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Powerlines: Time Tunnel Interviews

Christian Leaders speak about the Holy Spirit 19th to mid-20th centuries

Author: Leona Choy

This 321 page book was recommended by Dr. Chuck Swindoll on his Insight For Living radio program as one of the excellent background resources for teaching about the Holy Spirit.

The author, Leona Choy, uses a unique format of interview questions and answers directed to prominent Christian personages of the past century who have all passed on to their reward. The reader “hears” their answers through a “time tunnel,” as it were, gleaned from their published writings in the 19th to the mid-20th centuries which the author has meticulously researched.

 “Through a fresh interview style, she lets each one “tell” his or her own story of how he or she entered the Spirit-filled life. She “asks” the right questions and draws out some great answers. To recast it all like this called for great care, and the author did her homework well,” wrote Armin R. Gesswein, Founder of Revival Prayer Fellowship.

“A valuable volume—the extensive bibliography alone (88 sources) makes it such,” he added. “It all makes for a colorful story! Never stale. We get to see a lot into the inner world and workings of these tried and tested leaders.

The roster of men and women interviewed includes, in alphabetical order: E.M. Bounds, Samuel Brengle, Samuel Chadwick, Lewis Sperry Chafer, Oswald Chambers, Charles G. Finney, Jonathan Goforth, A.J. Gordon, S.D. Gordon, James H. McConkey, F.B. Meyer, Dwight L. Moody, G. Campbell Morgan, H.C.G. Moule, Andrew Murray, Ruth Paxson, Evan Roberts, A.B. Simpson, Hannah Whitall Smith, Charles H. Spurgeon, Hudson Taylor, W.H. Griffith Thomas, R.A. Torrey and Charles G. Trumbull.

Obviously some prominent leaders of the past century seem to be missing. But that is simply because they did not address this particular teaching in their writings. Why did the author use the particular cut-off point of the turn of the 20th century?  She deliberately “interviewed” prominent persons who lived, or at least “answered” her before the founding of the Pentecostal denominations. This is significant. So they were obviously not part of that movement nor of the charismatic renewal as we know it today. These did not exist as movements yet. When these men and women speak of “the baptism of the Spirit,” they are doing so in the context of their own answers and as they personally interpreted certain biblical passages.

The intent of the author is to offer authentic historical information and understanding of various evangelical leaders' views of the Holy Spirit, not to persuade toward any particular doctrinal position. The book represents a panorama of individual views, some of which are almost opposite each other.  It is not biased toward a particular position nor is it intended to help the reader come to one.

The author states that she was careful not to paraphrase their “answers” or put words in their mouths. The most she did was to slightly contemporize some of their outdated syntax and lengthy, involved, multi-punctuated sentences which were much admired in their times. Flourished syntax tends to confuse modern readers. She retained the original flavor, style and phraseology of these men and women of faith.

Let us appreciate that each spiritual leader described the same precious jewel from a distinctly personal aspect.  The brilliant flashes have different colors reflecting their setting, yet each facet gives us a fuller  revelation of the creative, varied ministry of the Spirit in the world expressed through the ages. These men and women lived and wrote in the context of their times. The movement of the Holy Spirit in any age is in line with the broad sweep of God's sovereignty and, at the same time, His purposes for His people in any particular time and place. The publisher considers this book a classic that will be timely in any generation.