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,

on the strange fire conference

so john macarthur’s strange fire conference has been going on.  what’s it all about?  well it is mac’s attempt to confront and call out the pentecostal/charismatic/third wave movements as anything but christian.  this is the basic thesis of the conference:

The charismatic movement offers nothing to true worship because it has made no contribution to biblical clarity, interpretation, or sound doctrine.

he calls it an “alien movement.”

it really does seem that any self respecting Christian who’s really given time to reading and reflecting on the Bible and or has done a wide enough reading in christian theology and or biblical studies (especially in the area of the person and work and theology of the Holy Spirit) would know this statement is totally ridiculous.  the problem is that macarthur has put all his eggs in one basket and i think most know that is a big no-no.  he’s ignorant of the movment historically and theologically.  period.  (i just heard him list 1966 and the drug culture that lead to vineyard leads to excesses… gosh, he just doesn’t know does he??)

it seems to be becoming more obvious that “Mac and the pack” has to be speaking to the TBN related crowd and the WOF folk and those that write the “pop” theology type books, of which, sadly, he would could be correct – they have nothing to offer they can be frustrating to deal with (listen to, read, interact with)…. yet this statement reveals massive significant ignorance of the wider world of Pentecostalism and the Charismatic movement….

it denies the work of true pentecostal and or charismatic and or third wave theologians and scholars – there are many to mention, and while overall the movements are young – much good theology and scholarship has come of it – in fact it really is consider the third stream in historic christianity – catholicism, protestantism (word), and the pentecostal (spirit) movement.

well, anyways much as been said and for macarthur to critique a folks like piper and then weirdos like crowder in the same sentence is like comparing apples and oranges.  you just can’t do that.

much has been said already and i wanted to share some links for consideration (this isn’t an appeal to become a charismatic so much as to show some sensibility in taking this issue on – really, agree or disagree, these folks should know better.

Marc Cortez – covers the good, the bad, and the ugly

Luke Geraty has addressed the strained polemics of the conference and countered pennington’s case against contiuationism (which reveals even more the poorly thought out nature of it all).

Rodeny shares on Latino Pentecostalism

Michael L Brown – and AG pastor, scholar, apologist has had a few things to say as well, here and here (among others).

Michael Patton (a non charismatic) talks about how John MacArthur is “losing his voice.”

Scott Lencke confronts the odd [weird] approach of it all.

Here is an nteresting take on the Strange Fire conference titled: John MacArthur and the New Atheism: http://t.co/ggVjMbuTnD

David Hayward reflects on how John MacArthur consigns millions of Christians to Hell.

well, that should get y’all going on learning more about it all.

on 1 Corinthians 14:1-5

Here is, I think, a great article on this passage of Scripture in the Enrichment Journal.  It is by my NT professor Ben Aker (now professor emeritus) at AGTS.

Here is an excerpt:

Pentecostals hold two fundamental positions regarding the nature of the gift of tongues based upon 1 Corinthians 14:1–5. One group believes that this gift is addressed to God and involves such things as prayer and/or praise. They believe that the one interpreting tongues should speak a praise or petition addressed to God. Tongues in this instance never contain a “message” to believers. Further, tongues are an inferior gift. W.G. MacDonald, a proponent of this position, recently summarized his view: “Glossolalia is always directed to God, and only to Him. In form,glossolalia is spoken or sung to Him. In content, biblical glossolalia consists of worship or prayer. It consists of praise or petition, thanksgiving or intercession. Because glossolalia is unidirectional to God, it cannot be an oracular utterance. Designed for individual edification, glossolalia when properly interpreted, rests at the bottom of the apostolic scale of gifts benefiting the congregation.”1

The other group believes that, like prophecy, the gift of tongues can also be a message directed to the church when accompanied by the interpretation, and that this gift of tongues is no more inferior than any other gift when appropriately manifested.

I wish to present the case for the latter view in an inductive manner by simply allowing the Bible to speak for itself. First, let us examine the larger context of the relevant passage in 1 Corinthians….

Quote of the day on Evangelism

“Every person has an eternal soul and deserves a clear presentation of the gospel.” Most pastors would affirm that statement. Some hold it as a core value. We agree that evangelism needs to be a priority. But we are often too busy or too involved with our own families, friends, occupations, and church activities to pay much attention to those outside the church.

Ouch!  You can read more here!

Truth of the Day: On the Charismatic Renewal

‎”Pentecostalism and the charismatic renewal have jointly given believers what historian Chris Armstrong calls Pentecostalism’s chief contribution to Christianity: an awareness of ‘a deep well of living water from which everything else flow[s] … the personal, relational presence of the living God.'”

It’s true.  Like it or not.  Believe it or not.  Pentecostalism and the Charismatic renewal have contributed to the overall spiritual health and well being of the Body of Christ at large.  How?  By being consistent in their message about and adherence to and reliance upon the Person and Work of the Holy Spirit.

Read more here.

God (through the Holy Spirit) is (still) at work!

came across an article today on the Holy Spirit in the Old and New Testaments and the author, Donald L Tucker, in his conclusion to his survey of the Spirit in the Bible, discusses some implications for today and his first point I thought was really a really great one for consideration.  He writes:

So, what does all of this quick panorama of the Spirit in the Old and New Testament mean today? Well, first of all, we need to recognize that God is at work. Even today, the Spirit still moves, although sometimes mysteriously.

