“my concern is that in our having his Spirit, we not settle for a watered down understanding that gives more glory to Western rationalism and spiritual anemia than to the living God” (Introduction, p.9) God’s Empowering Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Letters of Paul, by Gordon D. Fee. Hendrickson, 1994.
Fee, writing with a sincere concern for the church and with an intense interest in an experience of the life of God as mediated or communicated by the Spirit, confesses for many of us that the working out of our faith is heavy on theological description and low on spiritual experience. If that is the case, it seems that we would be skilled in discerning the right and the wrong, but clumsy in areas of wisdom and gifting and community and witness and prayer. In personal terms, it seems that we would be better in our answers and in detecting errors than in progressing in holiness. In terms of witness, we would be left to rely on argument in our efforts to convince the lost rather than presenting a compelling, living lifestyle that reflects the sweet reality of heaven’s values.
So, have we settled? Have we settled for a kind of Christianity that is dry and unfruitful? Are we more comfortable with a faith that is predictable, though lacking power in its expression? Do we settle for church life that is lacking in love, and weak in obedience?
Let me back off for a moment. Yes, the church with which I am familiar is Western, and rationalistic, and predictable. But there are still many wonderful examples of love and sacrifice and obedience and blessing. But, …
I do not believe that God wants His children, any of us, to settle for less than what He has provided. I am excited about following Fee’s lead through Paul’s epistles as he exegetes and examines what God has said about His empowering presence.