Sunday, February 27, 2011

Memoir as the Consummate Pentecostal Theological Genre

Driving across Kenya.
James K. A. Smith, in Thinking in Tongues, continues his idea that "testimony" is central to pentecostal spirituality. He writes:

"Thus one might suggest that memoir is the consummate pentecostal theological genre. Or at least, something like testimony is integral to even pentecostal theorizing, even if this is not properly "academic." In fact, this is just one performative way that pentecostal theroretical practice evinces an aspect implicit in pentecostal spirituality: against the Enlightenment ideal of the impersonal, impartial, abstract "knower," pentecostalism affirms an affective, involved, confessing knower who "knows that she knows that she knows" because of her story, because of a narrative, she can tell about a relationship with God."

In embracing the centrality of testimony shuns "academic decorum..., seeing such narratives... as integral to the sensibility that characterizes a pentecostal philosophy."

Now that... is nice! And I'm with Smith here. Linda and I love the testimonial character of our American Baptist pentecostal church family. We had, just this morning, a beautiful testimony from Beth Bentley that led to forming prayer teams during our worship time and praying for many people to be healed. We have found that testimonies have power, in the sense that God inhabits and empowers them to go beyond the testimony-giver and heal and deliver people.