Pentecostal Rationality: Epistemology and Theological Hermeneutics in the Foursquare Tradition

In this chapter, the author accentuates how spirituality, one of the main strengths within the pentecostal movement, can become a missional opportunity in higher education, especially considering the rediscovered interest in spiritual matters that has developed in recent years. More specifically, the chapter describes three main elements of a pentecostal spirituality: (1) a pentecostal spirituality is both christologically and pneumatologically informed; (2) the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth, which opens up the path for a pentecostal epistemology; and (3) Jesus is God’s Spirit-empowered servant, who sets a tangible example for the action-oriented aspects of a pentecostal spirituality.
Baptism in the Holy Spirit has been central to classical Pentecostal traditions, but its ongoing importance in Pentecostal theology and practice is increasingly questioned. This article explores the common three ideas associated with the classical Pentecostal doctrine, namely, the beliefs that it is (1) a subsequent experience to conversion, (2) accompanied by tongues as initial evidence and (3) given for the purpose of empowerment for witness. The article does so by looking at the broader nature, signs, and purpose of Spirit baptism from a British and wider European classical Pentecostal perspective. The underlying argument is that the fullness of the Spirit experienced by the first generation of Pentecostals in Europe seems to have been spiritually deeper, theologically richer, and practically more inclusive than stated by some of the later doctrinal articulations. This has important theological implications for contemporary formulations of the Pentecostal doctrine of Spirit baptism.
In light of the Elim Pentecostal movement’s pneumatological heritage and commitment to a ‘non-negotiable’ doctrinal statement founded on biblical certainties, this study attends to three key questions. First, what, if any, is the theological value of conducting empirical enquiry from a seemingly fixed starting point underpinned by an infallible view of Scripture? Second, where, does theological normativity lie within the research process? And, third, who, in practice, has the power to decide what counts as theologically normative within any empirical enquiry? This study argues that since, for the Elim movement, theological normativity is located in the experienced reality of Scripture, empirical enquiry has the potential to both constructively challenge and evoke a deeper understanding of those doctrines that form its basis. Given Elim’s emphasis on the availability of Spirit encounter for all believers, it suggests that it is not for the researcher alone to decide what is theologically normative, but that this should be collectively discerned with members within Elim congregations. Whilst this study concerns itself with the more peculiar nuances of the Elim movement, and therefore dialogues most explicitly with the work of other charismatic/Pentecostal writers such as Mark Cartledge and Ray Anderson, it contributes to the wider discourse within practical theology regarding the place of theological normativity within the empirical research process.
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