The Divine Human Encounter Towards A Pentecostal Theology Of Experience

The Divine Human Encounter Towards A Pentecostal Theology Of Experience

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

Click to get our FREE MOBILE APP and stay connected



Pneuma 31 (2009) 3-34   Divine-Human Encounter Towards a Pentecostal T eology of Experience Terry L. Cross Lee University, Cleveland, Tennessee 37320, USA Abstract T is address off ers preliminary steps toward a theology of experience from a Pentecostal perspec- tive. While not making experience of God the sole basis for theological refl ection, this address suggests that too frequently experiences with God the Spirit are allowed no basis for such reflection. Using four doctrinal loci of traditional Christian theology, Cross argues that each locus is defi cient without an experiential dimension. T e four loci are traditionally expressed in the following Latin phrases: (1) fi nitum (non) capax infi niti ; (2) Christus praesens; (3) unio cum Christo; and (4) internum testimonium Spiritus Sancti. Rather than creating an entirely new theology for Pentecostals, this essay proposes to breathe life into some existing Christian theological formulations by including a refl ection on human encounters with the Spirit. Keywords Pentecostal theology; theology of experience; presence of Christ; union with Christ; internal witness of the Spirit Introduction On a recent television show, ABC’s T e View , host Joy Behar off ered the sug- gestion that “you can’t fi nd any saints any more because of psycho-tropic med- ication. I think that in the old days the saints were hearing voices and they didn’t have any thorazine to calm them down. Now that we have all of this medication available to us, you can’t fi nd a saint any more.” 1 Admittedly, she 1 T e View , aired on ABC on 9 January 2008. Transcript found at on 10 January 2008. A Catholic response to Ms. Behar is off ered by Fr. Jonathan Morris, “Were Saints Mentally Ill?” 10 January 2008 at the same website. During the dialogue on television, Ms. Behar suggested that Mother Teresa never heard voices and that she was being judged by the Roman Catholic hierarchy for her good deeds rather than hearing voices. Fr. Jonathan clarifi es that Mother Teresa has not yet been canonized a saint by the church and that she indeed heard a © Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2009 DOI: 2. 10.1163/157007409X418121 ========1========4 T. L. Cross / Pneuma 31 (2009) 3-34 is a comedienne not a theologian, but this claim illustrates the opinion of many in our contemporary world who would view the assertions of Catholic “saints” or Pentecostal/charismatic “saints” to hear the voice of God or follow the leading of God’s Spirit or speak a word of prophecy on God’s behalf as symptomatic of the need for medication. While modern science has calmed the “voices” for some, it has not quelled the voice of God for Pentecostals/charismatics — at least those of us not too intimidated by modernity to admit aloud that we, too, hear God’s voice through the Spirit! Such a claim is indeed biblical, if not necessarily modern. As Andrea Hollingsworth has noted in a recent article in PNEUMA, some theologians are rethinking the role of experience in prayer that allows certain voices that have been repressed to re-enter the theological arena.2 In charis- matic tones, Anglican theologian, Sarah Coakley, suggests that the experience of ecstatic prayer can give theological “information” about the Triune God. Coakley contends that the suppression of one such charismatic voice in the early church (Montanism) and the concomitant expression of the male hierar- chy’s voice of “reason” (the institutional church), is in part due to the repressed fear among early church fathers regarding issues of sexuality yet also emotion and vulnerability. In other words, the suppression of the Spirit’s voice in the church was directly in proportion to a fear that things would become chaotic and out of control if they were not guided by the force of reason.3 And oddly voice that called her into her life’s work: “It was in the train I heard the call to give up all and follow Him into the slums — to serve Him in the poorest of the poor . . . I knew it was His will and that I had to follow him.” Cited by Fr. Jonathan from Come Be My Light: T e Private Writings of the Saint of Calcutta. 2 Andrea Hollingsworth, “Spirit and Voice: Toward a Feminist Pentecostal Pneumatology,” Pneuma: T e Journal of the Society for Pentecostal Studies 29 (2007): 189-213, especially 195f. where she discusses Sarah Coakley. 3 Sarah Coakley, “Why T ree? Some Further Refl ections on the Doctrine of the Trinity,” in Sarah Coakley and David Pailin, ed. T e Making and Remaking of Christian Doctrine (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993). T e feminist direction of Coakley’s assessment of the suppression of Montanism is intriguing, to be sure. Andrea Hollingsworth provides an excellent introduction to her thought here, even pushing it further with respect to political ramifi cations. For a relatively similar assessment regarding Montanism, see Hans von Campenhausen, Ecclesiastical Authority and Spiritual Power (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1969, reprint), who emphasizes this squelching of Montanism as an institutional, hierarchical and reasoned response to the prophetic impulses of the Spirit; and Stanley M. Burgess, T e Holy Spirit: Ancient Christian Traditions (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1984), who describes these streams of early Christianity as the majority and minority voice of Christianity. Coakley seems to build on this basic assess- ment of some historians of the early church and adds to it the questions that a feminist Christian theologian would bring. T e result is extremely fecund for Pentecostals engaged in theology. Also, Coakley’s approach to prayer is similar to that of Clark Pinnock, Flame of Love: A T eology ========2======== T. L. Cross / Pneuma 31 (2009) 3-34 5 enough, this was precisely the same concern expressed to me as a Pentecostal teenager when our singing trio was asked to give a concert at a nearby church. T e only qualifi er was that I had to agree not to speak in tongues and not allow anyone in our group to do so. I tried to explain that I did not necessarily con- trol this gift and that if she didn’t want the Spirit to show up, then she prob- ably shouldn’t ask us to come. And we weren’t asked. T e voice of the Spirit is not tamed or controlled by human hands, but when humans experience the touch of the divine, something amazing occurs. So here the claims of modernity and the claims of spiritual Christianity seem to clash without resolve. What kind of voice is this that we hear? Is it audible? Can others hear it? What precisely are Pentecostals claiming — along with many groups and individuals within Christendom — when we say that we have experienced God? that we have been encountered by the Spirit of God or that we experience the Spirit of God in us, issuing forth in tongues or prophecy or healing? that we are hearing the voice of God as “saints” did in the Scriptures? What is this voice? It is the voice that called Abraham from Ur of the Chaldees to a land he knew not; it is the voice that spoke to the people of Israel, such that they begged Moses to tell it to stop and that he interceded for them; it is the voice that spoke through the prophets as they were moved upon by the Spirit; it is the voice that told Paul not to go to Bithynia, but to advance to Troas and Macedonia instead; it is the voice that has spoken through the children in a backyard near Augustine, saying “Tolle, lege! Take, read!”; it is the voice that has spoken and still speaks through the mouths of countless preachers; it is the voice that thundered again as on the fi rst day of Pentecost over 100 years ago in a humble mission in Los Angeles; it is the voice that urged our Pentecostal/ charismatic forbearers to take the Gospel into all the world and make disciples; it is the voice that still speaks to Christians today — if they are willing to hear and willing to discern. At least part of what we are claiming when we say we have experienced God is that the God of the Bible is the one who encounters us in the history of our own lives. Yet this claim raises a host of questions with regard to what we Pen- tecostals might mean by “experience.” In part, what this address intends to do is to ask this question from a theological viewpoint, not necessarily a social- scientifi c or even philosophical viewpoint. How does our experience of God shape the contours of our faith and how does it mould theological refl ection of the Holy Spirit (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 1996), 13: “To know the Spirit we must become persons of prayer who are willing to yield in complete openness to God.” ========3========6 T. L. Cross / Pneuma 31 (2009) 3-34 on that God of our faith as comprehended through such experiences? Reli- gious experience has always been a diffi cult thing for humans to judge. Is it the voice of God or the voice of schizophrenia? A recent book title highlights the problem: Sacred or Neural? T e Potential of Neuroscience to Explain Religious Experience.4 So can our Pentecostal experience with the Spirit of God be reduced to scientifi c explanation? Such reductionism concerns me because it seems to posit that everything, which humans experience, can be reduced to scientifi c explanation or observable phenomena. T ere are naturalists who posit such a view — indeed, many of them in the realm of academia today — but such a materialist, naturalistic view of the world seems to me to be coldly modernist, reducing all of life and experience to the chemical reaction between synapses of the brain. Stemming from a rationalist, post-Enlightenment approach to science and reality, such views seem to clash hard with religious ideals — especially with the religious experience of Pentecostals. Why especially with us? Because of all the contemporary Christian religious groups in the world, we place the foremost emphasis on the fact that we have experienced the God of the universe, indeed, the very same God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, of Jesus, Lydia and Paul. We confess a radical openness to the invasion and intervention of God’s Spirit in our daily lives.5 While living prag- matically in the 21st century and being fully aware of its amenities and pitfalls, we also live primatively with a desire for restoration of the experience of the fi rst-century church. 6 “Pentecostals possess a radical openness to God’s pres- ence and power. Because we have encountered God’s presence in the Spirit, we 4 Anne L. C. Runehov, Sacred or Neural? T e Potential of Neuroscience to Explain Religious Experience in Nicholaas A. Rupke, Ted Peters, Gebhard Loehr and Antje Jackelen, eds. Religion, T eologie und Naturwissenschaft/Religion, T eology and Natural Science , Band 9 (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2007). One can guess which direction the authors takes this subject. 5 I am not suggesting that other Christians do not also approach God with such radical open- ness, but rather that as a central feature of our communities of faith, Pentecostals seem to wear this confession as if it were our creed; I do not see such commitment to the radical intervention of the Spirit within our mundane world to be a central feature of other communities of faith — at the very least, not to the same degree as with Pentecostals. 