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The Unity and Diversity of Pentecostal Theology

A Brief Account for the Ecumenical Community in the West

Wolfgang Vondey

Pentecostal theology is marked by an inherent struggle for self-realization as well as unity and ecumenical integration. A realistic portrayal of worldwide Pentecostalism is confronted with homogeneous and romanticized depictions or false stereotypes. Global Pentecostalism and Pentecostalism in the West are intertwined in a significant theological and ecumenical manner that allows an ecumenical perspective focused on the West to shed light on the unity of Pentecostal theology, the relationship of Pentecostal theology to the ecumenical traditions, and the integration of Pentecostal theology in broader Christian commitments to social justice, peace, and the conservation of the creation. A particular point of convergence exists between Western and worldwide Pentecostal theology in the social activism of the movement. Contemporary Pentecostalism is in transition towards becoming a diversified contributor to the shape of global Christianity and the renewal of the theological agenda.

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Wolfgang Vondey

The essay contrasts two distinct ways of Pentecostal formation: (1) social activism and (2) social passivism. The former identifies Christian formation as participation and leadership in the struggle against poverty, deprivation, and oppression; the latter withdraws into a sectarian mindset of individualism, self-improvement, and triumphalism. A focus on Asia, Africa, Latin America, and North America brings the two accounts into dialogue on the identity of contemporary Pentecostal formation. The results suggest that Christian formation among Pentecostals is confronted with significant diversity influenced by cultural and socioeconomic factors. Johns’ classic study of Pentecostal formation and its emphasis on conscientization leading to redemptive participation in the struggle among the oppressed demands further attention. This essay shows that conscientization among Pentecostals is not only a psychological and sociocritical form of assessment but a personal and communal coming to consciousness subject to long-term cultural influences and sociohistorical developments.