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Beyond the Fundamentalist-Modernist Controversy: Pentecostals and Hermeneutics in a Postmodern Age

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... Present-day experience is deliberately interpreted and directed in the light of a perceived (perhaps imagined) past. The Pentecostal and Charismatic Christian traditions are obvious examples of traditions that draw heavily on the paradigmatic nature of biblical narratives and the centrality of personal experience (Archer, 1996(Archer, , 2001Arrington, 1994;Cargal, 1993;Stibbe, 1998). From the earliest days of the Pentecostal revival the spiritual experiences of congregational members were understood to be equivalent to the gifts described in the New Testament church. ...
... So while Pentecostal Bible reading remains inherently tied to conservative notions of inerrancy and verbal inspiration for some, for others the stress on Word over Spirit represented a betrayal of the core principles of the movement? With the influence of postmodern thinking on hermeneutics, some Pentecostals have seen opportunities for a theological approach to biblical interpretation that can embrace with confidence the spiritual experience of contemporary interpreters (Cargal, 1993;Cartledge, 1996; Coombs, 2010; Smith, ].I Stibbe, 1998). More recently, Spawn and Wright (2012a) refer to the hermeneutics of "the renewal tradition'; by which they mean hermeneutics that are informed by "pneumatological commitments and experiences" (Spawn and Wright, 2012b: xvii). ...
Article
The idea that imagination plays a key role in biblical interpretation has become increasingly important over the last few decades. The ability of readers to project from their present-day into an ancient narrative might be promoted by psychological functions that foster imagination, and by specific theological beliefs such as Charismaticism, which are associated with experiential and analogical hermeneutics. This study of 857 Anglican clergy examined the extent to which the Jungian psychological function of intuition and the practice of Charismaticism are associated with readers being able to imagine themselves into a New Testament healing story. The results provided evidence to support the idea that one way in which readers might tackle Mark 9:14-29 is to imagine themselves into the story, possibly by identifying with one of the characters in the narrative. The propensity to do this is partly related to psychological type preferences, with intuitives being more likely to imagine themselves into story. Independent of psychological preferences, Charismaticism also promotes imaginative engagement and identification with characters, and this is especially so for identification with Jesus and with the disciples. Empirical studies of this sort help to remind interpreters that interpretative preferences may be linked to individual differences in psychology and experience.
... 60 Postmodernism, where it is 59 RO is a theological initiative represented by John Milbank, Catherine Pickstock and Graham Ward (1999). 60 Johns describes a worldview as "that system of a priori assumptions with which an individual not a hyper-modernism (a continuation of the modern theme of the autonomy of the self), may be a useful bandwagon for Pentecostals, so some claim (Cargal, 1993). We will now consider postmodernism in relation to biblical interpretation in more detail. ...
... In 1993 Pentecostal hermeneutics became a particularly hot topic 62 with the publication of a number of articles in both Pneuma (Cargal, 1993;Dempster, 1993;Israel et al., 1993;Stronstad, 1993;Byrd, 1993) and the Journal of Pentecostal Theology (JPT) (Johns and Johns, 1992;Moore, 1992). In Pneuma, Cargal in particular wrote in favour of the Who apparently "borrowed the concept of "paradigm shifts" from a scientist Thomas Kuhn and appropriated it to biblical studies" (Kočí, 2014, p.228). ...
Thesis
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In this thesis, I address the question of how lay leaders of the Elim Pentecostal Church (Elim) practise their hermeneutics. Building upon prescriptive academic writings regarding Pentecostal hermeneutics, I use qualitative empirical research to explore how the role of Scripture, Spirit and Community are navigated by Elim Pentecostals. This enables me to provide a description of what people say about their hermeneutical approach, whilst examining their actual practice. In particular, I explore the hermeneutics of Elim lay leaders under tension, centring the discussion around the topic of women in ministry. Although women are officially allowed to minister in all levels of leadership within Elim, previous research has demonstrated that there are ongoing tensions at both local leadership level (Carter, 2016) and congregational level (Nunn, 2018). I chose this topic because it both provides a contentious topic in which hermeneutics can be examined, and it is an ongoing issue about which I am passionate. In response to the question, I argue that Elim Pentecostals highly value the Bible, utilise the community as a hermeneutical partner (especially in dealing with contentious topics) and bring a certain level of fluidity, claimed to be inspired by the Holy Spirit, to their approach. Reflecting the verse “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Corinthians 3:17), I show how that freedom allows a relatively fluid response. Not only is the triad of Scripture, Spirit and Community used in non-static ways, but the fluidity allows for an incorporation of some interpretive differences, enhancing unity amongst the community of believers. Furthermore, the role of experience and relationships inform the hermeneutical process, as ways forward are found through the incorporation of a Pentecostal pragmatism, within the boundaries of the triad.
... Pentecostals do differ, however, in their hermeneutics with scholarship tending toward an Evangelical rational/propositional theology with some pastors uncritically adding an undefined narrative to the fundamentalist core. Some Pentecostals, as already noted, have " aligned themselves with Evangelicals in their move toward adopting the methods of higher criticism " (Cagel 1993:163). ...
... The text is easily reduced to the meaning intended by the author of the scripture without sufficient exploration of the insight that can be gleaned from integrating this hermeneutic with narrative theology. Traditional Pentecostalism, despite its official fundamentalist creed, notes Cagel (1993:164), often placed greater " emphases on the immediacy of the text and multiple dimensions of meaning " . It allowed for subjective experiences and subjective interpretations to exist along side the more objective critical-historical-literary methods. ...
