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Wolfgang Vondey: The Holy Spirit and the Christian Life

 

Wolfgang Vondey, ed., The Holy Spirit and the Christian Life: Historical, Interdisciplinary, and Renewal Perspectives, Christianity and Renewal – Interdisciplinary Studies 1 (New York, NY: Palgrave MacMillan, 2014), v + 240 pages.

Wolfgang Vondey is Associate Professor of Systematic Theology and Director of the Center for Renewal Studies at Regent University. He has authored and edited numerous publications on Pentecostal, charismatic, ecumenical, and theological interests. In this title, 12 scholars from philosophical, theological, historical, and biblical disciplines join to discuss the transforming work of the Spirit in the Christian life. These individual essays are held together by a focus on the exploration of the relation between the work of the Spirit and personal, ecclesial, and social transformation, discipleship, and Christian formation. The title points toward interdisciplinary integration of theory and practice and theology and spirituality.

In the Introduction, Vondey notes that the biblical images for the Spirit (including wind, breath, fire, water, and love), which are all metaphors that capture not only the basic elements of the world, but also the fundamental necessities of creation. Yet, as Vondey reminds us, Basil of Caesarea tells us that the “Spirit is not brought into intimate association with the soul by its local approximation.” Indeed, the Spirit may drive all of creation toward God, but this does not guarantee that we shall see the Spirit’s work in all of creation, for we must still discern the spirits (2). In this title particularly, and all of this Series generally, Renewal is a “journey by way of the Spirit into and transcending the full range of classical expressions and core symbols of the faith toward their transformation” (11).

The origin of these essays was the 2013 Annual Conference in Renewal Studies at Regent University, titled the same as the book. Most of the essays in this collection were presented at this venue, or other similar venues. With the remaining space for review, I would like to mention some of the more impactful chapters from the text. Starting the text off in chapter 1 is Steve Sherman’s, “Mapping the Hermeneutical Waters,” wherein he argues that only a robust, Spirit-filled hermeneutic will be apropos for the Evangelical community. Sherman maps five hermeneutical territories, and suggests that although there is general agreement regarding the necessity of pneumatic hermeneutics, Spirit-filled hermeneutics takes on vastly different form from model to model. In chapter 5, Cheryl M. Peterson participates in “A Lutheran Engagement with Wesley on the Work of the Holy Spirit.” In this chapter, she asks what a Lutheran can learn from Wesley about the Spirit in the Christian life. Peterson’s study shows ways in which they can reclaim a more complete historical understanding of the Spirit’s work in the Christian life as well as get an assist from their theological neighbors, the Wesley’s, regarding the fullness of salvation given through Christ in the Spirit.

 

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Category: In Depth, Spring 2014

About the Author: Bradford L. McCall, B.S. in Biology (Georgia Southwestern St. University, 2000), M.Div. (Asbury Theological Seminary, 2005), grew up on a cotton farm in south Georgia. A graduate student at Holy Apostles College and Seminary, Bradford has particular interest in teleology, causation and early modern philosophy.

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