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Veli-Matti Karkkainen’s An Introduction to Ecclesiology, reviewed by Amos Yong

This global perspective comes out clearly in An Introduction to Ecclesiology. Sure, one can quibble with Kärkkäinen’s categorizations or selections, but to keep a survey volume like this one manageable, some things inevitably have to be left out. What remains, however, is divided into three parts. Ecclesiological Traditions includes discussions of the doctrine of the Church in Eastern Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism, Lutheranism, the Reformed churches, the Free churches, the Pentecostal/charismatic orbit, and the ecumenical movement. Leading Contemporary Ecclesiologists include John Zizioulas communion ecclesiology (Orthodox), Hans King’s charismatic ecclesiology (Roman Catholic), Wolfhart Pannenberg’s universal ecclesiology (Lutheran), Jrgen Moltmann’s messianic ecclesiology (Reformed), Miroslav Volf’s participatory ecclesiology (Free Church and Pentecostal), James McClendon, Jr.’s baptist ecclesiology (Anabaptist), and Lesslie Newbigin’s missionary ecclesiology. The last part, Contextual Ecclesiologies, overviews the Non-Church movement of Kanzo Uchimura in Japan, the Base Ecclesial Communities in Latin America, the feminist church (as represented by Letty Russell and Elisabeth Sch’ssler Fiorenza), the African Independent (indigenous) Churches, the Shepherding Movement, the new world church (in dialogue with Catholic moral and political theologian, Oliver O’Donavan, which connects with the phenomenon described by Philip Jenkins in his recently acclaimed The Next Christendom), and the post-Christian Church as another city (in dialogue primarily with Barry Harvey, but in the tradition of prominent theologians like Stanley Hauerwas and John Howard Yoder).

From a Pentecostal theological perspective, however, I want to urge readers of the Pneuma Review to pay close attention to Kärkkäinen’s text. Let me suggest that this volume is not just an introductory survey of various ecclesiologies, including a chapter or two devoted to Pentecostal and/or charismatic ecclesiologies. Rather, read between the lines (or chapters, as the case may be), I discern a distinctively Pentecostal theme: that of the pneumatological motif which runs through the volume. Now, this may be the result of Kärkkäinen’s bias (used not pejoratively, of course). Or it may be that Kärkkäinen has accurately portrayed the contemporary ecclesiological landscape, and that God is truly doing a new thing of the Spirit such that this pneumatological thread has emerged in the text. Or both. Let me explain.

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Category: In Depth, Winter 2004

About the Author: Amos Yong is Professor of Theology & Mission and director of the Center for Missiological Research at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena. His graduate education includes degrees in theology, history, and religious studies from Western Evangelical Seminary and Portland State University, Portland, Oregon, and Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts, and an undergraduate degree from Bethany University of the Assemblies of God. He is the author of numerous papers and over 30 books. Facebook

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