I am currently reviewing a book by Wolfgang Vondey , Beyond Pentecostalism – to be released by Eerdmans in August. His chapter on Ecclesiology is inspiring me, and i thought i would share a brief quote. He notes that base communities (grassroots local churches):
- are meaningful and valuable … only if they function as cultural agents that are open to imagination, creativity, improvisation and change.
He is describing the way in which pentecostals develop a spiritual imagination that enables them to live in and speak to the cultures in which they find themselves. This gives rise to the diversity that constitutes Pentecostalism, from house churches to prayer communities to ‘family churches’ to the megachurch – all of which can be said to be following and imagining the move of the Spirit in their own context.
The danger of this spiritual imagination is syncretism, where the surrounding culture corrupts the values of the gospel. But the conservative response to this danger – dogmatism, traditionalism, institutional control – is wrong headed, since it destroys the very imaginative creative that is the fruit of the Spirit. The alternative is the need to affirm the place of spiritual discernment – to hold together the creativity of Pentecostal spirituality with the voice of the prophets (which might include theological prophets).