Pentecostal “Schools”: Cleveland (!) and Springfield (?)

cptRecently I was asked the following question via Facebook Messenger (see…Facebook can be useful and constructive):

Do you see any differences between the “Springfield school” and “Cleveland School” of Pentecostalism? If so, what do you think they are?
My response to this question is rooted in numerous conversations with several other PhD students writing on various Pentecostal matters and working to develop constructive Pentecostal theologies. This person’s question was the result of a good friend, Daniel Isgrigg (PhD, ABD),  who has used the language of “Springfield School” in his doctoral work with regard to the Assemblies of God stream of Pentecostalism as other than the previously labelled “Cleveland School” (due to its location in Cleveland, Tennessee as part of the work of Pentecostal Theological Seminary and more properly the Centre for Pentecostal Theology).
My answer follows:
I’ve had multiple conversations with Daniel Isgrigg about his use of the label “Springfield School”. It is highly problematic and the only (to my knowledge) one who ever used it in writing is James K.A. Smith who wrote “Springfield School (?)” in a footnote and does not appear to himself regard it as a “School” of thought or methodology.[1] My own argument is that it is not actually a “School” even though whatever it is may in fact represent majority views of interpretation, etc. within broader Pentecostal circles.
However, the Cleveland School holds to particular ideas and methods [2], has a publishing house producing significant works of constructive Pentecostal theologies, operates the Journal for Pentecostal Theology and continues to produce numerous PhDs following its trajectories.
I believe my Facebook friend’s follow-up response largely represents the distinctions even if only the Cleveland one might properly be called a “School” in the proper sense by my reckoning.
My observation (perhaps I’m wrong) is that the “Springfield School” leans more Reformed, Evangelical, Dispensational, Fundamentalist, whereas the “Cleveland School” leaned more Wesleyan and strives to produce a hermeneutical distinction between Pentecostalism and the rest of Evangelicalism. The Cleveland School *seems* to be more comfortable with the Great Tradition of the Church than the “Springfield School”. Am I off base? There just seems to be a different “feel”, for lack of a better word.
As such, my contention is for a legitimate burgeoning Cleveland School of Pentecostal theology, but remain unpersuaded that any actual “Springfield School” has ever coalesced into anything comparable. Not to say that it will not or that the institutions (publishing and academic) associated with it have not produced anything. They have and will continue to, but not at this point in the same distinct fashion as the more properly labelled Cleveland School.
Full disclosure: I am ordained with and teaching/administrating at a college that is associated with Springfield, yet I am completing a PhD via the Cleveland School and make great use of its methodological and spiritual tools.
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1.  J.K.A. Smith, Thinking in Tongues (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2010), p. 6n13, is the footnote where Smith questions whether there might be a “Springfield School (?)”.
2.  K.J. Archer, ‘The Making of an Academic Pentecostal Tradition: The Cleveland School’. A paper presented at the Society for Pentecostal Studies (March 2016). Archer contends in this paper for a number of key figures related to the “Cleveland School” as well as certain features of it such as hermeneutics, epistomology, and spirituality.
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Walter Hollenweger Memoriam

foto_hollenwegerIt is with a heavy heart I announce that the Swiss Pentecostal scholar Walter Hollenweger passed away August 10, 2016. His contributions to Pentecostalism are profound. One finds him footnoted throughout Pentecostal journals, theses/dissertations (including my own) and monographs. His vast publishing contributions fill 47 pages (a complete bibliography up to 2005 can be found HERE)! He was truly a global and ecumenical theologian worthy of emulation.
 
Hollenweger taught and promoted Pentecostal/charismatic (P/c) studies globally (and ecumenically) as a part of the University of Birmingham beginning in 1971 where he also later founded the Centre for Pentecostal and Charismatic Studies as a resource and training centre for such interests. His scholastic namesake, the Hollenweger Centre of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, has also provided significant resources and supervision for many research projects and PhD students within P/c studies. While he has specifically contributed to P/c studies within the European context, these two Centres have impacted the globe via their significant collections and gathering of scholars as part of his vision to share the joy of studying such things as P/c history, theology, and practices. Hollenweger’s contributions to Pentecostals and Charismatics will be felt for many decades to come as a pioneer of P/c scholarship.

