Saturday, 3 June 2006

Pentecost columns

Guardian Judith Maltby Face to Faith is about listening.

The Times Lavinia Byrne The Spirit is benign, subtle, toxic - and can be found in the back of a cab

Telegraph Christopher Howse The letters on the brick wall

And, from the Tablet an article by James Alison The wild ride

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 3 June 2006 at 3:03pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Opinion

I enjoyed the articles covering the Pentecost. One of the insights from Judith Maltby's article was that there was "the audience" who could hear and understand the disciples as they spoke. In recent readings of the bible, I could not help but contemplate that God seems to relish diversity and be opposed to monolithic overwhelming structures. There is the obvious Tower of Babel imagery, there are others relating to Tyre, Abraham and references to diversity and hospitality.

It also leads me to ponder that God has formed humanity to have "free will" to make choices on whether or not to relate to Him. Yet God obviously relishes those conversations e.g. exhorting us to put aside one day a week to commune with Him and give thanks for God's blessings e.g. showering love on one's family and close friends (a gift from God and a parallel to our relationship with God). He also encourages us to not only talk to God, and to those within our communion, but also to share our knowledge of Him with the other. In fact, God seems to like this hospitality idea so much that at one point He refers to Abraham as "his friend" (Isaiah 41:8).

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Saturday, 3 June 2006 at 9:04pm BST

Wow thanks so much for the new James Alison link. I am a dizzy fan, to say the least.

Posted by: drdanfee on Saturday, 3 June 2006 at 10:24pm BST

Plus many thanks, too, for the links to Dr. Maultby and Lavinia Byrne. It is still completely beyond me why anybody would not wish to have the gifts, obvious intelligence, and leadership that both women contribute to our global common conversation and discernment - freely given without institutional limits or prejudices or unequal restraints, and for me at least, welcome. So thanks for the Pentecost nourishments. Far better than the little stale cookies that sometimes pop up at coffee hours in ECUSA.

Posted by: drdanfee on Sunday, 4 June 2006 at 6:42pm BST

Dr Byrne writes that she has been praying for 'the gifts of Spirit . . . According to Galatians v, 22-23, these gifts are "love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance'".

These important works of the Spirit are, of course, described in Galatians as 'fruits'. But the Pentecostal cab driver could have told Dr Byrne that the 'gifts' of the Spirit include those mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12.8-10. "To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues."

It saddens me that preaching at Pentecost, while rightly speaking of the Spirit as bringer of presence, comfort and godly virtues, too rarely mentions the Spirit as the one who gives gifts of power and ministry.

Ironically, I Corinthians 12:1 says, "Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed."

James Allison's piece is, as usual, superb.

Posted by: BrianMcK on Sunday, 4 June 2006 at 10:34pm BST

I read Maltby's column and tried to post this following comment on the Guardian's site.
In referring to a gift of the Holy Spirit of speaking in tongues, Dr. Maltby stated, “There is not much point to the gift of tongues if there is no one to listen.” Dr. Maltby forgets that the Lord God is always listening.

There is more than one type of the gift of tongues than in the example given from the book of Acts chapter 2, wherein the diverse multitude in Jerusalem could each hear the apostles’ praises to God each in their own native language.

Some believers do have the gift of tongues that is meant for group interpretation and prophesy (Romans chapter 12, and I Corinthians 12). However, each believer, through faith can receive the gift of tongues as his or her own unique prayer language. Not only can they use this gift of tongues to praise God, it also helps them to pray in God’s will for their life and for those they intercede for without their own personal ideas, lack of wisdom, and personal desires getting in the way. “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit Himself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because He maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” Romans 8: 26-27.

For all of those who cannot accept that there are gifts from the Holy Spirit, let alone believe that God sent Jesus the Anointed One to redeem us from the curse of the law, to them I say, “We walk by faith not by sight,” and man cannot receive beyond the intensity of his own self-willed measure of faith. “For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doeth he yet hope for?” Romans 9:25. In other words, if you only believe in what you can perceive visually or are able to reason out in your own limited mental capacity, then there is nothing left that you could possibly hope for—you will only seek what you already see and know. How limited! Man cannot receive beyond what he can believe.

Posted by: Joyce on Monday, 5 June 2006 at 2:22am BST
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