Posts Tagged ‘ethics’

Evangelicals and Ethics: Renewing Evangelical Morality

Sunday, September 1st, 2013 by Amos Yong

person on arrow (3-way)Throughout my reflections so far, I have sought to think through the issues from a renewalist perspective informed by pentecostal and charismatic experience and spirituality. As I take up our topic today, however, such an approach does not seem to provide as many springboards into the discussion as it has heretofore. What difference does a renewalist set of commitments make for thinking about evangelical ethics and morality? Read the rest of this entry »

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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The Pentecostal Principle: Ethical Methodology in New Spirit

Thursday, November 8th, 2012 by L. William Oliverio Jr.

Nimi Wariboko. The Pentecostal Principle: Ethical Methodology in New Spirit. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2012. ISBN: 978-0-8028-6697-4. $25.00.

Paul Tillich’s The Protestant Era (1948) spoke of the “Protestant principle” wherein an anathema was placed upon absolutizing truth claims and systems. Perpetual reform corrects finite aspirations to ultimacy and drives a movement between substance and principle. The Pentecostal Principle takes inspiration from the “Protestant principle” while superseding its claims by offering the “pentecostal principle” as a third, dynamic, and kairotic surplus of the interrelationship of substance and reform. Developing a special vocabulary throughout, Wariboko offers a meta-ethical and religious vision in this dense monograph, one full of asides (e.g., a lengthy one on ecstatic language and tongues, pp. 56-65) as well as the use of conceptual images and analogs (e.g., his use of “Apelles’ cut,” the division of divisions, to illustrate something of the “pentecostal spirit,” pp. 143-149).

 The Pentecostal Principle sets out to explain the essence of pentecostalism. In doing so, Wariboko is also explaining something more fundamental than just a religious movement, extending to the question of humanity and reality itself. The book is explaining the essence of the “pentecostal” as a “spirit,” a principle or a transformative creative energy within the materiality of existence. Like a psychologist accounting for a client in the psychologist’s own private assessment, Wariboko is accounting for the underlying historical impulses exemplified in global pentecostalism. By operating with the assumption that he knows the clients better than they themselves do, Wariboko challenges the reader to deep reflection on the nature of the pentecostal.

The book begins with a lengthy introduction followed by five chapters and concludes with an epilogue. The introduction and the first chapter provide readers with the background and framework for understanding the “pentecostal principle,” recounting Tillich’s “Protestant principle” and providing philosophical meditations on scriptural and philosophical themes from which Wariboko derives his own principle. The “pentecostal principle” is understood to be triadic in nature. The “Catholic substance” is met by the “Protestant principle,” which perpetually reforms and critiques the closure of the former. The “pentecostal principle” meets this tension of excess and reform as the kairotic force, breaking in and out from both outside (the transcendent) and within (the immanent). Such a triadic structure notably parallels Amos Yong’s triadic hermeneutics and metaphysics in Spirit-Word-Community (Ashgate, 2002), and this parallel raises the question if a common pentecostal triadic metaphysics is currently developing– despite Wariboko’s denial that he is developing a metaphysics (p. 18).

In the second chapter, he correlates biological emergence and ethical methodology, with the kairotic as it emerges as “pure means” or as “evolving potentialities … eros toward open future …” (p. 100) in the play of the pluralism of human ethical existence. Yet, the third chapter seems to suggest that a precondition for ethical analysis is a telos in the particularities of a given society (p. 118). And for those desperately searching in these pages for a concretization of his ethical proposal, it can be found in the “Flowchart of Ethical Analysis” at the end of the third chapter. The fourth chapter most specifically addresses the nature of the pentecostal spirit itself: spirit is natality (new birth) and attends to the cultivation of identity. Spirit is also play understood as pure means, which is the subject of the fifth chapter. Here, play is not a counterpoint to work but the “deactivation of law and radicalization of saving grace” (p. 164). The ends are open in the pentecostal principle, where religion is not co-opted into the maintenance of order.

As Wariboko moves between social analysis, ethics, continental philosophy and theology, The Pentecostal Principle intertwines and sometimes blends these disciplines together. If there is a moment that epitomizes the book as a whole, it comes in the epilogue. There, the author recounts his own pentecostal conversion and experience, which stands at the root of his conviction that the pentecostal principle is the capacity to begin anew, with “a strong notion of self-transcendence because we served a God of surplus and possibility” (p. 208). Yet, Wariboko looks to illuminate this experience with an interpretation of grace from Slavoj Žižek who draws from Kant and Schelling. How is the former informing the latter? How is the latter being used to interpret the former? In addition, a Barthian critique arises throughout. The interrelation of Wariboko’s sources is questionable.

Nevertheless, The Pentecostal Principle is one of the most significant contributions to the nature of the pentecostal to date. His claim about its kairotic nature nicely correlates with Douglas Jacobsen’s historical claim that early pentecostalism was founded, in the plurality of its theologies, on the notion of God doing new things (see Jacobsen’s Thinking in the Spirit). Still, some may wonder if his “pentecostal principle” really is “pentecostal” enough to claim continuity with the global movement itself. I am inclined to think that, by and large, he has accomplished here what Tillich did. Nevertheless, The Pentecostal Principle will likewise be critiqued on its theological substance.

Hope, the Gospel, and Mission

Saturday, November 13th, 2010 by Diane Chandler

The scene is Mongolia, a nation of three million people situated to the north of China.  It is late evening, and five of us are worshipping the Lord in both the English and Mongolian languages.  One of the young Mongolian men present has been attending our Bible study and has made friends with other Christian Mongolian young adults.  He is spiritually hungry.  He is searching.  He has no hope. 

He is ready to entrust his life to Jesus.  The simple gospel of freedom from his past and freedom unto an eternal future coalesces into the reality of God’s love for him, Jesus’ sacrifice on his behalf, and sins forgiven.  In that instance, he becomes transformed through this blessed hope.  He is learning that Christ in him is the hope of glory (Col. 1:27), not some fanciful expectation or dreamy goal but rather a sure reality of a living God whose story he has not only internalized but whose life he now lives.  

This young Mongolian man saw the Gospel lived out in the lives of his believing friends.  As Stanley Hauerwas notes in his book A Community of Character, “The only way we learn of Jesus is through his story as we find it in the Gospel and as we see it lived in the lives of others” (p. 44).  This young man saw the change in his believing friends, as they reflected the deeper reality of inner transformation demonstrated in a changed sense of ethics and the new community of character to which they belong.  These other Mongolian believers demonstrated Hauerwas’ famous statement that the church is, rather than has, an ethic, meaning that the Church is the demonstration of this transformation and we are charged with both living and sharing this story (p. 11).

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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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