Academic journal article Theological Studies

From Pentecost to the Triune God

Academic journal article Theological Studies

From Pentecost to the Triune God

Article excerpt

From Pentecost to the Triune God. By Steven M. Studebaker. Grand Rapids, Ml: Eerdmans, 2012. Pp x + 281. $34.

Studebaker, a Pentecostal Christian, believes he should not be satisfied to leave his personal experience of the Spirit and that of his fellow Pentecostals something to be quiet about but something to theologize about. And he does the latter well. His main interest is to articulate a trinitarian theology of the Spirit for his fellow Pentecostals. But he also hopes that his work will "reflect a tongue of the Spirit" for "the wider family of Christian theology."

His book is the sixth in a series entitled "The Pentecostal Manifestos" written by scholars who are connecting the longer tradition of theological scholarship with their own younger tradition. The whole series is evidence of a Pentecostal scholarship coming of age and contributing to older Christian traditions.

S. describes how much he has learned from Catholic theology, primarily at Marquette University where he wrote his dissertation under the direction of David Coffey. Where he differs from Coffey is interesting, and where he goes off on tangents of his own is even more interesting.

First, his connection with Coffey. It has to do with the entelechy or the basic orientation and drive of the Spirit. Both authors address the subject. Coffey sees it as christological. "The Spirit's orientation--entelechy--to the Son is primary in the Spirit's personal identity" (255). S. differs: "The motivating dynamism of the Spirit is not the Son but the communion of the Trinity. The Spirit's identity and work is always oriented to constituting the fullness of the triune God" (256). "The Spirit completes the economic work of redemption and the immanent fellowship of the Trinitarian God" (9). It is not clear to me how one of the divine Persons can be seen as constituting the fullness of the Trinity or completing the immanent fellowship of the trinitarian God. It seems that since the Trinity is constituted by three Persons, each completes the other two.

S. attributes his tension with the more classical tradition of trinitarian theology to his experience (and, by extension, to Pentecostalism's experience) of the Spirit. S.'s complaint with the usual manner of construing the Trinity through the processions leaves the Spirit too passive and derivative. The role given to the Father as well as the mutual love between Father and Son leaves the Spirit as an add-on rather than as "contributing to the constitution of their personal identities" or "completing" their immanent "fellowship. …

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