On Anointing and Unction

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147 Responses

  1. Steve Wright says:

    This is one of those posts where I agree with every single sentence except one…but unfortunately it is the main conclusion.

    “The Holy Spirit empowers His word, not me.”

    I just disagree…I think it (Spirit empowerment) is to both. (the word and the man)

    I think Scripture teaches both. I think the gift of teaching is Spiritual and given by the Holy Spirit and is more than just heavy study, knowledge and even being able to speak with clarity.

    And I also do not equate emotionalism with the Spirit. Just because a guy gets excited, yells or whatever does not equate to the Spirit really being upon him.

    I do agree that the Spirit anoints the study process, the message prep, the choice of illustrations and examples…all before stepping into the pulpit. (Like I said, I agree with everything you wrote here but the one line).

    (And for the record, all the points about the pastor just having a different place in the body and not being special are points I reiterate constantly)

    I’ll let it rest there on my end. I shared yesterday some of my experiences in the moment of preaching. Where God “took over” – My wife who is not hyper-spiritual in such things at all as observed those times as well. And I’ll say I’ve experienced the opposite as well. Where it is a labor to deliver and when I rest in the fact that God’s word IS where the power lies. But the dependence on Him is always a constant. Always.

  2. I don’t know. There are certainly some preachers who seem more gifted at the art than others. As a guy who preaches 10-20 times per year, I am good at studying, preparing, even the exposition I’m pretty strong with. But when it comes to really standing and delivering a powerful sermon, I’m just not very good at it.

    I think you are mixing two different ideas, though. A preacher is no more important than anyone else in the body, but he does have a different function. A vital function that not everyone can do.

  3. EricL says:

    I think you are right that the change must happen from the bottom up, but how likely are congregations to revolt when so many of them are stuck as “babes in Christ”? Christianity Today did that poll recently about pet heresies of evangelicals and found 58% who didn’t know that the Holy Spirit is a personal being. What a travesty.

    I have heard this heresy so often, even from the pulpit. It sneaks out subtly, most often by calling the Holy Spirit an “it” as if He is an impersonal force, á la Star Wars.

    When over half of a congregation doesn’t even understand such a basic about the God they claim to worship, then how can we expect them to understand any of the other good points you’ve raised?

    No wonder so many people find it frightening to have a congregation that is Spirit-led and Spirit-filled. For the one who understands that the Spirit is the third person of the trinity, it is like a child trusting an adult to lead them well. (Trusting God’s Spirit to guide, and not some man up on stage.) But for those who see the Spirit as an impersonal force, letting “it” have control would be like letting a downed electric line snake about in the air, threatening to zap any who touches “it”.

  4. Michael says:

    Josh,

    All of the gifts in the church are vital functions that not everyone else can do.
    There are people who are more gifted communicators than others…but that’s not because of some supernatural ability imparted by God.

  5. Michael says:

    EricL,

    You raise a good point…and I believe Dr. Packer is right when he says that catechesis is vital today.

  6. Laura Scott says:

    Michael,

    These words may be among the most important you have ever written. They are simple, profound, and timely.

    Without the Spirit, the church is lost.

    I am glad you found Him.

  7. Michael says:

    Thank you, Laura!

  8. xenia says:

    Michael, if what you say is true, then all that’s required is that someone with a good reading voice stand up and read the Bible out loud every service.

    No. True pastors are called, ordained, and specially empowered by the Holy Spirit to do their job.

  9. Michael says:

    Xenia,

    I believe that everyone in the assembly has at least one spiritual gift and are thus as empowered by the Spirit to function as I am.
    It’s takes more than reading to teach and the power of the Spirit to serve…but each of us is serving in the power of the Spirit…or we’re supposed to be.

  10. “There are people who are more gifted communicators than others…but that’s not because of some supernatural ability imparted by God.”

    I think I disagree. But!!! I also think the guy who vacuums the floor is supernaturally gifted by God to do his task.

  11. Jean says:

    I would agree that the Spirit is in the word not in the preacher. Preaching is a gift to be sure, but it is found just as often in the atheist or heretic as it is in the faithful preacher. I don’t have to list the tyrants throughout history who were gifted orators (preachers of a sort).

    In a church, the calling of a pastor has many more dimensions that simply preaching, and if that’s the only gift that pastor had, I probably wouldn’t think of him as much of a pastor (maybe a great teacher though). The gift of pastoral care, of inspiring, of nurturing, of empathy, of listening; those are some of the other important gifts I admire more in a pastor.

  12. Michael says:

    Steve,

    I think all of us who teach have had those moments when the Spirit takes over.
    What’s interesting to me is we often have those moments when someone else in the assembly speaks when I’m teaching…it’s God honoring His word, not me or the speaker.
    Of course, as always…I could be wrong.

  13. On the flip side, I found this conversation interesting – called Talking Sheep.
    What are laypeople to do when their pastor begins teaching false doctrine?

    http://steadfastthrowdown.org/307/talking-sheep/

    There is also a link to a CFW Walther sermon on the Sheep judging the Shepherd.

  14. Nonnie says:

    I think you only have to listen to Greg Laurie to understand that God anoints a man to speak His word and fruit comes forth. Greg does nothing flashy or show business-y,nor does he get all emotional, etc. He preaches and God’s power goes forth. I believe it is purely a gift….and anointing for that moment. I saw the same thing in Dr. Vernon McGee. Standing “off stage” he was a feeble old man and yet when he stepped behind the pulpit and began to speak, God’s power was there.

  15. Kevin H says:

    I don’t have a definitive position on the “anointing” of a pastor, but at the very least it would seem the claim of anointing is sometimes misidentified, if not outright abused. The percentage of claims of “anointing” seem to rise along with the numerical “success” of the pastor. If anointing is true, how do we differentiate between anointing and natural giftedness (while acknowledging that God is the one also endowing the giftedness)? When God gifts someone with a good speaking ability, does he then only work through that gift or does he add a special anointing on top of it? Certainly there have been plenty of times where preachers and speakers have spoken in what appears to be a powerful fashion judging by the reaction of and influence on the audience. Yet not all of those times was the message spoken a good thing. So again, how do we differentiate between anointing and natural ability? And what of those who speak and preach who may not even be especially gifted as public speakers? God still works through them, too. Is that only because of anointing? No answers from me. Just lots of questions.

  16. I don’t know about the anointing of the man – but I do know that the Office of the Ministry is anointed and as each man steps into it, he is covered by that anointing.

  17. xenia says:

    ^^^^ What MLD said.

