Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Too modern?

Evangelicalism’s tendencies toward abstraction and rationalization frame an account of God-knowledge that is at its core pneumatologically deficient. Even with the overtures toward spirituality and renewal an author like Grenz is willing to make, difficulties still present themselves. Grenz and others continue to privilege “the contribution of modernist foundationalism,” even if undertaken at a more local level (in the case of Grenz, the community of faith). Within such conditions, Scripture continues to be the revelational authority par excellence. The Spirit as such becomes primarily—and in some sense, reductively—an enabling and capacitating mechanism by which to see, interpret, and apply faithfully that which is fundamentally available in Scripture.—Pentecostalism as a Christian Mystical Tradition, page 126

Friday, June 15, 2018

It's screwed up from the very core

Pentecostalism cannot subscribe to the deep-seated methodological and epistemological impulses inherent in American evangelicalism. Even with calls to reform, evangelicalism is continually haunted by a particular methodological heritage. It is exceedingly difficult to imagine American evangelicalism apart from its scholasticizing and rationalizing tendencies, and these features stand opposed to what Pentecostals most value about their own tradition. To consider but one example, Pentecostals cast biblical authority and practices of Bible reading in ways very different from those of evangelicals, especially when they try to explain the logic of how Scripture functions in their practiced spirituality.—Pentecostalism as a Christian Mystical Tradition, page 125

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

It's a super(natural) life!

When Pentecostals live out their spirituality and then reflect on it, they simply must frame the results in terms of pneumatology. Their first inclinations are not to think of vigilance, exertion, self-monitoring, and the like; rather, Pentecostals are inclined to speak of how they delight in and enjoy the presence of God. For Pentecostals, Spirituality is not a project; on the contrary, it involves an ongoing paradox between resting in God and desiring earnestly after God. As Steven Land suggested in the very subtitle of his book, Pentecostals are genuinely passionate for God and God’s kingdom. And these flames of holy desire are fanned by the power, beauty, and goodness of God’s manifest presence, God’s Holy Spirit, who is experienced within the corporate modality of worship. Pentecostals pursue and live out their spirituality not from obligation but because of the sweetness that is the Holy Spirit’s touch. Over time, they often learn to hear the Spirit’s voice, recognize the Spirit’s presence, join the Spirit’s work, and yearn restlessly for the Spirit’s reign. Quite simply, from the Pentecostal viewpoint, Christian spirituality is a Spirit matter. It requires a Spirit-logic (alongside a Christ-logic, to be sure) for making sense of growth and maturation in the Christian life.—Pentecostalism as a Christian Mystical Tradition, page 125

Monday, June 04, 2018

The bankruptcy of self-improvement (or, just try a little harder next time)

[W]ithout a Spirit-logic infusing an account of Christian spirituality, one is left with a call for human striving. Without ongoing attention to the Spirit’s presence and work, proposals in Christian Spirituality teeter on woefully inadequate strategies of self-improvement or self-construction. Obviously, Grenz would wish to denounce these tendencies, but what resources does he employ to avoid these undesirable outcomes? When on a single page Grenz remarks that Christians ought to take seriously “their own responsibility to become spiritual,” that spirituality needs to be understood “in terms of a balanced life,” that “Christian spirituality is an individual project in the process of which we must dedicate all our personal resources,” what work can a single reference to hearts being warmed “by the regenerating power of the Spirit” actually do? [Grenz, Revisioning Evangelical Theology, 56] Once again, for all the promise Grenz shows in his work, his call for an evangelical spirituality betrays the lonely Christocentrism of previous generations of evangelicals. The pneumatology that is present is simply not robust enough for his program to lift off the ground in a theologically salutary way.—Pentecostalism as a Christian Mystical Tradition, pages 124–25

Friday, June 01, 2018

Tomb-robbing, ancient style

From a new, forthcoming volume on the Abu Bakr Cemetery, published by Lockwood Press:
A secondary burial was found lying on a bedrock shelf about halfway down the shaft. The undertakers had evidently used the occasion to plunder the original burial chamber at the bottom of the shaft. Since there are no portcullis slots the robbers were able to pull the portcullis back enough for a child or a small man to squeeze behind the portcullis and penetrate the brick blocking to enter the chamber itself. All that remained of the contents are a flint blade and a fragment of a copper tool.
<idle musing>
Some things never change! : (
</idle musing>

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Down with the idols!

Observers often point out that, in terms of both race and gender, Pentecostals have been generally more successful than their evangelical counterparts in integrating and recognizing a multitude of gifts across the divides that stratify society. Admittedly, Pentecostals have a number of difficulties to face on both scores, but it is true that, on the American scene, both women and people from various racial and ethnic backgrounds have played significant roles in the Pentecostal movement as a whole. Such developments are not due to any kind of prescience by Pentecostals that led them to be more inclusive and open to nonmajority voices; such a reading would be blatantly anachronistic. On the contrary, something deep within Pentecostal identity and existence has made these developments possible. One of these constituent factors, I believe, is Pentecostalism’s character as a mystical tradition. With the affirmation of such things as worship, the affections, spiritual practices, “the anointing” and others, Pentecostalism has created a space in its contexts for other dynamics besides intellectualization and abstraction, which in turn have allowed for a disruption of the status quo and the true participation of God’s one people in the economy of grace.—Pentecostalism as a Christian Mystical Tradition, page 122

<idle musing>
I would detail that a bit and say that because Pentecostalism is a mystical tradition, it is able to be more open to the Spirit's leading, hearing the voice of God calling for the destruction the idols of patriarchialism and prejudice in our society.
</idle musing>

Friday, May 25, 2018

The problem with inerrancy

The implications of this pneumatic epistemology for a doctrine of inerrancy are significant. Pentecostals cannot hold to inerrancy without compromising their distinct hermeneutical vantage point and all that such a move would entail for their understanding of God-knowledge. In the words of Smith, “I think it is precisely this one vestige of Princeton [i.e.. maneucy] . . . which frustrates any Pentecostal theology which attempts to be evangelical. It is not simply that Pentecostalism precludes the doctrine of inerrancy—that is, it is not an issue of errors in the Bible. The doctrine of inerrancy signals a more fundamental relationship to texts—one of textualization." [Smith, "The Closing of the Book," 62] In this article, Smith pits certain accounts of orality and textuality in contrast to one another. In his opinion, the kind of texualization at work in evangelical accounts of inerrancy runs counter to other revelational themes within Pentecostal spirituality, including orality, continuing revelation (in terms of prophecy, illumination), receptivity, and the like. In other words, it is contrary to a pneumatic epistemology as outlined above. This kind of textualization runs akin to Henry’s notion of axiomatization, and in both cases, there is a rationalistic closure involved in the reading and engagement of Holy Scripture.—Pentecostalism as a Christian Mystical Tradition, page 115