Roger Stronstad - Forty Years on an Appreeiation and Assessment o FBaptism in the Holy Spirit by James D.G. Dunn | Baptism With The Holy Spirit | Pentecostalism

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Journal of Pentecostal Theology 19 (2010) 3—11 - Brill
  PENT  Journal of  Pentecostal Theology 19 (2010) 3—11 BRILL Forty Years On: An Appreeiation and Assessment   o  fBaptism in the Holy spirit   by James D.G. Dunn Roger Stronstad* P.O. Box 1700, Abbotsford, B.c., V2S 7E7, Canada Abstract  Baptism in the Holy spirit   by James D.G. Dunn was noteworthy for its challenge to the inter-  pretation of Luke’s data about the Holy Spirit by the Pentecostal Movement of the twentieth century. The following response to Dunn’s book focuses on Part Two of Dunn’s now classic study. In these chapters Dunn interprets Luke’s primary data about the baptism in the Holy Spirit to be about om^erriominitiation. In contrast to Dunn’s conversion-initiation interpreta- tion Pentecostals interpret Luke’s data about Spirit-baptism to be about Christian vocation; i.e., commissioning-empowerment. This understanding of Luke’s theology about Spirit-baptism is reinforced by his antecedent spiritual state motif whereby everyone who receives the Holy Spirit —from Zacharias to the Ephesian twelve —is first described as being either righteous or a  believer.KeywordsJames D.G. Dunn, Baptism in the Holy Spirit, Pentecostal theology, charismata, soteriology, Pentecostalism, Holy Spirit The year 1970 was a landmark in the ^mplementary fields of Lukan and Holy Spirit studies. For example, that year saw the publication of L· Howard Marshall’s book,  Luke: Historian and Theologian.  In addition, monographs  by Frederick Dale Brunner (A Theology of the Holy spirit)  and James D.G. Dunn {Baptism in the Holy spirit)  rolled off the presses, ^ese three books had an immediate and an enduring impact and they set the agenda for Lukan/ Holy Spirit studies throughout the following decades. But not all books are * Roger Stronstad (MCS, Regent College; DD, Christian Bible College) is Associate Professor of Bible and Geology, Summit Pacific College, Abbotsford, B.C., Canada. DOI 10.1163/174552510X490674Koninklijke Brill NV, L€   d€n, 2010   R. Stronstad /  Journal of  Pentecostal Theology 19 (2010) 3—11 4created equal, and, in time, Dunns  Baptism in the Holy spirit   established itself among many Christians as the most significant exposition of the Holy spirit in Luke-Acts. In time Dunn would shift his academic pursuits away from Holy Spirit studies and others, such as M.M.B. Turner, would take up his mantle. But though  Baptism in the Holy spirit   was and remains widely acclaimed, and also remains essential reading in its field, many ?entecostals continue to find its exposition of the data about the Holy spirit in Luke-Acts to be unconvincing, ^us Dunns  Baptism  is fully deserving of appreciation and, in some minds, merits significant criticism. following comments are, by assignment, limited to Part Tvo of Dunns now classic study. 1. Appreciati©n When it was published Dunns  Baptism in the Holy spirit   quickly won wide- spread approval and over time achieved canonical status as the definitive study on the Holy spirit in Luke-Acts. Dunns  Baptism  excels as an exact, detailed and comprehensive investigation of Lukes five traditional ‘baptized in the Holy Spirit’ texts (Acts 2, 8, 9, 10, 19). It is also important for its sound, explicit methodological strategy, namely, the twofold commitment: 1) to a  biblical theology approach to the data, and 2) the complementary commit- ment to respecting the integrity of Luke’s theological independence (Dunn, 1970, p. 139). It is therefore important because it established the parameters for the ongoing discussion about Spirit-baptism by Pentecostals and non- Pentecostal.   alike over the next four decades. 2. Baptism in the Holy Spirit ؛  Two Views In  Baptism in the Holy spirit   Dunn writes as an exegete and theologian of the data in Luke-Acts and also as a polemicist against Roman Catholic and Pentecostal interpretations of Luke’s data about the spirit (Dunn, 1970,  p. 140). He interprets Luke’s primary data about Spirit-baptism to be about conversion-initiation. He also interprets Luke’s data according to Paul’s per- spectives (specifically, Rom. 8.9 and 1 Cor. 12.13), or according to Old Testament prophecies about inward renewal (specifically Isa. 32.15; Ezek. 37.4-14). Consequently, he argues vigorously against the Pentecostal inter-  pretation that being baptized in the spirit is about Christian vocation - specifically, about commissioning and/or empowerment. The following discussion briefly summarizes the two views.   