At the beginning of my general education theology classes (the ones primarily consisting of freshman not seeking to go into the ministry), it is common to define theology. When asked, students who are aware of the “ology” suffix can often quickly come up with the definition, “the study of God” or “how we talk about God”. While it is true that “ology” means “the study of” and “Theo” means God, “the study of God” is often too passé of an answer and cannot encapsulate all that theologians try to accomplish. While theology is the way in which humanity talks about God, it also includes the study of the relationship between God, humanity, and His creation.

When engaging theology, theologians and those who study the Bible are not just studying about God but about how God works in the world today and how people should respond to God and others in light of His working presence and plan.

The Spirit is the starting point for which we understand theology.

For Pentecostals, Christians who understand the privilege to participate in the person and work of the Spirit within the totality of creation as expressed in Acts 2, the Spirit is the starting point for which we understand theology.[1]

Pentecostals do not undergo theological studies exclusively through philosophy or intellectualism. The integration between the Bible and our experience regulated through the Spirit in our community becomes a framework for which Pentecostals understand theology. The Good News is not solely embodied in one particular facet of Christianity, but holistically realized through the Spirit and God’s Word. As one of our professors at Southeastern University, Dr. Archer, notes, “the Gospel should be the heart of any Christian theology”.[2] The Bible, for Pentecostals, is the Word of God given to His creation as a direct revelation of who He is, and that revelation is always articulated and expressed in love.

In light of this reality, if the Holy Spirit is active and working within the world, then it is through interacting with the world around us that we being to find out more about God. The Spirit guides us into meaningful interaction with creation and humanity. It is no wonder that pastors tend to start their sermons with an illustration containing meaningful interaction with creation, whether that is in a coffee shop, restaurant, or at Church or elsewhere.

The Bible and theology are incredibly important to Pentecostals. That is why the Bible and theology section of this blog is designed to show what it looks like to engage in biblical and theological studies from a decidedly Christian and unashamedly Pentecostal perspective. How do Pentecostals use the Bible? How do Pentecostals engage theological issues? Is there such a thing as a Pentecostal theology? And if so, what does it look like? These are the types of questions we seek both to raise and to answer through essays from Southeastern faculty and students. Each month we will engage a topic from a biblical and theological perspective as a way to encourage deeper thinking as Pentecostals about issues pertaining to theology, Scripture, and current culture. We hope that the articles will challenge you, encourage you, and, most of all, be a means of reflection on your own beliefs about the topic.

[1] Steven Jack Land, Pentecostal Spirituality: A Passion for the Kingdom (Cleveland: CPT Press, 2010)., 21.

[2] Kenneth J. Archer, The Gospel Revisited: Towards a Pentecostal Theology of Worship and Witness (Eugene, Oregon: PICKWICK Publications, 2011)., XIX.