  18. Michael says:

    MLD,

    Can you give any New Testament verification of that assertion?
    Priests were anointed…and we believe in the priesthood of all believers.

  19. I think here we see Jesus establish an office. If it was just with a man – Peter – or all the disciple (which I think) then that office would die with them.

    fyi – I don’t think “priesthood of all believers.” means what you think it means. The OT priest acted for others – I don’t think I as a lay person can act for others… only myself.

  20. ooops forgot to say what is here.
    And I tell you that you are Peter,[b] and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades[c] will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be[d] bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be[e] loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

    And it’s not a Pope thing.

  21. papiaslogia says:

    “There can’t be corrupt leaders if there are no willing followers financing the show.”

    Completely agree with the first part of this post.

    The second part, I think that I agree with you, but with a few points to consider.

    “I have no supernatural abilities that anyone has noticed.” Not sure I completely with you on this one – “No one can say “Jesus is Lord without the Spirit” – that’s a packed statement.

    While anyone who can speak can say the words, not everyone can say the words with the meaning attached to the statement. That comes from above.

    Not everyone can teach the Word and have it mean what it means – it takes a Spirit filled believer to teach what the Spirit filled Word says and means and how people can then apply to their lives. Too much the Church relies on methodology and pragmatism to judge if a man speaks the oracles of God. Its not about the result of the Word – its the Word itself weaving and coursing through our bodies and spirit and making the Gospel true to every part of our being.

    “We preach Christ, and Him crucified.”

    Carry on…. 😉

  22. Steve Wright says:

    Josh, would you agree we could have two musicians, both obviously talented, having practiced for years etc. but one leads you into worship and one is just a real good concert.

    And at the same time, a guy who is constantly hitting bad notes, struggling to remember the words and so forth is not leading you to the throne that night.

    I see things that way (and why I asked Josh since I am not a musician)

    Obviously there are qualities that make for effective communication, and study and delivery are part of that.

    But I think when we talk about God speaking through the word and the man delivering it, we are talking about a personal connection in the Spirit with the person in the pew. Versus maybe learning some new facts, or getting motivated emotionally.

    You know, I try very hard to keep my messages solely on the text. But at the end of the message, if you put a stopwatch to it all, I am reading actual verses from the Bible (or quoting other verses) far less than I am talking about it – my own words. Like Xenia said, I don’t just get up there and read for 30 minutes. So if my words are not somehow involved with the Spirit, then the vast majority of my message would be mostly a waste of time.

  23. Em says:

    “The qualifications for ministers are not supernatural…they are all about character” … YES!

    when does a man (generic) slip from serving God to protecting his position “in the Lord’s service?” Is it self delusion or is it selfish?

    what a wonderful assessment, Michael

  24. fyi says:

    Moses describes himself as being slow in speech. Didn’t want the job. Yet Stephen described him as a man powerful in speech and action. That only happens in the power of God’s Spirit falling upon the man. Later in the same chapter, Stephen says that Moses received living words to pass on to the people. I think sometimes our problem is that, because of abuse of position/authority, we try to strip those men who are faithful of anything that might make it seem that they are separate (in terms of calling) from the others in the body. It isn’t attractive when men called by God deny their gifting or their power from God in performing the duties of the calling. It is also unattractive when they take glory to themselves because of the calling of God. Simon the sorcerer liked the attention he got but the people (most of them) followed Phillip and Peter and John as they led them to Jesus.

    Michael, one thing I have always wondered about (for years) listening (reading) as you spoke about your gifts and calling is that it seems you try too hard to be just one of the guys. Shouldn’t we who are pastors (and teachers) live lives that are more consistent with what we teach? Shouldn’t the people we teach expect us to be closer to the Lord, to be more Godly and in control of our flesh? I know we all get angry but wouldn’t you expect your pastor not to sin in his anger? Or to better exercise self-control than most we teach when we are tempted? It is clear that you are smarter than most of us and are very gifted. I have read much of what you have written and thought “I wish I wrote that’ There are things you have written that were filled with love and some, a few, that were not. The difference? The power of God coming upon as you sat at your keyboard.

    I have always believed that I ought to be able to tell people I love to follow me as I follow Christ and can do so without exalting me. I also teach them to stop following me when/if I stop following Jesus. That is what I believe is being or getting real with people. Being real is never indulging the flesh; Paul says that’s not me, it is sin living in me. I would love to hear your thoughts..

  25. filbertz says:

    I believe the Holy Spirit empowers both the scripture and the person preaching/teaching/sharing/talking/whatever. I would not use the term anointing though, because it has an OT connotation to it–that despite the abuses or failures of the man, he is still God’s person for the job. I believe the Holy Spirit both indwells all believers and empowers all believers, but the latter is not always a given. While the Spirit won’t leave me, He may not empower me due to my sin, rebellion, lack of diligence, or self-reliance.

  26. Michael says:

    “Michael, one thing I have always wondered about (for years) listening (reading) as you spoke about your gifts and calling is that it seems you try too hard to be just one of the guys. Shouldn’t we who are pastors (and teachers) live lives that are more consistent with what we teach? Shouldn’t the people we teach expect us to be closer to the Lord, to be more Godly and in control of our flesh?”

    To the best of my understanding I am just one of the guys…and gals.
    The Head of the church is Christ, the rest of us are all body parts.
    You may assign my part as you choose…

    The answer to the rest of your questions is not necessarily.
    There are standards for leaders and we try to reach them.
    Those standards aren’t much different than what is expected of everybody in the church.
    What they should expect is that we all struggle toward home together…my job is to demonstrate leadership in repentance and forgiveness.
    I do that by being as transparent as possible about my own sin and failures, repenting in front of them and walking as a man forgiven.
    My church hears almost every week that I am just one part of the Body…and that they occupy a place every bit as important.
    I need their gifts as much or more as they need mine.

  27. Steve Wright says:

    I don’t like “anointing” either filbertz…And I especially HATE it as an adjective. “He is an anointed preacher” – That’s like saying Paul was an inspired writer. No. The Scriptures are inspired and the process of inspiration worked upon Paul as he wrote.

  28. Michael says:

    “While the Spirit won’t leave me, He may not empower me due to my sin, rebellion, lack of diligence, or self-reliance.”

    Pastors are not exempt from this…

  29. filbertz says:

    I also believe a lot of what passes for “unction” or Holy Spirit empowerment or fullness is merely good theater, drama, hype, even purposely misleading people. The fruit is what will display the fingerprints of the Spirit’s work.

  30. Steve Wright says:

    Michael…we are in agreement on so much here. Probably more than either one of us realize.

