The Ultimate Evidence

Rethinking the Evidence Issues for Spirit-baptism

By Larry Vern Newman

The Ultimate Evidence

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  • ISBN: 9781606080931
  • Pages: 170
  • Publication Date: 1/1/2009
  • Retail Price: $22.00
Web Price: $17.60
Web Price: $17.60
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  • ISBN: 9781606080931
  • Format: epub
  • Publication Date: 1/1/2009
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The Ultimate Evidence

Rethinking the Evidence Issues for Spirit-baptism

By Larry Vern Newman

paperback-logo

PAPERBACK

  • ISBN: 9781606080931
  • Pages: 170
  • Publication Date: 1/1/2009
  • Retail Price: $22.00
Web Price: $17.60
ebook-logo

eBOOK

  • ISBN: 9781606080931
  • Format: epub
  • Publication Date: 1/1/2009
  • Retail Price: $22.00
Web Price: $17.60
Web Price: $17.60
 

*All eBooks are non-returnable

** Click here to review our ePub FAQ and policies.

About-

It is quite an assertion to claim that one is filled with the Spirit of God. What does a person offer as proof that this is actually true? Pentecostals at the turn of the twentieth century read the Bible, debated the issue, and then proposed an evidence they thought the scriptures indicated was the primary verification of Spirit-baptism. It was determined that the evidence to prove one had been baptized with the Holy Spirit was that the person had spoken in an unknown language as prompted by the Holy Spirit. The primary evidence of Spirit-baptism, it was concluded, was the expression of a charism. It was charismatic.

In The Ultimate Evidence, Larry Newman argues that the initial evidence doctrine, as it stands, is inadequate and needs to be revisited and adjusted. Without discrediting or devaluing speaking in tongues, Newman points the reader to the ultimate evidence of Spirit-baptism: the more excellent way. Gathering from historical, cultural, and biblical sources, Dr. Newman argues that the biblical evidential paradigm is ethical and issues forth from the agape of the Cross. It is the ethical dimension of the Christian life that is primary. In 1 Cor 13:1 Paul wrote: "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal."

Endorsements & Reviews-

"This book can be welcomed as another sign of the new spirit of self-criticism among younger Pentecostal scholars. It sharply challenges several traditional assumptions associated with the Pentecostal movement and proposes a new hermeneutic that will lend credibility to the real distinctives of Pentecostalism."
--Donald Bloesch

THE ULTIMATE EVIDENCE - Rethinking The Evidence Issues for Spirit-Baptism
by Larry Vern Newman, DMin. Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2009.
Reviewed by C. David Jones, DMin, FAPC

Beginning around AD 1730 there occurred within the American colonies a series of revivals which have been attributed in part to the inspired preaching of the Reverends Jonathan Edwards, George Whitfield, John Wesley and others. These wide spread and interspersed spiritual renewals that extended over the following century led to the emergence and spread of Methodism, Presbyterianism, Congregationalism, and a score of denominations and independent churches, and has been referred to by church historians as The Great Awakening. Among the devout there followed a resurgence of piety and a quest for holy living that was fostered by the European immigrants among whom were the Amish, Mennonites, Brethren, Methodists and others. At the beginning of the last century there emerged from among those who embraced a life of holiness and who pursued a sanctified life, an embracing of a pneumatology that advocated the doctrine of the baptism in the Holy Spirit<. For Free Methodists and certain other holiness groups the baptism in the Holy Spirit was associated with the doctrine of sanctification as a second definite work of grace that manifested itself in a life free from the sins and vices generally recognized as unbecoming to Christian believers. Quite often the "baptism in the Holy Spirit" and the experience of becoming "sanctified" and set free from sinful practices was, as with many conversions, accompanied by a high emotional state and euphoric manifestations including shouting, dancing, and a spirit of jubilance, and there are records of persons speaking in indecipherable and ecstatic utterances which were deemed as comparable to the glossolalia that occurred on the Day of Pentecost at the birth of the early Christian Church.

