I was going to originally title this post “Can God “Bypass” Our Mind?” but the answer to that is obvious—yes, he can.
In his controversial new book, Strange Fire, John MacArthur complains that Charismatics believe that God sometimes will “bypass” the mind. I find his arguments against this to be weak and unpersuasive. A second point he makes is that Charismatics have made no contribution to theology as Charismatics. I would like to offer the following as a response to both issues. James K.A. Smith provides exactly what MacArthur says is missing in his book Thinking in Tongues. Smith’s book is actually part of a series from Eerdmans called Pentecostal Manifestos. Agree and disagree these are some cogent and formidable contributions made by some of the finest minds in the Pentecostal tradition. I found this particularly compelling from Smith.
“First, we need to appreciate that there is an incipient philosophical anthropology at work in pentecostal worship—a tacit, assumed model of human persons. The reason why pentecostal worship is so affective, tactile, and emotive is because pentecostal spirituality rejects ‘cognitivist’ pictures of the human person that would construe us as fundamentally ‘thinking things.’ pentecostal worship is ‘experiential’ because it assumes a holistic understanding of personhood and agency—that the essence of the human animal cannot be reduced to reason or to the intellect. Or, to put it otherwise, rather than seeing human action and behavior as entirely driven by conscious, cognitive, deliberative processes, pentecostal worship implicitly appreciates that our being-in-the-world is significantly shaped and primed by all sorts of precognitive, nondeliberative ‘modular’ operations. In short, we feel our way around the world more than we think about it, before we think about it.” (72)