John Stott’s Baptism and Fullness: The Work of the Holy Spirit Today

John Stott’s fascinating and controversial book, Baptism and Fullness: The Work of the Holy Spirit Today, will almost certainly cause all who read it to rethink many of their assumptions surrounding the Holy Spirit and His work today. In a day in which Pentecostalism is the fastest growing expression of Christianity in the world, this book will be found to be as timely and relevant as it was when written over twenty five years ago. Furthermore, Stott’s work takes its place among the most important and significant pneumatological works available today.

While at all times respectful to those who differ, there can be little doubt that Stott wrote this work as a corrective to the more crude and deficient ideas surrounding the Holy Spirit today. His central thesis seems to be that there is no Biblical basis for the so-called “baptism of the Spirit” as defined as a second, post-conversion, individualistic empowerment by the Holy Spirit. Instead, Stott argues for a universal, one-time “baptism of the Spirit” among all believers at the point of conversion and then differentiates between this and subsequent “fillings of the Spirit” that Christians should rightly pray for. What is more, Stott argues that there is no basis for arguing that speaking in tongues and miraculous healings are signs of a special blessing from the Holy Spirit.

Stott goes on to discuss a myriad of issues surrounding his central theme: the question of miracles today, the definition of “tongues” in the Bible, the number and nature of spiritual gifts, etc. In discussing all of this, Stott employs his characteristic tone of maturity and care. His conclusions are based on solid exegesis and a thoughtful reading of Scripture.

While there is something in this book to make everybody pause, and while there is probably something in this book that everybody might disagree with, it cannot be doubted that Stott’s voice on these issues deserves to be heard. I, for one, greatly appreciate his views on the Spirit (as well as his views on most other things!) and would heartily recommend this book to any who want to think again about this most important issue.

4 thoughts on “John Stott’s Baptism and Fullness: The Work of the Holy Spirit Today

  1. The Rev. John Stott has been my mentor and guide in Theological matters for over a decade. I consider him one of the great minds of the last century. Most certainly, history will render him a philosopher of uncluttered exposition of Holy Writ.

  2. John the baptist mentions that Christ would baptise by the Holy Spirit and Fire. The scripture shows that everyone baptised in the Holy Spirit spoke in tongues with the exception of Simon who only saw it and offered money to do it as well. Jesus said to the disciples you will be endued with power from on high which happened on the day of pentecost. All I can say is that it is better felt than telt and once you know it no man can take it away.

  3. I’ve really enjoyed John’s book on “The Cross of Christ.” However, you are absolutely right about the division of opinion when it comes to the Baptsim in the Holy Spirit. Personally, I believe John confuses the seal of the Holy Spirit and the Baptism in the Holy Spirit as the same thing. He then has a bit of an each way bet when it comes to “subsequent “fillings of the Spirit” that Christians should rightly pray for.” and yet at the same time say there is no “second, post-conversion, individualistic empowerment by the Holy Spirit.” I think it is good to hammer things out in the court of theological debate. So I will buy the book because it is a challenge to me and I love and respect John as a teacher. We should welcome challenges as it establishes us in the faith.

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