Pentecostal ecclesiology is not something that most people think we have. A friend in a baptist seminary once (jokingly) suggested that Pentecostals do not even have any authentic ecclesiology. However, there is a lot of academic work in this area that has been coming out and one of them is Spirit Driven Church by Terje Hegertun.
The challenge facing much of the discussion is that we have not tried to define what even ecclesiology is. Some see it as just leadership structures; others see it as social constructs. However, the doctrine of the Church is much more than that. It is the people who assemble with a purpose. As such, the dialog is centered on what is the assembly is and what is the purpose of that assembly. In other words, ecclesiology is far less about government structures and far more about how people relate to each other in response to the goodness of God.
Terje Hegertun, a professor of Systematic Theology at MF Norwegian School of Theology ( Det Teologiske Menighetsfakultet ) in Oslo has given us another link to the discussion. Like many of my books (about half my library), this is written from a non-American view which produces a more robust global theology.
Sacraments meet Spiritual
The overall message of Spirit Driven Church is to bring the benefits of the traditional sacramental churches and use them to enhance the worship within the Charismatic and Pentecostal churches. The case is made that building on the historical values of worship will actually strengthen the experience of the Spirit among the people of God.
Hegertun takes two entire chapter to discuss the importance of the Church in relationship to God, brethren, and to the world.
The Church does not live for herself but exists in relation to God and the world by her service and missionary acts. (p. 108)
This is the development of the relationship with ecclesiology, pneumatology, and missiology. Being a people of God’s presence requires us to think through the implications of being a missionary people and how it interlinks with how we relate to each other. No branch of theology is an island to itself. All theology has a relationship with every other area of thought.
To this end, Terje Hegertun reaches back to many confessions and thinkers of the Reformed churches, baptizes their ideals with Holy Spirit fire and what remains is useful for the development of deeper and more robust thought about the relationship with each other for the cause of Christ.
To be clear, this book is not a “Let’s water down Pentecostalism to make the reformed people happy” book. It is based on the belief that we must have spiritual gifts flowing and in order to be the people of God’s presence, we have to have, well, God’s presence.
The idea is that we can see unity with our reformed brothers through the traditional sacraments that will enhance the move of the Spirit for a church deeply rooted in Identity. The missional element of the people gathering to the name of Christ will be stronger than ever from a full expression of the Ekklesia.
A word of Caution
However, this book is not for everyone. I found it to be overly theological and technical. It is academic work and that means it is not written for the average person. There are over 100 footnotes of other theologians in every chapter. The depth of inquiry is intense but this would leave many people overwhelmed. While I find this type of work very informative, a young believer without theological training might get lost in the doctrinal praxis of it.
If you are a bible college student, graduate, or seminary student; you will find this book well worth the process of development. As stated, I enjoy these types of work. Could it have been simplified? Yes. However, I am not sure doing so would have benefit the theological discussion presented.
The overview of many theologians in the book is something to consider. The “rabbit trails” you could take with quotes from people like James Dunn, Frank Macchia, Simon Chan, and Miroslav Volf are worth the growth of theological understanding in relationship to global theology. The bibliography is 15 pages which are not even all of the footnotes!
Therefore, if you are up for the challenge of the technical nature, you will be deeply enriched by the depth presented. However, consider yourself warned about the academic level of this volume. (I assume most readers of Spirit Driven Church will be seminary students so this should not be an issue!)
The importance of the communion of the saints is not something that you can just get from academic research but an understanding of it is something that grows in “wisdom and revelation” (Ephesians 1:17) Therefore, Spirit Driven Church is a great place to start in this pursuit.
Apostolic life and caritative praxis communicate the gospel as a living reality. (p. 274)
Living out the Book of Acts means that we walk in communion, the intimacy from the Lord with each other to expression the proclamation of hope found in our Lord, Jesus Christ. Being apostolic is relational just as much as it is doctrinal. Like many branches of theological discourse, the academic often disconnects from the practical. The ideals struggle to be fleshed out in day-to-day living as a community of faith.
For the pastor that wants to take what is presented in Spirit Driven Church and work it into the people of the assembly; a richness of communion of the saints (communio sanctorum) will manifest in the hearts of the saints. This is the ideal reader of this volume in my view. Taking this from academic belief into practical application is the purpose of this book ultimately. (and every other theological work)
Note: This book was provided to Open Heaven by the publisher for review. However, the review is unbiased and the thoughts, theological and otherwise, are not in response to a “free copy.” Theological and creative integrity remains over expectation from any gift.