We expect the Spirit to speak in a gentle whisper, a still small voice, but it comes as a roaring wind. Sometimes God breaks in through the violent and unexpected, the alien and unusual. Remember: The Spirit drove Jesus into the wilderness (Mark 4); the Spirit grabbed Ezekiel by the hair and lifted him to his feet (8:3)4; Philip was removed from a flourishing evangelistic campaign to preach to only one man and was supernaturally transported from one place to another (Acts 8:9-40).

You may not control the Spirit: “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit” (John 3:8, NIV). You may not control the Spirit, but you do well to let the Spirit take control of you. Sometimes it’s unpredictable, even unbelievable-healings that can’t be explained, supernatural intervention and protection, baptism in the Spirit and speaking of unlearned languages. These mean that the Spirit of God is still at work!

I don’t know about you all, but really, this is one of the reasons I am sticking to my guns being a Pentecostal.   One of the core beliefs of Pentecostals is our belief in and heavy reliance upon the Person and work of the Holy Spirit, that the work of the Spirit via the Church and the gifts to which he imparts the Church are still for today and still quite active!  I mean, really what would we do without the Holy Spirit in our lives as Christians trying our best to live in discipleship to Jesus and carrying on his mission in the world?  Come Holy Spirit!

Ephesians and the Drama of God

The other day I learned of Stephen E. Fowl’s recent contribution to the New Testament Library Commentary set, Ephesians: A Commentary.  I tweeted about it and asked if any one knew much about it since it was so new and I hadn’t seen any reviews.  Chris Tilling said to be sure to get it as Stephen is the real deal.   A little while later that day, a friend blessed me with a copy (Thank You!) and I can already tell it is going to be good and one you are going want to get your hands on!!   Dr. Fowl is a leading scholar on the theological interpretation of Scripture and he incorporates that into this work on Ephesians!  Michael J. Gorman calls it a “truly theological commentary.”

Well, for me at least, how do I know it is going to be good?  🙂  Feast upon this short snippet summarizing Ephesians chapter 1:

Following the opening greeting, Paul offers a blessing to the “God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” On the one hand, this directs praise to God and invites the Ephesians to likewise praise God. Moreover, this blessing also allows Paul to narrate God’s drama of salvation, a drama that was initiated before the foundation of the world and that reaches its climax as everything is brought to its proper end in Christ. This drama is cosmic in its scope and consequences.  In addition, God has graciously incorporated the Ephesians into this drama.  Indeed, the presence of the Spirit in the Ephesians’ midst confirms their incorporation into God’s drama of salvation (1:3–14).

This leads Paul to offer a prayer on the Ephesians’ behalf. The hope of this prayer is that the Ephesians will come to understand the significance of God’s drama of salvation and Christ’s particular place in this drama (1:15–23).

I love it!  Paul is narrating the great drama of God’s redeeming work in Christ to redeem all creation and especially to include us in that process!  A story that reaches back to the very beginnings of time and space!  A story that each one of us, who is “in Christ,” has a part in (he later talks about how Eph 2 tells more of our incorporation in to the great drama of God in Christ!)  A story that each one of us lives out in the different contexts of our own lives and situations and circumstances!

Yeah, this is gonna be a good one!  🙂

Blessings!

A Pauline Theology of Charismata

that is a book I learned about recently and picked up on Amazon… Siegfried S. Schatzmann’s A Pauline Theology of Charismata. It has Ben Aker’s name in it (my NT and Greek prof from AGTS) so I know it is going to be good!  🙂  (It is a bit dated though, 1987, so it would be nice to see an update).  As I see it, a solid theology of the Charismata is still pretty underdeveloped even today, let alone a good robust theology of the Holy Spirit though I know Levison has been making some headway with that.  🙂

On the Baptism in the Holy Spirit

Gordon L. Anderson, President of North Central University in Minneapolis, Minnesota, has written probably one of the finest articles one is going to read on the issue of the baptism in the Holy Spirit and evidence of speaking in tongues.

Baptism in the Holy Spirit, Initial Evidence, and  a New Model, as published in the Assemblies of God journal for its ministers licensed or ordained.

Really, it isn’t going to get much better than this in terms of quality and scholarship.  Dr. Anderson is a great scholar, pastor, and college administrator.

Here is a portion:

What do Pentecostals mean by the baptism in the Holy Spirit? I think that a definition can be set out that does not claim to be comprehensive, but identifies the major elements in this Pentecostal experience. The baptism in the Holy Spirit is significant additional power for life and ministry given by God subsequent to salvation. The Baptism is characterized by a deep sense of the immediacy of God’s presence. By virtue of this, a deep sense of mystery and emotion is often experienced. It is also characterized by speaking in tongues.

Speaking in tongues establishes a noncognitive and nonrational communication with God. It is not antirational. It is an immediate contact with God that does not include human words, nor can it be expressed in human words. This experience results in added faith in God, increased power and gifts for ministry, increased emotion and passion, and an enhanced awareness of the experiential dimension of God’s presence in the life of the Pentecostal believer. The baptism in the Holy Spirit does not and cannot take the place of the other necessary spiritual experiences that God has provided for His believers.

Now, a critical question. If the baptism in the Holy Spirit confers additional power for ministry, how much additional power is gained? A little? Quite a bit? A dramatic amount?

To get the answer…. you’ll have to read on.  🙂

Blessings!