6 For these two features of early Pentecostalism, see Grant Wacker, Heaven Below: Early Pen- tecostals and American Culture (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001). I tend to view his format as somewhat limiting, yet overall accurate. T is assessment is from both my reading of this period and from speaking with the sons and daughters of the Pentecostals from that period — many of whom still live in the pragmatic and primitive ways that Wacker describes. For an excellent review by a Pentecostal, see Cheryl Bridges Johns, “Review of Heaven Below,” First T ings (May 2002), online. ========4======== T. L. Cross / Pneuma 31 (2009) 3-34 7 have been transformed.”7 To reduce this all to some scientifi c reaction dis- misses outright the claim that we experience the God of Scripture in a way similar to the experience of those in Scripture. So, am I claiming now that Pentecostals are those Christians who hear voices? Well, yes and no. We are open to hearing voices — or speaking in tongues, or speaking on behalf of God’s voice here and now, or dancing before God with all of our might, or healing the sick at God’s urging and yes, hearing God’s voice as did Mother Teresa to “Come, come carry Me into the holes of the poor, come be My light!” We are open to the presence and power of God, even in — or perhaps especially in — our theological refl ection. 8 One signifi cant diffi culty with our claim to have encountered God is that we have not done much theological refl ection on what our Pentecostal experi- ence means. To be sure, Pentecostal experience commonly means that we are moved to do something in the mission of God and this usually does not mean refl ection. But we are now in a place where theological refl ection is required of us — both for those within the Pentecostal/charismatic movement and those 7 Terry L. Cross, Answering the Call in the Spirit: Pentecostal Refl ections on a T eology of Voca- tion, Work, and Life (Cleveland, TN: Lee University Press, 2007), 14. 8 Clearly, our experiences with God should shape our doctrinal understanding of this God — if the experiences are truly encounters with the Living God and if we allow these experi- ences to inform our theological refl ection. T rough our experiences with God, we learn for ourselves who this God is. Genuine religious experience for the Pentecostal is predicated on the assumption that the Spirit is the transcendent source or condition of the experience. In addition, most Pentecostals speak about their experiences in a language that tends to portray the encounter as “direct” or “immediate.” God’s Spirit overwhelms believers and they sense God directly, not indirectly. But in what sense can we speak of this event as “direct” or “unmediated” when the very use of language to describe it is already a second-order (mediated!) refl ection. T eological refl ec- tion on our experiences with God always takes on this second-order nature in our written and spoken expressions. Our words to describe the event are broken and once or twice removed from the event itself. T e encounter is always mediated or interpreted by the receiving subject. In this regard, Amos Yong notes that “it should be clear that our ‘pure experiences’ are unavailable for refl ection. T inking involves interpretation all the way down.” See Amos Yong, Spirit-Word- Community: T eological Hermeneutics in Trinitarian Perspective (Burlington, VT: Ashgate Pub- lishing Limited, 2003), 228. So while Pentecostals may want to claim a direct experience of the presence of God and may even point to such experiences in testimony services, as soon as we begin to refl ect in a theological manner on these experiences we understand the limitation of human language to carry the understanding of spiritual experiences. If this is true for our simple reporting of an encounter with God, how much more so is it true for our theological refl ecting on such an encounter. Here we are aware of the need for prayer in theologizing — prayer that our words may in their fi nite way carry some accuracy regarding God and our experiences of God. Grace is necessary for theological word-smithing, therefore. Indeed, in this sense “all theologiz- ing is charismatic in the sense that it is enabled by and through the Spirit,” (Yong, 229). ========5========8 T. L. Cross / Pneuma 31 (2009) 3-34 outside of it.9 Clark Pinnock has warned us well in this regard: “Religious experience needs good theology the way a traveler needs a reliable map. A traveler with lots of enthusiasm but no map for the journey is a dangerous person to travel with. Together you can get hopelessly lost.”10 Yet, to further the imagery, maps can be wrong! We have encountered many theological maps that do not have the land of “Pentecost” located on them at all, let alone the city “Experience.” In other words, theology can be wrong and thereby preclude an openness to the meaning of God’s presence among us. Preconceived notions — especially when it comes to experiencing God — can make a mess of theological cartography. T ink of cessationism and its long history in the church. “Arguably, the cessationist polemic of Warfi eld and others against miracles and the charismata was driven as much by their own experi- ences, including, as it were, a lack of experience of the phenomena they strove [to] refute.”11 A lack of openness can easily limit or skew the results entirely. And in the recent decades, theological writing was being done (or accepted by publishers) mainly by those thinkers who did not see experience as a necessary dimension of the theological task. On the other hand, Pentecostals have frequently chided such theology as being dull and lifeless, yet still the only “respectable” theological game in town and therefore an approach to which we aspire — namely, one less chaotic and more controlled. For many Pentecos- tals, theology seems to remove the unpredictable wind of the Spirit and focus instead on that which can provide predictable propositions, well-sealed from the vagaries of experience. Since a full-blown Pentecostal theology of experience is not feasible in this address, I would like to take initial steps towards such a theology by engaging several doctrinal points within the history of Christian theology. T e seeds for what such a theology of experience might look like already lie in the garden of past theological refl ection — albeit quite hidden among untilled soil and the weeds. So why not jump out of this seedbed and create a new (Pentecostal) one all its own? My primary response is that as a Pentecostal, I am a Christian 9 I need only cite the various “strange” events of the last decade — gold dust, teeth fi lling, or the laughing phenomenon — to support my claim that our movement needs more theological refl ection on our experience, not less. 10 Pinnock, Flame of Love, 12. 11 Amos Yong, Spirit-Word-Community, 248. Yong notes Jon Ruthven’s book, which is argu- ably the best sustained Pentecostal/charismatic argument against Warfi eld and other cessationists. See Ruthven, On the Cessation of the Charismata: T e Protestant Polemic on Postbiblical Miracles in the Journal of Pentecostal T eology Supplemental series, 3 (Sheffi eld: Sheffi eld Academic Press, 1993). ========6======== T. L. Cross / Pneuma 31 (2009) 3-34 9 and therefore cannot jump to a new seedbed, even if other gardeners want to throw me out. I have to work and live with the old garden (and perhaps even with irascible old gardeners and their outdated tilling equipment), but in new ways to loosen the soil and to spread some manure so as to break up and fertil- ize our hardened thoughts along the way. As a theologian who is Pentecostal, one of my tasks surely is to help the church defi ne itself and understand better ways to express its distinctiveness to other arenas of the church and world. However, as a theologian who is also Christian, another of my tasks surely is to turn to other Christians and dia- logue with them about their experience and my experience and understanding of God. It is in the spirit of the latter task that I take up the plow to till our common soil. T erefore, I am not highlighting our uniqueness in this address, but entering into dialogue with several doctrinal loci in order to emphasize our connection with the tradition of Christian theology past and to engage that tradition so that we may view experiences of the Spirit in a diff erent light. Along the way, we will be asking theological questions related to this one issue of the divine-human encounter: What happens when the Holy Spirit meets the human spirit, when the infi nite touches the fi nite? 12 Why should we as Pentecostals/charismatics be concerned with the history of doctrine in developing a theology of experience? Rather than starting anew with our theo- logical refl ection, it would be benefi cial to us and to the church at large to engage our theological past, but with an eye to our experience of God as refl ected in these doctrinal discussions. We can off er the church an infusion of our under- standing of God and these doctrines based on some serious theological refl ec- tion of experience. As several authors have recently noted, this does not usually happen in the discipline of theology: Still, it is of considerable interest that some theologians are capable of writing extensive volumes of theology without hardly ever discussing experience as such. For them, it seems as though theology is all about doctrine and the historical development of doc- trine. T eologies of Christian religion are often pursued either by ignoring experience or by assuming its importance in some implicit way, as though experience can simply be taken for granted.13 12 T e idea for the phrasing of this question came from the subtitle of Edith Humphrey’s book, Ecstasy and Intimacy: When the Holy Spirit Meets the Human Spirit (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2006). 13 Helen K. Bond, Seth D. Kumin, and Francesca Aran Murphy, Religious Studies and T eol- ogy: An Introduction (New York: NYU Press, 2003), 24. A similar thought is expressed by Luke Timothy Johnson when he notes that “the dominant paradigms for studying early Christianity tend to miss its specifi cally religious character . . .” (vii). See Luke Timothy Johnson, Religious ========7========10 T. L. Cross / Pneuma 31 (2009) 3-34 In much of Protestant theology’s attempt to stress the divine initiative in salva- tion and the concomitant fear of ‘works-righteousness,’ there has been an elimination of human cooperation in faith and Christian living. T e result is an eclipse of experience whereby monergists look down their noses at those who even hint of synergy — Anabaptists, Moravians, Brethren, Mennonites, Wesleyans, and Pentecostals. We are labeled with the charge of being “Pela- gian” or “Semi-Pelagian.” Exploration of experience, then, has been limited in terms of theological refl ection among both traditional Christian theologians but also among Pen- tecostals. Seething under the surface of many historic doctrinal concerns are hints of the potential for experience to act as a catalyst, driving these doctrinal concerns deeper and wider. To return to our horticultural imagery, I would like to scratch around in the garden of Christian theology in order to loosen the soil of hardened traditions, spread the manure of experience, and watch the vegetables, fruit, and fl owers expand with new life in the Spirit. Let us consider four modest points of doctrine from the perspective of a Pentecostal who considers religious experience essential in comprehending and imple- menting the truths of the Christian faith. We will spend most of our time on the fi rst point of doctrine and then merely sketch out the ideas for the last three points along similar lines. All four doctrinal concepts can be expressed in four Latin phrases: fi nitum (non) capax infi niti [the fi nite is (not) capable of holding the infi nite] Christus praesens: [the present Christ] unio cum Christo: [union with Christ] internum testimonium Spiritus Sancti: [the internal witness of the Holy Spirit]. Finitum (non) capax infi niti T e fi rst Latin phrase off ers us a question: is the fi nite capable of holding the infi nite? 14 As noted in his editorial in a recent edition of PNEUMA, Frank Experience in Earliest Christianity: A Missing Dimension in New Testament Studies (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1998). He states, “Compared to the volume of scholarship devoted to Christian theology and institutional development, attention to Christian religious experience lies far behind,” (2). 