Posts Tagged ‘Spirit’

Interruptions of the Spirit and the Future of Mission

Saturday, March 9th, 2013 by Amos Yong

The mission of God for the 21st century – what are its key features? From the perspective of renewal Christianity – including but irreducible to pentecostal, charismatic, and related renewal movements – the mission of God for the present is also the mission of the Holy Spirit in the past and future, a mission signaled in the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost 2000 years ago. I like to consider the past mission of the Spirit also as paradigmatic for the ongoing mission of God. In particular I highlight its interruptive nature.

What precisely does the interruptivity of the Spirit mean for the mission of God? While the original disciples were instructed clearly to wait for the coming of the Spirit in the Upper Room, they had few precious clues about what that would entail. They were still expecting, discernible from their questions to Jesus after forty days of instruction in Acts 1, that this would entail the coming of the messianic reign that would drive out the Roman oppressors from Palestine. Well they were somewhat right about the former, although its manifestations would not include the latter. Instead, the coming messianic outpouring of the Spirit would drive them out from Jerusalem through Judea and Samaria to the ends of the earth. Life as they had known it was interrupted.

The Spirit also interrupted their world as they knew it and turned it upside down (Acts 17:6). They had spoken previously in Aramaic, but now they were given the gifts of speaking and even hearing through a cacophony of languages about the wondrous works of God. Their cultural horizons were interrupted through the redemptive work of God among proselytes in their midst. Their social world was interrupted: a patriarchal way of life now included maidservants, and a gerontocratic regime now featured youth. Yet most of the disciples also felt liberated to transgress the class stratifications that governed their world since now they, mostly of the lower classes, were empowered by the Spirit to be living witnesses to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Life as they had known it was forever interrupted.

The Missio Alliance conference to be held on April 11-13 in Alexandria, Virginia, is titled “Renewal Evangelical Imagination for Mission.” I am honored to be one of the invited plenary speakers and will speak to this theme from a renewal point of view. My contribution will focus precisely on the interruptions of the Holy Spirit and the ancient-future mission of the people of God, the body of Christ, and the fellowship of the divine breath. We will unpack eight dimensions of the Spirit’s interruptive and missional empowerment from the Pentecost narrative of Acts 2. Besides my presentation, there will be many others who will engage with the conference theme from a wide range of perspectives – each of these, I dare to hope, can be considered to be distinct expressions of the many tongues of the Spirit initiated on that Day of Pentecost. I hope to see many there.

Spirit-Empowered Christianity

Monday, June 25th, 2012 by Walter Gessner

Spirit-Empowered Christianity in the 21st Century: Insights, Analysis, & Future Trends. Edited by Vinson Synan. Lake Mary, FL: Charisma House, 2011. ix + 595 pp

Vinson Synan compiles a series of scholarly essays designed to consider the future direction of the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement and to offer to the future generations an “important marker . . . at the beginning of the twenty-first century and a visionary guide to the future” (3). Arranging the essays under three sections, Twenty-First Century Renewal, Protecting Our Charismatic Distinctives, and Charismatic Adaptations for Reaching this Present Age, Synan allows for each of the contributors to examine and critique the current state of the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement, while offering through interdisciplinary constructs the desired visionary guide to the future.

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Science and the Spirit: A Pentecostal Engagement with the Sciences

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011 by Candace Laughinghouse

James K. A. Smith and Amos Yong (eds.), Science and the Spirit: A Pentecostal Engagement with the Sciences. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2010.

In the past, intellectual discussions have either tried to construct a dominant theory or remove individuality and nest all contributions into one box. In Science and the Spirit, the discussion of science and religion is expanded to include the contributions of Pentecostals. In its introduction, the question is posed: “What would be unique about a distinctively Pentecostal foray into the science/theology dialogue?” Can Pentecostals contribute to the discussion? Or will Pentecostals and their reliance upon an unscientific representation of God – the Holy Spirit – widen the divide between science and theology? The primary purpose of the book is to speak affirmatively to Pentecostal students and scholars in various scientific disciplines. The book is put forward with the belief that Pentecostals will benefit from this text and increase the chances of raising Pentecostal contributions to the science and theology dialogue. Read the rest of this entry »

The Spirit Renews the Face of the Earth by Amos Yong

Sunday, June 20th, 2010 by Doc Hughes

Amos Yong, ed. The Spirit Renews the Face of the Earth: Pentecostal Forays in Science and Theology of Creation. Eugene, OR: Pickwick, 2009. 246 pp. $30.00.

Readers of Yong’s work will find a consistent pattern in most of his pieces, the desire to bridge gaps dealing with controversial issues (see for example Beyond the Impasse or Theology and Down Syndrome). The Spirit Renews the Face of the Earth is no exception, as Yong combines fourteen articles from multiple authors who wrote for the thirty-eighth annual meeting of the Society for Pentecostal studies (2008, Duke University). The collection is impressive, not for its size, but for its pluralistic approach, one that includes scientists, professors, administrators, a counselor, and a PhD student, as well as the representation of four continents. As such, the pentecostal encounter with science in the twentieth century and beyond is explored from scientific, theological, psychological, and other perspectives covering a wide range of expertise. 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?