Jul 272010

We end this series today with one of the PP’s favorite iconoclasts, Babylons Dread.

Brilliant, well read, and a pastor in every way, he is one of the best people I’ve been gifted to know.

This is his story and his heart.

Why I Am a Renewal Pastor

After producing one of those long ‘my journey’ documents it became apparent that what PP readers really might be interested in is my involvement in “Renewal” circles.   How did a Lutheran born, Presbyterian mentored, Baptist educated 40something pastor become a charismaniac?  Good question, and it required some introspection to describe. The bottom line; years and years of academic pursuit gave way to the thirst for a taste of spiritual reality.  Knowing theology was never my quest, knowing Christ was and is.  So the bottom line is that a salty, sometimes harsh, insensitive curmudgeon was and is a revivalist at heart.

When you experience a dramatic, instantaneous, powerful conversion you cannot settle for didactic rationalistic Christianity.  The bottom line for me is that evangelicalism left me fully informed academically and fully unformed spiritually.  Further, the enormous gap between Biblical truth and daily life was and is simply irreconcilable. There had to be MORE than this and that became the cry of my heart.  If the ‘joy of the LORD is my strength’ then why was depression so common, so pervasive, so unrelenting?  So here is the simple process; renewal offered the promise of a Christian life that was richer, more experiential, more supernatural AND to a high degree that pursuit was satisfied.

My first encounters with power-filled faith subsequent to conversion all involved experiences with demonic torment and release both for myself and for others.  That amounted to 5 or 6 encounters over a 15 year period so it unfolded very slowly.  You must also remember that Baptists are open to demonic warfare but they are prone to see demonic activity in glossolalia and other charismatic experiences.

John Wimber is the first breakthrough,  he was the first to offer a coherent evangelical argument against the baptism of the Holy Spirit theology of Pentecostals and Charismatics.   John gave evangelicals a way past our academic objections to charismatic theologies and practices.  C. Peter Wagner modeled the path to navigating the personal change.  Finally, my friend, Randy Clark opened the way for a Spirit-filled evangelical to participate in Holy Spirit revival and renewal.  After reading John, studying with Pete and getting to know Randy most of my objections were removed.

Theologically my commitment to the presence of the Kingdom had become very entrenched.  Add in the experience of tongues credible encounters with the Spirit in prophesy and you have a very good framework for understanding and embrace of renewal.  Luke 11:1-13 convinced me that pursuing and asking for the Spirit from the Father was failsafe.  No demon could intervene in that quest.  If we ask Father for the Spirit he gives in kind.  John Wimber via Chuck Smith offered a theology that spoke of our relationship to the Spirit in terms of three prepositions; with, in, upon.  That removed my objection to the old Spirit baptism doctrine in favor of saying that those who have the Spirit ‘in’ them still can experience the Spirit coming ‘upon’ them.

After experiencing the Spirit in this fashion, my marriage was stressed. Thus a promise was made to Gail that unless this new experience brought real change to my life it would be discarded. For one full year the matter was not raised between us, my experiences were kept private and away from public eye.  After that time my wife was so moved by the change in my demeanor she began her own pursuit of the life in the Spirit. Tongues had the amazing effect of improving my mental health dramatically and reducing my stress measurably.  For Gail this was a profound change.

It seemed to me that charismatic renewal held the most promise for those who believe in the presence of the Kingdom.   It also seemed to me that kingdom theology was best served by a positive renewal theology that looked for a massive revival over against a last minute exit from the world’s demise.  So on the point of missions and eschatology renewal stood up to the test in my mind.

In addition, my growing sacramental view of the communion, has actually found an ally in renewal.  Nothing is more sacramental than the emphasis on ‘impartation’ as a means of receiving from the LORD.  To be Bible-centered, charismatic and sacramental leaves one with few options, especially when you throw in the heavy focus on ammillennial theology.  Someone once told me prophetically(we had never met) “you feel like you are neither fish nor fowl, like you do not belong anywhere.” Bingo!  That nails it.  I did not have a home. The renewal took me in with open arms.  That is a powerful reality when looking for your place.

Randy Clark befriended me in a difficult season, and numerous others among the ‘usual suspects’ of renewal did so as well.  So relationship is a big reason that renewal is my home. Its’ noncreedal nature has been both a blessing and a curse.  Sometimes the things that pass for theology in this family are embarrassing and worse. Other times the freedom to dissent and insist on another way is refreshing and invigorating.

Saying that you are a renewal pastor is somewhat like saying you are a conservative… Relative to what?  It is highly undefined. So much so that most of my friends would not even use the description, preferring revival as a description.  Revival is probably what drew me into the group.  The things that happened to people in the so-called Toronto Blessing, happened to me as well, despite having never been there.

