The Holy Spirit: Signs, wonders and righteousness

The Holy Spirit: Signs, wonders and righteousness By Joseph D’Souza, Op-Ed Contributor for The Christian Post

We live in an age of self-obsession.

But one of the great characteristics of Christianity is that personal, spiritual renewal is ultimately always about the world we’re living in and not just our own individual lives. This is a lesson of the Charismatic renewal a century ago that we must pass along to a new generation.

In the spring of 1906, a series of revivals erupted in a neighborhood of Los Angeles. People spoke in tongues, miracles took place and many reported experiencing the power of the Holy Spirit. At the center of it all was the great African-American preacher William Seymour.

Today millions of Christians trace the history of their faith back to those days in that Los Angeles neighborhood. Known as the Azusa Street Revival, this revival — along with other similar events in Asia, Europe, and Latin America — ignited the Charismatic and Pentecostal movements, which today number more than 630 million people.

As an unapologetic, self-confessed Charismatic bishop from India, I believe global Christianity owes an enormous debt to the pioneers of the Pentecostal and Charismatic movement. The movement brought into sharp focus how the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs are met by the baptism or filling of the Spirit. It insisted that the Spirit of God is present in our world and that we can expect to see His manifestations in our lives.

This was a much-needed reform. Christianity, under the influence of modernism, had grown to dismiss the experiential dimensions of the Kingdom of God and the holistic needs of the human person. Modernism had turned rationalism into the new deity, a point argued and developed well by the late, great scholar of ancient Christianity, Thomas Oden.

In effect, the church had moved toward belief in an absentee God and had missed the present, vibrant and living nature of the gospel of the Kingdom of God. Because of this, the Charismatic movement has been particularly effective in the global south, where the spirit world is as real as the physical world.

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