Spirit and Power: Foundations of Pentecostal Experience Review

Spirit and Power: Foundations of Pentecostal Experience
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Spirit and Power: Foundations of Pentecostal Experience ReviewThis book is divided into two parts: Part One, Theological Foundations, and Part Two, Theological Affirmations. The first part is comprised of six chapters. The first chapter covers the recent history of Pentecostalism with its roots in the holiness movement and fundamentalism, the latter being subdivided into Protestant Orthodoxy and Evangelical Revivalism. Also discussed are the characteristics of early Pentecostalism which includes, of course, the Baptism in the Spirit, and others such as a commitment to evangelism and missions, strong faith, premillennial expectancy, the reality of God's presence, enthusiastic worship, rich fellowship, and biblical authority. The formation of Pentecostal denominations are also discussed, including the formation of the Assemblies of God, the largest Pentecostal denomination in the world. Then the Charismatic Renewal is expounded on, including the "Third Wave" Charismatics, a term that was coined by Peter Wagner. The on-going hermeneutical tension between classical Pentecostals and the larger Evangelical community, on the one hand, and the growing Charismatic community on the other, is noted and forms an important preface to the rest of the book. The next three chapters discuss hermeneutics and how current Pentecostals see the need to argue for Luke's contribution to Pneumatology distinct from the apostle Paul since much of Pentecostal theology, with it's emphasis on empowerment through Spirit Baptism, derives principally from Luke's two texts, Luke and Acts. The Menzies basically argue that "Luke never attributes soteriological functions to the Spirit" (like the apostle Paul does later in his writings) "and that his narrative presupposes a pneumatology excluding this dimension (e.g., Luke 11:13; Acts 8:4 - 17; 19:1 - 7)." To put it positively, "Luke describes the gift of the Spirit EXCLUSIVELY in charismatic terms as the source of power for effective witness" (pg. 70). Chapters 5 and 6 are exegetical replies to James Dunn and Max Turner, respectively. In chapter 6, the Menzies further clarify their position of Luke's understanding of the gift of the Spirit by defining it as "a prophetic enabling that empowers one for participation in the mission of God" (pg. 89). This has three main thrusts: "the gift of the Spirit in Luke-Acts is nonsoteriological (or charismatic), prophetic, and missiological" (pg. 89). Each of these is expounded on.
In Part Two, Theological Affirmations, there are 9 chapters that expound on more specific Pentecostal concerns. Chapter 7 covers the issue of subsequence, chapter 8, the issue of tongues as evidence, and chapter 9, the availability of tongues for all believers. Chapter Ten, Signs and Wonders, addresses itself specifically to Third Wavers who generally consider Spirit Baptism as synonymous with conversion as do many non-Pentecostal Evangelicals. Third Wavers are also known for their emphasis on signs and wonders. The Menzies point out that Luke's perspective on divine enabling is much broader than the Third Wavers narrow focus on dramatic signs and includes the ability to bear bold witness for Christ in the face of persecution (pg. 153). The authors also note Luke's wise and balanced look at signs and wonders.
Chapters 11 (Healing in the Atonement) and 12 (The Providence of God) seem to go together. The former chapter defends the idea of healing in the atonement and does so by utilizing Gustaf Aulen's three approaches to understanding Christ's atonement (in his book "Christus Victor"): the classic view (aka, Christus Victor), the Latin (aka, forensic) view, and the liberal view. Each view is seen as contributing to a full, biblical understanding of Christ's atonement. In addition to this full-orbed view, three propositions are provided and expounded on in order to recognize that physical healing, like all the benefits of salvation, flow from the cross: 1) Jesus is Lord and Savior by virtue of his work on the cross (Rev. 5:9), 2) The salvation provided by Jesus as Lord and Savior is progressive in nature (2 Cor. 3:18), and 3) The salvation provided by Jesus as Lord and Savior is cosmic in nature and includes physical wholeness (Rom. 8:23; 1 Cor. 15:42 - 54). Although chapter 11 is insightful, it doesn't really address in detail the controversial question of whether or not God wants all believers instantly healed provided they meet certain so-called biblical conditions (including faith) although the authors do strongly imply both here and in the next chapter (12) that the timing of physical healing (and the culmination of healing in general via the eschaton) is in the providential hands of God. Chapter 12 is short but certainly gives food for thought regarding suffering and faith in general. Chapter 13 discusses essential principles related to spiritual gifts, including the following: 1) gifts are not a badge of spiritual maturity (1 Cor. 12:4), 2) gifts are given so that we may edify others (1 Cor. 12:7), and 3) everyone has something to contribute (1 Cor. 12:11). This chapter prepares one for what is revealed in the next chapter (14) regarding spiritual gifts and their relation to Spirit Baptism, Pentecostal style. Chapter 14 challenges the classical Pentecostal notion that Spirit Baptism is the gateway to the gifts of the Spirit and notes that Third Wavers force classical Pentecostals to reassess their position on this subject. The authors hold that although Spirit Baptism isn't the gateway to EVERY spiritual gift, it IS the gateway to a special cluster of gifts described by Paul as prophetic-type gifts that are associated with special revelation and inspired speech. The last chapter (14) expounds on the role of Spirit baptism and the fruit of the Spirit and basically denies what many Pentecostals affirm: that Spirit Baptism is linked to spiritual maturity. The Menzies note that the Corinthian church abolishes this assumption. However, they do carefully note the "co-relational" (a term provided by John Carter) aspect, an idea I'll leave for readers to discover for themselves.
This book is on the cutting-edge of Pentecostal hermeneutics and is required reading for all those who consider themselves Pentecostal as well as those who think they have a good case against the Pentecostal position. The book is well-reasoned and challenging. Highly recommended.Spirit and Power: Foundations of Pentecostal Experience OverviewThe times have long passed when Pentecostals were viewed as Protestantism's untouchables. Today, the shock waves from Azusa Street have influenced countless Evangelicals worldwide. But if dialogue between Pentecostals and Evangelicals has awakened within the latter a thirst for the power of God's Spirit, it has challenged Pentecostals to examine their theology more deeply in the light of his Word. Just how firm is the biblical foundation on which they stand?Spirit and Power provides a cutting-edge look at Pentecostal theology. It addresses the concern expressed by its authors and echoed throughout charismatic churches today: 'Although our Pentecostal forefathers intuitively grasped the correlation between the reality they experienced and the promise of Acts 1:8, they did not always articulate their theology in a manner that was convincing to other believers committed to the authority of Scripture.' In response, theologians William and Robert Menzies explore Pentecostalism in a scholarly and current light. Spirit and Power is no mere paraphrase of dated approaches. It is a fresh and penetrating look at the whys and wherefores of Pentecostal doctrine that sets a new standard for Spirit-filled theology. Whatever your persuasion may be as a Christian, this book's thoughtfulness, balance, and biblical integrity will help you appreciate more fully the strengths of the Pentecostal stance.Laying the groundwork for an accurate understanding of Luke's writings in particular, the authors help you grasp the foundations of Pentecostal theology from the standpoints of history, hermeneutics, and exegesis. Then, in Part Two, they give you an in-depth look at specific Pentecostal concerns: the baptism of the Holy Spirit as a blessing subsequent to salvation, evidential tongues, signs and wonders, healing in the atonement, and more. You'll deepen your understanding of the basis for Pentecostal beliefs. And you'll gain a feel for the mutually beneficial dialogue that continues between Pentecostals and Evangelicals today.

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