Response: Green’s Review of RPE

(Note: As part of this research blog, I will take time every now and then to respond to reviews of my work as a way of interacting with reviewers and clarifying arguments.)

Chris Green of the Pentecostal Theological Seminary was kind enough recently to review RPE for Pneuma (see 35.1 [2013]: 108-109).  I was very happy to hear Green would be reviewing my work, not only because we share some theological affinities but also Green is one of the most exciting young theologians on the Pentecostal scene today in that his constructive creativity coincides with his expansive awareness and interactivity with past and present voices. Such talent no doubt is one of the reasons why at such an early stage of his career he was asked to be one of the associate editors of the Journal of Pentecostal Theology.

I think Green captured much of my argument and was able to articulate it in fresh ways that made sense to me. I suppose I was aiming “to critique and alter the Pentecostal ethos,” at least as it currently is sustained within North American contexts, but doing so, at least for me, required moving to the ethical domain of inquiry (hence the title). And yes, my concerns largely were aimed at offering an account of Pentecostal existence that can be sustained within “ordinary time” and that calls for “a dramatic ecclesiological shift in Pentecostal imagination and praxis.” I am not sure I was able to express these aims so directly, but those were largely my concerns, and I am happy to note that Green could see and articulate them.

Finally, Green raises the issue of my focus on North American Pentecostalism and suggests that readers may be bothered by this. I appreciate Green taking time to show that my focus was not meant to reify or romanticize this context, but let me take the opportunity to make some additional claims. In this work, I didn’t want to be survey-esque, speaking of Pentecostalism expansively from the global perspective (which is an important part of Pentecostal/charismatic research today) since I believe a number of Pentecostalisms do exist and their categorization under a single heading is at the end of the day tenuous (and I realize that the title of this book may contribute to this state of affairs). But to make the kind of normative critiques and offerings that drove my argument in the first place, I needed to establish from the beginning a very particular location, and that one, obviously, had to be my own. If one of my aims was to show the inconsistencies and breakdowns of a tradition, then delimitation of the tradition in question had to be narrow. Ultimately, that is my justification of the scope.

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