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The Spirit and the Prophetic Church, Part 2, by Antipas L. Harris

Matthew Barnett, the founder of the Dream Center, is an ordained minister from the Assemblies of God. However, he pastors the original Foursquare Church—Angelus Temple of Los Angeles. A wide variety of ministries send both human and financial resources to assist in sustaining the ministry at the Los Angeles Dream Center and Angelus Temple. Various Pentecostal-type churches form something like a Pentecostal/charismatic ecumenical network of ministries. For example, Jack Hayford (Ordained in the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel) of the Church on the Way; Morris Cerullo (Ordained Assemblies of God minister) of Morris Cerullo World Evangelism; Paula White (ordained Independent Charismatic minister) of Without Walls Church in Tampa, Florida; Joyce Myers (ordained Independent Charismatic minister) of Life in the Word Ministries in Fenton, Missouri; Tommy Barnett (ordained Assemblies of God Minister) of Phoenix First Assembly in Phoenix, Arizona; T. D. Jakes (ordained United Pentecostal [Oneness] minister) of The Potter’s house in Dallas, Texas; and several others comprise a small ecumenical pool of churches and ministries that form a unified presence of the Body of Christ to support the ministries of the Los Angeles Dream Center.

Poverty is not caused by scarcity.

As a result of the prophetic ministry at the Dream Center, the crime rate in the communities surrounding the ministry has dropped. Only four years after the center was opened, the urban community surrounding it had experienced a dramatic reduction in crime. Prostitution and gang violence dropped by 73% and rape dropped by 53%.63 The Mayor and the City Council recognized Rev. Barnett and the Dream Center for having a direct impact on those figures.64

Notably, the Dream Center has a Pentecostal foundation. The founders are ordained Pentecostal pastors. The ministry represents the integration of Christological and Pneumatological categories. The result of such is astoundingly both ecumenically and prophetically. It represents ministry that echoes the potential, which is fundamental to its Pentecostal heritage—a potential that Yong notes in his essay mentioned above.65

Summary and Conclusion

In general, scholars such as Yong, Steve Studebaker and others argue that the Pentecostal emphasis on the Holy Spirit provides a pneumatological context for unifying people.66 When speaking of ecumenism, however, the key work of the Spirit is to provide a divine unifier for believers from a variety of ethnic, theological and contextual trajectories. This interconnection among believers is underscored by the common denominator, professed faith in Christ. The Pentecostal emphasis on the Holy Spirit, moreover, provides the perfect pneumatological context for ecumenical ministry that continues the ministry that Christ did and taught.

Prophetic urban ministry requires grappling with principalities and powers.

The history of the Pentecostal movement from the 1906 Azusa Street Revival bears record that the Holy Spirit has served a pragmatic role in unifying a diverse people in Christ. Amidst heavy racism, denominationalism, classism and sexism; the move of the Spirit at Azusa Street brought diverse people together as a single Body or one family in Christ. The Spirit as the divine unifying agent in multi-dimensional situations also mobilizes the unified Body of Christ in advancing the mission of God to spread the Good News of hope and existential liberation. This is what Pentecostals mean when we say, “the Spirit makes the difference.” Moreover, a Pentecostal approach to ecumenism offers a boots-on-the-ground approach to discussions on ecumenism—ecumenical prophetic urban ministry. Mere ecumenical theological discourse must move beyond the esoteric discussions of a unified ecclesial identity between Catholics and Protestants and the many Protestant denominational traditions. A unified Body of Christ (the Church) empowered by the Spirit provides the transformational agency necessary to realize the Good News in urban communities.

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Category: Ministry, Pneuma Review, Summer 2013

About the Author: Antipas L. Harris, D.Min. (Boston University), S.T.M. (Yale University Divinity School), M.Div. (Emory University), is the president-dean of Jakes Divinity School and associate pastor at The Potter’s House of Dallas, TX, and the founding dean of the Urban Renewal Center in Norfolk, Virginia. He is the Criminal Justice System Director for the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC) and president of the Global Institute for Empowerment & Leadership Development, known as GIELD. He has additional experience as an educator, academic lecturer, itinerant preacher, pastor, youth director, motivational speaker, and Christian musician. He is the author of Is Christianity the White Man's Religion?: How the Bible Is Good News for People of Color (IVP, 2020), The Holy Spirit and Social Justice: Scripture and Theology (2019), Holy Spirit, Holy Living: A Practical Theology of Holiness for Twenty-first Century Churches (Wipf & Stock, 2013) and Unstoppable Success: 7 Ways to Flourish in Your Boundless Potential (High Bridge Books, 2014). | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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