QOTD: on Pentecostalism

Pentecostalism, rightly understood, is a critique of/radical alternative to evangelicalism, not a subset of it. Pentecostals who act like fundamentalists while simply adding speaking in tongues don’t understand their own tradition. Pentecostalism, at its core, is misfit religion; it is spirituality on the wrong side of the railroad tracks. When people who can’t find any other place to belong elsewhere come together and share a combustible experience of the Spirit, Pentecost happens.

Pastor Jonathan Martin

(sharing here from a post on Facebook – soon as I learn the source, I’ll post it here.

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on masculine Christianity

its misguided – its most often culturally driven – and its wrong…

A few years ago John Piper created some controversy over his declaration that Christianity had a masculine feel. The claim raised several issues, one of which was the way a divorce of theological reflection from Christian tradition leads to a lopsided and impoverished theology. The impoverished theology of a “masculine feel” undercuts a Christian view of human sexuality.

Christian tradition employs masculine and feminine ideas about God and the soul in a variety of ways that suggest both are necessary complements that correct one another….

read more here from Dale Coulter at First Things.

Book Sale: Zondervan’s Counterpoint series

For a LIMITED time (til the end of February), Zondervan has its Counterpoints in Bible and Theology series on a $3.79-$3.99 sale for Kindle users!! And…  they are all in one way or another well worth the thinking Christian’s time and money.

Here might be some of the more pertinent ones (IMO):

Are Miraculous Gifts for Today?: 4 Views (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology)

Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology)

Three Views on Creation and Evolution (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology)

Four Views on the Historical Adam (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology)

Four Views on the Book of Revelation (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology)

Five Views on Biblical Inerrancy (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology)

Three Views on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology)

Four Views on Moving Beyond the Bible to Theology (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology)

I hope you get a couple and read them and learn from them!  -Blessings.

on Pentecostal Hermeneutics

For those who may be wondering how Pentecostals go about interpreting the Bible – the Assemblies of God’s Enrichment Journal, which goes out quarterly to all licensed and ordained ministers in the Assemblies, but that can also be viewed online, has an article (written about 10 years ago) by Roger Stronstad summarizing different elements or currents trends of Pentecostal Hermeneutics.  I hadn’t seen it so it was interesting even for me to read – I was familiar with some of it but not all of it.  lol.

In the article you’ll see one call the “pragmatic” hermeneutic.  This portion gives you a little bit of history as to how the whole thing got started, well, at least a key even that seemed to really catapult the movement forward in a significant way.  There were workings of the Holy Spirit going on all over the world at the time, but this and other events leading to the Azusa Revival seem to be the most well known.   It is interesting too that this is listed first in the summary because really, the heart of Pentecostal theology, which can be really diverse with no one single simple definition, is pragmatics (used here in the sense of relating to practical considerations).  In too many ways, its both a good and a bad thing.

Here is an excerpt:

As Martin Luther is the fountainhead of Lutheranism, John Calvin of Reformed Theology, and John Wesley of Methodism, so Charles F. Parham stands as the fountainhead of Pentecostalism. Parham was not the first to speak in tongues. In one sense that honor goes to Miss Agnes N. Ozman.  In another sense, the birth of the Pentecostal movement is the climax to the growing swell of charismatic experiences among various revival and Apostolic Faith movements. What makes Charles F. Parham the father of Pentecostalism, Topeka, Kansas, the locus of Pentecostalism, and Agnes Ozman, the first Pentecostal, is not the uniqueness of this experience, but the new hermeneutical/biblical understanding of this experience.

Charles F. Parham bequeathed to the Pentecostal movement its definitive hermeneutics, and consequently, its definitive theology and apologetics. His contribution arose out of the problem of the interpretation of the second chapter of Acts and his conviction that Christian experience in the 20th century “should tally exactly with the Bible, [but] neither sanctification nor the anointing that abideth … tallied with the 2nd chapter of Acts.” Consequently he reports, “I set the students at work studying out diligently what was the Bible evidence of the baptism of the Holy Ghost that we might go before the world with something that was indisputable because it tallied absolutely with the Word.” He tells the results of their investigation in the following words: “Leaving the school for three days at this task, I went to Kansas City for three days services. I returned to the school on the morning preceding Watch Night service in the year 1900.

