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Enjoying God Blog

[On June 30, the Pneuma Review published this short interview with Andrew Gabriel. If you don’t recognize that name, he is the author of a book that I have highly recommended on numerous occasions. The book is, Simply Spirit Filled: Experiencing God in the Presence and Power of the Holy Spirit. It is written for a lay audience. It is not technical and no knowledge of Greek is required. Andrew does a great job of addressing some of the more controversial aspects of charismatic life and experience and putting to rest many of the fears that people have of them.]

June 30, 2019

Pneuma Review: Please tell our readers about your Pentecostal roots.

Andrew Gabriel: I grew up worshipping in primarily Pentecostal churches, although we did, at times, attend some other denominational churches. After graduating from high school, I studied at a Pentecostal Bible college, and eventually I was ordained in the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada, as I still am today.

Pneuma Review: In your book, Simply Spirit-Filled, you said that at one point in your life you were a spiritual experience junkie. Please explain what you mean by that and why you went through that phase.

Andrew Gabriel: As I think about it now, the term ‘junkie’ might sound pejorative, but I don’t mean it to be. My heart was certainly in the right place. I was a young, somewhat naïve, Christian who wanted “all that God has for me,” as the preachers used to put it. As a result, you could say that I was “all in” when it came to trying to experience God.

The result was that, like some others around me, I wasn’t too concerned with trying to discern if experiences were authentically from God, or if they were emotional experiences that were being manufactured by the groups that I worshipped with. And, for the most part, I think the people that were manufacturing those experiences had good hearts too. They also wanted to experience God, but they thought that there were only certain ways to do so. So, for example, the music had to be a certain way, or maybe they would “encourage” you to fall down.

Pneuma Review: Later in your life you became quite skeptical of spiritual experiences. What factors contributed to that skepticism and what eventually brought you back to again appreciate the value of these spiritual experiences?

Andrew Gabriel: I think my skepticism was simply me over reacting to my realization that not everything I had experienced in the church was truly from God. And it probably stemmed from the same thing that made me a spiritual experience junkie in the first place—namely, a desire to experience God. Only now, I was more concerned with having authentic experiences of God.

My education contributed to both my skepticism and my recovery from that skepticism. First, my education encouraged me to be more discerning—that contributed to my skepticism. But, second, my education also nurtured a profound sense of the majesty and love of God. And as I recognized the beauty of God, it drew me back to the value of some of the spiritual experiences that I had become skeptical of in my overreaction to the inauthentic.

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