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Pentecostal Leaders as Biblical Theologians. Biblical Theology of Mission Dr. Byron D. Klaus Day 4. Eschatological People. Living in the reality that we are eschatological people—we have a destiny that is played in space and real time.

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pentecostal leaders as biblical theologians

Pentecostal Leaders as Biblical Theologians

Biblical Theology of Mission

Dr. Byron D. Klaus

Day 4

eschatological people
Eschatological People
  • Living in the reality that we are eschatological people—we have a destiny that is played in space and real time.
the holy spirit s work fully actualized at pentecost ushers in an era where
The Holy Spirit’s work fully actualized at Pentecost ushers in an era where:

“The Spirit is the experienced, empowered entrance of God’s own personal presence in and among us, who enables us to live as a radically eschatological people in the present world while we await the consummation. The fruit and gifts of the spirit permeate the ethical life and charismatic dynamic of the community’s life to that end.”

Gordon Fee—Paul, the Spirit and the People of God

holy spirit validation
Holy Spirit Validation
  • Affirming that the empowerment of the Holy Spirit is valid only as it is connected to the mission for which it was intended.
  • Acts 1:6-8
reason and spirituality are not mutually exclusive
Reason and Spirituality are not mutually exclusive
  • Affirm the rigor of reason and the dynamic of spirituality are not mutually exclusive.
  • The Spirit that leads us into all truth is the same Spirit that empowers Jesus in His redemptive mission.
    • John 16:7-15
    • John 20:19-22
epistemology rooted in jesus christ
Epistemology Rooted in Jesus Christ
  • Affirm that epistemological pathways are all rooted in Jesus Christ.
  • Affective and cognitive dimensions of human experience need not compete with other, but are created to enrich a human being for maturity.
validity of mission and ministry
Validity of mission and ministry
  • Contemporary mission and ministry is only valid as they replicate the mission and ministry of Jesus Christ is:
      • Purpose
      • Character
      • Source of empowerment
  • Hebrews 1
role of created order
Role of Created Order
  • Christ’s Kingdom rules over all created order and thus created order deserves to be taken seriously.
  • Because God sent His Son to redeem all creation, His Church must seek to represent Him fairly in all facets of created order.
      • Ephesians 1:18-21
wesley a proto pentecostal case study
Wesley—A Proto-Pentecostal Case Study
  • Wesley was a practical theologian with a balanced equation for leadership
world of wesley
World of Wesley
  • A growing empire
  • A revolution in the “colonies”
  • Royalty as God’s servant
  • The Church of England and England as a nation-state joined at the hip
the shaping of wesley
The Shaping of Wesley
  • Epworth
  • Oxford—Lincoln College
  • Holy Club (with brother Charles and George Whitfield)
  • Georgia Missions
  • Moravians
  • Heart Strangely warmed at Aldersgate Street
  • The “vile thing”
the wesleyan influence
The Wesleyan Influence
  • The Church as a community of God’s grace
  • The Church’s unity is the koinonia of the Spirit
  • Pursuit of maturing Christian lives sustained by grace is crucial
the wesleyan method
The Wesleyan Method
  • Outside accepted boundaries, but connected to the center.
  • The Church is a system of discipline in community:
    • Class Meetings—once a week to inquire how our souls prosper (house churches, seekers welcome)
    • Bands/Small Groups—to confess your faults one to another and pray for one another that ye may be healed (had received assurance of sins forgiven)
    • Select Society —those making progression inward—outward holiness
three rules of a select society
Three Rules of a Select Society
  • Let nothing spoken in this society be spoken again.
  • Submit to the appointed minister.
  • Bring an offering for the “common stock.”
traveling preachers
Traveling Preachers
  • Taught to manage difficulties in societies
  • Face mobs
  • Brave any weather
  • Subsist without means
  • Rise at 4 a.m. and preach at 5 a.m.
  • Die without fear
daily rules
Daily Rules
  • Preach
  • Study
  • Travel
  • Meet with bands—classes—societies
  • Exercise daily
  • Eat sparingly
  • Preach nowhere that could not be followed up with organized “structures” with adequate leadership
the primacy of scripture
The Primacy of Scripture
  • “I allow no other rule, whether of faith or practice, than the Holy Scriptures.”
  • Scripture was the only all-sufficient source commonly available to people for investigating the nature of God and life.
  • “O give me that book! At any price give me the book of God!”
The personal character of humility and reliance on grace gave Wesley the freedom to see a dynamic inter-action between sources to illuminate and enrich biblical truths. This never succumbed to a thoroughly pragmatic approach that reduces truth to relativity.
Wesley affirms Reformation treatise of sola fide and sola scriptura.
  • However, he interprets sola as “primarily” rather than “exclusively”.
“Tis not enough to have Bibles, but we must use them, yea, use them daily. Our souls must have constant meals of that manna, which if well-digested, will afford them true nourishment.”
rule of interpretation by john wesley
Rule of Interpretation by John Wesley
  • Literal sense is emphasized
  • Importance of context
  • Comparing Scripture with Scripture
  • Christian experience has confirmatory and correctional value
  • Reason is the handmaiden of faith
  • Practicality—for the plain unlettered people
the authority of tradition
The Authority of Tradition
  • Wesley’s concern for historical continuity in an age of distrust in Christian tradition.
Old Religion

