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Foundations for Spirit-Filled Christianity

A new textbook series for Pentecostals and charismatics

George P Wood on July 18, 2023

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Assemblies of God scholars Jerry Ireland, Paul Lewis, and Frank Macchia are editors of a new series of textbooks from Baker Academic. 

Titled “Foundations for Spirit-Filled Christianity” and written for use in the global Pentecostal/charismatic movement, the series explores “primary topics of interest in the fields of biblical studies, church ministries and practical theology, church history, theology, and missions.” The series is designed primarily for undergraduate and graduate students and secondarily for ministers and church members who want to deepen their understanding of Christian faith and practice.

The first two books in the series are Introduction to Theology by Macchia and Introduction to Spirituality by Gary Tyra. Both authors are ordained AG ministers and professors at Vanguard University in Costa Mesa, California.

Macchia surveys standard topics in systematic theology: theological method, theology proper, Christology, pneumatology, ecclesiology and eschatology. He defines theology as “speech about the wonders of God that seeks to reflect on and guide the praise and witness of the church toward greater loyalty to the good news of Jesus Christ.”

Macchia’s work interacts with a broad range of Christian theologians and theological traditions, both ancient and modern, from the West to the Global South.

This series fills an important gap in global Pentecostal education and is well worth reading.

The series is designed for global use by Spirit-filled Christians, so AG readers should not expect Macchia’s book to be an exposition of the AG Statement of Fundamental Truths.

What Makes Introduction to Theology useful is not merely its treatment of Pentecostal distinctives, but also its thoroughgoing trinitarianism. Macchia shows the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit cooperating in the works of creation, judgment, salvation and glorification.

Tyra’s Introduction to Spirituality outlines the convictions, commitments, and customs of an authentically Christian spirituality.

“It is possible for a Christian spirituality to be theistic — to have room for God in it — but only in a philosophical, conceptual sense,” Tyra writes. Yet he says Pentecost makes it possible for Christians “to really know and experience their Creator in some real, phenomenal, life-story-shaping ways.”

For Tyra, this theologically real spirituality entails keeping in step with the Spirit, experiencing an ongoing mentoring relationship with Jesus, and living in accordance with God’s mission.

Pentecostals will especially appreciate Chapter 6, which includes an extended discussion on praying in the Spirit. Tyra cites interesting evidence from the social sciences to show the benefits of this practice to Christian spirituality.

Forthcoming series installments in 2024 include Introduction to Biblical Interpretation by Lewis and Jacqueline Grey and Introduction to Missions by Rob Gallagher and Sarita Edwards.

This series fills an important gap in global Pentecostal education and is well worth reading.

 

This article appears in the Summer 2023 issue of Influence magazine.

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