Tuesday, June 15, 2004

whither pentecostal scholarship

Arlene M. SÁnchez Walsh wonders at the apparent paucity of pentecostal academic tomes. She does mention Gordon Fee but, strangely, doesn't mention Wayne Grudem, writer of a major recent Systematic Theology. I'm also not at all sure that a reticence for the academic can be entirely laid at the feet of the charismatic evangelicals. Surely until fairly recently that impulse was fairly widely found within evangelical circles and no doubt yet still exists in places. Consider Mark Noll's famous comment that the scandal of the evangelical mind is that their isn't one.

I was particularly struck by one comment Walsh cites:

"One notable dissenter was Vanguard University's Frank Macchia, director of the Graduate Program in Religion. Macchia told me he believes that Pentecostal scholarship is beginning to find a niche in evangelical academic publishing, citing Zondervan as one receptive press. He suggested that evangelicals are increasingly interested in distinctively Pentecostal understandings of the Holy Spirit's role in salvation: 'A fully Trinitarian theology that recognizes the unique economy of the Spirit has become very attractive for many evangelicals in the current theological and ecumenical climate.'"

I could not help but wonder how the emerging church might be a part of this building ethos. For me, I see happy synergies between a greater embrace of the Spirit in all His glory and a rejection of mere evangelical propositionalism. I have long believed that the charismatic/pentecostal and emerging church threads (and the former is much wider and older than the latter) have something in common.

When she writes,

"It sounds simplistic to say that it boils down to rationalistic-minded evangelicals trying to tie ethereal, Spirit-minded Pentecostals to the ground of historic Reformed theology, Calvinist or otherwise..."

I wonder if she's aware of the apparently growing movement of Reformed Charismatic Christians such as those in the Sovereign Grace Movement, with which the aforementioned Grudem has been associated. (Though that isn't itself evidence of acceptance of charismatic scholars in the academy).

Yet surely there are created dichotomies.

Nevertheless, I think it very well may be possible that any resulting divisions may soon collide with results that will eventually delight Dr. Walsh. Perhaps it's already begun in and out of buildings with ivory towers!

No comments: