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Pentecostal Theology and the Christian Spiritual Tradition (JPT Supplement) [Paperback]

By Simon Chan (Author)
Our Price $ 33.96  
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Item Number 349566  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   120
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9" Width: 6.1" Height: 0.4"
Weight:   0.55 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Publisher   Sheffield Academic Press
ISBN  1841271446  
EAN  9781841271446  

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Paperback $ 19.08 $ 19.08 4246537 In Stock
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Item Description...
This book deals with the problem of Pentecostal 'traditioning'. Traditioning has been ineffective thus far because the richness of Pentecostal faith and experience has been inadequately captured in the classical Pentecostal doctrines of Spirit-baptism and glossolalia. A more adequate understanding of the key theological symbol of Pentecostalism, glossolalia, emerges when it is interpreted in the light of Christian spiritual tradition. Within this larger tradition glossolalia can be seen as bringing together both the ascetical and contemplative dimensions of the Christian life. Chan thus explores the shape of Pentecostal ecclesiology as 'traditioning community'.

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More About Simon Chan

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Simon Chan (PhD, Cambridge) is Earnest Lau Professor of Systematic Theology at Trinity Theological College in Singapore. He is the author of Man and Sin, Pentecostal Theology and the Christian Spiritual Tradition, Spiritual Theology; A Systematic Study of the Christian Life and Liturgical Theology: The Church as Worshiping Community. He is also the associate editor of the Global Dictionary of Theology and the Dictionary of Mission Theology.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
So Pentecostals can do theology after all!  Nov 7, 2005
Simon Chan aims to challenge Pentecostal theologians to take seriously the traditioning aspect of their faith and attempts to show how this can be useful with appropriations of the insights of the Christian Spiritual (particularly mystical) Tradition of the ke pentecostal doctrines of Spirit Baptism and tongues as "initial evidence". He does this brilliantly and shows the benefits to Pentecostal self-identity if it were to open its horizons more than it often does. There is much more to be said on the subject and my hope is that other scholars will take up Chan's challenge and say it.
Pentecostal AND Traditional?  Nov 8, 2001
Simon Chan's study is a thought-provoking example of what Russell Spittler has dubbed "the emergence of the Pentecostal mind" - i.e. the beginnings of a Pentecostal academic culture. Chan himself is a Pentecostal, and teaches Systematic Theology at Trinity Theological College in Singapore. Although he holds strongly to the validity of Pentecostal experience, he is nevertheless critical of some aspects of the contemporary movement. He sees the problem as two-fold: a failure in traditioning that has resulted in a diluted Pentecostalism being passed on to the next generation, and a lack of awareness by Pentecostals of being part of the wider Christian tradition. Consequently, he "seeks to interpret the Pentecostal reality in the light of the Christian spiritual tradition, and in so doing, [to] address the problem of Pentecostal traditioning" (p.7). He re-evaluates four aspects of the Pentecostal tradition, and his analysis will undoubtedly surprise - and possibly disturb - Pentecostal readers.

Chan begins by surveying the traditioning process itself, arguing that Pentecostal theology centers in Pentecostal worship. Few Pentecostals would disagree with him on this. However he is critical of the atomistic nature of much contemporary Pentecostal worship, and argues - following Evelyn Underhill - that the Eucharist is the place where all dimensions of worship are integrated into a coherent sacramental whole. Hence he places an emphasis on the Church, even to the extent of adopting Cyprian's nulla salus extra ecclesiam ("no salvation outside the church"). Chan's focus on the whole Church and its spiritual tradition permeates his study. Consequently, he goes on to argue that the Pentecostal emphasis on the "initial evidence" of glossolalia is better located in the total Christian spiritual tradition, rather than in the Biblical examples that are often used to anchor the practice. As he sees it, Spirit-Baptism is not simply an individualistic "initial experience" evidenced by glossolalia, but also a spirituality that is evidenced in a life of personal holiness, and a theological perspective through which one views the whole of the Christian life. He argues that this theological relocation has implications for Pentecostal asceticism and Pentecostal ecclesiology.

As Chan sees it, a reemphasis on Pentecostal asceticism - by which he means prayer, fasting, seeking God, etc. - would enable Pentecostal spirituality to be viewed in the light of traditional patterns of spiritual development. One's experience of the Spirit is part, but only a part, of a long-long process of growing into union with Christ. The Pentecostal emphasis on "initial experience" has tended to overshadow the need for an "ongoing maturity" of faith and love. This has resulted in a truncated spirituality, in which periods of spiritual dryness -characterized as the "dark night of the soul" in traditional Christian spirituality - have tended to be seen as evidence of spiritual failure or lack, rather than as an intrinsic part of this maturation process. This interpretation has robbed Pentecostal spirituality of much of its potential.

Similarly, Chan reworks traditional Pentecostal models of ecclesiology, insisting on the primary role of the Church as "mother Church", the focus of our common life in Christ and the mediating channel of God's activity in the world. He therefore emphasizes the communal nature of spirituality in contrast to individualistic Pentecostal models; it is a sharing together in the one Spirit, rather than my personal Pentecostal experience and gifting. He insists that there must be a closer conjunction in Pentecostalism between Spirit, Word and Church. He also maintains, in contrast to theologies of liberation, that the work of the Spirit cannot be separated from God's work through the Church, and strongly argues for what he calls an "ecclesiological pneumatology" that gives due emphasis to both Spirit and Church.

Chan's study is quite technical, and requires some background in systematic theology to fully appreciate. Close attention to the text is necessary for a full understanding of his argument, which is marred a little by his failure to define theological terms such as "subsequence" (pp.85ff.). His book ends a little abruptly and would have benefited by the inclusion of a brief final chapter integrating and summarizing his arguments. He does, however, include a valuable bibliography and useful indexes of Scripture references and theological authors cited.

All in all, this is a provocative and rewarding book, which will stir discussion of the issues that Chan raises. Some Pentecostals might regard his position as "crypto-Catholic" or "crypto-Orthodox", given his reliance on Catholic and Orthodox sources, while others might take issue with his conscious distancing from an Evangelical explanation for Pentecostal spirituality - the one most commonly used by Pentecostal apologists. Chan's purpose, however, is to expand the context of Pentecostal experience and to anchor this in the wider Christian spiritual tradition. In this aim he succeeds admirably.

Brett Knowles
Teaching Fellow in Church History
Department of Theology and Religious Studies
University of Otago
New Zealand


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