New Book on the Holy Spirit

“The mission of the Spirit…is equal in importance to the mission of the Son.”

This is probably the most provocative as well as evocative sentence (p. 107) in Leonard Allen’s new book entitled Poured Out: The Spirit of God Empowering the Mission of God (ACU Press, 2018).

The mission of God (missio Dei) involves a “double sending—two missions: the mission of the Spirit and the mission of the Son.” One is incomplete without the other. Allen suggests the “mission of the Son,” who is the “central content of the gospel,” becomes “operative and effective through the mission of the Spirit,” which empowers the ministry of the church, gives the church the experience of divine life, and forms the church into the image of Christ (p. 108). While the Father is the source of life, and the Son is the model of life, the Spirit is the one who brings life “so that we actually experience it” (p. 70). Consequently, “the missions of the Son and of the Spirit are equal, each according to its distinct function” (p. 108), as both the Son and the Spirit are sent by the Father into the world to accomplish the divine mission (which includes the functions of both the Son and the Spirit).

Allen’s book seeks to restore the place of the Holy Spirit in the church’s theology of Trinity, mission, and formation. While there are significant and rather comprehensive discussions of the latter and the former, the heart of the book is the relationship between Spirit and mission.

Allen provides a nice summary of the fundamental point of the book (p. 179):

I have developed a three-part thesis: (1) with the receding of (neo-) Christendom, a strong new focus on the mission of God has been emerging; (2) at the same time an unprecedented focus on the Holy Spirit has also emerged [especially in the Global South, JMH]; and (3) the renewal of mission and the Holy Spirit go hand in hand.

This conjunction means that every Christian is a missionary in our new post-Christian context (particularly in the West), and it means that every Christian is a charismatic, that is, indwelt and gifted by the Spirit for mission.

I highly recommend this book for study in small groups, congregational classes, and personal reflection as well as a guide for a homiletic foray into a congregational focus on the Holy Spirit in the assembly’s worship and learning of God.

To my mind, this is the most significant book to appear on the Holy Spirit among Churches of Christ since Robert Richardson’s 1873 A Scriptural View of the Office of the Holy Spirit.



5 Responses to “New Book on the Holy Spirit”

  1.   darrylrlewis Says:

    John Mark, what are your thoughts on cessationism or the idea that the gifts of the Spirit were imparted through the apostles’ hands, so they are no longer available? (If you have already written on this somewhere on this website, could you point me to the right place?) Thanks.

  2. Profile photo of Dwight Haas  Dwight Says:

    It is very likely we downplay the Spirit, due to downplaying the “gifts of the Spirit”.
    The Spirit wasn’t just a giver of miracles, but of inspiration and understanding and movement. We have denied the Holy Spirit’s action, but have also denied the Holy Spirit in power and real life application.
    What we see in the scriptures is a one-two punch in
    1.Jesus coming/sacrifice/resurrection/ascension to God, then
    2. The Holy Spirit coming to aid those who came to Jesus, but we don’t see the Holy Spirit leaving. It is here, we just need to see it.

  3.   Jonathan Smith Says:

    This seems very much like the best book on the spirit to appear in the church of Christ, that is Walter Scott’s Discorse on the Holy Spirit.

  4.   Tony Richie Says:

    Very helpful review. I look forward to reading the book now even more. The basic thrust of the continuing and positive relation between pneumatological and missiological that I pick up on from this review and from a conversation with the author is one that I heartily affirm. For too long the Holy Spirit has been treated like the “Cinderella” of the Trinity. Thanks, John Mark, for your work here and elsewhere.

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