Author Archive for Wolfgang Vondey

Wolfgang Vondey
Profile
Wolfgang Vondey was born and raised in Germany. He lived in Japan during the early 1990s and in 1996 moved to the United States, where he lives with his wife, Michelle, and son, Noah Alexander. After earning degrees in Japanese linguistics, Japanese Studies, and Media Sciences, he turned to theology when hearing God’s voice in a sugar cane field in Okinawa. Continuing to process this event and to discern God’s call, he earned a M.Div. from the Pentecostal Theological Seminary (formerly Church of God Theological Seminary) and a Ph.D. in systematic theology and ethics from Marquette University. He has taught at Lee University, Marquette University, and Boston College, and he now teaches courses in systematic theology and various doctrines at the School of Divinity of Regent University. Wolfgang once intended to become an artist and had several exhibitions featured in local newspapers in Germany but today finds little time to draw or paint. He is an avid cook and enjoys listening to music or working in the garden. He has published several books on theological themes and currently works on a larger project relating theology to the church, the sciences, and the public life. Wolfgang is the director of the Center for Renewal Studies at the Regent University School of Divinity.
Website
http://www.wolfgangvondey.info/

The Mountain of Faith

Sunday, July 20th, 2014 by Wolfgang Vondey

In Matthew 17:20, Jesus promises that “if you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, move from here to there, and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” Who doesn’t wish to have that kind of faith? The problem is, nowhere in Scripture do we find anyone moving a mountain. There is no record in history, that anybody ever moved a mountain. Jesus is not speaking about moving literal mountains–Jesus is speaking about spiritual mountains.

We all have mountains in our lives that need to be moved. Watch the video below and follow Moses as a guide up the mountain to learn how to move the mountains in your life and what it takes to have faith as a mustard seed. Your mountain will probably still be there, after these 30 minutes, but I pray that the word of God will give you hope, courage, and determination to change your circumstances and to learn that the only way to move a mountain is up!

 

The Holy Spirit, Renewal, and Interdisciplinarity

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014 by Wolfgang Vondey

ShowJacketThe idea of interdisciplinarity is widely debated among a number of disciplines. The recent study of renewal, understood in the broadest sense as the study of manifestations of the transforming work of the Holy Spirit, has not yet defined itself in interdisciplinary terms. Publications with focus on the Holy Spirit and the Christian life, pentecostalism, charismatic movements and other realms of renewal that invite and engage interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research, exist only in the early stages. Can we afford this neglect? If the question asked by Psalm 139, “Where can I go from your Spirit?” is: “nowhere,” does this not suggest that manifestations of the Spirit of God can be found potentially in all places of life? My answer, of course, is, yes! And yet, to say that the Spirit of God is present everywhere is far from saying that we encounter the Spirit everywhere. What then are potential directions for interdisciplinary study of renewal?

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Rolling Stone, Boston Marathon & the Renewal of Ethics in the Media

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013 by Wolfgang Vondey

The latest issue of the Rolling Stone Magazine has caused a (arguably calculated) uproar when one of the suspects of the Boston Marathon bombings was placed on the cover. A similar outcry occurred when the magazine placed mass murderer Charles Manson on the cover 43 years ago (Source: USA Today July 17, 2013). The choice to place the suspect rather than the victims on the cover, the mere decision to feature the alleged mass murderer, has led to calls to boycott the magazine on Twitter and Facebook. The decision shows poor taste, at best, or perhaps more to the point, a complete failure of the editors to understand the role of media in today’s world by choosing to attribute celebrity status to the suspect. A worst, it shows a carelessness that capitulates morals for the sake of financial gain. My intention here is not to lend an uncritical support of the naysayers but to question the broader reality that underlies the debate: the lack of ethics in a mass media world.

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Renewal and Cancer: Together with God

Saturday, July 6th, 2013 by Wolfgang Vondey

healing_of_the_blind_manIn December 2010, Larisa Ard Jenkins, wife of Skip Jenkins and mother of four, was diagnosed with a rare, untreatable cancer (neuroendocrine). Surgery removed her kidney, and the doctors reported it had spread into her spine, liver, shoulder, and leg. For over 2.5 years she has been under treatment by a cancer specialist that has worked one-to-one with her using multiple methods to defeat this cancer. Under his care, she has already out-lived the prognoses of this cancer. He has suggested a new treatment that has been found successful. However, this treatment is not covered by insurance and would require her to travel away from home for at least a month. The cost of the treatments, and the expenses for her to travel and stay away from home is not possible for the family to afford after the 2.5 years of treatments, special diets, and supplements. Larisa’s last scan showed that without a successful method of treatment, the tumors will continue to increase and grow. How can God bring renewal to her life? Not without others. Read the rest of this entry »

