This book covers a vitally important theme not only for the Army but for the whole church - handling the tension between spiritual energy and organisational structure. It is well informed not only on the Army but more broadly on the historical context.
In his Foreword to this book, Dr John Coutts writes:
The author considers in detail the links between first-generation Salvationists and the ‘Higher Life’ movement which flourished in Great Britain in the 19th century, as well the Army’s relationship with Pentecostalism in the twentieth.
Many questions, some contentious, were asked and variously answered. Does a Christian’s commitment to holy living offer, or even require, a second blessing after conversion? Or is the path of perfection both a crisis and a process? What is the relationship between the experience of entire sanctification and ‘signs following’ such as the ability to speak in tongues? Believers are promised ‘power . . . when the Holy Spirit has come on you ’ but how is that divine power to be understood in personal living?
Here Melvyn Jones distinguishes between two New Testament concepts: dunamis and exousia. Both words mean ‘power’, but the first denotes power as personal spiritual energy, while the second refers to power exercised though communal authority. Both insights, he believes, are essential to provide balance in the life of the church and the individual. He sustains his argument through a thoughtful and wide-ranging survey; the detailed notes at the end of each chapter provide a mine of information about interesting men and women who are little known today.
In a Postscript, Melvyn Jones asks how the call to holiness is to be understood by the present generation, and notably in the ‘secularised’ west – the former Christendom – where traditional, nominal Christianity has largely expired. Should today’s Salvationists seek strength in the authority (exousia) of familiar structures, or look to rely on spiritual energy (dunamis) leading towards new, and perhaps dangerous, forms of Christian living and Christian service?
And here the author comes to a halt, leaving his enlightened readers to think, pray and act for themselves – trusting in their Lord’s promise: ‘When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth.’