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David Jensen: The Lord and Giver of Life

These necessarily brief descriptions reveal the variety of approaches and themes contained in the collection. While the common theme among these essays is certainly the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, not all of the texts offer “perspectives on constructive pneumatology,” as the subtitle suggests; some are rather “pneumatological perspectives” on particular (sometimes non-theological) themes. This variety, apparent also in other, similar collections on pneumatology, is a visible hallmark of the landscape of contemporary pneumatology. There is a danger involved in this approach that can quickly cloud the pneumatological lens if it is applied indiscriminately. At the present, applying this lens is still necessary in order to revive a theological agenda that has often neglected explicit considerations of the Holy Spirit. This collection is one of those “idea-givers.” The authors offer food for thought, often stimulating, albeit underdeveloped, and many of the essays beg for further explanation and expansion. In some cases, these texts have been expanded elsewhere into book-length format, as in Eugene Rogers’ After the Spirit and Amos Yong’s Hospitality and the Other. In other cases, a more thorough application to pneumatology is necessary in order to tease out just how exactly a theology of “the lord and giver of life” is able to transform traditional theological and non-theological dimensions of life. Answering the question how these beliefs and proposals impact the practices of the Christian life remains one of the foremost tasks of pneumatology, not only among Pentecostals.

For Pentecostals, the collection of essays offers a single entry to a variety of constructive pneumatological proposals that should be of interest not only to graduate students or scholars of religion but anyone interested in a Spirit-driven approach to the questions of life. While Yong is the only Pentecostal author in this collection, his essay reveals the creative and challenging nature pneumatology has assumed not only among Pentecostals. This book could be well-paired with similar collections, such as Veli-Matti Karkkainen’s The Spirit in the World, Michael Welker’s The Work of the Spirit, or Bradford Hinze’s and D. Lyle Dabney’s more academic Advents of the Spirit. The result is an encouraging diversity in the recent revival of pneumatology that still has far to go before we can speak of a comprehensive doctrine of the Holy Spirit.

Reviewed by Wolfgang Vondey

Editor’s note: A Review in Brief from this essay appeared in the Winter 2011 issue of Pneuma Review.

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Category: In Depth, Winter 2011

About the Author: Wolfgang Vondey, Ph.D. (Marquette University) and M.Div. (Church of God Theological Seminary), is Reader in Contemporary Christianity and Pentecostal Studies at the University of Birmingham, UK. He is an ordained minister with the Church of God (Cleveland, TN). His research focuses on ecclesiology, pneumatology, theological method, and the intersection of theology and science.

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