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The Coming of Pietistic-Pentecostalism: Summary and Reflection on Amos Yong’s 2015 Downey Lectures

Being Christ-centered and gospel-centered is not just about what we think Jesus did in the past but is also about what the living Christ does in us now.

All of this means that we should foster a global Pietistic-Pentecostal dialogue by getting involved in organizations and conferences that are set up to do just that, empowering a global witness of this expression of Christianity, and moving towards a Pietistic-Pentecostal vision of higher education (which values lifelong, holistic, biblical, Christ and Spirit-centered learning and interdisciplinary work).

In the final question and answer time, Yong’s responses again emphasized the holistic nature of the Christian life. He explained how all spheres of life are sanctified and that it is so difficult for us to create a synthesis between academic rigor and the Spirit-filled life because we have been taught to compartmentalize our lives. Yong also observed that for constructive conversations to take place between Pietistic-Pentecostal types and other types of Christians, that the latter must understand how the former defines orthodoxy, since they define it differently.

Yong’s lectures were valuable on a number of levels. Yong’s grounding of his lectures both in history and currently-observed trends was particularly valuable since one must understand a tradition’s origins if one hopes fully to understand its current iteration. Being of a more Reformed stripe, I appreciated Yong’s willingness to celebrate in the strengths of his tradition while simultaneously being honest about its weaknesses. Constructive conversations between individuals from different backgrounds are only possible when both parties appreciate and challenge one another. Failing to treat another as a valued person made in the image of God shuts down conversation; as Proverbs 16:21 states positively, “sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness.” On the other hand, one need not abandon one’s convictions in order to love another. In fact, as Yong said during a dinner I had the privilege of attending on the night of his second lecture, it does no one any good to agree with everything another says because then the two cannot challenge each other and thus lead each other to grow in areas of weakness.

As a Christian aiming to glorify God in everything I do, I appreciated Yong’s emphasis on the holistic nature of the Christian life, including aspects that can often be neglected, such as the role of the body in one’s life, and the interplay between one’s intellect and the Spirit. Finally, as a Christian whose life exists because of God’s love, I came away encouraged by the Pietistic-Pentecostal emphasis on the importance of seeking to understand and exhibit this love in my life. I believe that this is an area in which traditions such as this can contribute to my tradition’s emphasis on orthodoxy, and an area in which my tradition can contribute the fruits of responsible exegesis and thoughtful theologies to the understanding of what this kind of love looks like. I pray that those in my tradition will not dismiss all of what Pietistic-Pentecostals have to say about the importance of love because of their disagreements in other areas of theology, and that the Pietistic-Pentecostals will not dismiss our emphasis on orthodoxy, since, rightly understood, it necessarily leads to orthopraxy and orthopathos.

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Category: In Depth, Spring 2015

About the Author: Jenny-Lyn de Klerk has a BA in Christian Studies and an MA in Biblical and Theological Studies from Ambrose Seminary (Calgary, AB, Canada) and works at Tsawwassen Alliance Church (Delta, BC, Canada).

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