14 T e precise wording of this Latin phrase can appear in a variety of ways. We have chosen the one which expresses the debate of the Lutherans and Reformed in the 1600s and which continues to this very day. Clearly, with this Latin phrase there is no verb, so in English we need to fi ll the concept in the noun, “ capax,” with the verbal idea of containing, holding or even bear- ========8======== T. L. Cross / Pneuma 31 (2009) 3-34 11 Macchia suggests that this question should be answered affi rmatively by Pentecostals — yes, the fi nite human being is capable of bearing the Infi nite God. He suggests further that it may be a “Pentecostal distinctive.”15 Utilizing William Seymour and Charles Durham, Macchia says, “It is our task as Pen- tecostal theologians to explore the various dimensions of the fi nitum capax infi niti .”16 Hopefully, we will be doing just that in this address. A common way that fi nitum capax infi niti is expressed today relates to whether or not humans can be vessels of God’s presence. Obviously, Pentecostals would want to join Macchia in positively asserting that this capacity exists — and so would some Roman Catholics. Fr. Richard John Neuhaus refl ected on this capacity in a Christmas devotional last December. While the Christian theo- logical tradition holds to an accent on God as the “Totally Other,” it also posits a paradoxical immanence in that the incarnation of Christ requires us to proclaim fi nitum capax infi niti — God is with us, Emmanuel.17 T e transcen- dence of God becomes the predicate for the immanence of God in Jesus Christ through the incarnation. “Incarnatus est is the forging of an unbreakable union between the miraculous and the quotidian, the transcendent and the imma- nent. All our thinking, our creativity, our science, our labors, along with our sorrows and disappointments, is participation in the life of God become [hu]man, in faith’s anticipation of our destiny fulfi lled in the life of God.” 18 Is this the meaning of fi nitum capax infi niti ? T at God in Christ gathers up all human life in order to allow us to participate with the life of God? Would Pentecostals want that? Would Macchia agree to that? Finitum capax infi niti ? Can the human bear the divine, the infi nite? Paul seems to believe so in some sense: “We have this treasure in jars of clay, so that the immensity of power may be clearly established as belonging to God, not us” (2 Cor 4:7; my translation). So what did Paul mean by this claim? Obvi- ously, he uses a metaphor to illustrate the brilliance of God’s glory (as seen in the previous chapter’s discussion of the radiance of God’s glory refl ected in our faces) as compared with our humanity. We are common clay pots, ing. Hence, “the fi nite is (not) capable of holding the infi nite.” One might fi nd the following variations: fi nitum incapax infi niti or fi nitum non capax infi niti or fi nitum non est capax infi niti all of which signify the negative of fi nitum capax infi niti . 15 Frank D. Macchia, “Finitum Capax Infi niti: A Pentecostal Distinctive?” PNEUMA 29 (2007): 185-187. 16 Macchia, “Finitum,” 187. 17 Richard John Neuhaus, “T e Real Presence of Christmas,” First T ings: T e Journal of Reli- gion, Culture and Public Life (21 December 2007). Online archive: 18 Ibid. ========9========12 T. L. Cross / Pneuma 31 (2009) 3-34 says Paul, made of earthy substance, yet we hide a treasure within us. It is as if the humble status of the pots would fool any would-be burglar that some- thing extremely precious resides within such a lowly vessel. T e point of this, continues Paul, is that the genuine power may be acknowledged as God’s and not ours. T ere does seem to be some sense in which Paul’s clay pots metaphor could be understood as speaking of a reality that is beyond our language to portray. How literally does one want to push a metaphor? And precisely what are the implications in saying that the fi nite is capable of bearing the infi nite? What happens when the divine Spirit encounters the human spirit? T e arena in which discussion of the fi nitum capax infi niti occurred in the history of Christian doctrine was in post-Reformation Protestantism. T e ‘combatants’ were the Lutherans and Reformed. Following Luther’s idea of the ubiquity of Christ’s body (especially in the Eucharist), the Lutherans answered the question whether the fi nite human being could contain the fullness of the Infi nite with a ‘yes.’ T e issue revolved around Christology. Could Jesus as a fi nite human “express the full dimensions of God’s attributes such as omnipo- tence and omniscience”?19 For Lutherans, then, the fi nite could contain the infi nite because in the human Jesus was contained the fullness of the Godhead in bodily form. Because of the communicatio idiomatum (communion of prop- erties) and because of the hypostatic union of the two natures in the one per- son of Christ, Luther maintained that the human nature of Jesus shared in the majestic attributes of God. T is, then, gave rise to the idea that if Christ is really present in the elements of communion, then we must consider that “his body and blood are really present in the various places throughout the world where the Eucharist is celebrated. Hence, not only is the divine nature everywhere present, but the human nature shares in this and other aspects of Christ’s divinity.20 And so Luther’s doctrine of the ubiquity (omnipresence) of Christ lays the ground for the debate with his followers and the followers of Calvin — a debate, by the way, which is still ongoing today. T e Lutherans 19 Donald K. McKim, Westminster Dictionary of T eological Terms (Louisville, KY: Westmin- ster John Knox Press, 1996), 105. 20 Otto Weber, Grundlagen der Dogmatik, 2 Bdn. (Neukirchen: Neukirchener Verlag, 1962), 2:150. As Weber states, the Eucharistic controversies swirled around precisely who this “Christus praesens” was. Underlying these views, then, were Christologies that supported the Eucharistic ideas of “presence” for Luther and Calvin alike. See also the English translation of Weber: Foun- dations of Dogmatics, trans. Darrell L. Guder, 2 vols. (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publish- ing Company, 1983), 2:129. ========10======== T. L. Cross / Pneuma 31 (2009) 3-34 13 believed the fi nite could contain the Infi nite because the God-Human, Jesus Christ, reveals such a capacity. T e Reformed response to this doctrine was based on Calvin’s denial in the Institutes of the ubiquity of the body of Christ. Later, Lutheran theologians pejoratively dubbed this view as the “extra calvinisticum” or “Calvinistic extra.”21 T e Reformed theologians did not like this charge, since they believed that how Calvin understood this issue was not “extra” at all, but a natural exposition of Scripture — something they could not apply to Luther’s doc- trine of ubiquity. So how did Calvin see this point? Essentially, he followed the Christology of Scholasticism — especially Peter Lombard — in affi rming that the divine Word of God became fl esh, but was not thereby “confi ned within the narrow prison of an earthly body.”22 After the incarnation, the second Person of the Trinity is present and active “beyond the fl esh of Jesus Christ himself,” thereby pointing to the fact that the Word was never fully contained in the fl esh but extended beyond such limitation in his divine nature. 23 T ere- fore, humans are not capable of bearing the divine or infi nite, since Christ’s divinity fi lled his humanity fully, yet overfl owed beyond it. To posit otherwise is to limit Christ’s divinity by a fi nite, physical body. Further discussion on the fi nitum expanded the limits of the debate. Wolf- gang Musculus Dusanus, a Reformed theologian from Bern, wrote in 1560, “T at which is fi nite is not able to grasp fi rmly the infi nite.” 24 Now we add comprehension to the fi nitum capax . Johannes Brenz posited the fi rst Lutheran response in 1564, saying that by considering what the oracle of the Holy Spirit says (si autem consulamus oracula spiritus sancti), the following is very clear — that which is fi nite can become capable of the infi nite ( manifestum est, quod fi nitum posit fi eri capax . . . infi niti ).25 21 McKim, Westminster Dictionary of T eological Terms , 100. 22 John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, in Library of Christian Classics, vol. 20, ed. John T. McNeill; trans. Ford Lewis Battles (Philadelphia: T e Westminster Press, 1960), I.13.4, 481. 23 Ibid. T e defi nitive discussion of the “ extra Calvinisticum” is found in E. David Willis, Calvin’s Catholic Christology (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1966). 24 Cited in Karl Barth, Die christliche Dogmatik im Entwurf: Erster Band, Die Lehre vom Worte Gottes: Prolegomena zur christlichen Dogmatik 1927, ed. Gerhard Sauter (Zürich: T eologischer Verlag Zürich, 1982), 251-252, fn. 12; orig. edition, 188. T e source cited is by Wolfgang Musculus Dusanus, Loci communes theologiae sacrae (Basilae: 1560), 430. T is is my translation from the Latin: “Quod fi nitum est, infi nitum comprehendere non potest.” 25 Dietrich Bonhoeff er, Act and Being: Transcendental Philosophy and Ontology in Systematic T eology , ed. Wayne Whitson Floyd, Jr.; trans. H. Martin Rumscheidt, in Dietrich Bonhoeff er Works, vol. 2, gen. ed. W. W. Floyd, Jr. (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1996), 84, ed. fn. 7. T e ========11========14 T. L. Cross / Pneuma 31 (2009) 3-34 What is at stake here? Hearing a response from Karl Barth to this question may pose the issue more sharply for us: at stake is the very nature of what it means to be human and what it means to be God. Barth felt that Protestant liberalism had removed transcendence from God’s reality; God’s immanence was so overstressed that it became diffi cult to hear any tones of transcendence in modern theological discussion.26 While there were various contributing fac- tors to this dismissal of transcendence — all the way from Kant’s epistemo- logical set-up of the two-part universe of noumena and phenomena to Schleiermacher’s turn to the human in religion — the result was the same regardless of the cause, namely, the loss of a God above us and the focus on the divine within us. For Barth, this meant simply a loss of the God of Scripture. T rough his Römerbrief (1919 and 1922) and his Göttingen Dogmatics (1924- 1925) and his Die christliche Dogmatik (1927), Barth pounded vigorously on the thoughts and writings of his former professors and current colleagues if he felt they did not allow for this Wholly Other God to be heard for his own sake. T e Totally Other comes to us in revelation, but not as an object like other objects that we can encompass with our hands in order to tame or control. T is God of Scripture is beyond our grasp because this God is not like us — no not at all.27 So here is Barth’s answer to the question of the fi nitum : what is at stake is allowing God to be God — and that makes all the diff erence. If we were to say Brenz work cited here is De maiestate Domini nostril Iesu Christi (Tubingae: 1564), 30. Floyd notes in this footnote that Karl Barth adopted the Reformed formula throughout his career, with slight variations. 