Posts Tagged ‘Spirit’

The Call of Pentecostal Praise and Worship

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014 by Nimi Wariboko

praise-dancersThere was always sound, joy, and anointing as a mighty rushing stream in Brooklyn. Far away from the place, I hear your call! I hear it break the walls of these deaf classrooms.[1] I want to feel your touch again and feel your warm embrace or at your deep set myself free, dance, and inhale the glory. Like the chrysalis I want to unfold my being and fill my days with the sun of righteousness, with songs from the lips of angels. I hear your ecstatic call, I hear it coming through; invoking the Spirit, coming from where your children hail your miracles and your power flows. My praise and worship is calling me! Its ceaseless drumming, rhizomatic rhythms, joyous voices, and endless halleluiahs impel my heady head and swift legs down its stream. And each concluding lecture brings near the spirit-call, the wooing and cooing that make my flesh tremble and burn the constraints of crouching dead walls. O enveloping Spirit, shall my years of praise and worship be my pilot to my final destiny. O my all-knowing God?

The Pentecostal praise and worship is a power that draws me to God wherever I am; a powerless power that awakens me in the morning, a glorious power that sets the sun of my day into the abyss of darkness. It calls me by my name, by my village name, by my secret name. It calls me with my mother’s accent. Are its ways with me too wonderful to understand?   Read the rest of this entry »

Works Righteousness and Going Nuclear

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013 by Dale M. Coulter

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Protestants love to use the phrase “works righteousness” when describing various positions even though they disagree as to what it is and therefore what theological positions support it.

It’s one of those “going nuclear” phrases. Like pushing the red button, it is used to annihilate another position in a single move.

For example, my blog last week about penance got some reactions about it being another form of salvation by works. If you have to do something as part of your repentance then you’re working to gain favor.

There are several misconceptions here beginning with what happens in salvation. Read the rest of this entry »

Living and Active: Renewing Evangelical Theologies of Scripture in the 21st-Century

Thursday, August 1st, 2013 by Amos Yong

biblical scholarsThere are at least two sides to this question about the relationship between evangelicalism and the modern study of scripture. On the one hand, how to navigate the fine line between historical-grammatical approaches and historical-critical perspectives? Most evangelicals are comfortable with the former while some are concerned about the latter because it leads to skepticism and presumes to undermine the authority of scripture. The posture of faith suggests that Christian readers and interpreters, no matter how learned, ought to approach the Bible in a submissive rather than critical stance. The historical-grammatical study of scripture is helpful for such servant-readings of the Bible since it helps the community of faith understand the world behind the text better, which in turn illuminates the world of the text by providing assistance in discerning an original intent of the scriptural authors. Thereby, readers are edified when they understand the biblical text in its original context. Read the rest of this entry »

Renewal and Disability: Turning the World Upside Down!

Thursday, June 27th, 2013 by Amos Yong

DisabilityIt was at Thessalonica when Paul and his friends were first referred to as “These people who have been turning the world upside down” (Acts 17:6). I have just spent the last week in an intensive and extensive seminar with Northwest University MA in Theology & Culture students discussing an upside-down world, one in which the weak are the strong, the foolish reflect the brilliance of the gospel, and the disabled are the “indispensable” and those with “greater honor” (1 Cor. 12:22-23). This was no easy conversation, especially not given the pentecostal ethos, climate, and presuppositions operative. Pentecostals respond to disability in faith, believing for healing, praying for a miracle, and expecting the supernatural curing power of the Holy Spirit to show up. Sometimes, even oftentimes, such miraculous cures occur, and in the majority world context, entire families, even whole villages, come to Christ as a result. But what happens when those with disabilities do not get up from out of their wheelchairs? When those with mental illness do not – indeed cannot – stop taking their prescription medication? When Down syndrome children grow into adults, like my brother, without a chromosomal fix? All too often, their internalizing the implicit message behind faith healing leads them to consider themselves as second class citizens of the church (at best) or as unwelcome and as not belonging in the body of Christ (at worst)!

Confronting these challenges, we burrowed deep into the scriptural traditions, especially the Lukan corpus long central to the pentecostal imagination. All of a sudden, invited to reconsider the early Christian movement in light of disability perspectives, our apostolic heroes were understood as including those like the bent-over-woman (whose healing put to shame – bent over in turn! – the synagogue leader; Luke 13:10-17); Zacchaeus, the one who became a disciple without being cured of his shortness (see Luke 19:1-10 and my discussion here); and the Ethiopian eunuch (who was accepted despite suffering bodily impairments which would have excluded him from priestly service in the Old Testament; Acts 8:26-40), among others. Gradually, our paradigm for Spirit-empowered life and ministry was being turned upside down: it is not that those who are naturally talented and able-bodied are not used of God; its that those who are most often least expected are or can be channels of the Spirit, if only the people of God were indeed attentive or and receptive of such gifts.

