pentecostal worldview (part 4 of many): a nondualistic affirmation of embodiment and materiality

I’ve been working through a blog series on pentecostal worldview the last couple months.  I’m not going to spend any time reviewing the pervious posts but  here are the links to the previous posts:

pentecostal worldview: little “p” pentecostal (part 1 of many)

pentecostal worldview: radical openness to god (part 2 of many)

pentecostal worldview: an “enchanted” theology of creation (part 3 of many)

Ok, on to the new stuff!…

The third facet of  a pentecostal worldview that Smith covers, he calls, “a nondualistic affirmation of embodiment and materiality.”  “Nondualistic” because emphasis on physical healing, embodied worship, and prosperity, is all an implicit affirmation that the physical is good.  Dualistic spirituality drives a partition between that which is “spiritual” (sometimes, “supernatural”) and that which is physical.  Gnosticism is at the far extreme of this dualistic spirituality, but lesser forms of this sort of (Platonic) spirituality have often plagued the Church over the years.

Within the pentecostal tradition, there is strong emphasis on healing of the body.  Smith quips, “Deliverance and liberation… are not just, ‘spiritual’; the gospel is not just tonic for souls.” The gospel values the whole person.  Their have been clear abuses of the “prosperity” dimension of the gospel, within certain circles of the pentecostal tradition, especially in the realm of personal finances. But Smith pleas with us, that we see through the abuses and excesses, and see value expressed in the pentecostal affirmation that the material is vital part of the gospel, which extends to the whole creation.  The gospel is about much more than “redeeming souls.”  It’s a holistic gospel that includes healing of bodies, in anticipation of total redemption in the age to come, and it also includes material provision.  Most pentecostals refuse to simply spiritualize, “good news to the poor.”

One of most recognizable features of pentecostal worship is it’s embodied expression and exuberance.  Pentecostal worship is not content with “brains on a stick” worship were the most important thing is getting the right data into our brains.  In a pentecostal service, there might be dancing, clapping, raising hands, flag waving, or other kinds of worshipful expression.  All of this stems from the fact that within pentecostal worldview there is an affirmation of embodiment and materiality, and that worship is a fully orbed sense-experience.  Of course, this feature of pentecostal spirituality has it’s extremes and weirdness…

That’s NOT exactly the sort “embodied worship” I’m talking about, but unfortunately, when many people think of “pentecostal” this is the kind of thing that comes to mind.  It’s easy to ‘throw the baby out with the bath water’ when it comes to exuberant worship, embodied worship is not just a phenomenon of “granola Christianity” (flakes, fruits and nuts), it is nurtured by a healthy and holistic understanding of the gospel.  We dance for the same reason that God heals people and provides for people… the gospel is for the whole creation.  This is the implicit ‘genius’ within pentecostal spirituality.

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About kurtkjohnson

Husband to Abbey Johnson, proud father, irregular blogger and occasionally creative. View all posts by kurtkjohnson

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