The Church in a Secular Age

How can the church navigate the challenges of our secular age? In The Church in a Secular Age, Norwegian and Pentecostal scholar Silje Kvamme Bjorndal takes on three dynamic thinkers, each in their own way, in search for insights to this question. Philosopher Charles Taylor offers the backdrop for the conversation, as Bjorndal carefully sifts out some of his most central tenets for understanding our secular age.
Bjorndal then turns to the theologian and ethicist Stanley Hauerwas and critically engages his notion of the church as a community set apart from our secular age. By bringing several of Hauerwas’s interlocutors into the conversation, Bjorndal manages to bring out both the acute relevance and the shortcomings of his ecclesiology. Thus, she finds that another turn is needed in order to offer a concrete, as well as creative, contribution to this ecclesiological conversation.
Considering the undeveloped pneumatological undercurrent in Hauerwas’s work, it proves fruitful to engage the leading Pentecostal scholar Amos Yong and his foundational pneumatology. This engagement results in a shift of agency, from the community to the Spirit. And keeping up the dialogue with Taylor’s secular age, Bjorndal demonstrates how the Spirit’s agency is crucial for the church as it attempts to navigate the particular challenges (and opportunities) of a secular age.

The Missiological Spirit

The field of the theology of mission has developed variously across Christian traditions in the last century. Pentecostal scholars and missiologists also have made their share of contributions to this area. This book brings the insights of pentecostal theologian Amos Yong to the discussion. It delineates the major features of what will be argued as central to a viable vision and praxis for Christian mission in a postmodern, post-Christendom, post-Enlightenment, post-Western, and postcolonial world. What emerges will be a distinctively pentecostally- and evangelically-informed missiological theology, one rooted in the Christian salvation-history narrative of Incarnation and Pentecost that is yet open to the world in its many and various cultural, ethnic, religious, and disciplinary discourses and realities. The argument unfolds through dialogical engagements with the work of others, concrete case studies, and systematic theological reflection. Yong’s pneumatological and missiological imagination proffers a model for Christian theology of mission suitable for the twenty-first-century global and pluralistic context even as it exemplifies how a missiological understanding of theology itself unfolds amidst engagements with contemporary ecclesial practices and academic/theological impulses.

The Dialogical Spirit

Contemporary proposals for Christian theology from postliberalism to Radical Orthodoxy and beyond have espoused their own methodological paradigms. Those who have ventured into this domain of theological method, however, have usually had to stake their claims vis-a-vis trends in what may be called the contemporary “post-al” age, whether of the postmodern, post-Christendom, post-Enlightenment, post-Western, or postcolonial varieties. This volume is unique among offerings in this arena in suggesting a way forward that engages on each of these fronts, and does so from a particularistic Christian perspective without giving up on Christian theology’s traditional claims to universality. This is accomplished through the articulation of a distinctive dialogical methodology informed by both pentecostalism and evangelicalism, one rooted in the Christian salvation-history narrative of incarnation and Pentecost that is yet open to the world in its many and various cultural, ethnic, religious, and disciplinary discourses. Amos Yong here engages with twelve different interlocutors representing different ecumenical, religious, and disciplinary perspectives. The Dialogical Spirit thus not only proffers a model for Christian theological method suitable for the twenty-first-century global context but also exemplifies this methodological approach through its interactions across the contemporary scholarly, academic, and theological landscape.

Discerning the Spirit(s)

Efforts to construct a Christian theology of religions have inevitably stumbled on the Christian scandal of particularity–the historical Jesus of Nazareth. What, however, if we began by focusing on the universal presence and activity of God in the world as symbolized by the Holy Spirit? Yong develops just such a pneumatological approach to religions, drawing, by way of resource, on the Pentecostal-charismatic experience of the Spirit. This book thus invites Pentecostals, charismatics, and other Christians to conceive of how a pneumatological approach to religions can invigorate the wider ecumenical conversation. At the same time, it also brings recent Pentecostal-charismatic scholarship into dialogue with a broader audience, including those interested in philosophical theology, world religions, global spiritualities, and comparative religion and theology.

The Kerygmatic Spirit

This collection of fifteen sermons by one of the leading pentecostal theologians today provides insight into the form, style, and content of preaching in the pentecostal tradition while also being suggestive of normative homiletical theory and practice. The Kergymatic Spirit argues that Spirit-empowered preaching is apostolic not only with regard to being rooted in the scriptural traditions but also with regard to connecting the that of the early Christian message with the this of contemporary experience and discipleship. Hence, rather than only reflecting pentecostal preaching of the sort that happens in the pulpits of churches connected to the modern movement by that name, these sermons are presented as the participating in the form of gospel proclamation inspired and empowered by the divine Spirit poured out on all flesh on the Day of Pentecost by the risen Christ from the right hand of the Father. Whether read or heard (there are links to video and audio archives throughout), these homilies are illustrative of exegetical and expositional practice that connects the biblical text with Spirit-filled faithfulness in the twenty-first-century ecumenical church and world at large.