  31. filbertz says:

    I think the present work/empowerment of the Spirit through the pastor is what elevates the natural ability to a Spiritual Gift. Many people are hospitable, but many of those do not have the Spiritual Gift of Hospitality. Many are compassionate and show kindness to those less fortunate, but do not possess the Spiritual Gift of Mercy. It is the power of God that elevates the natural to the supernatural–again evidenced by the fruit.

  32. Michael says:

    Steve,

    I don’t doubt that.
    I’m not trying to be at odds with anyone.
    What I am trying to do is get the laity to understand their importance and worth in every local body…and then to take their share of responsibility for the health of it.
    If we can think through these things in community we’re all the better for it.

  33. Steve Wright says:

    Amen Michael

  34. Michael says:

    fil,

    I think there is truth in #32…

  35. Michael says:

    MLD,

    I’m not disputing that there is an office.
    I’m just not sure what that encompasses in the daily life of the church…and that passage doesn’t inform us of much.
    That passage has been used to construct doctrines that neither one of us would affirm…

  36. “Josh, would you agree we could have two musicians, both obviously talented, having practiced for years etc. but one leads you into worship and one is just a real good concert.”

    Absolutely agree. And I do think it relates to preachers in much the same way. Just a gifting…a connection.

    Not special in the sense that they are above the rest, but special in the sense that it is what God has gifted them to do.

    I’ll put it this way, the pastor and the custodian are both gifted by God, empowered by the Holy Spirit to perform their task in serving the body.

    But you couldn’t just switch the two and both be equally effective at the other’s task. That is not what each guy is gifted to do.

    That would be my definition of “unction”.

  37. Francisco Nunez says:

    When man attempts to preach with authority he won’t. The authority is in the Text. The degree to which that unction is manifested is dependent on the condition of the messenger’s heart. If the man behind the platform is simply an entertainer, all the emotion and bells and whistles will be of zero spiritual nutritional value for the congregation. When there is brokenness and dependence on the Holy Spirit however, the appeal that needs be made to move His people regarding the text will be poured forth.

  38. Michael says:

    To follow up with fyi…

    I get a lot of calls from pastors.
    They don’t call me because I’m smart or nice but because they know they be be real in communicating their feelings and thoughts…and communicate them occasionally using language that would smoke a pig.
    This separation we enforce has isolated one group of the Body to such a degree that they become alone and dysfunctional.
    Pastors get mad, get angry, fight with wives, children, and congregants, get disappointed, tempted, and broken down just like every one else in this fallen world.
    It all has to stay bottled up and secret…and eventually the smart ones get out to save both mind and soul.
    If you have an “anointing” that keeps you from all of the above, bottle it and we’ll go into business. 🙂

  39. fyi says:

    Michael wrote: ‘What they should expect is that we all struggle toward home together…my job is to demonstrate leadership in repentance and forgiveness.’

    Yes, you are right. But should they not also expect you to demonstrate leadership in holiness and zeal? Too often I fear you are arguing against a straw man; you say being real is sharing your struggles, telling them you are just a part of the body no more important than they. While those things are true, it does not diminish our obligation to God (and to those who we teach) that we practice what we preach (btw, I agree COMPLETELY that practicing walking in forgiveness is a huge lesson we teach by example). To whom much is given, much (more ) is required. James says not many should seek to be teachers as we stand under a stricter judgment (surely not for salvation, but for living in the gifting we have been blessed with. If I get angry with someone who God loves, my anger is both real and sin. Anger is common to all; sinning when angry should not be common to those who have been given much (in the way of calling). Like you have expressed in the past, I simply cannot listen to men who, though they may be great teachers, have demonstrated a lifestyle that is inconsistent with what they teach. Pastors are not any more important or valuable than anyone else in the body, but we have the assigned duty of leadership. By example. One final thing: when I am angry (or any other sin or temptation seeks to overtake), that is when I rely upon what you call anointing. Can’t do that in my own strength any more than I can teach God’s Word in my own strength.

  40. Em says:

    Nonnie mentioned JVernon McGee – i have been told by some that he was an absolute curmudgeon when out and about… but i think he was a servant of God and an honest man – he loved the word(s) of God unconditionally, but with discernment and was compelled to share them with the “beloved.”
    character is much more about being honest than it is about being nice and, certainly is not about being sinless IMHO … (i don’t think honest and cruel are synonymous terms BTW)

    amening filbertz, Steve and Michael this a.m. … will have to come back and re-read all the thoughts on this one later, tho

  41. “That passage has been used to construct doctrines that neither one of us would affirm…”

    Because others may abuse a passage in no way restricts my use of it. I think God has created an office and places men in that office. My pastor does what he does because of his office.

  42. Michael says:

    fyi,

    I think we would define “holiness” and “zeal” somewhat differently.
    I love the Word and strive to walk in it.
    They know that…and they do too.
    I fail frequently…and they do too.
    My message is centered on the Cross and the kingdom…which means following Christ and living in love…and giving what we have received.
    If you stay at the cross and live in love, holiness and zeal will follow.

  43. Steve Wright says:

    Thanks, Josh. And you are so right (as is filbertz). I see the people at our church who volunteer for all the janitorial, maintenance, gardening – they serve with such joy – (and do a great job).

    Good word Francisco

  44. fyi says:

    Michael, I wrote 40 before I read your 39. Christians never get a pass that allows sin. We do, you are right. But those of us who teach others, should we not be held to a higher standard? If I fight with my wife, is that something I should accept because I am real? How would I explain to Jesus that I misrepresented Him to the woman He loves and asked me to care for? Pastors, when they call you, should be told to behave in a Godly manner. To listen to a pastor, a teacher of God’s Word, use language that would smoke a pig, should you, as a Godly confidant and friend, lovingly correct them, pray for/with them? Although I know this isn’t your heart, it seems as though you are saying you understand when somebody acts in private like Driscoll did in public and it is OK in the name of being real. Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit; if someone I loved wanted to vent (as real as they may be), I would want to lovingly show them Jesus. Why would any of us expect any different from our pastors? Do we really believe what we teach or is it just for others? I/we need to be the same privately that we teach we should be when in public. Being real, having flesh, being tempted can never be an excuse for sin. When we misrepresent the Jesus we preach, we then can repent and receive restoration of fellowship. Just speaking for me, when I am with Jesus, I will not sin. When I step away, even for a moment, I will do horrible things. The Holy Spirit tries to get me to stop before I fail. He leads me to Jesus when I do fail. I really believe this is my personal responsibility as a Christian chosen to teach and care for God’s people.

