Most Pentecostals accept and proclaim that God answers petitionary prayers of believers for prayer, whether for themselves or someone else, based on the clear evidence found in biblical texts. Their worship services regularly contain testimonies of believers or about believers whose prayers were miraculously answered. However, to what extent is it true that their prayers are answered, and how probable it is that it can be proven as the outcome of prayer if their desire is granted? Is their belief in answered petitionary prayer justified? Or should they rather stay agnostic about answered prayers? The article uses grammatical-historical exegesis to consider biblical evidence and published empirical research reports related to healing in response to prayer before Pentecostal hermeneutics is used to reconsider and formulate a classical Pentecostal viewpoint.
Classical Pentecostalism is traditionally regarded as a restorationist movement that justified its origins and explained its new practices as a continuation of the early church, as a work of the Spirit. For that reason, the gifts of the Spirit (charismata) were purportedly restored to the twentieth-century Pentecostal movement. Early Pentecostalism also claimed that they followed the early church in its hermeneutical prerogatives of reading the Bible through the lens of their charismatic practices. The article poses the question whether Pentecostalism in its restorationist urge should not reconsider its canon, since it differs from the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible used by the early church, to include the books found in the Septuagint, the translation used by early non-Jewish Christians. It suggests that Pentecostals reconsider their biblical canon in the light of their restorationist urge rather than groundlessly following the Protestant canon as their predecessors did by using the Apocrypha as deuterocanonical, implying that it is accepted for personal and ecclesial edification but not for judging the genuineness of gifts that come from the Spirit and those that do not (1 Cor. 12.10) and establishing the authority of ecclesiastical doctrines.
This article argues for the necessity of continuing discourse between established Christianity and African Neopentecostalism to benefit both. The seeming popularity of the African Neopentecostal prosperity gospel is attributed to its ability to contextualise the gospel to Africans regarding the highly appreciated material, physical, and spiritual wellness values. It consists of being hopeful that a positive future will realise because of an entrepreneurial attitude that provides a handle on bettering the future and consistent tithing that guarantees God’s blessings. Strong preacher-prophets proclaim the message with great authority. Its soteriology is described in terms of the Deuteronomist concept of guaranteed blessings that emphasises the material and immediate providence. It challenges established churches to reconsider how they view the relationship between faith and materiality, the doctrine of divine providence, contextualisation of the gospel and denial of the supranatural. The dialogue will also benefit Neopentecostalists when it confronts some abuses, eschatological expectations, understanding of time, understanding of evil in God’s sovereignty and involvement in ecological challenges.
Early Pentecostalism was mostly a pacifist movement that sees itself as a community that resolves conflicts and disputes through confrontation, forgiveness, and reconciliation in a nonviolent manner. Since the 1940s, this important emphasis was lost due to the influence of the evangelicals with whom the Pentecostals allied. The hypothesis of the paper is that it was due to evangelical influence on their hermeneutics that Pentecostals lost their pacifist stance. To regain the emphasis, Pentecostals need to realign their hermeneutics with its early practice. A hermeneutical pacifist emphasis suitable for the inherently violent South African society is described in order to ground a Pentecostal homiletics of non-resistance. Such a homiletics will fearlessly address the issue of violence against women, combining biblical texts that are exegeted, preferably by women, with a hermeneutic of suspicion to expose male interest in justifying rape and violence and supported by women’s testimonies of their sexual harassment.
In studying the interaction between the three monotheistic religions in South Africa it is important to note that each of them functions as a metanarrative in that they all attempt to provide a more-or-less coherent perspective on reality. The different, but also overlapping, metanarratives of Islam, Judaism and Christianity furthermore each has a complex relationship with their respective authoritative Scriptures, communities of faith, contemporary societies and each other. It is therefore necessary to investigate the manner in which each religion’s metanarrative functions within the spheres of the academy, faith community and broader society. This contribution describes one of the projects of the envisioned Centre for the Interpretation of Authoritative Scriptures (CIAS) that is in the process of being established at Stellenbosch University. The focus of this project will be on the relationship between the metanarrative contained in the Christian canon, a specific faith community (the Dutch Reformed Church) within South African society in the period 2009–2019.