Rob McAlpine’s new book, Post Charismatic?, his first publication, is a fantastic read for the entire Body of Christ. I highly recommend it. It has only been released in published format in the United Kingdom, which is where I happen to be, but I would not be surprised to see it published more broadly soon.
For people who have never been members of a charismatic church, Post Charismatic? will help them process some of the fears they have with regard to charismatic expressions of the Christian faith. Many non-charismatic Christians have avoided anything close to “charismatic” because of what they think charismatic is. Rob demonstrates that many of the common fears about “charismatics” are not representative of all Christians who believe in the operation of all spiritual gifts today. It also provides an excellent history of many of the more troubling movements and theologies that have developed in some charismatic circles. Where possible, Rob notes that many of those movements began well, with men and women who were sincere followers of Jesus.
For people who have been or are in a charismatic church, Rob graciously demonstrates a biblical view of some of the excesses of charismatic expressions, such as Latter Rain Theology, Word of Faith (”name it, claim it”/prosperity gospel), and a strong bent toward authoritarianism. He notes that the book is not anti-charismatic and is more post-hype than post-charismatic. He also is calling upon those who have left all things “charismatic” behind because of their exposure to such excesses not to throw out the baby with the bathwater.
One of my favorite quotes in the book is on page 123, where he is addressing the prosperity gospel:
When believers recognize the sovereignty of God and properly become concerned with the will of God, they will not talk in terms of compelling God or using God’s power. They will speak of becoming obedient servants.
I’ve also heard this said another way – we need to stop talking about walking in power and victory and talk about walking in obedience.
Whereas much of the first 2/3rds of the book examines the history and theology of Charismatic practice and belief, the last 1/3rd really puts practical application to Rob’s work. He reminds us to look to the Bible and the context of scriptures, combined with a dynamic Holy Spirit, to breathe new life into our walk with the Lord. Rather than being “Word of Faith,” he calls us to be “People of Faith.” He calls us to major in spiritual formation and discipleship. And, rather than focusing on unhealthy world-based systems of authority and community, he calls us to be a “Community of the Spirit.”
It is an easy read, bible-focused, straight forward and practical. It may be hard for some to wade through the history, but I enjoyed it immensely because I was completely unaware of any of the history of the Charismatic movement. Robby also maintains an excellent blog at www.robbymac.org. Check out the book and the blog.
I think this book can help lead toward a greater unity in the Body of Christ, and because of that I hope it gets wide readership.