What Do Emergence and Pentecostalism Have to Learn from One Another?

What Do Emergence and Pentecostalism Have to Learn from One Another? January 29, 2010

That’s the question I will attempt to answer in March when I deliver a paper to the Society of Pentecostal Studies.  I’m no expert in Pentecostalism, but I’m sure that some of you are.  And others of you can probably conjure up some opinions on the matter, too.

So, what does the emerging church have to learn from Pentecostalism, and what does Pentecostalism have to learn from the emerging church?

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  • well, it kind of depends on what pentecostalism you’re referring to.

    I will speak of historical Pentecostalism because much of it has been castrated by the conservative evangelical religious right since the 80’s.

    I grew up in the pentecostal world and worshiped, preached and planted churches there for most of my life up until about 5 years ago.

    Pentecostals know how to get out of their heads and put action to beliefs.

    Pentecostals know how to learn from those who seem on the surface (uneducated, poor, scraggly, what have you) to be unworthy of attention

    Pentecostals know how to celebrate in worship – REALLY celebrate

    Pentecostals just don’t give a damn whether they’re cool or not

    Pentecostals appreciate the importance of recognizing that not everything has a rational/logical explanation and perhaps there ARE other forces at work and perhaps followers of Jesus can change things through prayer

    Historically, Pentecostals have done gender/racial/socioeconomic egalitarianism better than anyone – even better than emergents

    Emergents know how to be still and quiet

    Emergents appreciate the value of a well earned theological education

    Emergents tend to “do art” very well

    Emergents aren’t so afraid of the demons around every corner

    Emergents appreciate the importance of other areas of study in the spiritual life – philosophy, science, non religious literature, comparative religion, etc

    Those are some off the top of my head.

  • david martin is the go-to scholar on this. his theory is that at it’s core pentecostalism is egalitarian since the spirit is what levels hierarchy. he argues that it is the true american religious export and becuase of its democratic structure, it has been particularly powerful among the socially, economically, and religiously oppressed especially in latin america and africa. check this one out: http://www.amazon.com/Pentecostalism-Parish-Religion-Spirituality-Modern/dp/0631231218

  • Once a year, Catholics are Pentecostals. It’s the 49th day of the 50-day Easter Celebration that more modern churches have a tendency to ignore the rest of.

    Yes, for Catholics, the 40 days of penance for Lent are followed by 50 days of partying that our savior is risen; culminating in Pentecost Sunday.

    So I’m viewing this question more from a Catholic post-Vatican II perspective; how can we as emerging church, recognize the awesome power of Pentecost more?

    And I think the answer is to step outside the Bible, and study the mystic saints.

  • Travis Cooper

    I’m writing my master’s thesis on global Pentecostal hermeneutics, but I occasionally attend a postmodern discussion group with Matthew Gallion and Phil Snyder who specialize in postmodern thought and theology.

    Based on my (limited) knowledge of postmodernism and my academic studies of the Pentecostal-Charismatic movement, I’m convinced that there are similarities between the two. Both are for instance, by way of ‘era’ or ‘time period,’ reactions to modernity; both are post-modern, in the most basic sense of the term. Both address the ‘ecstacy deficiency’ of contemporary society, with the intent of restoring primal spirituality and a relational experience with the divine. Both promote holistic or integrated perceptions of body, intellect, action, and being. Both movements are anti-hierarchical, empowering of the everyman and leaning towards the mark of the Divine as embossed upon every individual. Both are movements at the front of social justice innitiatives. Hermeneutically, both movements approach sacred text experientially, narratively, and relationally, challenging standard conceptions of inspiration. And the last parallel I can come up with on the top of my head: glossolalia and xenoglossia, forms of tongues speech, are the ultimate deconstruction of linguistics and language.

    I’m excited to hear you speak at SPS. Looking forward to it.

  • there are definitely similarities.

  • Kenton

    Wow, what a question. And some excellent answers above. (But, Ted, sorry to break this to you, buddy, but I grew up Pentecostal (A/G). Those Pentecostals are friends of mine. My catholic friend, you’re no Pentecostal.)

    To the points above, I would add that Pentecostals are good candidates for understanding theology as narrative. I once heard one of my Emergent friends who also grew up A/G mention how he grew to understand Pentecost as an answer to the story of the Tower of Babel.

    Also, Brian McLaren has some good thoughts in “Generous Orthodoxy” in the chapter about “The Seven Jesuses.” One of the Jesuses is the Jesus of the Charsmatic church.

  • It will be interesting to me if you can find a “starting point” that is comfortable for both groups.

    I look forward to hearing more about your preparations, and ultimately your conclusions, as well as how the paper is received this spring.

  • Kenton and Ted – I think it’s important to distinguish between Pentecostals as an actual group/movement and the charisma of Pentecost which can be experienced in other traditions including Roman Catholicism. My husband and I have a dear friend who is a nun in the RCC and “charismatic”.

  • True, Makeesha- and my point of view is extremely colored by growing up in the 1970s during the Catholic Charismatic Movement.

    Heck, due to that, I didn’t pray the Rosary regularly until I became a Knight of Columbus a couple of years ago; praying in tongues was my more normal mode of “meditation prayer disconnected from the actual words I’m saying”. Now, however, I’ve discovered the beauty of the Rosary in my own life.

  • We have enjoyed the fruits, in interreligious dialogue, as our rather exclusivistic ecclesiocentrisms have slowly yielded on the ecumenical front to a more inclusivistic Christocentrism. Without forsaking our own Christocentric stances, we might foster an even more fruitful interreligious dialogue by opening same with a pneumatological inclusivism. Pentecostals & Charismatics have led the way on such mutual understanding within Christianity, sharing our experience of Spirit. This may be the model for advancing dialogue and understanding between the Great Traditions, too? Pentecostals might have some suggestions for a way forward.

    Pentecostals also have something to offer regarding emergence, human anthropology, epistemology and the science and religion dialogue. Counterintuitive on the surface? Scroll down to this list of articles in the Dec 2008 Zygon: Pentecostal Voices in the Theology-Science Conversation .

    Finally, I’m sure most have at least heard of the distinction between our dialectical and analogical imaginations. Amos Yong has made some proposals regarding the pneumatological imagination and the difference it can make in one’s approach to reality. My own panSEMIOentheism, what I call a radical emergence, is grounded in my experience in the Charismatic Renewal in the 70’s.

