Confessions of a Lutheran Charismatic OR What Happened to Me When I Read David Housholder‘s Book about the Holy Spirit
This is not a book review, this is the story of what happened to me when I read David Housholder‘s book, “Light Your Church on Fire Without Burning it Down.” Now if this were a real book review, it would be important to mention that I received this and Housholder’s other book as gifts from the author. Even so, it is well that you know about these being gifts. If anything, the gifting of the books gives me permission not to write a book review. Instead I can simply use the books as best suits me, as all good gifts are intended.
(If you don’t know who David Housholder is or why he might be inclined to gift his books to me, click here for the back story.)
Before I tell you what happened to me when I read the book, I will tell you briefly about the book itself. “Light Your Church on Fire Without Burning it Down” is about the person and work of the Holy Spirit. Housholder names Lutheranism as his first spiritual language, but now considers himself fully bilingual with his second language being Pentecostal spirituality. The purpose of the book is to translate Pentecostal spirituality into terms that other Christians can understand.
Having grown up dual-enrolled at a folksy 1970’s Lutheran church plant on Sundays and a Charismatic Methodist youth group on many Wednesdays, I consider myself rather conversant in Charismatic spirituality even if not certain of all the lingo. Part of why I like working with Housholder is because he understands aspects of my spirituality that are less understood by many Lutherans. To be honest, I didn’t expect to have any major revelations while reading the book. I just wanted to see what my friend had written and maybe get a little better grasp on terminology that was missing from my vocabulary.
There were terms that he defined that I did not know. For instance I learned that “Pentecostal” refers to a specific movement started in the early 1900s whereas “Charismatic” refers to Christians of non-Pentecostal denominations with a more toned down version of the Pentecostal flavor of spirituality. I also learned that Pentecostals don’t use “it” as a pronoun for the Holy Spirit–they say “he.”
For those who are less conversant in Pentecostal spirituality, Housholder’s book covers the topic well. Housholder relates Pentecostal spirituality to concepts and events in scripture and traditional Christian spirituality. His conversational writing “de-mythologizes” Pentecostal spirituality and makes it approachable and understandable.
If this were a true book review I would probably go on to tell you some highlights of the book, I’d offer quotes and good things like that. I’d probably even tell you about the part of the book that made me uneasy, for the sake of good journalism. But this is not a book review. So, instead of all the proper treatment of a book I am going to tell you what happened to me after page seven.
What Happened after Page Seven
I was barely into reading the book, in just the first chapter, when I had to abruptly stop reading it and set it down. On page seven Housholder describes a healing meeting (healing ministry is described later in the book) in which he heard a woman start “singing over someone in tongues.” Housholder later defines “tongues” as a primal language of “expressing oneself vocally without the structure of grammar &/or vocabulary.”
The concept of tongues was not new to me–in fact, I was relatively certain I had prayed in tongues before. But only, when I did it it was always musical, like a song whose words I had never been taught. But I had never heard anyone outright acknowledge singing in tongues to be a real thing until I read page seven of Housholder’s book.
Since I didn’t know that anyone else thought of “singing in tongues” to be a real thing, and since any form of tongues is largely viewed with suspicion by many mainstream Christians, I kept it quiet. I mean that in at least two ways. First I kept it quiet in the sense that I didn’t tell a living soul that I could sing in tongues. Secondly, I kept it quiet in the sense that I didn’t do it very often. I largely squelched the gift–much to the impoverishment of my spirit.
It saddens me to have a gift that I don’t use. It’s like receiving a gift card for my favorite store, only every time I go to the store I find that I’ve left the gift card at home. If I’m lucky, I can pay out of pocket for my purchase if I have the cash on hand. But sometimes, I may have to forego a purchase because I forgot the gift card. But if only I had brought the gift card!
So, for me, the true gift of Housholder’s book closely parallels the gift he has given me creatively–the reminder and encouragement to use the gifts that God has given me. So, after reading page seven and hearing Housholder talk about the “singing in tongues” as a real thing, I put the book down and yielded to the gift.
The Spirit’s song came through me in all of its unintelligibility and it was beautiful. I myself do not know what the words were in English, but the theme of the song was something along the lines of, “My soul magnifies The Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my savior” from Luke 1:46. I felt a deep connection with God in the singing.
When my husband got home he became the first person I told about this ability. Before writing this I had occasion to mention it briefly to Housholder himself. And now, I am telling the whole Internet. The reason why I’m telling is because I am tired of leaving my gift card at home. I want to use all the gifts that God has given me to His glory.
And so, you see why this is not a proper book review. I am much too biased by Housholder’s influence in my life. Would that we all have people in our lives who bias us so strongly by their good will and generosity toward us. Would that we all have people in our lives whose gifts bring out the very best of ours.
To order your own copies of David Housholder’s books, please visit his online store: http://astore.amazon.com/davidhoush-20