Baptist Leaders Say Churches Need 'Holy Spirit's Power'

Movement must leave traditional prejudices and re-examine Scripture, they say

Baptist world leaders who say the Pentecostal dimension of faith has been neglected for too long want to see more of the power of the Holy Spirit at work in their churches.

"As Baptists, we need more faith in the power of the Holy Spirit to mobilize the church," Baptist World Alliance (BWA) Vice President Amparo de Medina told more than 160 Baptist mission leaders at the Summit on Baptist Mission in the 21st Century, in England.

An author and professor of psychology in Cali, Colombia -- a part of the world where, the BWA report on the summit noted, the evangelical population has grown rapidly, mostly because of the Pentecostal and charismatic movement -- Medina said it was "sad to see the neglect of the relationship and person of the work of the Holy Spirit in our churches."

Baptists needed to leave their traditional prejudices and look again at the New Testament and what it says about the Holy Spirit, she said. Preaching from Acts 1:4, Medina said that the disciples "were not ready to undertake a global campaign that demanded more of their human resources. It was essential to wait until the empowerment of the Holy Spirit."

Once that happened, "they began to witness with great fervor, obedience and with power to fulfill the command given by Jesus," Medina said, according to the BWA report.

"If we compare the advance of the apostolic churches with the bureaucratic slowness in some of our missionary programs, it is evident that we Baptists have an excellent doctrine of the Holy Spirit, but we need more faith in His power to mobilize the church," Medina said.

Baptists emphasized the importance of a genuine conversion to Christ, "but at the same time, have neglected the person of the Holy Spirit. We need to be conscious of where human technology and human knowledge pretend to replace the Holy Spirit and the power of God."

Medina's comments were supported by S. Ademola Ishola, General Secretary of the Nigerian Baptist Convention. "Let us be people of the Book and let Acts 1:8 become apparent in our mission endeavor," he said.

Ishola described charismatic and Pentecostal groups in Nigeria as "very aggressive in their approach and they take risks for the Lord." Ishola warned, however, against what he described as their "shallowness" of faith, "ten miles long but two inches deep," and accused them of stealing members from Baptists.

Another African leader, Noah Pashapa of Zimbabwe, said understanding the power of the Holy Spirit was very important in Africa where the belief in evil spirits and the clash with Muslims was a big challenge for many leaders. "I believe in spiritual warfare," Pashapa said, "and I believe in a real devil who exists, and he is at war to push Christians up against the wall. We need prayer, intercession and revival."

Ronald Carualho, Missions Director for the Baptist National Convention of Brazil, described how the National Convention had grown to more than 1,200 churches in last 30 years, said the BWA report.

"... We have had 30 years of marvelous experience when we gave a true place to the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the church," Carualho said. "The Holy Spirit is the life of the church. When the Spirit comes, it is not a structural situation. It brings new vision and a new dynamic that fills us with vision and ability and our evangelism is not only big works, but by action, signs of the Lord," he said.

In the Call to Mission to evangelize the world issued at the end of the conference, mission leaders promised "to walk humbly and be responsive to the leading of the Holy Spirit," as they work in global evangelization.

Propose par Jean ROUYR.



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