It was not until the latter part of 1904, however, that a group of students at an independent Bible School in Topeka, Kansas experienced the glossolaliaphenomenon and that someone among them made the assumption that there was a direct and inseparable connection between glossolalia and the baptism in the Holy Spirit. That assumption was codified by the president of that Topeka Bible School, a Rev. Charles Parham, into the Biblically unsupportable notion that speaking in tongues or ecstatic gibberish is "the initial physical evidence of the baptism in the Holy Spirit." Parham and his students made a literalistic misinterpretation of the New Testament accounts of glossolalia among the early apostolic church, and without the benefit of an informed hermeneutical discipline they jumped to the mistaken conclusion that unless a person spoke in some ecstatic jibber jabber, however unintelligible and non-linguistic such an utterance might be, they could not possibly have been the recipient of the "baptism in the Holy Spirit." Speaking in tongues (not necessarily in a live and intelligible language) or uttering some kind of ecstatic gibberish became for Parham and his followers the litmus test of a "Spirit-baptism. Although not all Pentecostals embrace Parham's fallacious assumptions, some of the leaders of the newly formed Assemblies of God managed to manipulate that young charismatic denomination into incorporating Parham's naively conceived pnematological assumptions into the denomination's doctrinal statement as a foundational dogma for the Pentecostal movement. Apparently it appeared to those early leaders of the young Assemblies of God denomination, that they were truly onto something very special and distinctive which not only set them apart from the older mainline churches, but which set the Pentecostal adherents above the others as if because of their glossolalia experiences they were more "spiritual" and "righteous" than those who did not claim this particular "gift" from God. For them, glossolalia was the ultimate litmus test of spirituality.

However, with the manifestation in the early 1960s of glossolalia among many of the mainline churches, that charismatic exclusivism dramatically changed. Beginning with the Rev. Fr. Dennis Bennett, the senior priest of the large St. Mark's Episcopal Church, Van Nuys, CA, and others mainline denominations, including the spiritual revival accompanied by glossolalia at the Roman Catholic Notre Dame University campus in South Bend, IN, and in many other places in America and abroad there has developed a large ecumenical charismatic constituency that does not embrace or endorse Parham's novel suppositions. Although it is hard for old heresies to die, Dr. Larry Vern Newman, Professor of Church Growth and Renewal at Columbia Evangelical Seminary, offers us a solid work of scholarly research and a sound hermeneutical foundation that challenges Parham's erroneous dogma and which calls for a rethinking and reexamination of what is the true and "Ultimate Evidence" of the baptism of the Spirit in the life of the Christian believer.

Dr. Newman's work is carefully and insightfully organized into four major sections. In "Part One: Antecedents of Glossolalia," the author traces the practice of glossolalia (speaking in ecstatic utterances) in the Hellenistic Religious of the ancient world, in Patristic Literature, and in Nineteenth-Century England. He clearly demonstrates that glossolalia was being practiced by adherents of the ancient pagan religions and was not exclusive to the New Testament Church. There exist among certain non-Christian religions and cults yet today expressions of glossolalia, which are either the product of demonic influences or of mere human psychological phenomena, which raises the serious question about glossolalia in and of itself as a valid and accurate criterion by which to evaluate the operative presence and influence of the Holy Spirit. The question is posed as to what other criteria might be Biblically and hermeneutically sound and valid

In "Part Two: The Arguments of Three Traditions," Dr. Newman examines the Traditional, the Classical Pentecostal, and the Neo-Pentecostal Positions regarding the Biblical evidence and criteria for a Spirit "baptism." Obviously, all three positions cannot be correct inasmuch as they hold conflicting viewpoints.

Under "Part Three: The Normative Argument," the author exposes the deficiencies in current Pentecostal Hermeneutics and calls for the adoption of a Biblically sound and valid hermeneutic by Pentecostal scholars, pastors and Biblically informed laity. He shows the errors of assuming that speaking in tongues is by itself a valid or normative evidence of the presence and baptism in the Holy Spirit; and he calls for the embracing of long overdue adjustments in the pneumatology of Pentecostal theology.

"Part Four: The Ultimate Evidence" is the crowning contribution of Dr. Newman's work. He sets forth the Pauline Evidential Construct and advocates the Biblical Evidential Paradigm, calling the reader and the Charismatic movement toward a Comprehensive Evidential Construct embodied in the criterion of Scriptural agape! His thesis is scholarly and Biblically sound, and it is hoped and expected that his book will provide the framework for a reexamination and reformation of Pentecostal pneumatology and the placing of emphasis upon genuine Christian love as the "ultimate evidence" of the Spirit filled life. Dr. Newman's book is a "must read" for every charismatic pastor and churchman, and hopefully it will provide to the church at large a common basis for a greater understanding and appreciation of the gifts and fruit of the Holy Spirit within the Body of Christ on earth.

C. David Jones, DMin, FAPC
Fort Wayne, IN
06-25-09

Contributors-

Larry Vern Newman

Bio(s)-

Larry Vern Newman is Professor of Church Growth & Renewal at Columbia Evangelical Seminary. He holds a DMin from Fuller Theo1ogical Seminary. He was ordained by the Assemblies of God in 1966 and has pastored churches in the West and Midwest.

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