Whatever Happened to the Power of God?
Brown tries to convince modern Christians that we are not living at the level of supernatural and miraculous power that God desires, but it is possible.
Published by Destiny Image
December 1, 1991
Author: Dr. Michael L. Brown
Publisher: Destiny Image
Genre: Christian Living
Michael L. Brown’s book attempts to examine the disparity between the Biblical and historical outpourings of God’s supernatural power, and the apparent modern deficit of such large-scale miraculous demonstrations. He aims to show how God desires to move in a supernatural way among his people today, and what might be standing in the way of His will being done on the earth.
Why doesn’t God move as spectacularly in our modern world as he does in the Bible or times of spiritual revival in days gone by? Michael L. Brown seeks to answer that question in this book, to show believers what is wrong with the modern religious experience and what it will take to get back to a Biblical experience of God.
This book is all about trying to pass on spiritually valuable insights to the reader. There is a strong emphasis on the Bible and looking to scripture as a road map for how we are supposed to be living. Because it is about experiencing the miraculous in modern times, it does not agree with cessationist theology.
Unless it’s recounting a Biblical story, such as Samson’s life, there is none.
No swearing, no crude humor.
Again, only in reference to Bible stories. Nothing explicit.
Other negative/positive themes
This is essentially a long sermon. How positive/negative Brown’s ideas come across is going to largely depend on whether or not the reader believes that a Biblical miraculous/supernatural experience is something God intends for today.
I suppose I say this by way of disclaimer, but the subject of this book is the supernatural power of God. It’s a work of theology, and as such is going to offend everyone who takes a different theological stance. Believers who do not believe that God miraculously heals people today, for instance, are not going to get much out of this. Whatever Happened to the Power of God? is aimed at Charismatic Christians. As someone coming from a Pentecostal background, I feel right at home here. Some won’t.
It’s a question that troubles a lot of Christians today: If we are believing in the same God who answered the prophet Elijah with fire, parted the Red Sea, and healed thousands at the hands of Jesus and His early believers… why isn’t that level of the supernatural happening today? The short answer is that it is happening. People are still getting healed by God. There are many testimonies of people having supernatural experiences and encountering a God who still does miracles. But even Christians who believe that miracles are for today have to admit that an awful lot of people go to “healing crusades” and aren’t healed. We’ve probably all prayed for someone we love only to see them still have to go to the doctor, and maybe that doctor couldn’t do anything for them. For the Christian who holds on to the belief that God is doing miracles today, the scene is pretty bleak.
Brown has a lot to say about the problem of a powerless church. In fact, I’d argue that he has too much to say about it. He tends to focus more on the problem throughout the book than a tangible solution. If you want to be convinced that the church has a problem with not experiencing God’s power, you’ve come to the right place. He’s critical of modern revival movements such as the “Healing Revival,” even (without naming names) pointing the finger at several prominent personalities and how their ministries ended. There is a great focus on the “fraud” of modern Christianity in this arena. It’s compelling, but it’s also disheartening. The author seems to have a very clear picture of what is wrong with the church today, and spends chapter after chapter hammering the point home: We are not living in the same level of spiritual power as believers whose stories are found in the Bible.
One thing that I personally found jarring is Brown’s emphasis on the negative miracles in the Bible. He spends a lot of time talking about Aaron’s sons. (If you’re not familiar with the story, they did something wrong and trespassed against God’s holiness, and so God burned them to death in a blaze of supernatural fire. Ouch.) He also talks about New Testament “miracles” such as Herod being killed by an angel, or someone being made blind after opposing the preaching of the Gospel. It’s clear that, to Brown, a church operating in the miraculous power of God is going to see that power blinding and killing people, not just healing them.
One thing the book has going for it is that it has a lot of scripture references. When he’s talking about healing, Brown brings out Bible verse after Bible verse dealing with his subject. The same goes for prayer.
The passages quoting believers of the past, such as people who lived through the Great Awakening, are enlightening and fascinating to read. Most of the testimonies and personal accounts of people experiencing God’s power in this book are over a hundred years old, which is presented as evidence of the point Brown is trying to make. Still, I would have liked for some positive modern experiences to have been shown.
Brown’s writing can be harsh, but it’s edged with sympathy and sometimes even wit. He does a great job of pointing out a list of excuses that Christians tell themselves as to why God is not moving mightily and why we are ineffective. And yet… it’s still more about what’s wrong with the church than how we can make it right.
He does (eventually) start talking about what Christians need to do in order to see the Biblical standard of God’s power in our lives today. He has a solid chapter on prayer, and some inspiring stories of people being radically consecrated to God. It takes a while to get there, but he does try to make a case for how believers need to live if they want to see the supernatural and miraculous.
I would have liked the book to be more positive and constructive, but Brown does a good job of highlighting a problem in the church, a discrepancy between what we believe in and what we are seeing in our day-to-day lives. If you are the kind of reader who likes to read in order to feel convicted, there is some meat to chew on in this book. There may even be a little hope that, if we only start living holier and more prayerful lives, we’ll see more of God’s power.
It may focus on the negative and can come off harsh in some places, but Michael L. Brown’s book attempts to give an answer to the question burning in many believers’ hearts: Why doesn’t God seem to move as miraculously in our lives today as we read about in the Bible and historical revivals? Brown passionately appeals to believers to live lives that are wholly devoted to God and demonstrating radical faith so that they might experience the supernatural in their lives today.
+ Impassioned and inspiring
+ Plenty of references to Scripture to back up his points
+ Many interesting quotes from Christians from the past
+ Solid writing
- More focused on convincing readers of the problem than providing tangible solutions
- Lack of modern-day personal testimonies that would have given his points more credibility
- Emphasis on "negative" miracles might be problematic for some readers