Posts Tagged ‘creation’

From Pentecost to the Triune God

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013 by Christopher Stephenson

StudebakerSteven M. Studebaker, From Pentecost to the Triune God: A Pentecostal Trinitarian Theology. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2012. ISBN: 978-0-8028-6530-4. $34.00.

Steven M. Studebaker’s pneumatological trinitarian theology undertakes two basic tasks. First, he wishes to demonstrate the implications of pentecostal experience for the doctrine of the Trinity. In this respect, his work stands in continuity with Frank D. Macchia’s efforts to reestablish baptism in the Holy Spirit as the centerpiece of pentecostal theology. Second, Studebaker wants to make the biblical narrative’s witness to the Spirit a primary resource for the doctrine of the Trinity. His methodological move, then, is from pentecostal experience of the Spirit to biblical texts–to the triune God.

Studebaker’s driving theological principle is that in the Trinity “economic activity arises from immanent identity” (3). This indicates reciprocity between the Spirit’s work and the Spirit’s identity. Like many other theologians, he believes that the economic Trinity is the source of knowledge of God. Whereas they usually begin with Jesus Christ, however, Studebaker begins with the Holy Spirit, in part because he maintains that a proper Spirit christology implies that pneumatology conditions Christology.

Much of Studebaker’s thought is funded by the trinitarian theology of David M. Coffey, but this is not an uncritical reduplication of Coffey’s mutual love model of the Trinity. Studebaker does not simply offer a pentecostal deployment of Coffey’s trinitarian theology but an improvement of it. Most notably, Studebaker wisely inverts Coffey’s move from the immanent Trinity to the economic Trinity and bases his claims about the eternal divine persons on their activity within the economy of salvation. What Studebaker calls the liminal, constitutional, and consummative works of the Spirit in creation and redemption suggest that the Spirit plays a constitutive role in the immanent Trinity. The Holy Spirit completes the fellowship of the Triune God, but not simply as the mutual love between Father and Son hypostasized.

The common accusation that systematic theologians sometimes read historical theological texts with little care or precision will find no basis here. Studebaker—himself assistant professor of both systematic and historical theology (McMaster Divinity College)—easily moves back and forth between premodern and modern sources from Gregory of Nyssa to Jonathan Edwards to D. Lyle Dabney. One example of his careful reading comes in the third and most important chapter of the book, namely, his avoidance of the nearly pervasive caricature of Western trinitarian theology beginning with the one divine essence and Eastern trinitarian theology beginning with the distinction of the three divine persons. This foundation gives even surer footing to his legitimate criticisms of Western and Eastern models of the Trinity, one of the most poignant challenges to them since the first volume of Wolfhart Pannenberg’s Systematic Theology. In fact, Pannenberg may deserve a little more direct engagement than Studebaker gives him in light of Pannenberg’s similar accomplishments.

Studebaker’s primary concern is that the traditional models do not exhibit the Holy Spirit’s constitution of the personal identities of the Father and the Son in the immanent Trinity, something that must be maintained since the Holy Spirit constitutes fellowship between Father and Son in the economy of salvation. The Spirit completes the economic work of redemption and completes the immanent fellowship of God. Of course, Studebaker does not reverse the relations of origin, but maintains that those relations do not exhaustively define the divine persons. Thus, in the immanent Trinity the Holy Spirit is not merely passive, and the Spirit’s identity is not merely derivative.

Before rounding out the volume with contributions to theology of religions and creation care, Studebaker offers equally insightful evaluations of evangelical and charismatic trinitarian theologies. His theology of religions furthers recent pentecostal discussions and develops an inclusivist account of the soteriological ends of those outside the church. His engagement with ecology provides the theoretical basis for viewing acts of creation care as spiritual disciplines.

This is constructive pentecostal theology at its best: bold, clear, in conversation with multiple Christian traditions, and thoroughly informed by the biblical witness without bypassing the dimensions of speculative theology frequently lacking in pentecostal theology. This book is one of the constructive highlights of the Pentecostal Manifestos series.