26 Barth was infl uenced with respect to the transcendence of God — or lack thereof — in modern theology by a Roman Catholic theologian, Erich Przywara. He saw Przywara’s com- ments in a 1923 article as supportive of his own approach to the transcendence-immanence question; he also may have begun to shape his important view on the analogia entis (analogy of being) as belonging to the Roman Catholic view. It is basically the approach to this question as stated above, namely, that God is at one end of a long chain of being and humans at the other. T erefore, humans can speak in analogous terms of God. Barth will insist that this analogous speech cannot occur since God is not in the same line of being with humans; God is totally Other. See Erich Przywara, “Gott in uns oder über uns? Immanenz und Transzendenz im heuti- gen Geistesleben,” Stimmen der Zeit 105 (1923): 343-362, especially 343-345 on the issue of transcendence and immanence in current theologies. Bruce McCormack believes that Przywara’s essay helped to shape Barth’s understanding of the analogia entis and the Roman Catholic view regarding it. See McCormack, Karl Barth’s Critically Realistic Dialectical T eology: Its Genesis and Development, 1909-1936 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995), 319-323. 27 Karl Barth noted this as early as a 1916 address. See Barth, “Die neue Welt in der Bibel,” in Das Wort Gottes und die T eologie , (München: Chr. Kaiser Verlag, 1924), 18-32; cf. the English translation, “T e Strange New World Within the Bible,” in T e Word of God and the Word of Man, trans. Douglas Horton (Gloucester, MA: Peter Smith Publisher, 1978): 28-50. ========12======== T. L. Cross / Pneuma 31 (2009) 3-34 15 that the fi nite is able to bear the Infi nite, then we posit a God who is in the ‘great chain of being’ or a continuum of a long line, which has divinity at one end and humanity at another.28 Within such a view, humans are not exactly like God, to be sure, but are in the same line of being. In this way, humans can communicate and interact with God because this God is understandable — or at least corresponds to our system of understanding. As the old Protestant liberalism described this, the reason that God loves humans is because there is “something akin to God in them.”29 In other words, to say the fi nite can bear the Infi nite is to say that humans have the capacity to grasp fi rmly onto this God. Barth believes that this denies the God of Scripture, who is totally and qualitatively other than humans. T is is the import of the now famous descrip- tion in the second edition of the Römerbrief (1922): “. . . if I have a ‘system,’ it consists in this: that I have maintained in my eyes as insistently as possible what Kierkegaard has called the ‘infi nite qualitative distinction’ of time and eternity, in its negative and positive signifi cance.” 30 T ere are several points of diffi culty with this view. While one may retrieve the transcendence of God by positing him far from us, one also loses sight of the immanence of God. While one may avoid making humans into little gods by saying that we do not have the capacity to bear God in our fi nitude, one 28 Barth makes this distinction most sharply in his earlier theological writings, but the theme continues in some form throughout his entire life’s work. Barth learned to speak of the distance between God and humans as bridged in some sense by the incarnation of Christ, but this never meant for him that humans were on the same line of “being” as God, only at diff erent ends. Hans Frei has described the Old Protestant Liberalism in which Barth was trained and from which he eventually “broke” as maintaining a “relational nexus” between God and humans. Frei com- ments, “T e relation of God to man is not a reversible relation. God is not present in history, experience, thought or even ‘existence’ in such a way that his revelation of himself to us becomes a relational state. T ere is no denial of God’s relation to man, but its actualism is so pronounced and critical that at no point does it become a ‘given’ or ‘nexus’ or ‘relational state’ which would justify us in speaking about man’s relation to God. We are not even related to God in so indirect a way that we may see ourselves as unrelated or negatively related to him.” See Hans Frei, “T e Doctrine of Revelation in the T ought of Karl Barth, 1909-1922,” Ph.D. dissertation (Yale University, 1956), 114. 29 T is is a phrase in 1898 used by a North American theologian to describe Albrecht Ritschl’s understanding of the “relational nexus” (as Frei notes in the footnote above) between God and humans. While this is an old article, it is contemporaneous with the period of old Protestant liberalism and is one of the better descriptions of Ritschl’s theology in English. See J. H. W. Stuck- enberg, “T e T eology of Albrecht Ritschl,” T e American Journal of T eology 2:2 (April 1898): 268-292, 283. Stuckenberg adds this comment: “[God] cannot love the material world, because it is too diff erent from him,” (283). 30 Karl Barth, Der Römerbrief, 1922, 2nd ed. (Zürich: T eologischer Verlag Zürich, 1999), xx. My translation. ========13========16 T. L. Cross / Pneuma 31 (2009) 3-34 also destroys the dimension that God is at work within us, indwelling and fi ll- ing us with his Spirit. A fi nal diffi culty is one that Barth concluded for himself by the end of the 1920s, namely, that to overstress the transcendence of God and the “crisis” that entails in human existence is to end up saying almost nothing about this God above us. Barth became frustrated with the fact that as a theologian and minister he felt he must say something about God, yet as a human being he felt he could not say something about this God. All he could do was prolegemonena — initial, methodological procedures for theology, but nothing about the content of theology since that is beyond knowing and/or describing.31 T us, human speech is broken before this God. We babble in paradox and dialectical musings, all of which point to some mystery beyond us, but none of which produces substantive theological discourse as it usually is considered. It is for no small reason, then, that the portrait hanging above his writing desk for most of his career (and still there today) is called “T e Crucifi xion” by Matthias Grünewald. In the center is Christ on the cross. Below the cross are a variety of persons and symbols. Standing near the cross is John the Baptist with his hand raised and fi nger pointing to the cross. Near him are the words in Latin: “Illum oportet crescere me autem minui,” or “He must increase and I must decrease.” Barth said on several occasions that the work of a minister and/or theologian could be summed up in that one long fi nger of the Baptist, pointing to the remarkable “Word” of God in the fl esh. 32 31 Karl Barth, “Das Wort Gottes als Aufgabe der T eologie,” in Das Wort Gottes und die T e- ologie, (München: Chr. Kaiser Verlag, 1924), 156-178; 158; ET: “T e Word of God and the Task of the Ministry,” in T e Word of God and the Word of Man , trans. Douglas Horton (Gloucester, MA: Peter Smith Publisher, 1978), 183-217, 186. In this 1922 address, Barth states, “As minis- ters we ought to speak of God. We are human, however, and so cannot speak of God. We ought therefore to recognize both our obligation and our inability and by that very recognition give God the glory. T is is our perplexity. T e rest of our task fades into insignifi cance in comparison,” (186). For some reason, the translator (D. Horton) chose to replace the word “theology” in the title with “ministry.” He also does it in this quotation: “Wir sollen als T eologen von Gott red- den . . .” (“As theologians, we ought to speak of God . . .”). 32 Grünewald’s “Crucifi xion” was completed between 1510-1516. It was commissioned for the chapel of a hospital in Issenheim in the Alsace-Lorraine region between France and Germany. T e wounds on Christ’s body resemble the sores that would have been on the patients limping into the chapel for prayer and meditation. Most of the suff erers had a blood disease that was extremely painful and burst forth like “fi re” in fever and skin sores. Grünewald must have felt that portraying Christ with similar sores would off er solace to the patients in the Issenheim monastery’s hospital. T e painting is very large, consisting of a front and a back side of the trip- tych-style artwork. After a long and circuitous journey, the painting currently resides in Colmar, France — only a few kilometers from Issenheim where it originally hung. Placed in a former convent chapel in the Musée d’Unterlinden in Colmar, it appears as stunning as it must have in ========14======== T. L. Cross / Pneuma 31 (2009) 3-34 17 Nonetheless, the theologian is in a diffi cult situation. After the fi rst few ses- sions of a theology class, students might expect a dismissal for the remainder of a semester since all that can be said will have already been said in the prole- gomena. Clearly, Barth needed to say more — and he did. While he retained this negative moment in the theological task all of his life, he did come to ask questions (even as early as 1924 with the dogmatics at Göttingen) about the meaning of the Word made fl esh and its signifi cance for theology. Hence arose Barth’s christocentrism. God always remains transcendent for Barth, but the immanence of God can be seen clearly in Jesus the Christ. It is God who sets the rules about what we can say about him — and since he has spoken in Jesus Christ, we have a lot to say! God becomes a human without ever disen- gaging from being God. God is greater than the fl esh that he inhabits in the incarnation. And this is precisely the extra calvinisticum. Yet for Barth, this “extra” — connected with the Reformed doctrine of fi nitum non capax est infi niti — remains necessary as a safeguard against those who want a God so immanent and so “graspable” that they can put their hands on God and attempt to tame the wild, desert God, Yahweh of the Sinai. God will not be so tamed because God is above us. Yet God is now also with us (Emmanuel) in Jesus Christ. And from this event of incarnation, death, and resurrection of the Messiah, we learn about the Triune God through what we see in the Son of God. If the fi nite being is capable of containing or holding the Infi nite One, then we neither have the God of the Bible nor the human being of Scripture. Moreover, if we accept the Lutheran approach to the fi nitum and agree that we have the capacity to contain divinity within our humanity, then we also have to deal with the concomitant semi-Pelagian whiff s that seem to surround such a view. And Barth wanted to hammer into silence any acknowledgment that humans could do something good without God. So, as Pentecostals reconsidering this doctrinal locus with a view to the Spirit’s role in it, do we emerge from this journey into the question fi nitum capax infi niti by denying or affi rming that humans have the capacity to grasp fi rmly or contain the Infi nite God? In other words, was Frank wrong and Barth right? Perhaps to the surprise of some here tonight, I believe that Frank was right and Barth was wrong! However, we need to qualify precisely in what way this dis- cussion can be seen by Pentecostals as cautionary and yet truthful. Dietrich Bonhoeff er, a Lutheran theologian, was not so enamored of Barth’s position on the fi nitum . He believed that Barth was stuck in the Reformed the Issenheim chapel. Basel is only two hours away by train and it is probable that Barth saw this painting on several occasions. ========15========18 T. L. Cross / Pneuma 31 (2009) 3-34 mould and could not free himself.33 Yet Bonhoeff er did not automatically assume that the Lutheran position was correct. He rightly saw diffi culty with both views. In Christ the Center, Bonhoeff er off ers us insight into our dilemma: “T e fi nite is capable of taking up the infi nite, not through itself, but through the infi nite” ( fi nitum capax infi niti, non per se sed per infi nitum! ).34 So, what the incarnation reveals is that God comes to us from outside of us — not one of us, he enters into being with us. T e only way that we can “take up the infi nite” is also outside of us, namely, only as the Infi nite God graces us. In addition to this insight from Bonhoeff er, Paul Althaus — another Lutheran theologian — provides a diff erent dimension of clarity through his observa- tion of the kenosis of the Son of God. Althaus sees the metaphor of kenosis or self-emptying of Christ as described in Philippians 2:5-6 as reversing the formula of the fi nitum , which refers to humans, by referring it to God: infi ni- tum capax fi niti — the infi nite has the capacity for bearing the fi nite. 35 Refl ect- ing on this concept, D. Lyle Dabney refers to the Spirit as “Spiritus infi nitus capax fi niti .”36 Using these refl ections, we may sketch a conclusion to the matter. We do not possess a capacity for holding God within our humanity; however, we are given such a capacity by the grace of God. T rough the Infi nite Gracious One, we experience infi nite love and even the presence of the Infi nite One. In addi- 33 Bonhoeff er, Act and Being, 84; 126; also, described well by the editor, Wayne W. Floyd, in the “Afterword,” 178-184. 