Gordon T. Smith’s book, Evangelical, Sacramental, and Pentecostal: Why the Church Should Be All Three gets to the fundamental question of why talk about being all three? Hasn’t the Church been segmented this long and “got along fine?”
One of his answers as to why we need all three is pertinent to what I tried to say last year when I preached on “Living in Babylon.” That virtually got ignored… which I’m getting used to by now… but I just can’t walk away from what I know the Spirit really is saying to the American Church. Long after I’m gone, long after Gordon T. Smith is gone, and the American Church is in the position I could see “way back in 2016” (and, to be honest, back in 2001), I hope these words are found on the internet somewhere and somehow people begin to see with fresh eyes what the Spirit was wanting to say.
Why do we need all three? Smith answers it essentially as I tried to answer it with “Living in Babylon”:
… for the church in the West, in an increasingly secular society, or where the church is the minority presence in a community or a society — whether that society be Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, or secular, whether we are seeking to be the church in Cairo or Vancouver, wherever the church is culturally swimming upstream — surely we need every ounce of grace (if grace comes in ounces!) that might be available to us. (p. 39)
Quite frankly, when we decide to wake up as the Church in American (realizing we aren’t the “American Church” anymore) what will matter so little at that point in time is if we’re “evangelical” or “liturgical” or “pentecostal.” What will be necessary at that point is to be in Christ and simply latch on to him! And the label that used to be on the door just won’t matter anymore.
I am making my way through a great little book entitled Evangelical, Sacramental, and Pentecostal: Why the Church Should be All Three by Gordon T Smith. I wish I had known sooner it was published by IVP because I would have asked them for a free copy to review! I don’t mind paying for this gem, though. Continue reading “Move from either/or to both/and”
I love the Word of God. Bible study is a deep passion of mine. The story of God. Learning the text, the context, the story, the lessons, etc. All of it. As an extension, I love what the Bible can do to bring me into a deeper communion with God. The Psalms are my prayer book. Any part of the Word has such a deep place in my heart.
In Bible college I took Bible Study Methods from a professor who had a love for the Word. In a four-week summer class he gave us several basic methods to use throughout our lives and ministries. When the class ended, he gave us the challenge to go through each Book of the Bible and outline it. Have some basic notes. Get the basic understanding of each book. Then, spend the rest of our lives becoming experts in particular books of the Bible.
I took up that challenge. I determined to finish that project in 18 months. When I was leaving school a few months early, I made an appointment with the professor and brought my notebooks to him. He asked, “What’s all this?” I said, “It’s what you challenged me with in that class! I’ll be done in 6 months with this phase. Then, I’ll spend the rest of my life studying a few books of the Bible every year. You have equipped me like you’ll never know.”
He said softly, “In all the times I’ve taught that class, no one has ever taken me up on that challenge.”
I was stunned. At the time, the school was operating primarily as a ministry training school. NO ONE had gone out to study the Word like that? And we were filling pulpits?
Part of being evangelical is a dedication to the authority of the Word of God. It’s not something to simply say. It needs to be lived. I don’t always meet that standard, but I know I have a deeper passion for the Word than I did 23 years ago when I finished that class. That professor ignited a passion that the Spirit has not let die down, and I am deeply grateful.