“PENTECOSTAL THEOLOGY” AS CONTRADICTIO IN TERMINIS: A PERSPECTIVE ON THE PAST AND PRESENT
AbstractThe Pentecostal movement, especially in its early days, has been accused of anti-intellectualism and a lack of a developed theological tradition, and justifiably so. However, although Pentecostals make negative remariks about “theology” they define it in a specific manner that allows them at the same time to take seriously their own theological enterprise. It is argued here that in order to understand their viewpoint it is necessary to take into consideration the movement’s theological principles in order to understand its view of “theology”. Pentecostal theology’s seeming anti-intellectualism must be understood in a historic sense as the movement’s reaction to what they perceive to be the danger of “theology” that represents creedalism and formalism, while Spirit baptism and the resultant life guided by the Spirit is explained in terms of the development of the believer’s spiritual dimension that may at times stand in contrast to intellectual capabilities. Its restorationist motive requires the Pentecostal movement to return to the experience and power of the earliest Church, driven by its apocalyptic-eschatological expectation of the imminent second coming of Christ. It is necessary that Pentecostalism’s stance on “theology” as well as its own theological principles be understood in order to understand its angle on its own theological enterprises. It bases its theology on experiences of God’s reality, described in the terms provided by biblical narratives and leading to a spirituality that occupies the affections as well as the minds of its practitioners. Although their theology has traditional elements that it shares with other traditions, Pentecostalism’s spirituality requires that its theology should be based on first-hand experiences with God, while at the same time it defines some doctrines in another manner due to the Spirit meeting the fellowship of believers
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