A compilation of eleven essays, The Holy Spirit and the Christian Life is the inaugural volume of a new series titled CHARIS: Christianity and Renewal-Interdiscplinary Studies. This series, with its interdisciplinary focus, joins several other existing series on pentecostal and charismatic, or renewal, studies, that have been published by a high quality academic press, in this case Palgrave Macmillan. CHARIS is edited by Wolfgang Vondey (Regent University) and Amos Yong (Fuller Seminary), two leading theologians from the charismatic-pentecostal guild who have utilized interdisciplinary approaches in their own writings. Vondey edits, introduces and provides a conclusion to this volume, while Yong offers an afterword. Although some might have the impression that interdisciplinary projects necessitate breaking with traditions, the historical emphasis of this collection demonstrates otherwise! Read the rest of this entry »
Posts Tagged ‘Holy Spirit’
First, the conference included presentations derived from a range of renewal (pentecostal and charismatic), evangelical, and ecumenical voices. Scholars brought into the discussion Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Reformation, Wesleyan, classical Pentecostal, charismatic renewal, and a range of other perspectives. Yet even these various ecclesial families are dynamic, with earlier and later expressions providing distinctive twists (so that, for instance, the medieval and early modern Catholic traditions exhibit similar but yet divergent emphases). Scripture clearly indicates that the one body of Christ and one fellowship of the Spirit is constituted by many members, each with its unique gifts. These various traditions are, arguably, diverse synchronic and diachronic expressions of the gifts of the Spirit. Presenters and conference attendees represented the full range of biblical, ecclesial, and theological commitments but yet engaged with one another respectfully.
Second, the conference included a range of disciplinary perspectives. There were those trained in the classical theological disciplines of biblical studies, Christian or church history, systematic theology, and even philosophy. However, many others were practical theologians, attracted to the conference because of the emphasis on the work of the Holy Spirit in and across the Christian life. Papers were presented by pastors, chaplains, and missiologists, as well. Last but not least, others working across disciplinary boundaries like psychology-and-theology and the neurosciences-and-theology added to the richness of the conversation. While readers might wonder how such interdisciplinarity may have contributed to a conference on the Holy Spirit and the Christian life, the scriptures also say that the Holy Spirit leads followers of Christ into all truth. Insofar as the various disciplinary methodologies provide pathways of inquiry, to that degree, scholar of faith seeking understanding ought to deploy various methods to complement their quest for the truth that finally belongs to God.
Finally, here was an academic conference that was also spiritually sustained. Beyond offering only theory, the Holy Spirit was present in the prayers offered; mealtimes together allowed for fellowship in addition to the formal and theoretical dialogue; attendees were not just talking heads but embodied persons engaged with one another in a holistic manner. One of the major themes of the conference, the affections and their roles in the Christian life, was manifest in the give-and-take of the conference interactions. In this way, this was not just an intellectual extravaganza – although it surely was that – but also one which engaged with human hearts, hopes, and aspirations.
That is why I think this weekend I attended not just a conference on the Holy Spirit but also participated in a“Holy-Spirit-conference.” I was blessed to have been with others in a Spirit-inspired and Spirit-filled environment, one in which the Spirit was at work in our hearts, minds, and interactions, with effects lasting beyond the actual meeting itself. Did you attend the conference or one like it?
This was not the first scholarly event the Center has sponsored (see a list of prior symposia and consultations), and next year’s is already on the schedule. Is it too much to hope that next year’s event will not just be about renewal across the Americas but might also participate in the renewing work of the Spirit across the Western hemisphere? What do you expect? Perhaps you will come to the next meeting?
Evidently, Matthew Lee Anderson touched off the conversation with an article in Christianity Today. Jordan Ballor weighed in on the conversation by pointing out Protestantism’s focus on voluntarism, which I find helpful. This prompted some reflection at the First Things’ site by Joe Carter and Joseph Knippenberg. I like, in particular, Knippenberg’s comment about a division among evangelicals between those who are “together” with Catholics and those who talk incessantly about world views. Finally, I would note Vince Bacote’s weighing in on the matter by pointing out some possible connections with Abraham Kuyper.
Since this is largely a conversation among Reformed evangelicals and Catholics (with a sprinkling of Lutheran perspective here and there to add just the right flavor), let me offer the perspective of a Classical Pentecostal. Read the rest of this entry »
At the Last Supper, Jesus told the disciples that the Holy Spirit would be daily at work in the life of the believer, gently leading and guiding us (John 17:17; 14:21,26). Jesus made the disciples aware of God’s master plan to send the Holy Spirit to dwell with each of us so that He, the Spirit, could translate life, circumstances, and their context into meaning. This kind of experimental living was advocated by Henry Blackaby and Claude King in their book “Experiencing God.” Blackaby and King outline seven essential “realities” of experiencing God in our daily lives:
- God is always at work around you;
- God pursues a love relationship with you that is real and personal;
- God invites you to become involved with Him in His work;
- God speaks by the Holy Spirit through the Bible, prayer, circumstances, and the church to reveal Himself, His purposes, and His ways;
- God’s invitation to work with Him always leads you a crisis of belief that requires faith and action;
- You must make major adjustments in your life to join God in what He is doing;
- You come to know God by experience as you obey Him and He accomplishes His work through you.
Blackaby and King’s theology is experimental Christianity at its best. It takes into account the sovereignty of God and His lordship by conceiving of a God who takes the initiative in executing His purpose in our lives before we are even aware. Purpose is grounded in His love for us. This experimental approach to living is not an invitation issued by us to God, asking Him to bless our work, but rather an invitation extended to us by God to join Him in what He is already at work doing, thus requiring our submission and obedience.
Life is unpredictable because God has made it that way. You can spend your life trying to control things so they will turn out “just right.” Or, you can make provision in your heart to realize that things often will not work out how you expected and that is what gives life its zest. Stop being so uptight about the way life is. Learn to relax and yield control to God. When the wind blows, it is the oak tree that snaps because of its rigidity, but the more humble palm tree that bows low and bends, still standing after the wind is gone. Bend or be broken. Bow when the wind blows. Approach life this way, and you might just rediscover the wonder of your relationship with God, forgive yourself for mistakes God forgave long ago, and look forward to the next “adventure” that comes your way!