  45. Michael says:

    fyi,

    I believe we have to be honest to God and as much as possible with each other.
    We sin.
    To me the key is not just trying to sin less, it’s being fast to repent when I do.
    When I misrepresent God to people (and I do) it’s on me to repent to them and God.
    We both grow when that process is honest and clear.
    My job is to point people to Christ and His holiness and goodness, not my own.
    Should we strive to live what we preach?
    Of course!
    Do we always do that?
    Nope…not when we understand what the standard is…

  46. Steve Wright says:

    I/we need to be the same privately that we teach we should be when in public. Being real, having flesh, being tempted can never be an excuse for sin.
    —————————————————–
    So good, fyi! Amen and amen.

    I tremble at this reality given my wife and I are raising two children – so-called PKs.

    Being a pastor is much easier than being a father who happens to be a pastor. (If that makes sense).

  47. Francisco Nunez says:

    MLD
    Just a thought. The office of pastor is first and foremost relational and functional, not simply hierarchal or positional. If a man thinks he’s called as a pastor simply because someone has put him in the positon/role/office of pastor but if he does not carry out the functions or have the relationships of a pastor toward members of the flock, then by definition he is not a pastor. A man could very well have a so called platform ministry because he is a great communicator and people may refer to him as pastor yet that is not the same as a the office of pastor as defined by Christ in John 10:11-14.
    blessings

  48. Babylon's Dread says:

    To the degree that people get a sense of entitlement from claiming to be anointed in some special way I agree.

    Otherwise I will sit this one out. Moses was Moses and the congregation was not. Saul was Paul and John Mark was not. i have no reason to believe it is different now. Chuck Smith was Chuck Smith and Joe Smith was not. But then I might be wrong.

  49. Michael says:

    Francisco…amen to # 48…

  50. I pretty much agree with BD, here. The “anointing” isn’t the issue. Pride that come from that is the issue.

  51. Babylon's Dread says:

    There is no indication that Jesus was referring to local church pastors in John 10, rather Jesus was referring to the so-called kings of Israel. The shepherds of Israel were the kings of Israel because David the prototype was a shepherd … And Jesus was fulfilling Ezekiel 34

    7 “Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: 8 As I live, declares the Lord GOD, surely because my sheep have become a prey, and my sheep have become food for all the wild beasts, since there was no shepherd, and because my shepherds have not searched for my sheep, but the shepherds have fed themselves, and have not fed my sheep, 9 therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: 10 Thus says the Lord GOD, Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require my sheep at their hand and put a stop to their feeding the sheep. No longer shall the shepherds feed themselves. I will rescue my sheep from their mouths, that they may not be food for them.

    The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Eze 34:7–10.

    This is one of those passages that we miss because our ears are not trained to hear the echoes but the people Jesus spoke this to were and they reacted…because he was saying that he was fulfilling the promise of God himself.

    19 There was again a division among the Jews because of these words. 20 Many of them said, “He has a demon, and is insane; why listen to him?” 21 Others said, “These are not the words of one who is oppressed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”

    The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Jn 10:19–21.

  52. Babylon's Dread says:

    But then … Pastors should figure it out from Jesus so … the application works

  53. filbertz says:

    Dread,
    Moses was Moses–right. But he wasn’t a New Testament pastor, He was an OT prophet & priest. Saul was Paul–right. But he wasn’t “only” a New Testament pastor, he was an Apostle. Chuck Smith was a New Testament pastor. He spoke as a pastor–but that doesn’t guarantee he always spoke with “unction.” The gift, calling, and office doesn’t guarantee Spirit empowerment.

    I believe the prophetic gift is the superlative gift according to 1 Cor. 12-14, and that would encompass the preaching/teaching role. That is also why James points out the teacher will incur the stricter judgment–he/she speaks for God.

  54. Francisco Nunez says:

    BD
    thanks for your thoughts and for the references to Ezekiel 34. Looks like I have my personal study set for the rest of the week.

  55. Jean says:

    Here’s how the office of overseer was created and passed down in the NT period:

    [From Paul to Timothy:] “and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. (2 T 2 :2)

    The “faithful men” Paul is referring to would probably be an overseer because one of the requirements of an overseer is he must be “able to teach.” (1 T 3 :2)

    If an “overseer” is a what we call a pastor, then there does not appear to be anything ritualistic or particularly special about appointing them. Since the qualifications are clearly set out, one would think that if there was any particular ritual, process or “anointing” required, Paul would have instructed Timothy on that in his letters as well, since Paul was in prison and wouldn’t have had other communication sources.

    The closest thing to an anointing I could find was where Paul writes that he laid hands on Timothy. He didn’t say what that did though.

  56. Francisco,
    You may be correct for a guy who goes out and starts his own church. His calling is his own. However, when a church calls a man, they are calling him to an office.

    My point originally is that whoever fills he office will get – are we still calling it the anointing or did we get politically correct? – what God has given to the office.

  57. pstrmike says:

    @49
    That’s ridiculous! I bet you never met Joe Smith! 😉

  58. Steve Wright says:

    One caveat to something I said earlier…about “God taking over”

    I have had many times when, beginning with the initial study and preparation, the weekly message was a challenge. The delivery then seemed to me no better. And at the end of the day it all seemed very subpar….and my one consolation is that God’s word is always alive and powerful, and I knew I was at least expositing that word. No matter how dreadfully.

    these have been some of the messages that have had the most feedback, most comments about God ministering exactly to where they were that morning etc. People in tears, praising the Lord.

    When we are weak, He is strong.

  59. Francisco Nunez says:

    MLD. I see your point on #57. Thanks.

  60. Babylon's Dread says:

    I am very troubled by this doctrine that God’s anointing is on the Word not the messenger of the word. That is cessationism by definition.

  61. Andrew says:

    Michael I really agree with your comment at 33. Its this type of attitude that has got me to rethink the importance of membership in a local assembly and being confessional in structure. It seems as if we have become somewhat bipolar in the evangelical world in either being an anonymous spectator or entrepreneurial charismatic teacher with not much in between unless you are a good musician, actor or other entertainer. Sometimes when I would go to church I felt like I was going to the movies to get entertained and putting money in the offering plate was like the cost of admission.

  62. Babylon's Dread says:

    The article proposes errant either/or proposals.

    The work of the Holy Spirit empowering individuals does not imply anything about sin other than it is forgiven and the one graced with the Spirit stands forgiven, it certainly does not imply that this thing is not about Jesus. Nor does an anointing to preach/teach/pastor imply that others are not anointed. The fact that all are anointed guarantees that the one who is appointed to oversee is also anointed.

    You are reacting to pride, presumption, arrogance, abuse of power and such things that are all possible in the leadership of any church.

