Pentecostal Hermeneutics: A Review Article -- By: Paul Elbert

Journal: Ashland Theological Journal
Volume: ATJ 38:0 (NA 2006)
Article: Pentecostal Hermeneutics: A Review Article
Author: Paul Elbert


Pentecostal Hermeneutics: A Review Article

Paul Elbert*

Kenneth J. Archer, A Pentecostal Hermeneutic for the Twenty-First Century: Spirit, Scripture and Community. Journal of Pentecostal Theology Supplement Series 28. London/New York: T & T Clark, 2004, xii + 219 pp., hardback, £40.00.

This book polishes a University of St. Andrews doctoral thesis supervised by Richard Bauckham, who observes that it provides “both an illuminating reading of the history of Pentecostal hermeneutics as well as an insightful proposal for the kind of Pentecostal hermeneutic that is appropriate to our contemporary context.” The argument, advanced in six well-articulated and understandable stages, is that in the development of the century-old movement there can be found an authentic Pentecostal hermeneutical approach which can be retrieved and reappropriated.

It is necessary first to define this revivalist, restorationist, gender-insensitive, and multi-racial movement from the perspective of its origins. Its growth involved a rejection of rationalistic excess and instead offered wholeness, healing, and a frame of reference for understanding human experience and ultimate spiritual concerns. A passion for the Kingdom of God arose from a reading of the biblical metanarrative and a passionate desire for unmediated experience with the heavenly Jesus and with the Holy Spirit. Archer rejects secular definitions of Pentecostalism provided by historians who appeal to social forces or to an evangelicalized or rationally sanitized rewriting of Pentecostal history. Instead, Pentecostalism originated and progressed due to the logical coherence of the Five/Four Fold Pentecostal message validated by supernatural signs amongst the community and in direct opposition to the predominate worldview of rationalistic, philosophical, and cessationistic presuppositions traditionally applied both to narrative and to epistolary discourse in the New Testament. To validate this definition Archer appeals directly to personal testimony of the participants, making no attempt either to make their testimony conform to contemporary secular models of reality or to pour modern historiographical odium upon it. This seems particularly appropriate, given the one hundred-year celebrations of the Azusa Street phenomenon (1906–2006) now underway in Los Angeles and throughout the world.1

Next, Archer elucidates the confrontational paradigm shift away from the dominant hermeneutical context of the early-nineteenth century, with both its intensive Enlightenment-oriented and dispensational thinking, toward an authentic Pentecostal hermeneutic. The Pentecostals said “yes” to both ...

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