  • Kenton

    Yes, and I, too, have met some charismatic Roman Catholics, and have even attended their worship before. They’re certainly similar, but there’s a distinct difference in vibe between charismatic Catholicism – which was part of a broader charismatic renewal that grew up in the 1960’s – and the Pentecostal movement that grew out of the Azusa street revival at the start of the last century.

    All that to say, when you said that Roman Catholics are “Pentecostal once a year”, I think of the majority of my RC friends – non-charismatic – and it’s certainly a stretch. 🙂

  • Kenton – indeed. And I was born into a Catholic home to parents who early in my life became “Azuza street style Pentecostals”. I’ve seen charismatic Catholics and been to charismatic Catholic bible studies and it’s most definitely not the same thing.

    Not that I have a problem with charismatic Catholics. Just like I don’t have a problem with Pentecostals even though I would no longer consider myself one.

  • I’ve been wrestling with this one since Philip Clayton said “emergent is pentecostalism plus postmodernism” at the Atlanta cohort the other night.

    I think the Spirit of the movement(s) (bad pun not at all intended) is a possible place of resonance, but if I’ve been thinking more of origins. Azusa Street and even the Parham influence that preceded it) came as a manifestation of supernatural belief/power in the wake of the post-Reconstruction era. If the Industrial Revolution was to bring power to the people through industry (the technology of its day) the Civil War revealed that innovation did not make human beings better people. If anything, it exaggerated their behaviors–destructive impulses were magnified and things which enhanced the public good did help, but they did not guarantee the safety of a people (the cotton gin may have helped former slaves, but the “powers that be” kept them enslaved in oppressive share-cropping and indentured servitude. My point is that William Seymour, the one-eyed former slave from Louisiana, knew only enough to know that humanity’s “enlightenment” could not soothe the soul–and he proposed a more vibrant expression that, despite being reviled by academics and principalities, nonetheless endured as it appealed to a more elemental, primal, pre-modern fascination with the mystical Other.

    I don’t think it’s too hard to see connections to the Emergent movement. Despite making use of the myriad products of the technological revolution, the emergent conversation recognizes the implicit neutrality of technology. It re-locates power and spirituality within the individual soul/mind/spirit, affirming the human capacity for both good AND evil. It even maintains a cautiously optimistic belief that given the options humans CAN choose the good and somehow bring the kingdom/co-create with Divinity/move toward the Omega point.

    What’s haunted me most about Philip’s off-the-cuff statement is that if the words “Spirit” and “Mystery” are interchangeable (or “power” and “Being” or “chaos” and “darkness” ) then I’m not sure but what that statement doesn’t bear some truth–at which point the emergent conversation must pause and consider its role in the pendulum swing of history, particularly in terms of Christian spiritual formation.

    Theology doesn’t happen in a vacuum and is often reaction to action–pentecostalism gave vitality to religious traditions that were maintaining status quo and failing to engage the social issues of their day. Ostensibly, is that any different from what emergent says to the mainline?

  • I’ve a few thoughts on this…

    Emergents can learn from Pentecostals that it’s okay to have a doctrine of the Holy Spirit. I think emerging theology tends towards Christomonism. The British expressions of emerging, I think, tend to come out of Pentecostal/Charismatic roots more than the American, so maybe there’s a regional distinction too.

    Emergents can learn that empowerment is more than social action and opening up conversation. There’s a reason why it has been said that while Liberation Theology sought to help the poor, the poor became Pentecostals.

    With this, I think, is that Pentecostals have a strong eschatology. There’s a driving, shaping perspective on eternity that shapes the hope in the present. Emergent theology tends towards a more realized eschatology–and all the frustrations this can bring.

    Pentecostals could also show how a broadly orthodox/conservative position on theology can be worked out in immensely appealing, empowering, exciting, missional, global ways. Pentecostalism resonates with people all over the world, in all kinds of settings.

    Emergents can teach Pentecostals a broader pneumatology. The Holy Spirit does a whole lot more than give shiny gifts.

    They can also remind Pentecostals of their early, egalitarian roots. The earliest communities were racially mixed and gender inclusive. This trend quickly, in the first generation, got blasted apart. While there’s certainly some openness, there’s still massive regression in these things.

    Emergents can be a prophetic voice turning Pentecostals away from some tendencies towards health/wealth, which is a strong trend globally. It can contribute a perspective on theology that is inclusive, empowering, and holistic, focusing on the whole Gospel, the whole Kingdom of God, that leads us not to look to our own health/wealth, but to learn how to live in open community with and for others.

    Emergents can point to non-authoritarian patterns of ministry which better appropriate the idea of the Spirit’s work in unity through diversity. Rigid control and leadership more often than not breaks down the work of the Spirit, even if it often serves as a quick, easier fix to community issues.

    My personal opinion is there’s a lot of interest from Pentecostals about what’s going on in emerging circles. I’m really excited for the March gathering and look forward to the conversations that are generated from that.

  • I know I’m going to oversimplify and overgeneralize here, so please, at least say grace prior to devouring me: It seems to me that in spite of all the doctrinal deconstruction that was/is going on, Emergent folks stopped short with deconstructing the Holy Spirit. Rather than reimagining the person and work of the Holy Spirit from a fresh Biblical perspective and employing a renewed orthopraxy, they simply kept the cessationist viewpoint that they inherited from their origin of faith.

    Having hung out in Emergent circles for a while now, I know that there are a few undercover tongue-talkers out there, but very few. My observation is that A) a majority of folks came from churches and went to seminaries that did not teach a an active working of the Holy Spirit, or B) they witnessed some weird pentecostal camp meeting or church service and were scarred by the experience or C) they have never had a personal immersive and demonstrative encounter with the Holy Spirit on a biblical scale. I find it ironic that while many are willing to dissect every other doctrinal point from atonement to hell, yet their inherited concept of the Holy Spirit remains unmolested.

    With that said, I agree with Tony when we once were talking about my association with the Vineyard church when he said, “You guys got a P.R. problem.” I know there is all kinds of bizarre things out there associated with pentecostals and charismatics. I have no appetite to justify the Benny Hinn’s and Robert Tiltons. Nor do I wish to defend the harmful effects of hellfire and brimstone fundamentalism. My main concern is the lumping together the Biblical manifestation and ministry of the Holy Spirit with the those who practice the Spirit poorly. In this regard, I fear the baby has been thrown out with the bath water.

    What I do find interesting is that while Emergents eschew the 20th century expression of the Holy Spirit (rightly so on many accounts) but yet there is a keen interest in the desert fathers, Celtic Christianity and early Catholic mystics. Within this genre we find a God that is quite eminent and perternaturally active. Emergent folks are open to a variety of contemplative practices, yet are spooked by praying in tongues, prophetic words of knowledge and wisdom and prayer for the sick.