    God gave apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. The church recognizes these gifts. As for being special… that is what it means to be “in Christ.”

    Incipient to this post is that when the Word of God came the power of God was withdrawn. This is John MacArthur’s solution to the problems in the churches. He makes a rule of faith that is not given to us to discard those with whom he is frustrated and angry. It isn’t true and it doesn’t work.

    Failing to Sit it Out Dread

  63. Babylon's Dread says:

    The original assertion that the laity are the ground level solution is correct. The denial of the charisms of the Spirit is errant. The people by virtue of their life in the Spirit corporately get solutions. It isn’t like we need an uprising. We just need faithful voices to cry out to the one who hears.

    I know this blog exists to decry the mess but messes are solved in the context of proper relationships not rules of order.

    Of course you have supernatural powers Michael, your VOICE is one of those empowered instruments. That is why you blog and that is why people listen to you and not to others.

    Forgive me but I do what I do because God set me apart in a different way than he set apart others. The proof of my case is Paul… by the order people would expect he would not be an apostle.. BUT GOD… the proof of your case is Ananias the regular guy who God empowered to release and commission Paul into his destiny.

    By all means cry out against abuse but not against divine empowering as a normative means of God accomplishing his work.

  64. Andrew says:

    BD, not sure where you are getting that Michael is denying the charism of the Spirit particularly when he wrote this..

    “It means I am called to care for souls with my gifts in concert with the rest of the gifts in the assembly.”

  65. Babylon's Dread says:

    Andrew,

    I think Michael is arguing against what he hates in leaders who are astray. I am arguing that God anoints servants of the Word not just the word. I am further arguing that all the body of Christ is anointed but some are anointed for leadership and that they are supernaturally empowered for service. I am arguing that it is not a claim of superiority or of moral superiority as the post seems to claim. I think Michael is over-reaching to make his point.

    And I heartily defend his right to make his point and allow that we may be talking past each other. The Spirit is given to all but some (people) are given by the Spirit to the church.

  66. Michael says:

    BD,

    Excellent points.
    My primary objective is not to address the sins of the leaders in this case as much as the idolatry of the laity.
    The two have often worked together to make the church a toxic place.
    My intent is to plead for the whole body to be as invested in the life of the body as they expect the pastor to be.
    My intent is always to provoke thought and reason and you have contributed to the success of my mission well, as has the rest of our community today.

  67. Michael says:

    Andrew,

    “It seems as if we have become somewhat bipolar in the evangelical world in either being an anonymous spectator or entrepreneurial charismatic teacher with not much in between unless you are a good musician, actor or other entertainer. Sometimes when I would go to church I felt like I was going to the movies to get entertained and putting money in the offering plate was like the cost of admission.”

    Well said…and that is where the church has erred greatly in my opinion.

  68. It is not anointing and it is not how well we can teach.

    It is entirely something else in my opinion…

    http://shekinahfellowship.blogspot.com/2014/10/entrust-to-faithful-men.html

  69. xenia says:

    The two have often worked together to make the church a toxic place.<<<

    To make some churches a toxic place.

  70. One dude bought some exclusive vacant lots in a private community with his booty from his “work” for God back in the early ninetys.

    The lots since have appreciated and he sold a couple of them recently.

    Of course what he does with his gifts from God’s people is his business.

    He makes people fall when he touches them, his teaching is full of theological holes and he comes off as being arrogant.

    And yet people seem to like it because they keep giving him their money.

    Xenia your right about those toxins.

    Guys like this one draw off some of the resources that should really be going to guys like Michael, Steve and a few other men of God here along with so many others who actually do minister the Gospel and do God’s will.

    And they do it faithfully.

    Bless them.

  71. E says:

    The annointing is a supernatural electrically charged oil placed on a believer by the Lord. It is tangible and its very real. To read the text in 1st John and to spiritualize it as metaphor is incorrect. It needs to be taken literally as its written.

  72. Jim says:

    “The qualifications for ministers are not supernatural…they are all about character.”

    This cannot be disputed. While not a requirement for pastors or teachers, I believe under common grace theory that the gifted are among us. Muslim Doctors, atheist guitar players, hedonist fire fighters all demonstrate God’s goodness to the just and the unjust.

    We are the ones who have created a false qualification when we demand motivational speaker level talent from our pastors. My former denom had a very specific way of defining “able to teach”, and their criteria was not taken from Scripture, although a couple of proof texts we’re added to “christianize” the concepts.

  73. So what is “Unction?”
    “E” at 72 nails it.

    That is God’s side of things.

    But what is on our side of things?

    Every think about what this Scripture means?
    Matthew 11:12 New International Version (NIV)

    12 From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence, and violent people have been raiding it.

    I never quite understood it until now…

    http://shekinahfellowship.blogspot.com/2014/11/what-is-this-vehemence.html

  74. Andrew says:

    The annointing is a supernatural electrically charged oil placed on a believer by the Lord. It is tangible and its very real.
    ____________________________________________________________________

    Real? Do you know the voltage potential of this electrical charge? Don’t want to risk getting electrocuted touching “God’s anointed”. 🙂

  75. oscar says:

    A potent avenue for spiritual abuse has occurred when the preacher/pastor is seen as someone special, as having an anointing because of some characteristic of theirs. Leave the specialness to the rock world.

  76. filbertz says:

    I got a charge out of the definition of unction @72. 😉

  77. filbertz says:

    I don’t mean to give E any static though.

  78. filbertz says:

    perhaps AC/DC is really an anointed band. Shocking, huh?

  79. Jean says:

    I prefer Casting Crowns.

  80. I liked the Strawberry Alarm Clock…LOL

  81. Daniel says:

    Michael, interesting post. For me, there’s a sense in which I agree with what you wrote, but another sense that I disagree. Sadly, I think part of the reason that Evangelicalism is in the collective mess they’re in, is because nobody expects much from their pastor. That’s why I find your take on this a bit odd. I (thankfully) never attended Mars Hill. However, sadly, I did attend an A29 “church” for a while. The “pastor” there used to always say “Hey, I’m no better than you guys are.” I get what he was saying, but the comment always left me a bit saddened. I felt like he should be a better person than I was/am. I mean, after all, he’s my pastor for goodness sake. If I can’t look to him for moral clarity and guidance and action, what human being can I look to? I always felt his statement was a bit of a cop-out. I saw it as a built in excuse for times he behaved poorly. I imagine that Driscoll also was fond of this statement. And for him, it sure seems to have been a built in excuse for his behavior.