The Azusa Street Papers

IMG_1337One of my co-workers just found and gave me a copy of The Azusa Street Papers which is a reproduction of the thirteen issues of The Apostolic Faith (1906-1908) published by the Apostolic Faith Mission at Azusa Street (Los Angeles, CA) by William J. Seymour. It records countless testimonies of the redemptive and empowering work of the Lord Jesus from around the world as the Spirit was being poured out on all flesh. This journal was key in spreading the Pentecostal message in those early years connected to the revival at the Mission.

William_seymour
William J. Seymour

While I typically give out down-sized copies from a PDF of the first several issues in my Pentecostal Heritage class, I was overjoyed to receive this volume that now allows me to show the students the papers in their original size and to personally own the papers (which are otherwise publicly available free of charge). This volume also includes a glossary of terms and an extensive index of terms and names.

Related to this, I would be remiss to not mention that one can access these papers (and many others at pentecostalarchives.org. This website is an invaluable tool for those interested in researching early Pentecostalism. It is a consortium of databases containing many of the periodicals and minutes of Pentecostal history. It also includes blog posts and book reviews on related subjects.

I have a strong interest in early Pentecostal literature for numerous personal reasons:

  • I am currently writing on the early Pentecostal interpretations of certain Biblical texts (Joshua through Kings),
  • I have taught a course numerous times on the history and theology of Pentecostalism/s,
  • I serve on the Library and Research Committee of the Society for Pentecostal Studies,
  • I find my own faith to be enlivened and challenged in the reading of these early works,
  • and I long for a wider audience to enjoy the benefit of open access to such resources.

All of this being said, if you have (or know of) any literature or audio/video materials related to early Pentecostalism I would encourage you to contact one of the organizations associated with the Consortium of Pentecostal Archives. Particularly the leading holder and purveyor of such: The Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

And thanks for the gift, Twyla! I am nerding out on early Pentecostal history. 🙂

Three Things That Keep Me in My Church Tradition

Rather than simply answer in the comments section to Dan’s post about “What Keeps You In Your Church Tradition?,” I have decided to reply via a post and offer it as my own personal answer (because I have in fact been asked this very question at other times).  I decided three was a rather Biblical sounding number…so that should make this a very spiritual response.

First, I remain in my fellowship/tradition (the Assemblies of God) because it is where my deepest roots and greatest familiarity lay.  By that, I mean to say, I am most fully aware of the church structures and practices of this particular tradition.  I am well integrated into this tradition as well as being heavily networked with other A/G churches, ministries and ministers.  There is something to be said about the knowability factor.  Were I to join another tradition it would mean moving into unknown waters.  This may seem a rather pragmatic approach, but, hey, this is reality.

Second, I am kept in my tradition by its Pentecostal confession and practice.  I am unabashedly Pentecostal.  I believe God desires to empower His Church via the rich outpouring of Christ’s Spirit.  I believe in the continuing demonstration of the ministry of the Spirit in and through the communion of saints.  I remain because the A/G emphasizes this desire and passion for God’s Spirit to glorify Christ in and among us (even if at times we have not followed through either as genuine practitioners of the life of the Spirit or have simply gone wacko and blamed it on the Spirit).  I still fully believe God’s Spirit is at work in the wider Church and see the A/G as playing (hopefully) a pivotal role in seeing the Spirit poured out in greater measure on all varieties of congregations and traditions.  I have told Baptists, Presbyterians, Anglicans and Catholics…Pentecostal experience of the Spirit is no respecter of denominational boundaries.

Third, and finally, I remain in the Assemblies because of missions.  This tradition stated from its inception that we are committed to “the greatest evangelization the world has ever seen”.  We remain committed to this and have continued to demonstrate it through our unprecedented mission program.  I am thrilled to be a part of a fellowship and tradition that makes its aim to reach the lost with the good news of the Kingdom.

So, how is that for my answer to the question Dan Thompson posed?  What are your thoughts on this?
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Originally published at Bluechippastor.org on August 15, 2012

Why Am I Still Preaching? A Conversation

Why Am I Still Preaching?

