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What Meaneth This? A Question for 21st Century Pentecostalism

 

To wrap this up, I want to go backwards in time to the early years of another century and a man and a university.

Those of you with a Lutheran bent know that here in 2008, Protestantism is only nine years from the five hundredth anniversary of the start of the Reformation. E.G. Schwiebert, in his monumental work Luther and His Times, describes in detail the impact of Luther and the University at Wittenberg.

Prophesy, visions, dreams, all point to one thing: God has a future for His creation!

In mid-1514 Paul Lange, a Benedictine monk, traveled through central Germany looking for the leading university professors to include in a Schriftstellerlexikon, sort of a “Who’s Who” for that day. He also looked for, the vir inluster, the promising younger professors. A young monk named Martin Luther was not even interviewed.10 Not noticed by the world, the thirty-one year old monk was well on his journey to a life-changing encounter with the Scriptures.

Schwiebert describes how from 1514 to 1517 Luther won over the entire Wittenberg faculty to his views of Scripture, the church, and justification by faith. The October 31st nailing of the Ninety-Five Theses was not the isolated act of a renegade priest but was the culmination of ideas birthed in the give and take of teaching and preaching in a community of faith committed to discerning afresh the message of the gospel for their age.

In the forty years from 1520 to 1560 approximately 16,000 students matriculated at Wittenberg from across Europe. It “became the mirror in which the growth of the German Reformation was reflected.”11

The Twenty-first Century is meant to have Pentecostal schools with teachers and leaders who comprehend what Luther and Wittenberg did five hundred years ago.

I read Schweibert’s book about five years ago and those insights about Luther and Wittenberg have challenged me to what the Christian community at large, and in my case as a Pentecostal, must be about for Jesus’ sake.

I am convinced that the Twenty-first Century is meant to have Pentecostal schools with teachers and leaders who comprehend what Luther and Wittenberg did five hundred years ago. I believe that Acts 13 and the Antioch church are instructive for us in the “academy.” There were teachers; that means there were learners. There were prophets; that means there were listeners. It was from that setting that the Holy Spirit sent forth leaders who penetrated a new world to them: the Graeco-Roman Empire. I’m praying the Holy Spirit will give teachers and leaders in the Pentecostal Academy that kind of dual edge ministry; that kind of passion of the Spirit; that kind of instruction that moves beyond conveying knowledge to imparting a powerful personal and corporate walk in the Spirit.

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Category: Living the Faith, Summer 2008

About the Author: A. Doug Beacham, Jr., D.Min. (Union Presbyterian Seminary), is the General Superintendent of the International Pentecostal Holiness Church (IPHC Ministries). Twitter: @DougBeacham. LinkedIn. Facebook.

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