“At about 10:00 o’clock in the morning I rang the bell calling all the students into the Chapel to get their report on the matter in hand. To my astonishment they all had the same story, that while there were different things occurring when the Pentecostal blessing fell, the indisputable proof on each occasion was, that they spoke with other tongues.”5

In Parham’s report we find the essential distinctives of the Pentecostal movement, namely, (1) the conviction that contemporary experience should be identical to apostolic Christianity, (2) the separation of the baptism in the Holy Spirit from sanctification (as Holiness movements had earlier separated it from conversion/incorporation), and (3) that tongues speaking is the indisputable evidence or proof of the baptism in the Holy Spirit.

Well, be that as it may, I find it all very interesting and really, given the context, I don’t think you can really blame Parham for wanting to know what was the source of the Apostles zeal.  I think too his quest for “Bible evidence” is evident of the times he lived in – people were big then on wanting empirical evidence for things and in this case it morphed a bit in to wanting “physical” evidence for knowing without a doubt one is in fact baptized in the Holy Spirit.  Agree or disagree with this approach, I don’t think we can fault them for that.  He was a man of his time really.  And this is really the root of much Pentecostal theology and understanding of Spirit Baptism – that there is going to be “evidence” for it.

Well, feel free to give it a read and or let me know what you think.

Blessings,

Dave Black on Matt 6:33

Dave Black reflected on his blog about what Jesus might have meant when he said “seek first the kingdom of God.”  I thought it was really good and wanted to share with you here:

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

7:15 AM Jesus repeatedly emphasized that following Him meant radically changing our priorities. What did He mean when He said, “Seek first the kingdom of God”? Here are some ideas:

1) Seek first the kingdom of God vocationally. Ask tough questions about your employment. Are you where God wants you to be? If so, are you using your occupation to advance God’s kingdom?

2) Seek first the kingdom of God maritally. Have a Great Commission Marriage. Put the kingdom first in your married and family life.

3) Seek first the kingdom of God geographically. The issue of where we live has everything to do with the kingdom. Let’s be open to God’s guidance. Unlike our secular counterparts, we can no longer select a place to live based merely on comfort, affordability, good schools, etc.

4) Seek first the kingdom of God ecclesiologically. I strongly urge you to find a church home that shares your urgency for the kingdom and global missions. Traditional wisdom dictates that we are to seek a church on the basis of buildings, programs, convenience, and, regrettably, personalities. As a result, church life becomes inwardly-focused, and we fail to become the presence of the kingdom in society. When Becky and I joined our church in Roxboro, NC, we did so largely because of its clear and consistent vision to be a part of the kingdom initiative of God. It seeks to manifest the values of Jesus’ upside-kingdom. It gives high priority to missions. Our goal is to strive as authentically as  possible to incarnate the life and teachings of Jesus in our corporate and individual lives.

5) Seek first the kingdom of God financially. Jesus calls us to avoid the rat race of consumerism and materialism. Let’s reexamine our lifestyles to see how we can free up dollars for the kingdom.

6) Seek first the kingdom of God physically. Obesity and self-indulgence characterize many American evangelicals. It never occurs to us that avoiding overeating is a way to serve the kingdom. As disciples we are called to set aside physical comfort and devote our bodies to God as living sacrifices. I struggle constantly to keep my weight under control. But I must maintain good physical condition if I am to be able to walk long distances in Ethiopia.

7) Seek first the kingdom of God ministerially. Every believer is a fulltime “minister.” Churches can do much more to utilize qualified volunteers who essentially pay themselves to serve. We must change the emphasis in our churches from hiring professional staff to equipping “laypeople” to be the church.

8) Seek first the kingdom of God institutionally. Let’s ask, “How can we use our corporate resources most effectively and sacrificially for the kingdom?” Take our church buildings. Surely we can do a better job in constructing and utilizing church properties so as to channel more resources into missions and service to the needy. I once read of a congregation of 4,000 in Oregon that, instead of building a new sanctuary, established a separate corporation to build a self-supporting convention hall that the church uses free of charge. Another example: Missionary organizations can separate overhead costs from money raised for missionaries. In other words, money contributed to missionary causes would go entirely to these causes, while all overhead costs (including salaries for executives) would be raised separately.

