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What Kind of Spirit Are We Really Of? A Pentecostal Approach to Interfaith Forgiveness and Interreligious Reconciliation

Jesus’ statement to his disciples in the context of the Samaritans and their religious otherness about the kind of Spirit Christians are to imbibe and display surely suggests the Holy Spirit is actively involved in interreligious relationships. Where the Spirit is truly present, Pentecostals will present an attitude affirming Christlike values of acceptance and appreciation even where debate and disagreement honestly exist as well. In other words, Jesus explicitly identifies the source of harmonious interreligious relations as the Holy Spirit. If Pentecostals truly desire to show forth the fullness of the Spirit in all areas, an offer of interfaith friendliness should be included.5

The destructive fire of sectarian strife is a forbidden fire.

I call upon fellow Pentecostals, therefore, to overtly identify religious aggression and/or violence of any kind by any party as incontrovertibly inconsistent with the Spirit of Christ and of Pentecost which we claim as our ecclesial heritage in the Christian family of faith. I also call upon Pentecostals to actively promote procedures or programs of justice and peace among the religions with same kind of faith and fervor that we pursue Christian evangelism and Pentecostal experience. Only then can we correctly answer the question based on Jesus’ descriptive statement: “What kind of Spirit are we of?”


Taking Divine Healing and Deliverance a Few Steps Farther

Divine healing for the body and deliverance from the oppressive demonic realm are important, intrinsic values of the Pentecostal faith. I myself have experienced what I can only describe as miraculous physical healing and spiritual deliverance. Lately, I have learned that divine healing and deliverance are not less than but more than individual and physical or even spiritual. They can and ought to be emotional and mental as well as institutional. More specifically, I have come to believe God wills to heal interreligious pain and deliver the religions from roadblocks to wellness and wholeness in their reciprocal relationships. This welds well with Latino Pentecostal theologian Juan Sepuœlveda’s description of the Pentecostal community of faith as a place of “enormous curative or healing efficacy.”6 The context clearly suggests he perceives this “curative or healing” power to extend beyond the physical to emotional and social realms. I infer it includes relations among the world religions as well.

We must not avoid the hard, honest work of admitting mistakes and making things right.

Of course, clearly the interreligious healing spoken of here applies to enhanced harmony in interpersonal and institutional relationships between Christians and religious others. It does not imply an embrace of radical religious pluralism denying the distinctiveness of Christian faith and life. Pentecostals are typically evangelical and conservative Christians completely convinced of the uniqueness of Christ and Christianity. The interfaith forgiveness and interreligious reconciliation I am advocating is completely consistent with these convictions.7

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Category: Ministry, Spring 2009

About the Author: Tony Richie, D.Min, Ph.D., is missionary teacher at SEMISUD (Quito, Ecuador) and adjunct professor at the Pentecostal Theological Seminary (Cleveland, TN). Dr. Richie is an Ordained Bishop in the Church of God, and Senior Pastor at New Harvest in Knoxville, TN. He has served the Society for Pentecostal Studies as Ecumenical Studies Interest Group Leader and is currently Liaison to the Interfaith Relations Commission of the National Council of Churches (USA), and represents Pentecostals with Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation of the World Council of Churches and the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs. He is the author of Speaking by the Spirit: A Pentecostal Model for Interreligious Dialogue (Emeth Press, 2011) and Toward a Pentecostal Theology of Religions: Encountering Cornelius Today (CPT Press, 2013) as well as several journal articles and books chapters on Pentecostal theology and experience.

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