    Again, I am painting with a very broad brush here. What do you think?

    Shundai – John

  • I think John’s onto something–Antony’s “demons”, Teresa of Avila’s “raptures”, St. John of the Cross’ existential “long dark night”, Hildegaard of Bingen, Julian of Norwich–all had some pretty ecstatic religious experience. The spiritual formation movement has readily embraced them but Azusa-brand Pentecostalism seems to wig those folks out.

  • John (and Trey), I suspect there’s a lot more affinity with Eastern Orthodox understanding of the Spirit. There is a strong mysticism in Catholic mystics, but it’s so often quite dualistic, eschewing the body and negative about so much physicality. With this, I think the overall Orthodox perspective on salvation and sin sidesteps a lot of the issues that are presently being warred about in various Western camps.

    Or maybe it’s just a personal thing. I resonate a lot more with the Orthodox and their holistic understanding of God’s work, and really Triune perspective. They have such a long standing, rich theology of the Holy Spirit which the West doesn’t, that I think there’s more resonance in Pentecostal circles as well.

  • Authenticity seems to be a byword in emergent circles. So it is with Pentecostalism. Pentecostalism emerged about 100 years ago among radical Holiness and evangelical Christians who were very uncomfortable with the gap between scripture and practice; between ought-ness and is-ness. They wanted to practice an authentic spirituality; a genuine Christianity, not just in confession, but in practice. They saw in scripture that Spirit-baptism provided empowerment to live above normal human existence; this experience with God drew believers closer to God and empowered them for witness. Early Pentecostals eschewed dry confessionalism, but they found out the hard way that fanaticism and emotionalism didn’t last long-term. They tried to capture, as Grant Wacker termed it, “lightning in a bottle.” Finding, living out, and conveying this authentic Christian spirituality from one generation to the next has proven a very difficult task.

    What is the essence of Pentecostalism? Some people identify its seeming progressive manifestations – such as pacifism, affirmation of women in ministry, a missional mindset, interracialism, and relevant ministry – as constituting Pentecostal identity. These themes might seem to coincide with emergent values. However, it is important to remember that a passionate spirituality reminiscent of the monastics of old – including miracles, tongues, expectations of holiness, spiritual warfare, and passionate worship services – accompanied the progressive aspects of early Pentecostalism. These themes – including those progressive and those otherworldly – were not random and disconnected. Rather, all of these themes were manifestations of a restorationist worldview. Many Pentecostals today forget this — that early Pentecostalism arose from a clear worldview – one that assumes that Christians should seek to be more fully devoted Christ-followers. All of these Pentecostal themes arise from the aim for full consecration to Jesus. It is important not to confuse the various Pentecostal-like themes with Pentecostal identity. Just because a church affirms women in ministry, interracial churches, pacifism, relevant ministry, holiness codes, and miracles does not mean that church is Pentecostal. These themes may have arisen from other cultural sources. To discover early Pentecostals identity, one must look to their worldview of full consecration to Jesus.

    By thinking that Pentecostal identity rests on various manifestations of this early worldview, rather than upon the worldview itself, one could say that we Pentecostals see the trees, but we don’t have the forest in focus. This is why some Pentecostal churches are in spiritual and moral decline — they have forgotten their first love and have accommodated the world’s values. Instead of questioning the structures of an evil society and seeking to do what is right even if it is unpopular and difficult, too many Pentecostals have opted to compromise and some even call it blessed. We have adopted so many of the world’s values, that our founding fathers and mothers would likely be aghast. Instead of following a radical call to self-denial for the purpose of full consecration to Jesus, many Pentecostals now treat our national symbols as sacred; they accept unwise or sinful activities; they support an entertainment industry that purveys filth; they are materialistic; they accept easy divorce and remarriage; and so on.

    Early Pentecostal literature is bursting with examples of this worldview of full consecration. Here’s a sample I recently found – a prophetic call to forsake civil religion, written by Paul Bettex, a Pentecostal missionary to China, in 1914 (the year the Assemblies of God was organized). I am curious – when you read Bettex, do you sense any of the same yearning for counter-cultural authenticity that you find among emergents?

    [Paul Bettex, an early Pentecostal missionary, wrote the following critique of patriotism in 1914, two years before he was killed on the mission field in China. The Swiss-born Bettex, the son of a distinguished Christian apologist, studied at the University of Geneva, various Italian schools, the Sarbonne, and Princeton Theological Seminary. He attended meetings at the Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles, joined the ranks of the Pentecostals, and in 1910 headed for China as a missionary.

    The following critique of patriotism (and in particular of what today might be called “civil religion”) was republished in 1934 by GPH in a biography of Bettex — Wholly for God: A Call to Complete Consecration, Illustrated by the Story of Paul Bettex, a Truly Consecrated Soul. The book was written by Stanley Frodsham, who also was editor of the Pentecostal Evangel (the weekly magazine of the Assemblies of God).]

    False Standards [of consecration to God]
    By Paul Bettex, 1914

    “Between the first of Matthew and the last of Revelation where is there any room for any particle of patriotism? The Christian, redeemed through the Blood of Calvary, presenting his body a living sacrifice unto God (not to king, kaiser, or czar), a pilgrim and a stranger in the world, seeking a city which hath foundations, can properly be called a patriot of the kingdom of heaven.

    “There is not the slightest room for self in the New Testament. The Word of God is like the fiery sword of the cherubim guarding the gate of Eden, which continually seeks out and slays every remnant of self.

    “Now patriotism is the selfishness of multitudes of selves. It is an abominable imitation of the kingdom of God, and by the very seeming good it contains it is all the more dangerous as it hinders the full expansion of the kingdom. If you want to see one of the fruits of religion, 50% adulterated with patriotism, look to Europe in its present crisis (at the time Bettex wrote this the war was raging). We have one Sovereign, the Lord Jesus; one country, the kingdom of heaven.

    “The more we invest all our strength in the kingdom of God, the easier it will be to know nothing but Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Patriotism is one of the many pseudo-Christian growths that, like barnacles, cover the ship of the church, impeding her progress. Why forsake the fountain of living water, and bow down to sticks and stones of our own making, gods which are not gods? In these dangerous times, when the Lord is testing His people to the utmost, it behooves us to try to cut out every foreign factor which has crept in from below. It is by these foreign factors perhaps more than by open sin that the enemy is trying to kill the life of joy in the believer.

