Like other Pentecostal scholars, James Smith highlights the anti-rationalist feature of Pentecostalism and stresses the priority of (faith) experiences. In his sketch of a Pentecostal contribution to epistemology, however, this stance leads to an ambiguous appreciation of the role of human reasoning in the process of knowing. I will address some consequences of this position and show that Blaise Pascal’s work provides clarification. Like Smith, Pascal gives priority to the heart, but rational and sensorial knowledge are both explicitly highly valued. The shared priority of the knowledge of the heart is the starting point to understand the possible contribution of Pascal to Smith’s Pentecostal quest for an adequate perspective on epistemology. I will argue that the most challenging points of Pascal’s possible contribution are the proper place of reasoning, the crucial function of willing and love, and the elaboration within a broader theological perspective.
This paper presents the results of a field research among Roman Catholic Charismatics and (Protestant) Pentecostals on their faith experiences, carried through in the region of Ecuador’s capital, Quito. The outcomes of this research sustain the thesis that there is substantial theological convergence between Roman Catholic Charismatic and Classical Pentecostal faith experiences that justifies the assumption of a shared theological identity. The joint theological characteristics and their interconnection facilitate a critical and fruitful dialogue between theology and social sciences on Latin American Pentecostalism.
Although US Pentecostalism has traditionally been characterized by unease towards science, due to socio-economic positioning and theological stances, Pentecostals like James Smith and others have recently launched a ‘fresh engagement with the sciences’. The feasibility of his proposal is discussed in this article. Based on the contributions of four Pentecostal participants in the research project “Science and Religion in French-speaking Africa,” the author argues that their perspectives are not coloured by naturalism, which according to Smith is one of the main limiting factors to traditional US Pentecostal engagement with science. Consequently certain expressions of African Pentecostalism would be open to Smith’s proposal. Nevertheless, the author argues that both the African and the US cultural contexts need to be taken into account more seriously. Such an approach reveals that in both contexts the possibilities for a fresh Pentecostal engagement with the sciences are more limited than Smith suggests.