Monday, November 23, 2009

Evangelical Ministry Assembly 2010: 'Not by might not by power: Spirit-filled ministry'

Unfairly or not, The Proclamation Trust has often been associated with the Moore College view that the Holy Spirit is always and invariably active when the Word of God is preached (see here). It was therefore a nice surprise to see from their latest brochure that the theme of the 2010 Evangelical Ministry Assembly will be 'Not by might not by power: Spirit-filled ministry'. Speakers include Rupert Bentley-Taylor giving the EMA Bible readings, John Piper on 'The preacher and the Holy Spirit', Christopher Ash on 'Word and Spirit in John's gospel', and Vaughan Roberts on 'George Whitefield'. 23-25 June 2010, check it out here.


Phillip said...

In effect what seems to be the crux of the matter is that though the Word of God and the Holy Spirit can usually be found to be working together, we (mere men) must and should never limit the work and power of the Holy Spirit to what we alone may understand! I wonder if Luther's comment; "I left it to the Word" was purely to divert the attention away from himself. He claimed to oppose papists etc by what he taught, preached and wrote from God's Word, so in terms of the comment, this does make sense. The damage to the Lutheran movement that followed is quite understandable, especially if it was taken out of context.

Exiled Preacher said...

Hi Phillip,

Yes, I don't think we should be too hard on Luther as if he were sidelining the Spirit in his famous quip, "The Word of God did it." As you say, it was a quick soundbite intended to give all the glory to God for the spread of the Reformation. We find a similar statements in Acts 6:7 & 12:24. Does that mean that Luke thought that the bare Word of God saves sinners? No. He was writing in the wake of Pentecost, having emphasised the need of preachers to be repeatedly filled with the Spirit. But he did not feel the need to mention the work of the Spirit explicitly in the verses quoted. His sovereign work is assumed rather than stated.

Later Lutheran theology may have been guilty of so tying the Spirit to the Word as to leave little room for sovereign variation in his work, but I'm not sure that we can say the same for Luther.