R. Stronstad /Journal ofPentecostal Theology 19 (2010) 3—11   5 2.1. Dunn:   ٠  Baptism in the Holy spirit’ Identifies Conversion-Initiation In part two of his book Dunn insists on a inversion-initiation reading of the Spirit-baptism narratives in the Acts of the Apostles. In his chapter, ‘The Miracle of ?entecost’, Dunn concludes that ?entecost is of epochal signifi- cance in the whole course of salvation-history (p. 53). while he concedes that, ‘?entecostals are quite right to emphasize that Pentecost was an experi- ence of empowering (Luke 24.49 ت Acts 1.8)’, he nevertheless insists that they (and others), are quite wrong in making Pentecost only and primarily an experience of empowering’ (p. 54). Dunn continues to insist: On the con- trary, the Baptism in the spirit, as always, is primarily initiatory, and only secondarily an empowering’ (p. 54). Dunn’s conclusion that the Baptism in the Spirit is about conversion-initiation, controls his exposition of all subse- quent episodes of Spirit-baptism in Acts.In his chapter, ‘   Riddle of Samaria, Dunn examines, ‘The Phrases used  by Luke to Describe the Coming of the spirit in Acts’ (Dunn, 1970, p. 70). ^ese include: a) to baptize in the Holy spirit (Acts 1.5; 11.16), b) the Holy Spirit comes upon (Acts 1.8; 19.6), c) to be filled with the Holy spirit (Acts 2.4; 4.8, 31; 9.17; 13.9, 52), d) the Holy spirit is poured out (Acts 2.17, 18, 33; 10.45), e) to receive the Holy spirit (Acts 2.38; 8.15, 17, 19; 10.47; 19.2), f) the gift of the Holy spirit (Acts 11.17; 15.8) and g) the Holy spirit falls upon (Acts 8.16; 10.44; 11.15). Based on his analysis of this data Dunn con- eludes, ‘that in the 23 instances in question these 7 different phrases describe not   different operations or experiences of the spirit ... but rather different aspects  of the  same  operation and experience - the first initiating, i.e., baptiz- ing work of the spirit’ (Dunn, 1970, P.72). Surely his conclusion in incorrect, ff it is correct then Peter and }ohn, for example, experienced three separate ‘initiating, baptizing works of the spirit’ (Acts 2.4; 4.8, 31). In the same way, over a period of several years Paul also experienced three separate ‘initiating,  baptizing works of the spirit’ (Acts 9.17; 13.9, 52). But, as James Barr has demonstrated, though an event may be described by ‘a and ‘b’ this does not mean that ‘b’ means the same as ‘a (Barr, 1961, p. 217).To Dunn, Luke’s data about the Samaritan believers poses a riddle. The rid- die at Samaria is that believers do not receive the Holy spirit at conversion,  but receive the spirit later. But, according to Dunn, this can’t be, because receiving the spirit is what makes a ‘man’ a Christian, ^erefore, Dunn exe- getes Luke’s Samaritan narrative to show that the believers at Samaria had deficient faith. In fact, they didn’t become Christians until they received the Spirit. Similarly, earlier Jesus’ disciples, including the apostles, only became Christians when the spirit was poured out on them on the day of Pentecost.   R. Stronstad /  Journal of  Pentecostal Theology 19 (2010) 3—11 6For Dunn, Lukes examples of‘disciples’ and ‘believers’ receiving the Holy Spirit are all ‘unusual instances’. Having exegeted all five of these ‘unusual instances’ according to a conversion-initiation paradigm (chapters IV-VfII) he concludes: Men can have been for a long time in Jesus’ company, can have made profession of faith and been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus, can be wholly ‘clean’and acceptable to God, even can be disciples, and yet not be Christians, because they lack and until they receive the Holy spirit (  Baptism , p. 93). Later in this chapter, ‘Cnver^on-initiation in the Acts of the Apostles’ he explains. For Luke the relationship between faith and the spirit can be expressed simply thus: in conversion one believes, commits oneself to Christ, and receives the Spirit from Christ. Man’s act of conversion is to repent, to mm and to believe; God’s act is to give the spirit to man on believing (Acts 2.38; 11.17; 19.2) (  Baptism , p. 96). Whatever merit the above statements may have as a synthesis of diverse data in the New Testament, most Pentecostals insist that it is a misreading ofLuke’s data. To Pentecostals there is a better, more natural way than Dunn’s to read Luke’s Holy spirit narratives, ^is better way is to read Luke’s data about being baptized in tbe Holy spirit by a vocational or commissioning- empowerment paradigm. 2.2. Pentecostals: Being Baptized in the Holy spirit’Results   in Commissioning-empowerment  For about three quarters of a century before Dunn’s book,  Baptism in the Holy   Spirit  , there had existed a minority evangelical group, whose roots lay in the nineteenth century Wesleyan, Holiness and Revivalist movements, and who interpreted Spirit-baptism differently than Dunn did. ^is was the burgeon- ing Pentecostal movement. How did Dunn’s challenge to Pentecostal pneu- matology affect this group? In one sense, it didn’t affect Pentecostalism at all. In another sense Dunn’s challenge forced Pentecostals to articulate a more sophisticated interpretation of Luke’s data about the ‘Baptism in the Holy Spirit’.Few Pentecostals have been convinced by Dunn’s conversion-initiation interpretation ofLuke’s data about being baptized in tbe Holy spirit because their own experience of being baptized in the spirit typically mirrors Luke’s reports of the early Christian examples of Spirit-baptism. Like those early
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