Religion—the Bible

Religion of the Primitive Church

Religion of the Church of England


Old Religion
    • John 3:16—heart religion
  • Religion—the Bible
    • The only sufficient authority for religious life
  • Religion of the primitive church
    • It would be easy to produce a cloud of witnesses testifying the same thing, were not this appoint which no one will contest who has the least acquaintance with Christian antiquity
  • Religion of the Church of England
  • Methodism
“If any doubt still remains, I consult those who are experienced in the things of God and then the writings whereby being dead they yet speak. And what I thus learn, that I teach.”
Tradition as authority second only to Scripture. To the extent that the Holy Spirit continued to direct decisions in the early church, Wesley believed tradition was an essential extension of the witness of the Scripture.
Desired a religion founded on reason and in every way agreeable to it. Passion and prejudice rule the world…it is our part with religion and reason joined to counteract them all we can.
The image of God persisted in the human race after Adam’s fall, effaced but not obliterated.
  • Human reasoning was a part of humanity’s original constitution.
  • Although the heart was prone to evil, the mind was free to reason and respond to God by faith.
An era where the Enlightenment is in full sway.
    • Natural theology present in the Church of England
    • Navigates philosophical influences from Aristotle’s rational (scientific) sensory perspective to Plat’s intuition.
    • This explains his both-and posture integrating the empirical with the experiential and mysticism.
His “both-and” perspective draws criticism from all sides.
  • Wesley concludes that:
    • “No man is a partaker of Christ until he can clearly testify the life I now live…I live by faith in the Son of God—revealed in my heart.”
acknowledge tension
Acknowledge Tension
  • Let reason do all that reason can. Employ it as far as it will go. But, at the same time, acknowledge it is utterly incapable of giving faith, or hope or love and consequently of producing real virtue or substantive happiness. Expect these from a higher source, even from the spirits of all flesh.
Considered by many as Wesley's greatest contribution to the development of Christian theology.
  • “I’m not afraid that the people called Methodists should ever cease to exist…I am afraid lest they should only exist as a dead sect having the form of religion without the power.”
“It is necessary that you have the hearing ear and the seeing eye, that you have a new class of senses opened to your soul not depending on organs of flesh and blood to be ‘evidence of things not seen’ as your bodily senses are of visible things, to be avenues to the invisible world, to discern spiritual objects and to furnish you with ideas of what the outward ‘eye has not seen, neither the ear heard.’”
Wesley was deeply concerned about “enthusiasm.”
  • While he acknowledged excesses, Wesley still believed in the supernatural, immediate gift of God, which “He commonly gives in the use of such means as he hath ordained.”
outward experiences
Outward Experiences
  • Empirical experiences with creation were a source of evidence for religious experience.
inward experiences
Inward Experiences
  • Knowledge derived from a personal experiential encounter with God is objective in the sense if establishing contact with a real, albeit hidden reality.
  • Wesley believe that the reality of God and of God’s salvation is hidden from our natural senses though not from spiritual senses.
Spiritual senses were created by God and reactivated by His grace that gives potential for discovering religious insights that were previously inconceivable.
  • The personal conversion experience as well as assurance of salvation are two places people experience a direct awareness of God.
“The testimony of the spirit is an inward impression on the soul whereby the Spirit of God directly witnesses to my Spirit.”
  • “Now there is properly the testimony of our own spirit even the testimony of our own conscience that God has given us to be holy of heart and holy in outward conversation.”
In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation: And an assurance was given me, that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.”

