07 A Review Symposium on: Wolfgang Vondey, Beyond Pentecostalism

Wolfgang Vondey, ,

Wolfgang Vondey, Beyond Pentecostalism: The Crisis of Global Christianity and the Renewal of the Theological Agenda (Eerdmans, 2010).


Professor Jeffery Gros, Distinguished Professor of Ecumenical and Historical Theology, Memphis Theological Seminary, USA.


Dr. Mark Powell, Harding University Graduate School of Religion, USA

Dr. Ann K. Riggs, Principal, Friends Theological College, Tiriki, Kenya.

Professor Dennis Doyle, Department of Religious Studies, University of Dayton, USA.


Dr. Wolfgang Vondey, Associate Professor of Systematic Theology, Regent University, Virginia Beach, USA.

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This discussion presents three reflections on the Vondey book, and a response by the author. These were presented at the 2010 American Academy of Religions meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

The year 1910 is often referenced as the initiation of the modern ecumenical movement, with the Edinburgh World Mission Conference. Today the Orthodox, Catholic and Pentecostal churches—all absent from Edinburgh—have taken their full place in the ecumenical pilgrimage of Christians together as they face a global future.

The three essays included here represent an evangelical response by Churches of Christ scholar Mark Powell. Powell outlines the context of the Pentecostal movement in global Christianity, Vondey’s theological proposal for theology seen as play, and some critical comments about his model. Quaker scholar and international ecumenist Ann Riggs provides a more critical appraisal, highlighting the positive role of imagination, drawing on her African experience—Pentecostal and ecumenical, providing a critique from a Global South perspective. Catholic ecclesiologist Dennis Doyle provides an exuberant engagement with the play imagery and its limitations, harkening to the larger heritage of the Church and such spokespersons as Henri de Lubac, and drawing on the contribution of John Wesley in his response.

The symposium is wrapped up by an overview and response from the author; emphasizing the potential Pentecostal contributions to crises in contemporary theology, contrasting the emphases on performance and play, reviewing and responding to the evaluations of his three reviewers, ending by calling for ever deepening and expanding ecumenical dialogue on the future of Christian theology in our globalized world.

Brother Jeffrey Gros, FSC

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Scholars in the fields of religious and theological studies cannot afford to ignore Pentecostal Christianity, which has grown from humble beginnings in the early twentieth century to a global religious movement. As Philip Jenkins suggests, it is Pentecostalism—not Fascism or Communism—that deserves the distinction of being the most successful social movement of the twentieth century.1 Timothy Tennent scolds Western theologians for spending "countless hours learning about the writings of a few well-known, now deceased, German theologians whose global devotees are actually quite small," while nearly ignoring more significant global religious perspectives like Pentecostalism.2 Wolfgang Vondey’s Beyond Pentecostalism>3 is significant because it both introduces classic Pentecostalism, and proposes a vision for a global Pentecostal theology. Vondey views classic Pentecostalism, which emerged out of North America, as a manifestation of "the late modern and postmodern theological crisis" (2), and global Pentecostalism as a resource for addressing and ending the crisis. As Vondey summarizes, "Theology ‘beyond Pentecostalism’ is Pentecostal theology for the world" (8).

The primary metaphor Vondey adopts for the "renewal of the theological agenda" is "theology as play". In presenting his own position, Vondey interacts with George Lindbeck’s postliberalism and Kevin Vanhoozer’s evangelical appropriation of postliberalism. According to Vondey, Lindbeck’s cultural-linguistic view of doctrine grounds Christian beliefs and biblical authority in the life of the church, while Vanhoozer’s canonical-linguistic proposal grounds Christian beliefs in the biblical canon. For both, Christian doctrines and scripture primarily address human reason, and shape the way Christians interpret and live in the world. Vondey seeks to advance these proposals by stressing the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit and the importance of human imagination. Theology is play in that it is the dynamic interaction of the Spirit and the Word in the Christian community. An emphasis on Christian imagination leads us beyond the past to an awareness of the work of the Spirit today in exposing unjust structures and ways of living, and creating new possibilities for the future. Vondey does not suggest that all theological reflection be reduced to the activity of play, but he does challenge "the circumstances that contradict or restrict the possibility and operation of theology as participation in the joy of God" (14).

A personal example may help illustrate the heart of Vondey’s proposal. During the Civil Rights Movement in the United States, Christian activists did not simply view doctrines and the narrative of scripture as delineating the culture of the church, or shaping the way the church speaks about injustice and liberation. Further, appeals to scripture were not simply about what God had done in the past, and scripture was not viewed as a script that we continue to perform today. These observations are true to an extent, but they are also insufficient. Christian leaders in the Civil Rights Movement saw God at work in their day, through the Holy Spirit, in the church and in the world. The stories of the Exodus and of Israel entering the Promised Land were not simply about past events, but the work of God in the present confronting injustice and creating new possibilities of peace and reconciliation. Vondey emphasizes the imaginative and ongoing work of the Holy Spirit, through the people of God, in ways that go beyond the strict limits of the biblical text. For Vondey, theology is not best conceived as a culture or the performance of a script, but as play that is open to new and imaginative possibilities.

Vondey develops his vision of theology as play by addressing scripture, creeds, the liturgy, and the church. In each instance, Vondey believes modern theology has viewed these in ways that are too static and institutionalized, and that do not provide sufficient space for the imagination and the ongoing work of the Spirit. Regarding scripture, Vondey traces the development of the traditional distinction between the formal principle of theology, divine revelation, and the material principle of theology, the content of scripture. Vondey argues that this distinction objectifies scripture and relegates divine revelation to the distant past. Instead, he suggests abandoning the distinction between the formal and material principles of theology, and proposes an ongoing vision of revelation where scripture serves as a means through which and beyond which the Spirit continues to encounter the church today. In other words, Vondey argues for "the play of revelation in Spirit, Word, and community" (78).

Vondey examines the Nicene Creed in light of the longstanding filioque controversy, as well as the concerns of Oneness Pentecostals who maintain a modalist understanding of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. While Vondey stresses his own Trinitarian convictions, he argues that both the filioque controversy and the emergence of Oneness Pentecostalism illustrate the crisis of creedal theology. Furthermore, the structure of the Creed promotes a "theology of articles" that leads to several problems. For instance, the Nicene Creed leads us to focus on the immanent Trinity more than on the work of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in the economy of redemption. The separation of the articles obscures the dynamic, mutual activity, or perichoresis, of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The filioque clause in Western versions of the creed has "decidedly impeded the development of pneumatology" (87). Creedal theology, then, represents a static, fixed attempt to summarize the Christian faith and preserve orthodoxy that conceals the dynamic activity of God both in the economy of redemption, and in the Spirit’s ongoing "play" with the church.

Similarly, the liturgy and an institutionalized view of the church can be problematic, especially to the extent that these replace the ongoing play of the Spirit with fixed rituals, sacraments, and boundaries that are intended to preserve Christian identity rather than open the church to the world. Interestingly, Vondey recognizes that classic Pentecostal practices—such as speaking in tongues and Spirit baptism—can function as fixed sacraments and rituals to the extent that they are both expected and reproducible in normal Christian experience. Vondey also highlights four influences that have led to the institutionalization of classic Pentecostalism: "the numerical and geographical expansion of Pentecostalism, the occurrence of internal divisions, the demands of global missionary activity, and an increasing ecumenical exposure of the Pentecostal movement worldwide" (155). While these maladies have affected classic Pentecostalism, Vondey hopes a global Pentecostalism focused on the play of God can avoid rituals and institutions that prohibit the free and creative activity of the Spirit.

