First of all, I would like to apologize to my subscribers. I made a concerted effort in 2011 to post regularly and heard from several of you that the Monday Meditations were appreciated. I hope to resume them this summer (once my dissertation is complete and I have recovered from the process).
I am breaking my blog silence today because I wanted to draw your attention to a post I enjoyed reading yesterday by Pastor Jonathan Martin, a pentecostal theology rant, as he called it. There is so much there that I identify and agree with and I wanted to chime in a bit, as this is the driving impetus behind the dissertation I am writing.
With regard to whether Pentecostal theology is icing or cake (or Terry Cross’ older metaphor relish or main dish), it is not just that Pentecostals can do our own theological reflection, that we ought to because we are able and capable of doing so – though this in itself is valid as a claim and reason. It is more importantly the case that we must construct our own theology – from the ground up – because adding on a wing to an existing theological structure makes the whole unstable, unsound, leading us into self-contradiction and to a loss of what makes us who we are as Pentecostals.
For example, our doctrine of initial evidence goes wrong from the start because it builds on too narrow an understanding of atonement. Our failed experience with initial evidence teaching shows us that we need a more robust account, a soteriology dynamic and versatile enough to accommodate the varieties of experience we have witnessed (both in the Acts accounts and in our own lives) when a person comes to trust in Jesus and is baptized in his fire. What we need is an account that acknowledges we have been saved, we are being saved, and we will be saved. And yet what we have are cards with checkboxes. We cannot build on the very limited understanding of atonement our evangelical friends work with and possibly hope to create useful explanations of sanctification and the complex relationship of water and Spirit baptism. Our communities have suffered because of our lack of theological imagination and resourcefulness. It is not just that we can make the cake. It is that our people will remain malnourished until we do.