Sociologists are observers and interpreters. We have the task of observing the taken for granted assumptions of social life and the power of invisible structures. We pay attention to structure, culture, social interaction, stratification, social institutions, and social change. We do not always agree on what we see or what it means. And yet, we are given this gift of interpretation, of making sense of the familiar and the strange. The sociologist Max Weber developed a specific methodology of interpretation that focused on the subjective meanings of social interaction and the social worlds humans creatively constructed. His approach focused on the Ideal Type. An ideal type is an analytical device for observing and interpreting a complex social reality. It is a measuring stick or a conceptual tool that represents specific aspects of a case. Ideal types are especially useful for making historical comparisons as Weber did in his work on religion and capitalism. Yet, ideal types may also be useful in the advancing our understanding of Pentecostal scholarship.
The Theology of Amos Yong and the New Face of Pentecostal Scholarship is a new volume in the Global Pentecostal and Charismatic Studies series published by Brill. The volume, edited by Wolfgang Vondey and Martin Mittelstadt, is in my view an exercise in establishing an ideal type, and the specific case is the work of Amos Yong. The volume is organized around the work of Yong in two sections spanned by twelve scholars. The first group of essays introduces the work of Yong, his methodological assumptions, hermeneutical commitments, and theological arguments on many contemporary topics from world religions, to pneumatology, science, and Renewal. The second half consists of a series of critical essays from an ecumenical perspective with assessments from Evangelical, Orthodox, Anglican, and Roman Catholic viewpoints.