I am aware that when I get into the more overtly theological aspects of this journey, not everyone connects with that. Although I would insist that anyone who thinks and talks about God is doing theology and cannot
and should not want to avoid attempts to think through and clarify their theological understanding as well as deepen their spiritual experience (they must go together), I do realise that not everyone is wired to connect with the kind of language and concepts that are inevitably used in such reflection and discussion. And not all would want to go into it in so much depth. That's fair enough. So this blog is going to be for those who do want to connect to such theological reflection and dialogue. And it is also to help me clarify my own thinking: I learned just recently that Flannery O'Connor said, 'I write because I don't know what I think until I read what I say' and I know what she means. And I want to think in the company of others interested in this journey and this dialogue too. I believe that such thinking goes beyond my or one local church's story. I think something is shifting in Christianity world wide in this generation, and we need to be praying, thinking and talking together about these things.
I deliberately keep the posts on the Different Kingdom blog short. On this blog I want the opportunity for more extended reflections. Because of that, my aim is just to write one main post a week and then supplement that with occasional book recommendations and reviews, and links to online articles, papers and posts. And hopefully include some guest posts. However, I will start with a number of posts explaining and expanding on the title and tagline of this blog.
You see, I have been part of the wider pentecostal-charismatic movement from almost the time I became a Christian nearly thirty years ago and there is much that I'd want to celebrate about that movement. But I have also found it to be a very theologically conservative and sometimes fundamentalist movement in the popular sphere (the picture is admittedly complex). In the academic sphere, there is a far more adventurous and interesting picture, with some exciting developments, though also perhaps sometimes losing some of the 'spirit and life' in the process. I think the world of popular pentecostal-charismatic Christians and churches would benefit from exploring beyond the boundaries of some of the conservative evangelical assumptions it has adopted. I also think that there are some exciting theological developments within the wider movement of evangelicalism, and Christianity generally, that we should be aware of and explore. I am not advocating for any particular trend or school of theology. I just want to explore beyond present boundaries; and indeed to question whether boundary drawing is the best way to go about doing theology.
So I'll start by expanding on this a little more in the first few posts as well as perhaps signposting you to other places to help on this journey. In the first posts, I intend to cover:
- What do I mean by Pentecostalism and what would I want to celebrate about my pentecostal-charismatic heritage?
- What is it that has frustrated me theologically about popular pentecostalism?
- What do I mean by theology and theological reflection and what are my thoughts on the way to go about the theological task?
- What do I mean and not mean by pilgrim theology?