    “To get rid of these barnacles or these man-made doctrines, on which millions of humble and earnest believers have been fed by a superficial clergy — this is the task set before the church of Christ in the coming decades. And while no one deplores more deeply than we do the horrors of the European war, we rejoice in this that the war has brought out all the weaknesses, all the un-Scripturalness, all the superficiality, all the hypocrisy of a Christian life that permits, nay encourages Christian men to face each other on the battle field and to inter-kill, inter-slay, inter-slaughter, and inter-mangle each other in such holocaust that would fill Tamerlane, Attila, and all the murderers of history with pale envy.

  • Terry Cunningham

    @Makeesha – Direction of Pentecostalism in US and Australia have been different, it seems. You write of conservative right dominance in US since 80s. But in Australia ‘Latter Rain’ influences/input led to ‘Third Wave’ (charismatic) dominance since 70s. Here, conservative right tends to live *outside* Pentecostalism rather than within.

  • Matt Huett

    Great posts thus far. I’m not sure that I have much to add as far as content goes but I think I might have an interesting format by which to showcase much of the material that has been offered here. I am an ordained A/G minister, reared in the classical Pentecostalism of rural Alabama. I received my undergrad at Southeastern University (then Bible College), my masters from The Assemblies of God Theological Seminary and am currently enrolled in my PhD program (religious and theological studies) at the University of Wales. I am writing on the topic of Lectio Divina as a spiritual grid for Christ-followers in a post-modern/post-colonial world and thought you might be interested in this as a form for discussion.

    Each of the movements of Lectio seems to have both an emergent and pentecostal leaning (this has much to do with the ancient-future aspects of both Pentecostalism (the a/historical proposition) and the emerging conversation (neo-monastic movement). Here are the rungs and their correlating emphases:

    Lectio (or Read as in your work)- Returning to a devotional reading of the scriptures…asking for and receiving a word is a big thing for Pentecostals; this movement seeks to ground that quest in the proper setting of scriptures…it also allows for a hermeneutic of deconstruction for post-moderns/colonials as the goal is to be mastered by the word rather than mastering it.

    Meditatio (Think)- This movement has appeal as it allows for conversation between the practitioners of lectio (much of my premise is based on the thought that the breaking of God’s bread, i.e. the bible, should be rescued from the modern idea of the sermon and returned to the communal hearing of God’s word) . For emergents dialogue is a must (it seems) and for true Pentecostals this harkens back to the practice of dialog between preacher and congregation as well as incorporating the concept of “testimony time”.

    Oratio (Pray)- Here the practices of the Jesus prayer and speaking in tongues are both seen as “traditioning.” I know that many in my own denomination have issue with this departure from viewing tongues as being the “initial physical evidence” of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, buy I would point to Simon Chan’s work regarding tongues as a concomitant. In both cases the prayer works as a means to occupy the physical and cognitive aspects of the individual so that he or she may move into the phase of prayer where the Spirit intercedes on our behalf in ways that we do not fully comprehend.

    Contemplatio (Live)- This final movement of prayer traditionally is one of presence or centering. This is both a monastical and classic pentecostal must in regards to spirituality. If one were to go back to the days of Azusa he or she would read of periods of prolonged silence. It has only been in the last few decades that we Pentecostals have become uncomfortable with silence.

    It is my opinion that Pentecostalism and the mysticism associated with the Medieval mystics (St. John, Theresa of Avila, etc.) are simply opposite sides of the same coin. Both are concerned with a radical openness for the in-breaking of the Spirit upon the present situation- it’s just that one is concerned primarily with process (the mystics) and the other with crisis (Pentecostals).

    There is much more in common as it relates to the sociological makeup of the two groups (Phyllis Tickle does a great job of comparing the two groups in her book, The Great Emergence).

    In any case, I know that you have a great affinity for Lectio Divina and thought this might spark some thought on how the two groups can be connected through this ancient/future practice. I, of course, would welcome any thoughts that you might have on the matter, but also understand that you have massive amount of work at hand. Please don’t underestimate the importance of your work for the kingdom. I, myself, have put your books in the hands of at least 1,000 individuals (having used your works as textbooks for the University at which I last taught). And also know that you are helping many Pentecostals move past the error of a/historical-ism (not sure that’s a word) by reconnecting them with their heritage via the ancient/future practices you so often champion in your books. Thank you.

  • Matt, I find your project intriguing in that I have taken a similar approach, writing, for example: “Because I view the emerging conversation as dialogue and prayer, the fruits of which are quite unpredictable as they flow from the hand of a sovereign God, Who seems to have quite the sense of humor, I find it helpful to view the conversation through the lens of Lectio Divina, our prayer.

    The 6 Moments, Dynamics & Dialogues of the Emerging Church Conversation and also
    Affirming an Ancient-Future Impulse – but what about Norah Jones? .

    It has been said that those who’ve done the best at evangelizing have not always done as well at catechizing and vice versa. While there is danger in overgeneralization, there is often some insight we can gain. To the extent catechesis fosters re-cognition, evangelization fosters real-ization. The first movement is propositional, evidential, rational, presuppositional, moral and practical and the next is existential, experiential and robustly relational. The distinction is between seeing the path and walking it, between conceptual map-making and participatory imagination.

    Both the emerging church conversation and pentecostalism do seem, in my view, responses to a modernist rationalism. Interestingly, my own reflections on these matters have not so much dealt with the emergent and pentecostal as recent phenomena via a vis the postmodern critique, but have employed a postmodern (postfoundational) approach to bring together emergence as a useful heuristic device as has been appropriated in the hard and human sciences, in general, and a pentecostal perspective as gathered from the Biblical narrative re: the implications of the Incarnation & Pentecost. So, there are two contexts that interest me, one being an overarching narrative and the other a specific historical event.

    Regarding the recent phenomena, to some extent, pentecostalism has better instilled first fervor and a fully realized first naivete. Emergence has perhaps better served as a vehicle for 2nd naivete. This works much like the Zen formulation of first, there is a mountain (pre-critically), then there is no mountain (critically), then there is (post-critical). It might be rendered: first there is a premodernist essentialism (naive realism & enchantment), then there is a modernist nominalism (nonrealism & disenchantment), then there is a constructive postmodernism (critical realism & re-enchantment).

    Emergent and pentecostal perspectives, held together in a creative tension, provide an answer to modernist excesses that have led to a/theological nonrealism, moral relativism and practical nihilism, as well as sterile scholastic rationalisms and Wittgensteinian fideisms. Taken together, we get a more holistic theological anthropology that mines all of the value to be realized from our pre-modern, modern and postmodern experiences without the need to cut out and invalidate large swaths of our Christian tradition.