The Wesleyan Quadrilateral by Donald A. D. Thorsen, p. 129

Experience is the appropriation of authority and confirms the truthfulness of Scripture, tradition and reason.
Pentecostals experience the sacred in the midst of the profane, divine guidance for both personal and institutional concerns, standing in contrast to rational and beaureacratic methods, a reticulate organization that refuses to immortalize tradition and the past. In addition, it refuses to routinize the charismata.

Margaret Poloma in The AG at the Crossroads

Pentecostals insist that it is not enough for truths—even biblical truths, to be precipitated in the mind and viewed philosophically. There must be a submission to the truth in faith and reverential adoration in worship. This is worship of truth that is not merely imprisoned in the mind, but is personified transcendentally over the mind in the glorious person of Christ. This is an experience—certified theology where an experience of Christ as subject and not just object constitute genuine experience.

William McDonald in Perspectives on the New Pentecostalism


“Can the church tolerate the separation of the theoretical task from the concrete situation of its own existence? Will theologians be permitted to do their work in cool absentia while pastors sweat out their own existence in the steamy space of the Church in the world? When theological thinking is practiced in abstraction from the Church in ministry, it inevitably becomes as much unapplied and irrelevant as pure.

Ray Anderson Theological Foundations for Ministry


“When the theological mind of the minister is educated primarily through experience, an adhoc theology emerges which owes as much (or more) to methodological and pragmatic concerns as to dogma. The task to work out a theology for ministry begins properly with the task of identifying the nature of and place of ministry itself.”

Ray Anderson Theological Foundations for Ministry


The Achilles Heel of Pentecostals


  • Leviticus 10:1 – “Strange fire”
  • “Aaron’s sons Nadab & Abihu took their censers, put fire in them and added incense; and they offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, contrary to His command.”
  • A divine task attempted with reliance on human design alone.

“Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit,” says the Lord Almighty (Zechariah 4:6).

    • Might – human resources
    • Power – human resoluteness
    • Spirit – divine initiative and power for God’s eternal purposes
  • The temptation to offer our resources to the service of God believing that they are an adequate substitute for God’s eternal resource.
“Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of the Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, Lord, Lord did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles? Then I will tell them plainly, I never knew you. Away from me you evildoers!”