Article
Pentecostals' central theme in proclamation and practice since the beginning of their movement is holistic healing and wellbeing, resulting from what they term the "Full Gospel". At first, it did not include a prosperous lifestyle. However, a new emphasis on prosperity since the 1980s characterized a part of the African independent church movement with affinities to Pentecostal worship practices, designated as the Neo-Pentecostal movement. The research question for this article is why the narrative language of prosperity within the Pentecostal context changed in Africa and how the damages that it caused can be reversed, and the answer is found in hermeneutical challenges and solutions.
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Pentecostals have their own ethos to bring to the theological table. Although they represent a diverse spectrum of beliefs, they share a basic preference for experience co-determining their theology, along with their interpretation of Scripture. Their hermeneutical viewpoint since the 1970s that links them with that of early Pentecostals allows them to regard the Bible as the inspired Word of God with authority for their lives although they qualify that statement by adding that encounters with God within the faith community in ways similar to those recorded in the Bible is conditional for understanding and interpreting biblical accounts of God and God’s faith community. It is proposed that Pentecostals need to develop a perspective on the all-inclusive difference made by their experience of God in all areas of their lives. Their experience of God through his Spirit shifts their loci communes and theological method. It is argued that Pentecostal theology should rethink every aspect of theological enterprise through the lens of the reality of God’s encounter with human beings as experienced in the faith community. In the last section, this is demonstrated in terms of one subject, of God as the object of theology.
Chapter
For the privileged few who made the Grand Tour in 1750 the phrase ‘the Bible in art’ would have conjured up the Old Master paintings they admired in private Continental galleries and palaces; for most other people it might have suggested a stained-glass window in the local church or a woodcut in the family bible. By 1875 the range and quantity of biblical illustration – art in the Bible – had risen beyond measure; prints of sacred art had become widely available; and public galleries had come within reach in the age of the train. Today, after 2000, a communications revolution has made digital images – albeit of variable quality – of tens of thousands of paintings and sculptures representing biblical subjects freely available on the Internet, anywhere on the planet: see the list of websites at the end of the reference section. These changes over a period of 250 years can be described as the democratisation of the Bible in art. In Protestant traditions which regarded ‘the Scriptures’ as their sole authority, bible production and distribution were central concerns. Although suspect as ‘idolatrous’ in the eyes of the more extreme Evangelicals, sacred art was legitimised as an aid to faith and to proselytising, particularly during the nineteenth century, when expanding empires were hungry for images of the Holy Land that the historical Jesus had known and that was now for the first time being excavated, analysed, drawn and photographed.
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The history of the Bible in North America is unusually full and unusually complex. It involves persistent attention by learned elites as well as the unschooled, cultural hegemony as well as social protest, intensely personal meditation as well as broad public application, a huge publishing enterprise in English as well as printing in countless other languages. The story is almost as rich for Canada as for the United States. A good start at indicating the importance of the Bible in North American history, but also the complications of its presence, is provided by the notice given to Scripture in 1911 on the occasion of the 300th anniversary of the King James Version (KJV). At that time, nearly unanimous American opinion held that this one book had been the decisive volume for all of Western civilisation. Such sentiments were expressed from the summit of the political world. Within days of each other in the spring of 1911, the sitting governor of New Jersey and the former governor of New York both made substantial addresses on the significance of the KJV. Former president Theodore Roosevelt’s speech was at the Pacific Theological Seminary in Berkeley, California, while soon-to-be president Woodrow Wilson’s addressed a crowd of 12,000 in Denver while on a nationwide journey exploring the possibilities of a presidential run.
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It may be hard to think of ‘the modern world’ without Protestantism, and conversely modernity is very much bound up with the Protestant phenomenon. Yet if Protestantism defined itself by ‘Scripture alone’, the modern age could paradoxically be characterised by the Bible’s eclipse, with the de facto authoritative canon shrinking to disappearing point. At the start of this period the Bible on the one hand inspired a mission to restore the world to its pristine integrity through trade and science as well as through gospel and ethics, and yet on the other it seemed to encourage an increasingly world-denying withdrawal from the world of politics and even institutional religion. Either way, the Bible was read as a narrative with one literal sense, which mediated the divine action of a time gone by. Whereas the emergent experimental natural sciences brought the future into the present, the human–divine science of Protestant theology brought ancient wisdom to bear on matters of culture and politics, so as to demand analogous obedient action from God’s present-day covenantal partners. However, the shift towards regarding both Testaments as books about the past was by 1750 so great that biblical prophecies were no longer to be seen as demanding fulfilment in the events of the present day: such an attitude had been the cause of the religious and civil wars of the previous two centuries. Rather, the Old Testament’s ethical histories of divine–human agency as spiritualised through the New Testament thrust ordinary humans into seeing themselves as responsible for the world and its improvement. The Bible became fuel for private piety. As for being a witness to the word of God shaping world history, it was only through the public outworking of those private visions that the Bible would have any impact on the wider world.
