Pentecostalism and Scholarship Can Coexist!

Charisma Magazine interviewed Gordon Fee noting him as the first person with a Pentecostal background to earn a PhD in Biblical Studies.   You should read it!

If I manage to go further into biblical studies academically Fee would certainly be an inspiration along with Craig Keener, Ben Aker, the late Gary B. McGee, Keith Warrington, Gerald Hawthorne and a host of others out there who are Pentecostal biblical scholars or theologians.  I want to share a few quotes:

For the most part, though, Pentecostals remain resistant to—or indifferent toward—theology and scholarship. After all, modern Pentecostalism was birthed in spiritual experience, not intellectualism. As the movement spread, Pentecostals simply didn’t see a need for theological pursuits. “We don’t need scholars; we just need the Holy Spirit!” has been the mainstream Pentecostal cry for the last 100 years.
And this is a crying shame!  It gets so frustrating to see this – the anti-intellectualism going on in Pentecostalism with regard to biblical studies – to me it reveals quite a bit of insecurity.   Fee goes on to note:

The question is not do we need Bible scholars, but are we willing to embrace them?” Fee responds. “If we are willing to embrace someone with a Ph.D. in history, why not embrace someone with a Ph.D. in New Testament studies, which, after all, is a branch of history?”

Fee adds: “Having a Ph.D. has not stopped me from being Spirit-filled.”

And why should it?  Are we not a people of the Spirit?  Pentecostals need to realize we are all believers empowered by the Holy Spirit to engage the biblical text.  Yes, we Pentecostals need to embrace biblical scholarship not keep it at arms length.

On the issue of women in ministry (which we all know means women as lead pastors/elders) the article states:

Yet the arena of biblical interpretation, or “textual criticism” as it’s known in scholarly circles, can be a minefield of controversy. Fee has found himself repeatedly and unwittingly in the center of the debate over the role of women in ministry. After years of battling the issue, Fee is weary of confronting it. But he is adamant: God does gift women for ministry.

“It’s a given,” he says. “The real question is, Which comes first, gender or gifting? What [opponents of women in ministry] are trying to tell me is that gender comes above gifting. How can that be? The Spirit gives the gifting. If a woman stands and prophesies by the Spirit, and men are present, does the Spirit not speak to them? Come on! How dumb can you get?

His advocacy, Fee says, is on behalf of the Holy Spirit rather than women. “The Spirit is gifting women,” he says, “but many evangelicals are not prepared to adjust because of the ‘box’ they’re in.

“I’ve been blacklisted over this issue,” he adds. “People have said, We can’t have Fee speak because he’s pro-women.’ I am pro-Holy Spirit! I just can’t get over that some people think gender comes before gifting.”

And Fee just helped me with something here!  Yes, Yes, Yes!  Pentecostals aren’t necessarily pro women in ministry as they are pro living the Holy Spirit empowered and gifted life! This is the issue.  The Holy Spirit of God empowers all people irregardless of race, class or gender to do and to speak and live out the Word of God both in the church universal and in the world.   Thank you Dr. Fee for standing up for all people, especially the Pentecostals.

Great. Great article!

HT: Nick

9 responses to “Pentecostalism and Scholarship Can Coexist!

  1. I did appreciate how he framed the women in ministry discussion. I have tried to tell cessationist that I don’t think their churches are any less Christian because of their views, but I do think it limits what the Holy Spirit does through the people of God. The same can be said in regards to those who relegate women to these types of limitations. It is essentially limiting the work the Spirit wants to do and the work that the Spirit has already gifted that woman to do.

  2. Pingback: Gordon Fee and Pentecostal Scholarship « Threads from Henry's Web

  3. got it fixed thanks, the new way to do links with wp keeps throwing me for a loop and it ends up with two http://'s instead of one.

    Brian, that is a good point – we are the PEOPLE of God not just the MEN of God that make up the community of believers.

  4. Pingback: Gordon Fee: In Defense of Pentecostalism | New Leaven

  5. Pingback: Sunday Review – 28 November 2010 | The Prodigal Thought

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