9) Seek first the kingdom of God intellectually. Has Christ’s lordship had any effect on your thought life? What you read? Your attitudes? Sometimes it is easier to read books about the Scriptures than to read the Scriptures themselves. What makes us think that commentaries or websites are more important than the Word of God? We neglect the Bible to our own peril. I often remind my students that 99 percent of what I know about God and the Christian life I learned from reading my Bible rather than books about the Bible. God does not ask us to forego reading books by human authors (goodness, I’ve written my share of them), but His lordship is not visible in our lives until we prioritize His Word.

These are some practical ways by which we can seek first the kingdom of God. I’m sure many others could be mentioned. Seeking first the kingdom of God means that our time, our money, our very selves are available to God, to our brothers and sisters in Christ, and to the world. It’s not a matter of simply attending church or participating in endless rounds of programs. It’s about changing the world by becoming what Jesus intended the church to be: a servant to the world. “The church is only the church when it exists for others,” said Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Christ calls us to pour our lives into the needy world that surrounds us. He promises us that as we do this, we will find that His yoke of service is easy and His burden is light. If you live this way, you will find His promise — as Becky and I have — to be true.

I’ll tell ya, I really like how Dave thinks!  To be sure, he is such a blessing to those who know him, are in his classes and or read his blog.

Blessings,

Moltmann on the Mission of the Church

What do you think?

moltmannIn many Christian churches, similar polarization have come into being between those who see the essence of the church in evangelization and the salvation of souls, and those who see it in social action for the salvation and liberation of real life.  But in Christian terms evangelization and humanization are not alternatives.  Nor are the ‘vertical dimension’ of faith and the ‘horizontal dimension’ of love for one’s neighbor and political change.  Nor are “Jesuology’ and christology, the humanity and the divinity of Jesus.  Both coincide in his death on the cross.  Anyone who makes a distinction here, enforces alternatives and calls for a parting of the ways, in dividing the unity of God and man in the person, the imitation of and the future of Christ.

These alternatives are equally absurd from the point of view of practice.  Evangelization would lead either to a crisis of relevance or to an inevitable involvement in the social and political problems of society.  Beginning with preaching, one is then faced with questions of community organization, the education of children and the work for the sick and poor.  The humanization of social circumstances leads either to a crisis of identity, or inevitably to evangelization or pastoral care.  Beginning with the improvement of social conditions in the poverty-stricken areas and liberation from political oppression, one is then faced with the question how the wretched and oppressed can be removed from their inner apathy and given new self-confidence, that is, with the question of how to arouse faith and conquer the structure of servility in their minds.  Of course one cannot do everything, but at least everyone must recognized the other charismata in the body of Christ and the necessity for other work by other people to relieve misery.

‘Change yourself,’ some say, ‘and then your circumstances will also change.’  The kingdom of God and of freedom is suppose to have to do only with persons.  Unfortunately the circumstances will not oblige.  Capitalism, racism and inhuman technocracy quietly develop in their own way.  The causes of misery are no longer to be found in the inner attitudes of men, but have long been institutionalized.
‘Change the circumstances,’ other say, ‘and men will change with them.’  The kingdom of God and of freedom is suppose to be a matter only of circumstances and structures.  Unfortunately, however, men will not oblige.  Breakdowns in marriage, drug addiction, suicide and alcoholism continue undisturbed.  Structures which make people unhappy can be broken down, but no guarantee is attached that men will be happy.

Thus both must be done at the same time.  Personal, inner change without a change in circumstances and structures is an idealist illusion, as though man were only a soul and not a body as well.  But a change in external circumstances without inner renewal is a materialists illusion, as though man were only a product of his social circumstance and nothing else. (22-23)

From his book: The Crucified God: The Cross of Christ as the Foundation and Criticism of Christian Theology.

Credit for finding the quote goes to Joel Willitts – where he posted about it here.