Friday, November 9, 2007

Pneumatalogical Approach to World Religions

God’s Spirit in Creation

Moltmann describes the Holy Spirit as the “Spirit of life.” [1] and “suggests that every experience ‘can possess a transcendent, inward side … grounded theologically on an understanding of the Spirit of God as the power of creation and the wellspring of life.’”[2]

Religion as a Response to the Holy Spirit

This may be, but sometimes it may be a fearful response to demonic activity, trying to appease evil spirits etc. Following discussion of Gunton’s position that “the Spirit allows for the Spirit’s work in creation outside the church”[3] Lord stresses, “we need to deal with the Fall and the need for discernment.”[4]

Recognizing the Spirit’s Presence

He is recognized by “’experiences of awakening and disclosure,’ annunciation experiences.”[5] One Muslim young man in Bethlehem related that while walking, looking at the grass, the sky, enjoying the day, he saw Jesus. He said it casually as if it was an everyday occurrence. Sometimes the evidence of the Spirit’s work is more subtle, such as an interest in God.

Discernment

Lord suggests asking the question, “What characterizes the work of the Spirit?”[6] Through scripture and our faith experience, this is a good reference point. Yong suggests one approach revolving around “divine presence, absence and activity”[7] and another based on “foundational categories … more appropriate to a consideration of other faiths.”[8]

Which Position?

Inclusivists … balance the biblical emphases on …universal intent of God’s salvific action in Christ (1 Tim. 4:10; 2 Pet. 3:9) …the Old Testament covenant economy (Gen. 9:8-19; 12:3), and the fact that a balanced view of Scripture reveals God at work in all peoples and in all cultures, in blessing and in judgment.[9]

Inclusivists believe in unlimited atonement, more congruent with God’s love.

This view resonates with me, after working with Muslims in the Holy Land. Opportunities to share the faith abound if one is willing to build bridges, not walls. Colin Gunton’s “understanding of the Spirit allows for the Spirit’s work in creation outside the church—whatever ‘enables the creature … to join praise of the Creator’ is the work of the Spirit.”[10]


Inclusivism facilitates ecumenism, evangelism and the church, helping in outreach without attacking, recognizing God’s work in people’s lives before we meet them.

Religions, Response and the Spirit

Fisher sites similarities among religions in religious response:

(1) It is an experience of what is considered Unseen Reality; (2) It involves the person’s whole being; (3) It is the most shattering and intense of all human experiences; and (4) it motivates the person to action, through worship, ethical behavior, service, and sharing with others in a religious grouping.[11]



[1] Andy Lord, “Principles for a Charismatic Approach to Other Faiths,” Asian Journal of Pentecostal Studies 6:12 (2003): 237.

[2] Jurgen Moltmann, The Spirit of Life in Andy Lord, “Principles for a Charismatic Approach to Other Faiths,” Asian Journal of Pentecostal Studies 6:12 (2003): 237.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] John V. Taylor, The Go-Between God: The Holy Spirit and the Christion Mission in Andy Lord, “Principles for a Charismatic Approach to Other Faiths,” Asian Journal of Pentecostal Studies 6:12 (2003): 238.

[6] Lord, 242.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] H. S. Horton-Parker, “Three Perspectives of the Salvation of the Unevangelized,” TMs [photocopy], 2002, Regent University, Virginia Beach, VA, 2.

[10] Lord, 237.

[11] Mary Pat Fisher, Living Religions: Sixth Edition (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 2005), 5.

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