Something made sense to me today in a way that it had not made sense prior. In my philosophy class we were talking about Ludwig Wittgenstein’s emphasis on the “meaning” of a word being determined by the “use” of a word. This is something we know but it sometimes slips our minds. When I say “It is cool outside, I’d wear a jacket” and when I say, “It is cool outside” and you look through the window to see a theme mark with some trendy murals you know I mean two different things even though I am using the same wording.
When it comes to Scripture many of us have realized something like this when we read the Paul’s use of “justification by faith” and James’ use of similar language. Some has proposed these two were against each other but we must remember meaning = use. What Paul is addressing is the opposite of what James is addressing and therefore the language should not be seen as meaning one and the same thing.
I have heard people propose this for the Pauline and Lukan usages of “Spirit-filled” language, but I have continued to bang my head against an exegetical wall trying to figure out how the two work together. Now it clicked for me. We do not have to deny that Luke saw people as being “filled with the Spirit” in a way that accompanied particular signs because we think this contradicts Paul. No, Paul’s usage is different and while he would recognize particular phenomenon as being the work of the Spirit he wouldn’t equate that with the infilling of the Spirit necessary for salvific resurrection which all who place faith in Christ experience.
I know some people will say “duh”, and in retrospect I think some comments on this very blog tried to point this out to me, but it is just now falling into place for me.
this is why I see them working in tandem to each other not in opposition.
Which makes me want to ask you what you as an AOG minister mean by “initial evidence” if you are willing to separate the Lukan and Pauline renderings. I may be able to use it if you give me good reason! 😉
As for the principle you explicate, I agree 100%. The question is whether it applies in the case of Luke and Paul’s talk of the Spirit. It clearly applies in the case of James vs. Paul on justification because the context makes that clear. I’m not convinced, however, that the context makes it clear that for Luke “filled with the Spirit” means something like “Spirit-infilling with signs manifested,” but for Paul it means something different.
In Acts 1 Jesus promises the disciples that they will be “baptized with the Holy Spirit.” That happens in Acts 2 in what Luke describes as being “filled with the Holy Spirit.” Peter preaches to the crowd who gathered that day, and identifies what has happened with the “pour[ing] out” of the Spirit described by Joel. Then, Peter promises the crowd that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that Joel spoke of, and they just witnessed, could be “received” by them as well, not to mention all of their children, and all who were afar off.
If the four different ways of referring to Spirit-infilling specifically refer to “Spirit-infilling with signs,” that would mean Peter promised the audience in Acts that they, their children, and all who were afar off would be “Spirit-filled with signs” since he promised them that they would “receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Clearly you do not believe the supernatural manifestations appearing in Acts 2 (yet alone Acts 8, 10, and 19) are for everyone. So why think that for Luke, such language specifically refers to times when the Spirit is received with such manifestations? It seems to me that consistency either demands you accept some sort of “initial evidence with signs” view of receiving the Spirit, or admit that Luke’s definition of “receive the Spirit” is no different than Paul’s.
Consider Acts 8 as well. Here Luke tells us that even though the Samaritans had believed and were baptized, the apostles had to pray for them to “receive the Holy Spirit” since the Holy Spirit had “not yet fallen on any of them” (another term for the event). It seems clear to me that there was an expectation for the Samaritans to have already received the Spirit, but that expectation was unmet. This is significant in two ways.
First, why would a “Spirit-infilling with signs” have been expected? If we restrict ourselves to Luke’s account, the only believers who had ever experienced such signs prior to this point (which was several years after the events in Acts 2) were the 120 on the Day of Pentecost. If they were the only ones to experience it, and no one else had experienced it since, there would be no reason to expect the Samaritans to experience any signs whatsoever. You have argued before that Peter needed such confirmation so he could be certain that God had expanded the New Covenant to include Samaritans, but this would only explain why God provided such signs, not why Peter and John were expecting signs (if, indeed, “receive the Spirit” means “Spirit-infilling with signs” as you claim).
Second, if “receive the Spirit” for Luke means “Spirit-infilling with signs,” why would it matter that the Samaritans lacked this experience? Why pray for them to receive an experience that is neither necessary nor normative? On your soteriology, and on your definition of what receiving the Spirit means in Luke, you would have to say that these Samaritans were already filled with the Spirit in the Pauline sense of the word, and thus saved. They didn’t lack anything needed for Christian conversion. And yet, Luke portrays it as though they were lacking something. After noting how the Spirit had not yet fallen on them, he says, “but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” His point seems to be that they had experienced one essential component of Christian conversion (baptism), but still lacked another (the infilling of the Spirit). But on your view the presence of signs is not a necessary experience, and thus the Samaritans were not lacking anything essential to Christian conversion. It seems much better to understand the experience of the Spirit in Acts 8 to refer to the same thing Paul referred to in Romans 8:11—the saving experience of regeneration that one must experience if they are to belong to Christ.
So not only do I fail to see a contextual justification within Acts for thinking Luke defines receiving/pouring/filling/baptizing the Spirit differently than Paul, but defining Luke’s use as “Spirit-infilling with signs” seems to work against your view of the Spirit-infilling, not for it.