Steve Swan (a friend who pastors in Winnipeg) nails it: Why Am I Still Preaching?.

I’ve said something similar in a paper I presented for the Society for Pentecostal Studies that has been picked up for an edited volume in the works on Pentecostal Preaching. You can read the proposal for my contribution HERE (and there is a link there for reading the paper as it was presented: “Emerging Homiletics: A Pentecostal Response”).

I’m with Steve…traditional preaching remains an integral part of the responsibility of the Church. It isn’t the only way for instruction, but it remains one of the essentials of Christian proclamation and community formation.

via Steve Swan.

Am I Really Pentecostal?

ImageAm I  really Pentecostal? I’m thinking of this in several ways because recently I have been attacked by some for (1) being too Pentecostal, and by others for (2) not being Pentecostal enough. So which is it? Or is neither accusation correct? Maybe I’m the perfect Pentecostal (whatever that might look like 🙂 ).

What does it even mean to be “Pentecostal”? Does it just mean I speak in tongues? That would be a pretty lame interpretation that would leave aside the entire Pentecostal conceptualization of the Gospel message (Jesus is Savior/Sanctifier, Baptizer, Healer, and Soon Coming King) or ethos (empowered participants of the life of the Spirit).

Can I be “Pentecostal” and not speak in tongues? Think William Seymour as he began his ministry. Can I speak in tongues and still not be “Pentecostal”? Think Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Does it really hinge on tongues? Should it?

Is it to be a person of the Spirit (whatever that means)? Or is that too individualistic and to generally broad? Is it to be a vibrant member of the people of the Spirit? Or is that broader still even while encompassing the wider movement of God’s presence and work in the world?

And shouldn’t I already have all this figured out because I’m not only a self-describing “Pentecostal”, but even a pastor of a “Pentecostal” Fellowship (and among the regional leadership of said wider Fellowship)? Worse still, I’m a “Pentecostal” scholar working on a PhD in Pentecostal Studies. But does that mean I happen to be a Pentecostal who is a scholar or that I am a scholar of things Pentecostal? And does that mean I really have it figured out?

One would really think a person like myself should have a lot more answers. The problem is that with every answer, I find more questions begging to be answered.

So what kind of Pentecostal am I anyways? I would like to think I am the kind that loves the Lord my God with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength, and loves my neighbor as myself. I would like to think I am the kind that does this in the vivifying power of the Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life, who was sent by the Father, who is the Spirit of Christ Jesus.

Oh, and I also speak in tongues.

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You may also be interested in:

Emerging Homiletics

ImageI just realized that while my paper “Emerging Homiletics: A Pentecostal Response” was accepted for presentation at the Society for Pentecostal Studies annual meeting (March 20-22, 2013) in Seattle, WA, I had failed to post it to this blog. So feel free to follow the link above and select the paper from the limited number I’ve already posted on several other topics.

And while you are at it, here was my proposal to the Practical Theology study group:

It is hoped that through a study of one leading voice (Doug Pagitt‘s) in the Emerging Church Movement (ECM) that there might be a more well-rounded perspective of what ECM may be offering for homiletics as well as the potential impact specifically upon the field of homiletics. While Pagitt’s voice will not be the only voice, it will be the primary one as he has written several volumes on the question of homiletics from the ECM perspective.

Pagitt’s own model for homiletics will be discussed in its relation to Pentecostal homiletical thinking and practice as a model which might better exemplify what Pagitt is aiming to accomplish, but perhaps without many of the pitfalls. In order to facilitate this study, questions of worldview, hermeneutic and homiletic will be briefly presented from a post-modern perspective with particular attention to such matters as proposed by Pagitt. The notion of “story,” and “community” will be discussed as it relates to the Pentecostal experience of preaching in response to the post-modern perspective proposed by Pagitt.

The Pentecostal response which is offered as a conclusion is tentatively intended to both utilize the strengths of Pagitt’s proposal as well as critique it in hopes of proposing a more thoroughly Biblical and Pneumatic approach to homiletics within the broader ECM.

So what are your thoughts on the homiletic proposals of ECM (particularly Pagitt) and/or Pentecostalism as I’ve briefly described them?