Does God Want to be Known? Does Experience Matter?
The blurb says the book is for people asking the following questions: “Does God want to be known?”, “Does experience matter?” and “Does theology matter?” These questions are certainly addressed, and each receives a “yes” answer. But more than that, I offer a testimony: a testimony of the continuing desire to be a charismatic evangelical - to be that now - today. It is an account of theological and personal searching.
For me, the desire to be Christian gets stirred when I talk and read about theology and when I experience the love and power of God. It is Word and Spirit. Along these lines, the substance of the book is an account of three reasons for being Christian today. So from the introduction:
First, Jesus captivates me, particularly as portrayed in the gospels. I desire him as the living and breathing reality of God become flesh. Second, I have experienced what I take to be the love of God through encounters with the Holy Spirit. These encounters have arrested my attention and reconfigured my imagination. They have led to a fresh understanding of who God is: a present and living reality. Third, I believe God knows us and wants to be known today.
I explore these areas through interaction with a diverse range of theologians. These theologians lead us into wrestling with ideas that will provoke, inspire, challenge, and occasionally unsettle. In all this, I’m sure people will find something valuable. Sometimes things get heavy, but the focus remains firmly on God and Christian experience. Again, from the introduction:
...This book is really about God. Reasons for being and remaining Christian are given, but what I am getting at, in all hopefulness, is God. This is theology. I want to know God now. By, “now”, I mean in present experience. The knowing of God relates to things experienced, to questions we have.
Although at times I consider both evangelicalism and “charismaticism” critically, the conclusion of the book is deeply hopeful. Here’s a snippet:
The tradition still holds so much: A relentless focus on the chief character—Jesus; a fitting acknowledgement of his companion—the Holy Spirit; an openness to intimacy; to passion; to feeling; a trust in scripture that says we need not go beyond if we want God. Added to these things, is a vibrancy that says that God is doing something in us today, and wants us to do something.
What does a book like this offer? It merely serves as a reminder that we can trust in a God who is at work and wants to be known, even in these complex and uncertain days.