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The Holy Spirit (Contours of Christian Theology) [Paperback]

By Sinclair B. Ferguson (Author)
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Item description for The Holy Spirit (Contours of Christian Theology) by Sinclair B. Ferguson...

The Holy Spirit, once forgotten, has been "rediscovered" in the twentieth century - or has he? Sinclair Ferguson believes we should rephrase this common assertion: "While his work has been recognized, the Spirit himself remains to many Christians an anonymous, faceless aspect of the divine being." In order to redress this balance, Ferguson seeks to recover the who of the Spirit as much as the what and how. Ferguson's study is rooted and driven by the scriptural story of the Spirit in creation and redemption.

Publishers Description
The Holy Spirit, once forgotten, has been "rediscovered" in the twentieth century--or has he? Sinclair Ferguson believes we should rephrase this common assertion: "While his work has been recognized, the Spirit himself remains to many Christians an anonymous, faceless aspect of the divine being." In order to redress this balance, Ferguson seeks to recover the who of the Spirit fully as much as the what and how. Ferguson's study is rooted and driven by the scriptural story of the Spirit in creation and redemption. Throughout he shows himself fully at home in the church's historical theology of the Spirit and conversant with the wide variety of contemporary Christians who have explored the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. Foundational issues are surveyed and clarified. Hard questions are explored and answered. Clarity and insight radiate from every page. Here is the mature reflection of a Reformed theologian who will summon respect and charity from those who disagree.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: IVP Academic
Pages   288
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1" Width: 6.25" Height: 9.25"
Weight:   0.85 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Feb 23, 1997
Publisher   IVP-InterVarsity Press
Series  Contours of Christian Theology  
ISBN  0830815368  
ISBN13  9780830815364  

Availability  5 units.
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More About Sinclair B. Ferguson

Sinclair B. Ferguson Sinclair Ferguson (born 1948) is a Scottish theologian known in Reformed Christian circles for his teaching, writing, and editorial work. He is currently a professor at Redeemer Seminary in Dallas.

Ferguson received his Ph.D. from the University of Aberdeen and was a minister in the Church of Scotland from 1971 to 2005, when he transferred to the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, serving as the Senior Pastor of historic First Presbyterian Church of Columbia, South Carolina. He has served as an editor with the Banner of Truth Trust, worked as a minister at St George's-Tron Church, Glasgow.

Ferguson was the Senior Minister of the First Presbyterian Church in Columbia, South Carolina. He is also a Professor of Systematic Theology at Redeemer Seminary in Dallas and part-time Professor of Systematic Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia) prior to which he held the Charles Krahe Chair for Systematic Theology at this same seminary.

He is also a council member of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals.

Sinclair B. Ferguson currently resides in Columbia Columbia.

Sinclair B. Ferguson has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Bible Teaching
  2. Contours of Christian Theology
  3. Lausanne Library
  4. Let's Study
  5. Long Line of Godly Men Profile
  6. Preacher's Commentary

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Bible > General
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Christology
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > General
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Pneumatology

Christian Product Categories
Books > Theology > Systematic Theology > General

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Reviews - What do customers think about The Holy Spirit (Contours of Christian Theology)?

Mostly Helpful  Sep 13, 2005
In general, I enjoyed reading this book. Dr. Ferguson is eager to show the solidarity of the Trinity in creation and redemption. The Spirit is not an afterthought in his theology, but the executive of God's work in the world. Yes! I thought his emphasis on the Spirit's work as Christ-oriented was well put. I also appreciated his redemptive-historical perspective throughout. He wasn't overly concerned to abstract the Spirit's role within the activity of God, but rather to show how he works in concert with the Father and Son for the redemption and edification of God's people.

I disagreed with some of his conclusions regarding the cessation of the popularly named "sign-gifts" (though he categorizes them as "word-gifts" over against the "sign-gifts", i.e. the sacraments). In his response to Grudem, he points out what I think are genuine weaknesses in Grudem's reasoning, but at times he also misunderstands what Grudem is trying to say. I think he also fails to address a few pertinent arguments.

For those who are interested, these are: 1) The multiple functions of these gifts, not only to confirm revelation, but to demonstrate the Kingdom of God, to effect unity and edification in the body of Christ, and to show mercy to those in need. Certainly these functions have not ceased. 2) The lack of distinction between occasional and perpetual gifts within the Scripture itself. Scripture presents Spiritual gifts as a diverse mix of gracelets characteristic of the new covenant era, which continues to this day. 3) In the end, Ferguson concedes that Christians through the ages and today do, in fact, receive God-given promptings and healings. Yet he won't identify these with the NT gifts of Prophecy and Healing. He says that there is too much discontinuity between the nature and practice of these and the NT gifts. But he does not seem to have first-hand observation of these gifts in action to be in a place to make such a comparison (I'm sure his church does not seek to practice such gifts). Nor does he suggest alternate categories for these present-day phenomena if they are not technically "Prophecy", "Healing", or "Tongues". I don't think any violence is done to the primacy or sufficiency of Scripture if the categories above are seen to be flexible enough to include "God-given promptings and healings." With regard to Tongues, I agree with Ferguson's distinction between NT tongues and the commonly practiced "prayer language" of pentecostals. But there are enough credible reports of glossolalia that ended up being actual human languages (say, on the mission field) to suspect that the NT gift of Tongues is still given when God decides the context is appropriate.

Cessation vs. Continuation is an important issue, although in my opinion not an essential one. Still, I find that a continuation of all the NT Spiritual gifts fits just as well, or better, with the paradigm of the Kingdom of God, and the Spirit's work as its executive, presented by Dr. Ferguson in the rest of his book.