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The history of the Bible’s reception is almost as old as the biblical writings themselves. The Scriptures are replete with examples of later writers and editors reworking traditions they received, including texts which subsequently became canonical. The Chronicler’s dramatic rewriting of the books of Samuel and Kings, to glorify the ‘golden age’ of Solomon’s reign (2 Chron. 1–9) or explain the surprisingly long rule of the wicked King Manasseh (2 Chron. 33:10–20; cf. 2 Kings 21:1–18), is just one striking example. The book of Jeremiah is a rich repository of reception, combining poetic oracles likely to derive from the historical prophet, prose sermons influenced by the theology of Deuteronomy, and biographical narratives referring to Jeremiah in the third person. Its fluid textual tradition, attested by the very different versions surviving in the Masoretic Text and the Septuagint, further illustrates the capacity of the Jeremiah tradition to speak afresh to subsequent generations. Similarly, on the standard solution to the Synoptic Problem, the Gospels of Matthew and Luke are innovative receptions of their predecessor Mark. Their retelling of Mark’s story of Jesus – Matthew re-clothing Jesus with the mantle of Judaism, Luke portraying him as a Graeco-Roman hero – sets the scene for even more imaginative receptions in the centuries which follow (the rich development of Matthew’s story of the Magi in subsequent tradition is a case in point). Finally, without once quoting Old Testament passages, the book of Revelation is from beginning to end an imaginative reception of Israel’s Scriptures, especially the prophetic tradition.
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What counts as ‘post-colonial reading’ in the context of biblical studies? ‘Anti-colonial reading is not new’, as R. S. Sugirtharajah notes. ‘It has gone on whenever a native put quill pen to paper to contest the production of knowledge by the invading power.’ Such an approach to the topic I was assigned for this chapter would certainly yield a temporal range consonant with a ‘History of the Bible’. But it would also be unmanageable within the assigned word-length, and so, taking the coward’s way out, I propose to begin my brief survey with that recent body of biblical scholarship that explicitly styles itself ‘post-colonial reading’. Monographs and edited collections in biblical studies with the terms ‘post-colonial’ or ‘post-colonialism’ either in their titles or significantly deployed within their covers have included: Ahn, The Reign of God and Rome in Luke’s Passion Narrative; Boer, Last Stop before Antarctica and Boer (ed.), Vanishing Mediator?; Donaldson (ed.), Postcolonialism and Scriptural Reading; Dube, Postcolonial Feminist Interpretation of the Bible; Dube and Staley (eds.), John and Postcolonialism; Jean K. Kim, Woman and Nation; Uriah Y. Kim, Decolonizing Josiah; Liew, Politics of Parousia; McKinlay, Reframing Her; Moore, Empire and Apocalypse; Moore and Segovia (eds.), Postcolonial Biblical Criticism; Runions, Changing Subjects; Samuel, A Postcolonial Reading of Mark’s Story of Jesus; Segovia, Decolonizing Biblical Studies and Segovia (ed.), Interpreting beyond Borders; Sugirtharajah, Asian Biblical Hermeneutics and Postcolonialism, The Bible and Empire, The Bible and the Third World, Postcolonial Criticism and Biblical Interpretation, Postcolonial Reconfigurations and Sugirtharajah (ed.), The Postcolonial Bible and The Postcolonial Biblical Reader; and Vander Stichele and Penner (eds.), Her Master’s Tools? In addition, more than seventy biblical articles or essays with one or other of our two terms inscribed in their titles and/or embedded in their analyses have also appeared at the time of writing, not counting those already included in the books just listed.
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Die Annäherung zwischen der pfingstlichen und der etablierten akademischen Theologie ist inzwischen in beide Richtungen zu beobachten: pfingstliche Ansätze werden in klassischen Debatten rezipiert und pfingstliche Theologen rezipieren den Theorie- und Methodenkanon der etablierten historisch-kritischen Theologie. In der deutschen Theologie hat eine fundierte Auseinandersetzung mit der weltweit äußerst einflussreichen Pfingstbewegung jedoch bislang kaum stattgefunden, nicht zuletzt, da die meist englischsprachigen Beiträge akademisch etablierter Pfingstler und Charismatiker hierzulande kaum wahrgenommen werden. Dieser Band bietet einen Überblick über pfingstliche Theologien anhand einer systematischen Einführung und der Übersetzung ausgewählter Beiträge zu zentralen theologischen Anliegen. Die so vermittelte Orientierung ermöglicht eine differenzierte Auseinandersetzung mit pfingstlicher und charismatischer Theologie.
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What is distinctive about Pentecostals' reading of the Bible? In what way do Pentecostal people read the Bible so that they reach different conclusions than believers of other denominations? Is it possible to speak of a Pentecostal herme-neutics? In what way does it differ from the hermeneutics found in other theological traditions, such as the Catholic, Eastern and Reformed traditions? And how does their hermeneutics inform Pentecostals' practice? These questions are discussed and some preliminary conclusions reached. Pentecostals' religious consciousness expects an experience or encounter between God and human beings through his Spirit. This is supposed to happen in the worship service and also in the practice of Bible reading, whether individually or collectively. The presupposition is that the Word is revealed in the Bible only when people experience God, and the existential precondition leads to a Pentecostal emphasis of narratives describing such encounters in the Bible.