Renewal is mess and often offends and upsets me but the right of dissent exists among us.  To embrace renewal is not to embrace every madness that accompanies it.  It means an emphasis on the work of the Holy Spirit actively and powerfully in the world today.  It means believing that the life of the book of Acts is normal and settling for less is subnormal. It means an optimism about life and about the mission of God in the world.  It means believing that emotional, spiritual and physical bondage should be opposed and eliminated.  It means confidence about world evangelization.  It means being able to ‘taste and see’ the goodness of the LORD.  Thus I am a renewal pastor.

  No Responses to “Why I Am A Renewal Pastor: Alan Hawkins”

  1. Dread, that is SO cool!

  2. Nicely done.

  3. Great job, Dread!

  4. Great post, great thoughts, great truths!

  5. Dread,

    Aside from the fact that you like the Boston Red Sox you are a good dude, and I have come to appreciate you and your brand of “Educated Pentecostalism.”

    There is much about the renewal movement that I don’t get but I’m super stoked that it has been the key that has unlocked your quest for Jesus. Wimber’s theology of the Kingdom with the inclusion of the work of the Holy Spirit is brilliant and much needed in circles that embrace that eschatology without his pneumatology.

    I’m still waiting for that beer when you come to visit your daughter.

  6. Pastor Hawkins, thank you for taking the time and effort to explain…
    “It means an emphasis on the work of the Holy Spirit actively and powerfully in the world today. ”
    if you had one sentence to distill where you’ve settled in your faith, would it be that one?

    i, too, experienced a “dramatic, instantaneous, powerful conversion”… it was a benchmark that kept me from floundering early on out there in the cold, cruel world of organized ‘church.’

  7. Em,

    Yes I would not mind that sentence as a summary. That about catches it.


    Around August 26 I will be in your area … for a few days… sounds like we could connect meaningfully if you are around.

  8. Thank you for your write up, Dread. Very well sopken and reasoned. You know, for years I prayed for the gif of tongues, the filling of the Spirit…the Charismatic gifts. I had every Spirit-filled man I know lay hands and pray for me. I never “got it.” I was bitter and felt like God didn’t love me as much for a long time. I have finally accepted that those gifts just won’t be for me, and I’m at peace with that.

  9. Dread –
    Thanks! Yours was a testimony I was waiting to read.

    A question for you: how do you deal with all the emphasis on “prosperity” that seems so common among those in your circles? Obviously you do not teach the (heretical) prosperity gospel – but it seems very prevelant among those who run among the renewal/revival folks.

    Is it just a meat/bones thing for you? Or perhaps I’m mistakenly thinking “renewal” is a much broader tribe than what it really is?

  10. I LOVE my pastor! 🙂

  11. We love your pastor too… 🙂

  12. Tim

    In the specific circle I move there is a very balanced view of prosperity. It does not have the visibility that it does among the ‘Faith’ circles. It is very much a settled issue that does not have high visibility. Healing the is major focus among my peers. And I think probably an over -emphasis upon it is present. Most in my circle are ‘3rd Wave’ Charismatics. The prosperity doctrine is much more prominent among circles connected to Tulsa and ORU…

    So I really have not been affected by that teaching in my group.

  13. Nice

  14. Dread, Thanks for your write up! I have looked forward, and I was not disappointed.

    One question for though, and not wanting to start a debate: How do you see Acts as normalitive for the Christian life? Can you explain more fully your thoughts on this?


  15. BD,

    Honest question…how do you keep faith in a renewal when so much in reality seems to be contrary?

    I’m specifically thinking of the unanswered prayers and sadnesses that we all have to deal with.

    I don’t think the answer will apply to just your tradition, btw.

  16. Thanks, BD

  17. Thanks Dixie! Thanks so much for sharing.

    Once again … I’ve learned so much from each person’s journey …

  18. Nancy said:
    “Once again … I’ve learned so much from each person’s journey …”

    Me Too!

    Thanks for sharing here Babs. You are very well respected here for your honesty and integrity. I really appreciate what you bring here.

  19. Babs,
    It looks like your Lutheran baptism kept you saved and in the family – but I guess baptism can only do so much. 😉
    Great testimony buddy.

  20. Dread,

    I will be around and would love to connect…let’s make a plan. Look me up on facebook or twitter and tell me what your schedule looks like.

  21. I guess I discovered that Phoenix Preacher is back from “the dead” at the right time….just to discover that B Dreadly is posting his story….
    oh man, do I have to go back and read ALL them thar linkathons since PP was supposedly “done for good”?

