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Pentecostalism and Ecumenism: Past, Present, and Future (Part 1 of 5) by Amos Yong

Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they [the disciples] know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them (John 17:20-26).

Three points should be made about this passage. First, note that Jesus’ prayer extends far beyond the circle of the twelve disciples, and embraces all of those who believe in him. The unity that is prayed for, in other words, is universally inclusive of believers in Jesus Christ, then, now, and so long as the our Lord shall tarry.

Second, the unity that is expected derives from the unity between the Father and the Son. This is an important point because the Father-Son unity in the Johannine gospel appears to be all-encompassing: ontologically in terms of shared presence (1:1-2; 10:38; 14:10-11; 16:32) and the divine name (8:58, cf. Ex. 3:14); imagistically in terms of the Son revealing (1:18; 14:7-9) and representing (13:20) the Father; act-ually in terms of the Son doing (only) what the Father does (5:19; 8:29; 14:31); gloriously in terms of equal honor being due to Father and Son (5:23) and bestowed by each on the other (8:49-50, 54; 13:31-32); judicially, as rendered by the Son on behalf of the Father (5:22, 26-27, 30; 8:16); mutuality in terms of witness and testimony (8:18) and will and intention (6:38; 12:28); evangelistically in terms of Jesus’ proclaiming and teaching (only) the Father’s message (7:16-17; 8:28; 12:49; 14:24; 15:15); salvifically in terms of Jesus being the way to the Father (14:6); communally in terms of fellowship (11:41-42) and love (14:21); and so on. This is a deep unity that cannot be simply explained in only one or another way. As prayed for by Jesus, then, the unity of believers should be understood not simplistically at any one level, but holistically, embracing every aspect or dimension of reality. As such, this unity transcends all artificial lines of demarcation that human beings so often erect to distinguish themselves from others.

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Category: Ministry, Pneuma Review, Winter 2001

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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