The Spirit of Creation: Modern Science and Divine Action in the Pentecostal-Charismatic Imagination

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011 by Aaron Yom

Amos Yong. The Spirit of Creation: Modern Science and Divine Action in the Pentecostal-Charismatic Imagination. Pentecostal Manifestos 4. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2011. 237 pp.

Yong is part of a small group of Pentecostal scholars who have taken the lead in finding areas of consonance between theology and science particularly from a charismatic-pneumatological perspective. He has published widely and edited several books on this topic, and now finally produced this monograph. His goal and commitment are explicitly stated as the provision of “pentecostal-charismatic perspectives [that] … are important for the wider theological discussion as well as the ongoing dialogue between theology and science.” To this end, Yong gives us historical, theological, philosophical, scientific, and socio-psychological dimensions of Pentecostal engagements with science. Should pentecostals heed his call? Three topics may suffice to illustrate his proposal: divine action and miracles, emergence theory, and plural-spirit cosmology.    Read the rest of this entry »

We’ve Fallen and We Can’t Get Up!

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010 by Dale M. Coulter

The doctrine of creation is extremely important in understanding human nature as it should be and as it has become. Once you consider that humans, like all of creation, are contingent, having been created out of no-thing, then their fall into sin and their helplessness to recover from it makes sense.

Creation from nothing says that humans are contingent and fundamentally unstable. Part of the definition for contingency given by the OED is “the condition of being liable to happen or not in the future; uncertainty of occurrence or incidence.” This is the condition that all creatures find themselves in by virtue of their created status. As Athanasius puts it, creatures made out of nothing do not have the capacity to sustain their own existence. All humans have needs that must be met by sources outside of themselves. We must eat, have shelter, and enter relationships that form and shape us because we are social animals. In all of these ways, we depend upon something outside of ourselves to stabilize our lives.

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Discipling Against the Gnostic Temptation

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010 by Dale M. Coulter

Love creation, not the world

I said in the previous post that I was going to offer a follow up blog entry related to the pastoral implications of the Gnostic temptation. In brief, the Gnostic temptation is…

the attraction of an otherworldly kind of existence when faced with the genuine risk of forming unhealthy bonds with aspects of creation that can lead to addictive and destructive behavior that enslaves.

I now want to discuss some of the pastoral issues surrounding the Gnostic temptation. The purpose is to suggest discipleship practices need to be formulated in such a way as to help individuals avoid this temptation. Believers must

  • Learn to love creation rightly
  • Learn to love their bodies rightly
  • Learn the difference between creation and “the world”

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The Gnostic Temptation

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010 by Dale M. Coulter

Recently I presented a paper at St. Bonaventure University in western New York. The beautiful scenery, coupled with my own paper topic and the questions that resulted, reminded me of the need to resist the perennial temptation to embrace Gnosticism among Christians.

As a perspective, Gnosticism essentially is a denial of the fundamental goodness of creation. It’s appeal is for a wholly otherworldly place and experience. It is the longing for heavenly realities coupled with the struggle with earthly realities that forms the heart of the Gnostic temptation. What turns the longing for the glory of eternity into Gnosticism is simply the overreach. Can you long for glory too much? If that longing turns into a hatred of the human body (including your own), a rejection of food and drink, a rejection of marriage and the goodness of sexuality, a complete disavowing of culture as corrupt in its essence, it may just be too much.

Let me explain what I mean further. Read the rest of this entry »

How the Gulf Oil Spill Has Gotten Our Attention: What Might God Be Trying to Teach Us? (Part 2)

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010 by Diane Chandler

My blog last week focused on the tragic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and raised the issue of a thoughtful Christian response to this environmental disaster.  Progress to date on the spill?  Since last week, a containment cap is collecting the oil and pumping it to a ship.  However though it appears the oil is being collected, oil is still spewing, while indeterminable patches of oil are causing increasing damage to wildlife and coastal ecosystems.  Plans are underway to replace the containment cap within the next month or so with a larger one that will collect more oil.  Yes, progress is being made, but it is agonizingly slow.

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