Roger Stronstad, The Charismatic Theology Of St. Luke

Roger Stronstad, The Charismatic Theology Of St. Luke

Click to join the conversation with over 500,000 Pentecostal believers and scholars

Click to get our FREE MOBILE APP and stay connected

| PentecostalTheology.com

65

Roger Stronstad,

The Charismatic

Theology ofSt. Luke, (Peabody

M.A.: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.,

1984),

96

pp. paperback

$4.95 ISBN 0-913573-11-6

Reviewed

by Gary

M.

Burge*

by

This brief but

helpful study

is a master’s thesis

supervised Ward Gasque at Regent College in

1975.

A revision of Stronstad’s

( 1980) 32-50]

Old Testament section

appeared

once before in Pneuma

[Vol.

2:1 1

and this contribution

provides

for us the breadth of his

thinking

on the

subject

of Lucan

pneumatology.

The

subject itself has been covered at

length by

numerous writers and I have noted the same thesis advanced

recently by

M. M. B. Turner of London Bible

College

in his 1980 Cambridge Ph.D. thesis

[“Luke and the

Spirit.

Studies in the

Significance

of Receiving the

Spirit

in

Luke-Acts”].

The tone of Clark

Pinnock’s

traditions

conversion/ domesticated in vocation, service, on the

writings

represented

emerges Spirit

Preface

and the author’s

is writing The book is a stinging

.

conclusion’tips

us off that to a certain extent Stronstad

with

passion-dare

we suggest with

polemic.

and

timely

rebuke to those,

say,

in the Reformed or

Wesleyan

who believe that the

Spirit’s

chief work is found in

initiation or sanctification. Stronstad wants to free the

Spirit

of traditional

theology

and find his place anew

and witness. Above all he grounds this effort

of Luke who, it is claimed,

possessed

a charismatic view of the

Spirit.

The tone and substance of the effort is

well on

page

81 f:

“A fresh picture of the gift of the Holy Spirit in Luke-Acts

from the investigation: Luke relates the gift of the

. ‘

to service and witness; that

is,

to vocation. In

other

words,

in Luke’s

theology

of the

Holy Spirit

the

activity

of the

Spirit

is

always

charismatic in both

and result. Luke’s charismatic

theology

is

an Old Testament

heritage,

an

experimental

dimension, frequent prophetic activity,

and no

temporal

limitations.

Only

those who resist

can continue to

interpret

the

gift

of the

in Luke-Acts to be an initiation-

purpose characterized

by

the evidence

‘ Holy Spirit

conversion

experience.”

the hermeneutical

theologically oriented),

Testament

options for interpreters

of independent

and

theologically

carefully

After

scanning

Luke

(e.g.,

Luke is

Stronstad reviews the chief means

by

which the Old

presents

the

Spirit.

Here is where Stronstad

puts

to use the abused term “charismatic.” That

is, even in the

Old Testament a consistent motif of vocation,

Spirit transfer,

and

1

66

confirming

evidence is found. In other words the

Spirit

came to do things, powerful things, among

God’s

people.

He

acts,

not

simply inspires!

This is epitomized in the

descriptions

of the messiah who would be the ideal charismatic

figure: anointed, equipped,

and called for his mission. In particular it seems as if the

gift

of prophecy was the central

gift

known and this is confirmed when in the intertestamental

period Spirit

and

prophecy virtually

become

synonymous.

Stronstad contends that Luke is consciously dependent on this Old

Testament/ Jewish

tradition and has even imitated

Septuagint style.

He finds this in Luke’s

portrait

of Christ

(chap. 3),

Luke’s record of Pentecost of Acts

(chap. 4), and the rest of the spirit-texts

(chap. 5).

On the whole his conclusions are

very compelling, although

he is at his best in Lucan

christology

because the prophetic

motif is so evident.

‘ _

very [Observant evangelical

readers will note a remarkable bit of form criticism on

page 46!]

His case becomes

considerably

weaker when he delves into Acts. Is

prophecy always

the net result of

being

“filled with the

Spirit” (54f)?

I am not sure. Pentecost

certainly

witnessed

prophetic activity among

the

disciples,

but is it forced to

say

that in Peter’s speech _. the prophetic gift

of the

Spirit

is announced

(57-58)? Perhaps.

Things

become all the more tenuous when we examine the conversion stories of Acts.

Certainly

Luke sees some

soteriological connection with the

Spirit.

That is the

message

of Acts 8! If

not, why

was an apostolic rescue-team rushed to Samaria? To distribute gifts?

James Dunn’s

exegesis

of these texts seems

satisfying inasmuch as he

joins

the

Spirit

to salvation and then sees charismatic evidences as one

outgrowth.

The case of the

Ephesian disciples (Acts 19) is similarly

vulnerable. Was Paul not

asking

an initiatory question

in 19:2? Because the

disciples subsequently speak

in tongues and

prophesy

Stronstad concludes that Paul must . have been

asking

if

they

received the

gift

of

prophecy. Again, Dunn’s

handling

of the

passage

is not wrestled to the

mat,

but

still, it is discharged with zeal: “Dunn’s

interpretation

of this narrative demonstrates that he fails to understand either Luke or Paul”

(p. 68).

I do not know Dunn

well,

but I do not believe that his deficits

.

are ‘

quite

that

sweeping.

In the

larger picture, Roger

Stronstad has served us well. While we may argue about the

particulars

of this

passage

or

that, still,

the message

of

Luke/ Acts

is

unequivocal.

The

Spirit

acts in

power

to the

gift, equip,

and call. The sanitized

pneumatology

current in many

of our mainline denominations is a far

cry

from this. The extent to which Stronstad leads us to

pause

and note our

2

67

theological

and

experiential

deficiencies will determine his success. I for one would give

him

high

marks.

*Director of Bible and Religion King College,

Tennessee

3

Facebook Comments

Be first to comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.