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Wolfgang Vondey: Pentecostal Theology

Part of the genius of Vondey’s approach is his ability to develop theological depth while also maintaining simplicity. Generally, Vondey does not make any bold or novel theological claims. Instead he draws predominantly from the established wells of current Pentecostal theology and organizes these views around traditional Pentecostal themes. In so doing, he is able to enhance and expand upon the groundwork laid by premiere contemporary Pentecostal scholarship. Vondey successfully orchestrates a robust Pentecostal theology from a chorus of different voices. Along these lines, as merely a reference resource alone, Vondey’s footnotes are worth the price of admission. One could use these to outline contemporary Pentecostal thought or as a reading list to deepen their exploration of this movement.

Pentecost begins and ends with the worship of God. In this sense, Pentecostalism is a liturgical movement.

If I am to offer one critique of Vondey’s project, it concerns his treatment of the term symbol. Throughout the majority of the book Vondey discusses the significance of Pentecost as a symbol for the Pentecostal movement; however, he waits to clarify his definition of this term until the final chapter. Here Vondey adopts Paul Tillich’s understanding of symbol as exposited in Dynamics of Faith. I contend that discussion of Vondey’s definition of symbol in the front matter of the book would have been beneficial. It would have clarified and contextualized his usage of the term.

Vondey writes with both a Pentecostal and ecumenical audience in mind. Throughout the text he successfully connected with my Pentecostal sensibilities, especially my childhood experiences growing up in a small countryside Pentecostal church. He brought back many memories of altar experiences, which are some of my fondest memories growing up. At times, though, I questioned if Vondey effectively connects with his non-Pentecostal readers. I wonder if he should have given more attention to fleshing out the importance of the altar for Pentecostals. Given his emphasis upon narrative theology, Pentecostal testimonials about the centrality of the altar may have enhanced this portion of his argument. But maybe I am wrong. After all, I can only conjecture how a non-Pentecostal will read the book.

Nevertheless, I predict that Vondey’s monograph will become an instant classic of contemporary Pentecostal theology. His text is a theological masterpiece that should be a part of every serious Pentecostal scholar’s library. Although the text has a high price tag, it is well worth the investment.

Reviewed by David Bradnick


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Category: Fall 2018, Ministry

About the Author: David Bradnick, Ph.D. Theological Studies (Regent University School of Divinity), is an instructor in the philosophy department at Stevenson University and York College of Pennsylvania. His dissertation is titled "Loosing and Binding the Spirits: An Emergentist Theology of the Demonic" (2015).

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