This is a complex issue – some patterns emerge in the OT – the crux of the issue is the tension between ‘letter and spirit’, between institutional life and inspired life. Jesus highlights the same tension in His argument with the official religious hierarchy of His day and the epistles of the NT speak to this tension for believers in Christ.
A relevant OT scene set in the wilderness — Numbers chapter 11 begins with the people complaining, so much nonsense that Moses complains about the burden of leadership and they choose seventy leaders to help lead. Of the seventy, two did not make it to the Tent of Meeting and yet the Spirit of God came upon them in the camp and they prophesied. When news reaches the leadership, Joshua wants to stop the unauthorized occurrence within the camp, but Moses response —
“Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put his Spirit upon them all!” – Numbers 11: 29
The national welfare of the people of Israel depended very much on its leaders maintaining a holy relationship with the living God. The nation as a whole reflects Yahweh’s life and knows His blessing in its midst.
When the hierarchy moved out of touch with Yahweh, alternative centres of power usually developed. Amos’ call to prophetic ministry and his clash with the official leadership at Bethel, is a case in point, for Yahweh invests His authority in the shepherd and uses Amos to confound the religious and political hierarchy of the northern Kingdom of Israel.
When both the official hierarchy and the local centres of power moved out of touch with God, Yahweh withdrew His Spirit from the people of Israel at a national and local level. Equally, the people manifested prostitution by setting up small local shrines – places established for performance fertility rites – and centres of power organized under the aegis of mediums.
Yahweh’s longing is for a hierarchy that obeys Him and that also allows for expressions of divine life in local communities or families. His vision focuses increasingly on a tiny, post-exilic remnant, and supremely on His own obedient Servant, the Messiah.
When it comes to the formal religion of Islam, the official faith by and large fails to address everyday needs. The God of Islamic theology would seem so far removed from humans’ lives that substitute focuses of power sought in and through the practitioners of popular Islam.
In the way they function, however, such practitioners know little accountability to an ethical revelation. In fact, they give allegiance to a spiritual force that seems far removed from that of either Moses or Christ.
A major contrast between a biblical and an animistic view of power-in-action lies, for example, is their concepts of inspiration. Biblical revelation described as proceeding by a form of inspiration that engages the channel – the prophet or epistle-writer – completely. Notice they were ‘moved’ not ‘controlled’.
“…or from human initiative. No, those prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God.” – 2 Peter 1:21
Disciples of Christ filled with the Spirit and speak in tongues or cast out demons, but in doing so they stay in control of their mental faculties.
The Bible concerns itself with a King, and with the transfer of people from the kingdom of darkness to His kingdom of light.
The resources of Christ are specifically given to enable the church to break such false allegiance and transfer it to the Father. Christ is Lord, but sometimes our translating of that fact into human experience is less than satisfactory.
A significant factor in the biblical view of authority is that holy power belongs to God, or Christ. So our concern is not to set Christianity against the religions, or one worldview against another, but to set the power of God against the powers of evil.
The NT intention is that a body of believers, from every tribe and tongue, should live vitally in touch with God. The greatest practitioner in witness to ordinary Muslims is one divine Holy Spirit.