Vondey’s vision of theology as play is refreshing and inviting, as it allows for freedom, spontaneity, and generosity. At the same time, Vondey’s proposal is a large-scale, programmatic one that raises a number of basic issues. For instance, while Vondey is ready to move beyond the distinction of divine revelation and scripture, surely he does not want to equate divine revelation and scripture (as in a theory of divine dictation), or disregard the historical nature of Christianity and the significance of the foundational events of Christian history. One can speak of the ongoing work of the Spirit through and even beyond scripture without abolishing the interrelated but distinct relationship between divine revelation and scripture. In fact, if one has a vision of the ongoing work of the Spirit through and beyond scripture, one would want to maintain this distinction.

For Vondey, theology-as-play is open to the Spirit and pushes the boundaries of theological orthodoxy. As such, one concern that Vondey’s vision raises is the potential for syncretism and heresy. Vondey addresses this shortcoming by emphasizing that theology is the play of the Spirit, Word, and church. The voice of the Spirit does not stand alone, but interacts with scripture and the discernment of the church community. Vondey invites us not to reject Christian orthodoxy, but to play with Christian orthodoxy. However, Vondey’s understanding of the basic contours of Christian orthodoxy is unclear, and any specific proposal would appear to go against his emphasis on play and freedom. Theology as play can be liberating within certain boundaries, but outside such boundaries it can also quickly denigrates into chaos. For the early and undivided church of the first millennium, the basic vision of God as articulated in scripture and the creeds served as such as boundary.4 Vondey rightly points out the shortcomings of an overly epistemic conception of scripture and the creeds, but he does not suggest how God regularly uses materials like the creeds, the liturgy, and the sacraments as means of grace through which God comes to us and leads us to salvation.

Consider Vondey’s discussion of creedal theology. For Vondey the concerns of Oneness Pentecostals illustrate the crisis of the Nicene Creed and the limitations of creedal theology. While it is certainly true that the Nicene Creed has its limitations, I would argue that, in this instance, it is Oneness Pentecostalism that is the crisis, while the Nicene Creed is a resource provided by God’s Spirit to help address the deficiencies of non-Trinitarian proposals like modalism. While Vondey is critical of a "theology of articles," the articles of the Creed rightly distinguish the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and this distinction is important, even for Vondey’s own proposal. Throughout his work, Vondey repeatedly emphasizes the play of the Spirit, Word, and church. However, if the Word is to have any guiding and critical function at all, then it is crucial to both relate and distinguish the Spirit and the Word. Even his theology of play is highly dependent on a Trinitarian understanding of God, as Vondey himself undoubtedly recognizes. Vondey is right to stress that God is not limited by our best attempts to articulate orthodox belief, but an orthodox vision of God can still be a gift of grace that leads us into a more adequate understanding of and deeper communion with God.

Furthermore, consider Vondey’s negative evaluation of the sacraments and ecclesial institutions, since these can conflict with the freedom of the Spirit. At one point, Vondey bemoans the institutionalization of classic Pentecostalism because classic Pentecostalism has adjusted to "the demands of reality rather than to the possibilities of the imagination" (191). Such a comment begs the question of whether his vision of theology as play is a realizable possibility at all. While we should certainly reject any understanding of rituals and institutions that oppose the freedom of the Spirit, we also need a vision of how the Spirit can work through sacraments and institutions, even if the Spirit is not limited by these. Institutions and fixed, reproducible practices like the sacraments can be a means of contact with the gratuitous and free work of the Spirit. We need to be able to answer simple inquiries like, "What must I do to be saved?" even as we recognize the freedom of the Spirit. Vondey teaches at a Christian educational institution, so institutions cannot be all bad.

Overall, Vondey’s proposal for theology as play, and particularly his emphases on the Spirit, Word, and church and the crucial role of the imagination, is an important Pentecostal contribution to the larger ecumenical dialogue and "global theological agenda." His emphasis on the church being open to the world, rather than being solely concerned with its identity, challenges us all to follow the leading of the Spirit and view God’s work in the world with creativity and imagination. However, while we need to celebrate the free and gratuitous work of God in the world, we also need to recognize and celebrate the way God regularly works through such fixed means of grace as scripture, the creed, sacraments, and ecclesial structures to come to us and lead us to salvation.

Dr. Mark Powell


Harding University Graduate School of Religion

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The Church Catholic, Global Christianity, and the Pentecostal Contribution to the Renewal of the Theological Agenda

Beyond Pentecostalism: The Crisis of Global Christianity and the Renewal of the Theological Agenda,5 published in the Eerdmans Pentecostal Manifestos series, reads very much like a manifesto, even perhaps an apologia for Wolfgang Vondey’s personal theological life. In a sense critical engagement seems an inappropriate mode. The author is simply explaining himself and asking others if they would like to join in his project.

Yet I do have difficulties in responding positively to the invitation to play which Vondey has extended to his ecumenical and theological colleagues. Here I will offer my reflections gathered into two clusters. I want to first comment on Vondey’s use of the terms and categories of "imagination" and "theology".

I lead a theological college in rural Western Kenya sponsored by Friends (Quakers). In our area there is a family of Pentecostal churches, the African Church of the Holy Spirit, with entirely Quaker roots. Charismatic/pentecostal spirituality is common in some local areas of Quakerism, although rare or absent in others. And there is a substantial presence of Pentecostal faculty members and students at the school. Second, I want to comment from this African location on Vondey’s vision of theology as play.

In both cases difficulties arise not as much with Vondey’ proposal itself as with claims made about the proposal. Far from being a global, catholic theology the proposal is highly contextual and makes its best sense within a certain First World theological and cultural context.

Imagination and Theology

First, then, we address the terms and categories of "imagination" and "theology" and their relationship. In his book Vondey recounts an "emergence of a crisis of the imagination from antiquity to the modern age" (p. 17) in an historical account of alternating cycles: "(1) Plato’s subordination of the imagination to the authority of reason, (2) the elevation of the imagination in patristic thought, (3) the discrimination against the imagination during the Middle Ages, (4) the triumph of the imagination in German idealism, and (5) the deconstruction of the imagination in the postmodern era." (p. 18)

Three difficulties arise:

a) The historical trajectory that Vondey traces is entirely Western: Plato; Augustine; Richard of St Victor; Thomas Aquinas; Kant; Derrida and Lyotard. No Indian Thomas Christians, no Ethiopians, no Armenians, not even Cappadocians and Irish Celtics, both major contributors to the development of Western thought. This is certainly not a global philosophical-theological vision.

b) It is entirely theoretical: when Vondey discusses imagination in the Old and New Testaments he considers what the Scriptures say about "imagination" rather than instances within the Scriptures in which imagination is actually used theologically. In so doing he, presumably inadvertently, gives us a Bible in which the floods are never called upon to clap their hands or the hills to sing together for joy (Ps 98:8); the Bride never searches for her beloved, with his cheeks like beds of spices and his lips distilling liquid myrrh (Song 5:13); and we never learn that the Kingdom of God is like "yeast that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour" (Luke 13:21) and like a landowner giving the same wage to the first worker and the last (Matt 20:1-16).

