Letter:Accept gifts of the Spirit quietly

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From Mr Tim Belben

Sir: Dr Paul Dixon (Faith & Reason, 18 February) says that those who exhibit physical effects of a "Toronto Blessing" also report a spiritual experience similar to ASC (Altered States of Consciousness) which correlates with that experienced by prophets, mystics etc, and he explains that the work of the Holy Spirit encountered in ASC may be expected to have startling physical side-effects. So far, so good. But he does not explain why the physical effects should be thought to be desirable.

St Paul clearly warned against personal gifts being allowed to disrupt the fellowship of common worship, and being sought for their own sake: he wrote to the church in Corinth to show them "a more excellent way" - that of love. St John of the Cross, always a pragmatic mystic, taught that extraordinary spiritual experience should be accepted and disregarded, since it might or might not be of God and, if it was, the Spirit would work directly upon the soul, whether or not the experience was enjoyed.

Those of us categorised by Dr Dixon as the "stiff upper lip" brigade are not worried that Toronto or other charismatic experiences threaten our complacency. What worries us is that if Christians are taught to value the gifts of the Spirit, they are less likely to put in the hard work required for progress towards bearing the fruits of the Spirit.

Yours etc,

TIM BELBEN

Wookey,

Somerset

20 February

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