A Spirit-Filled Southern Baptist

The Wonderful Spirit-Filled Life,by Charles Stanley (Thomas Nelson, 239 pp.; $16.99, hardcover). Reviewed by Edith L. Blumhofer, project director for the Institute of American Evangelicals at Wheaton College in Illinois.

For many years, the Southern Baptist Convention has been America’s largest Protestant denomination and Charles Stanley one of its best-known members. Longtime pastor of Atlanta’s First Baptist Church and two-time president of the SBC, Stanley is known to millions through his books and his popular nationwide television and radio programs, “In Touch.” Educated at the University of Richmond, Southwestern Theological Seminary, and Luther Rice Seminary, Stanley qualifies as a true Baptist stalwart.

Thus it is noteworthy that he has written a book that probes the heart of a spirituality more often associated with Wesleyans and Pentecostals than with Southern Baptists. Stanley introduces The Wonderful Spirit-Filled Life as “a lesson in theology presented in the form of narrative.” As narrative it reads well. The theology builds on a concept that shaped the “higher life” and Keswick movements more than a century ago. The counterpoint to higher is the observation that the vast majority of Christians live far beneath their privileges as God’s children; unrealized by many Christians is that the Holy Spirit is God’s provision for “higher” and “victorious” Christian living. Charles Stanley has found the victory.

As hinted above, Stanley’s book is the most recent addition to a literature that has a long history in American religion and so should be read in this context. For more than a century, presses have churned out a steady stream of publications that reveal a persistent fascination of ...

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