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An Affirmative Pentecostal Theology of the Miraculous

[4] Alister E. McGrath, Christian Theology: An Introduction (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2007, 4th ed.), 69, 306-07, 321, 322.

[5] Larry D. Hart, Truth Aflame: Theology for the Church in Renewal (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1999, 2005), 194.

[6] Hart, Truth Aflame, 195.

[7] See Tony Richie. “Spiritual Transformation through Pentecostal Testimony,” Chapter Nine, Knowing God in the Ordinary Practices of the Christian Life, eds. Jackie David Johns and David S.E. Han (Cleveland, TN: CPT Press, forthcoming).

[8] Tony Richie, “Effectively Engaging Pluralism and Postmodernism in a So-Called Post-Christian Culture: A Review Essay of Lesslie Newbigin’s The Gospel in a Pluralist Society,” The Pneuma Review (Fall 2007), 27-39.

[9] As C.S. Lewis uses the term, descriptive of a seriously deficient philosophy that science is somehow the savior of the world. Lewis’ views on scientism are most dramatically portrayed in his That Hideous Strength (New York: Scribner, 1996).

[10] R.F. Carlson, “Science and Theology,” 793-800, Global Dictionary of Theology (GDT), eds. William A. Dryness and Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen, assoc. eds. Juan Francisco Martinez and Simon Chan (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2008), insists on separating “true science from science that has been mixed with metaphysics”, e.g. naturalistic philosophy or naturalistic metaphysics, 800. Naturalistic presuppositions rule out the supernatural without due consideration and thus result in false science.

[11] See McGrath, Christian Theology, 322-25.

[12] Lewis, Miracles, 217-18.

[13] Lewis, Miracles, 108.

[14] See J. Ruthven, “Miracle,” 546-50, GDT, 547.

[15] Hart, Truth Aflame, 195.

[16] Hart, Truth Aflame, 195.

[17] Rebecca Barlow Jordan’s insightful blog, “5 Miracles It’s Too Easy to Miss,” http://www.crosswalk.com/faith/spiritual-life/5-miracles-its-too-easy-to-overlook.html, affirms that she has witnessed “heart-stopping, mountain moving miracles” on rare occasions, but also accepts less dramatic but more obvious everyday miracles. She trusts God’s sovereignty because “He alone determines who, when, where and what will honor Him the most.” Cp. Duffield/Van Cleave, Foundations of Pentecostal Theology, 233.

[18] Don Thorsen, An Exploration of Christian Theology (Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson 2008), 180. This is misspoken. Don has told me he meant to say that we cannot account for the happening. I.e. it is beyond human explanation.

[19] Railey and Aker, “Theological Foundations,” 58.

[20] French L. Arrington, Christian Doctrine: A Pentecostal Perspective, vol. 3 (Cleveland, TN: Pathway, 1994), 114-16 and 29-30.

[21] Hart, Truth Aflame, 193.

[22] Hart, Truth Aflame, 196.

[23] Arrington, Christian Doctrine, 3:139-40.

[24] Thorsen, An Exploration, 310-12.

[25] Hart, Truth Aflame, 200.

[26][26] Ruthven, “Miracle,” 547.

[27] Thorsen, An Exploration, 180.

[28] Thorsen, An Exploration, 180.

[29] Thorsen, An Exploration, 180.

[30] Pentecostals seek to meet this occult aspect through God’s authentic power. E.g. see Opoky, Onyinyah, “Deliverance as a Way of Confronting Witchcraft in Modern Africa: Ghana a Modern Case History” (July 2010), http://www.pctii.org/cyberj/cyberj10/onyinah.html.

[31] Arrington, Christian Doctrine, 3:141.

[32] Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: New Testament (ACCS): Volume V: Acts, ed. Francis Martin, gen. ed., Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2006), 278.

[33] ACCS: Acts, 286.

[34] French L. Arrington, “Acts of the Apostles,” 535-692, Full Life Bible Commentary to the New Testament: An International Commentary for Spirit-Filled Christians, eds. French L. Arrington and Roger Stronstad (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1999), 574-77. Cp. Chrysostom, ACCS: Acts, 93, and David J. Williams, New International Biblical Commentary: Acts (Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson, 1985, 1990), 156.

[35] For example, see Cyril of Jerusalem, ACCS: Acts, 93-94.

[36] Clayton N. Jefford with Kenneth J. Harder and Louis D. Amezaga, Jr., Reading the Apostolic Fathers: An Introduction (Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson, 1996), 45, 50.

[37] Hart, Truth Aflame, 199. Original italics.

[38] S.M. Burgess and G.B. McGee, “Signs and Wonders,” 1063-68, The New International Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements (NIDPCM), ed. Stanley M. Burgess, assoc. ed. Eduard M. Van Der Maas (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002, 2003).

[39] F.D. Macchia, “Theology, Pentecostal,” 1120-41, NIDPCM, 1137.

[40] Macchia, “Theology, Pentecostal,” 1138.