    I’ll say this for B Dreadly, he is a great person to know personally, and to be poked with by a sharp theological stick, as ALL who know him personally have been….

  22. Good stuff Mr. Dread.

    The Holy Spirit is in the house 🙂

  23. In you I have seen it means Living.

  24. Great write-up, Dreadly, thank you! Our stories are similar, oddly enough, in some ways.

  25. Dread,

    Thanks for that! You have always been an interesting amalgum to me: Pentecostal yet Amillennial, renewal oriented yet into covenant theology via the Bishop of Durham, N.T. Wright, etc. I’m often a bit puzzled about what holds the whole together. Oh, and have I ever told you how proud I am of you for the stand you took towards Bentley and Joyner, as well as the others in the renewal movement who have gone off of the deep end, so to speak? If only more in your tradition would use you as their mentor!

  26. Loved reading your article, Dread. You are quite the intriguing individual.

  27. Wow thanks for all the love and the HARD questions…. I am going to come back and attempt an answer to those questions…. key word ATTEMPT…

    I am especially tickled by MLD … he has me no matter which way I turn…and he knows it… however… I will post the first paragraph of my original statement which was written under the title… Why I Am a Nondenominational Charismatic… but I didn’t like that approach… still MLD deserves it… at least a piece of it.

  28. This to MLDs comment on infant baptism…

    Why I Am Non-denominational & Charismatic

    Word was out, my conversion reached the ear of my Lutheran pastor (LCA) and he was interested in keeping me in the fold. “You have come to the realization of your salvation he explained.” With that he dropped off a couple of Lutheran Theology books, Gustav Aulen on Christian doctrine and a handbook on Lutheran theology. Within hours the culprit emerged, baptismal regeneration was the reason he spoke to me as he had. It had the opposite effect of his intention. My church held to a doctrine that kept them from urging upon me the necessity of my surrender to Christ. My life-long passion was born. Pursing the truth possessed me. Lutheranism was the first discarded dogma. At 18 one is hardly prepared for such decisions but it seemed to me as if a faulty and indefensible doctrine had kept me from the faith and it had to be jettisoned. That would hardly be sufficient evidence today but at that time it seemed plenty.

    Yes I left the Lutheran church at 18 over the doctrine of baptismal regeneration… of course MLD can just reply …that God graciously saved me anyway… Don’t you love doctrines that are unfalsifiable.

  29. “John Wimber is the first breakthrough, he was the first to offer a coherent evangelical argument against the baptism of the Holy Spirit theology of Pentecostals and Charismatics.”

    Am I not reading this correctly? I wasn’t aware that Wimber’s view on the baptism of the Holy Spirit was any different than classic Pentecostal theology.

  30. Centorian… Wimber was an evangelical on the baptism of the Spirit… he simply said… that anyone who knows Jesus can ‘do the stuff.’ This was based upon having the Spirit and simply walking in faith concerning his work in our life. He also did not see tongues as the normative evidence of the baptism.

    I always tell my church that the evidence of the Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit… yes they look at me strangely.

    His doctrine of the Spirit would simply be based upon the idea that the Spirit fills us many times…In other words Third Wavers are largely evangelicals and mainliners who believed they could experience the gifts simply because they were born of the Spirit and hence already baptized in the Spirit.

  31. an interesting and thought-provoking thread. thanks Dread

  32. “How do you see Acts as normalitive for the Christian life? Can you explain more fully your thoughts on this?”

    Let me go at this with two avenues…and of course a caveat or two…

    Premise; Acts is normative for the Christian life… therefore, we should expect to see results similar to those in the narrative. We should expect to see legitimate healing, deliverance from demonic powers, extra-ordinary power displays that validate the Gospel. While we could debate endlessly concerning the evidence, I believe I have seen and heard sufficient evidence to support the premise. I am now convinced that in the spread of the Gospel the testimonies of food multiplying, transported messengers, walking on or through waters, jail breaks by angelic visitation…has credible witnesses to sustain them. It does seem to me that it is more normative on the edges of the mission field where the Gospel is taking root.

    A caveat, there are some things that are not normative nor are they intended to be. First, the apostolic imprimatur on the extent of the Gospel’s spread has already been accomplished. The Apostles have affirmed the reception of the Spirit by all necessary people groups …Jews, Samaritans and Gentiles. Second, the incident involving judgment over lying to the Holy Spirit seems to be the New Covenant equivalent to the incident at Ai,. God warning his occupying army to advance with integrity of heart or risk judgment.