    We do not want to lose our “First, there is a mountain”-encounter of Pentecost and the fire of first fervor gifted by our participatory, analogical imagination, nor do we want to lose the “Then there is no mountain-recognition” provided by our conceptual map-making and dialectical imagination, as we move into the reappropriation of “Then there is” and we realize through our 2nd naivete and pneumatological imagination that everything that’s old is new again, as we see the original realities come alive in inculturated forms that reveal that the Good News is as fresh and vibrant and relevant to humankind as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be.

    I have seen some in their Pentecostal experience get rather stuck in a pre-critical first naivete. I have encountered some who, from an Emergent stance, have gotten stuck in a radically deconstructive nonrealism, what some have called Evangellyfish, washed up on postmodern shores, unable to get fully back into the swim. Those who severely critique both movements are generally describing these elements of Pentecostalism and emergence, which are mere caricatures of what these movements are and can become as they exploit the creative tension that they offer each other in ongoing and ever-fruitful mutual critique.

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  • I’m pretty sure some of you aren’t even speaking english – if I didn’t mention it above, something emergents can learn from pentecostals is to speak in plain language and get out of you damn head for awhile. Sheesh.

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  • Jeff Straka

    Just to preface: I am a “n0n-factory-trained” lay person (which is why most of what Mr. Sylvest said went over my head!) 🙂 who is just trying to figure out what it means to be a follower of Jesus, and part of the Dance of the Trinity.

    I am wondering if a conversation between Pentecostals and Emergents can effectively take place until we first work towards a better, perhaps more authentic grasp of the mystery of the Trinity. It seems that MOST Christians have a top-down linear/hierarchical picture of the Trinity: God–>Jesus–>Holy Spirit or at best, a triangular picture with God at the top and Jesus and the Holy Spirit at the base corners. This would explain why we might think of Pentecostals as pushing a pendulum (“hanging” from God) more toward the Spirit and most other Christians seeming to have it pushed more towards Jesus. I am starting to believe, thanks to the wisdom of Richard Rohr, that perhaps the doctrine of the Trinity has gotten a bit off the track since the early 4th century and it has been derailing our theology ever since.

    Richard Rohr and Cynthia Bourgeault BOTH read “God for Us: The Trinity and Christian Life” by Catherine Mowry LaCugna, a book that recovers the early roots of the Trinitarian doctrine. Richard and Cynthia came together in 2005 to do a treat on this intriguing subject. A teaser by Fr. Rohr: ““Whatever is going on in God is a flow that’s like a dance and God is not a dancer, God is the dance, itself.” And the cool thing is, WE are part of the Dance/Perichoresis! I think we need a ancient/future “third way” to look at this Mystery – and these two may be on to something. I think this MUST be part of the Theology we are Transforming!

    I HIGHLY encourage you to download and listen to this fresh understanding (WELL worth the $$):

    (also check out Rohr’s “Trinity, the Divine Dance” recording)

  • I take responsibility for that lapse into technical jargon. I should have sent that directly to Tony rather than risk sucking the air out of this great thread with my dense prose, which probably needs a lot more unpacking for ANY audience. Please, accept my apology. I care about this conversation deeply, which means I care for each of you.

    Now, Richard Rohr, THERE’s your maestro, who is so throughly immersed in and knowledgeable about this stuff that he’s reflexively accessible 😉

    I’ll give you a poetic hint about how Richard approaches the natural-supernatural divide. It’s ALL supernatural!

  • Ted Seeber

    I like Fr. Rhor, but I philosophically come down with the atheist Clarke on that line- it’s all natural, we just don’t understand all of nature yet. That appeals to the humility of the more conservative side of my faith- and speaks to a God who is rational, and a rock that can be counted on to be the same from age to age (contrast this with the Islamic view of Allah, who not only changes his mind from verse to verse in the Koran, but can order his followers at any time to disregard scripture and do something entirely different; even our very existence is threatened by such a God. The triumph of such theology in the Ottoman Empire in the 1500s froze all scientific advancement in the Islamic world for many years).

    I also like that image from my autistic view of the world. For those of us with autism, change is always bad; it requires a LOT of work to understand the change and work it into our view of appropriate behavior (which is also something we’re pretty shaky with- along with the whole right/wrong line). A God I can count on NOT to change helps a lot in dealing with a world the is in constant change.

  • Jeff,
    Perichoresis has been a favorite word of mine ever since I heard Clark Pinnock (an Open Theist with Pentecostal leanings) use it in his book “Flame of Love” (I recommend it).

    You might like this:

  • Jeff Straka

    Chad: Thanks for the book suggestion and the link – I will have to check out both! What is exciting to me is that Perichoresis “overlays” with open theism/process theology as well as what we are discovering the physical science and cosmology! And the desert fathers and mothers and the mystics seemed to point to it all along!

    John, my dream is that these conversations start taking place NOW in the pulpits and in Sunday school classes and NOT JUST at the academia level. Why are most current church afraid to challenge their congregation with this stuff? Why do I, as a lay person, have to go to Google to learn about this stuff? I think THIS is the passion of Philip Clayton!

  • Makeesha, it is an academic conference Tony is going to after all. Some Pentecostals have mastered two, and occasionally even three, syllable words these days.

    Some of these are going to be featured alongside Tony at the conference, and many of them are going to be in the audience.

    “Why are most current church afraid to challenge their congregation with this stuff?”

    I ran into the same wall, and have been frustrated by this for a long time. One of the reasons I went to seminary was that seemed to be the only way I could get a substantive education about my own faith. I think the single-minded, narrowly focused evangelism emphasis is one reason, but also so is the big gap between academic and lay priorities. The academy spent so long not really concerned with what was happening in the churches, and so many in the church began to build a huge distrust for what was going on in the academy. Especially theologically conservative churches, such as the Pentecostals have tended to be. Pentecostals have been especially susceptible because of the overall de-emphasis on education. So, a lot of what’s out there isn’t being hidden by pastors… they also just don’t know about it.

    It’s also true that attempts to give more popular expressions of deeper theology just don’t sell, so don’t get the kind of exposure. Moltmann, for instance, has more popularly written versions of almost all his recent books. They’re not entirely light, but they are approachable, and this comes out of his great love for the church.

    I think the gap is going to definitely narrow significantly, maybe even disappear before too many decades.