  82. Daniel says:

    Sorry for the two posts in a row. I meant to add…..I think this line of reasoning Michael is what’s directly lead to pastors being chosen based on public speaking ability, charisma, etc. I mean, if we can’t pick a pastor because of his exemplary character (they’re no better than we are in that dept, right??), then we’re left to choose the best public speaker/fund raiser/dynamic personality.

  83. Babylon's Dread says:

    @72 E — U R N the ballpark… Thanks

  84. Babylon's Dread says:

    I am pretty sure that most things in the Bible would have been rejected by people who love and preach the Bible if they had been there when they happened. I have little doubt.

    Those of us who believe things that happen now as if they are in a “This is that” relationship to the scripture are totally marginalized by many.

    As John Wimber said people believe the stuff in the Bible but they don’t believe it unless it is in the Bible … The don’t believe it in the streets

  85. Steve Wright says:

    I am pretty sure that most things in the Bible would have been rejected by people who love and preach the Bible if they had been there when they happened. I have little doubt.
    ———————————————————————
    He answered them, He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk.Then asked they him, What man is that which said unto thee, Take up thy bed, and walk?

    (The man who had been at the pool of Bethesda for many years, that they all knew well, and knew he was crippled, is walking around and all the Bible experts can do is ask who it was that dared tell him to take up his bed and walk with it on the Sabbath.

    One would think when he said “He that made me whole”, that they would have framed their question, “Who healed you?!”)

  86. Steve Wright says:

    (the above is me agreeing with Dread in case that was not clear 🙂 )

  87. E says:

    Wimber often used the word “stuff” to mean = Healings, miracles, signs and wonders etc (supernatural things of the Spirit). I liked Wimber, im told he was a very generous person behind the scenes.

  88. Michael says:

    I would have no problem affirming the miraculous if I saw it.
    However, there is a rather significant difference between a paralytic getting up and walking and temporary relief from bursitis.

    The biblical miracles had lots of witnesses…hostile witnesses in the case of those who reported their healings to the Pharisees.

    Todays “healers” have to develop entire theologies explaining why there are no real witnesses to alleged healings.

    I won’t even start on manifestations of gold dust, oil, angels, and other such nonsense…

  89. Michael says:

    I’ve been in the ministry a long time.
    I’ve baptized, married, and buried all without the benefit of electric oil.
    I’m annoyed now…

  90. Michael says:

    “The annointing is a supernatural electrically charged oil placed on a believer by the Lord. It is tangible and its very real.”

    Then the only manifestation of the Holy Ghost I’ve seen recently is Kardashians butt…

  91. Michael says:

    Check that…I hear it’s fake too…

  92. Xenia says:

    Great. One doesn’t see any miracles in one’s life and one compares the Holy Ghost to….

    Remind me why we are upset with Driscoll’s crudities again?

  93. Xenia says:

    I’ve baptized, married, and buried all without the benefit of electric oil<<<

    yet

    Then the only manifestation of the Holy Ghost I’ve seen recently is Kardashians butt…<<<

    There's your explanation.

  94. Michael says:

    Xenia,

    I was mocking the notion that a pastor or elder needs to have something akin to “electric oil” to carry our the duties and joys of the ministry.
    That is utter foolishness.
    The Holy Spirit is present in the mundane, routine life cycle of the church and the congregants.

  95. Xenia says:

    I gather you were not anointed with oil when your bishop ordained you to the pastorate?

  96. Xenia says:

    I was once anointed with oil, when I was chrismated into the Church. It WAS electric and there was a definite before and after.

  97. Michael says:

    I was anointed with oil…and I anoint with oil and pray for the sick almost every week.
    It’s not electric and in and of myself I have no power at all.
    I find all this miraculous emphasis disturbing…particularly when the true gifts of the Spirit are so neglected…

  98. Xenia says:

    That is utter foolishness<<<

    Far from being "utter foolishness," it is the ancient practice of the Church, for the past 2000 years and for the vast majority of Christians (and their clergy) on earth today.

  99. Michael says:

    As I said, we anoint people with oil.
    What is utterly foolish is to expect electricity or some such derivative, or some other supernatural manifestation other than healing.

  100. Xenia says:

    “Electricity,” I am assuming, was used as a metaphor up above to describe the very real power that is imparted by the use of physical means, a power is real and not just powerful thoughts. Yes, it is the Holy Spirit that empowers physical elements such as:

    Holy oil (chrism)
    Wine (becomes the Blood of Christ)
    Bread (becomes the Body of Christ)
    Water (the waters of baptism)
    Water (holy water, used for blessings)

    This things are not symbols of something else, they are real.

    As you know, in the Old Testament a man was resurrected by contact with a holy man’s bones. In the New Testament, people passed around hankies and what not.

    God does use His creation in a very real (not just symbolic) way. When a bishop anoints and ordains a man to the priesthood, something changes. in that man. He is empowered by the Holy Spirit to do the work of a priest, to baptize people unto salvation, to turn wine and bread into the Body and Blood.

  101. Michael says:

    Xenia,

    Then I would assume that you would hold my ordination as invalid.
    I’ve yet to perform any act of changing one substance into a completely different substance.
    I don’t believe anyone else has either…

  102. Babylon's Dread says:

    Impartation is alive and well

  103. Xenia says:

    I don’t believe anyone else has either…<<<

    Then you are pretty much denying my entire belief system.

    Your prerogative, of course.

    But I am going to protest when you compare the manifestations of the Holy Spirit with the hind-side of a TV star and say the venerable beliefs of 2000 years of Christianity is utter foolishness.

  104. Michael says:

    Xenia,

    The person that made the “electric oil” comment was out of the renewal movement.
    They would put “holy laughter” dripping oil, “falling under the power”, “angel dust”, and other hijinks as manifestations of the Holy Spirit.
    I don’t.
    I think those manifestations are as real as the plastic surgery aided backside I referred to.

  105. Xenia says:

    he Holy Spirit is present in the mundane, routine life cycle of the church and the congregants.<<<

    Yes, but not in the same way as the ordained, anointed clergy, who have special tasks to perform, tasks in addition to teaching the Bible.

    Everyone has their own role in the body of Christ and the special empowering to do the jobs the Lord had given them.

  106. Babylon's Dread says:

    None of us should be surprised that we believe our own theology and not the others. So this is not something to get terribly upset about. I would be stunned if Xenia did not believe the ancient theology and have a testimony of experience to validate it.

    I have the apostolic witness to the gifts of the Holy Spirit and my own testimonies to validate them.

    I do not need to deny Xenia’s testimony to have confidence in my own. Nothing new has happened here and there is no need for lines in the sand.