c) Vondey confines his use of the term "theology" to the product of a particular kind of theological activity. Other bodies of theological thought and production are excluded, even in the West. From the very earliest Christian times and throughout Christian history Christian theologians have used poetry, visual arts, narrative, ascetical apophthegms, mystical evocations, apocalyptic, and other "imaginative" forms for theological reflection. The typological methods of ancient Syriac sacramental theology; Origin’s homilies in which he considers the "four senses of Scripture"; the theological poetry of Dante, Milton, Hopkins; the hymnody of St Ephrem, Charles Wesley, and Fanny Crosby; the Lutheran paintings of Lucas Cranach the Elder that so vividly contrast with his pre-Reformation paintings; the meetinghouse designed by James Terrell for Live Oak Friends Meeting (Houston, Texas, USA), with its central roof that can be retracted during worship to allow the natural sunlight, symbolizing the Divine Light, to pour in upon the worshipping assembly; the theology of James Cone with its multivalent, non-linear use of the terms "black" and "white;" Julian of Norwich’s Revelations of Divine Love and Teresa of Avila’s Interior Castle; the myriad depictions of Jesus in which he appears to be of the same ethnicity or experiencing the same lesions and wounds as the Oceanian, South Asian, African, Amerindian, or skin-diseased believers of the Isenheim hospital (Grünewald’s Altarpiece, 1506-1515) who share the space of their faith experiences with these objects . . . the list could go on and on. Logical reasoning has always been only one vehicle of Christian theology.

The importance of theologies of the imagination in the life of the Christian church has not always been in correlation with its theoretical respectability as traced by Vondey. The high value placed on rationality in medieval Scholasticism stands in marked tension with the profusion of theological elaboration through visual and poetical means of the same period. Further, the rationality of medieval Scholasticism is often in fact itself highly imaginative in the same sense that innovations in engineering or computer science require leaps of intuition and imagination as well as rational, technical, and computational precision.

It may be that Vondey has constructed a straw-man in order to attach and defeat him, or, more likely, Vondey is simply mistaken in his account of how much pre- and non-Pentecostal theology has consisted in ordered arguments communicated through logical rationality as compared to other forms. His argument makes most sense as a contextual theology created for discussion and consideration within a semi-Scholastic milieu within the First World. Yet, he has also put his fingers on a real hunger within the North America, at least, for theology that can direct and nurture connection with the divine mystery in forms that are congruent with that mystery.

Nevertheless, the theologies of the imagination from across Christian history were not necessarily "playful" as Vondey has used this term. As Hans Belting has shown in relation to the Christian visual images of pre-modern Europe, such imaginative theology had important work to perform within its own context.6 In contrast, Vondey’s approach is similar to Romantic and Modernist understandings of "art for art’s sake."


The concept of play is central to Vondey’s Pentecostal response to a stultifying rationalism in the "orthodox" theology he rejects. Drawing on Johan Huizinga’s Homo Ludens and other theorists of play, Vondey describes Pentecostal worship as play, as "a free activity standing quite consciously outside ‘ordinary’ life as being ‘not serious,’ but at the same time absorbing a person intensely and utterly." (p. 173, quoting Huizinga) Vondey argues that Pentecostal worship, as it was originally and as it ought still to be, is not instrumental, not performative. Rather he claims it is free to be open to unlimited possibilities in creative, chaotic vitality.

Vondey clearly intends to include African thought and faith life in his vision. Indeed, he traces a root of and in some sense an authentication of the "play" he proposes as a constitutive element of authentic Pentecostalism to African influence upon African-American slave religion. (pp. 120-2) Yet, speaking from the vantage point of Africa, it is hard to imagine anything more different from Vondey’s proposal than the reality of the African Christianity of today and the roots of this Christianity in the African Traditional Religion of the past. His call, following Harvey Cox, for "primal speech and primal piety" (p. 181) stands in deep contradiction to the actual primal religions of Africa. Vondey has misunderstood the African root he seeks to claim.

African Traditional Religion (ATR) is overwhelmingly performative and instrumental. From conception and birth to burial and subsequent memorialization, human life within ATR is accompanied by a stream of instrumental activities, rituals, regulations, and proscriptions which are engaged in order to prevent spiritual and physical harm and procure safety and blessing. These activities simply cannot be correctly understood as "play". They are work, work of the highest importance. The work so performed is intended, in the words of John Mbiti, the most widely recognized interpreter of ATR for Christian audiences, to make life’s journey "meaningful, happy, safe and satisfactory, . . . worthwhile for both the individual and the community."7 The dancing, clapping, singing, shouting, collapsing in trances, entering euphoric states: in ATR these are all purposive, directed toward acquiring blessings and escaping damage.

Christianity came to Tiriki, where our college is located, in 1902. Many of our students, faculty, and staff have relatives who still follow African Traditional Religion in whole or in part. Both there and in the wider theological community in Eastern Africa the language and experience of a "crisis" in theology is unfamiliar. Earlier this year I was present at the revival and re-launch of the Eastern Africa section of EATWOT, the Ecumenical Association of Third World Theologians. We discussed current needs and future plans: nothing resembling Vondey’s sense of pervasive crisis in theology was evident. The overwhelming theological preoccupation in every African venue is inculturation: how does Christianity relate with African culture, with its base in African Traditional Religion and its many colonial legacies?

The concluding section of John Baur’s 2000 Years of Christianity in Africa; An African Church History speaks to the minds and hearts of many: A Church Challenged by a Continent in Crisis. Baur continues, "the crisis has developed through all the years of Independence and is now breaking out like a bursting ulcer, revealing the bankruptcy of the political leadership and the impoverishment of the masses, provoking in the people’s cry for democracy, justice and peace. In this situation Church has to live up to the challenge and find answers to the cries of the time, to the fears and anguish which plague the minds of so many Africans today."8 A "praise worship center" in a town near the campus declares on its outdoor sign that it is a "fear free space."

The other morning during the campus chapel service I took notes on this very typical event, for use in responding to Vondey. It was a "prayer" day as contrasted with a preaching day or a day of extra time given to musical and other presentations. The student leader was mature, coming to the end of his program of study shortly, and a good student. He presided well.

After the customary two lively praise choruses, with clapping, dancing, ululation, and electronic keyboard, the presider reminded us that this was a prayer day, that is in his words, a day to bring our petitions before the Lord and give thanks for all he gives and has given to us. God is a provider the presider observed. Isaiah 56:7 was then read: "these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt-offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar." Next all sang together the hymn All to Jesus I Surrender in Kiswahili. Here in Eastern Africa the hymn’s meaning is understood not primarily in terms of surrendering one’s will or desires, but in terms of surrendering one’s worries and fears, to Jesus’ powerful care. Prayer requests were voiced: for a family member in the hospital; for a sick wife at home; for a revival at a school where a FTC student is chaplain; for a successful election in neighboring Tanzania, the home country of several students; for the college in general, the up-coming graduation, the graduands, the guest speaker and the safe travel of all; for a "financial break-through" for students having difficulties paying their tuition fees; for the wedding and marriage of a graduating student. There followed an extended period of "concert prayer" in which each individual prayed either interiorly or, mostly, out loud in a strong voice, in Kiswahili or English or mother tongue or "tongues." Keyboard music and singing accompanied much of the prayer session. The college chaplain was then asked to articulate a single concluding prayer. Characteristic phrases abounded. At appropriate points all joined in, as when we repeatedly rejected bad spirits, such as a spirit of division in our community, in the name of Jesus Christ. The Father was requested to cover persons in any kind of need or danger, such as the dangers of traveling the roads to the graduation ceremonies, "with the blood of Jesus." We entrusted our concerns into the "able hands" of God. We "stood in the gap" for those for whom we interceded, and we were reminded that the Spirit also intercedes for us all (Cf. Rom 8:27). We prayed that the Holy Spirit will have its way in our hearts. The presider concluded by petitioning that we "be blessed."

