“The Holy Spirit Is NOT for Sale” by J. Lee Grady

A few years ago while taking a class on the emerging church, I ran across the identifiers  “post-Pentecostal” and “post-charismatic.” At first I did not fully understand what these terms meant nor while someone would want to use them…but slowly over the years I have come to realize that I myself am a post-Pentecostal/post-charismatic follower of Jesus.

The term, contrary to what some may think, are not referring to cecessionist doctrines or theology, nor are they saying that we have move beyond the movement of the Holy Spirit as ushered in by THE Pentecost of Acts 2. Instead the terms post-Pentecostal and post-charismatic pay homage to the mentality of post-modernism in that they refer to a new shift in thinking about Pentecost and the workings of the Holy Spirit.

In other words, post-Pentecostal/post-charismatic folks tend to be tried out by all the hype and faddism that seems to follow Pentecostalism and Charismaticism.  We are people who are turned off by the worship of super-star healers, prophets, speakers, and miracle works. It’s not to say that God does not work through those people, ‘cause he can if he wants, it is just that we just not going to listen if all we hear is marketing and hype. Give me simple, humble workers of Jesus who see the lame healed, injustice destroyed, and signs and wonders in both the church building and on the street corners. Those are the folks I want to listen to and read about!

An unfortunate consequence of this post-Pentecostal/post-charismatic mentality is that my reading list and study material tended to come from the Evangelical, non-charismatic side of Christianity. I basically stopped paying any attention to anyone on the Pentecostal/charismatic side of the fence – all the while, mind you, practicing a spirit-led life that regularly saw miracles, signs and wonders (remember, I’m a member of the Third Wave and not a cessessionist!).  God, of course, doesn’t like fences and, as such, started prodding and poking me towards my  Pentecostal/charismatic roots – as I wrote about here and here.

Along the way back into my roots, I discovered that there were a few Pentecostal voices speaking out against the abuses with that stream of Christianity and calling for reform. Pastor and social reformer Samuel Lee in Amsterdam, Netherlands, was one such voice as is philosopher and scholar James K.A. Smith. Another powerful voice calling for reform within the Pentecostal/Charismatic stream is J. Lee Grady, former editor of Charisma magazine and ordained International Pentecostal Holiness Church minister.

It is this last reformer that I want to focus on here – or even more specifically, the book that J. Lee Grady wrote entitled “The Holy Spirit is NOT for Sale: Rekindling the Power of God in an Age of Compromise.” In this book, Grady lays everything on the line and calls things like they are instead of dancing around them in fear of quenching the fire of the Spirit. It should also be noted that Grady was in a unique place to be able to write this book as he traveled widely as a reporter and editor  for Charisma magazine, which most of you will know as the leading magazine for the Pentecostal/charismatic world. I mention this because it is important to know that Grady is not an outsider taking pot-shots at  Pentecostal/charismatic world, but an insider with a desire to see that world, or stream, get better.

In fact, this Grady says as much in his preface when he outlines the thesis of the book:

“Charismatic churches in America today are laden down with tons of baggage that needs to be thrown overboard. If we would reject our misguided mysticism, out smug elitism and our hollow egotism, I believe our church would be aflame with holy zeal. If we would renounce our bizarre infatuation with money and success, I [Grady] believe, God would grant us true passion for the Savior. If we would stop mistreating the flock of God, He might give us many more sheep to tend. And, most importantly, if we would stop building our own human-centered kingdoms, He might afford us the honor of playing a part in building His.” (ps 22-23)

Grady develops this thesis through talking about the need for and the abuses of boldness, purity, integrity, humility, truth, justice, prayer and love. Yes, I did say ‘abuses’ for there are folks out there doing things in the name of the Father who should not be doing anything. Both Jesus and St. Paul cautioned us about ‘false prophets’ who would do signs and wonders in the name of the Lord; unfortunately most folks limit the ‘false prophets’ title to whose doctrine they disagree with while ignoring those whose actions are full of worms:

“God help us! We have turned the holy fire of God into a circus sideshow – and naïve Christians are buying this without realizing that such shenanigans are actually blasphemous.” (ps 48)

If I could, I would quote the entire book for you as it was packed with hard hitting, no-nonsense truth aimed with the precision of a brain surgeon! Yes, miracles, healings, signs and wonders happen! Yes, people fall down under the presence of the Holy Spirit! Yes, things happen that make no logical sense! Yes, dead people awake from the dead! Yes, God is alive and well!!

And YES, all of this fuels us, or should fuel us, to go out into our communities and tells others about Jesus the King. It should fuel us to live a life of boldness and change as the Lord changes us within with-in!

In ending, I definitely recommend reading this book if you are A) a member of the Pentecostal/charismatic movement or B) someone, like me, who wants the power of the Spirit but are nervous about the models you have seen either in person or on TV.

Things are changing and it is exciting to watch. Come Lord, come!