  107. Xenia says:

    I don’t follow the teachings of the renewal movement but one thing they have going for them is the expectation that God will regularly break through into our world. Without the Tradition of the Church to keep it in line, it will go off the rails but I would rather sit with a group of people who believe in supernatural manifestations of God than with a group of people who just study how God used to act long long ago.

  108. Michael says:

    Xenia,

    I have never denied on these pages or in my church, that God still acts and does so miraculously at times.
    The problem I have is that when God has healed three members of my church from cancer, He used doctors in concert with prayer to do so.
    Most “miraculous” testimonies are either from the ancient past or darkest Africa…and you’d think that God would play as well in Peoria.
    I haven’t seem any healing hankies or resurrections from old bones in my lifetime.
    I have no doubt it happened…but I haven’t seen it myself or documentation that it’s happened anywhere else.
    I am not at all offended by the notion of miracles…I’m very offended by frauds pretending to make them.

  109. Xenia says:

    Even those people sitting in an auditorium, experiencing “angle dust.” At least they believe God could or might do something supernatural and therefore, I have something in common with them.

  110. Michael says:

    The fact that I refuse to be taken in by hucksters doesn’t mean I don’t believe in the supernatural.

  111. Xenia says:

    Yet we have miracles-aplenty in Ortholandia* and I suspect you would not believe most of them are genuine.

    *myrrh-streaming icons/ wonderworking icons, incorrupt relics of Saints, healings, prophecies, apparitions, visions and so forth, some of which I have personally experienced (but will not discuss here).

  112. Jim says:

    I’m glad the fact that Michael and Xenia’s beliefs are very different is finally out of the closet.

    I’m sure an attempt to make nice and pretend will occur, but the cat’s out of the bag.

  113. Michael says:

    Xenia,

    I don’t judge others personal encounters with God.
    I do question the normative nature of such.

  114. Michael says:

    Jim,

    The reality is that the longer I do this, the more I understand that all of us have very different belief systems with a only a small core of central shared dogmas.

    The amusing thing to me is that most American evangelicals are far closer to Rome than Geneva or Wittenberg…

  115. Xenia says:

    Jim, Michael and I have always been very aware of the fact that under the layer of courtesy we have vastly different belief systems. There is nothing wrong with talking about these differences in a civil way, which we have been doing for I guess ten or eleven years now. I know I believe things (probably in the realm of Mariology) that Michael believes is heretical and there are things he believes that I think are heretical. No point is shouting “Heretic!” at each other, is there?

    I don’t usually write 100 percent of what I believe here on a given topic. I usually tone my comments down to maybe 75 percent, for the sake of civility. I suspect we ALL do this, here on the PPhx or else we wouldn’t last very long.

    I believe Michael is a genuine Christian who is heaven-bound and I imagine he believes the same about me.

  116. Michael says:

    “I believe Michael is a genuine Christian who is heaven-bound and I imagine he believes the same about me.”

    Absolutely…not even a question.

  117. Nonnie says:

    Here you go folks! Christians who disagree respecting one another and discussing subjects they disagree about. Yet they love one another in Christ, they affirm the faith of one another in Christ! Why can’t this be done more often instead of just talking past one another or writing the person off as a heretic or an idiot .
    I love this place!

  118. Anne says:

    Nonnie, because what you describe happens as often as not, is one of the reasons I keep hanging around PP 😀

  119. Jim says:

    102/104 was the closest thing to honest speech I’ve seen from the two of you. I’m glad you’re friends, but it’s obvious that the glue that binds you is Michael’s humility.

  120. I am right there with Xenia’s #101. People who change these to symbols are denying the reason Christ came in the flesh. There is a reason that Jesus was not just symbolically born. did not just symbolically die and was not just symbolically raised from the dead.

    God uses physical means in all of his acts.

  121. E says:

    @ 91 “Then the only manifestation of the Holy Ghost I’ve seen recently is Kardashians butt” Not only is this comment very distasteful but there is a biblical word that is defines such statements “the act or offense of speaking sacrilegiously about God or sacred things; profane talk.”

  122. E says:

    @105 “The person that made the “electric oil” comment was out of the renewal movement.
    They would put “holy laughter” dripping oil, “falling under the power”, “angel dust”, and other hijinks as manifestations of the Holy Spirit.
    I don’t. I think those manifestations are as real as the plastic surgery aided backside I referred to.”

    You clearly know more about the renewal movement then I do. Nor did i lift my “eIectric oil” comment from reading a book or listening to a tape. I excepted this fact years ago, as a believer in Christ who has attended CCCM for decades. And even went last night to watch the movie “A Matter of Faith”, which by the way was very good. But Ive been privy to witness a real ugliness, and really an utter contempt by some in the local fellowship and by few in church leadership. That when a believer, other then “themselves” is experiencing an unmerited favor of grace of God, that is resulting in miraculous healings, “real” predictive prophesies, words of knowledge, visions etc. It really brings out the worst qualities in a person.

  123. Michael says:

    I’ve been in the ministry for a couple of decades now and never had a hot oil treatment.
    I know dozens of faithful pastors who’ve never had the hot oil treatment.
    I’ve heard hundreds of false prophecies and and dozens of self serving visions.
    Does God act in those ways?
    Sometimes.
    Is it normative?
    No.
    Period.

  124. E says:

    The take away from #124 Is that if your in the ministry for 2 decades or personally know dozens of faithful pastors. So there is an entitlement that because we have not had a (Ginosko) experience of these things referenced in the bible. We therefore conclude, it must not be real (metaphor) and those that claim its real are either lying or there delusional. Or these things were real during the time of the apostles, but now we have the bible.

  125. E says:

    Using math. In the US alone we have approx 100,000,000 (million) evangelicals. 2 dozen faithful pastors + 1 = 13 entitled ministers
    13 into 100,000,000 (million) is less then .00001 %
    .
    .00001%

  126. Andrew says:

    Xenia @ 101 wrote ““Electricity,” I am assuming, was used as a metaphor up above to describe the very real power that is imparted by the use of physical means, a power is real and not just powerful thoughts.”
    ___________________________________________________________________

    This is where I think folks are talking past each other. You are clearly saying this electricity is a metaphor for something other than electricity. But E is saying its clearly not a metaphor and it is real. This is why I asked about the voltage of this electricity @ 75 which has never been answered. I can only assume E is referring to real electrical and not some metaphor as you say. This is why I can agree with you and Michael and still think E has gone completely nuts.

  127. Babylon's Dread says:

    I can tell you that the crowds in Capernaum didn’t think much of it either… the jadedness is also deadening and blinding.