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At its inception and for the first 40 years of its existence, Pentecostalism was a pacifist movement preaching non-violence and non-retaliation. At the end of the Second World War, the movement changed its stance, in many instances without officially taking a decision at formal platforms, because of the changes that occurred when its members became socially and economically mobile and the movement strove to be accepted in society. The article argues that the changes were, however, essentially because of a change in its hermeneutical viewpoint that introduced a new climate within the movement, accompanied by various changes in viewpoint and practice. After the 1970s, several theologians within the Pentecostal movement formulated a hermeneutics that concurred to a large degree with the way early Pentecostals viewed and interpreted the Bible. This new hermeneutics allows Pentecostals to rethink their non-pacifist stance and the article argues the case for such a reconsideration.Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: While the classical Pentecostal movement supported pacifism for the first 30 years of its existence, it changed its stance at the end of the Second World War because of new hermeneutical choices. Recent changes in hermeneutical viewpoint within (a part of) the movement require that the ethical issue of pacifism be rethought if it does not want its witness about Jesus Christ as the source of peace to be compromised.
Article
Given the community orientation of Pentecostalism, on the one hand and the excesses of a somewhat rampant individualism among interpreters generally, on the other hand, reflection on the place of the community in the hermeneutical process appears to be a natural next step in the development of a Pentecostal hermeneutic. This chapter explores one possible paradigm, which is derived from the New Testament itself. This approach is that revealed in the deliberations of the Jerusalem Council as described in Acts 15.1-29. The proposed Pentecostal hermeneutic built on Acts 15 has three primary components: the community, the activity of the Spirit, and the Scripture. In order to gauge the usefulness of this paradigm, it is tested by addressing a particularly difficult issue facing the church. Perhaps one of the most significant current debates within the ecclesiastical world is that regarding the role of women in the ministry of the church. Keywords: Acts 15; church's ministry; Holy Spirit; Jerusalem Council; New Testament; Pentecostal hermeneutic; Pentecostalism; Scripture; women
Article
In the previous article on the international Classical Pentecostal/Roman Catholic dialogue I looked at a range of issues affecting the conversations, reserving to this article a more focused look at five theological areas. The range of topics over the first three quinquennia is extensive and merits attention. The fourth is not complete and is at issue here only in an incidental way.1 In a preliminary way the two sides agree of the basic content of the Christian faith: trinity,2 the divinity of Christ, virgin birth, centrality of the death and resurrection of Jesus, Pentecost as constitutive of the church, forgiveness of sins, promise of eternal life. We may look at these areas differently, but there is a measure of agreement on them. Beyond these theological areas of basic Christian faith, a number of issues emerged in the first three quinquennia which define the dialogue and give it an unmistakable profile. In this essay, I treat five of these defining issues: the hermeneutical moment, infant and believers' baptism, baptism in the Holy Spirit, the church as koinonia, and Mary.
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Word processed copy. Thesis (M.Th.) -- University of South Africa, 2006. Includes bibliographical references.
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Word-processed copy. Thesis (D. Th. (Old Testament))--University of South Africa, 2006.
Chapter
The Bible has maintained a close relationship with music since the time its texts were first written. Its beautiful poetry, dramatic stories and powerful imagery have inspired composers and supplied some of them with subjects for immortal works of art. Equally, music, with its ability to interpret, evoke associations and express deep-felt emotions, provided an ideal medium to instil the Bible’s messages in the hearts of the faithful and to reach out to those not of the faith. There are two inherent dangers in this relationship which have been present throughout its history. Music either becomes a means to an end, thereby compromising the artist’s creativity, or an end in itself, and stands no longer in the service of the word. It was particularly the latter situation that became an issue in the period after 1750 with the rise of independent freelance composers, the vision of the artist as an elevated, inspired ‘genius’, and the ever-increasing pressure for originality. The mid-eighteenth century was marked by the deaths of the major composers of the Baroque period, such as Antonio Vivaldi (1741), Johann Sebastian Bach (1750) and George Frideric Handel (1759). With them also ended the dominant position of sacred music, which had to compete with secular forms in the ensuing Classical, Romantic and Modern periods. Few new musical forms were introduced, and many old ones underwent a steep decline, such as the cantata, the anthem and the motet. Besides an abundance of minor forms, the main carriers of biblical texts remained oratorios and settings of the Passion, to be discussed below. The following paragraphs give an overview of some general trends that can be observed throughout the period after 1750.
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At first, the Pentecostal movement made no distinction between genders in the ministry. Anyone anointed by the Spirit was allowed to minister, whether to pray for the sick, testify about an encounter with God, preach or teach. The emphasis was not on the person of the one ministering, but on the Spirit equipping and empowering the person. Due to Pentecostals' upward mobility and alliance with evangelicals in order to receive the approval of the society and government since the 1940s, women's contribution to the ministry faded until in the 1970s some Pentecostals with an academic background started debating about Pentecostal hermeneutics; questioning also the omission of women from ministry. Although many Pentecostals still read the Bible in a fundamentalist manner, the article proposes a hermeneutical strategy-in accordance with the way early Pentecostals interpreted the Bible-that moves from the experience with the Spirit to the Bible, allowing one to experience the confusion and conflict necessarily associated with contradictory statements found in the Bible about issues such as women in the ministry. While the author agrees it is important that discrimination against women in the church should cease, the purpose of the article is not primarily to discuss this discrimination; it is rather to show how a movement's hermeneutical viewpoint and considerations can cause the movement to change its stance about an important issue such as women in ministry.
