A Quick Review
In this series on pentecostal worldview, I’m trying to answer an important question about, what, beyond doctrines on tongues and Spirit baptism, pentecostals might have to offer the wider Church and world. I’m adapting (ripping off) material from James K. A. Smith’s book “Thinking in Tongues.” We’re looking at the pentecostal worldview that is implicit within pentecostal spirituality and practice.
There are according to Smith (at least) 5 elements of Pentecostal worldview. We already looked at…
1. A Radical Openness to God (last post)
Without further ado…
2. An “Enchanted” Theology of Creation
Within pentecostal worldview is an implicit affirmation of the dynamic, active presence of the Spirit, not only within the church, but also in creation and culture. The material creation is ‘charged’ or suffused with the presence of the Spirit, but not only the Spirit of God, also, many other spirits (angels & demons). This view carries with it an expectation of the miraculous and spiritual warfare.
Before going on, it’s important to note two things…
1. Smith’s use of “enchanted” is in the sense of an “en-Spirited” creation (and other real spirit beings), not, in the sense of “fairy tale” or imaginary mythologies. Though I don’t much care for the language of “enchanted” to describe this element of a pentecostal worldview, I couldn’t come up with a better word!
2. The activity of the Spirit “within the church” includes, but is not at all limited to what happens within the four walls of a church building on Sunday mornings. Also, every time I use the word “church,” I mean, Christianity worldwide.
So, within pentecostal vision of the world, there is a deep sense of the immanence of the Spirit in creation and culture. In creation, “nature” is always more than just “the natural” and the language of “supernatural” doesn’t really do justice either. (We’ll get to a pentecostal ontology i.e. theory of being- later, don’t worry it’ll make sense.) Within culture, the Spirit is also active and working redemptively.
This “enchanted” theology of creation is most evident in the pentecostal emphasis on spiritual warfare, but this dynamic within pentecostal spirituality signals a larger vision of the world that is latent within a pentecostal worldview. Pentecostals generally lay a heavy emphasis on the practice and the power of prayer and engaging with the “principalities and powers.” While much of the North American pentecostalism is fairly “naturalized,” the majority world (especially the global south) attributes much of their explosive growth to the awareness of, and engagement in, spiritual warfare.
This “enchanted” outlook at creation and culture leads right into the next facet of pentecostal worldview – a non-dualistic affirmation of embodiment and materiality.
Stay tuned for the next three!
Let me just say that when I say “pentecostal” this is NOT exactly what I have in mind…
Remember that little “p” pentecostal is a broad movement with many different expressions. One expression does not characterize most or all. :)