Posts Tagged ‘Pentecost’

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.

Come, Creator Spirit

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011 by Diane Chandler

In the ninth century, the well-known hymn Veni Creator Spiritus was penned in Latin and later set to music.  Since then, this beautiful hymn is sung around the world, most often on Pentecost and at ordinations, signifying the invocation of the Spirit to bless the people of God. Celebrated fifty days after Easter, Pentecost commemorates the coming of the promised Holy Spirit, as recorded in Acts 2:1-13. This week provides a fresh opportunity to call upon the Holy Spirit to outpour anew in our lives in order to bless the nations.  Later in this blog, you’ll have an opportunity to learn more about the Global Day of Prayer that will take place this Sunday, May 12, 2011.

The author of the Veni Creator hymn is believed to have been Rhabanus Maurus, an Abbot and later Archbishop of Mainz in Germany. In light of this coming Sunday, June 12, 2011 being Pentecost Sunday, Christians (including evangelical and Pentecostal believers who may be unfamiliar with the hymn) might appreciate the richness of the words that breathe out a lyrical prayer to the Holy Spirit to come, anoint, rekindle, strengthen, protect, and draw us into a deeper relationship with Father, Son, and Spirit. You can view and listen to one rendition of the Veni Creator Spiritus hymn in Latin, followed by an English adaptation, by clicking here.

Centuries later, composer Gustav Mahler (1860-1911) used the hymn as the first choral of his eighth symphony, known as Symphony of a Thousand. And the Spirit-filled Preacher to the Papal Household, Raniero Cantalamessa, utilized the hymn as his roadmap to write the book, Come, Creator Spirit: Meditations on the Veni Creator on the dynamism, creativity, love of the Holy Spirit. A Roman Catholic brother, Cantalamessa has the privilege of preaching and ministering to the Pope and others at the Vatican.

The Veni Creator lyrics are sublime in their simplicity (translated into English below and taken from Cantalamessa’s book, p. 5):

“Come, Creator Spirit, visit the minds of those who are yours; Fill with heavenly grace, the hearts that you have made. You who are named the Paraclete, gift of God most high, living fountain, fire, love and anointing for the soul. You are sevenfold in your gifts, you are finger of God’s right hand; You, the Father’s solemn promise, putting words upon our lips. The enemy drive from us away, peace then give without delay; with you as guide to lead the way, we avoid all cause of harm. Grant we may know the Father through you, and come to know the Son as well, and may we always cling in faith to you, the Spirit of them both.”

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A new book series: PENTECOSTAL MANIFESTOS

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011 by Amos Yong

PMPentecostal Manifestos is a new book series by the William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company edited by James K. A. Smith and Amos Yong. The series will provide a forum for exhibiting the next generation of Pentecostal scholarship. Having exploded across the globe in the twentieth century, Pentecostalism now enters its second century. For the past fifty years, Pentecostal and charismatic theologians (and scholars in other disciplines) have been working “internally,” as it were, to articulate a distinctly Pentecostal theology and vision. The next generation of Pentecostal scholarship is poised to move beyond both the merely internal conversation to an outward-looking agenda, in a two-fold sense: first, Pentecostal scholars are increasingly gaining the attention of those outside pentecostal/charismatic circles as Pentecostal voices in mainstream discussions; second, Pentecostal scholars are moving beyond simply reflecting on their own tradition and instead engaging in theological and cultural analysis of a variety of issues from a Pentecostal perspective. In short, Pentecostal scholars are poised with a new boldness: Read the rest of this entry »