Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Five Key Aspects of a Pentecostal Worldview

(Monroe courthouse)

James K.A. Smith's Thinking in Tongues: Pentecostal Contributions to Christian Philosophy was my Book of the Year in 2010. If you are in the world of pentecostal Jesus-following and looking for sound, creative scholarship on the things we deeply believe, you must read this book

Personally, I am delighted that Smith affirms the now-experience of the Holy Spirit and draws on heavy-hitting thinkers like Paul Ricoeur. (Ricoeur was important in my doctoral work, esp. his The Rule of Metaphor: Multi-disciplinary Studies of the Creation of Meaning in Language and the hermeneutical theory undergirding it.)

Smith's book is about putting forth a pentecostal worldview or, following Charles Taylor, a pentecostal "social imaginary." He gives "Five Key Aspects of a Pentecostal Worldview." They are:

  1. A position of radical openness to God, and, in particular, God doing something differently or new. So, for example, in my pentecostal-Baptist context we don't have an "order of service" that cannot be altered. We have, as Smith would say, "a fundamental openness to alterity or otherness." We have "an openness to the continuing (and sometimes surprising) operations of the Spirit in church and world, particularly the continued ministry of the Spirit, including continuing revelation, prophecy, and the centrality of charismatic giftings in the ecclesial community."
  2. "An "enchanted" theology of creation and culture that perceives the material creation as "charged" with the presence of the Spirit, but also with other spirits (including demons and "principalities and powers"), with entailed expectations regarding both miracles and spiritual warfare."
  3. "A nondualistic affirmation of embodiment and materiality expressed in an emphasis on physical healing."
  4. A rootedness "in an affective, narrative epistemology" because of, in contrast to rationalistic evangelical theology, "an emphasis on the role of experience."
  5. "An eschatological orientation to mission and justice, both expressed in terms of empowerment, with a certain "preferential option for the marginalized." (If this last point surprises you see Donald Miller, Global Pentecostalism: The New Face of Christian Social Engagement.)