The service was entirely Christian, although with an orientation toward Old Testament sensibilities. It was freely and emotively expressive. It was at times playful. Yet much of our prayer session was simultaneously an almost direct translation from ATR. Instrumentality and efficacy were central. It was not play in Vondey’s meaning of the term.

In his discussion of theology as play Vondey has directed our attention to an important possibility. Following Huizinga, Harvey Cox, and others, Vondey proposes that worship experienced as play restores a balance in life and that—very importantly—theology should do the same. The needs for balance to which theology ought to respond are the same needs to which worship responds. For Vondey these are needs for play. Vondey urges that we conceive "theology as a noninstrumental, nonproductive, and ‘useless’ activity. Theology betrays itself ‘when it accepts the industrial-technical closure of the world of human meanings.’" (p. 181, quoting Harvey Cox, Seduction of the Spirit: The Use and Misuse of People’s Spirit [NY: Simon and Shuster, 1973], 318)

Few in Kenya live in the industrial-technical world of the "secular city." Whether in the hideous Kibera slum or among the surviving pastoralist communities or within the day to day life of the Kenyan majority of subsistence farmers, other needs predominate. The balance sought in worship, then, differs from that sought by those in the industrial-technological First World contexts that produced Cox and Vondey.

If Vondey is correct in calling for a theology in the same mode as the worship that responds to the real need of the people, then he has pointed toward an important feature of the global, catholic church. The theologians of EATWOT do not create theology within an industrial-technical world. The people on whose behalf they write seek blessing and safety in productive, instrumental worship. Vondey’s thought suggests that their theology ought properly to do the same. Christian partners around the global, while their needs and theological responses differ, can find new ways to understand the theology of others as feeding the spiritual hungers and thirsts of their diverse contexts.

Nevertheless, the performative and instrumental reality of actual African religion has important implications for the cogency of Vondey’s argument. If it is not a fact that the African-American root of originating Pentecostal worship was play rather than instrumental performance, on what basis does Vondey claim that Pentecostal theology ought rightly be play now? Is this in the end simply a personal predilection of Vondey’s, as the manifesto concept of the Eerdmans series might suggest? On what basis can one speaking from the relative security and comfort of the First World, urge Christians of the Two-Thirds World who seek efficacy, blessing, and safety in worship and theology that they are theologically incorrect in bringing their fears and sufferings to the "able hands" of the Father and wounded feet of Jesus, in the power of Pentecost?

Dr. Ann K. Riggs, Principal

Friends Theological College, Tiriki, Kenya

annkriggs@gmail.com or FTC1@fum.org

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Review of Wolfgang Vondey, Beyond Pentecostalism.

With Beyond Pentecostalism, Wolfgang Vondey has written an academically impressive as well as a personally engaging book. His contagious passion never fades even as he unfolds a creative thesis that is remarkably well-organized and meticulously structured. I hope that Professor Vondey takes my comments on his book’s organization and structure as the compliments that I mean them to be, though it appears throughout the text that he tends to lament the presence of organization or structure in any human endeavors as unfortunate necessities to which one must concede a bit.

The task he sets out to accomplish is to convince theologians and others that the current situation of global Christianity is calling us out to play. As a Roman Catholic, I must give a traditional response to such an invitation: I will first have to ask my mother. And, as Henri de Lubac, whom Vondey cites favorably, used to remind us, "the Church is our mother."9

I intend this opening of my essay to be itself somewhat playful. Actually, Vondey himself comments in his postscript on the tension between his advocacy of "play" as a privileged category and the task-oriented manner in which he goes about that advocacy. I consider this tension to be an ever-present paradox. "Paradox" is a category used often by de Lubac, and I wonder what Vondey thinks about this category, which can have some connection with play. One paradox, as we find expressed in Seneca, is that "true joy is a serious business." One might substitute the word play for joy. True play is a serious business.

And so my quoting of de Lubac—that the Church is our mother—is playful and serious at the same time. I want to play, believe me, and I do play, probably too much. But when it comes to matters of ecclesiology and ecumenism, Vondey and I both play and get serious in different playgrounds. He acknowledges this, and is trying to talk about what Pentecostals have to offer to the global theological agenda.

I think he does this very well. A big part of the ecumenical process these days is coming to understand and appreciate each other. Vondey draws upon a wide range of authors, a wide scope of centuries, and a variety of different types of theorists to place Pentecostalism, both classical and global, within the context of an overarching Christian story. He dispels stereotypes by exploring distinctive elements of Pentecostalism that go far beyond glossolalia and Spirit-baptism. Some of these distinctive elements are challenging the status quo, imaginative engagement with the presence of God, spontaneity, and playfulness. At the same time, he is careful to acknowledge that many of these distinctive elements are not unique to Pentecostalism.

Vondey has helped me to get an initial grasp of oneness Pentecostalism and of the serious theological and historical discussions in which the oneness Pentecostals have been engaged. He has helped me to see the narrowness of biblical interpretation associated with some Pentecostals in a new light as well as to become aware of how Pentecostals themselves are struggling with this issue. He has given me a new sense of how Pentecostals are now engaged intelligently with a variety of academic disciplines and pursuits. And he wrote in a voice that expresses an integrated vision of academic, Pentecostal, Christian, and global concerns.

Vondey does not himself bring up numbers, but I heard recently that there are now 600 million Pentecostals in the world. And they are growing so rapidly that who knows how many there will be by the time I complete this review They don’t as yet outnumber the rest of us Christians, but pretty soon they may have us surrounded. At the present rate we might project playfully if not statistically that by the year 2015 we will all be Pentecostals. Of course one should not be overly impressed by numbers, but the numbers are staggering. One can hardly help but pay attention.

It isn’t just the numbers, though. One doesn’t have to be a Pentecostal to discern that there seems to be some connection between this movement and the Holy Spirit. In a volume of proceedings from an ecumenical meeting held in Bose, Italy in 2002, four movements or events were consistently identified by participants from a wide range of Christian traditions as modern representations of the activity of the Holy Spirit: Wesley’s Methodist movement, the ecumenical movement of the 20th century, the Second Vatican Council, and Pentecostalism.10 Vondey helps us to make a few qualifications here: that Pentecostalism itself goes beyond just this one person of the Trinity, that not everything connected with Pentecostalism is of God, and that the Holy Spirit is not limited to Pentecostalism. Still, it remains clear to most of us that Pentecostalism is connected with the Holy Spirit in a discernible and real way, and that this connection is not accidental or coincidental or momentarily fleeting. For this reason, one that is far more important that the mere numbers, one can hardly help but pay attention.