Overall, a great synthesis from the Reformed perspective! Read it.
Theopneustic  Aug 17, 2004
God is One yet three persons. He is not three gods that became one God nor is He three persons that became One God. The three persons of God always existed as one God. All three persons of the God always existed. This work by Sinclair Fergunson does not go through the paradoxes and dilemmas that many a theologian ponder and discuss in other works. The author starts with a brief distinction of ministry between the three persons of the God head: The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit. In brief there is a discussion about the Father's grand scheme of creation, life, death, and the proprietion for man's sins. Also discussed is the implementation of the Father's plan by the Son. The Son comes into the sinful World as a man suffering the indignities of a sinner without ever sinning in total obedience to the Father. This culminates in the Son suffering a shameful death and the glorious resurrection. Dr. Ferguson argues the Son stayed God but did without the prerogatives of God while on earth. He needed the help of the Holy Spirit in withstanding temptation and in revelation. Jesus did not depend on human strength, but His strength as God. Christians should also depend on the strength of God through the Holy Spirit. Jesus emptied Himself to become man yet stayed God, but in a sense depended on the other person of Himself to preach the word of God and avoid falling into temptation.

How does the Holy Spirit minister to the individual Christian? The chief gift of the Spirit is the ability to know God's word and to share it with other people. This gift was given to only a few before Pentecost, but now is given to all who believe in Jesus Christ and accept the gift of Salvation. The Christian also needs the Holy Spirit in his daily walk. Only through the power of the Holy Spirit can the Christian preserver temptation and not fall into it. How does one express love for God? Living in Obedience to God's Will. Sinclair Ferguson does not detail how the Spirit helps the Christian in his walk.

The Fruit of the Spirit is love. The sum of the Law and the prophets is to love God plus to love your neighbor as your self. Only through the Holy Spirit can any man show such a love. This book details such a love. <BR>

Also discussed in this work is the inerrancy of God's word. Theopneustic is defined as God breathed. Teaching God's mighty deeds and interpretative word. Words that proceed from God's mouth. The author argues through the person of the Holy Spirit. In general Sinclair B. Ferguson makes the same fruit comes from God's redeemed people.
Thorough, Reformed Doctrine of the Holy Spirit  Jul 20, 2004
Dr. Sinclair Ferguson's book on the Holy Spirit is a welcomed edition to any believers library. Ferguson is one of the best theologians in the Western hemisphere and his writings are brillant and full of Scripture.

In this work, Dr. Ferguson delves into the person and work of the Holy Spirit. Yet in this short work (288 pages), he covers nearly every work of the Spirit from His divinity to the gifts of the Spirit.

The book comes from a Reformed position so those from say a charismatic perspective may not like Ferguson's views on the baptism in the Spirit or the manifestation gifts of tongues and prophecy.

Overall, a great book.
Outstanding and Necessary  Dec 8, 2003
This book by Ferguson is now 7 years old, but it remains an essential treatment of the Holy Spirit from a Reformed perspective. As Ferguson aptly notes early on, fascination with the work of the Holy Spirit has greatly increased in the last 100 years in Christian circles, but knowledge and understanding of the Spirit Himself remains more elusive than ever it seems. This book is a wonderful remedy to this starvation.

Ferguson takes a very mild mannered tone throughout his presentation. Even the section of the book where he registers his sharpest theological disagreement (in this case, with Grudem), he is charitable and properly recognizes the importance of theology's role to increase understanding and knowledge, but also the depth of Christian community.

As is to be expected from a book written by a professor from Westminster Seminary, the reader can expect to get a healthy dosage of Vos/Ridderbos Biblical theology in here. Ferguson adopts the favored Westminster view that the New Testament needs to be seen within the context of redemptive history, and particularly eschatology. As a result, Ferguson's treatment of the presence and work of the Holy Spirit is seen within an eschatological context that stresses His role in the 'already/not yet' period of the coming of the Kingdom. What this means is that a reader who picks up this book who is enamored more with a systematic theological approach will find a different approach undertaken here. Particularly in Ferguson's treatment of the ordo salutis, the scholastic approach is mostly spurned in favor of a Biblical Theological approach that stresses the believer's unity in Christ within redemptive history as the predominate motif of the Spirit's work.

Ferguson's early detail on the Person of the Holy Spirit is highly informative and a needed premise to analyzing the work of the Holy Spirit. In this respect, Ferguson does retain elements of a more traditional systematic theological approach, but also employs a literary approach as well which is the latest thing in theological formulation. In addition, Ferguson's section on sanctification is outstanding and should aid believers in the perennial dilemma of what to make of the old self/new self imagery in the Bible, as well as the inner personal struggle we experience that frustrates and even perplexes us at times. Lastly, Ferguson's section on the Spirit's ministry gifts is outstanding. He comes to this discussion from a cessationist perspective, but is very charitable in his critique and seeks not to minimize or dismiss personal experience, but to incorporate such experience within what he believes is a Biblical framework.

Overall, this book is definitely a worthy successor to Kuyper's work a century ago, and is a book that is much needed in Reformed circles to regain the appreciation and dependence we should be feeling toward the Holy Spirit in all phases of our living. Highly recommended.

Excellent synthesis of biblical and sytematic theology.  Mar 24, 2000
Ferguson provides a refreshing study of the person and work of the Holy Spirit. His approach is neither topical nor controversial, but rather a biblical-theological development of the Spirit as He is revealed in Scripture. Unlike so many speculative studies of the Holy Spirit, this book evidences a balanced exegetical approach. Highly recommended.

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