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Amos Yong: The Spirit Poured Out on All Flesh

 

Amos Yong, The Spirit Poured Out on All Flesh: Pentecostalism and the Possibility of Global Theology (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2005), 320 pages.

The oft overused term “instant classic” is, of course, an oxymoron. To become a true classic takes time; by definition, it cannot be an instant occurrence. Still, in a less straightforward sense that a potentially classic contribution to the Pentecostal conversation seems immediately apparent, Amos Yong’s The Spirit Poured Out on All Flesh may indeed be an instant classic. Whether one is interested in diverse Pentecostal origins and activities around the world, Pentecostalism’s inherent ethos as a movement, or an in depth application of its underlying pneumatological theology and spirituality addressing many of the most pressing themes of our day—or all of the above—this book has something solid for you. It can be guaranteed to inform, challenge, provoke, and otherwise stimulate theological thought and praxis.

Dr. Yong ably expands and extends the discussion on every topic he addresses. A prophetic tone is often discernible in the challenges he tosses out (e.g., on religiously substantiated racism and Pentecostalism’s missed opportunities and new possibilities; Pentecostals’ elitism in the West). His discussions also disclose profound pastoral concerns (e.g., for spiritual formation and growth, missions and ministry). His is not a timid description of where Pentecostalism is or may be headed, but a definitive prescription for both broad and deep progress. Yet Yong humbly concedes the provisional nature of his work, calls for others to evaluate the results, and then to converse with him through critiques that can help construct an ever more efficient theology. Though Yong addresses general Christianity, he presses home interests and insights from and for Pentecostalism (e.g., multiple dimensions of holistic salvation; a Spirit Christology avoiding subordination/displacement of either Son or Spirit). But for him Pentecostalism is “deep and wide”—his is definitely not a narrow or shallow portrait of the movement. Laying aside sectarianism, Yong includes classical Pentecostals, neo-Pentecostals/Charismatics, and Pentecostal-like groups from around the globe in an ongoing conversation about life and faith in one of contemporary Christianity’s most vital branches of the family tree.

To begin with, the Preface explains a variety of Pentecostal, ecumenical, eschatological, and personal contexts. Here readers detect the diversity driving a theological vision rooted in a unifying pneumatological orientation. Then the Introduction sets the stage by identifying “emerging global issues” forming the foci for what follows in the bulk of the book: multidimensional salvation; pneumatological soteriology and ecclesiology; ecumenical potential; Oneness and Trinitarian identity and plurality; public theology and world religions; and, a theology of creation and science. Everything from Pentecostal history, theology, and spirituality to the politics and practices of racism, feminism, and colonialism are discussed alongside issues of interfaith relations, liberation of oppressed peoples, and the problems and potentials of Spirit-filled walk and witness in a postmodern world. Always Yong exegetes the Scriptures and engages the theological discipline with an incredible command of resources. Convinced that today’s “late modern world” is characterized by increasing complexity and ambiguity, he is nonetheless persuaded “not only that Christian theology can continue to speak in this new global context but also that pentecostal theology in particular can do so” (pp. 17, 18). Indeed, if anything, the remainder of the work amply illustrates the relevance of “world pentecostal theology” (p. 135). Yong clearly elucidates his presuppositions and methodology, which he consistently applies throughout the work. Truly, typically, and distinctively Pentecostal, he builds on a Lukan hermeneutic, a pneumatological framework, and an experiential base while stressing the centrality of Christ and insisting Pentecostals can no longer put off apologetic and systematic theology.

 

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Category: Spirit, Winter 2007

About the Author: Tony Richie, D.Min, Ph.D., is missionary teacher at SEMISUD (Quito, Ecuador) and adjunct professor at the Pentecostal Theological Seminary (Cleveland, TN). Dr. Richie is an Ordained Bishop in the Church of God, and Senior Pastor at New Harvest in Knoxville, TN. He has served the Society for Pentecostal Studies as Ecumenical Studies Interest Group Leader and is currently Liaison to the Interfaith Relations Commission of the National Council of Churches (USA), and represents Pentecostals with Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation of the World Council of Churches and the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs. He is the author of Speaking by the Spirit: A Pentecostal Model for Interreligious Dialogue (Emeth Press, 2011) and Toward a Pentecostal Theology of Religions: Encountering Cornelius Today (CPT Press, 2013) as well as several journal articles and books chapters on Pentecostal theology and experience.

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