I agree with and am touched by the main thesis of Vondey’s book. I agree that the churches that are no longer movements, including classical Pentecostal assemblies, are in critical need of a theology of renewal and that they should all be looking toward global Pentecostalism as a resource in developing such a theology. In another context, I argued on a small scale a similar thesis focusing on contemporary Roman Catholicism and why it should foster the movement presently within it of small Christian communities by allowing it to be inspired by John Wesley and the early Methodists.11

I find a striking point of comparison between Wesley’s Methodist movement and global Pentecostalism. Wesley desired that Methodism remain a movement and not become a church in its own right. Most 18th century English Methodists were Anglicans, but some were Puritans and a few were Roman Catholics. Wesley refused to allow Methodists to hold meetings at the same time as Anglican services, for he expected Methodists to continue to attend church. He predicted near the end of his life that once he died, perhaps about one-third of Methodists might break off and start their own church, but that the separatists would soon exhaust themselves and Methodism would continue on as a movement of renewal within the churches. Wesley believed that once a sufficient number were converted from being just nominal Christians to being real Christians, differences would fade away and there would remain just one established but renewed church in the land.

Wesley is known for being a task-oriented worker. He was like an efficiency expert using modern organizational strategies to get the most Christianity out of Christians as possible. He doesn’t seem to be remembered for his playfulness. Yet he fostered a quarterly love feast among Methodists in which those admitted would stay up late into the night eating penny cake and drinking punch and praising each other for the good works that they had been able to achieve in the Lord.

Wesley was an Anglican priest who celebrated mass frequently. He believed that there should be one established church in the land and that the rightfully established church in his land was the Church of England. And yet he saw the Church of England as dry bones that needed to be brought back to life by the Spirit. He thought that Christians could only break fellowship with each other if it would not be otherwise possible to live a true Christian existence without doing so. And so he saw the break with Rome as a necessary but tragic event. He said that closing the breach with Rome could not be considered until Rome would apologize for the murder of Jan Hus at the Council of Constance in 1415. In December 1999, Pope John Paul II did officially apologize for the death of Jan Hus, but it was a bit too late for Wesley.

Wesley’s playground was conceptually somewhere between Vondey’s and my own. One of the things that I most appreciate about Vondey’s book is his attempt to place Pentecostalism within a trajectory that includes the entire historical sweep of Christianity. I believe that a comparative focus on how historical narratives are constructed differently within different Christian traditions constitutes a needed and underdeveloped step in ecumenical progress. As a Roman Catholic, I can find myself much more easily within Wesley’s story than I can in Vondey’s story. But I appreciate deeply the fact that Vondey has put his story out there. It’s a story about how the Christian imagination and playfulness are crushed again and again, by Constantinianism, by medieval Christendom, and by the industrialized modern world. It’s a story about how creativity and spontaneity are continually being swallowed up by objectification, definition, organization, structure, and finally, dreadfully, by institution.

Vondey draws favorably upon many Catholic authors in telling his story. I did not experience his book as in any way anti-Catholic, but on the contrary as a sincere attempt to tell the Pentecostal story in a historical and analytical framework that highlights what it has to offer to all Christians in the global situation of today. Even if he is playing in a different playground, there is a lot of legitimate overlap between his story and his analysis and my story and my analysis. As I name some of these differences, I want to be understood as doing so in the spirit of serious and playful conversation between Christian who share partial but not yet full communion with each other.12

Vondey find things to value in the work of Yves Congar. As Vondey mentions, Congar rejects the style of ecclesiology that he labels "hierarchology." For Congar, ecclesiology must be in its depth a study of spirituality. Congar’s three volume ecclesiology written after Vatican II is entitled I Believe in the Holy Spirit.13 It is Congar who takes seriously a wide breadth of Christian witness, East and West, to develop a pneumatological and ultimately Trinitarian approach to ecclesiology. At the heart of Congar’s ecclesiology is what Vondey labels "ecclesiality." The contemporary Catholic ecclesiologist Rick Gaillardetz calls it "ecclesial vitality."14 Ecclesiology should not be simply a study of authoritative structures that ignores the presence of God’s spirit in the life of the church.

The difference in a Catholic focus on "ecclesiality" lies in our insistence that some of what we call structures we believe are gifts that emerged from the presence of God’s spirit. According to Francis Sullivan, for example, the church-wide emergence of the episcopacy in the late second century was nearly unanimously accepted by Christians of the time as it saved the unity of the church in response to the Gnostic threat.15 Roman Catholics believe that the Holy Spirit has guided the church throughout its history, especially when it comes to important decisions that have helped Catholics stay unified such as the designation of the canon and the formulation of the creeds. For Catholics of today, the juridical structure of the Church is tied in with its sacramental meaning and even with some of its potential for prophetic witness. Today, there is much diversity and much tension within the Roman Catholic Church, and of course we face many problems within. We are, however, united with each other in a way that those who are named Pentecostal are not. Many of us who are Roman Catholics believe that in some way, perhaps beyond what we can fully envision at this time in history, our form of unity may prove to be a gift that we can offer as a resource to the various manifestations of global Christianity.

I say these things in this context mainly to point out that the historical account of the trajectory of Christianity needed to support my story will differ in key points and in emphases from Vondey’s story. I think there is almost as much to be said about the importance of the imagination in relation to established doctrines and scripted performances as there is in relation to improvisation and spontaneity and play. I think that renewal can almost be as concerned with penetrating and reinvigorating established forms of thought and praxis as it is about challenging them.

If I tell Vondey that I have a different read of Augustine, or of the Age of Constantine, or of the Middle Ages, or of the Romantics, I’m not saying that I don’t appreciate his history or his analysis, but that I don’t as yet see room for myself in his story. If I tell him that I think his view of "Christendom" is about as differentiated as my view of "Pentecostalism" was before I read his book, I’m really saying that I need to write my own book about it and hope that he will read it.

Yes, I am embarrassed that I had to ask my mother if I could go out to play, and that she has told me that—at least for now—I can go out but I have to stay in my own playground. She said that I could invite Vondey over to play, but I’m not even going to tell him the requirements she says he would have to meet because, at least for now, and especially after reading his book, I don’t think he would really be interested.

I say directly to Vondey, "thank you for this book". I enjoyed it and I agree with your basic thesis that all the churches can benefit from the movement to be generated by a theology of renewal, and that we should all look to global Pentecostalism as a serious resource for learning how to play.

Dr. Dennis M. Doyle


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Response to the Reviewers of Beyond Pentecostalism

I would like to begin my response by expressing my sincere gratitude to Mark Powell, Ann Riggs, and Dennis Doyle for engaging my book with such thoughtfulness and in the sense of a critical engagement that is the fundamental prerequisite for scholarship and learning. The respondents skillfully identified some of the contemporary impulses that provide the contexts for my book and that inform my writing at this point. They correctly understand my intention to provide not a definitive form of Pentecostal theology but an integration of Pentecostal sensitivities in global Christianity. The focus of Beyond Pentecostalism is the church catholic, global Christianity, and the Pentecostal contribution to the renewal of the theological agenda. To that end, a number of concerns were raised about the appropriateness or applicability of the major ideas I present. Let me begin by briefly outlining the major proposals of the book.

