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Power from on High to Bear the Fruits of the Spirit

 

In section 4.3 (pp. 187), Yong explains the present and future challenges of ecumenism. In the case study of black-white Pentecostal differences in the church, Yong identifies the main differences that exist among black-white Pentecostals (section 4.2). He states, “So whereas white Pentecostals in North America are concerned first and foremost about doctrinal orthodoxy and evangelism directed toward conversion, black Pentecostals are more concerned with social issues” (187). Pentecostals must see social issues in a global context since Pentecostalism is a worldwide movement. According to Pentecostal Latin American theology social issues is where: …the Spirit challenges the church to participate in the reign of God, to confront and dismantle structural sin and evil, and to fulfill its prophetic and vocational missions of establishing koinonia through liturgy, kerygmatic proclamation, and discipleship and service” (pp. 189). Theologians need to unify to white, black, Asian, and Latino Pentecostal social justice theologies.

Chapter 5 explores the issues of “oneness” and Trinitarian theology. Among Pentecostals, Yong writes that oneness Pentecostal theology is as essential as Trinitarian theology in strengthening dialogue with other world religions. Oneness Pentecostals can contribute to conversations with monotheistic religions like Islam and Judaism. Yong recognizes that, “The Oneness Pentecostal encounter with other monotheistic faiths in general and with Islam in particular is not burdened by the doctrine of the Trinity” (pp. 231).

In The Holy Spirit and the Spirits (Chapter 6), Yong raises provocative questions regarding open dialogue with other religions. He asks what the role of the religion is in the providence of God. Does God save through other religions, and if so, how? What should be the Christian response to other faiths? (pp. 236). Yong believes that, “Only a pneumatological approach to the religions enables us to hold in tension the distinctive confessional claims of Christian faith alongside the actual claims of the religions themselves, because the Spirit’s being poured out upon all flesh does not cancel out but instead preserves the diversity of human voices” (pp. 236). Yong contends that God speaks to humans through the vehicle of other religions.

Yong confronts the issue of syncretism in a subtle way. He approaches syncretism from the Pentecostal missiological perspective. However, he does not define what he believes, or why one should be interested in syncretism. He talks about syncretism, but is syncretism good or bad? If syncretism is good, can it be termed differently? If syncretism is bad, how can we categorize or explain its evilness? Yong is not clear in respect in his review on syncretism.

When discerning the Spirit(s) in other religions, Yong gives three suggestions. First, we need to discern the context of religions: geographically, historical, economic, political, and social (pp. 253). Second, we must understand the complex demands of religions. Yong says, “How can we say anything about the Spirit’s presence, activity, or absence in the world of the religions without empirical investigation of this complex reality?” (255). The process of discernment will give Pentecostals a better understanding of how God is working in other religions.

 

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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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