George M. Flattery, A Biblical Theology of the Holy Spirit, vol. 1, The Holy Spirit in the Old Testament, James E. Richardson, ed. (Springfield, MO: Global University, 2009), xxxii + 226 pages.
George M. Flattery, A Biblical Theology of the Holy Spirit, vol. 2, Luke and Acts, James E. Richardson, ed. (Springfield, MO: Global University, 2009), xxxiii + 365 pages.
George M. Flattery, A Biblical Theology of the Holy Spirit, vol. 3, John and Paul, James E. Richardson, ed. (Springfield, MO: Global University, 2009), xxxii + 368 pages.
James E. Richardson, ed., A Biblical Theology of the Holy Spirit, vol. 4, Contemporary Issues in Pneumatology (Springfield, MO: Global University, 2009), xxxiv + 325 pages.
Global University (GU), an online institution of higher education in the pentecostal tradition, has an 80-year history if you count its derivation from the merger of ICI University and Berean University, two schools initiated by the American Assemblies of God (AOG). George Flattery has taught at GU for decades, all the while studying and teaching the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. The first three volumes in this set comprise his own conclusions reached in wrestling with the scriptures and the research he has undertaken.
All of the volumes in this series are fairly similarly structured. They each include a Foreword (by L. John Bueno, the executive director of the Assemblies of God World Missions Department), comments by the publisher (Carl Chrisner, the dean of the Graduate School of Theology, within which Flattery has taught for most of his GU tenure) and the editor (Richardson is GU’s professor of education and missions), a general introduction by Flattery that covers the four volumes, and distinct prefaces (respectively for the four volumes: Richard Dresselhaus, executive presbyter of the AOG; William Menzies, the denomination’s leading historian; Gary L. Seevers, Jr., then GU’s Provost and more recently its president; and George W. Flattery, son of the author and lead pastor of Stone Church in Springfield, Missouri). The back-matter for each volume includes appendices, references lists, scripture and other indices. Designed for use in GU’s courses, this handsomely produced set provides an excellent point of entry into the biblical material on the Holy Spirit to students all over the world, many of whom have limited access to scholarly resources and very basic biblical and theological literacy.
Flattery writes pastorally. The structure, method, and organization of this pneumatology are deeply shaped by the Bible school traditions of evangelical and pentecostal theological education over the course of the twentieth century. Many of the sources consulted, cited, and engaged will be familiar to readers of this journal who have a basic theological education. On occasions, Flattery engages with more recent pentecostal scholarship and in some of these instances, nicely and successfully introduces what might otherwise be threatening ideas to GU’s student audience. But by and large, Flattery proceeds methodologically through an inductive and in-some-cases exegetically driven, section-by-section, study of the scriptures. The three volumes thus provide a sort of summa on “what the Bible says about the Holy Spirit,” beginning with the Old Testament (which proceeds according to the canonical ordering), moving through Luke and Acts (amounting to what might be called a pentecostal reading of the Lukan materials), and concluding with John (including the Johannine epistles and the Apocalypse) and Paul (making no distinctions between authentic and inauthentic Pauline epistles divined by modern scholarship). The result is a compendium of biblical insights into the person and work of the Spirit that suitably introduces students from around the world to a pentecostal and charismatic worldview, at least as conceived within the classical North American pentecostal movement.