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Roger Stronstad: The Prophethood of All Believers, reviewed by Amos Yong

 

Roger Stronstad, The Prophethood of All Believers: A Study in Luke’s Charismatic Theology, Journal of Pentecostal Theology Supplemental Series, vol. 16 (Sheffield, UK: Sheffield Academic Press, 1999). 136 pp.

There are at least three reasons why every Pentecostal and charismatic pastor, minister, or leader should read this book. Let me briefly attempt to convince the reader by elaborating on these in no particular order. First, the argument of the book is itself revolutionary for our understanding of what it means to be the people and church of God. The Reformation doctrine of the priesthood of all believers is commonplace, even among Pentecostals and charismatics. Not only can and should all believers be bold when they approach God, all believers are also commissioned by God to boldly be messengers of the gospel. This, Stronstad argues, is what the “prophethood of all believers” means. He goes through Luke-Acts in painstaking detail to show that the Spirit who anointed Jesus to go about doing good, to heal, to proclaim the Kingdom, and to deliver all oppressed of the devil (Luke 4:18 and Acts 10:38) is the same Spirit who has empowered all believers to do the same. Thus if Jesus is the eschatological prophet who is mighty in word and deed, why should not all believers be likewise, following not only the example and paradigm of Jesus, but also that of the earliest Christians, including Stephen, Philip, Barnabas, Agabus, Peter, and Paul (chapters 5 and 6)? Throughout, Stronstad weaves his argument paying close attention to the biblical texts, even while not neglecting the arguments of other Lukan scholars at important junctures.

The second and third reasons for reading this book are connected, concerned as they are with Pentecostal-charismatic experience and hermeneutics. Along with many others, Stronstad has long argued that Christians interpret the biblical texts in part according to what they have experienced or not experienced (the lack of experience). In interpreting Luke and Acts, the Christian (lack of) experience—in this case, of signs and wonders, glossolalia and other charisms—is crucial. The first chapter of this book therefore serves as an excellent summary introducing the fundamental principles of Pentecostal hermeneutics, of the ways in which Pentecostal experience has led them to insights and understandings of the biblical text which would be more difficult to come by apart from such experiences. The rest of the volume then shows this hermeneutic at work. For those of us concerned with the sound interpretation of Scripture (as I hope all of us are), this book is thus not just an abstract “how-to” of reading Scripture, but a model of how to read the Bible in a manner faithful to itself, the believing community and the integrity of the experiences which make one Pentecostal or charismatic. Those looking to see how a authentic Pentecostal Christian (Stronstad has long been academic dean of Western Pentecostal Bible College in Abbottsford, British Columbia, and member of the Society for Pentecostal Studies) interprets Scripture in a manner worthy of the convictions, sensibilities and orientations central to Pentecostal-charismatic preaching and teaching will find a gold mine of homiletical and pedagogical resources in this book.

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Category: Spirit, Summer 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. fuller.edu/faculty/ayong/ amosyong@fuller.edu Facebook

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