  128. The undefinable and nebulous idea of charismatic anointing is quite interesting. A studied teacher or a practiced musician is described as “anointed”, yet the daily sacrificial love and giving are never described that way in charismatic/evangelical culture.

    I’ve decided to immediately broaden the use of the term to those less glamorous offices

  129. E says:

    For you teachers of the bible. The light that came from heaven upon Paul on the road to Damascus. Is this light that came from heaven, made of the same matter and/or (electromagnetic radiation) as the light that comes from the sun, or is it different ?

  130. Andrew says:

    E, all matter is electrically charged and therefor it is not a specific property that distinguishes it as supernatural. But in Paul’s case it may have been different we have no way to tell.

  131. xenia says:

    I am saying electricity is a word that connotates real, physical power. The Lord, in His use of matter (oil, water, wine, bread, etc) uses real, physical power but it is probably not electrical in nature. This is why I used the word metaphor, but I think that was a mistake because it sounds like I am saying this things are mere symbols, which they are not.

  132. Michael says:

    #130 might be the most ridiculous question I’ve seen here.
    How the hell would we know?

  133. Michael says:

    God works supernaturally through the Word and sacraments.
    Not arguing that.
    I’m arguing…and anyone who’s honest about these things has to concur…that we simply do not see the supernatural works (such as healing organic disease) as a normative part of church life today.
    I’ve seen no paralytics get up and walk, no blind eyes healed, and no dead raised.
    The claims of such are always from ancient history or somewhere where no witnesses are there to document.
    Do I believe God can do what He’s always done?
    Yep.
    Do I believe it happens frequently today?
    Nope.

  134. Xenia says:

    Actually, #130 is a very good question; it is the question of God’s uncreated energies vs His essence.

    The light from the sun is part of God’s creation. God empowers and sustains the creation but is not part of it, not in the pantheistic sense.

    However, the light that shone upon St. Paul was God Himself, or at least, His energies. This would be like the light that shone upon Christ on the Mt. of Transfiguration.

    This essence/ energies distinction is a major Orthodox doctrine. God is inaccessible in his essence: No man has seen God, that is, God’s essence, at any time. We interact with God through uncreated energies. which are a part of Him.

    From the GOA web site:

    One of the most important aspects of Orthodox spirituality is participation in the divine energies. Briefly stated, this is an Orthodox doctrine of fundamental importance and very often ignored. In Orthodox theology, a distinction is made between the “essence” and “energies” of God. Those who attain perfection do so by uniting with the divine uncreated energies, and not with the divine essence. The Greek Orthodox Fathers, whenever they speak of God, emphasize the unknowability of God’s essence and stress the vision of the divine energies, especially the divine uncreated Light. Orthodox spiritual tradition emphasizes the divine Logos indwelling in the world and our ability to attain a spiritual life and mystical union with the Holy Spirit in this world.

    -http://www.goarch.org/ourfaith/ourfaith9284

    So, E asked a very good question and yes we do know the origin of the light that shone upon St. Paul. It was God himself.

    For those interested in this subject, Good “St. Gregory Palamas,” “Hesychasm,” or “Energies and Essence.”

  135. Linda Pappas says:

    I was born deaf. At 9 years old, I woke up one morning and could hear. Not completely like hearing people do–whatever that is. Audiology test results: 40-91% loss, left and right. Wear hearing aides, but still have hearing deficits. Audiologists when being examining my ears always, and I mean always shake their head, and say they have no idea how it is that I hear at all. Inoperable status.

    It has been said that I hear more with my heart than most people hear with their ears.

    For me, and some audiologists, it is a God thing.

    Just one miracle among others in my life.

    For such a time as this, it is right that I give testimony to bear witness of Him.

  136. Andrew says:

    No man has seen God, that is, God’s essence, at any time. We interact with God through uncreated energies. which are a part of Him.
    ____________________________________________________________________
    Xenia, what about the incarnation? Although Christ was God and always existed, wasn’t his physical body he took during incarnation created by Him?

  137. Em says:

    “In Orthodox theology, a distinction is made between the “essence” and “energies” of God. Those who attain perfection do so by uniting with the divine uncreated energies, and not with the divine essence. “… hmmm … everytime i pray “hallowed by Thy Name”… i confess how shallow is my understanding of God’s holiness – and how shallow my declaration must seem when heard in heaven…

    if one cannot accept the triunity of God – Father, Son, Holy Spirit (there could be more, i don’t know), but if one does not accept that these three are all complete in His essence … ? … then does one substitute the “energy” for the workings of the Holy Spirit among us?

    per my inability to get my mind around the holiness of God, i wonder at times if we try to conceptualize what the human mind simply cannot grasp… i love my triune God and He is the rock of my life – the concept never leaves me confused … i am living in bliss 🙂

  138. Xenia says:

    I probably did a poor job of explaining this concept, and if you guys don’t accept it, don’t feel bad because it is one of those issues that separates the Christian East from the Christian West. I only brought it up because it does answer E’s question about light and I wanted to assure him that he didn’t ask a dumb question.

  139. I don’t know the difference between essence and energy – and i very well may not understand essence at all. Do I even understand my own essence?

    But the big divide come when we discuss attaining perfection in this life. definitely foreign to a Lutheran.

  140. Em says:

    hmmm… perfection in this life – in this mortal flesh?

  141. Em says:

    Xenia, from Hagia Sophia to this – if not ‘miraculous,’ it is a wonder that i never would have expected to ponder in my lifetime – did God ever sanctify that building? perhaps, and if so, … God sees

  142. London says:

    Xenia. Thanks for the link

  143. Xenia says:

    Why do I think this story is miraculous?

    An ordinary woman, like the Saints of old, couldn’t stand the fact that church* was hosting a religious service for practitioners of a false and malignant religion and she was empowered by the Holy Spirit to drive to DC and proclaim the Gospel. She was pretty sure she would be arrested. She managed, armed only with prayer, to slip through many layers of security and even found a guide. When so got to the room, packed with muslims and goggling media, she didn’t say what she had practiced, instead she preached the Cross and Christ. When she was apprehended, she was kind to the security guards and now does not makes claims of police brutality or anything. She lives in her car but says she has all she needs.

    The miracle was her apparent invisibility (or the guards’ blindness, take your pick). I think her non-whiny attitude was pleasing to God and he was able to use her in this instance.

    *I realize that the National Cathedral hasn’t really been a church for a long time.

  144. Em says:

    Xenia, your #146 is exactly what we can (& should) take away from this incident – thank you for the elaboration and for bringing the link to my attention

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