Review: The Holy Spirit: Setting the World on Fire

The Holy Spirit: Setting the World on FireThe Holy Spirit: Setting the World on Fire by Richard Lennan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Even though responding to the summons of the Holy Spirit opens a pathway to a deeper engagement with God and a richer appreciation of God’s presence in the world, our response to the Spirit is often fraught with ambiguity. Such ambiguity arises from the fact that so much of human inclination is given to reducing the Spirit to a mere support for our own desires and goals, on a personal and social/collective level. In other words, we can want to respond to the Spirit, while also wanting to guarantee that the Spirit does not take us beyond the limits of our own designs.

These words from the Epilogue of The Holy Spirit: Setting the World on Fire beautifully encapsulates the significance of what is contained between the covers of this book. The movement of the Spirit is given less credence – and therefore less intellectual consideration – in most of the Western forms of Christianity, and as such the Third Person of the Divine Trinity is often overlooked as people attempt to understand the dynamics of the Christian life.

For Australian Catholics in particular, who are preparing for a national Plenary Council as soon as the current COVID-19 pandemic event resolves itself, a greater and deeper understanding of the place and significance of the Holy Spirit would not go astray. Attempting to discern God’s intention for the Australian Church will require not only consultation and conversation, but also a profound understanding of the movement of the Holy Spirit in and around those people who are constituted as the Church.

A collection of essays on a range of topics, each individually coherent yet wonderfully curated as a collection, this book provides the insights of scholars in an accessible form to all readers. It provides food for thought, reflection, and, dare I say it, prayer for those who dare to pick it up and open the front cover. For that reason alone, although published in 2017 this book is all but a ‘must read’ for the Australian Church and, particularly, those who will be delegates to the sessions of the Plenary Council.

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