization, I'd strongly recommend making it one of a quadruple purchase; the other three being "Back to Jerusalem" (see above), and "The Normal Christian Birth" and "Jesus Baptises in One Holy Spirit" (see 3 and 4 below).
At present, "Word and Spirit Together" is an UNSUNG work; in due course, may it sell by the million.
Do, DO get a copy.
David Pawson; STELLAR teacher:
Men like David Pawson are EXTREMELY thin on the ground: Men who, though fallible, can see Pentecostalism and Cessationism (and Calvinism and Arminianism), for the Body-disempowering (SUBJECTIVE) WINESKINS that they are. Men who stand outside such camps, bearing the reproach, and seeking the approval of God rather than men. Men who humbly and skilfully encourage others to do likewise. Such men are very, very thin on the ground.
Here are some other books, that make for an ideal introduction, to one of God's finest servant-teachers/Ezras:
1) Not as Bad as the Truth: Memoirs of an Unorthodox Evangelical. David's hybrid AUTOBIOGRAPHY; get to know the teacher behind the stellar teaching.
2) The Normal Christian Birth: How to Give New Believers a Proper Start in Life. David's Rolls Royce OPUS on apostolic evangelism.
3) Jesus Baptises in one Holy Spirit. David's tremendous work on Jesus the Baptizer/Immerser
4) When Jesus Returns. David's in-depth work on the End Times .
Those books give someone new to David, a highly informative (and FULL-STRENGTH!) taste, of what it is really like, to listen to a Second Covenant Jeremiah (i.e., to listen to a very rare Bible teacher indeed; who says NOT what is wanted, but what is NEEDED; compare 2 Timothy 2:2 with 2 Timothy 4:3-4).
David Pawson also has his own YouTube channel; do go see.
Sharpen your ACTS" (SYA) is an Amazon Listmania list I've put together. It is basically an attempt to select a few books of exceptional importance, so that any disciples who are not prolific book readers, can get themselves a small Narrow Way library, and yet one that gives first class information (including vaccine against some of the most pernicious toxins permeating the Western contingent of the Bride).
To find the SYA list, click on my name here on Amazon; then click on "Listmania Lists." Nearly all of the SYA books are available in ebook form, so free samples can be downloaded to your Kindle; or, onto any gadget on which you have installed a free Kindle App (such as your smartphone; your tablet; or your PC). Do go see the list; do get free samples; do don a napkin.