  • Staci

    As we fled from “charismania,” my family spent stints in churches of various denominations, exposing me to the wonder of connecting with God in many different environs. During this time my trust in his omnipresence only grew, as I realized that He would meet with me at my level of faith, whether the service was administered by someone in a robe or in jeans and Birkenstocks. Even during times of teenage rebellion, Jesus would often intervene quite abruptly in order to pull me into his loving protection, enabling me to always trust in His faithfulness, rather than in my own strength to follow.
    The universality of music and strength of words sung straight to Him has always been effective in focusing my attention upon my Creator and preparing my heart to receive whatever teaching, word, or images He may have for me, so that I may be empowered to walk worthy of my calling. I can receive these things on my own, but it is in the presence of other worshippers where the synergy of community can be truly equip, unite, and engage in progress. In my adulthood and early-married life, my new family settled into a charismatic church, looking to experience worship in an atmosphere of freedom. We even served as college and later youth leaders in this environment, but our heart for the sub-culture down and outers, which I most likely inherited from my father, soon caused us to lose credibility with our leadership. Our time in the ministry lasted for six years and offered even more hope in God’s love, healing power, and acceptance for all. In the end, however, there was no room for us in this particular church movement. Bigger trumps deeper every time.
    A few years ago, my husband, children, and I bailed out of this environment and began working in and around an emergent service, just getting off the ground. What a refreshing thing it was for us to ask the lingering questions concerning doctrine without raised eyebrows and a quick, emphatic correction (according to the “vision” of that particular congregation). Opening the doors to seekers, who may or may not have any church upbringing or may engage in alternative lifestyles, was also something that had always burned in our hearts, but that had never had any outlet in our prior surroundings.
    After a while, though, my desire to converse became satiated, and my desire to see action, to be a part of the things I felt God wanted to DO with these seekers, began to eat away at me. I am aware that, at this point, I may sound incredibly high-maintenance, but I simply do not understand why the gifts of the Spirit, as laid out in the New Testament (and beyond-John 5:17-27), and thoughtful, reflective teaching have to be mutually exclusive. Isn’t the Creator of the universe capable to facilitate, guide, and even correct our yielded hearts if we get into destructive areas?
    As a result of grad school and my husband’s devouring of all things emergent, I have learned that I am a non-literalist, evangelical, post-modernist, blah, blah, blah… but what does that mean if I/we cannot share the experience with anyone?
    Have I branched into a Utopic and naive desire for something that can never be? How can I offer my children a view/experience of a very alive and powerful God while not fencing them into a fearful dogma of judgment and materialism?
    I guess what I am really wanting here are answers… the conversation is good, but when do I feel like I am getting somewhere?

  • RE: John, my dream is that these conversations start taking place NOW in the pulpits and in Sunday school classes and NOT JUST at the academia level. Why are most current church afraid to challenge their congregation with this stuff? Why do I, as a lay person, have to go to Google to learn about this stuff? I think THIS is the passion of Philip Clayton!

    Jeff, I have recently made a substantial financial commitment to fund a pomo-theo short story contest (although it won’t be called THAT, for that would be quite self-subversive). The idea is to engage the best of a reconstructive postmodern theological literature and to translate it into an accessible and engaging form. Not just accessible, ENGAGING. There will be cash awards and the top submissions will be published in a short-story anthology. I am looking for this generation’s Cross & the Switchblade (remember that, anyone?) and an approach somewhat like that found in The Shack or Walker Percy novels, but updated to express alternative atonement theory, for example, getting away from penal & substitutionary versions (not necessarily, just for example).

    I awakened at 3am and did not want to lose some thoughts I wanted to transmit to Tony, so I came here and registered them quickly, perhaps poorly, and headed back to bed. But jeepers, I did use a Zen mountain metaphor and juxtaposed words like enchantment, disenchantment and re-enchantment alongside the philosophy-speak. That techno-jargon saves paragraphs and provides a rigor that forecloses on the types of ambiguity that keep people arguing past one another in discussion forums. But, it doesn’t ordinarily belong in a mixed audience. So, this validates my contest initiative, n’est pas?

    All this aside, people might not want to so causally dismiss others and to place them in boxes. Makeesha might have made her observations using a different tone and tenor and choosing different words. Sheesh 🙂

  • Great question Tony, and some great answers. Didn’t get to read them all, but I’ll probably pick at them over the next few days.

    I am a neo-pentecostal pastor (Vineyard) with a strong pentecostal background (converted in the PAOC (AOG for us Canucks) and pastored in the Foursquare). I think there is much that both groups can learn from each other. Actually one of the most exciting things for me is seeing the development of pentecostal theology in the last few years. Some of it is really quite well done. But it has been a long time coming. A big reason I left had to do with my dissatisfaction with the theology of both the PAOC and the Foursquare church. I also encountered a fair amount of spiritual elitism – the idea that the pentecostal experience levels the playing field only counts for pentecostals and those within the movement that do not have the same experiences are treated as second class citizens. I think this is also a danger in the EC thinking about other churches (such as the mega-churches).

  • Staci wrote: “I guess what I am really wanting here are answers… the conversation is good, but when do I feel like I am getting somewhere?”

    Staci, I’m going to try to translate some theological abstractions into some very concrete measures. Some scholars, building on theologian Bernard Lonergan’s work, have suggested that our churches should be measured in terms of how well they institutionalize what Lonergan called conversions: 1) intellectual 2) affective 3) moral 4) social and 5) religious. One might think instead of the developmental theories offered by Piaget (cognitive), Fowler (faith), Kohlberg (moral) and so on that many of us were at least introduced to in introductory psychology courses.

    What these scholars suggest, then, in fancy language is that orthopraxis (right practice) authenticates orthodoxy (right belief). This works on a grand sociologic scale, comparing world religions, or in a parenting mode, raising children. We want our children to grow intellectually, emotionally, morally, socio-politically and religiously. This is what constitutes, for Lonergan, a growth in authenticity, or who we really are in relationship to self, other, God and our environment.

    Some environments are manifestly not just not doing a good job at catechesis, teaching about the faith, but are outright ANTI-intellectual. If a congregation is not getting creationism vs evolution correct, that is tell-tale. If a given church is advocating theocracy and moral statism (even militarism) and doesn’t get how things work in governing a pluralistic society, that ain’t good. If a church does not pay attention to properly forming our desires through prayer and practice and celebration, allowing people to engage their relationship with God in worship in a holistic way, affectively and otherwise, that’s not optimal. And so on and so forth.

