Author Archive for Michael Wilkinson

Michael Wilkinson

Pentecostal Scholarship Observed: Amos Yong as Theological Type

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013 by Michael Wilkinson

BrillWolfgang Vondey and Martin William Mittelstadt (eds.). The Theology of Amos Yong and the New Face of Pentecostal Scholarship: Passion for the Spirit.  Global Pentecostal and Charismatic Studies 14. Leiden: Brill, 2013. xvi+290 pp. ISBN 978-90-04-25174-8

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.

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Pope Francis, Latin America, and Catholic Charismatic Renewal

Thursday, March 14th, 2013 by Michael Wilkinson

Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires, was announced as the new pope, Pope Francis. He is the first pope from Latin America where the Catholic Church has a long history and represents the largest group of Catholics in the world. Pope Francis is a member of the Society of Jesus, also known as the Jesuits. He is not a member of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. I am not sure he is sympathetic to the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in Latin America either.

However, no doubt, his election will bolster the Catholic Church in Latin America. In his home country of Argentina, the Pentecostals had little impact until the middle of the 20th century when Tommy Hicks was granted unprecedented access to stadiums for mass evangelistic meetings. Still, the Pentecostals do not represent a large number of Christians in Argentina. The Catholic Church in many countries is charismatic and the latitude Catholic charismatics are granted in Latin America keeps many within the fold.

For example, priests like Padre Marcelo Rossi from Brazil have large followings. Rossi is known as “the singing priest” holding large gatherings with thousands of Catholics worshiping freely, arms raised and eyes closed. Rossi’s music is easily found on YouTube where the charismatic priest leads large crowds into renewal.

The Catholic Church is global. It is African, Asian, and Latin American. And it now has a Latin American pope. While not a member of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, Latin American Catholics will most likely respond well to Pope Francis. And it would not surprise me to see Catholic Charismatics benefiting from this election. On the other hand, the euphoria surrounding Pope Francis may be brief if Catholic Charismatics find themselves ignored or marginalized by the new leadership.

Visit Michael Wilkinson’s blog Global Pentecostal Studies for a broader discussion.

If you are interested in engaging the discussion of the pentecostal-charismatic renewal in Latin America and among Latinas/os consider participating in the upcoming conference, Renewal across the Americas, hosted by the Regent Center for Renewal Studies.