34 Dietrich Bonhoeff er, Christ the Center, trans. Edwin H. Robertson (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1978), 93. 35 Paul Althaus, “Christologie III. Dogmatisch” in Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart: Handwörterbuch für T eologie und Religionswissenschaft , 3. Aufl ., Band I, A-C, eds. H. von Campenhausen, E. Dinkler, G. Gloege and Knud Lρgstrup (Tübingen: J.C.B. Mohr/Paul Siebeck, 1957): 1777-1789, especially 1783. Althaus states, “Menschwerdung ist ‘Entäußerung’ (Kenosis) Gottes. Gott tritt damit in einen Widerspruch zu seiner Majestät, aber gerade kraft seiner Gottheit (hier gilt zwar nicht: fi nitium capax infi niti, wohl aber: infi nitum capax fi niti) und um eben auf dem Wege der Entäußerung in der Erlösung seine ganze göttliche Herrlichkeit geltend zu machen. Die Entäußerung ist das Wunder seiner Liebe, in dem er ganz Gott ist,” (1783). [My translation: “T e incarnation is the renunciation/giving up (kenosis) of God. God enters into a contradiction to his majesty, but precisely by virtue of his deity (here admittedly the fi nitum capax infi niti is not valid, but probably infi nitum capax fi niti is valid) and, to assert his whole divine sovereignty for the sake of the soon-to-arrive-renunciation in redemption. Renun- ciation is the miracle of God’s love in which he is completely God.” T is idea from Althaus was noted in D. Lyle Dabney, Die Kenosis des Geistes: Kontinuität zwischen Schöpfung und Erlösung im Werk des Heiligen Geistes (Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag, 1997), 53. 36 Dabney, Kenosis des Geistes, 53. ========16======== T. L. Cross / Pneuma 31 (2009) 3-34 19 tion, because of the incarnation, the Infi nite Spirit is now capable of bearing the fi nite — and this is the Good News. T e Pentecostal response in the affi rmative to this fi nitum query seems based on our experience with God. Like Christian mystics throughout the ages, we experience God’s presence in ways that feel like God is fi lling us to overfl owing. Bernard McGinn has described such mystical experiences in Christianity to be reactions to the “immediate or direct presence of God.”37 Such a description seems to match well my own experiences with God. However, we should take the Reformed and Barthian concerns here very seriously, especially as Pentecostals. Because we may sense the “direct presence of God,” Pentecostals can experience a type of charismatic triumphalism in which they feel that they are special in God’s sight because of these experi- ences. Humans have such a warping ability due to sin that we can take this feeling of God’s presence as approval for our thoughts or actions. We have authority with God and therefore can begin to share that authority with others (or mostly over others). Some ‘word of faith” preachers have skirted with the idea that we “are gods,” using (or abusing) the Scriptural statements in Psalm 82:6 and John 10:34-35. Kenneth Copeland has stated this and has refused to retract it. Here is one way this works out: “God’s reason for creating Adam was His desire to reproduce Himself. I mean a reproduction of Himself, and in the Garden of Eden He did just that. He was not a little like God. He was not almost like God. He was not subordinate to God even. . . . Adam is as much like God as you could get, just the same as Jesus. . . . Adam, in the Garden of Eden, was God manifested in the fl esh.” 38 Paul Crouch affi rmed Copeland’s statement that we are gods: “He [God] doesn’t even draw a distinction between Himself and us. . . . You know what else that’s settled, then, tonight? T is hue and cry and controversy that has been spawned by the Devil to try and bring dissension within the body of Christ that we are gods. I am a little god! . . . I have His name. I’m one with Him. I’m in covenant relation. I am a little god! Critics, be gone!”39 37 Bernard McGinn, T e Foundations of Mysticism: Origins to the Fifth Century in T e Presence of God: A History of Western Christian Mysticism, vol. 1 (New York: Crossroad, 1991), xvii. 38 Kenneth Copeland, “Following the Faith of Abraham, I,” side 1, as quoted on the following website: Retrieved January 2008. 39 Paul Crouch, “Praise the Lord,” TV broadcast, TBN, 7 July 1986. For a discussion of this issue, see Robert M. Bowman, Jr., “Ye are Gods? Orthodox and Heretical Views on the Deifi ca- tion of Man,” Christian Research Journal (Winter/Spring 1987): 18. ========17========20 T. L. Cross / Pneuma 31 (2009) 3-34 Such triumphalism and clear error regarding human beings in relation to God needs to be checked by theological refl ection on the capax question; oth- erwise, humans will consider the presence of God indwelling them to be the signal that they have authority or power over others. T e implicit result of our Pentecostal theological refl ection on the fi nitum capax question shows that a balanced and appropriate response requires the assistance of our knowledge of God from our experiences of God. Let us turn now to the second Latin phrase and doctrinal locus: Christus prae- sens (the present Christ). Christus Praesens “T e present Christ” or the “contemporaneous Christ” points to a truth that is vital for Christian faith and living, namely, that even though Jesus Christ lived 2000 years ago in space and time, because of the resurrection he is still alive and present with us. T e Christus praesens is an early doctrine of the Church, developing around the beginning of the second century C.E. with the realization that the imminent return of Christ was being delayed.40 T us, communities of believers took comfort in the fact that the Risen Christ was present with them, both in the Eucharist and in the reality of daily living.41 And so it is still for us today — the community of Jesus Christ does not live from the being and willing of a past Christ, but rather from the existing of the present Christ for us.” 42 40 Otto Weber, Grundlagen in Dogmatik, 2:566-567; Foundations in Dogmatics, 2, 514. T e theological usage of the phrase, Christus praesens, can be traced back to Adolf von Harnack in a speech he delivered to the Prussian Academy of Science in 1927. Harnack notes eight diff erent usages of the phrase throughout church history, concluding with the claim by Pope Innocent III that he was the vicar of Christ on earth. See Adolf von Harnack, “Christus praesens — Vicarius Christi: Eine kirchengeschichtliche Skizze,” Sitzungsberichte der preussischen Akademie Wissen- schaften (Sitzung der philosophisch-historischen Klasse) 34 (22 December 1927): 415-417. Expan- sion on Harnack’s thoughts may be found in English in James F. Kay, Christus Praesens: A Reconsideration of Rudolf Bultmann’s Christology (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1994), 10-11. 41 Leonard Stählin, Christus praesens: Vorerwägungen zu einer Grundfrage der Kirchen-und Dog- mengeschichte (Beiträge zur evangelischen T eologie 3) (Munich: Lempp, 1940). Stählin documents the Christus praesens as early as Ignatius of Antioch. See Stählin, 49-74. I have explicated the Christus praesens further in a paper presented to the English-German Colloquium in New Testa- ment at Tübingen Universität, 2 June 2008, entitled, “Christus praesens or Christus otiosus? T e Role of extra nos and in nobis in Relation to the unio cum Christo in the T eology of John Calvin, Wilhelm Herrmann, and Karl Barth.” 42 Otto Weber, Grundlagen der Dogmatik , 2:567; Foundations of Dogmatics , 2:514. ========18======== T. L. Cross / Pneuma 31 (2009) 3-34 21 So how might Pentecostals approach this doctrine and provide it with insight and vitality? It is clear that the transmission of the reality of the present Christ is accomplished through the work of the Holy Spirit — something that has not been clarifi ed or emphasized by theology in the past. Pentecostals might provide some much needed direction here. Allow me to focus on one aspect of this doctrine, especially as it relates to the work of the Spirit in re-presenting Christ to us in salvation. Lessing, Kierkegaard and McClendon How can Christians know the distant Jesus of history when we are bound by the time and space in which we live? How can we cross two millennia and say we “know” Jesus Christ? T is problem is exacerbated by an observa- tion of Gottfried Lessing in 1777 regarding history: “If no historical truth can be demonstrated, then nothing can be demonstrated by means of histori- cal truths. T at is: accidental truths of history can never become the proof of necessary truths of reason. . . . T at, then, is the ugly, broad ditch ( der garstige breite Graben) which I cannot get across, however often and however earnestly I have tried to make the leap.”43 How can we jump over this ditch and the problem of knowing with such certitude something that is in the realm of history? Someone might object to Lessing that miracles — like the resurrection of Jesus from the dead — are “more than historically certain,” because these things are told to us by “inspired historians who cannot make a mistake.” But Lessing counters that whether or not we have inspired historians is itself a historical claim, and only as certain as history allows. T is, then, “is the ugly broad ditch” that Lessing cannot cross. He concludes: “Since the truth of these miracles has completely ceased to be demonstrable by miracles still happening now, since they are no more than reports of miracles, I deny that they should bind me in the least to a faith in the other teachings of Christ.”44 I submit that the chasm of history is bridged through the Holy Spirit re-presenting Christ to us. Here is how I propose that this works out theologically. 43 Gottried E. Lessing, “Über der Beweis des Geistes und der Kraft,” in Gesammelte Werke, ed. Paul Rilla (Berlin: Aufbau-Verlag, 1956), 8:12, 14; ET: “On the Proof of the Power of the Spirit and of Power,” in Lessing’s T eological Writings , ed. and trans. Henry Chadwick (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1956), 53, 55. T e German of the famous line reads: “Das, das ist der garstige, breite Graben, über den ich nicht kommen kann, so oft und ernstlich ich auch den Sprung versucht habe.” 44 Lessing, “On the Proof,” Lessing’s T eological Writings , 51. ========19========22 T. L. Cross / Pneuma 31 (2009) 3-34 When we hear the Gospel and the Spirit stirs our heart to respond to its plea to accept that Jesus Christ is Lord and that God has raised him from the dead, how is it that we know this Jesus the Christ who lived so long ago? T e Spirit of God re-presents Jesus Christ to us just as surely as if we walked the paths of Galilee with him. T rough the power of the Spirit, the real Christ is displayed before us so that we might acknowledge or deny this Savior. T e Spirit makes Christ present and contemporary for us. Soren Kierkegaard has provided a similar portrait of the ‘contemporary Christ,’ without, however, the role of the Spirit. He states that Christ’s pres- ence on earth “never becomes a thing of the past . . .”45 In order to become a true Christian believer and not simply a church attender in Christendom, one must encounter this contemporary Christ.46 Kierkegaard asks his readers to “imagine themselves contemporary with [Christ].”47 When they do so, they will be surprised that this contemporary Christ is not the one that is preached to them from dull-minded preachers of Christendom. No, this Christ is one that they can know by faith. “He wills not to be transformed by human beings into a cozy — a human god; he wills to transform human beings, and he wills it out of love.”48 Because of something in the nature of Christ’s existence (apparently), we are able to see Christ as contemporaneous with us and thereby off er a proper assessment, one that is not colored by the fancy words of deceitful preachers. We see Christ as we would see and know a friend who lives down the block. T us for Kierkegaard, the ugly ditch of history is bridged by the contempora- neous Christ. However, Kierkegaard does not explain how this contemporane- ity operates or what causes it.49 I suggest that the implementation of this contemporary Christ is not just within the nature of the Christ himself but in the nature of the resurrected Christ that is mediated to us in the here and now by the power of the Spirit; it is not just within our own imaginations, but in the reality of history under the creative control and operation of the Spirit, who leads us to Christ. And so in some sense, Jesus is able to stand before us as he stood before the disciples in Jerusalem. 