In the busy, madcap year that (for me, at least) was 2012, this was one of my favourite books. I’d read things about the Christian life, and the Holy Spirit, before. I’d also read books by Simon Ponsonby before, but I hadn’t read something that resonated with my own experience of seeking to combine the best of my conservative Evangelical heritage with the charismatic expression of the Church I’m currently serving in. “MORE” is a book that seeks to explore the fascinating idea that forms the subtitle, “How you can have more of the Spirit when you already have everything in Christ“. This book really resonated with me, and is one that I will likely continue to return to over the years.
Ponsonby opens with a clear aim – one that as a Charismatic I love and as an Evangelical I yearn for – to “deduce from Scripture and the Church’s testimony the reality of an essential, personal, tangible, repeatable Pentecost“. Its this balance of the Supreme Authority of Scripture, the history of the Church, and personal experience that is a hallmark of Ponsonby’s writing, and why I am very content to be influenced by his books and preaching. Ponsonby’s command of each is demonstrated throughout ‘MORE’, and makes it a joy to read if, like me, you are fond of quotations from across history and orthodoxy. It is made clear too that he feels “The Scriptures are our source and norm for all doctrine and details of life with God“. That said, I can imagine some evangelical noses being turned up at the odd quote.
It is at this point that I really began to appreciate this book. Ponsonby rolls through (And eventually over) a number of very valid and biblical objections to the Charismatic contention, and does so with a Grace and balance usually not found in Christian books when writing about other Christians. And it is in this context that Ponsonby repeatedly re-focuses on the main thing, Jesus. He writes at the outset that “What I am calling for, what I believe God is inviting us into, is simply what has been achieved for us by Christ at the Cross. More, not something over and above the Cross“. Boom. I entirely agree – and it is with this Christ-focused, Spirit-filled aim that the book continues.
I could spend hundreds, perhaps thousands of words reviewing ‘MORE’. But that might then mean you didn’t read it. So I will say one more thing. My journey from a very biblical conservative-evangelical understanding of Christianity to a more Charismatic one was a journey that began a long time ago, but reached its fruition whilst studying Theology at university. Then, amidst the joy of reading the New Testament with the hope of the Kingdom being now and not yet rather than just not yet, I ran again into that familiar issue: the baptism of the Holy Spirit. I worked out my own views as part of the process – but whilst I read ‘MORE’ last year I wished I’d just had this book then! Ponsonby makes a careful study (Since reading this book I’ve acquired and read his follow up, ‘God Inside Out’, and some other books that delve into the issue further) of the relevant data, Scriptural and other, relating to this issue. I can joyfully affirm what Ponsonby writes, that “this fullness does not come through a one-off experience of God, but through an ongoing entering into all He has given to us in Christ“. And this represents the importance of Ponsonby’s project – its not about an ecstatic moment but instead an ongoing and ever-deepening plunge into God’s goodness.
As you can probably tell, I’m a big fan of ‘MORE’. It’s probably my favourite Christian book for Christians. I honestly believe that if more of us ‘got’ the biblical truths of the Holy Spirit and his work in our lives, Church would be better. I definitely think that if more Charismatics considered Ponsonby’s challenge, and more Con-Evo’s did too, there would be less misunderstanding between these two groups who undoubtedly love and seek to serve Jesus. I seriously recommend this book to anyone, regardless of where they are in their walk with Jesus, as something that could be used by God mightily for the cause of Christian unity. Get it. Read it. Think about how to live it out.