[41] Manuscript dispute over the “longer ending” of Mark certainly does not becloud the supposition that it nevertheless bears witness to early Christian ideas. Nevertheless, Jerry Camery-Hoggatt, “Mark,” 255-374, Full Life Bible Commentary to the New Testament: An International Commentary for Spirit-Filled Christians, eds. French L. Arrington and Roger Stronstad (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1999), oddly argues that attention to miraculous signs in the longer ending diverts attention from Christ’s resurrection and describes a deficient faith, 373.

[42] I. Howard Marshall, New Testament Theology: Many Witnesses, One Gospel (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2004), 85.

[43] F. Martin, “Miracles, Gift of,” 875-76, NIDPCM, 876.

[44] Martin, “Miracles, Gift of,” 876.

[45] Duffield/Van Cleave, Foundations of Pentecostal Theology, 213.

[46] Ruthven, “Miracle,” 547-48. There are many great works out on cessationism. Among the best are Jon Mark Ruthven, On the Cessation of the Charismata: the Protestant Polemic on Post-Biblical Miracles, revised and expanded (Tulsa, OK: Word & Spirit, 1993, 2011), and Craig S. Keener, Miracles: the Credibility of the New Testament Accounts, vol. 1 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2011). Most recently, ed. Robert W. Graves, Strangers to Fire: When Tradition Trumps Scripture (Woodstock, GA: Foundations for Pentecostal Scholarship, Inc. 2014), has gathered under a single cover a mass of helpful apologetic material for continuationism vis-à-vis cessationism.

[47] Ruthven, “Miracle,” 548.

[48] Cp. Duffield/Van Cleave, Foundations of Pentecostal Theology, 405-07.

[49] Ruthven, “Miracle,” 548-49.

[50] See Jon Ruthven, On the Cessation of the Charismata: The Protestant Polemic on Post-Biblical Miracles, Revised Edition (Tulsa: Word & Spirit Press, 2011).

[51] Ruthven, “Miracle,” 549.

[52] See Tony Richie. “Spiritual Transformation through Pentecostal Testimony,” Chapter Nine, Knowing God in the Ordinary Practices of the Christian Life, eds. Jackie David Johns and David S.E. Han (Cleveland, TN: CPT Press, forthcoming).

[53] Shane Clifton, “The Dark Side of Prayer for Healing: Toward a Theology of Well-Being,” Pneuma 36:2 (2014), 204-225 (205-09).

[54] R. Solomon, “Healing and Deliverance,” 361-68, GDT, 361.

[55] J.C. Ma, “Animism and Pentecostalism: A Case Study,” 315-18, NIDPCM.

[56] This writing was initially prepared as part of a lecture series on Systematic Theology in Haiti for a large group of pastors pursuing theological training. In their context, healing and deliverance are pressing concerns calling for careful but uncompromising consideration. It was my privilege to be invited to participate in the M.A. degree program offered by the Theological Seminary of the Church of God in Haiti (le Séminaire Théologique de l’Église de Dieu en Haïti – STEDH).

[57] See French L. Arrington, Christian Doctrine: A Pentecostal Perspective, vol. 2 (Cleveland, TN: Pathway, 1993), 253-69 (267-68), and John Christopher Thomas, “The Devil, Disease, and Deliverance,” Journal of Pentecostal Theology, 2 (1993): 25-50 (25-27).

[58] Admittedly, the realm of the demonic in particular is an area given to extremes. It is wise to remember these well known words of warning: “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.” C.S. Lewis, “Preface,” The Screwtape Letters (New York: Macmillian, 1976 [originally published 1941]).

[59] Kimberly Ervin Alexander, “The Pentecostal Healing Community,” 183-206, ed. John Christopher Thomas, Towards a Pentecostal Ecclesiology: The Church and the Fivefold Gospel (Cleveland, TN: CPT Press, 2010.

[60][60] Opoku Onyinah, “Pentecostal Healing Communities,” 207-224, ed. John Christopher Thomas, Towards a Pentecostal Ecclesiology: The Church and the Fivefold Gospel (Cleveland, TN: CPT Press, 2010.

[61] This is all Christologically centered because, as Robert P. Pope, “Why the Church Needs a Full Gospel: A Review and Reaction to Pentecostal Ecclesiology,” 272-84, ed. John Christopher Thomas, Towards a Pentecostal Ecclesiology: The Church and the Fivefold Gospel (Cleveland, TN: CPT Press, 2010), has said, “the Church is the Church only because Jesus redeems, sanctifies, empowers, heals, and instills in us the hope for his return,” 283 (italics are original).

[62] Solomon, “Healing and Deliverance,” 364-66.

[63] F. Martin, “Healing, Gift of,” 694-98, NIDPCM.

[64] R.A.N. Kydd, “Healing in the Christian Church,” 698-711, NIDPCM.

[65] L.G. McClung, Jr., “Exorcism,” 624-28, NIDPCM.

[66] Although I here highlight my own faith tradition, I deeply appreciate the invaluable contributions of the larger body of Christ.

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Category: Spirit, Spring 2015

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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