If I had to choose I’d say that Luke and Paul don’t mean the same thing but that the type of infilling that Luke describes has outward phenomenon that accompanies the infilling.
One difficulty with this is that while Luke was recording what he had heard others speak about as well as what he witnessed first hand as a companion of the Apostles.
We see this evident in Acts with Peter going to see Cornelius, John specifically going to the Samaritans and Paul asking the disciples near Ephesus if they had received the Spirit when they believed.
I believe Paul says a couple of things about being a Christian. All Christians are so because of the external / internal convicting work of the Holy Spirit. We see this evidenced through the Samaritans. They were saved…. this salvation is similar to that of the Disciples / Apostles who had seen Christ and were saved upon his resurrection. There is no doubt at the time they were saved.
I see no contradiction with Paul having two views of the Spirits working… No one can call Jesus Lord apart from the working of the Spirit – “Samaria”
However I do believe that the Pentecostal doctrine of initial evidence is too narrow. Tongues is a speech language and prophecy /heart filled praise and boldness to declare Jesus is Lord must also be included.
Was comment 5 addressed to me? If so, you have not interacted with my argument at all. You just restated in summary fashion what you claimed in your post. I just argued that given the data of Acts 2 and 8, your definition would require you to adopt some sort of “initial evidence” doctrine. Surely you have some response to this! 🙂
If I was not clear, I am asking you to tell us how we you square an Evangelical understanding of how and when believers receive the Spirit with Peter’s promise that those in his audience, their children, and all who were afar off would also “receive the Holy Spirit” prophesied by Joel and fulfilled before their eyes, if by “receive the Spirit” Luke means “Spirit-infilling with signs.” Given your proposed definition of “receive the Spirit” in Luke, Peter was promising that everyone would receive the Spirit with signs. While that may line up with my theology, surely it doesn’t line up with yours. That’s why I think it undermines your proposal that Luke defines receiving the Spirit differently than Paul.
I am also asking you why, if the Samaritans already received the Spirit in the Pauline sense, would the apostles be expecting signs to manifest themselves since no one had experienced the manifestation of signs since Pentecost, and since signs are not necessary for conversion? Furthermore, why does Luke portray the fact that they had not received the Spirit as though they were lacking some essential component of conversion (“they were ONLY baptized…”) if signs are not part of a normal conversion? It only makes sense to say they were only baptized but had not received the Spirit if the Spirit Luke is talking about is the regenerating Spirit Paul spoke of in Romans 8:9,11 that is essential to conversion. Again, this would undermine your proposed definition for “receive the Spirit” in Acts. Thoughts?
I have answered you in several lengthy emails already so I am not sure why I would repeat myself here. As far as our conversation is concerned I am sure you’ve heard me and you’ve decided that I’m not convincing. Of course, I am not surprised by this. I am hardly an eloquent writer and I doubt I have said anything new that you haven’t heard elsewhere. If you think your way of reading this text makes the most sense to you what am I to do? We will just have to agree to disagree.
Brian, I see Luke and Paul in tandem, that means to different emphasis, same Spirit (tandem bike – two people, one bike, both make it work) – as I see it, Luke’s emphasis is on the charismatic element of the work of the Spirit (the signs and wonders, etc) and for Paul it is soteriological (the salvific work of the Spirit) – together the constitute a work of the Spirit.
I think I open to seeing the language as being used that way.
Thanks for adding your voice. I think the initial evidence doctrine is too narrow as well. I am interested in finding a third way.
I recently wrote an article on the use of Luke to help come to a fuller and better pneumatology. Many times we try and force Luke into Paul, which is not helpful. Luke and Paul are harmonious as a whole, but they have different emphases in their works. Paul is very focused on the work of the Spirit in conversion-initiation, uniting believers to Christ and into the body (again, initiatory). Luke has a very large focus on being empowered for service, not to mention these interesting ‘statistics’:
Language centred around being ‘baptised in the Spirit’: Luke 3 times; Paul 1 time
Language centred around being ‘filled with the Spirit’: Luke 9 times; Paul 1 time
This is why I like the short, but solid, book by Roger Stronstad entitled The Charismatic Theology of St. Luke.
I need to read that book. I have heard good things about it.
The language stats are very interesting. I am coming closer to seeing the Spirit language as describing two different works of the Spirit that have commonality but are surely different.
The book is quite short (the actual text part about 90 pages). So you could finish it in a few hours.
Sorry, one more comment (I think). Here is my review of the book that I posted earlier this year.
I found a copy in the library and I will be taking it home this weekend.
Unless you have written something related to this in your last email to me (which I have not yet read), this issue has not been discussed by us before. In my estimation, the issue you raised in this post is only tangentially related to the question of the initial-evidence doctrine (IED). I think the arguments I raised against your proposed definition of “receive the Spirit” in Acts could be raised by both IED and non-IED advocates alike, because I am simply pointing out how your definition will not fit the text, particularly given your view that signs are not to be expected when someone receives the Spirit. If you substitute every occurrence of “receive/fall/baptize the Spirit” with “Spirit-infilling with signs” as you propose, it contradicts your position. Ironically, your proposal actually helps the IED position, which is the opposite of what you intended.
