Author Archive for Dale M. Coulter

Dale M. Coulter
Dale M. Coulter is an associate professor in the School of Divinity at Regent University. Originally from Florida, he prefers warms climates and sunny days. He is happily married to Esther and together they share three young and vibrant children--Bella, Sophie, and Christian. He received his doctorate from the University of Oxford and has written on the 12th century. He also is part of Evangelicals and Catholics Together and serves as co-editor for Pneuma: The Journal of the Society for Pentecostal Studies. In addition to reading ancient and medieval authors, Dale enjoys a good cup of coffee with some Smooth Jazz, especially the Rippingtons, playing in the background. Follow him on Twitter: @DaleMCoulter

On Remaining Pentecostal

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014 by Dale M. Coulter

Occasionally I have been asked why I remain Pentecostal. The question is not without merit. It usually comes from friends in other traditions (although sometimes my own) who look at me and then look at Pentecostalism and wonder: “Surely there is something better out there.”

In truth, I cannot answer the question of whether Pentecostalism is genuinely “better.” It’s better in some ways; worse in others. There is always the good, the bad, and the just plain ugly. It has some good qualities, but falls short in a lot of areas.

When I think about why I remain a Pentecostal, the analogy that comes to mind is marriage. There are a lot of forms of the Christian faith that I love. I admire the beauty, the liturgy, the deep theological streams, and many other aspects of various Christian traditions.

This is my way of saying that I have deep, abiding friendships of mutual respect and love.

But I am still in love with Pentecostalism. She is my lover and, as far as I can tell, always will be. She took me in and nourished me in the faith and I am prepared to go the distance with this lover despite the fact that she can be abusive, callous, and even cruel at times. I have been stung by her words and witnessed the way she has wounded her children.

I’ve also seen how wonderfully surprising she can be–like Hobbits whose courage pops up in the oddest of places. I’ve been told that the Pentecostalism I know does not exist except in my own mind, but I’ve seen her.

I have witnessed her in the small prayer meetings where groans and cries are uttered through the night for God to intervene into the midst of life’s tragedies. I glimpsed her beauty in the deep embraces around an altar by persons who, according to social mores, should not even associate with one another let alone hug, kiss, and weep together.

I caught her hue in the harmonies of Appalachia and the deep sighs of the Delta. I beheld the beauty of her many shades–from the soft whites to the deep chocolates and all the marvelous browns and yellows and mahoganies in between.

No, for these reasons and many others, I remain committed. There are many others out there who are married to different parts of Christian tradition and I would not attempt to sever them from their lover. But God has called me to her.

My commitment, however, means a refusal to allow her to wallow in nakedness and shame when she sins before God. If I am called to this lover, then I am called to awaken all of her potential as best as I can. I am called to help her find her true self once again–an identity that I don’t yet clearly see myself “BUT GOD.”

This is no starry-eyed naiveté. Not only have I’ve lived with her long enough to see the dark side, as a historian I know her secrets and what she’d like to keep hidden from others. No, this is more akin to a vow to be with her.

And so I stay with this lover whose faltering steps and youthful determination still attract me.

I will name her sins.

I will see her through trials and temptations.

I will walk with her through meandering theologies and even “biblical” absurdities because, at the end of the day, I am in love with her.


On Pryor and Pop Culture: A Response

Sunday, February 23rd, 2014 by Dale M. Coulter

My Regent colleague Scott Pryor has graciously offered two responses (here and here) to my post at First Thoughts on evangelicals and pop culture. I am always appreciative for the way in which Pryor engages me in the spirit of “iron sharpening iron.” I should state at the outset that I consider blog posts to be more ad hoc explorations of various ideas and themes in relationship to issues being discussed. My posts are no different and thus they do not represent a fully-developed position on these issues. A complete response to Pryor would, it seems to me, require a more substantial piece than the medium of blogging allows. Having said that, there are some areas in which I think Pryor has misunderstood what I was attempting to do.

Read the rest of this entry »

Donald Bowdle: The Beauty of a Life Well Lived

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014 by Dale M. Coulter

Don_BowdleI had heard stories about Don Bowdle before I ever encountered him. His classroom was the proving ground for many a religion major at Lee University. Don saw it as a duty to Christ to help his students prepare fully for the challenges of future ministry. This translated into classes that were extremely demanding, but very rewarding if the student put in the work. Along with hundreds of other students over the course of fifty years, I received the benefit of his wisdom, his tough classroom demeanor, and, most of all, his remarkable demonstration of a Spirit-filled life.

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Renewal Dynamics and First Thoughts

Sunday, November 10th, 2013 by Dale M. Coulter

As of last week I became a blogger at First Thoughts, the blog for First Things. Most of my posts will now be on that site although I will continue to post on Renewal Dynamics from time to time. My 57 blog posts will continue to be available for future readers. These posts amount to a short book of around 60,000 words and I am thankful for the opportunity to write a continuous column over the past several years.

I also know that our team here at Renewal Dynamics will continue to provide great insights and information on all things renewal.

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 »