    We are getting somewhere in our homes, in our prayer groups, in our congregations, in our denominations, in our interreligious dialogue when we are growing people in authenticity. It is VERY problematical to obtain and then interpret these types of social metrics such that we can successfully adjudicate every last difference between churches and traditions.

    With regard to your children, what I have done with my own is to teach them the importance of Christian community. And to teach them longsuffering and forbearance with our fellow Christians, all who are imperfect like me. We’re a mixed bag, a motley crew, finite and sinful. So, we don’t pretend that churches gather together perfect people or even attempt to make people perfect. We do try to become more complete, more whole, by gathering together. And when they hear something from the pulpit, or read something in a diocesan newspaper, or come home from religion class, and I see something that is horse manure and needs correcting, I tell them. I did not raise my children believing in hell, for example. I told them that it was a necessary theological construct because God would not coerce relationship on anyone. I told them that, for all practical purposes, they could forget about it and I taught them a multisyllable word: apokatastasis, which is a concept employed by some early church fathers that refers to our legitimate hope for universal salvation.

    Folks, enough from me. I have other obligations.

  • I MIGHT or COULD have chosen different words but I didn’t 😉 it was a bit tongue in cheek while also making a very serious and important statement. Take it or leave it, I care not.

    I do want to make the point also that pentecostalism and emergence are not inherently exclusive. I know lots of emergent Pentecostals and at one point would have considered myself one.

  • Jeff: I am absolutely with you in regards to the tension between church and academy. The short answer is to why it HASN’T happened is historically complicated and depends on denominational history, but I think it’s fair to say in a nutshell that as Protestants (with the possible exception of Pentecostal/Charismatics) began placing value on formal theological education they ran headlong into a brick wall of modern biblical criticism. In America this tension wasn’t managed well. Bultmann could “demthologize” the entire New Testament but he LITERALLY believed that Christ was crucified and resurrected on a metaphysical level every time he preached. (For all that learning, Jesus was, and still is, radically present.) American Protestants, (evangelical or not) didn’t buy it and seminary professors began saying (actual quote) “Don’t think you can take what you get here and plug it in at church. People will eat you alive and you’ll never feed your family.

    I loathe this duplicity–I think it’s disingenuous and maybe worse–breaking the Great Commandment–to leave our brains at the door. I think that what the Protestants beat up 0n Catholics about–the kind of sacerdotal capacity of educated clergy instead of being “of the people” could then (and now) be levied at the clergy of mainline and evangelical clergy. We don’t trust the people enough–it’s like they said about Tyndale–people will believe CRAZY things when they read the Bible for themselves–or when they’re told about the documentary hypothesis instead of making absurd charts about what happened on each day for “in-depth Bible study”.

    Which is another point of convergence between Pentecostals and Emergent(s?). If you stumble into a meeting of either you likely weren’t shopping for the best taco stand and just stumbled in–you came because you were drawn by an experience and there were pretty good odds someone there shared that experience. A friend and I “crashed” the Atlanta cohort and yet I could find similar paths/frustrations/hopes for faith and even for the church among people who were and still are largely strangers. This open community–not unlike recovery groups which are also built around shared experience–constitutes a high probability of the authentic community that I think some others were struggling to articulate here.

    Lastly (and I mean this at Jeff but would love any other thoughts, which is why I’m throwing it out here instead of a personal message) This Trinitarian fascination is intriguing to me–a friend of mine who is much more conservative than I am and is doing a PhD in Baptist history said EXACTLY what you did except with a slightly different vocabulary. Anyway, I’ve been wrestling with this for awhile and though I’m nor terribly inclined to Orthodoxy, I find Rublev’s icon of the “the Trinity” (or visitors to Abraham) incredibly helpful. (Google it if you haven’t seen it) There are three distinct persons and yet they are indistinguishable as to role–they are even somewhat androgynous–all seated around a relatively round table sharing a common cup.

    My old fundamentalist tendencies flair up, but I’d like to suggest a certain amount of literalism with a twist. If the narrative of Genesis is treasured–that God (Elohim) said “let us make humanity in our image” and is theologically true and not just good Hebrew subject-verb agreement than that means that humanity is thereby imbued with the SAME creative capacity that exists in the Tri-une community of creativity.

    This translates fairly easy (I think) into process thought but in a way that can be made plain to anyone. (Not to mention it’s closer to a lot of midrash on Genesis, which is a bit closer to source than any Christian movement.

    Humanity is imbued with creative capacity–a divine gift which is summarily disabused in the quest for a fuller enlightenment–the suspicion that there is a catch to this capacity–a limitation on something that ought to be limitless. And so humanity does it daily–co-creating with Divinity and building Eden or choosing the metaphorical apple of self-satisfaction and immediate gratification.

    The conflict is ancient and can be spoken of (I would say is strongest when) devoid of “religious” language–by which I mean that which has to be decoded, parsed, or described from it’s original language. This is not to say there is not a place for this discourse, but to suggest that it’s not has hard as it seems.

    Everyone understand brokenness-the thing that happens when your junk catches up with you. It’s entirely possible Pentecostals and Emergents are better at this than everyone else, but I’m hoping it’ll catch on.

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  • Let me make an important point. There is a distinction between “being right” and a “right way of being right.” There is too much incivility and polarization in our political life, nowadays, and, sadly, much of it is fueled by religious quarrels. If we cannot take our dialogue amongst ourselves to another level, there is very little reason to hope things will improve elsewhere. This is a concrete example of affective conversion, in fact. Our responses to fear, guilt, woundedness and so on can be either existential or neurotic, which is to say, either life-giving and relationship-enhancing or life-destroying and relationship-detracting. If we are sitting in the front row of a theater and see a train rushing at us, our sympathetic nervous system is going to kick in, adrenaline will be released, our heart will pound and we’ll go into fight or flight mode. If we jump from our seat and run from the theater, that would be neurotic. If, on the other hand, we were actually on the RR tracks and a train was coming and we jumped off in response, then, that would be existential. Richard Rohr says it best: If we do not allow our woundedness to somehow transform us then we will continue to somehow transmit it. Even in our tweets.

  • Darren

    LOL, Makeesha! I think I’ve agreed 100% with everything you’ve said in this thread thus far, particularly your very approachable, succinct answer to Tony’s questions in your first post.

    Having a bit of a “charismatic” background, and being firmly established in an “emergent” kind of church today, I think the biggest concern I have for emergents is (as Makeesha mentioned) too much of a reliance on head and scholarship. I love how Pentecostals teach us to get out of our heads for a bit, and move into the mystery of the Spirit. Not that I decry scholarship. I love it, actually. But I recognize its shortcomings.