Boasting Heresy: The New Ignorance

Saturday, May 25th, 2013 by Wolfgang Vondey

heresyIf you have spent any time lately in theological discussion you surely have come across the label “heretic.” No, I don’t mean the derogatory use of the term to denounce someone else’s beliefs as unorthodox or unacceptable. Surprisingly, I mean the use of the term to label one’s own position. “I am probably a heretic but …” or “This is probably heretical …” and similar phrases now introduce theological positions and beliefs in which the speaker is not quite clear or certain about what is to be believed. I see these phrases regularly in my classes, on discussion boards, Facebook posts, and in any conversation that goes beyond a mere superficial chat to probe the deeper theological questions. Not surprisingly, “I am called a heretic but …” and similar phrases start a position that is rarely heretical but more often ignorant, incoherent, and amateurish. Often I find in these phrases also a sense of discomfort with existing positions or a sense of pride, a boasting in heresy as if to say: “I do not conform to the tradition” and “I have found a better way no one has thought of before.” I find this trend alarming. Boasting heresy is a threat to the renewal of Christian theology! Read the rest of this entry »

Saving the Society for Pentecostal Studies

Friday, March 1st, 2013 by Wolfgang Vondey

The Society for Pentecostal Studies (SPS) is entering a critical phase of its existence. At its annual meeting this March, the members of the Society will decide whether the SPS should change its “admission policy” and add a particular faith statement as requirement for membership. The nature of the faith statement does not concern me here. Neither am I interested in debating the need for a faith statement or its effects on the Society. Proponents of a faith statement wish to safeguard the Society from admitting non-Christians and non-Pentecostals; opponents to this move wish to protect the academic and ecumenical character of the Society. I consider both perspectives to be valid, even if I prefer one over the other. What does concern me is the manner in which proponents of a faith statement have abused the situation to rally support for their cause.

A number of advocates of a faith statement have voiced their opinion rather loudly, even on the internet (no, I am not providing a link). Some gather signatures, other personal support behind the scenes and among friends  for what seems to become a show-down business meeting of the Society. In the interest of “saving the Society for Pentecostal Studies,” these members contribute to the slow death of their own organization. Young and inexperienced members (some with no postgraduate degrees), who have not held any position of leadership in the Society, have the audacity to voice their opinions without respect for the well-being of the SPS, its diverse members, its history, and the opportunities created in recent years to expand the reach of Pentecostal scholarship. Denominational interests and personal persuasions steamroll over relationships, seniority, and scholarship. I certainly have my own opinion on the matter, but I do not believe that trumpeting my own convictions is in the best interest of the Society. And that is what really matters: not the faith statement, not its potential absence or revision, but the life and well-being of the SPS and Pentecostal scholarship. We should not change recommendations of the executive committee in public before these have been presented to the members of the Society and discussed by the body in its official gathering. We should not post our own proposals for a policy of the Society before others with more seniority, experience, and scholarship have had a chance to speak on behalf of the Society. And we should not rally support for our own agenda behind the scenes as if we are running for office before we have first offered our service and dedication to the Society.

The decision to be made at this year’s meeting will inevitably divide SPS. If we adopt a required faith statement, several members who cannot sign the statement (whether for confessional or academic reasons) will have to abstain from the meetings. If we do not adopt a faith statement as required for membership, those who advocate it currently will likely cease to attend the meetings in the future. So what do we need?

  1. SPS needs a strong, experienced, discerning, and dedicated leadership to face this crisis. The current praxis of a rotating executive committee is perhaps not the best way to give stability to the Society. We need to seek leadership from among those who are dedicated to the SPS and who can provide long-term stability. At the meeting, the members will also vote for a new second vice president who will lead the society in two years. This decision should not be taken lightly, those nominated should ask themselves if their commitment to SPS is sufficient to accept nomination, and those voting should vote not based on personal preference but on character, scholarship, and care for Pentecostal studies.
  2. Official discussions should always have priority over private opinion. We need a membership that engages in the business of the Society. To encourage such engagement, business meetings should not be the last agenda on the last day of the meeting but be given adequate time to discuss and resolve matters concerning the health of the SPS.
  3. Members need to keep a proper perspective on the Society and the care for those who call themselves Pentecostal scholars or scholars of Pentecostalism. This small group of perhaps 500 PhDs deserves to treat each other with respect and dignity. Denominationalism and divisions may be a part of Pentecostal history, but it should not divide Pentecostal scholarship–a young and fragile discipline. Pentecostalism deserves better!  Pentecostal scholarship deserves better!

The proposal on the table will have to be decided. We will have to take a stand. However, on whatever side we are, the first decision should be for the unity of the body. After almost 20 years with the Society, where I have found a home for my scholarship and many personal friends, I am ashamed of those who use SPS to advance their own agenda, denominational persuasion, or scholarship as much as of those who deny their institutions to attend SPS for confessional or doctrinal reasons. I am afraid of those who feel privileged to voice their opinion before seeking together the council of God and the well-being of the community. The Society for Pentecostal Studies now needs to be rescued. This salvation can only come from all of us, all who have come together year after year, who have developed friendships, scholarly bonds, new interests and passions. The SPS is worth saving! What matters is not a faith statement or the absence of a faith statement. What matters is the unity of its members! Repentance, forgiveness, and love may help bring about this unity. I am willing to stand up for this cause. We will have to see who else is …