So what if “the blind, the lame, and the deaf” are no longer categories which we (the temporarily able-bodied) reduce so-called others to, but ones who are recipients of and participants in the coming reign of God and its eschatological banquet (see Luke 14:7-24)? I have written much more extensively about these matters elsewhere (e.g., The Bible, Disability & the Church, and Theology & Down Syndrome). But to the person, each of my students pushed to ask about what needed to happen in our lives, our churches, and our culture, if we were to reject the stigmas about disability, dispense with our stereotypes regarding people with disabilities, and repent of our “us” versus “them” mentality. The task involves nothing less than a turning upside down of our established conventions about “normalcy,” health, beauty, and other matters. Such requires, of course, also nothing less than a new and fresh Pentecost, one that will inspire such imaginativeness, enable such innovation, and empower a new “we” constituted by those across the spectrum of abilities to embody the values of the cross and the coming kingdom.

Interruptions of the Spirit & the Future of Mission 2

Monday, April 15th, 2013 by Amos Yong

This past three days, I have been inspired at the Missio Alliance conference. My own role in the conference was fairly modest: a workshop on mission in a pluralistic world originally slated jointly with Dallas Willard, but given his ill health – pray for him! – with a Willard scholar, Gary Black Jr. from Azusa Pacific University, and a plenary session on mission with Jo Saxton.  Jo and I were invited to focus on the role of the Spirit, the gospel, and the future of mission.

The title of our plenary was inspired by Jo, who wanted to foreground how the mission of the gospel oftentimes irrupts in and through our lives, for those of us willing to embrace and live into such, through the unexpected and unanticipated work of the Holy Spirit. While Jo did the “pentecostal thing” of testifying to the Spirit’s intruding work in her life, I did the “theologian thing” by reflecting on the “interrupting Spirit” of Pentecost in Acts 2: a phenomenology of interruption (2:5-13), the unbounded scope of the Spirit’s interruption (2:17-18), the personal identity of the interrupting Spirit as the Spirit of Christ (2:22-24), the diachronic identity of the Spirit from David Israel to Jesus (2:25-31), the radical interruptions of crucifixion and resurrection (2:32-36), the eschatological interruptions across space and time (2:37-39), and the interruptions of our status quo (2:40-47). Those interested in the details of this will need to wait for my extended commentary on Acts 2 (with Vince Le) that will appear in the World Bible Commentary later this year edited by Michael McClymond.

What I found, however, was that my thoughts on the ways in which the Spirit disturbs our conventional ways of life was consistent with the major thrusts of the conference. David Fitch of Northern Seminary, one of the primary organizers of the conference, summarized it well in some ad hoc remarks by saying that Missio Alliance was about finding a missional way between those who take a my-way-or-highway approach on the right and those who adopt an accommodationist stance toward culture on the left. Hence this was not about attempting to find a via media for its own sake, but in order to preserve the missional task of the church in a post-Christendom world.

My own thoughts on the interrupting Spirit from Acts 2 resonate with this missional vision. The work of the Spirit in Acts unfolds the mission of God for our times, if nothing else. Yet it does so precisely by establishing a people of God, indeed a fellowship of the Spirit, that lives into the footsteps of Jesus, himself the paradigmatic exemplar (in the Gospel of Luke) of what it means to lead a Spirit-filled, Spirit-empowered, and Spirit-interrupted life. Jesus proclaimed and embodied the coming reign of God and those upon whom he pours out of his Spirit (Acts 2:33) are invited to participate in that proclamation and embodiment – which means simply living according to the apostolic instantiation of Jesus’ Jubilee message. Doing so will bring about the missional “results” of apostolic obedience: “day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47, NRSV). Focus on the work of the Spirit as inspiring a missional people will cut through the most difficult theological, political, and real-life issues of our time since it has to do with living out the redemptive witness of God in a hurting world. Yet doing so also requires that we be open to the interrupting work of the Spirit? We are ready for such disruption and commotion?

“…the Most High does not dwell in houses made by human hands…”

Monday, March 25th, 2013 by Amos Yong

This past week/end was a momentous one for Regent University as we celebrated the grand opening of a new chapel and School of Divinity building. Regent University has been operating for over thirty five years (formerly as CBN University), but has never had a chapel. Construction of the new chapel, situated at the center of the campus in Virginia Beach, symbolizes the centrality of the spiritual life in this faith-based Christian university. The beautiful 1000-seat edifice opened with three consecutive nights of worship, praise, prayer, and preaching. Undergraduate and graduate students along with faculty and staff will henceforth have a place of worship on this campus. Although the work of the Holy Spirit has never been hindered by the absence of appropriately named structures, the dedication of this chapel signifies the university’s prioritization of the spiritual life, a commitment long at the heart of a school founded from out of the “fire” of the charismatic renewal movements of the 1960s and 1970s. What is it like to dedicate a new chapel? Read the rest of this entry »