The Hermeneutical Spirit

In the contemporary biblical studies climate, proposals regarding the theological interpretation of Scripture are contested, particularly but not only because they privilege, encourage, and foster ecclesial or other forms of normative commitments as part and parcel of the hermeneutical horizon through which scriptural texts are read and understood. Within this context, confessional approaches have been emerging, including some from within the nascent pentecostal theological tradition. This volume builds on the author’s previous work in theological method to suggest a pentecostal perspective on theological interpretation that is rooted in the conviction that all Christian reading of sacred Scripture is post-Pentecost, meaning after the Day of Pentecost outpouring of the Spirit on all flesh in anticipation of the coming reign of God. In that respect, such a pentecostal interpretative perspective is not parochially for those within the modern day movement bearing that name but is arguably apostolic in following after the scriptural imagination of the earliest disciples of Jesus the messiah and therefore has ecumenical and missional purchase across space and time. The Hermeneutical Spirit thus provides close readings of various texts across the scriptural canon as a model for Christian theological interpretation of Scripture suitable for the twenty-first-century global context.

The Church Militant

A worldview of “spiritual warfare” is widely held among charismatics and Pentecostals, but it has been criticized for producing paranoia and denying personal responsibility. It is less well known that the term was first used in print around 1970 by Anglican charismatics. What did it mean to them then, and what are the practical effects of their worldview? Should we now be adopting a more sophisticated ontology of evil, such as Nigel Wright’s “non-ontological realist” view or Amos Yong’s “apophatic theology” of the demonic, rather than the traditional one that Satan and demons are real ontological entities?
This practical theological study begins with a study of Anglican charismatic pioneers, and an in-depth case study of a charismatic Anglican congregation, before grappling with the ontological question in dialogue with Wright (together with Barth and Walter Wink), Yong, and Gregory Boyd. A fresh engagement with the biblical texts then argues for a positive, realist ontology for rebellious demonic powers and presents a Trinitarian model of spiritual warfare praxis that emphasizes personal responsibility and promotes freedom from fear.

A Theology of the Spirit in Doctrine and Demonstration

This book is called a festschrift–meaning a book of essays written to honor those who have served the academic community well over a long period of time. Drs Wonsuk and Julie Ma, the honorees in this book, served as faculty members, Journal pioneers and editors and academic dean (Wonsuk) at the Asia Pacific Theological Seminary (www.apts.edu) for twenty-four years, 1983-2006. In 2006, Wonsuk accepted an invitation to become the Executive Director of the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies in the United Kingdom and Julie accepted an invitation to become a research mentor at the same institution. The theme selected for this book: A Theology of the Spirit in Doctrine and Demonstration reflects the heart of the kind of people the Mas have been and continue to be in academics, practical ministry and, most importantly, in their personal lives. The list of scholars below, representing a broad array of nationalities and academic disciplines, have followed the same theme in contributing articles within areas of their particular interest and expertise:

– Allan Anderson–Contextualization and Pentecostal-Charismatic Education
in a Global Village
– J. Kwabena Asamoah-Gyadu–The Blessing of Abraham: Pentecostalism and Ecumenism in African Perspectives
– R.G. dela Cruz–Peter, Women and the Spirit in the Bezan Test of Acts
– Rose Engcoy–Historical Sketch of Wonsuk and Julie Ma
– Harold D. Hunter–Pentecostal Reflections on Apostolicity
– Dave Johnson–Baptism in the Holy Spirit vs Spirit Possession in the Lowland Philippines: Some Considerations for Discipleship
– Veli-Matti Karkkainen–Theological Education in a Pluralistic Word: Theological Reflections
– Kirsteen Kim–Mission in the Spirit: From Edinburgh to Canberra and Athens
– Robert Menzies–Missional Spirituality: A Pentecostal Contribution to Spiritual Formation
– Ekaputra Tupamahu–Pentecostal Feeling in Conversation with William James and Rudolf Otto: A Preliminary Exploration
– Amos Yong–Pentecost and Virtual Spiritual Formation: Renewing Theological Education in Global Context

Remembering Jamestown

For many Americans, Christian missionary efforts have usually involved distant and exotic places. Sometimes, however, we can learn more about missions and interreligious engagement by looking in our own backyard. This collection of essays deriving from a consultation on missionary history and attitudes in colonial Jamestown, Virginia, explores long-standing assumptions related to Christian mission by listening to Native American voices. What were the ideologies and theologies that motivated early Virginia colonists? How did certain understandings of mission and church provide support and legitimacy for invasion and exploitation? What were, and are, the responses of indigenous populations, and how should Christian mission to Native Americans continue in light of this history? This book addresses these still very relevant questions and explores ways in which new understandings of Christian mission are needed in the expanding religious and cultural diversity of the twenty-first century.

God’s Empowered People

Professional ministers and their work as church leaders have dominated church and pastoral ministry studies. Lay ministry studies have been neglected. In the local church, lay ministries are often defined solely by their voluntary service in the local church, and even then are regarded as secondary to the work of the professional minister(s) leading the local church. This study proposes that the word “minister” should be applied to all believers and that professional ministers and their ministries should serve the larger group doing ministry: the laity. Lay ministry should not be understood only as that service done in the local church, but should be understood as a call received and obeyed by the laity to “do the work of ministry” in their work places and their neighborhoods, as well as their local churches. Following Amos Yong’s theology of disability and the formation of the L’Arche communities found throughout the world, this God’s Empowered People will show how the local church can welcome all in Christ’s name into a community of the Spirit in which people are loved and respected for who they are. From such a welcoming, loving, and respectful community can come people of varying abilities who discover their special gifts of ministry, then take their gifts into the work world, market place, and neighborhoods to “do the work of ministry” in Christ’s name. They will be able to go places and do things no professional minister could go or do, yet still need the professional minister to help prepare them to “do the work of ministry.” Thus, professional and lay ministries are not competitive but complementary. In such a community of professional and lay ministries operating cooperatively, all have the opportunity to express wisely their gifts in their arenas of calling and influence.