Fire and Blood

The Vicar of St. Andrew's, Chorley Wood, a church noted for its affiliation with the Toronto Airport experience, has presented this work in order to explain the deep involvement of the Holy Spirit in the suffering and subsequent crucifixion of the Lord Jesus.

He starts by addressing oft-trodden issues, defending Isaiah 53 from those who would rob this prophecy of its messianic vision, and argues that through this scripture, the Holy Spirit was preparing the world for Calvary. He then goes on to defend the faith against the Gnostics and Docetists, both of whom deny that a fully human Jesus endured a long and tortuous period of suffering, resulting in his unblemished sacrifice on behalf of sinful man. Again he explains how the Holy Spirit was fully active in bringing about the will of God in the 'once and for all sacrifice' for sin in accordance with scripture. His defence comes through incidents like Christ's ability to forgive, even when hanging on the cross, and his use of scripture as he died (Matt 27:46).

Stibbe then goes on to plot the work of the Holy Spirit between the Resurrection and Pentecost and explains how vital it was for Jesus to return to his Father in order that the Holy Spirit would come upon the believing church (John 16:7-11).

There follows an interesting pattern for salvation, namely (a) The Call of God, (b) Conviction of sin, (c) Justification by faith (referring generously to Wesley), (d) Rebirth through the Spirit and (e) Adoption into God's Family. Another interesting albeit peculiar passage culminates in the conclusion that Jesus (a) saves our spirits, (b) heals our bodies (but only when God wills it) and (c) delivers our souls. This passage follows an analysis of the difference in meaning between the words 'spirit' and 'soul'.

Overall, Stibbe presents his theology very clearly and provides vivid insights into the activity of the Holy Spirit in the last days of Jesus' earthly life. Although he felt it was necessary to revisit old theological battles like the messianic nature of Isaiah 53 and the Gnostic heresy, he was quite happy to accept, without quarrel, that John's dating of the crucifixion was out of harmony with the Synoptics. Also, he seemed decidedly relaxed about the fact that many people go unhealed as a result of the church's ministry today, in spite of such scriptures as Mark 5:56, John 14:12 and 15:16