    My second expansion on this theme involves a newer thesis which I am working on. You see if my ammillennial constructions concerning Revelation are correct, then we should expect to see them play out within the book of Acts. If the book of Revelation is a cyclical recapitulation of the Gospel Era (My term for the Church Age) then we should expect to see the same themes worked out on the ground in Acts. What are those themes? Witnesses advancing under pressure, governmental backlash against them, antichrist religion manipulating the people, Babylonian seduction testing the witnesses, martyrdom, apparent defeat of the witnesses, miraculous interventions to sustain the witnesses, economic and military persecution ..etc etc.

    With those few assertions I leave it with you. Premise: Acts is normative for the experience of believers in the world.

  33. Michael’s question, “Honest question…how do you keep faith in a renewal when so much in reality seems to be contrary?”

    I assume the realities that your question includes but is not limited to; economic privation, persistent unremitting illnesses, broken covenants, wounded hearts,and death and destruction in general. How do I keep faith? First, my faith is never drawn from the course of the world. Thus, events of the world cannot shatter it. My faith is firmly rooted and grounded in my experience of the grace of Christ.

    Second, you must remember my evangelical roots, they are very deep. Unlike some I have no misgivings that God must do anything for me. My confidence that God is willing to bless and heal does not include a hint that he must heal me in order to sustain my allegiance.

    Third, a balanced view of scripture finds the same anomalies in scripture that we find in life; people who are not healed, people who die in service to Christ, oppressors who appear to win and economies that fall apart.

    Further, I must admit that I have not been as sorely tested as some. So I offer my comments with the reality that others have walked in shoes of which I do not know.

    Faith is always fortified by the ongoing fellowship with God in the Spirit …or as Paul said ‘what can separate us from the love of God?”

    I hope this answer is useful, if I missed the mark of the question … please clarify.

  34. Babylon’s Dread 🙂 i learn much from your words (and your wit and humor) and this is the 1st i’ve read about renewal theology (?)

    my initial experience w people who taught the gifts of the Spirit and baptism of the Spirit required the gift of tongues… i remember at 15 yrs, feeling so far and separate from God being prayed over, struck about the head and shoulders and deemed ‘not receiving the Spirit’ when the ‘gift’ did not visit me… i left feeling even further from God, evil and condemned not one of His

    and our loving Father brought others into my life not long after that experience that introduced me to a world of acceptance, care and love.

    i tend to question/distrust what i cannot examine w analytical and logical constructs (i am by temperament ’emotion’ based) if something cannot ‘stand’ to be questioned i wonder why not if it true.

    The fact that you do think, question, analyze and still can honestly present that the normative is the Spirit filled life in Acts… 🙂 hmmm

  35. Babs,
    I guess my 😉 went right past you. 🙂

  36. Yes probably… but I know you and I know you were poking at me to mess with me.

  37. ” That removed my objection to the old Spirit baptism doctrine in favor of saying that those who have the Spirit ‘in’ them still can experience the Spirit coming ‘upon’ them”

    what’s the difference?

  38. The Pentecostal doctrine required speaking in tongues as a SIGN of receiving the Holy Spirit. The evangelical doctrine said no… The Spirit has many manifestations…tongues are one

  39. Thanks Dread, I enjoyed that. I still struggle with the search for Acts to bew normative. I fell like Calvary Chapel expects that as well, but I don’t see it as clearly or often in my life anx church as I would like.

  40. oh, i thot you meant something different.

  41. I often ponder the “Gifts of the Spirit”, I think the gift of simple joy is one of the most Precious, I see it many times in my students. It is troubling that when I have tried to share it with in the Family the response was well frightening. I dont do that any more. Most if not all of my interactions with God are done alone and in private.

  42. Na’amah
    Think, question and analyze, but point it towards the Word–be a noble Berean (Acts 17:11).

    I doubted all the charismata, and had Bible commentaries to support my doubt…until someone told me to believe ONLY what the Word spoke of…

    I now believe…

    But each of us much examine, and test ourselves by, the Word for us.

    It’s easy to see when “charismaniacs” play fast and loose with the Word, not so easy to see when it is our own traditions.

  43. I tried to answer the questions I was asked… I can only assume that people are satisfied with my answers.

  44. You answered very well…well done!

  45. ummm…well..I didn’t even understand the answer to the question I asked, but don’t want to look like a numpty in front of everyone so I said…oh..ok 😉

  46. just kidding ya. you did well I think BD

  47. In Albuquerque we appreciate Dread’s non-sectarian spirit: he has the rare gift of being able to appreciate, encourage, and instinctively affirm the work of God wherever he sees it.

    Would there were more like him.

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