Random musings

Church and Imagination

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).

About Author

Shane is an ethicist and theologian, Honorary Associate for the Centre of Disability Research and Policy, the University of Sydney, and Assistant Director, Policy, at the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation against People with Disability. Shane is proudly disabled, and an occasional blogger on


  • Craig Benno
    July 17, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    It seems that there is a danger within Pentecostalism that Theologians are viewed with suspicion and that within the movement truth / spirituality is measured on the preachers charismata and numbers that follow them.

  • Matt Anslow
    July 18, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    I agree with Craig.

    Shane – would love to talk/hear more about theological prophets.


  • craig bennett
    August 11, 2010 at 11:10 pm

    Hi Shane.
    Thought I would bump this up… been reading Brueggemann and he makes some interesting insights into the realm of theological prophets.

    One of the questions I would like to ask is how does / or will a theological prophet impact / get the message out into the greater christian community within a Pentecostal context? Perhaps I’m making a sweeping generalisation through my own experiential observation in that the majority of Pentecostals (pastors / congregation) are not interested in theological reflection so much as they are after an emotional experience or overly simplistic rendering of the “Bible says it, I believe it”


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