>Continuing this series on pentecostal worldview, we’re going to look at five key aspects of a pentecostal worldview that are shared across a range of global contexts and denominational traditions. When we are talking about a “wordview,” we are talking about more than just a system of doctrines. We are talking about a passional orientation that governs how one sees, inhabits, and engages the world. In a definiton of “worldview” we want to take into account that we humans are not merely “thinking things” but we are “actors in the world” – embodied participants in life, and not detached observers.
So, in order to articulate a distinctly pentecostal worldview, we want to look at what “pentecostals do” and construe from that what sort of orientation to the world is operating subterraneously. Implicit within pentecostal spirituality is a tacit, unique understanding of the world.
1. A Radical Openness to God
The most defining feature of a pentecostal worldview is it’s radical openness to God – openness to God doing something different or new and openness to the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit including continuing revelation, prophecy, and the centrality of charismatic (Spirit-enabled) gifts.
The classic biblical text is Acts 2 (Pentecost – where “pentecostal” gets it’s name) and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the first church. God did something new and rather strange. Something like a wind, some sort of phenomenon like fire, and a cacophony of 120 voices in multiple languages. In the midst of all of these strange things, Peter stands up with interpretive boldness to declare, “This is that.” The people around them think they’re drunk, but Peter offers an alternative theory – that it’s not wine; it’s the Spirit of God, and that, “this is that” – the promise that the prophets spoke of.
This story in Acts 2 serves as a fitting backdrop, and maybe even a template, to develop the notion that, pentecostal spirituality has deep sense of expectation and an openness to surprise. This sort of thing gets played out, for example, in pentecostal worship, where there is often elements of spontaneity. You could say that pentecostals “expect the unexpected.” Pentecostals are trying to “discern what the Spirit is doing and move with it.” This openness is a mode of reception that translates into practice.
“The book of Acts is the best source that we have to demonstrate what normal church life is supposed to look like when the Holy Spirit is present and working in the church. Here we find a church that has a passion for God, is willing to sacrifice – even to the point of martyrdom – and is a miracle-working church.” – Jack Deere
So, in pentecostal spirituality, is an expectation for the unexpected, the surprises of God, the miraculous “signs and wonders”, the operation of the “gifts of the Spirit,” and life transformation. Beneath the surface of what pentecostals practice, is a key facet of a pentecostal worldview – a radical openness to God.
stay tuned for the other four…