An extended review of Amos Yong, The Spirit Poured Out on All Flesh: Pentecostalism and the Possibility of Global Theology (Baker Academic, 2005). Reviewed by Tony Richie. Read the shorter review in the Winter 2007 issue.
The oft overused term “instant classic” is, of course, an oxymoron. To become a true classic takes time; by definition, it cannot be an instant occurrence. Still, in a less straightforward sense that a potentially classic contribution to the Pentecostal conversation seems immediately apparent, Amos Yong‘s The Spirit Poured Out on All Flesh may indeed be an instant classic. Whether one is interested in diverse Pentecostal origins and activities around the world, Pentecostalism’s inherent ethos as a movement, or an in depth application of its underlying pneumatological theology and spirituality addressing many of the most pressing themes of our day—or all of the above—this book has something solid for you. It can be guaranteed to inform, challenge, provoke, and otherwise stimulate theological thought and praxis. But it is not only an intellectual work but a spiritual one as well. The Spirit Poured Out on All Flesh is “on fire and up to date,” that is, it is filled with both Pentecostal power and contemporary relevance. I am particularly pleased to see this fine offering from a great scholar and good friend by whom I have been personally blessed so very much.Though Dr. Yong engages others and draws on his own prior works, he by no means merely reviews others or recaps himself. He ably expands and extends the discussion on every topic he addresses. A prophetic tone is often discernible in the challenges he tosses out (e.g., on religiously substantiated racism and Pentecostalism’s missed opportunities and new possibilities; Pentecostalists’ elitism in the West). His discussions also disclose profound pastoral concerns (e.g., for spiritual formation and growth, missions and ministry). His is not a timid description of where Pentecostalism is or may be headed, but a definitive prescription for both broad and deep progress. Yet Yong humbly concedes the provisional nature of his work, calls for others to evaluate the results, and then to converse with him through critiques that can help construct an ever more efficient theology.
Though Yong addresses general Christianity, he presses home interests and insights from and for Pentecostalism (e.g., multiple dimensions of holistic salvation; a Spirit Christology avoiding subordination or displacement of either Son or Spirit). But for him Pentecostalism is “deep and wide”—his is definitely not a narrow or shallow portrait of the movement. Laying aside sectarianism, Yong includes classical Pentecostals, neo-Pentecostals/Charismatics, and Pentecostal-like groups from around the globe in an ongoing conversation about life and faith in one of contemporary Christianity’s most vital branches of the family tree.