wholly spirit (hswt one)

25 05 2010

I spent 2 days last week at a fascinating conference called The Holy Spirit in the World Today (HSWT), an academic conference on the Holy Spirit that took place at Holy Trinity Brompton, one of the spiritual homes of charismatic evangelicalism in the UK. The conference set out with the aim of linking the ‘academy’ to the ‘church’, being a bridge between the (often) detached theological thinking of the University and the practical outworking in everyday ministry. With speakers such as Rowan Williams, Jürgen Moltmann, Miroslav Volf and David Ford this was never going to be simply a charismatic jolly and blind reaffirmation of that theology, but rather a rigorous examination of modern perceptions of the Holy Spirit as the third and often over-looked member of the Trinity.

And yet happening at HTB you knew there was an underlying openness to the charismatic, a setting in the context of a place where the invocation “Come, Holy Spirit” is said at every service and has a particular meaning of transformative encounter and charismatic experience. There was an evening celebration that was of a typically HTB flavour for those craving some seasoning with their meat, including a talk from Sandy Miller on the gift of tongues and the exercising of the gifts of the Spirit.

Overall I found the conference really encouraging – I didn’t understand some of the theology and it was occasionally a bit of Cambridge old-boys enthuso-fest, but as far as stretching the brain and thinking about God goes, it was good. It showed me that my thinking and theology is very Jesus-centric; I tend to talk about him and give him the credit for things that actually are the Holy Spirit. Sometimes that is just technical speak or semantics; sometimes that really matters.

I even went as far as opening myself up to allowing the said Holy Spirit to speak to me, to encourage me, to challenge me, instead of maintaining a safe distance and keeping an eye on others as a defence mechanism against being challenged too much. God forbid that I might actually have to change…

The blend of deep theology and a worship style I recognised and found helpful was so refreshing, inhabiting as I do the Church of England in which there is usually one or the other! Not a robed Eucharist in sight! And there was a chance at the end for church leaders to pray for theologians, and the academy for the church, which was really significant, modelling something of the connection the whole conference was aiming for.

I intend to offer in the following blogs my take on what I saw and heard, for the benefit of those who weren’t there who are interested, and to help me think through and apply it to our everyday lives. Because if it is important, it should involve some changes to our lives and thinking. For those who are interested, videos of the talks will (I believe) be appearing on the HTB website soon for you to view yourselves.  In the meantime, crack open Romans 8.9-17 and start thinking until I post the first reflection… a decoding of a Rowan Williams talk!

hot air, or the spirit?



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One response

26 05 2010
Tim Wilson

Hi Kevin – that sounds like a brilliant conference. I look forward to your future blogs!

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