Archive for October, 2013

Revitalization-Reformation-Restoration: W(h)ither Global Renewal in a Post-Christendom World?

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013 by Amos Yong

Acts 2:1-4. When the day of Pentecost came. Pastel & pen. 26 May 2012.It has been said that, and many have wondered if, Pentecostalism and the charismatic renewal movements rely on an established Christianity – some would say “Christendom” – since historically both are believed to have fed off a languishing Protestantism (in the Euro-American West) and ritualized Catholicism (across Latin America). But in a post-Christendom context, w(h)ither renewal movements in so far as they may have little or nothing to renew in a globalizing, transnationalizing, and dynamic religious marketplace? With historic, established, and tradition forms of institutional Christianity on the wane (some critics aver), what is left for renewal movements to do? Read the rest of this entry »

Jazz, Holiness, and a Pentecostal Aesthetic

Thursday, October 10th, 2013 by Dale M. Coulter

Charles+Mingus+-+Blues+&+Roots+-+LP+RECORD-494063Sometimes I wonder how Noll missed so much, but then I read on the opening page of his Scandal of the Evangelical Mind that evangelicals have largely abandoned “high” culture. Ah, that’s it: it did not produce a J. S. Bach like Lutheranism did. No high culture, you see, that’s part of the problem.

And then, I listen to the Jazz bassist Charles Mingus bang out “Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting,” and I think, “that’s my music, that’s my culture.” Read the rest of this entry »

An Encomium for Reformed Theological Seminary (Orlando) and the Reformed Tradition

Monday, October 7th, 2013 by Dale M. Coulter

Reformation Wall, Geneva, Switzerland

Reformation Wall, Geneva, Switzerland

Evangelicals have a tendency to cannibalize. There is a strong tradition of self-criticism within the broader movement and it manifests itself in just about every sector, usually along the lines of “you’re disavowing the faith.” In this kind of discourse, ancient heresies serve as “types” that evangelical writers utilize to consign other positions to a doctrinal purgatory.

Evangelicals also like to pit one part of the movement against another without recognizing the contributions of each part to the larger whole. I have certainly been guilty of this kind of partisanship. This is not to say that there should not be a vigorous discussion about the differences, but such discussions should occur with a spirit of generous orthodoxy that says, “OK, we’re different, but we’re still family, even if you’re the cousin I rarely see and sometimes don’t want to be around.”

In this spirit, I want to express my appreciation to Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando, FL, for the training I received there from 1992 until 1995. To be clear, I am speaking of the “Maitland-RTS” as opposed to the “Oviedo-RTS” mainly because I graduated before the Oviedo campus had been built. My own memories are of the set of office buildings in Maitland, FL, that provided the temporary housing for a seminary in its infancy. It was a close-quartered and intimate setting in which every building opened to a small common area. Read the rest of this entry »

Prayer, Pentecostalism, and the Political: Renewing the Public Square?

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013 by Amos Yong

 public prayerWhat does Pentecostalism have to do with the public square or the political? One might think, initially, perhaps not much: classical Pentecostals have by and large been apolitical, although more often than not, such postures have been nurtured less by pentecostal spirituality and commitments than by eschatological ideas derived from dispensationalist theologies otherwise inimical, ironically, to the idea that the Holy Spirit’s charismatic and miraculous work has continued unabated after the age of the apostles. But as people of the book, Pentecostals do adhere to the New Testament injunctions to pray for their governments and political leaders. In political environments in which they are a minority, often this takes on the form of urging divine intervention that makes possible ongoing pentecostal mission and especially local evangelism. In liberal democratic societies, however, especially those which at least in theory support the freedom of religion, pentecostal growth has precipitated other political possibilities and aspirations, and hence also nurtured other types of prayer regarding the public domain. Read the rest of this entry »

The Technocrat and the Midwife: Two Models of Education

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013 by Dale M. Coulter



Call the Midwife … 'We don't go out on bikes.'



There remains a fundamental tension in the American approach to education between the “utilitarian” model and the “liberal arts” model. It has been the case from the push toward higher education in the mid-nineteenth century with the importation of German models of learning. This tension is grounded in two competing impulses of American life: a pragmatic spirit and a democratic populism.

The pragmatic spirit in America drove the industrial revolution during the Gilded Age and Progressive Eras (1865-1920). It led to the creation of institutes whose primary task was to advance technological aptitude and discovery. These “institutes of technology” the most famous of which is MIT, began in the late nineteen century and have dotted the landscape ever since.

Democratic populism, on the other hand, was less about technological advance and more about forming the soul of individuals and thus the soul of a nation. Americans took  to heart Matthew Arnold’s admonition that a democracy must find a unifying principle beyond the monarch. This unifying principle would be a culture–a national identity grounded in common values–that shaped the individuals within it. While pluralism always questions what is common, democratic populism, at its best, pulled the nation back to the original ideals of “we hold these truths.” With its focus on exploring the ultimate ends of human existence, the liberal arts model aimed at the moral formation of students.

We need to acknowledge the tensions between these models and also the way in which each model conceives the role of the faculty member.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Renewal of the Political? The Holy Spirit and the Public Square

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013 by Amos Yong

religion-politicsThe legacy of what historians now call “Christendom” certainly casts a long shadow in the ongoing discussion of Christianity and its relationship to the public square (by which I mean the all-inclusive spaces of the political, economic, social, civic, and international). Some commentators have certainly been, especially recently, very critical of the “Christendom” posture, and for good reason. When Christians have wielded political power, -going back to Christianity becoming the religion of the state in the post-Constantinian West, they became enmeshed in the politicking mechanisms of statecraft which focus mainly on worldly matters with little capacity to appreciate, much less account for, the spiritually important aspects of human life. The blurring of lines between church and state, with all of the difficult consequences that played out through the medieval, Reformation, and early modern periods, is testimony to how, even with the most sincere leaders in both domains, the commitments and priorities of church and state often pulled in contrary directions. This is not to say either that “Christendom” itself is irredeemable or that it cannot be managed more successfully under different circumstances. Certainly its achievements can be appreciated, as Oliver O’Donovan has so eloquently argued. It is to say that because the documents of the New Testament were written by those situated in very different political circumstances, it is difficult to clearly articulate a biblically-informed “political theology of Christendom.” Read the rest of this entry »