45 Soren Kierkegaard, Practice in Christianity, ed. and trans. Howard V. Hong and Edna H. Hong (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991), 9. 46 Kierkegaard, Practice in Christianity, 38-39. 47 Ibid., 52. 48 Ibid., 62. 49 Kierkegaard’s proposal also seems to open the door for a split between faith and reason — that faith cannot be verifi ed or certifi ed in any way by the mind. While my “Pentecostal” answer may be open to a similar charge, I believe that it can overcome such an assault. ========20======== T. L. Cross / Pneuma 31 (2009) 3-34 23 Kierkegaard notes: “T ere is, namely, an infi nite chasmic diff erence between God and [hu]man[s], and therefore it became clear in the situation of contem- poraneity that to become a Christian (to be transformed into likeness with God) is, humanly speaking, an even greater torment and misery and pain than the greatest human torment, and in addition a crime in the eyes of one’s con- temporaries.”50 T e diff erence between God and humanity is so great that this acknowledgment of the Christ, the one who invites us to come to him when we are weary, is painful. T is is no mere mental imaging that suddenly breaks forth into euphoria for Kierkegaard. No! Contemporaneity with Christ means that we see him as he really is — rejected, scorned, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. We see this and we enter into it with him, not as some panacea for our inner turmoil but as true disciples of the one who asks us to follow him in all things. Hence, a second chasm must be bridged: the infi nite qualitative distinction between God and us. I submit that God bridges these distinctions through the incarnation of Christ by the power of the Spirit. And that bridge is open now for us to travel “back” to God in the power of the Spirit as well. In terms of Pentecostal theol- ogy related to this “event,” I have found the writing of Baptist theologian, James McClendon, Jr., helpful. In describing a hermeneutic approach to the Bible, McClendon outlines what he calls the “baptistic vision” (after 16th cen- tury radical reformers): fi rst, the “plain sense of Scripture” and second, a “this-is-that” mentality when reading Scripture.51 I fi nd that Pentecostals favor this type of vision as well. We want to see ourselves involved in the continua- tion of the story of Scripture — indeed, we see ourselves as experiencing pre- cisely “that” which occurs in the narrative of the Bible. How else would Pentecostals consider the baptism in the Spirit if they did not see Acts 2 as operative for them today — and, if they did not believe that the very same thing (the “that” of Scripture) is happening to them today (the “this” of our experience)?52 But how do we know “this is that?” I submit it is by the work of the Spirit who connects us with the historical past as well as with the spiritual import of that past. We read the occurrences of the New Testament and understand the 50 Kierkegaard, Practice in Christianity, 63. 51 James Wm. McClendon, Jr., Doctrine: Systematic T eology , vol. 2 (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1994), 44-45. 52 McClendon describes this approach as follows: followers of the baptistic vision “see past and present and future linked by a ‘this is that’ and ‘then is now’ vision, a trope of mystical iden- tity binding the story now to the story then, and the story then and now to God’s future yet to come,” (Doctrine, 45). ========21========24 T. L. Cross / Pneuma 31 (2009) 3-34 believers there as our brothers and sisters in Christ. We believe that the God of the Bible is the same God of our present. T is is accomplished by the Holy Spirit who re-presents Christ to us.53 Wilhelm Herrmann A second theological point with regard to Christus praesens needs to be expressed. T e event of contemporaneity of Christ with humans through the power of the Spirit is not just at the moment of conversion; the presence of Christ is with us (and in us) as the Spirit of Christ — without which, we do not belong to Christ (Rom 8:9-10). Christus praesens, then, points to a truth extending throughout our lives. Whereas Kierkegaard and McClendon assisted me primarily in shaping the re-presentation model of the contemporary Christ for salvation, I have looked to Wilhelm Herrmann (d. 1922), a teacher of both Karl Barth and Rudolf Bultmann in Marburg, to off er insight into the con- tinuing presence of Christ by the Spirit. In a hugely popular book that evolved through seven editions in German (from 1886-1921), Wilhelm Herrmann wrote about the inner life of Jesus as the focus of faith. Entitled T e Communion of the Christian with God , (Der Verkehr des Christen mit Gott), Herrmann puts forward a “personal Christian- ity” in which the faith of a Christian is created by the Spirit, not by assent to creedal statements.54 When this faith occurs, we experience the personal life of 53 Otto Weber provides precisely our point: “Briefl y put, what happens is that the Bible in its witness makes us ‘contemporary’ with Christ, as we might put it using Kierkegaard’s terms. We cannot evade this encounter. . . . But when what we are talking about happens, then we are placed in the original situation in which there is no question of interest or disinterest but only of Yes or No. Whenever this happens, Lessing’s profoundly avoided ‘horrible broad chasm’ is bridged, but not in that Jesus ceases to be ‘yesterday’ (Heb 13:8) but rather in that I cease to cling desperately to my own ‘today.’ T at is the work of the Holy Spirit.” See Weber, Foundations in Dogmatics, I: 246-247. 54 Wilhelm Herrmann, Der Verkehr des Christen mit Gott, in Anschluss an Luther Dargestellt, Vierte Aufl age — 4th edition (Stuttgart und Berlin: J. G. Cotta’sche Buchhandlung Nachfolger, 1903), 10; T e Communion of the Christian with God, Described on the Basis of Luther’s State- ments, ed. Robert T. Voekel; trans. J. Sandys Stanyon and R. W. Stewart, from the 4th German edition of 1903, in the Lives of Jesus Series, gen. ed. Leander Keck (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1971), 12. T e German word, Verkehr, is a little tricky to translate. It is an old word in German. It can refer to traffi c or to sexual relations! T e communion that is used for translating the title word here should be considered along the lines of a two-way interaction between persons. It is somewhat similar to the English word, “intercourse,” which originally described a two-way con- versation or interaction but now seems to relate mostly to sexual intercourse. T e idea is not a one-way interaction, but a two-way intercourse of life and thought. It is an intense sharing of two lives. T is may give some context for Herrmann’s understanding of spirituality. ========22======== T. L. Cross / Pneuma 31 (2009) 3-34 25 Jesus by our communion with God. T is faith, then, bypasses the criteria of science and historical methodology. A human being’s inner life takes on a “new character through his communion with the God who is thus manifest.”55 Hence for Herrmann, theology must expound the nature of this communion. “To fi x doctrines that are thus severed from the stem of real life, and to frame them into a system is the last thing the Christian church should under- take, and the more important the matter worked up in this way is, the more harmful it is. But if, on the other hand, we keep our attention fi xed on what God is producing in the Christian’s inner life, then the manifoldness of the thoughts which spring from faith will not confuse us, but give us cause for joy.”56 Immediately a concern comes to mind. Doesn’t talk of the “inner life of Jesus” and the “inner life of believers” sound like the faith is being reduced to entirely subjective experiences? Indeed, that is one reason that I began study- ing Herrmann several decades ago — because as a Pentecostal I discovered similar charges were being laid at my own theological door. Herrmann does not fear these charges, noting that he insists on retaining “a certain objective reality” in faith by which we receive support and our faith is fed.57 However, we cannot “prove” the truth of these things to an unbeliever; we cannot focus solely on the “objective” data that supports faith without also engaging the inner life of faith. Moreover, we cannot pass on this faith and inner life to another. “Each individual must experience it for himself as a gift from above.”58 Herrmann provides a portrait of what the inner life experiences with God. Every person for whom religion is more than a storehouse of knowledge or a burden of requirements, from time to time experiences certain stirrings of feeling, in which only he/she thinks to grasp above all the essential profi t (as to) what is religiously sig- nifi cant. Whoever knows these stirrings knows also that he/she needs no unique refl ec- tion or instruction in order to give them meaning. Rather, the sense of being grasped is so strong that such people must fi nd God to be therein. God makes Godself felt to them and sets their inner condition in such a way that God blesses them. T e voice in which (we hear) “God is present” becomes the expression of a simple experience. Of course, even with the most pious people it cannot seep through every moment and resolve every inner distress. Still, footprints from it remain in the soul through which it has passed and hold alive the craving for its peace.”59 55 Herrmann, Verkehr, 13; Communion, 14. 56 Herrmann, Verkehr, 12-13; Communion, 15-16. 57 Herrmann, Verkehr, 13-14; Communion, 16-17. 58 Herrmann, Verkehr, 16; Communion, 19. 