Then go read my email. I don’t care to try to convince you. I don’t expect to convince you. You come with presuppositions that are so contrary to my presuppositions that I don’t think we will move forward. Everything I say results in you finding a new way to “show” how what I said is either (a) unconvincing or (b) magically proves your position. We can do this all day but I don’t think either of us have all day. If you are so set on your position so be it. We don’t owe each other anything.
The one thing I will say here is that it has nothing do with whether or not signs accompany “receiving the Spirit”; it has everything to do with whether Luke means what Paul means when these two talk about the work of the Spirit. I don’t think this is the case so if Luke’s signs are “necessary” for one to know they have received an endowment of the Spirit that fits how Luke describes “filling” and “receiving” so be it. Paul does not hold this view.
You seem to be getting a bit “testy” with me. If I said something to provoke you, I apologize. I am simply trying to evaluate your claims, and I am interested to hear your response. I am completely open to your proposal if it can actually explain the data. I’m arguing that it doesn’t. And rather than showing me how my objections are illegitimate or based on a misunderstanding, you are simply dismissing it.
To me, that has little to do with my presuppositions. I am simply taking your definition, inserting into Acts whenever I read “receive the Spirit,” and seeing what this would mean. And I am arguing that it would mean Peter promised everyone in Acts 2 that they will receive the Spirit with signs. It is in your interest, not mine, therefore, to reconsider your proposal that Luke is defining “receive the Spirit” in this way. The same goes for Acts 8, but I won’t rehearse those points again.
You are dismissing my argument as if it is just another form of the IED vs non-IED argument. It’s not, and I’m not sure why you can’t see this. I am simply testing your proposal, and pointing out where it doesn’t work, and how it is actually inconsistent with your theology.
It is apparent that (1) I don’t have the ability to put into words the argument as it is functioning in my head or (2) the argument is good enough for me but not for you. I will go back to the drawing board to see if there is a new way of saying it that will make more sense.
It seems like you are just ducking my objections at this point. Why don’t you just answer them? If your proposal is correct, it shouldn’t be difficult. If I am wrong, fine. But at least show me where.
Now you seem to be backing away from your original proposal, and simply claiming that whatever Luke may mean by “receiving the Spirit,” it can’t be what Paul means. But this seems rather ad hoc. It’s as though you are reasoning that since Luke seems to connect receiving the Spirit with supernatural signs, then he must have a different definition of “receiving the Spirit” than Paul does. That could be, but it seems to me that you are making the distinction for theological reasons rather than exegetical reasons. If Luke is defining his terms differently, the context of Acts should indicate it since contexts define words, and yet I haven’t seen you provide any exegetical arguments from Acts to demonstrate Luke is using his terms differently.
What you are doing seems no different to me than what OPs do when trying to explain why Paul clearly implies that not all speak in tongues—they say the tongues Paul is referring to are different than the tongues Luke speaks about in Acts. The tongues in acts are said to be “initial tongues” that are for everyone, while the tongues in Paul are said to be “gift tongues” which are only for some believers. But there is no exegetical basis for this distinction. The distinction is made for theological reasons. The explanation does not follow from the context, but from the presupposition that Luke teaches the initial evidence doctrine. Paul is redefined because theological priority is given to Luke.
You seem to be doing the same thing but in reverse. You are giving theological priority to Paul, and then claiming Luke must mean something different than Paul since what Luke says seems to contradict what Paul says. Maybe you are right, but if you are, you need to demonstrate it exegetically, but so far you haven’t even tried. I pointed out texts in Acts that bring your distinction/definition into question. If those arguments cannot be answered, then perhaps your proposed definition for Luke is not the right one, or perhaps there is no distinction in the way Luke and Paul define receiving the Spirit. Perhaps your understanding of Paul is mistaken in the same way you would argue that OPs understanding of Luke is mistaken.
I get your posts and comments via email. It looks like there are some comments that I received via email from you that are not appearing on this thread (and some that are on the thread I did not receive via email). I don’t know if it is a lag-time issue, or if some of your comments have been private. But for anyone who may be reading this, and can’t understand why I might seem to be responding to a shadow man, this will explain it.
It’s because I had said something that I felt was not in context with the conversation so I opted to correct it so that it would say something more fitting. You responded to what I was going to say but decided to retract.
What I believe Paul and the other writers are saying is that the initial evidence is a experiential knowing God. We see this in Acts with the disciples of John when Paul asks them…”Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”
No, we don’t know who this Holy Spirit is…. (my paraphrase) There are two types of knowledge.
1) scientific knowledge… I can now all about the bible, theology etc
2.) personal knowledge … intimacy with a person – experiential relationship with God.
While these two should cross over, they don’t always do so and hence we have doctrines / attitudes that say if I know the Bible then I know God. …However for the early church who had no Bible…they had a realised and actualised dynamic relationship with God / Spirit / Christ / each other
This I believe opens the door for a third way to look at initial evidence as to the baptism of the spirit…
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