The heart of my study suggests that global Pentecostalism offers indispensible resources to overcome a number of different manifestations of a crisis in contemporary theology. I expand on this thesis in six interrelated chapters that each consist of three main parts. Each chapter begins by examining one aspect of the crisis from a broad historical-systematic perspective that aims at a critical reconstruction of the global state of affairs. I use the notion of crisis as a positive term defined as both turning point and prerequisite for the development of global Christianity. In this sense, the content of the first section is expansive in scope in order to address a shift of foundations that has taken place in global Christianity in the late modern world.16 The result is an emphasis on a crisis of the imagination, a crisis of revelation, a crisis of creedal theology, a crisis of the liturgy, a crisis of Christendom, and a crisis of play. The analysis of each crisis is followed by a narrative that reveals classical Pentecostalism as a manifestation of that particular crisis. In this second section of each chapter I tell the story of Pentecostalism in North America from the broad perspective of theological affairs raised in the first section, and thus in ways the story has not always been told. In the final part of each chapter I begin to conceptualize a constructive and programmatic proposal for global Christianity that offers resources to overcome the crisis from within the Pentecostal tradition and thereby integrates Pentecostalism into the broader theological landscape. I suggest that the task of theology at the beginning of the twenty-first century requires an awareness of the critical issues of our time as they relate to both the established theological paradigms and the new directions suggested by Pentecostal thought and praxis. As the titles of the chapters indicate, this task leads theology beyond the confines of reason, beyond Scripture, beyond doctrine, beyond ritual, beyond church, and beyond orthodoxy.

On a different level, I suggest that the various manifestations of theological crisis show a general tendency of theology toward performance. In contrast, I characterize the Pentecostal perspective as more genuine to the idea of play.17 By using this metaphor, I do not intend to make light of the sincerity and importance of Christian thought but rather to outline the emerging contours of global Christianity characterized by a distinct manner of being and self-understanding that stands in contrast to the dominant forms of the established theological "enterprise." Put differently, the status quo of Christian theology is at odds with the changing face of Christianity worldwide.18 With play, I refer to any activity done for the joy of doing it and not for any performative, competitive, functionalistic, rationalistic, or utilitarian reasons. Theologically speaking, play is the joy of God in which we participate. This admittedly broad definition is further clarified in each chapter with focus on addressing the various crisis moments of the contemporary theological agenda. My intention is not to develop a romantic idea of theology as play but to allow the image of play to shed light on the current theological ethos, both critically and therapeutically. This necessary realism shows that play itself has entered a substantial crisis in the late modern world.19 What I envision, then, in going "beyond" the various aspects that define the current state of Christianity is a fundamental attitude of flexibility and openness, a dynamic of playfulness, that repossesses and liberates traditional theological structures. I do not suggest that theology can escape the use of reason, the text of Scripture, doctrines, rituals, and the community of the church, as might be suggested by the titles of the chapters. On the contrary, I propose that the resources provided by global Pentecostalism are able to integrate these orthodox theological structures and, by so doing, to transform them in an attitude that releases their full potential. In this sense, the work presented here is intended, on the most fundamental level, as an invitation to play with Christian orthodoxy. The reviewers have acknowledged this invitation and added important insights and corrections.

Mark Powell offers a very helpful overview of my book. He correctly observes that my primary intention is to construct a dialogue in which Pentecostalism is not only integrated but acting as a transformative agent. Each chapter in principle serves only as an illustration of the main thesis that Pentecostalism functions as a chief catalyst in the formation of a global Christian theology. Pentecostalism perpetuates this transformation at the cost of its own particular identity. At the same time, I would argue that what I have presented in the book is a reading of Pentecostalism supported by primary and secondary sources from within Pentecostalism and yet in a manner not always recognized by Pentecostals. The critique of the Christian enterprise I offer is therefore not my critique but the Pentecostal critique thus far. It remains to be shown if my reading of Pentecostalism is accurate. What I suspect is that I have not been careful enough to engage all the nuances of Pentecostalism.20 I look forward to those who wish to add their voice to a more accurate and complete assessment of Pentecostalism beyond my own.

At the same time, I would be more careful than Powell in using the word "beyond." As I emphasize repeatedly, the intention of Pentecostalism is not a forsaking of orthodoxy. The paths beyond the different elements of orthodox theology lead toward a transformation of orthodox theology, not its destruction, the globalization of theology, not its Pentecostalization. In other words, orthodoxy is big enough to allow for play, although a playful orthodoxy will look different from its current performative state. In this transformation, the path leads also beyond classical Pentecostalism, and it seems to me that Powell has not always clearly followed my distinction between the second and third part of each chapter, which show respectively how classical Pentecostals can be seen as participating in the crisis while offering global Pentecostalism as a solution to the crisis. This is an important distinction, because it allows us to see Pentecostalism as already participating in the theological task, even if that has not been recognized and even if that participation was only to perpetuate the crisis of late modern theology. It allows us to recognize that global Pentecostalism is no longer classical Pentecostalism, and that global Pentecostalism would do things at times quite differently from its historical forebears. Hence I certainly have no negative view of the sacraments, as I have shown in other publications, but actually propose that sacramentality is a fruitful venue for understanding Pentecostalism.21 It is classical Pentecostalism that is critical of a static framework for the celebration of the sacraments; and it is the traditional sacramental framework that ostracizes Pentecostal practices, often seen critically from a performative perspective.22 Global Pentecostalism, with its integration of sacramental contexts worldwide, would offer not only a critique of the inflexible, closed structures of performance but also constructive proposals on how those structures can be transformed. The starting point for this transformation may not have been Pentecostal, neither may we call the end result Pentecostal.23 What Pentecostalism does offer, however, is a catalytic function in the process of transformation, even if it is at the cost of its own particular identity. Pentecostalism is a transitional, or as Victor Turner says, liminal phenomenon.24

Ann Rigg’s critique sheds a ray of light into what might otherwise be constructed as my rather bleak portrayal of contemporary theology. She identifies an important aspect in the pursuit of a global theology, namely, that not all contexts are experiencing the theological reality in the same way. Generalizations about the global state of affairs are without substance if not accompanied by concrete phenomenological evidence. To that end, as she observes, my research is of course helplessly contextual. At the same time, I would be surprised to find an example for a functioning decontextualized theology that claims to be concerned with global affairs. In that regard, I feel confirmed in my limited intention only to make sense of Pentecostalism and its integration in the global theological agenda. I have identified no more than what I have called a map for the terrain of future research. A map, much like the ones we find in the schools in our parts of the world which typically place our location in the middle of the globe. We stop the world from turning, for a moment, and look at the state of affairs from our context, always aware of the need eventually to let go of the world again. If you have observed the dramatic change in maps over the past 20 years, you understand how difficult and yet how necessary this task is. In the limited moment observed in my book, I look at global Christianity from the perspective of classical Pentecostalism while letting go of this context to reach beyond Pentecostalism to the Christian world at large.