59 Herrmann, Verkehr, 16; T is is my translation from the German. Cf. Communion, 19-20. ========23========26 T. L. Cross / Pneuma 31 (2009) 3-34 Doesn’t that sound Pentecostal? And here is one more similar quote: “But the sacred moments when we experience God’s immediate presence are not the mere high-water mark to which the religious life attains. Without that experi- ence of God all the rest is so empty and vain that it does not deserve the name of religion.”60 For Herrmann, the inner life of Jesus is so powerful that it surges on throughout history to the present day. We are simply asked to step into that stream and we will be immediately connected with the inner life of Jesus via faith. “T e Jesus, that is, the inner life of Jesus, that appears to us in those testimonies of the disciples concerning their faith, brings us face to face with a decision, to wit: are we going to exalt ourselves above this man, or are we going to bow before Him? If we bow before Him, we do so because his person works in us an experience that can be produced in no man by external force.”61 T e inner life of Jesus is a powerful force from the Christ himself. It fl ows like a stream throughout history and those who have believed in him have experienced this life in their own “inner lives.” T is experience produces an irrefutable experience within us, such that neither history nor science can explain or deny. A transformation in us is evident: “T us God reveals Himself to us. In the man with whom God enters thus into communion there arises a new inner life. He turns to God with the consciousness that he is doing a thing which was impossible to him before, and he has the experience con- stantly renewed that the God whom he has found in Christ is making him a new creature.”62 However, for me as a Pentecostal theologian, the disconcerting aspect of Herrmann’s approach was not so much the openness to subjectivity that his thesis allows, but his lack of appeal to the Spirit as the one from whom the inner life of Jesus comes to us. Here is an example of the problem: “Now the event whose occurrence in our life is fraught with such importance (i.e., the experi- ence of the inner life of Jesus), is the fact that the portrait of Christ is brought before us by the New Testament and expounded to us by life in Christian fel- lowship.”63 Notice here that the Spirit’s role is entirely absent! T e old doctrine of Christus praesens has much to off er Christian theology today, but only if the powerful role that the Spirit plays in this doctrine can be suffi ciently implemented so that the chasms of history can be overcome. To 60 Herrmann, Verkehr, 17; Communion, 20. 61 Herrmann, Verkehr, 93-94; Communion, 113-114. 62 Herrmann, Verkehr, 165; Communion, 200. 63 Herrmann, Verkehr, 187; Communion, 226. ========24======== T. L. Cross / Pneuma 31 (2009) 3-34 27 say “Christ is present” without explaining the role of the Spirit is theologically inept. Here — as elsewhere — Pentecostal refl ection can help. Let us consider the third Latin phrase: unio cum Christo Unio cum Christo T e doctrine of “union with Christ” goes back to Paul, who speaks frequently of Christ being in us and the reverse. Christ is in you, he says, the hope of glory. I would like to examine this doctrine more closely in relation to John Calvin. Using his insights about union with Christ, how might I as a Pentecostal build upon them and provide a solid basis for theological development of this doctrine? B. B. Warfi eld called Calvin “the theologian of experience.” 64 For Pentecostals and even many Calvinists alike, that seems a bit of an overstatement, doesn’t it? While Calvin does operate from a cessationist framework and while he does attack with vehemence the Anabaptists, die Schwärmerei, and the “furious and fantastic fanatics” for their overly wrought sense of emotions in the Christian life, he does operate with a clear eye on the relation of faith and experience. Charles Partee notes that “the appeal to experience identifi es an epistemologi- cal position which surpasses reason and in which Scripture and faith fi nd con- fi rmation.” (36). Yet Calvin is surely no Pentecostal — is he? He does not focus on an expe- rientia nuda or ‘naked experience’ that might hint of some direct connection with God. Instead, Calvin sees the Word of God as the foundation of our knowledge in faith yet within this textual context arise experiences that can confi rm our faith-knowledge. So it seems that experience can be a side-support for one’s faith only if the Word of God is the primary support.65 (And perhaps 64 As quoted in Werner Krusche, Das Wirken des Heiligen Geistes nach Calvin (Berlin: Evange- lische Verlagsanstalt, 1957), 12. It also appears similarly in I. John Hesselink, Calvin’s First Cat- echism: A Commentary, Featuring the Ford Lewis Battle’s Translation of the 1538 Catechism, in the Columbia Series in Reformed T eology (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1997), 177. Herman Bauke also attests to Calvin being “throughout a theologian of experience,” as quoted in Charles Partee, Calvin and Classical Philosophy (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1977), 37. 65 For the best discussion on Calvin and experience that I have read, see Willem Balke, “Reve- lation and Experience in Calvin’s T eology,” in Toward the Future of Reformed T eology: Tasks, Topics, Traditions, eds. David Willis and Michael Welker (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1999), 346-365. ========25========28 T. L. Cross / Pneuma 31 (2009) 3-34 this has something to teach Pentecostals!). Moreover, Calvin is explicit that the unio cum Christo is wrought by the Holy Spirit! 66 Reminiscent of Bernard of Clairveaux, Calvin provides a strong teaching on the mystical union between Christ and us.67 Faith is especially at its highest point in the mystical union of Christ with believers. T is is not about “absorp- tion” into the divine — Calvin will have nothing to do with such mysticism. In a discussion regarding the view of justifi cation that Andreas Osiander pro- poses, Calvin clarifi es his own idea of the mystical union with Christ. While Osiander proposes that justifi cation comes to humans when Christ unites with them and that Christ’s own righteousness becomes ours (essentially), Calvin avers that Osiander’s ideas are “monstrous,” even bordering on Man- ichaeism with its “desire to transfuse the essence of God into [humans].”68 Calvin admits that the Spirit indwells believers, but “Christ’s essence” is not “mixed with our own.”69 Indeed, it is Calvin’s emphasis on the Spirit in this union that serves this theological concept very well. T e Spirit is the “bond of unity” (vinculum unitatis ) between Christ and believers.70 T e Spirit is “like a channel through which all that Christ himself is and has is conveyed to us.”71 And in the context of discussing the Eucharist, Calvin notes that those who conceive of no presence of Christ’s fl esh in the Supper except it lies in the bread alone must be aware that they are demanding Christ to “come down” to them. Instead, Calvin asserts that such people “leave nothing to the secret working of the Spirit, which unites Christ himself to us.”72 As Calvin states in a brief treatise on the Lord’s Supper, “T e Spirit of God is the bond of partici- pation, for which reason it is called spiritual.”73 And after all, it is the Spirit who “inserts” us into Christ and Christ into us.74 66 As John Hesselink asserts, this faith-union is only feasible because of the work of the Spirit. Hesselink, Calvin’s First Catechism, 185. 67 See Dennis E. Tamburello, Union with Christ: John Calvin and the Mysticism of St. Bernard, in the Columbia Series in Reformed T eology (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 1994). 68 John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 2 vols., trans. Ford Lewis Battles, ed. John T. McNeill in the Library of Christian Classics, vols. 20-21, gen. eds. John Baillie, John T. McNeill and Henry P. Van Dusen (Philadelphia: T e Westminster Press, 1960), xx: 3.11.5, p. 730; here- after cited in this abbreviated manner: Institutes, xx, 3.11.5, p. 730. 69 Calvin, Institutes, xx: 3.11.5, p. 731. 70 Calvin, Institutes, xxi: 4.17.12, p. 1373. 71 Ibid. 72 Calvin, Institutes, xxi: 4.17.31, p. 1403. 73 As quoted in Tamburello, Union with Christ, 149, fn. 116. 74 Calvin, Commentary to the Ephesians, 5:31: spiritus sui virtute nos in corpus suum inserit (“by the power of the Spirit, he inserts us into his own body”), as quoted by W. Krusche, Das Wirken des Heiligen Geist nach Calvin, 265, fn. 769. ========26======== T. L. Cross / Pneuma 31 (2009) 3-34 29 T erefore, the union is a “ mystica unio” whereby Christ, having been made ours, makes us sharers with him in the gifts with which he has been endowed.75 And so Calvin concludes, “We do not, therefore, contemplate him outside ourselves from afar in order that his righteousness may be imputed to us but because we put on Christ and are engrafted into his body — in short, because he deigns to make us one with him. For this reason, we glory that we have fel- lowship of righteousness with him.”76 T e mistake of Osiander (and others) is to make this union physical or essential, not spiritual. Neither is this union to be a form of mysticism since there is no complete identifi cation in it: the believer does not state (as might a mystic) “I am you,” but rather “I am thine.”77 To be sure, there is much here in Calvin that off er solid theological instruc- tion to Pentecostals — and to contemporary Calvinists. When we read or hear of Calvin, we usually do not get this information. He sounds almost pietistic — or to be more anachronistic — almost Pentecostal.78 Let us move to the fi nal Latin phrase: internum testimonium Spiritum sanctum Internum testimonium spiritum sanctum With this fourth phrase, we come to a clearly biblical idea. Paul explains that the Spirit bears witness with our spirit to let us know that we are God’s sons and daughters (Rom 8:14). T e theological expression of this is “the internal 75 Calvin, Institutes, xx: 3.11.10, p. 737. 76 Ibid. 77 T is line comes from Krusche, Das Wirken des Heiligen Geistes nach Calvin, 269. Consider also the chapter by Marguerite Soulié in which she clarifi es the diff erence between Christian mysticism and Calvin’s view of the mystical union of Christ. While the mystical soul in the course of its ecstasies attempts to escape from life by uniting with the Divine, Calvin’s mystical union always is informed by the Word of God and by the lack of any direct vision or connection to God: “All direct ways — are they not the temptation to draw aside from the unique way of salvation, namely, Christ? T us, there is no route of travel, no direct vision of the glory of God in this life where we walk by faith and not by sight,” see Soulié, “ ‘Mystique’ chez Calvin et Creation Litteraire,” in L’Inspiration biblique dans Poésie Religieuse d’Agrippa d’Aubigné (Klincksieck, 1977), 133-155, 141. [T is is my translation.] 78 From here an entirely new paper could be off ered on the way John Wesley understood this “union” and particularly how the ancient Eastern concept of theosis (divinization) may have infl uenced him. Consider Michael J. Christensen, “T eosis and Sanctifi cation: John Wesley’s Formulation of a Patristic Doctrine,” Wesleyan T eological Journal 31, no. 2 (Fall 1996): 71-94. Christensen’s basic thesis is that Wesley became selective regarding his ancient Eastern sources so that his view of Christian perfection “is based in part on his personal vision of what his sources taught about theosis,” (91). ========27========30 T. L. Cross / Pneuma 31 (2009) 3-34 witness of the Holy Spirit.” Believers experience a sense of certainty through this internal testimony of the Spirit. Calvin sees this aff ecting two areas in Christian living: fi rst, it gives an assurance that we are adopted as sons and daughters of God (as Paul has stated), and second, it provides an assurance that Scripture itself is true (autopiston). While Calvin does not address the fi rst concept of inner witness much, he does speak extensively of the value of the Spirit’s witness within us to testify to the fact that God himself speaks “in person” in Scripture and that such convic- tion cannot be gained through “human reasons, judgments, or conjectures,” but must be garnered only through the “secret testimony of the Spirit.”79 In this regard, then, the “testimony of the Spirit is more excellent than all rea- son.”80 It is the selfsame Spirit who spoke through the prophets that “must penetrate into our hearts to persuade us that they faithfully proclaimed what had been divinely commanded.”81 T e result of this work of the Spirit is a “feeling ( sensus) that can be born only of heavenly revelation. I speak of nothing other than what each believer experiences (experitur) within . . .”82 Yet this is not just any experience — direct or indirect. T is is an experience that occurs within believers’ lives and illu- mines Christ in the Word of God. “Accordingly, without the illumination of the Holy Spirit, the Word can do nothing.”83 Again we encounter the work of the Spirit clearly recognized and explained by Calvin in this doctrinal locus. John Hesselink is so struck by Calvin’s emphasis on experiential religion that he states, “At times Calvin sounds more like a Wesleyan than a Calvinist!. . . . Moreover, faith, which is more a matter of the heart than the head, is for Calvin from the beginning to end the work of the Holy Spirit.”84 What could Pentecostals bring to this discussion, then? Frankly, the same Spirit who works to certify the Scripture to our hearts is also the one who guides us and speaks to our hearts that we are God’s children. Unfortunately, Calvin and most of his followers have adopted the cessationist model so that an openness to God’s Spirit working outside of Scripture itself is usually closed off . Pentecostals would remind Calvin and his followers that 79 Calvin, Institutes, xx: 1.7.4, p. 78. 