Your Holy Spirit Is W-A-Y Too Safe


One of the few Godbloggers I’ve met in person is Jared Wilson, author of Your Jesus Is Too Safe. We chowed down on McDonald’s in Nashville one night and talked writing.

I like the title of Jared’s book. Yet the more I think about it, the more I think that it’s not Jesus who causes the most trouble for Christians.

It’s the Holy Spirit.El Greco's Pentecost

When the Holy Spirit shows up in power in a church, the status quo changes. Those people especially touched by Him, ones who were often sideline sitters, suddenly are empowered to take on new roles and responsibilities within the body of Christ. The old ways of doing church fall into line with God’s way. Distracting programs and costly plans end up abandoned. Miracles happen. The charismatic gifts break out. And on and on.

And that threatens a lot of people. Especially those in charge.

The Holy Spirit’s penchant for busting up idols in a church, no matter how cherished they might be, is one of the most unnerving realities some church leaders face. Some denominations even take a formal stance against anything “charismatic” happening in their churches. Books are written by “safe” Christian authors/pastors/leaders about the need to keep “that stuff” down. You hear supposedly mature Christians ranting about what they don’t want the Holy Spirit to do in their churches.

So much for faith and humble submission! And while we’re at it, let’s just scrap the empowering for miraculous ministry, too.

So while Jesus may be relegated by some to a meek and mild Good Shepherd position, in too many churches the Holy Spirit is denied and unwanted because He’s perceived as downright threatening.

Why is the Church in America so timid and powerless? This issue is a great place to start.

Something to think about for 2010 and beyond.

13 thoughts on “Your Holy Spirit Is W-A-Y Too Safe

  1. Diane R


    Another winning blog post…thank you. Recently, I also have been seeing that the western church has had for centuries a very poor theology of Holy Spirit. And that has led to legalism on the one hand and liberal Protestantism (with it’s step-child, emergent) on the other hand.
    However, and I am pretty sure you would agree here, we must be very careful and discerning (perhaps REALLY allow the true discerners to discern instead of just talking about that gift in our Pentecostal and Charismatic churches?) to make sure we have the real deal, instead of the wild, shameful and silly stuff we’ve seen in many Third Wave Charismtic churches with little to show for it. The proof is in the pudding and I believe if the true Holy Spirit is allowed to work, He will do things rather quietly, but very effectively and miracuously.

  2. Dan,
    Right on. I’ve been away for awhile, and haven’t read much blogging for many months. I’m glad to see that you still strike a chord. A timeley post.

  3. David

    One of my favorite rants about Sci-fi is when the antagonists run across a supreme being, and the first question they ask is “but can we control it?”

    Well, it wouldn’t be much of a “supreme being” if lesser beings could control it, now, would it?

    The same thing goes for the Holy Spirit and the Church. Yeah, the Holy Spirit is nice, but can we control it?

    For most denominations, ‘Control’ is what it’s all about, isn’t it? But we like to call it ‘Accountability’.

  4. wayne

    …yes.. leaders must ‘control that stuff’ wouldn’t want to be known as ‘one of those kind’ yaknow….
    God bless you and the work you re following God in

  5. I am a part of one of those denominations “against anything ‘charismatic’ happening in their churches.” Many of our congregations are trying to climb our way out of that pit that was dug for us about 200 years ago, but it’s a long climb.

    And most of us haven’t figured out yet that the climb would be easier if we’d ask for help (Luke 11:13) and some of us – like me – who know we could ask … are afraid to.

    We’ve got a pretty accurate sense that it could end up with Him controlling us, and that’s still pretty scary.

    So could I ask you all to pray for us? Really, honestly: pray for us.

  6. Brittney

    Well said, as are the other posts I have been privileged to read. Friends and myself have been wrestling with the same predicament and were excited when we stumbled across “Forgotten God” by Francis Chan. Have you read it? It speaks boldly of the American churches loss of the Holy Spirit. How we neglect it. Suppress it. We have been going through it and studying it along with “Gods Economy” by Jonathon Wilson-Hartgrove and both of these books have opened our eyes, released some ignorance and lit another fire within us to live out the true gospel. Anyways, I wanted to share those with you, I think you will like them. Your blog is truly a work of art proclaiming the radical gospel Jesus calls us to. So, thank you for that! Also, do you live in Nashville? That’s where we live too!

  7. Dan:

    Brilliant article. Your points are well stated. Today during the church service, the pastor was discussing wanting the see the Holy Spirit move more not only within the walls of the church during services, but also in the lives of the believers while performing everyday tasks.

    When hearing his statements, the first thing that came into my mind was the sense of fear, trepidation, and “oh-no” not again as in every congregation I was ever a part of that this happened to eventually went into the (as Diane stated in her comment).

    “wild, shameful and silly stuff we’ve seen in many Third Wave Charismtic churches with little to show for it”

    and unfortunately in those congregations, it was easily tolerated because the church started to grow in numbers and also offerings in the plate which became viewed as ‘being of God”. What eventually happened was either major schism took place with “prophets” from both sides pronouncing their side as ‘right and anointed’ and the other side as ‘wrong and doomed’ or when it appeared that the Holy Spirit was not ‘moving’ as fervently, radically, or in manifestions as months past, those people packed their bags for the next fellowship where the “signs and wanders” appeared to be.