Article
Full-text available
At first, the Pentecostal movement made no distinction between genders in the ministry. Anyone anointed by the Spirit was allowed to minister, whether to pray for the sick, testify about an encounter with God, preach or teach. The emphasis was not on the person of the one ministering, but on the Spirit equipping and empowering the person. Due to Pentecostals’ upward mobility and alliance with evangelicals in order to receive the approval of the society and government since the 1940s, women’s contribution to the ministry faded until in the 1970s some Pentecostals with an academic background started debating about Pentecostal hermeneutics; questioning also the omission of women from ministry. Although many Pentecostals still read the Bible in a fundamentalist manner, the article proposes a hermeneutical strategy—in accordance with the way early Pentecostals interpreted the Bible—that moves from the experience with the Spirit to the Bible, allowing one to experience the confusion and conflict necessarily associated with contradictory statements found in the Bible about issues such as women in the ministry. While the author agrees it is important that discrimination against women in the church should cease, the purpose of the article is not primarily to discuss this discrimination; it is rather to show how a movement’s hermeneutical viewpoint and considerations can cause the movement to change its stance about an important issue such as women in ministry.
Thesis
Early North American Pentecostals allowed women to engage in a wide spectrum of spiritual leadership activities, including the public preaching and teaching of Scripture when men were present in the audience. My review of all of their extant newspapers (1906-1908) led me to conclude that the right of women to minister in these ways was so widely considered to be a desirable and godly form of praxis that the authors and editors of these journals did not feel any particular need to defend or explain their position. This was the result of several factors: First, experiential evidence of the Holy Spirit’s sovereign gifting carried tremendous weight as Pentecostals evaluated all manner of manifestations and issues, including questions pertaining to biblically appropriate female empowerment. Second, understanding the mechanics of embodied Spirit fulness and gifting as something more akin to actual Spirit possession than to mere Spirit influence confirmed and strengthened Early North American Pentecostal belief that God had clearly chosen to empower women for ministry functions. Third, the initial perception of gender-inclusive xenolalia as a God-given means for missionaries to overcome linguistic barriers to the communication of the Gospel was taken as added proof that women could be called to preach. Fourth, the widespread conviction that the Pentecostal movement was the fulfillment of Joel’s end-time prophecy pre- disposed early North American Pentecostals towards gender-inclusive ministry and provided them with an identity framework that linked all of the above factors together in a synergistic relationship. These realities were undergirded by a pneumatologically-centered hermeneutical method that accorded great value to legitimate spiritual experience, both externally in the acts of God in human history and internally through supernatural illumination of the human mind and spirit during the consideration of the biblical text. The pattern within the early North American Pentecostal newspapers and the interpretive models advanced by both Archer and Thomas parallel the approach taken by the Early Church in its evangelistic efforts and are supremely biblical. Simply put, the faith of the first Christian disciples and the Gospel they preached were grounded in historical events rather than in concepts or ideas. At its heart were the narratives of human experience connected to the birth, life, ministry, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. These experiential testimonies carried such weight in early Christian thinking that it caused them to reevaluate and, in some instances, totally change the way they viewed the Hebrew Scriptures. They wrote the New Testament in order to document, understand, defend, and ultimately communicate these experiential truths. Since their faith flowed out of and rested upon a foundation of experience, it is not surprising that experience also weighed heavily in their hermeneutical thought processes, including during the Council at Jerusalem. Similarly, when the earliest North American Pentecostals became convinced that the risen Christ was deliberately and actively pouring out the Holy Spirit upon them, distributing gifts as a function of His divine prerogative, this profoundly informed the way they viewed and interpreted the Scriptures relative to the question of women in ministry and leadership.
Article
The phenomenon of discrimination against women within Pentecostal churches in terms of ministry and leadership is investigated to propose a strategy for deconstructing such structural violence. The violence is described in terms of a case study, the history of a prominent South African Pentecostal denomination (Apostolic Faith Mission of South Africa) that initially recognised the involvement of women in all forms of ministry; subsequently in the 1940s refusing their ministry as preachers and pastors, and eventually at the end of the 1970s offering them the same ministerial privileges as for males. Their recognition is, however, characterised by a practical non-application of a church order that in effect represents the commitment of violence against women. It is argued that the change in perspectives of women's ministry and leadership is hermeneutical in nature. To deconstruct it would need revisiting Pentecostalism's original hermeneutic as well as restoring its restorationist urge of egalitarianism and inclusiveness.
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African Traditional Religion (ATR) represents a primal worldview that encapsulates a certain culturally-innate sense of the world of transcendence and involves belief in a sacramental ‘enchanted’ universe in which the physical is indicative of spiritual realities, in contrast to western Christianity, that to a certain extent abandoned belief in malevolent powers. The assumption is that Africans live in an ‘intentional world’ where nothing happens by chance; all events have spiritual causes. Negative events can be resisted by imprecatory prayers and curses. Sacred and secular realities are inseparable. For this reason, it is argued that pneumatic Christianity is close to the grain of African culture and its worldview resonates with the indigenous worldview. In this article, the African background of Pentecostal theology is investigated. By operating within a worldview that allows ample space for the invisible world determining what happens in the visible world, African Pentecostalism was endeared to Africans. For Africans, what happens on earth is directly interrelated with what happens in the dimension of the spiritual, agreeing with the cosmic principalities and powers that provide the mystical causality of a worldview found in the New Testament. The African Pentecostal narrative is concerned with the solution of personal and societal problems that is interpreted in terms of the African view of rulers, authorities, evil powers, cosmic powers, and spiritual forces in the heavenly realm that focuses on how the spirit world impinges on the visible world to hinder or foster human flourishing. Pentecostalism’s pneumatic spirituality is discussed from a critical theological perspective.
