A notable feature of renewal theology within the ongoing development of Pentecostal scholarship is its construal of Pentecost and pneumatic experience as an epistemological resource that initiates and informs engagement with the human and natural sciences. In doing so, renewal theology can generate innovative responses to an array of challenges that threaten human and planetary flourishing and in manners filial to the Christian vision of God’s mission within history and towards creation. But given its methodological nuance on the Spirit’s immanence within creation, frequent criticism raised against renewal theology concern the strength of this fidelity. Simon Chan for instance, consistently argues that all ideas of Creator Spiritus
“must be subsumed under the Spirit of the Church.”
Renewal theology would generally deem Chan’s limiting of the Spirit to ecclesial loci
unnecessarily restrictive. Yet, while we may find Chan’s church-bounded pneumatology utilitarian pr anachronistic, might not the “pneumatological imagination” also prompt us towards recalibrating such Tradition- and ecclesial-centered methods of theology towards the multi-disciplinary aims of renewal theology?
This question calls to mind the Chinese proverb, “When you drink the water, remember the source.” I find Chan’s insistence helpful as it prods us to foster a mutually empowering interface between the epistemic resources (e.g., the “pneumatological imagination”) that renewal theology generates towards the sciences, and how we might find these resources a priori generated via the ecclesial-shaped contexts of spiritual encounter and formation. In what follows, I shall briefly suggest three theological motifs I find beneficial towards fostering this interface. Read the rest of this entry »