Kingdom Triangle – 2

In a previous post I mentioned that we recently completed the book Kingdom Triangle by J.P. Moreland. The triangle he is referring to is the Christian mind, the use of the spiritual disciplines in the life of the Christian, and the power of the Holy Spirit. He has an interesting chapter titled “Restoration of the Kingdom’s Miraculous Power” in which he discussed “Four Subgroups in the Christian Community.” These four subgroups are cessationist, open but cautious, Third Wave, and Pentecostal/charismatic. Here’s a brief description from Moreland (citing Wayne Grudem):

 

  • cessationist: there are no miraculous gifts today; gifts such as prophecy, healings, and tongues ceased with the death of teh apostles because their function of establishing the church was complete.
  • open but cautious: cessationist arguments fail; miraculous gifts are, indeed, possible today, but the teachings and practices associated with the current use of such gifts are unimpressive, frequently characterized by abuses, and not important for evangelism and discipleship compared to Bible study, obedience, and allegedly more traditional forms of spiritual growth.
  • Third Wave: all Christians are baptized by the Holy Spirit at conversion, subsequent fillings and anointings of the Spirit are acheved through yielding and faith; while the gifts of tongues is for today, tongues is not emphasized nor is it seen as evidence of the Spirit’s filling; miraculous gifts, especially those associated with healing, deliverance, and words of knowledge and prophecy, are important for the life of the church.
  • Pentecostal/charismatic: while these two groups are different in some ways, they may be collectively understood as accepting the current availablility of the miraculous gifts; they often hold to a baptism of the Holy Spirit subsequent to salvation and evidenced by speaking in tongues, and if they do not embrace such a second baptism, there is, in any case, greater emphasis on speaking in tongues than advocated by Third Wave believers. [p. 178]

For reflection: Do these four subgroups capture the range of theological positions on the topic? Which reflects your theological background/tradition?

Kingdom Triangle

We recently completed the book Kingdom Triangle by J.P. Moreland. The triangle he is referring to is the Christian mind, the use of the spiritual disciplines in the life of the Christian, and the power of the Holy Spirit. The closing chapter, which we discussed today, is titled “Restoration of the Kingdom’s Miraculous Power.” Moreland defines the Kingdom of God this way:

 

The Kingdom of God is primarily the reign, rule, or authority of God himself; secondarily, it is the realm in which that rule is directly exercised, consisting largely in the laws governing the natural world and, more importantly, the individual and collective hearts of those who have bowed to God’s rule. (p. 173)

 

Moreland talks openly about the challenges faced by Christian in the West who do not “see” the Kingdom of God or the miraculous or a place for the Holy Spirit. Yet he documents the tremendous growth of the church in Third World countries.

 

Some estimate that in 1970, there were around 71,000,000 born-again Christians with a vision to reach out to the entire world for Christ. By 2000, there were 707,000,000, roughly 11 percent of the earth’s population! Up until 1960, Western Evangelicals outnumbered non-Western Evangelicals by two to one, but by 2000 non-Westerners (mostly Latinos, Africans, and Asians) lead by four to one, and the figure will be seven to one by 2010. Today more missionaries are sent from non-Western than Western nations. At a church planting conference in 1998, representatives from Latin American countries set a staggering goal of planting 500,000 new churches by 2010 and – get this – progress up to 2005 indicates that the target will be reached! In fact, five nations have already reached their target goals and have set new ones! (p. 167)

 

The growth may be traced to many factors, but one that is often cited is the power of the gospel – not just in intellectual or cognitive assent to the person and work of Christ, but the miraculous occurrences associated with conversion in these settings. This is part of what Moreland wants the reader to think about, especially in the West, where we are “trained” or “socialized” not to “see” spiritual realities.

 

This is certainly the case in psychology, where current training models often move a person away from “seeing” through these lenses. And they are different lenses, different ways of knowing, different epistemologies. It is easy in psychology to conclude that the psychological lens is the correct or superior lens. It can be helpful to bring to mind other ways of knowing, other epistemologies, and to locate and identify the strengths and weaknesses of the ways of knowing you use daily, particularly in a profession dedicated to the welfare of others, including those who may view their own experiences through these other lenses.   

Integrative Approaches – 1

Our faculty often select a book to discuss together. You may recall that last year we read Kingdom Triangle by J.P. Moreland. This year we are reading Integrative Approaches to Psychology and Christianity by David Entwistle. Entwistle is Chair of the Psychology Department at Malone College in Canton, Ohio.

I met David Entwistle several years ago and had the opportunity in 2003 to present at Malone College. They hold an annual Worldview Forum, and that year the topic was the body. So I presented “What’s a body for? A Christian perspective on our physical existence.” This was in response to the other speaker, Chris Santilli, a hedonist and nudist (and author of Hedonism and Hedonism II), who presented a hedonic view of the body. It was an interesting trip to Ohio, I can assure you.

In any case, back to the book. The first chapter essentially challenges Tertullian’s rhetorical question, “What indeed has Athens to do with Jerusalem?” This is the claim that Christian faith is enough, that “human reason and biblical truth are essentially irreconcilable” [p. 11]. Entwistle’s conclusion is that one can be both a Christian and a psychologist, but that integration is best considered “as both a noun and a verb” [p. 19]. Integration is both discovered as something that already exists, and it is also “something we do as we create ways of thinking about, combining, and applying psychological and theological truths” [p. 19].