Beyond the Impasse: Toward a Pneumatological Theology of Religions

By Tennent, Timothy C. | International Bulletin of Missionary Research, October 2003 | Go to article overview
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Beyond the Impasse: Toward a Pneumatological Theology of Religions


Tennent, Timothy C., International Bulletin of Missionary Research


Beyond the Impasse: Toward a Pneumatological Theology of Religions. By Amos Yong. Grand Rapids: Baker; Carlisle, U.K.: Paternoster, 2003. Pp. 205. Paperback $17.99 / L11.

In Beyond the Impasse, Pentecostal scholar Amos Yong proposes a fresh methodological approach to a theology of religions that is more firmly rooted in pneumatology, thereby restoring a more explicitly Trinitarian framework to a discussion that has often been framed solely by Christological and soteriological considerations. The argument he proposes is as follows: For Christians to insist that a theology of religions be framed by Christological categories may position us quite well defensively to mute the claims of other religions, but it is less effective in a more offensive engagement that acknowledges that the particularity of the "Word made flesh" (John 1:14) must also be balanced by the universality of the "Spirit poured out on all flesh" (Acts 2:17). Yong is convinced that the inclusion of the Filioque by the Latin church has caused the West to subordinate the Spirit unduly to the Son, thereby weakening a full-orbed Trinitarianism and causing the West to be less inclined toward perceiving the Spirit's work in non-Christian faiths. In contrast, Yong invokes Irenaeus's metaphorical reference to the Son and the Spirit as the "two hands of the Father" (p. 43). Yong explores how we might discern how the "hand" of the Spirit may have extended God's presence and activity in non-Christian religions.

In the final analysis, the author's proposed thesis stands or falls on the basis of the development of a trustworthy set of criteria that can empower the church to discern the presence of the Holy Spirit versus the presence of demonic and destructive spirits that may be present in the life and thought of the adherents of non-Christian faiths.

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