80 Calvin, Institutes, xx: 1.7.4, p. 79. 81 Ibid. 82 Calvin, Institutes, xx: 1.7.5, p. 80. 83 Calvin, Institutes, xx: 3.2.33, p. 580. 84 Hesselink, Calvin’s First Catechism, 185. ========28======== T. L. Cross / Pneuma 31 (2009) 3-34 31 the Spirit and Word are so linked that one without the other makes no sense at all. In addition, this Spirit works in surprising ways through our own expe- riences of God. Our experiences with God are not mere experiences, as if we could line them up alongside a day out at the park or a night at the cinema with friends. T e point that Pentecostals make here is that this experience is an encounter with GOD made possible through the agency of the Spirit. Because of the nature of the one who encounters us, our experiences with God are trans- formative and informative. In this way, faith is inseparable from experience. T us, we should not be afraid (theologically speaking) to see the Spirit com- muning with us “internally,” providing a witness of our status as children of God and whatever else the Sovereign Spirit wishes to do. While we can see glimpses of the nature of this Spirit throughout Scripture, we also receive glimpses in our corporate worship or in our personal moments of meditation or whenever the Spirit comes to us. As a people of God’s presence, Pentecostals are not afraid to speak of God speaking to them, regardless of aspersions by unbelievers who may think we are in need of psycho-tropic drugs! Conclusion T e history of Christian doctrine off ers some interesting side-roads on this topic of experiencing God. We have attempted to see how human experience of the living God may infl uence the theological cast of several doctrinal loci. While we have not directly proposed a theology of experience for Pentecostals, we have more modestly worked in the garden of theology with our experience of the Spirit as one of our tools. As I conclude, allow me to make a confession to you all. As a young person I was rather ashamed of some of our Pentecostal ideas — especially when it came to apologetics. Other Christians seemed to have such splendid responses to atheists or unbelievers regarding the resurrection of Jesus or the miracles of the New Testament. We Pentecostals seemed to respond mostly with our own experiences. We testifi ed to God’s goodness and healing; we gave witness to the experiences of God in our hearts. I was ashamed because there seemed to be too little “head” and too much “heart” in our apologetic replies. While growing older and continually transforming from a modern to a postmodern citizen of the world, I have come to view the old-time Pentecostal responses as benefi cial for apologetics. Instead of some modernistic response that appears to have all the answers already mapped out, Pentecostals can refer to our experiences with God without feeling inferior to those who ========29========32 T. L. Cross / Pneuma 31 (2009) 3-34 refer to their long intellectual treatises. It is not that Pentecostals do not think or cannot think apologetically — we can and do — but it is rather that we also know there is more to our faith than can fi t into our limited intellects or language. My previous Pentecostal shame was best illustrated by the last line of a song that we sang every Easter: “He lives.” T e line goes like this: “You ask me how I know he lives, he lives within my heart.” Since tomorrow is Palm Sunday and next Sunday is Easter, I have already thought about having to sing this song. Usually, I mime the words and keep my head down when I sing it. However, I think this Easter when our church sings this song — as we are sure to do — I will raise my head and sing the words with gusto. Indeed, as we close, I invite you all to sing this song with me — and this time, I shall not sing with shame! I serve a Risen Savior, He’s in the world today. I know that He is living, whatever men may say. I see his hand of mercy, I hear his voice of cheer; And just the time I need him, he’s always near. He lives! He lives! Christ Jesus lives today. He walks with me and talks with me, Along life’s narrow way. He lives! He lives! Salvation to impart. You ask me how I know he lives, he lives within my heart.85 85 Lyrics by Alfred H. Ackley, who became a Presbyterian minister in 1914. T e song fi rst appeared in Triumphant Service Songs, a hymnal published by the Rodeheaver Company, in 1933. T e following explanation of the origin of the song is of particular interest, given my state- ments above about its “apologetic value.” “Why should I worship a dead Jew?” T is challenging question was posed by a sincere young Jewish student who had been attending evangelistic meet- ings conducted by the author and composer of this hymn, Alfred H. Ackley. In his book, Forty Gospel Hymn Stories, George W. Sanville records Mr. Ackley’s answer to this searching question, which ultimately prompted the writing of this popular gospel hymn: “He lives! I tell you, He is not dead, but lives here and now! Jesus Christ is more alive today than ever before. I can prove it by my own experience, as well as the testimony of countless thousands.” Mr. Sanville continues: “Mr. Ackley’s forthright, emphatic answer, together with his subsequent triumphant eff ort to win the man for Christ, fl owered forth into song and crystallized into a convincing sermon on ‘He Lives!’ His keenly alert mind was sensitive to suggestions for sermons, and sermons in song. In his re-reading of the resurrection stories of the Gospels, the words ‘He is risen’ struck him with new meaning. From the thrill within his own soul came the convincing song — ‘He Lives!’ T e scriptural evidence, his own heart, and the testimony of history matched the glorious experience of an innumerable cloud of witnesses that ‘He Lives,’ so he sat down at the piano and voiced that conclusion in song. He says, ‘T e thought of His ever-living presence brought the music promptly ========30======== T. L. Cross / Pneuma 31 (2009) 3-34 33 Bibliography Barth, Karl, “Die neue Welt in der Bibel,” in Das Wort Gottes und die T eologie (München: Chr. Kaiser Verlag, 1924), 18-32. ——— Der Römerbrief, 1922, 2nd ed. (Zürich: T eologischer Verlag Zürich, 1999). ——— “Das Wort Gottes als Aufgabe der T eologie,” in Das Wort Gottes und die T eologie , (München: Chr. Kaiser Verlag, 1924), 156-178. Bond, Helen K., Seth D. Kumin, and Francesca Aran Murphy, Religious Studies and T eology: An Introduction (New York: NYU Press, 2003). Bonhoeff er, Dietrich, Act and Being: Transcendental Philosophy and Ontology in Systematic T eology , ed. Wayne Whitson Floyd, Jr.; trans. H. Martin Rumscheidt, Dietrich Bonhoeff er Works , vol. 2, gen. ed. W. W. Floyd, Jr. (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1996). ——— Christ the Center, trans. Edwin H. Robertson (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1978). Coakley, Sarah, “Why T ree? Some Further Refl ections on the Doctrine of the Trinity,” in Sarah Coakley and David Pailin, ed. T e Making and Remaking of Christian Doctrine , ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993). Christensen, Michael J., “T eosis and Sanctifi cation: John Wesley’s Formulation of a Patristic Doctrine,” Wesleyan T eological Journal 31, no. 2 (Fall 1996): 71-94. Cross, Terry L., Answering the Call in the Spirit: Pentecostal Refl ections on a T eology of Vocation, Work, and Life (Cleveland, TN: Lee University Press, 2007). Dabney, D. Lyle, Die Kenosis des Geistes: Kontinuität zwischen Schöpfung und Erlösung im Werk des Heiligen Geistes (Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag, 1997). Harnack, Adolf von, “Christus praesens — Vicarius Christi: Eine kirchengeschichtliche Skizze,” Sitzungsberichte der preussischen Akademie Wissenschaften (Sitzung der philosophisch-histori- schen Klasse) 34 (22 December 1927): 415-417. Herrmann, Wilhelm, Der Verkehr des Christen mit Gott, in Anschluss an Luther Dargestellt, Vierte Aufl age — 4th edition (Stuttgart und Berlin: J. G. Cotta’sche Buchhandlung Nachfolger, 1903). Hollingsworth, Andrea, “Spirit and Voice: Toward a Feminist Pentecostal Pneumatology,” Pneuma: T e Journal of the Society for Pentecostal Studies , 29 (2007): 189-213. Humphrey, Edith, Ecstasy and Intimacy: When the Holy Spirit Meets the Human Spirit (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2006). Johnson, Luke Timothy, Religious Experience in Earliest Christianity: A Missing Dimension in New Testament Studies (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1998). Kierkegaard, Soren, Practice in Christianity , ed. and trans. Howard V. Hong and Edna H. Hong (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991). Macchia, Frank D., “Finitum Capax Infi niti: A Pentecostal Distinctive?” Pneuma: T e Journal of the Society for Pentecostal Studies, 29 (2007): 185-187. McClendon, Jr., James Wm., Doctrine: Systematic T eology , vol. 2 (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1994). McCormack, Bruce, Karl Barth’s Critically Realistic Dialectical T eology: Its Genesis and Develop- ment, 1909-1936 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995). McGinn, Bernard, T e Foundations of Mysticism: Origins to the Fifth Century in T e Presence of God: A History of Western Christian Mysticism, vol. 1 (New York: Crossroad, 1991). and easily.’ ” T is is from the article located at the ‘Christians Unite’ website: . ========31========34 T. L. Cross / Pneuma 31 (2009) 3-34 Neuhaus, Richard John, “T e Real Presence of Christmas,” First T ings: T e Journal of Religion, Culture and Public Life (21 December 2007). Pinnock, Clark, Flame of Love: A T eology of the Holy Spirit (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 1996). Przywara, Erich, “Gott in uns oder über uns? Immanenz und Transzendenz im heutigen Geistes- leben,” Stimmen der Zeit 105 (1923): 343-362. Runehov, Anne L. C., Sacred or Neural? T e Potential of Neuroscience to Explain Religious Experi- ence in Nicholaas A. Rupke, Ted Peters, Gebhard Loehr and Antje Jackelen,ed. Religion, T eologie und Naturwissenschaft/Religion, T eology and Natural Science , Band 9 (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2007). Stählin, Leonard, Christus praesens: Vorerwägungen zu einer Grundfrage der Kirchen-und Dogmen- geschichte (Beiträge zur evangelischen T eologie 3) (Munich: Lempp, 1940). Stuckenberg, J. H. W., “T e T eology of Albrecht Ritschl,” T e American Journal of T eology , 2:2 (April 1898): 268-292. Tamburello, Dennis E., Union with Christ: John Calvin and the Mysticism of St. Bernard, in the Columbia Series in Reformed T eology (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 1994). Wacker, Grant, Heaven Below: Early Pentecostals and American Culture (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001). Weber, Otto, Grundlagen der Dogmatik, Bd. 2 (Neukirchen: Neukirchener Verlag, 1962). Willis, E. David, Calvin’s Catholic Christology (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1966). Yong, Amos, Spirit-Word-Community: T eological Hermeneutics in Trinitarian Perspective (Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2003). ========32========

Be first to comment

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