Moreland, J. P.
Kingdom Triangle: Recover the Christian Mind, Renovate the Soul, Restore the Spirit’s Power
Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2007. Pp. 237. Hardcover. $19.99.
In this, the final chapter of the book, Moreland definitely picked up steam and regained the momentum I felt he had lost in the previous chapter. This chapter is really an ode to God the miracle worker. Moreland begins by giving a number of testimonies of God’s miraculous healing and delivering power, from various people all over the world [p. 166-172]. He shares a personal testimony about God healing him of laryngitis, another testimony about God raising a little girl from the dead to preach the Gospel for 7 days only to die again. And he also points out how many times, American evangelicals have a hard time believing these kinds of stories.
I can freely admit to having been the recipient of miraculous healing and deliverance, with no explanation other than God’s working, but to be honest, the more I got into historical-critical Biblical scholarship, the more willing I had become to dismiss the miraculous. This chapter has been a good reminder that God’s kingdom is certainly announced in a powerful way. Paul’s words to the Corinthians echoed in my mind as I read through this chapter:
My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power. (1Cor. 2:4-5, NIV)
Moreland notes the great revival taking place all over the world in so-called third world countries, and demonstrates in a succinct section, how Jesus was a perfect man empowered by the Spirit of God to perform the miraculous acts that he had performed. Often the thought is that Jesus, as God, performed his miracles according to his divine nature, but Moreland points out that this is not the case [p. 174-175]. He’s also very apt to point out that cessationism is on the decline amongst evangelical scholars while noting that during the first four-hundred years of Church history, there was no shortage of claims to the miraculous gifts of God being in operation. But Moreland is also correct to say that:
Even if you remain a solidly convinced cessationist, however, there is still plenty of room in your theology to increase your passion for and expectation of the supernatural, miraculous aspect of new covenant life and ministry. [p. 176]
He closes the chapter with a testimony of his journey from cessationism to ‘Third Wave Evangelicalism,’ noting the need for balance. There’s nothing wrong with seeking for signs and wonders as long as they are “means to progress.” [p. 182] His final four pieces of advice are to: (1) read widely in this area, (2) find credible witnesses to these things and invite them to teach about them, (3) provide opportunities for others to share their experiences of the miraculous, and (4) make growth in the miraculous a component of the missionary aspect of your church. All of these are excellent suggestions, and certainly things that many Charismatics and Pentecostals have been privy to for quite some time. I thoroughly enjoyed this chapter, as it has sparked something in me to hunger once for for the supernatural things of God. Well done Dr. Moreland, well done!
Other features of the book include an annotated select bibliography, which is always nice to see. There’s a two-page Scripture index as well as a ten-page subject index. Each chapter concludes with questions for personal reflection or group discussion, which makes this a good title for a book club. I wouldn’t think to use this in the context of a Sunday school class or adult Bible study, but others might find it more appropriate for such a setting. This is actually one of those rare books where I don’t mind end notes because honestly, they don’t add much to the content of the book overall (they’re mostly bibliographic), meaning that I didn’t actually have to use two book marks with this one (because I didn’t read the notes until I actually got to the end). However, I did find the placement of them after the bibliography to be a bit odd; I would have thought to place them directly after the main body of text, then follow them with the bibliography.
I think this book would best suit the person immersed in postmodernism and possible the Emergent Church movement. I don’t think that a hardcore skeptic is likely to be the least bit persuaded my Moreland’s arguments, and those who are already in agreement with Moreland would just be reading more of the same. I do however, think that he makes a good case for the ‘thin world’ of postmodernism, and I think his critiques are good enough to make the truth-seeker’s ears perk up. When it’s all said and done, I give this book three out of five starsbecause I just don’t think it will reach as large an audience as Moreland might have intended. And there are also points where it seems to be harder to follow than it should be. But I did find the final chapter to be superb in so many ways, and for that, Dr. Moreland should be commended.