Pentecostal Scholars

14 Mar

I am at Duke University today.

I took this picture of the inside of the Duke Chapel with my cell phone. I can’t believe I forgot a camera! The chapel is unbelievable.

I am delivering a paper tomorrow morning at the Society for Pentecostal Studies (SPS) meeting here at Duke university. Not in the Chapel, but in some tiny classroom.

My paper is entitled, “Rediscovering the Holy in the Spirit: Spiritual Transformation and Leadership Growth.”

The SPS is made up of a group of Pentecostal/charismatic scholars (and scholar wannabes like me!). According to their website: The purpose of the society is to stimulate, encourage, recognize, and publicize the work of Pentecostal and charismatic scholars; to study the implications of Pentecostal theology in relation to other academic disciplines, seeking a Pentecostal world-and-life view

I know that sounds like an oxymoron – “Pentecostal scholars” – but it is true. These are the good guys. These are the guys (and gals) who want to live an integrate life of the Scripture and the Spirit. See my blog post below. I am such a theological lightweight compared to the core group of scholars here, but they certainly challenge me.

I got here yesterday. Here is a brief rundown on the last 24 hours.

I spoke to a friend in Vancouver, BC last night over Skype, which allowed us to talk with video and audio over the Internet. Yeah, we were over 3,000 miles apart when we spoke.

This morning, I got a call from Richard Roberts (not the former president of ORU, but our missionary in Taiwan). He called my cell and we talked about the ministry in Taiwan.

You have to love technology.

I got four books from Baker Academic Books, which had all their books 50% off at the SPS conference. Oh my! I was like Jenni in a shoe store where all brown sandals had gone on sale.

Here is what I picked up:

John Caputo, What Would Jesus Deconstruct?
I just had an email conversation about this book and then I go to the conference and there it was on the book table. Of course I had to buy it. You can’t argue with providence like that!

James Wilhoit, Spiritual Formation as if the Church Mattered
This is hot off the press – February 2008. I am going to preach a series after Easter called “Inner Change.” It will discuss my Trinitarian vision of spiritual transformation and I hope the sermons will be seeds for chapter in a book that I am writing on spiritual transformation. One of the messages (chapters) is one the role of Christian community in reflection of Trinitarian community in the process of transformation. This book will be helpful, I have already scanned through it.

Craig Keener, Gift and Giver
This book has been celebrated as a good discussion of charismatic theology. I have always had it on my list to add to my library. I got it for like 10 bucks today. Couldn’t pass it up.

Graham Twelftree, In the Name of Jesus: Exorcism among Early Christians
I listened to a presentation by Twelftree today on this book. He teaches in the Ph.D. program at Regent University. He is a Vineyard guy from England. Interesting presentation today on the book. He researched exorcism (also known as deliverance or casting out demons.) His research revealed that there wasn’t much talk of casting out demons in the early church. He also pointed out the gospel of John doesn’t record Jesus casting out demons.

He ended his talk by saying that in the church we cannot make too much of “the power encounter” approach of dealing with demon spirits. The few records of exorcism in the early church was that they were very brief encounters, not long drawn out, and dramatic as portrayed in American pop culture (i.e. The Exorcist; The Exorcism of Emily Rose).

He ended his presentation with these words about the role of casting out demons (exorcism) in the local church: Although I do not wish to dispense with exorcism as part of the repertoire for contemporary ministry, I can no longer hold the view that, unless involved in exorcism, the church will fail to address all expressions of evil. The church is able to confront the demonic with an exorcist or with the Truth.

Wise words.

Tonight the keynote address is from Jugen Moltmann, a theological heavyweight. I have my moleskine ready…


Posted by on March 14, 2008 in Theology



3 responses to “Pentecostal Scholars

  1. peri

    March 17, 2008 at 6:08 am

    how weird is this? i just heard of Jurgen Moltmann for the first time last night. I’d love to hear what you thought. i almost ordered his autobiography, but waited.

  2. peri

    March 17, 2008 at 6:08 am

    how weird is this? i just heard of Jurgen Moltmann for the first time last night. I’d love to hear what you thought. i almost ordered his autobiography, but waited.

  3. Derek Vreeland

    March 17, 2008 at 7:22 pm

    Moltmann has been a positive contributor to charismatic theology. His book The Source of Life, has been recommended to me as a good work on the Holy Spirit. I have read some of his stuff on the atonement. The Trinity and the Kingdom is the book by Moltmann that is on my list to read ONE DAY. This is his dense work on the Trinity.

    Moltmann came to Christ while in a Scottish POW camp during WWII. I would assume that is biography would be a good read.

    Here are some notes from the lecture he gave:
    He was lecturing on Science and Theology –

    “Do we understand what we know?” – His opening and closing line

    “Mere collections of data is not knowledge. We must know the meaning of the data.”

    “Our goal is not to dominate nature, but to understand in order to participate with creation”
    This was a good thought, very much in line with N.T. Wright’s concept of the new creation applying to all creation. The goal of the Christian life is not to escape creation, but to participate in the renewal and redemption of creation.

    He discussed to great books: “The book of Scripture and the book of nature.”

    He quoted Basil who said, “We can read God’s beauty in nature.”

    “The wisdom of nature can only be read through the wisdom of revelation.”
    That is we need the Scripture, church, community, the Creeds, etc. to see the wisdom in God’s created order.

    “We can only read nature (as a book) when it is filled with meaning, not just facts.”
    The meaning comes from Scripture.

    “Christ present in the Eucharist is the center of a theological doctrine of science.”
    Interesting thought…This challenged my non-sacramental mind for a while, but there is some truth here for sure. Christ is in the bread and wine as a symbol of Christ in creation….Christ in science. He could have easily drawn this same conclusion from talking about the incarnation, but he rooted it in the Eucharist, because our experience of communion is ongoing and present (and future until Christ returns) – where the incarnation is historical.

    “ ‘In the beginning’ points to an ending.”
    God’s good creation is not in the “middle part” of the story. Nature as we see an observe is not an end, but a middle. A middle that is filled with corruption. An end is coming…a glorious end of new creation.


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