Chapter
Hymns are closely connected to the Bible from which they come. They are part of the same church service, in which hymn singing, Bible reading, prayer and sermon operate together to make the pattern of worship. Hymns supplement the readings from Holy Scripture, or underline points made in the sermon, and the Bible is the code in which they are written. All human discourse depends on the understanding of the code in which it functions, and the Bible, as Blake saw, ‘is the great code of art’. Most hymns would be incomprehensible without the Bible, for they allude and refer to episodes, sayings, or textual fragments from the Old and New Testaments. Such a relationship is not a static one, for hymns depend also on human need. They express something of the longings of the human spirit, and the preoccupations of the time at which they are written. To write the history of hymnody in relation to the Bible is to write the history of the Christian church, and to write the history of the Christian church is to engage with the religious, social and political developments of which it is a part, for which it serves, and to which it reacts. The development of hymnody is an unrolling process of adaptation, providing for worshippers an expression of their needs at that particular time, supplying hymns that appear to be relevant to the processes of everyday living and to the perceived needs of the church as a worshipping and active community. Hymnody in the last three hundred years is striking evidence of a circular hermeneutics, in which hymn-writers take from the Bible what they need: they come to the Bible in search of texts or passages that will supply answers to their problems or to their questions for society, and they write hymns that send singers back to the Bible. More significantly, and perhaps more dangerously, some hymn-writers interpret the Bible in ways that give them reassurance. They privilege those elements in the Bible that support their views about what should be done about the church, or the world, or about individual behaviour.
Article
The article aims to define what the most distinctive characteristics of Pentecostal preaching are in order to assess these elements critically. Pentecostal preachers argue that their message is concerned with the Bible as the Word of God and its explication for modern-day listeners, but with the explicit purpose to perpetuate what the Bible says about the revelation of God as revealed to the contemporary preacher. The purpose of preaching is in other words that believers will experience an encounter with the same Spirit who revealed God to people in biblical times in order that present-day people will be saved, freed, healed and delivered in the same way as in apostolic times. Pentecostal preaching is described in terms of three elements, God's work in preaching, preparation for preaching, and the preaching event. The several aspects are described and discussed and some of the conclusions are that Pentecostal preaching should as non-negotiable be rooted soundly in Scripture, beginning from and focusing on the biblical text, while at the same time exegesis, although necessary academic work, may not be allowed to minimize the influence of the Spirit because the end of preaching is a word from God that produces the divine desired effect in the human situation. However, the emphasis on supernatural results leads in some instances to the manipulation of the context of preaching in order to gain the desired results, using emotionalism, mass suggestion, disorder, or showmanship.
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This chapter is about some of the distinctive features of the reception history of the Bible in Asia. It will highlight the following: (a) textual controversies that occurred in Asia; (b) the employment of the Bible in a multi-religious context; (c) Asian portrayals of Jesus; (d) the recent surfacing of minority voices such as the dalits, burakumin, women and indigenous people; and (e) the two recent entrants on the scene: post-colonialism and Asian diasporic interpretation. In addressing these I shall bring out issues at the centre of interpretation, the personalities who shaped the debate, historical moments that informed the discourse, and the methods and theories that fashioned reading practices. Biblical controversies and national struggles Asia has had its own share of biblical controversies. Unlike those in the West, which were characterised by questions posed by the Enlightenment or denominational differences, Asian debates were waged under the rubric of national struggle and national identity in a colonial context. These textual confrontations indicate that the ‘other’, who is normally perceived as hapless and mute, was, in fact, resilient and an active agent of his or her destiny, and used the very tools supplied by missionaries and turned them against them.
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End of the colonial period In the second half of the eighteenth century the colonial control that Spain had exercised since the conquest, in what is today known as Latin America, was shaken by what was probably the largest indigenous rebellion in the continent. This was the uprising led by José Gabriel Condorcanqui, a maternal descendant (great-great-great-grandchild) of the last Inca, who adopted the name Tupac Amaru II. The repercussions of this revolt spread from Colombia to River Plate and can be understood as one of the most important events in the future independence of the continent. Such was the case that liberators José de San Martín and Manuel Belgrano, in the drafting of the Declaration of Independence of the Viceroyalty of River Plate, proposed that the new government be formed as a constitutional monarchy under the last descendant of Tupac Amaru, Juan Bautista Tupac Amaru, who at that time (1816) lived in Buenos Aires. José Gabriel Tupac Amaru completed his studies at the Francis Borgia Jesuit School, an institution especially devoted to training the children of local indigenous chiefs in Cuzco whose curriculum included the biblical narrative as a part of its teaching. At twenty-two years of age, he demanded that his possessions be returned to him and his royal honours restored, along with the title ‘Inca’, formalising his demands through legal and pacific channels. However, upon realising that such actions were leading nowhere and that the alternative would end in brutality and extortion at the hands of the governing Spanish, he initiated a rebellion that would bring together more than a hundred thousand combatants. In 1781 he was finally defeated and executed along with his family, in a cruel and sadistic manner, as decreed by Judge Benito de la Mata Linares.
