Theologian Jeff Dryden Identifies Some Common Misconceptions About Spiritual Gifts Ahead of Pentecost

Ahead of Pentecost, a theologian has identified some common misconceptions about spiritual gifts and shared how Christians can demonstrate greater maturity in the way they steward the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Jeff Dryden, professor of biblical studies and department chair at Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, Georgia, told The Christian Post that the book of Acts clearly reveals that spiritual gifts are given by God for the flourishing of the Church, for the common good, and for the building up of the Body of Christ.

“In Acts 2 and 3, you have this account of the early Church in community together, meeting one another’s needs,” he explained. “And it’s a sign of the work of the Holy Spirit to bring about a new humanity, a new community. Spiritual gifts are part of that gifting to bring God’s blessing to the Church to help it to grow and flourish.”

But sometimes, people use what they perceive to be their spiritual gifts to “spiritualize and short circuit a natural process of figuring out who they are and what they should pursue,” Dryden said.

“We all have questions about where we fit in, what roles we should adopt, what paths we should pursue in life — especially when we’re younger, but that continues through life,” he said. “Sometimes, when people talk about spiritual gifts, they’ll say, ‘I have this spiritual gift, and therefore it’s God’s approval on my life.’ Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, but oftentimes, it’s a way of spiritualizing the avoidance of our own agency and responsibility.”

“That’s a bad use of spiritual gifts,” he said. “It puts the onus and responsibility on God and not on ourselves on what we have to do and figure out as part of a natural process.”

Other times, people use spiritual gifts to excuse or explain negative behavior, Dryden said.

“People will say, ‘I have this spiritual gift, and thus you have to accept it from me,’” Dryden said. “But because all human beings struggle with sin and we live in a complicated world, there’s not always a clear right choice when it comes to making decisions. For a lot of folks, the weight of those choices is something we want to avoid, and so sometimes, spiritual gifts are used as a way of trying to spiritualize what is a natural process of maturity to avoid responsibility.”

It takes discernment to identify one’s spiritual gift, Dryden contended, and that process only happens within community.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Leah MarieAnn Klett