Wednesday, June 27, 2018

But what does it mean?

Pentecostals need a working sense of what a Spirit-baptized life looks like and what difference this kind of life makes in the world today, especially if Spirit-baptism is called upon to substantiate and characterize the Pentecostal ethos.—Pentecostalism as a Christian Mystical Tradition, page 160

<idle musing>
I believe we used to call that "holiness." But that word has fallen out of favor as everyone scrambles to get more out of life. Pretty small life to my way of thinking. It used to be that the experience of Spirit-baptism was seen as an empowerment to serve. I don't hear that phrase anymore. Now it seems that Spirit-baptism is all about self-enjoyment and "soaking" up God.

Mind you, none of that is wrong in and of itself. But when it becomes the focus instead of a byproduct, then we have a problem.

Which brings me to a question I've been asking myself and Debbie a lot lately: When was the last time you heard someone talk about death to self? Several years ago I told someone who asked me for counsel what I suggested in a particular situation. I responded, "You need to die to yourself." The person's mom was present and she said, "I come against that word!" Wow! What can you say?
</idle musing>

Monday, June 25, 2018


The phenomenon of tongues has a place in these discussions to be sure, but when it is front and center epistemically, as it has usually been within initial-evidence logic, one wonders whether this appropriation is perpetuating and masking a more basic lacuna. Generally put, the empirical availability of tongues may have contributed to a theologically impoverished account of Spirit-baptism among classical Pentecostal American denominations.—Pentecostalism as a Christian Mystical Tradition, page 159

<idle musing>
In a word, Yep. It certainly has...
</idle musing>

Thursday, June 21, 2018

One size fits all—except when it doesn't!

By speaking of distinct, available, uniform experiences in the Christian life that are simply “there for the taking,” revivalists of various stripes essentially cast the goal of spirituality as “obtaining" or “having" these discrete experiences. The danger is in portraying these experiences as commodities that people obtain or consume, just as they do other things. Furthermore, when traditions discriminate on the basis of the "haves" and the “have-nots” of these experiences, political dynamics are introduced, including power-laden structures of those who are and who are not entitled to carry on the Pentecostal identity in formal capacities. For those who do not fit this narration, they can be dismissed, marginalized. and patronized as a result. Through the commodification of religious experience, the Christian life is depicted as a ladder of achievement or as a status-filled dynamic. Most Christians, including Pentecostals, would formally object to these outcomes. The difficulty for Pentecostals is that the logic and the language they tend to prefer in handling Spirit-baptism point this direction.—Pentecostalism as a Christian Mystical Tradition, page 147

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>