In light of this task, I am surprised at Rigg’s initial criticism that I constructed a straw-man in my portrayal of the crisis of the imagination. In my first chapter, I do not suggest as she says, that all pre- and non-Pentecostal theology has been dominated by rationality. In fact, I outline five alternating cycles of historical developments in which sometimes reason, sometimes the imagination persevere. She faults this description for not including certain other, non-Western, non-industrial sources, many of which are treated more thoroughly than I could have achieved in the extensive literature I cite.25 However, at the end of the day, I do not think that including those other traditions would have changed the portrayal of the up and down of the imagination in the history of Christian thought in any substantive manner. What I would emphasize from my argument at the beginning of the book is the fact that we are currently in a phase of suppressing the imagination even if, as Riggs has pointed out correctly, it is dominant in Scripture and many periods of Christian history. Her criticism is even more surprising since she does not make use of the details of my analysis of the doctrinal, ritual, ecclesial, and cultural issues that support my claims in the subsequent chapters, especially my treatment of inculturation which she rightfully sees at the center of debate in African Christianity.26 My use of Pentecostalism remains realistic, since even classical Pentecostalism (as I show in the final chapter) has succumbed to a performance-oriented pursuit of the theological task. In that sense, I find Rigg’s critique to confirm my own thoughts.

Her portrayal of African Traditional Religion as overwhelmingly performative would indicate to me that the performance-trap I have lamented in Christianity is present also in other religions. It is an aspect I have highlighted in my treatment of rituals, but which goes beyond the scope of the book. The fact that she can describe a worship service by interpreting its playful aspects in the terms of instrumentality and efficacy bears witness to the pervasive nature of performance. This tendency is particularly evident in the industrial world of the West, but as Riggs has suggested, it exists in Africa not only because of the import of colonial Christian forces but as indigenous to African traditional religion. It is at this point that I would locate the challenges and opportunities of engaging the resources of global Pentecostalism in terms of play.

In his review of the book, Dennis Doyle picks up on this intention and highlights what he calls a paradox. Play, to paraphrase Seneca, is serious business. Or as others have put it, play is actually hard work. This paradox is important because it helps clarify the point I wish to make that the concept of play is often misunderstood. Play is seen as immature and not serious, an ambiguous and even frivolous behavior that contradicts orthodox theological sensibilities. Seemingly affirming this fact, Huizinga’s play-theory calls play deliberately "not serious," but at the same time describes it as "absorbing a person intensely and utterly."27 Play, in fact, as Piaget and others have pointed out, gets closely and permanently to the heart of what it means to be seriously human.28 If play is serious, then it is so in the sense of being able to fascinate the human being in the most fundamental manner.29 The paradox that play is serious work functions because play has been artificially separated from work. But as I suggest, Pentecostalism offers various opportunities to repossess the character of work in the play of the people. I would find reflected in Pentecostalism what de Lubac has called paradox and mystery,30 and I call it "play," not because it sounds better but because it contrast more explicitly with the performative, productive, utilitarian mindset of the late modern world.

Doyle also picks up on my use of the term "playground." It is a useful, but somewhat unfortunate term. When we use it, we tend to speak of the Catholic playground, or the Pentecostal playground, or the Wesleyan playground, thereby distinguishing our terrain, our community, and our manner of play. For that reason I speak of Pentecostalism as a movement that enlarges the playground. I would have preferred to speak of the world at large, or life itself, as the playground in which Christians find themselves theologically, but that would be to misconstrue the reality of work that still dominates the theological mentality. Theology and its structures, I would agree with Doyle, is a gift to preserve the unity of the church. But it ceases to function as a gift if it serves to demarcate different playgrounds in which we play by different rules.31 Theology then becomes competitive, a game, not play. If you invite a Pentecostal over to your playground to play, you better be prepared that the rules may be changed, the structures loosened, the playground enlarged. The object of this play is to invite all, to include all traditions in a play that is not constituted by one tradition, that is neither typically Catholic, nor clearly Reformed, Lutheran, Wesleyan, Anglican, or Pentecostal.32 Pentecostalism, I would say, is simply the most curious theological movement at this time. Curiosity is a gift Pentecostals bring to the playground.

It is the modest goal of Beyond Pentecostalism to arouse curiosity in a constructive, ecumenical, and stimulating, in short, playful manner. The engagement my book has received from this panel is essential for the prosecution of the larger project that is only begun with this work: the renewal of the theological agenda and the integration of Pentecostalism in global Christianity. The reviews of Beyond Pentecostalism serve as important reminders that this task cannot be carried out from one perspective or context but requires the knowledge and experience of the diversity of Christian voices. In this sense, I hope to have added one small voice to illuminate the complexities of the contemporary situation. I want to conclude by inviting all of you, the reviewers of my book and who else may be inclined to read it, to this joint task of understanding and formulating the challenges and opportunities of global Christianity beyond Pentecostalism.

Dr. Wolfgang Vondey

Regent University


* * *


1. Philip Jenkins, The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity, rev. ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007), 9.

2. Timothy C. Tennent, Theology in the Context of World Christianity (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2007), 49. Tennent’s comment occurs in a chapter on Islam, but equally applies to other global religious movements he discusses such as Pentecostalism.

3. Wolfgang Vondey, Beyond Pentecostalism: The Crisis of Global Christianity and the Renewal of the Theological Agenda (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010).

4. A similar proposal is found in three recent edited volumes: William J. Abraham, Jason E. Vickers, and Natalie E. Van Kirk, eds., Canonical Theism: A Proposal for Theology and the Church (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008), Timothy George, ed., God the Holy Trinity: Reflections on Christian Faith and Practice (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2006), and Christopher R. Seitz, ed. Nicene Christianity: The Future for a New Ecumenism (Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2001).

5. Wolfgang Vondey, Beyond Pentecostalism: The Crisis of Global Christianity and the Renewal of the Theological Agenda (Grand Rapids, MI and Cambridge, UK: Eerdmans, 2010).

6. Hans Belting, The Image and Its Public in the Middle Ages: Form and Function of Early Paintings of the Passion, trans. Mark Bartusius and Raymond Meyer (New Rochelle, NY: Aristide D. Caratzas, 1990) and Likeness and Presence: A History of the Image before the Era of Art, trans. Edmund Jephcott (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1994).

7. John S. Mbiti, Introduction to African Religion, 2nd rev. ed. (Nairobi: East African Educational Publishers, 1987), 87.

8. John Baur, 2000 Years of Christianity in Africa; An African Church History, 2nd rev. ed. (Nairobi: Paulines Publications, 2005), 517.

9. Henri de Lubac discusses the image of the church as mother in several of his ecclesiological works. See the story that Hans Küng tells about de Lubac standing in the back of a talk Küng had given in St. Peter’s in Rome during the time of the Second Vatican Council, at the end of which de Lubac said: "One doesn’t talk like that about the church. Elle is quand-même notre mère; after all, she’s our mother!" In Christianity: Essence, History, and Future, trans. by John Bowden ((New York: Continuum, 1995 [German orig. 1994]) 4.

10. See Doris Donnelly, Adelbert Denaux, and Joseph Famerée, eds., The Holy Spirit, the Church, and Christian Unit: Proceedings of the Conference Held at the Monastery of Bose, Italy, 14-20 October, 2002 (Leuven: Leuven University Press, 2005).

11. "Wesley’s Methodist Movement: What Might It Have to Offer to Contemporary Roman Catholics?" in Via Media Philosophy: Holiness Unto Truth: Intersections between Wesleyan and Roman Catholic Voices, ed. L. Bryan Williams (Newcastle upon Tyne, England: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 159-69.

