Posts Tagged ‘Wolfgang Vondey’

Retrieving the Past, Forging the Future of Renewal Studies

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013 by Dale M. Coulter

Here at Regent School of Divinity our aim is to cultivate a brand of scholarship that consciously interacts with or draws from issues related to the global pentecostal-charismatic movement. We call what we do Renewal studies because we are interested in exploring all dimensions of renewal as a historical, social scientific, and theological phenomenon.

To focus on renewal as a method does not limit us to the study of global pentecostalism because renewal encompasses a broad array of historical phenomena including populist movements, spirituality, periods of renaissance, etc. For more on renewal and what we do at the Regent School of Divinity, go here.

To that end, here are the latest explorations from our faculty. Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

Beyond Pentecostalism: The Crisis of Global Christianity and the Renewal of the Theological Agenda

Monday, May 9th, 2011 by Peter Althouse

Wolfgang Vondey, Beyond Pentecostalism: The Crisis of Global Christianity and the Renewal of the Theological Agenda. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010. xiii + 267 pp. $32.00 paperback.

Theology is serious stuff, is it not? After all, theology deals with the God and God in Christ, the necessity of salvation and impending judgment of the world. To define theology as a type of play seems counter-intuitive. Yet the possibility that a theology of play can address the crisis of current theological discussions is the task taken up by Wolfgang Vondey. He proposes that Pentecostalism’s global character is best interpreted through the lens of the theology of play and is therefore in a position to revitalize the ecumenical crisis of theology in late modernity.

Vondey’s concern is an ecumenical one in that he refuses to privilege Western theological perspectives, even Pentecostal ones, while minimizing global contexts. Vondey does not look to the origins of classical Pentecostalism as a golden age, but pushes beyond their boundaries to propose a global and ecumenical theology. Theology is in crisis because a paradigm shift has occurred where the majority of Christians are in the developing world and this shift is creating new theological insights and trajectories. Pentecostalism broadly defined is also a developing world phenomenon, which makes its transnational, transethnic, and multicultural voices important in theological discourse.

The theology of play captures the essence of global Christianity and especially Pentecostalism. Play is understood as an engagement with the divine in liturgical worship that through the subjunctive (“as if”) ritual envisions an alternate reality. Ritual play crosses the liminal boundary from the mundane to the sacred (V. Turner). Modernity however has truncated the “field of play” with its emphasis on the utilitarian use of resources defined by usefulness. The modernist theological project is thus defined by performance, competition, rationalism, and functional concerns. Vondey’s argues the root metaphor of “performance” succumbs to the modernist agenda. When theology is understood as performance, then God’s work is cast as useful, productive and ordered, and privileges purpose over existence.

Play rather than performance is a better metaphor for grounding global theology, argues Vondey, though the terms are related. Performance is a dramatic expression that attempts to correlate the narrative of Scripture with the church’s theological project. Performance gives priority to cognitive faculties in order to define the narrative and creedal boundaries of liturgy and theology. However, performance leaves little space at the margins for the theological imagination to contextualize the gospel in its various cultural situations. Performance also creates a divide between the enactors of ritual (i.e., the ministerial) and the laity who passively “observe” the performance. Conversely, the spontaneous improvisation of play allows for an active kinesthetic embodiment of the gospel though the free play of the Spirit and full participation of the people of God. In liturgical practice, Pentecostals “discern” with the Spirit in unexpected and transformative ways.

The opposition between performance and play is not as sharp however as Vondey suggests. Granted, performance can be co-opted for utilitarian reasons and used as a metaphor for market competition, but performance can also be seen as a subset of play. In Ritual and its Consequences,1 Seligmann, Weller, Puett and Simon propose a fourfold typology of play that either affirms or subverts social roles, and allows the player to either retain or lose self control in ritual: Agôn is a type of play that develops skills in competitive games through ritualized battles or games, such as football or chess, while mimicry is a type of play characterized by simulation or drama with rites of reversal and drama. Performance is a key characteristic of both agôn and mimicry. Alea is a type of play characterized by chance in which the player has no control over the outcome of the game, while ilinx is the pursuit of vertigo (i.e., spinning in circles or riding roller coasters) in acts similar to intoxification and spirit possession. Pentecostal liturgy is predominantly characterized by alea and ilinx with its kinesthetic and emotional expressiveness. Historic liturgy is characterized by agôn and mimicry with its formal mastery of liturgical practice. The point is that performance is a form of play rather than in opposition to it.

Despite this concern, Vondey offers an intriguing proposal for pushing Pentecostal theology beyond its own boundaries to dialogue in the ecumenical field as a prominent player in the theological game. Beyond Pentecostalism has far reaching implications for the negotiation of theology in the global context that liberates and gives voice to the margins.

 

1 Adam B. Seligman, Robert P Weller, Michael J. Puett and Bennett Simon, Ritual and its Consequences: An Essay of the Limits of Sincerity (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), 76-80

 

Pentecostalism and Christian Unity by Wolfgang Vondey

Sunday, July 4th, 2010 by Timothy Lim Teck Ngern

Wolfgang Vondey (ed.), Pentecostalism and Christian Unity: Ecumenical Documents and Critical Assessments (Eugene, OR: Pickwick, 2010). 277 pp. $ 33.00

Pentecostalism and Christian Unity is a remarkable collation of fourteen essays by nine international scholars. The 277-page volume discusses Pentecostalism’s affinity with predicaments regarding the pursuit of Christian unity. In my opinion, the book shows promise as a textbook on Pentecostal ecclesiology and ecumenism. Following an editorial introduction to the nature of Pentecostal involvement in ecumenism, part 1 contains six essays analyzing the heritage of Pentecostalism and the ecumenical movement. Historian Douglas Jacobsen examines the perspectives of eight early North American Pentecostal theologians on Christian dis/unity. Historical theologian and ecumenist Harold Hunter investigates to what end global Pentecostalism and the modern ecumenical movement represent “two movements of the Holy Spirit.” Carmelo E. Alvarez recounts the struggle of Pentecostal Church of Chile and the Pentecostal Mission Church of Chile in joining the World Council of Churches. Paul van der Laan draws from Pentecostals’ long and successful dialogue with the Reformed communities in the Netherlands as a model for moving from rejection (of the other) to that of acceptance and choosing unity. Raymond Pfister’s chapter focuses on a Pentecostal pedagogy for reconciling Christian divisions. Finally, Cecil Robeck Jr. shares lessons from his long-standing involvement in the International Roman Catholic-Pentecostal Dialogue, a must read for Pentecostals serious about the potentials and pitfalls for ecumenical participation. Read the rest of this entry »