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

My immediate response is, Praise the Lord for what is being done in the Church worldwide. My secondary, critical, response is that the gift of discernment is needed all the more both within and without Pentecostal and charismatic churches. As those of us in these churches realize, not everything that goes on even in ‘spirit-filled congregations and denominations is of the Spirit of God.

This said, a question, a recommendation, and a commendation. The question: does Kärkkäinen not recognize that even European and Western ecclesiologies (and theologies, in his other books) are contextual? If so, then why perpetuate the (implied) notion via his sectional categorizations that Euro-American ecclesiologies (and theologies) are normative and Eastern and Southern ecclesiologies (and theologies) are contextual? The recommendation: Kärkkäinen is undoubtedly one of the most capable Pentecostal theologians in the world today, and perhaps best poised to provide a Pentecostal systematic theology that can begin to measure up to the complexity of the experiences of global Pentecostalism. Will he be open to the Spirit’s leading him in this direction? A foretaste of what may come can be found in his Toward a Pneumatological Theology: Pentecostal and Ecumenical Perspectives on Ecclesiology, Soteriology, and Theology of Mission (University Press of America, 2002).

The commendation: Pentecostal and charismatic pastors, leaders, and laypersons called by God to theological engagement need to read not only An Introduction to Ecclesiology, but as much of Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen as possible. His writings are more accessible than that of most theologians, and, I believe, he has been raised up as a Pentecostal theologian for such a time as this.

Reviewed by Amos Yong

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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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