Pentecostalism

“…the Pentecostal movement confronts us with the basic question of what theology really is. Is theology only what is taught in our universities, i.e. a rational systematic discourse based on Aristotelian logic, which operates with concepts and definitions? Or could it not be that for example the parables of Jesus, the stories of the Old Testament, the hymns of the Reformation, the stories of the saints in the Catholic and Orthodox traditions, are also theology, but in other categories? If the latter is the case, then what does this mean for theology as a university discipline and for the ecumenical community?”
Walter J. Hollenweger, From Azuza Street to the Toronto Phenomenon: Historical Roots of the Pentecostal Movement, Pentecostal Movements as an Ecumenical Challenge, Concilium, Jürgen Moltmann and Karl-Josef Kuschel, editors, (Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 1996), 12.
“The Spirit is more than just one gift among others; the Holy Spirit is the unlimited presence of God in which our lives are quickened and awakened to new life and given the powers of the Spirit.”
Jürgen Moltmann, Pentecost and the Theology of Life (same journal as above)
In attempting to better understand the transference of Christian people from “traditional” church structures into Pentecostal-Charismatic structures (or even from mainline denominations into Evangelical ones) worldwide, it must be understood that confessional and doctrinal statements have become insufficient to grasp and hold members. Well-executed liturgies and systematic theological pronouncements no longer capture people’s imaginations. The experiential nature of Pentecostalism and Charismaticism do!
As I have expressed numerous times that Jesus did not come to establish beautiful liturgies and systematic theologies, but to reconcile us with God – to enable us to be reconnected in relationship with God the Father. It is relational; it is experiential. One can have all the knowledge in the world about a person, but the one will never know the person until they meet and communicate and experience one another. Evangelicalism/Pentecostalism presents a God of relationship to be experienced, not so much a God of cognitive development in right rational reasoning. The inward and heart-felt experience of loving and being loved is far more life giving than receiving confirmation that one’s doctrinal thesis has been successfully defended and the degree granted. With Evangelicals and Pentecostals, it is a love affair with God through Jesus Christ by the enabling of the Holy Spirit, not an intellectual exercise, and most people would rather have the love affair!

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