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In general, early Pentecostals did not use any pulpits in their halls in order to underline their emphasis that each believer is a prophet and priest equipped by the Holy Spirit with gifts for the edification of other members of the assembly. All participated in the worship service by way of praying, prophesying, witnessing and bringing a message from God. From the 1940s, Pentecostals in their desire to be acceptable in their communities formed an alliance with evangelicals, accepted their hermeneutical viewpoint and built traditional churches in accordance with the Protestant tradition. From the 1980s, the pulpit started disappearing from the front of Pentecostal churches. This is explained in terms of new alliances that Pentecostals made with neo-Pentecostalist churches and a new hermeneutical viewpoint. The hypothesis of the article is that the Pentecostal stance towards the pulpit was determined by its hermeneutical perspectives. It is described by way of a comparative literature study and applied to a specific case study, the Apostolic Faith Mission of South Africa.
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It is a commonplace that the development of printing and the translation of the Bible into the vernacular facilitated the spread of the Protestant Reformation. But the idyllic picture of a bible in every cottage needs to be examined critically. Elizabeth Eisenstein has shown that initially Catholic printers were as keen as Protestants to print vernacular translations of the Bible, and the earliest in the fifteenth century were in Italian and German (later stopped by the Catholic authorities who feared the accompanying notes and comments as much as the translations themselves). Moreover, both in England and Germany, however much the vernacular translations may have stimulated the desire to learn to read, those who could read remained a minority – and an overwhelmingly middle-class minority. Bob Scribner emphasised that Protestantism spread in Germany as much through the visual propaganda of woodcuts and oral culture as through books, quoting Luther himself: ‘I thought it good to put the old Passional with the little prayer book, above all for the sake of children and simple folk, who are more easily moved by pictures and images to recall divine history than through mere words or doctrines.’ Thus, although Erasmus famously hoped that ‘the plowman wold singe a texte of the scripture at his plowbeme And that the wever at his lowme with this wold drive away the tediousness of tyme’ – words apparently echoed by Tyndale in his discussion with ‘a learned man’ when he said, ‘I wyl cause a boye that dryveth ye plough, shall knowe more of the scripture then thou doest’ – these aspirations should not be confused with the facts. Although the English Reformers encouraged people to read the Bible, Ian Green noted that they ‘lacked a clear or consistent policy on how to secure this’. There were no systematic attempts to expand the provision of elementary education or to require people to buy bibles, such as happened in some other European Protestant states. The expansion of bible production owed more to printers’ initiatives than to increased demand, but the capital costs were considerable and royal licences were as much a guarantee of a market as an ecclesiastical tool.
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In theology and biblical studies the German phrase existentiale Interpretation (of the mythological conceptuality of the New Testament) was and still is closely associated with the New Testament interpretation of Rudolf Bultmann (1884–1976), and in particular his debt to Martin Heidegger (1889–1976). The phrase itself occurs surprisingly late in Bultmann’s writings, starting with his hermeneutical manifesto of 1941, ‘New Testament and Mythology’. It was prominent in the discussion of Bultmann’s theology in the 1950s until, sparked in part by the Christological deficit perceived in existentiale Interpretation, the so-called new quest for the historical Jesus gave the discussion a fresh focus. The debate subsided around 1968 when social ethics and political engagement seemed to a new generation more important than hermeneutics, but Bultmann’s theological interpretation of the New Testament remains a landmark in modern theology. As recent discussions of hermeneutics reappropriate the nineteenth-century German tradition and its briefly creative developments in the 1920s, Bultmann’s attempt to make sense of Christian talk of God following the demise of classical metaphysics resonates with aspects of more recent cultural criticism. In Germany the phrase refers specifically to Bultmann’s synthesis of exegesis and philosophy in a hermeneutical theology which aimed to express the Christian gospel today in and through a historically and exegetically responsible interpretation of the New Testament. Even where this ideal is still maintained, Bultmann’s proposal is generally now considered unsatisfactory on account of its narrow focus on human existence and the individual believer. More traditional theologians agree with Barth against Bultmann in wanting to conserve more of the doctrinal substance of Christianity, and even some of his pupils, notably Bornkamm and Käsemann, insisted on the primacy of Christology and the importance of its narrative historical dimensions. More radical revisionists want a fuller account of human existence and our relationship to nature as well as society than Heidegger provided, calling at least for some expansion of Bultmann’s model.
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Over the past twenty years, Pentecostal theologians have published extensively on hermeneutical issues, a subject that had not received much consideration before the mid-1990s. In their discussion of hermeneutical issues, Pentecostal theologians may create the impression that their hermeneutics is so unique that one can speak of a distinctive Pentecostal hermeneutics. This article raises the question as to whether it is possible and/or necessary to speak of such a distinctive hermeneutics. The growing debate among Pentecostals about hermeneutical issues demonstrates that they disagree on several important issues. They should also discount the difference between an academic hermeneutics and what happens on their pulpits and in their pews. Although there are specific identifiable emphases in a Pentecostal hermeneutics, it does not qualify to be called distinctive, and an ecumenical approach demands that the movement should function within the context of the wider Christian church and its history of reading and interpreting the Bible.
