Friday, September 19, 2014
Book Review: Charles Stanley's The Spirit-Filled Life
Summary: Charles Stanley knows from his own experience that their are many misteachings about the Holy Spirit out there. With guidance from Biblical scriptures, and his experiences he shares what it is to let the Spirit guide you in your life. He warns people of misreading what they think is the Spirit, and taking into account the traits they only take as the Spirit, when he believes that has little to do with whether it inhabits you or not.
Writing: Often I felt the thoughts repeated themselves a bit often from chapter to chapter. There are some good points woven in, and I like the sentiments on worrying and looking to the Spirit for the guidance of what is best. Stanley takes a very reassuring tone for most the book that did have certain impacts during intervals for me. He includes a lot of quotes though ranging from Billy Graham to R.C. Sproul, who is oddly Calvinist, and what I would consider far from the doctrine Stanley adheres to. For me though, I liked how he included quotes from a variety of people with insight.
Does this book provide the insight I hope for? In some ways it does. I believe that for the most part it covers the idea and reflection who the Holy Spirit is very well. Near the end though the book lost a lot of ground for me because I could feel Stanley's own point of view based on Southern Baptist theology seeping more into the whole ideology of the book, and it leaves some scary interpretation that doesn't stay logically consistent with everything else he has stated about the Spirit. At the beginning of the book Stanley goes through great depths to make sure that people understand when they have misheard the Spirit, and that using it to put your own self as peace doesn't mean you've had his guidance. Then there is a chapter that covers using the Word of God, The Bible, for guidance as well, and using the principles it directly gives to allow better guidance when the Spirit is guiding you. After both of these statements he then goes on to say that you should also use your own wisdom to determine when he is speaking to you. It gets really confusing. To use your own wisdom from past circumstances is great in determining what direction to take, but Stanley goes as far to accuse people of sinning in a way that I don't think is sinning. For example Stanley tells the tale of man who cut off contact from old friends so he could get away from the party scene, and while it's a great idea to not be associated with those that may cause you to slip back in the scene, Stanley says that if he is to even call them he is sinning because he knows the Spirit isn't guiding him to call them. Now is the guy putting himself in temptation's way? Yes, but was temptation ever sinning? No.
Considering what the public knows about Charles Stanley's own life and struggles I find it odd he speaks so confidently and authoritatively about the struggles of other people. I was wanting a book that felt more informative about the Holy Spirit. There are dosages of that throughout the book, but a lot of it gets bogged into a lot of other theology ideas like Stanley clarifying he is a literal Bible reader, doesn't think Presbyterians have the right idea about the Holy Spirit, and even though you might not always be right in interpreting what the Holy Spirit is telling you better do it anyways? Then again the book sort of lost me when Stanley shared they needed to find a way to come up with $2 million to find a way to buy a church in the 90's. Megachurch has just never drawn me.