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Power from on High to Bear the Fruits of the Spirit

 

In chapter 3, Yong explores ecclesiology from a pneumatological perspective. Yong acknowledges that Pentecostals have not developed their own ecclesiology. Often Pentecostals have borrowed ecclesiastical paradigms and theology from the Free Church tradition. In this chapter, Yong challenges Pentecostals to formulate their own pneumatological ecclesiology. According to Yong, a pneumatological ecclesiology is “an organic, dynamic, and eschatological people of God called after the name of Jesus and constituted in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit” (pp. 122). After defining pneumatology ecclesiology, Yong elaborates on how Pentecostals have tried to develop their own ecclesiology. First, Pentecostals have borrowed from the Free Church tradition “uncritically.” Second, Pentecostal ecclesiology has centered itself in the missionary task of the church. Third, Pentecostal ecclesiology is inheritably pneumatological, in other words, “the church is founded by the Spirit, nurtured as a fellowship of and in the Spirit, and empowered by the Spirit to spread the Gospel” (pp. 127). Fourth, Pentecostal ecclesiology in the future must seek ecumenical conversations such as the relationship between the Spirit and the sacraments. Finally, Pentecostal ecclesiology will continue to ask, what does it mean to be saved from a Pentecostal ecclesiastical perspective? At the end of this chapter, Yong revisits his definition of his pneumatological ecclesiology by stating, “The Spirit is the personal reality who makes many individuals into a community of persons …the rhema word of the Spirit of God is formative and transformative for individuals in community” (pp. 135, 142). The Spirit forms his community in Pentecostal ecclesiology.

Overall, the chapter emphasizes the working of the Spirit through spiritual gifts in Pentecostal ecclesiology. Yong does a good service to Pentecostal theology in acknowledging the imbalance that exists between the gifts of the Spirit and the fruit of the Spirit. Yong acknowledges, “There are also, unfortunately, too many examples of Pentecostals who supposedly manifest the gifts of the Spirit but lack the fruits thereof” (pp. 139). Can Pentecostals show others not only how the Spirit works through his gifts, but demonstrate the evidence that the Spirit’s fruit is in their lives? Pentecostals are gifted, but why have the gifts not moved them to do more work in social justice? Is it because there is no fruit, love, kindness, etc. …just gifts? Is it because Pentecostals have listened to the voice of their culture instead of listening to the voice of the Spirit in regards to social issues? Should not the gifts move them towards social justice? Section 4 elaborates that Pentecostals are beginning to emerge from themselves and reach out in doing social justice.

My contention with this book and with Pentecostals in general is that the focus is not in the person of the Spirit but in his gifts. They seek the manifestations instead of the one who gives those manifestations. Pentecostals are so “fixated” with the gifts that they forget about the fruit of the Spirit. Through Pentecostal history, the focus has been on the gifts of the Spirit. I believe now is the time to develop a theology focusing in the fruit of the Spirit. Some Pentecostal scholars fail to focus on the fruit of the Spirit. From their perspective, the fruit is not a gift but more of an ethical moral development. Whether it is a gift or not, the issue remains that, there is danger to having gifts without the fruit. The Spirit’s power is often associated with the gifts but not with the fruit. The book of Isaiah associates the anointing with both the gifts and the works of social justice or moral development.

 

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Category: In Depth, Winter 2007

About the Author: Rony M. Reyes, Th.M. (Winebrenner Theological Seminary, Findlay, Ohio), has pastored churches in urban and rural settings in Indiana and Illinois. He is a member of the Society for Pentecostal Studies. Pastor Reyes is the author of Apocalyptic Anointing (Emeth Press, 2008).

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