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Book Review by Amos Yong: Vince McLaughlin, Ruach in the Psalms: A Pneumatological Understanding.

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016 by Enoch Charles

Vince McLaughlin, Ruach in the Psalms: A Pneumatological Understanding (Self-Published: Xlibris Corporation, 2012). 149 pp. Paperback, $19.99, ISBN: 9781479716517.

The back cover of this slender volume says that McLaughlin holds at least three terminal degrees (ThD, D.Litt., and PhD), was ordained as a Messianic Jewish Rabbi of Beth Messiah, is an Anglican Church Worldwide and Episcopal Missionary Church clergyman and Associate Rector at Church of the Word in Gainesville, Virginia, and serves at Provost and Academic Dean and Chairperson of Biblical Studies and Languages at Valley Forge Christian College’s (of the Assemblies of God) Woodbridge, Virginia, campus. Although the volume abstract and introductory chapter with standard literature review, methodology, and thesis sections combine to suggest that this was submitted originally as partial fulfillment for one of his graduate degrees (information available on the internet suggests he has at least three other masters degrees as well), there is neither a preface nor acknowledgments page that makes the connection explicit, nor is there any indication of the context amidst which the book was written. The book’s argument is that analysis of the ruach passages in the book of Psalms – the five appearances are 33:6, 51:10-13, 104:30, 139:7-12, and 143:10 – invite reconsideration of the notion that the Holy Spirit not only guided believers but also indwelt them during First Testament times, contrary to the common opinion that such indwelling did not occur until after the Day of Pentecost.

After a second chapter lays out the structure of the Psalms and defends reading its five books not only in terms of the Davidic covenant, but more precisely as windows into the (Davidic) “life of faith” (here following Walter Brueggemann’s orientation-disorientation-reorientation motif), three chapters engage with the ruach texts in canonical order: chapter 3 on the first two, chapter 4 on the middle reference, and chapter 5 on the final two. In each case, the form of the psalm in question is delineated, followed by exegesis and commentary, and then a section titled “pneumatic contribution” concludes the discussion. A brief summary chapter nicely encapsulates the volume and reiterates how the proposed “pneumatological understanding” (subtitle of the book) enables contemporary lives of faith in the power of the Holy Spirit.

McLaughlin makes no claims to be writing for the Hebrew Bible academy and this book ought not to be read as making such a contribution. For instance, the indwelling thesis was itself subject to critical scrutiny and counter-argued in James M. Hamilton, Jr.’s 2006 book, God’s Indwelling Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Old and New Testaments (B&H Academic), and the latter was not even referenced by McLaughlin. Further, although the reader is alerted to the “conscious avoidance of New Testament references so as not to bias the inductive approach within the Hebrew text” (p. 22), much of the rest of the book presumes not just a New Testament but post-Nicene trinitarian pneumatology in relationship to the Psalter’s ruach.

Yet those who approach Ruach in the Psalms aware of these episodic appearances of the divine breath across the pages of ancient Israel’s songbook and wanting further illumination of these passages – as indeed describes this reviewer, who is not himself a Hebrew Bible scholar – will benefit from this book, including its scholarly perspectives, since it is the first of its kind to wade into this arena. In addition, readers alert to the author’s charismatic sensibilities and commitments will appreciate his pastorally informed exegesis of these ruachic dimensions of the Psalter and perhaps even be inspired by his desire that his readers experience a deeper life in and with the Holy Spirit. Students of charismatic renewal thus have in this volume the first steps toward filling a gap in the literature on the pneumatology – or better: ruachology – of the Psalter, even if further scholarly work remains to be done.

Amos Yong

Professor of Theology & Mission, Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California

Thursday, February 5th, 2015 by Diane Chandler

I am so excited to invite you to The Holy Spirit & Christian Formation Conference to be held at Regent University in Virginia Beach, Virginia over Fri. and Sat., March 20-21, 2015! Sponsored by the Regent Center for Renewal Studies with the support of the Regent University School of Divinity, the School of Psychology and Counseling, and the College of Arts and Sciences, the conference will draw those within the church and the Christian academy.

With a renewal of interest in Christian formation blossoming within the church, the Christian academy and published literature, what is readily apparent is that the Christian life is integrated and holistic in nature, as directed by the Holy Spirit, yet requiring our cooperation. This conference will address several dimensions of Christian formation: spiritual, ethical, emotional, relational, intellectual, vocational, and physical health and wellness.

How does the Holy Spirit shape us into the image of Jesus?Renewal Dynamics graphic

What is the role of the emotions and psychological well-being related to overcoming emotional wounds and gaining emotional freedom?

What role do relationships in the family, friendship, and the body of Christ play in shaping believers into Christlikeness?

How does intellectual formation (i.e., the mind) contribute to Christian formation?

Why does one’s sense of life purpose and calling impact vocational development and direction?

Why is care of the physical body a vital component of Christian formation?

Four plenary speakers will address key topics relating to Christian formation. Best-selling author and protégé of Dallas Willard and Richard Foster, James Bryan Smith will address spiritual formation. Psychologist M. Elizabeth Hall will address the role of suffering in emotional formation. Stanley Hauerwas will discuss how the Holy Spirit ethically develops believers as it relates to holiness. Stephen G. Post’s presentation will focus on the pneumatology of health and healing related to the body, mind, and spirit within the context of godly love. Plus over thirty parallel paper sessions likewise will address strategic formational dimensions.

For more information and to register, go to The Holy Spirit & Christian Formation website. The early bird registration deadline is Feb. 15. So register today!

Dare to Be Authentic?

Friday, April 18th, 2014 by Nimi Wariboko

robotIf you are a human being and not a robot reading this essay then you know the struggle between being authentic to your particular or universal self. As a woman you are first and foremost a woman in your own skin. But then you are a woman along with other women. If you are vastly different from all women, then no one will recognize you as a woman. So how do you balance your particular and universal selves? Is there a space between them so you can be both at the same time? A space you can inhabit which will not require that you measure your soul by the tape of the universal or live with two irreconcilable ideals in your finite body, to use Du Bois’s words. So my friend, how do you reach the universal from the particular place of your ontological or social existence? This question or the preceding paragraph gives the impression that there is a gap between the particular and the universal. What if there is no gap? What if what we consider as the particular is a crack within the universal, the inability of the universal to totally close in on itself? Or, is the universal the crack in every particular that emits or receives the eros of communion? Read the rest of this entry »

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.

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Concerning the Future of Theological Education: Disciplinary Integration in Curriculum

Monday, January 13th, 2014 by Antipas Harris

futureoftheologicaleducation“Practical” Theology as a discipline emerged, in part, as a result of critical concerns that “Systematic” and “Historical” Theology had distinguished themselves as academic disciplines with less and less concern for issues in everyday Christian practice. Stated differently, there was a need for a more serious engagement with matters that face the church and Christians’ everyday life.

In the late 1900s, the emergence of practical theology as a discipline seemed necessary. The theological methodologies within other academic approaches to theology seemed to work well within the academy for those traditional purposes of theological education at the time. Yet, as the 1994 Murdock Charitable Trust Report alarmed the need for changes in theological education. Partly, the report pointed towards the need for a greater connection between the theological academy, the local churches, and the everyday Christian life. The current theological education at the time had become an ivy tower of its own. The necessary relationship between the theological institution, including theological curriculum, and the church, including the everyday life of believers, seemed lacking. Read the rest of this entry »