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To begin with, the Preface explains a variety of Pentecostal, ecumenical, eschatological, and personal contexts. Here readers detect the diversity driving a theological vision rooted in a unifying pneumatological orientation. Then the Introduction sets the stage by identifying “emerging global issues” forming the foci for what follows in the bulk of the book: multidimensional salvation; pneumatological soteriology and ecclesiology; ecumenical potential; Oneness and Trinitarian identity and plurality; public theology and world religions; and, a theology of creation and science. Everything from Pentecostal history, theology, and spirituality to the politics and practices of racism, feminism, and colonialism are discussed alongside issues of interfaith relations, liberation of oppressed peoples, and the problems and potentials of Spirit-filled walk and witness in a postmodern world. Always Yong exegetes the Scriptures and engages the theological discipline with an increasing command of resources. Convinced that today’s “late modern world” is characterized by increasing complexity and ambiguity, he is nonetheless persuaded “not only that Christian theology can continue to speak in this new global context but also that pentecostal theology in particular can do so” (pp. 17, 18). Indeed, if anything, the remainder of the work amply illustrates the relevance of “world pentecostal theology” (p. 135). Yong clearly elucidates his presuppositions and methodology, which he consistently applies throughout the work. Truly, typically, and distinctively Pentecostal, he builds on a Lukan hermeneutic, a pneumatological framework, and an experiential base while stressing the centrality of Christ and insisting Pentecostals can no longer put off apologetic and systematic theology.

Here is intelligent, articulate thinking that is more than a bit bold at times (e.g., ecumenical/inter-religious emphases). Still, it attempts to anchor even its more speculative suggestions in the best Pentecostal tradition (striving throughout to be “Christ centered and Spirit driven”—pp. 83, 156; cf. pp. 28, 203, 226). Some readers may occasionally question whether Yong always quite pulls that off (e.g., on the provisional authority of the papacy or episcopacy). Those willing to listen long enough to really consider his ideas and their implications will often end up answering in the affirmative. Doubtless, even when disagreeing they will benefit from the process. At times Yong suggests pneumatological theology reinvigorates old doctrines (e.g., integrating atonement theories; more organic, less privatized ecclesiology). At other times he tackles new terrain (e.g., theologically exploring science). We do well to remember his “pneumatological theology of quest” (p. 30). To employ early American pioneer imagery, Yong is a scout more so than a settler, always pushing beyond theological frontiers into uncharted territory; yet he marks well the trails he blazes precisely because he is mindful of those following who are doing the hard work of homesteading necessary for building a lasting spiritual civilization capable of sustaining and nurturing Christian faith and life.

 

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Category: In Depth, Winter 2007

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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