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Taking the Doctrine of God Off the Table

Taking the Doctrine of God Off the Table

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Published by Jason Oliver Evans

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Published by: Jason Oliver Evans on Dec 28, 2011
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 Taking the Doctrine of God off the Table: A Necessary Theological DialogueBetween Black Oneness and Trinitarian PentecostalsByJason Oliver EvansSubmitted in Partial FulfillmentPAR 399Directed Study: Pentecostal TheologyWilliam C. Turner, Jr.Duke University Divinity SchoolDecember 19, 2011
 
2IntroductionOne day a cousin of mine invited me to attend Mount Airy Church of God in Christ
(COGIC) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for a special ―Holy Ghost Revival.‖ The guest
evangelist was the acclaimed pastor and televangelist Bishop Noel Jones, Senior Pastor of Cityof Refuge Church of Gardena, California. Having heard and benefited richly from the preaching
of Bishop Jones, I accepted my cousin‘s invitation. The sanctuary
was packed to the rafters forthis holy occasion. The Mount Airy COGIC Mass Choir sang the praises of God. Voices filledthe sanctuary as the Bishop Ernest C. Morris, Sr., Senior Pastor of Mount Airy COGIC, ledBishop Jones to sit in the pulpit. After Bishop Morris introduced the speaker of the hour and theselection from the choir, Bishop Jones rose to his feet to stand behind the sacred desk. With akeen intellect and passionate love for the Christian Scriptures, Jones preached a powerful sermonthat
set the whole house on fire!
 One of the most amazing things about that evening was the theological diversitypresented within the sanctuary. Many came from around the city to hear Bishop Jones preach.Pentecostals, Apostolics, Baptists, Methodists, and non-denominational Christians filled Mount
Airy‘s sanctuary to hear the Word of God. The question of each others‘ theological orthodoxies
 was tabled. Each member of these traditions left the sanctuary with their convictions regardingthe nature of God unchallenged.
The question of one‘s theologic
al orthodoxies was set on thetable. On that fall evening, every one of us, children of the African Diaspora, came to be blessedby the presence of the Spirit through the preaching of his brother.
The ―issue‖
which was set onthe table that evening is for many Christians, both Oneness and Pentecostal, is the central
theological
issue
1
which caused the whole Pentecostal movement to split nearly a century ago,
1
Race also posed a central theological problem for Pentecostals, as it did for all Christians living in theUnited States in the turn of the twentieth century.
 
3namely, the doctrine concerning the nature of the Godhead. In another way, the issue is three-fold: 1) the baptismal formula for Christian initiation, 2) the nature of the Godhead, and 3) thenature of Spirit baptism. The nature of the Godhead is the chief cornerstone which holds the firstand third issues together
, for how both parties understand God‘s nature are directly correlated
totheir understanding of the Name in which sinners are baptized as
members of Christ‘s church
and the work of the Spirit in salvation.The cordial relationship between Black Apostolics and Trinitarian Pentecostals (withother black Christians) pose theological problems for those within and outside of the largerPentecostal movement.
2
For many Christians, the trinitarian dogma of the historic Christianfaith is a non-negotiable issue. The doctrine of the Trinity is the central dogma of whichdistinguishes orthodox Christianity from other monotheistic traditions, namely Judaism andIslam. When orthodox Christians confess their belief in one God, they mean, Father, Son, andHoly Spirit.
3
Christians confess the mystery of the one God who exists from eternity in three co-equal, co-eternal consubstantial hypostases or persons. The earliest Christians experienced thisone God in their worship of the risen Jesus. However, the language which the church fathers andmothers bequeathed to the Church took centuries to develop. For nearly five centuries bishop-theologians engaged in painstaking theological debates to articulate the mystery of the one Godrevealed in the incarnate Son Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. The Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed (381) remains the chief ecumenical creed of Orthodox, Catholic, andProtestant communions. The Creed summarizes
the Church‘s
confession of the great Mystery.
2
 
This ―cordial‖ relationship has not always been the case, as we will discuss further in the section ―the New Issue‖.
3
Following Gregory of Nazianzus,
Oration
38.8; 45.4: ―When I say God, I mean Father, Son, and HolySpirit.‖

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