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  • This is a great question! I find that I straddle between the world’s of postmodern/emergent thought and neo-pentecostal/3rd wave Christianity (charismergent?). I discovered both at the same time. I believe that both movements are responses to modernity, even though classical postmodernism has made some accommodations to it. While i haven’t studied the movements as deeply as I’d like, it seems that there is a common or similar hermeneutic that is employed. The 2nd naivete was thrown around in the above threads, so I don’t want to use it incorrectly, but there is an innocence to the approach of the text by both groups. One is based on the Holy Spirit giving direct and divine information, while the other is based on scholarship and cultural deconstruction. I think the 2 movements have more in common than can be expressed here. Is it any wonder that Todd Hunter was part of both movement (Vineyard and early emergent)? I think that as the two movements continue to converge, we’ll see something interesting emerge.

  • “Pentecostalism” includes such a wide spectrum of thought. I agree with a previous commenter, that finding a place to start may be the biggest challenge.

    There are Pentecostals on the extreme right and left of the spectrum, theologically, politically, socially, etc. Some will see no need for a discussion on the “emerging church” while others will be quite conversant.

    I also agree that Pentecostalism and Emergence will find common ground in the more mystical aspects of our faith. They will also share an appreciation for creative use of scripture (both hermeneutics and homiletics). Narrative theology is standard in many Pentecostal seminaries.

    I think the earliest Pentecostals might have more in common with the post-modern expressions of Christianity than some who have so closely aligned themselves to mainstream evangelicalism. Neo-Pentecostalism does seem to be jumping back to pre-Evangelical days to embrace those early Pentecostals.

    This might be one starting place, to talk about how much early Pentecostals share with emergence. They were post-modern before post-modern was cool.

    Looking forward to hearing you at SPS in Minneapolis. I’m sure it will be a great discussion.

  • Cheryl Bridges Johns

    If the above comments are any indication, it seems that we will have rich discussion at the upcoming SPS meeting. I’m impressed with how well the above have nuanced the issues.

    • I’m with Cheryl (who, not coincidentally, is responding to me at the conference). This comment string is fantastic. I’ve been sitting back and reading. Feel free to add your thoughts, whether you’re new to the conversation or want to respond to something above. I’m focusing on my dissertation this week and next and doing some reading on this paper in the background. I’ll bear down on this topic starting February 15.

      In other words, I’ll be back to read these comments several times as I prep.

  • Corky Alexander

    I am very excited about the discussion. I am going to be listening closely to how emergence can be so interested in European culture, given the historical baggage it holds in relationship to Native/indigenous peoples. Let’s do this!

  • Staci

    Thanks – appreciated you comment #30

    Sounds like a wonderful journey. A wonderful learning experience.
    An exciting adventure with Jesus.

    You write…
    “Bigger trumps deeper every time.”

    Always noticed that too. Now I can explain it in only five words.
    Thanks a bunch.

    “I have learned that I am a non-literalist, evangelical,
    post-modernist, blah, blah, blah… but what does that mean
    if I/we cannot share the experience with anyone?”

    Labels, titles, movements, AAARRRGGGHHH!!!
    Now when I’m looking for a new movement…
    I eat a box of prunes.

    “Have I branched into a Utopic and naive desire
    for something that can never be?”

    I would say your on “His” path.
    You (and I) have been a lot of places (movements) and they all fall short.

    My freedom and my “Utopic and naive desire” was fulfilled
    in”Christ alone.” and my relationship with Him.
    Keep looking, keep desiring, He will answer.

    Everything to the natural eye, the natural mind, the carnal mind,
    is at enmity with God.

    Every religion, every movement, every new thing,
    this world, and man, has to offer disapoints those who love Jesus.
    It looks good for awhile. But eventually you have to move on.
    Only Jesus satisfies.

    Why isn’t Jesus enough?

    A question I started asking myself.

    Lord Jesus, what am I looking for? Why aren’t you enough?

    1Cor 2:9
    But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard,
    neither have entered into the heart of man, the things
    which God hath prepared for them that love him.

    Eph 3:20
    Now unto him (Jesus) that is able to do exceeding abundantly above
    all that we ask or think…

    If Jesus is able to do **exceeding** ** abundantly** ** above**
    “ALL” that we ask or think.

    Why “ASK?” Why “THINK.” My suggestion is stop asking and thinking.

    Just learn to hear “HIS VOICE” and obey “HIM”
    For me it became…

    Trust and obey – NOT think and decide.

    Not my will Lord, but your will be done.

    Trust and obey – NOT think and decide.

    The Lord is “MY” shephered.
    “I” shall not “WANT.”

    Be blessed in your search for truth… Jesus.

  • Ryan Beaty

    In talking with a friend of me about this, and being someone who considers myself an Emerging Pentecostal, I believe there is a very clear starting point with which to begin the conversation, and its with the Missio De’.

    Both Pentecostals and Emergents are wholly focused upon and driven by the mission of God and it’s missional lifestyle. The entire idea of Pentecost and Spirit-Empowerment is for the fulfillment of the Mission of God. There is a reason that Azusa Street mobilized thousands of missionaries and spawned organizations, like the AG, which has missions at its very heart and just this past year officially added “Ministries of Compassion” as a fourth reason for being.

    The missional lifestyle is the bridge that connects the two by which all other connections spring. Of course they are similar because they have the same purpose, and that my friends excites me!

  • Ryan, I generally agree with what you say about the importance of Missio Dei in Pentecostal identity. However, as I mentioned in my prior post, I think that the desire for full consecration, historically, was the reason-for-being for early Pentecostals. Early Pentecostals were Christians who wanted to be more fully devoted to Christ AND His mission. The concept of full consecration includes relationship with God/personal holiness AND mission. This parallels James 1:27, which states that pure religion is: “to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” Both compassion and purity. I don’t think that one can really fulfill the mission of God apart from personal holiness and intimate relationship wth God; but we have many people who are trying to do just that. One cannot, for instance, embrace sexual sin (including affirmation of gay marriage) and fulfill the mission of God. Early Pentecostal literature is overflowing with calls to self-denial for the sake of lifting Christ up to the world.

    The discussion about first, second and third naivetes is interesting. Do the advocates of this framework apply it to periods or groups within Pentecostalism (so that early Pentecostalism or certain churches reflects aspects of first naivete, etc.), or is it a framework that just applies to an individual’s spiritual journey?

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  • Great conversation! Here is some more compost.

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