Books: Romancing Pentecostalism

Romancing Pentecostalism: Clark Pinnock's theology of the Holy Spirit builds a bridge between divided communities within evangelicalism.

Flame of Love: A Theology of the Holy Spirit,by Clark H. Pinnock (InterVarsity, 280 pp.; $24.99, hardcover). Reviewed by Roger E. Olson, professor of theology at Bethel College in Minnesota and editor of the Christian Scholar's Review.

As a classical Pentecostal, I searched high and low for a theologian and a theology to bridge the gap between my own tradition/community and the wider evangelical world. I failed in my search, and that was one reason for my regretful departure from the warm, experiential—but often disappointingly anti-intellectual—tradition of my youth and my entry into non-Pentecostal evangelicalism. Throughout that transition and the years since I have encountered many kindred spirits whom I have come to call post-Pentecostal evangelicals.

We post-Pentecostals live with a perpetual sense of spiritual Sehnsucht, longing for the ecstatic "fire" of Pentecostal worship and devotion while at the same time finding ourselves unable to accept the Pentecostal doctrinal distinctive of speaking in tongues as the necessary sign of Holy Spirit fullness.

Clark Pinnock's Flame of Love is that bridge for which we searched. Its construction is from the evangelical side toward the Pentecostal side. How many classical Pentecostals will walk onto it? Of course, some classical Pentecostals have been working on their own bridges toward the traditional evangelical side in recent years. Among them are men and women like Russell Spittler, Gordon Fee, and Edith Blumhofer. But until Pinnock's volume, no systematic theology has appeared that synthesizes these two sides in a creative, coherent, and contemporary way. The bridge is now in place. How many non-Pentecostal evangelicals will venture to cross?

Some conservative evangelicals ...

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