    They produced numbers, but not rock solid, consistent,and stable believers. They brought in money, but failed to produce a people who could stay within a church with sustainability during the hard times.

    Do I really wish to see a true and genuine movement of the Holy Spirit? Yes, I do… I really do (tears are being cried as I type). Because I somehow, still really believe that the Holy Spirit is still present today.

    However, I am extremely apprehensive that the mistakes of the past were never learned (even though they claim to have learned) and will become repeated again in a cyclical pattern and years later, we’ll be repenting for the ‘move’ of ‘the Spirit’ we ‘called of God’ that may turn out not to be of God. When the Apostle Paul went forth to plant churches, he set up their structures in order to train disciples that would go forth to fulfill the Great Commission with sustainability and stability and consistency and not people who view their Spiritual walk like a roller coaster or stock market chart going up and down.

    I have had my share of the kooks who ran around, babbled ra-ta-ta, gyrated, and flopped on the floor like a fish almost dying claiming God changed them but ended up divorcing their spouse when they found their ‘soul mate’. I have had my share of ‘words’ that were nothing more than nebulous and generic phrases that could apply to anyone and therefore be difficult to pronounce as wrong. I have had my share of the shofar blowers, flag waivers, banner presenters, dance teams, spiritual warfare demon-detecting wackjobs who pranced around a sanctuary with negligence and rampant carelessness. I have had my share of the main characters who became so deeply entrenched start calling those who disagreed or were not as fervent as they were “Pharisees, Saducees, traditionalists, or religious devils” who blurted out ‘Charismatic death threats’ against those who questioned or disagreed. I have had my share of those who claim since their ‘move’ had the same symptoms and manifestations of a previous move like The Great Awakening that therefore, it justifies their move as right instead of applying the Scriptures to see if it lines up. I have had my share of ‘mega-fasts, repent-a-thons, 2 Chronicles 7:14 rallies, hyper-prayer meetings that implied that IF we do all of this stuff, THEN God and the Holy Spirit will come to only have months later proclaim it as ‘here’ but later on, be revealed as being ‘false’ because of either faked manifestations or gross moral turpitude.

    I agree with what Diane said when she stated that “He will do things rather quietly, but very effectively and miracuously.” and it will be to that point where a body of believers will not have to market, copyright, sell training manuals, advertise in major Christian magazines, and tell people that the Holy Spirit is moving. But the Holy Spirit will be seen and felt in the everyday things, mannerisms, and actions of the believer that will come across as being ‘supernaturally natural’ because people did them naturally with God intervening behind the scenes without some feelings of esoteric mindsets in action.

    I really at this point do not know if I am being way too apprehensive or not, but I am now at the point where before I will start and be a part of ‘another move’ of the Holy Spirit, I will have to see clear and genuine evidence along with rightful discernment of the “rather quietly, but very effectively and miracuously” along with the ” the Holy Spirit will be seen and felt in the everyday things, mannerisms, and actions of the believer that will come across as being ‘supernaturally natural’ because people did them naturally with God intervening behind the scenes without some feelings of esoteric mindsets in action. ”

    I just do not have time, patience, or the heart for another ‘right move’ that may turn out to be ‘the wrong move’. It has to be right. It has to be Godly.

    • Yep. I’ve seen too much too. It all started with a guy who had the position of pastor but was gifted as teacher. He had no clue how to guard sheep, and his motto, to the detriment of all, was “Take your liberty, brother.” And boy, did they. Not pretty. Many years later, I have decided that there is little or no teaching on testing and discerning spirits, and the nonsense in the name of the Holy Ghost has been shameful. But then I’ve seen the other side of the coin with people who condemn anything that even hints that the Spirit might be trying to do something, and they get absolutely vitriolic. Probably for fear of lack of control, as the original post states. Where’s the middle of the road?? Where is common sense and an actual willingness to allow God to be God, and the ability to determine what is and isn’t the Holy Spirit? Is there a church on this planet that has a clue???

  8. Onward,

    Almost without fail the one thing the false moves lack is humility. It’s why they are so easy to spot. The problem is that so few Christians recognize genuine Holy Spirit humility that they fall for the fakes time and again.

  9. IMO, the greatest challenge to leadership is a congregation deeply touched by the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit comes upon a group of normal, carnal, immature Christians with a shallow view of scripture it is like a go cart with a NASCAR engine attached. It is very hard to stay focused and sane.

    I have followed Jesus Movements since the 60’s in America, Scandinavia, Asia, Russia, Europe, and South America. In every place the people who experience a new filling or outpouring of the Spirit are emotionally charged. However, if they have developed a fairly deep knowledge of the Bible the result is largely positive. If the recipients are new in Christ or young in Bible knowledge or have weak psychological stability the result if chaos. In every nation that has a Holy Spirit revival or awakening the result is a deep work of healing in the the mental and emotional parts of the group. A person with inner emotional struggles is like a car engine with cracks in the block. The Holy Spirit does not cause but does reveal those problems. As a result, many Christian Counselors are needed to help these Spirit filled believers deal with the flotsam and jetsam of the broken cisterns that float to the top of the heart when the Spirit begins to work. My role has often been to start and train Counseling Equipping Centers to assist the growth and healing process. The trouble comes when leaders are too immature and focused on Gnostic answers that separate the spirit from the soul and body. I have a book on that topic.

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