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

Finally, it would be remiss not to mention the centrality of love to the Father-Son unity and the unity that Jesus prayed for those who believe in his name. Love is that which characterizes the Trinitarian relationship between Father and Son, between the Son and the world, and between the Father and the world. Earlier in the gospel, Jesus had said, ‘By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another’ (13:35). How do we show forth the salvation that we have experienced? By loving each other. Failure to demonstrate such love to the world betrays our witness to non-believers. On the other hand, the loving unity that should bind believers together in Jesus is precisely that testimony by which others realize the love of God for the world.

John does also mention another motif of the unity between Father and Son that is connected to the sending of the Spirit. Jesus promised the arrival of the Counselor, the Spirit of truth, from the Father, and foretold that ‘On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you’ (14:20). Later in the same upper room speech, Jesus indicates that the common message of Father and Son will be made known to the disciples by the Spirit of truth (16:12-15). Yet nowhere else in the autoptic gospel is this connection between the Spirit and the ecumenical prayer of Jesus explicated.

Such explication is, however, found in volume two of Luke’s writings. Luke, as is well known, is supremely concerned in the book of Acts with the person and work of the Holy Spirit. This pneumatological motif finds expression on the Day of Pentecost when the Spirit is, literally, poured out ‘on all people’ (Acts 2:17). One should not take this ‘all’ lightly since Luke goes to great lengths to describe the universality of peoples represented in Jerusalem who heard those in the upper room speaking to them each in their own native tongue. This gathering of Judeans, Parthians, Medes, Elamites, Cappadocians, Asians, Phrygians, Pamphylians, Egyptians, Libyans, Cyreneans, Romans, Cretans, Arabians, residents of Mesopotamia, and others (2:9-11) has long been understood to represent the re-gathering of God’s people from their initial dispersal at the Tower of Babel. More importantly, however, it was individuals from each of these people groups who were baptized into the one body of Christ on that day (2:41), and who, in turn, took the gospel from Jerusalem to Judea, to Samaria, ‘and to the ends of the earth’ (1:8).

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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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