Relational Empowerment

A Process-Relational Theology of the Spirit-Filled Life

in Pneuma
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This article comprises a reformulation of the pentecostal-charismatic notion of spiritual power from a process-relational theological perspective. The problem of power is investigated in terms of coercive and persuasive power, followed by a proposal concerning the role of love in persuasion over coercion. The notion of “relational empowerment” suggests that co-suffering and other-orientedness represent healthier perspectives on persuasive love than typical notions of raw empowerment for domination or control. The primacy of God’s responsive love while co-suffering with creation is central to this affirmation. A Spirit-filled life is proposed as one that fully and enthusiastically embraces the “other-oriented nature” of God’s persuasive love. Moreover, the use of power metaphors is critiqued and alternatives presented. Ultimately, it is argued that the unsurpassable power of such unconditional love must remind the world that “Christ is not Caesar.”

Pneuma

The Journal of the Society for Pentecostal Studies

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References

2

Charles Hartshorne, Omnipotence and Other Theological Mistakes (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1984), 19.

3

Alfred North Whitehead, Process and Reality (New York: Macmillan, 1929), 519.

9

Hartshorne, Omnipotence, 8.

11

Gabriel Salguero, “The Cross or Caesar? A Postcolonial Query,” in Relational Theology: A Contemporary Introduction, ed. Brint Montgomery, Thomas J. Oord, Karen Strand Winslow (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2012), 93–96, at 95.

15

John Cobb, “Why Are We Lukewarm?” 1990. Retrieved from http://www.religion-online.org/showarticle.asp?title=293.

16

Amos Yong, Discerning the Spirit(s): A Pentecostal-Charismatic Contribution to Christian Theology of Religions (New York: Continuum International Publishing Group, 2000), 154.

19

Hartshorne, Omnipotence, 11.

20

John D. Caputo, The Weakness of God: A Theology of the Event (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2006).

22

Hartshorne, Omnipotence, 12.

23

Ibid., 17.

24

Thomas Jay Oord, “A Process-Wesleyan Theodicy: Freedom, Embodiment, and the Almighty God,” in Thy Nature and Thy Name is Love: Wesleyan and Process Theologies in Dialogue, ed. Bryan P. Stone and Thomas Jay Oord (Nashville: Kingswood Books, 2001), 192–216.

25

Oord, “Theodicy,” 211.

26

Ibid., 199–200.

27

Ibid., 205.

30

Hartshorne, Omnipotence, 10.

32

Hartshorne, Omnipotence, 59.

33

Ibid., 71.

35

Robert Mesle, Process Theology: A Basic Introduction (St. Louis: Chalice Press, 1993), 15.

36

Hartshorne, Omnipotence, 14.

37

Thomas J. Oord, “What is Relational Theology?” in Relational Theology: A Contemporary Introduction, ed. Brint Montgomery, Thomas J. Oord, and Karen Strand Winslow (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2012), 1–5, at 1.

38

Hartshorne, Omnipotence, 11.

39

Joshua D. Reichard, “Toward a Pentecostal Theology of Concursus,” Journal of Pentecostal Theology 22, no. 1 (2013): 96–115.

40

Thomas J. Oord, The Nature of Love: A Theology (St. Louis: Chalice Press, 2010).

41

John B. Cobb, Jr., The Process Perspective: Frequently Asked Questions About Process Theology (St. Louis: Chalice Press, 2003), 82.

42

Thomas J. Oord, “Relational Love,” in Relational Theology: A Contemporary Introduction, ed. Brint Montgomery, Thomas J. Oord, and Karen Strand Winslow (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2012), 24–27, at 24.

50

Hartshorne, Omnipotence, 14.

52

John B. Cobb, Jr., Resistance: The New Role of Progressive Christians (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2008), 160.

56

William Placher, Narratives of a Vulnerable God: Christ, Theology, and Scripture (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1994). Placher notes the tension between biblical narratives favoring the poor and oppressed and the perennial use of the Bible as an instrument of oppression; the reality of this tension is keenly felt by marginalized groups.

57

Hartshorne, Omnipotence, 69.

59

Barry L. Callen, “John Wesley and Relational Theology,” in Relational Theology: A Contemporary Introduction, ed. Brint Montgomery, Thomas J. Oord, and Karen Strand Winslow (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2012), 7–10, at 9.

60

Gordon D. Fee, “The Spirit, Power, and Weakness,” in God’s Empowering Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Letters of Paul (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson).

62

Menzies, Spirit and Power, 186–187.

65

Allan Anderson, Moya: The Holy Spirit in an African Context (Pretoria: University of South Africa Press, 1991), 100–104.

68

Anderson, Pentecostalism, 199.

69

Cheryl Bridges Johns, “Partners in Scandal: Wesleyan and Pentecostal Scholarship,” in The Spirit and the Mind: Essays in Informed Pentecostalism, ed. Terry L. Cross and Emerson B. Powery (New York, NY: University Press of America, 2000), 237–250, at 246.

70

Walter Hollenweger, “Geist und Materie,” Interkulturelle Theologie 3 (1988): 31–45; Frank Macchia, “Sighs Too Deep for Words,” Journal of Pentecostal Theology 1 (1992): 31–45, 61.

73

Rosemary Radford Reuther, Sexism and God-talk (Boston: Beacon, 1983), 122–123.

74

Anderson, Pentecostalism, 175.

84

Michael Welker, God the Spirit (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress Publishers, 2004), 241.

85

Simon Chan, Pentecostal Theology and the Christian Spiritual Tradition (London: Continuum, 2001), 105.

86

Macchia, Baptized, 149.

88

Amos Yong, “Relational Theology and the Holy Spirit,” in Relational Theology: A Contemporary Introduction, ed. Brint Montgomery, Thomas J. Oord, and Karen Strand Winslow (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2012), 18–20, at 20.

89

Welker, God the Spirit, 28.

90

Pinnock, Flame, 209–210.

91

Yong, Theology and Down Syndrome, 250.

92

Yong, Spirit of Love, 149.

94

Frank Macchia, “Pentecost as the Power of the Cross: The Witness of Seymour and Durham,” Pneuma 30, no. 1 (2008): 1–3.

95

Blair Reynolds, Toward a Process Pneumatology (Selinsgrove: Susquehanna University Press, 1990).

96

Macchia, Baptized, 168.

97

Yong, Theology and Down Syndrome, 187.

101

Alfred North Whitehead, Process and Reality: Corrected Edition (New York: The Free Press, 1979), 343.

102

Whitehead, Process, 343.

104

Yong, Spirit of Love, 91.

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