12. For a discussion of "full communion," see Jeffrey Gros, "The Requirements and Challenges of Full Communion," Journal of Ecumenical Studies 42 (Spring 2007) 217-42.

13. I Believe in the Holy Spirit, 3 vols. trans. David Smith (New York: Seabury; London: Geoffrey Chapman, 1983 [French orig. 1979, 1980]).

14. Richard R. Gaillardetz, Ecclesiology for a Global Church: A People Called and Sent (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis, 2008) 114.

15. Francis A. Sullivan, From Apostles to Bishops: The Development of the Episcopacy in the Early Church (New York: Newman Press, 2001) 223-30.

16. See Hans Schwarz, Theology in a Global Context: The Last Two Hundred Years (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005); Amos Yong, The Spirit Poured Out on All Flesh: Pentecostalism and the Possibility of Global Theology (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2005); Robert J. Schreiter, The New Catholicity: Theology between the Global and the Local (Maryknoll: Orbis, 2000); William A. Dyrness, ed., Emerging Voices in Global Christian Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994).

17. See Jean-Jacques Suurmond, Word and Spirit at Play: Towards a Charismatic Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994).

18. See Michel S. Koppel, Open-Hearted Ministry: Play as Key to Pastoral Leadership (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2008); Thomas Klie, Zeichen und Spiel: Semiotische und spieltheoretische Rekonstruktion der Pastoraltheology, Praktische Theologie und Kultur 11 (Gütersloh: Christian Kaiser, 2003); Robert K. Johnston, The Christian at Play (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1983); James V. Schall, Far Too Easily Pleased: A Theology of Play, Contemplation and Festivity (Beverly Hills: Benziger, 1976); Jürgen Moltmann, Theology of Play, trans. Reinhard Ulrich (New York: Harper & Row, 1972); David L. Miller, Gods and Games: Toward a Theology of Play (New York: World Publishing Co., 1970); Harvey Cox, The Feast of Fools: A Theological Essay on Festivity and Fantasy (New York: Harper & Row, 1969).

19. Wolfgang Vondey, Beyond Pentecostalism: The Crisis of Global Christianity and the Renewal of the Theological Agenda (Pentecostal Manifestos; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010), 172–82.

20. See David Martin, Pentecostalism: The World Their Parrish (Oxford: Blackwell, 2002); Allan H. Anderson and Walter J. Hollenweger, eds., Pentecostals after a Century: Global Perspectives on a Movement in Transition, JPTS 15 (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic, 1999); Murray W. Dempster et al., eds., The Globalization of Pentecostalism: A Religion Made to Travel (Oxford: Regnum Books International, 1999); Walter J. Hollenweger, Pentecostalism: Origins and Developments Worldwide (Peabody: Hendrickson: 1997).

21. See Wolfgang Vondey and Chris W. Green, "Between This and That: Reality and Sacramentality in the Pentecostal Worldview," Journal of Pentecostal Theology 19, no. 2 (2010): 243–64; Wolfgang Vondey, "Pentecostal Ecclesiology and Eucharistic Hospitality: Toward a Systematic and Ecumenical Account of the Church," Pneuma. Journal of the Society for Pentecostal Studies 32, no. 1 (2010): 41–55; idem, People of Bread: Rediscovering Ecclesiology (New York: Paulist Press, 2008), 141-94.

22. Cf. Estrelda Y. Alexander, "Liturgy in Non-Liturgical Holiness-Pentecostalism," Wesleyan Theological Journal 32, no. 3 (1997): 158–93; Bobby C. Alexander, Victor Turner Revisited: Ritual as Social Change, AAR Academy Series 74 (Atlanta: Scholars, 1991); idem, "Pentecostal Ritual Reconsidered: Anti-Structural Dimensions of Possession," Journal of Religious Studies 3, no. 1 (1989): 109–28.

23. For an example, see Wolfgang Vondey, "New Evangelization and Liturgical Praxis in the Roman Catholic Church," Studia Liturgica 36, no. 2 (2006): 231–52.

24. Victor Turner, The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-Structure (Chicago: Aldine, 1969), 94–97.

25. See, for example, Douglas Hedley, Living Forms of the Imagination (London: T&T Clark, 2008); Garrett Green, Theology, Hermeneutics, and Imagination: The Crisis of Interpretation at the End of Modernity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000); John Llewelyn, The Hypocritical Imagination: Between Kant and Levinas (London: Routledge, 2000); J. M. Cocking, Imagination: A Study in the History of Ideas, ed. Penelope Murray (London: Routledge, 1991); Garrett Green, Imagining God: Theology and the Religious Imagination (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989); Richard Kearney, The Wake of Imagination: Toward a Postmodern Culture (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1988).

26. See J. Kwabena Asamoah-Gyadu, African Charismatics: Current Developments within Independent Indigenous Pentecostalism in Ghana (Leiden: Brill, 2005); Paul Gifford, Ghana's New Christianity: Pentecostalism in a Globalising African Economy (London: Hurst & Co., 2004); Jeffrey S. Hittenberger, "Globalization, ‘Marketization,’ and the Mission of Pentecostal Higher Education in Africa," Pneuma: The Journal of the Society for Pentecostal Studies 26, no. 2 (2004): 182–215; Allan H. Anderson, African Reformation: African Initiated Christianity in the 20th Century (Trenton: Africa World, 2001); Ogbu Kalu, "The Third Response: Pentecostalism and the Reconstruction of Church Experience in Africa, 1970-1995," Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae 24, no. 2 (1998): 1–34.

27. Johan Huizinga, Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play-Element in Culture (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1949), 13.

28. See Jean Piaget, Play, Dreams and Imitation in Childhood, trans. C. Cattegno and F. M. Hodgson, The International Library of Psychology 25 (London: Routledge, 1951; repr. 2000); Eugen Fink, Spiel als Weltsymbol (Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 1960); Hugo Rahner, Man at Play (New York: Herder and Herder, 1967); Brian Sutton-Smith, The Ambiguity of Play (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1997).

29. Cf. Wolfgang Vondey, "Christian Enthusiasm: Can the Olympic Flame Kindle the Fire of Christianity?" Word & World 23, no. 3 (2003): 312–20.

30. Henri de Lubac, The Church: Paradox and Mystery, trans. James R. Dunne (New York: Alba House, 1969).

31. See my assessment "Denominations in Classical and Global Pentecostalism: A Historical and Theological Contribution, " in Denomination: Assessing and Ecclesiological Category, ed. Paul M. Collins and Barry Ensign-George (Ecclesiological Investigations; New York: Continuum, 2010), 178–92 and the essays in Wolfgang Vondey (ed.), Pentecostalism and Christian Unity: Ecumenical Essays and Critical Assessments (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2010).

32. Cf. Wolfgang Vondey, "Pentecostal Perspectives on The Nature and Mission of the Church: Challenges and Opportunities for Ecumenical Transformation," in The Nature and Mission of the Church: Ecclesial Reality and Ecumenical Horizons for the Twenty-First Century, eds. Paul M. Collins and Michael A. Fahey (Ecclesiological Investigations; New York: Continuum, 2008), 55–68; Wolfgang Vondey, "Presuppositions for Pentecostal Engagement in Ecumenical Dialogue." Exchange: Journal for Missiological and Ecumenical Research 30, no. 4 (2001): 344–58.