Matthew 7:21-23

Success is rejected by the Lord as having no kingdom legitimacy.
  • Human efforts don’t even get a pat on the back.
  • We can actually think our usage of strange fire/might-power/sign ministry carries with it God’s seal of approval. Success is viewed as self-authenticating.
so what
So What?
  • How do we counteract bifurcation?
  • How do we resist pragmatism?
  • How do we challenge our culture’s immunity to the Gospel?
biblical clues
Biblical Clues
  • God is at work! (John 5:17)
  • God continues to empower His redemptive mission. (Acts 1:6-8)
  • Pentecost is the guarantee that the Jesus of the Gospels is the Jesus who continues His ministry empowered by the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:22-24)
  • Our ministry is the continuing ministry of Christ working through us by the presence and power of the Spirit of Christ. (II Cor.5:20)
Discernment as an act of Church Leadership is the minimal expectation for our 21st century church leader (Acts 2:11-21).
  • Discernment–spiritual maturity to know the difference between works of human effort and the continuing ministry of Jesus empowered by the Spirit.
discernment cont
Discernment (cont.)
  • Discernment assumes the present tense of Jesus’ redemptive ministry.
  • Discernment assumes that Christ’s Kingdom rule extends over all human structures and efforts.
  • Discernment strives to “see” the presence of Jesus in all ministry actions & structures. (Not as an act of piety, but as a biblical necessity.)
discerning true ministry requires
Discerning True Ministry Requires…
  • A connectedness to the life of Jesus (John 15)
  • An affirmation that holiness and ethics are never mutually exclusive (II Cor. 5:20)
discerning true ministry requires58
Discerning True Ministry Requires…
  • A willingness to exegete ministry contexts with the same rigor we exegete biblical texts (Mt. 7:21-23)
  • A commitment to evaluating ministry methodology by whether or not it facilitates Jesus’ continuing redemptive ministry.
key considerations
Key Considerations
  • Ministry action as “poiesis”.
  • An action that produces a result.
  • The end product of the action completes the act regardless of what the future of the product may be i.e. a ministry action can be viewed as effective simply because it added more people or people were supportive (fiscally) or people were “blessed,” or it most effectively facilitated a program’s success.
key considerations cont
Key Considerations (cont.)
  • Ministry action as praxis-telos (discernment of ultimate purpose.)
  • A ministry action that includes the ultimate purpose of that action as part of the action. i.e. no ministry action, program or ministry structure is incidental. It either reveals the redemptive purpose of Jesus or it has no contribution to make to God eternal concerns (Mt. 7:21-23).
challenges facing ministry effectiveness
Challenges Facing Ministry Effectiveness
  • Pragmatism is the result of a willingness to be tempted like Nadab & Abihu to substitute our “stuff” for God’s design.
  • Pragmatism in ministry is a function of a culture where consumerism is accepted as normal and choice is a divine right.
  • Dissonance between a missional heritage and a plateauing present reality.
crucial questions
Crucial Questions
  • Will theologians be permitted to do their work in cool absentia while pastors sweat out their existence in the steamy space of the Church in the world?
  • Does theological training end where practice begins?
  • When theological thinking is practiced in abstraction from the Church in ministry, it inevitably becomes as much unsupplied and irrelevant as pure.
  • When the theological mind of the minister is being educated primarily through experience, and ad hoc theology emerges which owes as much (or more) to methodological and pragmatic concerns as to dogma.
theology for ministry
Theology for Ministry
  • The task of working out a theology for ministry begins properly with the task of identifying the nature and place of ministry itself taking the Bible authoritatively and the context seriously.
nature of ministry
Nature of Ministry
  • Ministry precedes and produces theology, not the reverse.
  • All ministry is God’s ministry
    • Every act of revelation is a ministry of reconciliation
nature of ministry cont
Nature of Ministry (cont.)
  • The act of God is the hermeneutical horizon for the being of God.
  • The Incarnation signals that every ministry activity has theological objectivity in and of itself
assumptions in theological reflection
Assumptions in Theological Reflection
  • Making sense of this mess? How?
  • God’s Word is authoritative
    • It reveals God’s character and His mission
  • The context must be taken seriously
    • It is legitimate because it is the place that God revealed Himself most clearly in Jesus Christ
  • That revelation has eternal intent—reconciliation
assumptions in theological reflection cont
Assumptions in Theological Reflection (cont.)
  • Ministry must be an act of God to be legitimate
    • All ministry is God's ministry
    • It cannot be taken on a life/purpose of its own
  • The mission of God comes most clear in Jesus Christ and its continuation is guaranteed by Pentecost
assumptions in theological reflection cont69
Assumptions in Theological Reflection (cont.)
  • The ongoing ministry of Jesus Christ exemplifies God’s purposes
    • That ministry (it’s purpose, power/pattern/character) is the standard we are co-missioned to participate in
theology for ministry cont
Theology for Ministry (cont.)
  • John 1:12
    • Revealer of God and His mission
    • Jesus legitimates the context with His presence
    • It is worthwhile; it counts.
theology for ministry71
Theology for Ministry
  • Takes Scriptures authoritatively
  • Views the context seriously
  • Affirms that God is at work in ministry contexts
  • Acknowledges that orthodox doctrinal conceptualizations do not guarantee ministry effectiveness or orthodoxy
  • That ministry has theological objectivity in and of itself

What is God doing?

  • John 5:17;
  • Acts 1:8; 2:4
  • The process of affirming the Christ of Scriptures at work in our local contexts
  • Agent of Transformation
  • What is the source of my power?

What has God done?


II Cor. 5:17-20

  • Capacity to acknowledge the significance of Christ in the world
  • To make sense of life

What is my purpose?