Posts Tagged ‘Pneumatology’

Salvific Motifs of Renewal Theology

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013 by Monte Lee Rice

RENEWALTHEOLOGYA notable feature of renewal theology within the ongoing development of Pentecostal scholarship is its construal of Pentecost and pneumatic experience as an epistemological resource that initiates and informs engagement with the human and natural sciences.  In doing so, renewal theology can generate innovative responses to an array of  challenges that threaten human and planetary flourishing and in manners filial to the Christian vision of God’s mission within history and towards creation. But given its methodological nuance on the Spirit’s immanence within creation, frequent criticism raised against renewal theology concern the strength of this fidelity.  Simon Chan for instance, consistently argues that all ideas of Creator Spiritus “must be subsumed under the Spirit of the Church.”[1]  Renewal theology would generally deem Chan’s limiting of the Spirit to ecclesial loci unnecessarily restrictive.  Yet, while we may find Chan’s church-bounded pneumatology utilitarian pr anachronistic, might not the “pneumatological imagination” also prompt us towards recalibrating such Tradition- and ecclesial-centered methods of theology towards the multi-disciplinary aims of renewal theology?

This question calls to mind the Chinese proverb, “When you drink the water, remember the source.”  I find Chan’s insistence helpful as it prods us to foster a mutually empowering interface between the epistemic resources (e.g., the “pneumatological imagination”) that renewal theology generates towards the sciences, and how we might find these resources a priori generated via the ecclesial-shaped contexts of spiritual encounter and formation.  In what follows, I shall briefly suggest three theological motifs I find beneficial towards fostering this interface. Read the rest of this entry »

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 Theology of Amos Yong and the New Face of Pentecostal Scholarship

Monday, July 29th, 2013 by John Sylvest

yongWolfgang Vondey and Martin William Mittelstadt (eds.). The Theology of Amos Yong and the New Face of Pentecostal Scholarship: Passion for the Spirit. Global Pentecostal and Charismatic Studies 14. Leiden: Brill, 2013. ISBN: 9789004251748. $141.00.

In The Theology of Amos Yong and the New Face of Pentecostal Scholarship, an inspired group of authors have interpreted his hermeneutic. Most succinctly, in essence, what they have proposed is that Yong’s leit motif suggests that pneumatology models phenomenology. For Yong, it appears, this is really the very same premise as John Polkinghorne’s epistemology models ontology. Yong’s extensive oeuvre suggests that the amplified epistemic risks that are entailed in taking this pneumatological turn, epistemologically, are warranted by the augmented values to be realized, axiologically. This is no vulgar pragmatism but is, instead, grounded in a fallibilist realism, one that requires a rather rigorous discernment process. The major thesis is that a pneumatological imagination can better engage science, religion, philosophy and culture, mining those resources and bringing their gifts - not anxiously, but – urgently, to a world in need. In discerning the truth, then, we journey – not always directly, but – inexorably, guided – not always by the robustly truth-conducive, but, rather – by the weakly truth-indicative, overcoming such weaknesses by sharing our success stories and, as a discerning eye must surely see, the greatest story ever toldRead the rest of this entry »

The Lord Is the Spirit by Andrew K. Gabriel

Monday, February 14th, 2011 by Wolfgang Vondey

Andrew K. Gabriel. The Lord Is the Spirit: The Holy Spirit and the Divine Attributes. Eugene, OR: Pickwick, 2011. pp. 237. $27.00.

