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By Mark Allen Quay
Archdeacon Books, 70pp $9.99 2017

Reviewed by David W. Virtue, DD
November 28, 2017

There are very few subjects that you can talk about in the church that are more controversial than spiritual gifts. At times it seems as though there are as many different views on spiritual gifts as there are churches. Some churches hold that most, if not all gifts have ceased with the writing of the last book of the New Testament. This is called the Cessationist view. A variant of this view maintains that only certain "sign gifts" have ceased.

On the opposite extreme, many churches not only hold that the gifts are present in the church today, but that the presence of certain gifts (especially the gift of speaking in tongues) in the life of the believer is the only sure sign of the Fullness or the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. This is called the Pentecostal or Charismatic view.

The author sets out a more moderate position which is common in the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), though by no means its official position as a whole. The author avoids the excesses of the Cessationists or the Pentecostals/Charismatics.

Dr. Quay offers an overview of the course dealing with the background, sign gifts, speaking gifts, serving gifts, support gifts and assessing spiritual gifts.

The 70-page course/book comes in lessons with commentary, discussion questions from assigned readings, reflections on the spiritual life and pages for notes.

On the Background section he begins with appropriate scriptures, an excerpt from the Nicene Creed, then from the Articles of Religion; the AMIA's position on the Holy Spirit and Charisms in corporate worship and teaching followed by teaching from the Continuum and then draws from his own teaching at the Anglican School of Ministry, concluding with teaching from the ACNA Catechism. Questions follow with a reading assignment and then self-examination follows in a section on the Spiritual Life.

On the thorny issue of sign gifts, Quay moves carefully and thoughtfully. He writes; "As Anglican Christians we come from a tradition which is simultaneously Catholic and Evangelical. This means that the Bible is our central authority in all matters of faith and life and that we take the testimony of the ancient church seriously when we seek to understand the Scriptures. While we need to be sensitive to what the Holy spirit is doing now, we must remember that not everything supernatural is of the Spirit of God. The Bible is our infallible standard and the early church's understanding is one of our respected safeguards."

Quay deals with sign gifts in the early church from AD 100-1900 and notes that John, around AD 100, saw that there was no longer any need for the primary use of the sign gifts. However, these gifts remained commonly practiced in the church for 400 years, fulfilling their secondary purpose of edification, encouragement and consolation. He notes that Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Origen and Augustine and many others all testified to the church's regular ministry of prophetic utterances, miraculous physical healings and the casting out of demonic spirits. "It is worth noting, however, that the gift of speaking in and interpretation of tongues appears very rarely in the church's historical writings after the death of Irenaeus."

Quay notes that revivals during the medieval mystical movement, the French Prophets of the 17th Century and the Great Awakening of the 18th Century, saw the reappearance of the gifts of healing and prophecy. Some missionary histories also speak of the occasional resurgence of speaking in tongues for specific missionary contexts, he writes.

In a subsection titled, A Balanced View, Quay notes that God is Sovereign, God still moves. He concludes on this note. "We believe that sign gifts are given to Spirit-called individuals to hold in trust for the church as a whole (1 Cr. 12:1ff). As such, they are to be under the authority of the leaders of the church and exercised in a decent and orderly fashion (James 5:14; I Cor. 14:33, 40). Nevertheless, we must not forbid the orderly use of sign gifts lest we be guilty of quenching the Spirit of God (I Thess. 5:19; I Cor. 14:39)."

The whole book/course is marked by a balanced understanding of all the gifts given to believers in the church then and now. I cannot recommend this book too highly and urge people, especially Anglicans, and those Episcopalians who still believe vaguely in the gifts of the Spirit to buy this course and in small groups explore their spiritual gifts, and ask themselves how they can be used to benefit the building up of the Body of Christ.

In a chapter on Speaking Gifts: evangelism, teaching, pastoring, exhortation and leadership, he notes that history is full of names of outstanding Anglican preachers and teachers like J.C. Ryle, John Wesley, George Whitfield, J.I. Packer, Alistair McGrath and John Stott, to name but a few. Quay notes that ordinary Christians have been gifted by God to communicate the gospel in many different situations. He points to the "priesthood of all believers." Speaking gifts are not just for the clergy, they are for the laity as well, he writes.

One sees this kind of balance throughout the book/course. The Rev. Dr. Quay comes well qualified. He holds doctorates in Christian Education and leadership and is a member of the Society of Professors of Christian Education. He is also a priest in the Anglican Diocese of the South, a jurisdiction of the Anglican Church in North America. He has had more than 30 years of teaching and pastoral experience in the US, Europe and Africa

VOL urges its readers to buy this course as a basic study guide for both churches and individuals. You can purchase the course here: https://www.amazon.com/Exploring-Spiritual-Gifts-Mark-Allen/dp/0692968245

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