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The political, technological, and cultural upheaval of the past two-and-a-half centuries has dramatically altered how we read and understand the Bible. This volume examines the Bible’s role in the modern world – beginning with a treatment of its production and distribution that discusses publishers, printers, text critics, and translators and continuing with a presentation of new methods of studying the text that have emerged, including historical, literary, social-scientific, feminist, postcolonial, liberal, and fundamentalist readings. There is a full discussion of the changes in understandings of and approaches to the Bible in various faith communities. The dissemination of the Bible throughout the globe has also produced a host of new interpretations, and this volume provides a comprehensive geographical survey of its reception. In the final chapters, the authors offer a thematic overview of the Bible in relation to literature, art, film, science, and other disciplines. They demonstrate that, in spite of challenges to the Bible’s authority in western Europe, it remains highly relevant and influential, not least in the Americas, Africa, and Asia.
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The Bible, early cinema and the cultural context The Bible has been associated with the cinema since its very inception, but that is not surprising. Early cinema, like the cinema of today, told society’s stories, promulgated its myths and reflected its cultural values. Audiences flocking to the cheap nickelodeons and primitive movie theatres in early twentieth-century America were not only poor and uneducated but diverse, given the status of that country as an immigrant nation. The Bible, however, was an important part of their cultural heritage. Although the dominant culture was Protestant, waves of Jewish immigrants had also entered America at the turn of the century, and they were not only avid movie-goers but also provided the entrepreneurial expertise to develop the new industry. The Bible, the cinema and the church Christianity may have exerted an almost exclusive influence upon the cinema’s tradition of religious films, but the attitude of the church to the new medium was ambiguous. On the one hand, while industry leaders saw the new medium, through its presentation of ‘the American dream’, as promoting understanding of ethnic differences and encouraging the ideology of the ‘melting pot’, the cinema was seen by the church and its leaders as not only having a detrimental effect on society but also, in the case of films based on the Bible, as misappropriating its stories, myths and rituals for secular ends. On the other hand, the church was quick to see the potential of the new medium for the propagation of its own message and, as a result, many churches and church schools and clubs in this early period showed motion pictures as part of their evangelistic mission.
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Some Christians' scientifically-informed worldview leave little room for supernatural phenomena or divine interventions outside the accepted system of explainable cause and effect. They do not expect a supernatural/divine intervention because it falls outside their frame of reference. A part of these believers are the "cessationists" who inter alia limit the Acts 2 events of Pentecost and the other incidents of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Acts 4:31; 8:14-17; 9:17; 10:44-48; 11:15-16; 13:52; 19:2-6) as well as the prevalence of charismata or spiritual gifts in the early church (1 Cor 12-14; Rom 12:6-8; Eph 4:11-13; 1 Pet 4:10-11) to New Testament or apostolic times. On the other hand, classical Pentecostal believers expect that the supernatural would continually surprise them and that the events of the Day of Pentecost as well as the operation of the Spirit that characterized the life of the apostles and first assemblies as described in Acts would be repeated in their midst. In fact, they interpret and model their current reality on the basis of biblical narrative and especially Luke-Acts plays a decisive role as the replicable "history" of Jesus and the early Church. Pentecostal theologians use various aspects of the Lukan narrative to indicate that the author describes events with the clear aim and intention to encourage readers to model their practice on the basis thereof contra the cessationist view that interpret Luke's narrative about the Spirit from the theology in Paul's letters where he responds to specific situations in congregations to teach about the Spirit. These interpretations of Luke-Acts are then briefly described and analysed in contrast to the cessationist view that the events in Acts are unique and nonrepeatable before some aspects of the Pentecostal viewpoint are discussed critically. Pentecostals argue that Jesus' and Peter's sermon in respectively Luke 4:16-30 and Acts 2:14-41 intentionally provides an introduction to the two books in order to emphasize the important role that the Spirit plays in the ministry of Jesus and his disciples. Luke's unique reference to the mission of 70/72 disciples also serves as the fulfillment of Moses' plea that all the Lord's people may be prophets and equipped with the Spirit which is then demonstrated systematically and intentionally in the way Acts unfolds the history of the early Church. Cessationist theology responds to Luke's version of the baptism in the Spirit by interpreting Luke in Pauline terms, when Spirit baptism is limited to the event of initiation of the faithful into the Body of Christ, while Pentecostal theology chooses to describe it as a further experience in the lives of believers, in distinction from the first experience of salvation and the second experience of sanctification. It bases its view on what it perceives to be Luke's presentation of the term "filled with / baptized in the Spirit" as equipment with power in order to be effective witnesses unto the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). Some object that doctrine or didactic conclusions cannot be based on biblical narrative; Pentecostal theologians argue that they do not base their dogma on the narratives found in the Bible alone but primarily on the continuity of charismatic experiences witnessed in the Bible and repeated in the contemporary situation. However, the danger is that a door is left open for heresies that threaten the church because it allows for charismatic interpretation of scriptures as well as extrabiblical revelations. The issue of the underlying a-scientific worldview that underpins Pentecostal theology has not been discounted adequately. And Pentecostals' ecstatic experiences are difficult to describe; although contemporary descriptions borrow language from the Bible in order to describe these experiences, it is impossible, methodologically speaking, to place the historical and contemporary side by side in an undifferentiated analogous manner. To compare literary and contemporary spirituality with each other is impossible because of the differences in worldview, language and culture.
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Word processed copy. Thesis (M.Th.) -- University of South Africa, 2005. Includes bibliographical references.