In a theological world increasingly interested in Pentecostalism and its celebration of the Holy Spirit, The Lord Is the Spirit represents an extraordinary contribution to the doctrine of God by a Pentecostal scholar. Gabriel’s account examines the divine attributes–omnipresence, omniscience, omnipotence, impassibility, immutability, and the like–and proposes that classical theism has not adequately taken into account the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. As a result, theology has overemphasized the transcendence of God. In response, Gabriel proposes that a pneumatological approach to the doctrine of God recovers an emphasis on divine immanence. The book offers a renewed emphasis on the Spirit in the understanding of the divine attributes and promises to do so from a distinctly evangelical and pentecostal perspective. What results from these efforts is a crisp, well-written, insightful, and highly instructive volume that should find its place into theological libraries not only among Pentecostals. The Lord Is the Spirit is a rewarding read for many audiences. Read the rest of this entry »

Westminster Captivity, “New Calvinists,” and the Spirit

Friday, May 7th, 2010 by Dale M. Coulter

Gifts of the Spirit, Pusey House, Oxford

Photo by Lawrence OP

I see that my initial post on a “Westminster Captivity” has raised an eyebrow or two, and also an amen. In addition, this week my Regent colleagues, Richard Kidd and Scott Pryor have entered the discussion with Kidd talking about Reformed roots and Pryor suggesting that I may have a point with respect to forensic justification while at the same time challenging me on the importance of penal substitution.

In this post I wish to renew my invitation to the “New Calvinists” by a brief look at Reformed pneumatology in light of my two concerns: the possibility of being Reformed and charismatic and the possibility of an evangelical core centered upon a theology of conversion. The Reformed readers of my blog rightly intuited that my “beef” is with the way Reformed theology–and by extension evangelicalism–has been co-opted by a particular stream that can cloud its rich diversity. It is most definitely not an assault on Reformed Christianity, but a call not to allow one interpretation of the Reformed faith to define the whole.

The kind of Reformed Christianity I hope the “New Calvinists” will embrace is a particular stream that moves from the early Reformed thinkers to the Puritans and into the present. This does not mean that other streams must be rejected, but that this stream should become the interpretive lens rather than Old Princeton/Westminster (OP/W). Read the rest of this entry »

Paul and his Kingdom Problem – Part 1

Saturday, April 10th, 2010 by Jason Wermuth

The apostle Paul is well known for many of his theological insights, such as his theology of justification, salvation, sanctification, glorification and all of the other Pauline words that, in English, end in “-ation.” Many scholars note, however, the scarcity of references to the kingdom of God in Paul’s epistles. Since this is the central theme of Jesus’ message, this would appear to be a problem!

Many suggestions have been offered in reference to the lack of kingdom language in Paul. Some suggest that he knew nothing of Jesus’ teaching, and thus he knew little of the kingdom of God. This answer is unsatisfactory, however, since as a good Jew, from the pharisaic tradition, he would have certainly been well acquainted with the promise of the coming kingdom found in places such as Daniel 7 and elsewhere throughout the Jewish Scriptures. Furthermore, Paul does indeed use kingdom language in his letters, albeit rarely.

Why do you think Paul talked about the kingdom of God so rarely?

In most instances Paul uses kingdom language eschatalogically (referring to the end of the age), and many use this fact to show that Paul knew nothing of the “at-hand” kingdom that Jesus was set on inaugurating in the present. Some, such as James Dunn (see his The Theology of Paul the Apostle, pp. 190-191) have proposed that there is more to Paul’s understanding of the kingdom of God than many have given him credit for.

Dunn contends that Paul replaced much of the kingdom language associated with Jesus’ teaching with Spirit-language and I am inclined to agree with him on this point. He shows that in the synoptic Gospels, “the kingdom” is mentioned some 105 times. In contrast, Paul uses the term kingdom of God (or related variations) only 14 times. Paul, however, mentions the Spirit over 110 times. Could it be then that through Paul’s emphasis on the Spirit we may see allusions to Jesus’ not-yet/already tension of the kingdom of God?

Next week we will look at why Paul uses the phrase so rarely and we will survey the pertinent passages in relation to Paul’s view of the kingdom to attempt to understand what Paul means when he does use kingdom language and how this compares to Jesus’ use of the phrase.

Does Paul actually view the kingdom of God similarly to Jesus? What would it mean for Christian theology if Paul truly knew nothing of Jesus’ teachings? What role does the kingdom of God play in your own theology?