Pneumatology and Nature: Introductions

Q: Why This Course? A: The Science and the Spirit Research Initiative
"A sustained encounter between ... Pentecostal/charismatic Christianity and contemporary science."
What has supernaturalism to do with naturalism?
But Pentecostals and charismatics need to take science seriously.
And naturalism as a worldview will not accommodate charismata.
Each school is oddly open to the other (e.g., charismatics' embrace of technology, scientific and philosophical appeals to 'spirit').
Amos Yong and Jamie Smith are leading "a team of scholars who will undertake original scholarship related to these issues," including:
• Pentecostalism's relationship to the sciences,
• science's challenge to Pentecostal perspectives and practices,
• Pentecostal contributions to the ongoing 'science-religion dialogue',
• how science can illuminate Pentecostal experiences and convictions, and
• how Pentecostal perspectives might illuminate interdisciplinary issues and debates in the natural and human sciences.
In response, my proposal contends that
"the various modes of the Spirit’s indwelling occupy an explicit position as a complex set of normal relationships that together serve the fundamental goal of God’s action in the world."
Pentecostal sensibilities embrace the natural and the supernatural as both distinct and incomplete without each other in particular ways that are manifested in the eschaton and the telos toward which it is pointing.
These are visible in the rise of world charismatic Christianity and in my own life.
Two consequences follow:
• Pentecostalism’s fully Trinitarian economy can underwrite a freer, more theologically anticipatory embrace of science and other traditions of human learning about nature than cessationist eschatologies, sacramental ecclesiologies, or non-charismatic ecclesiologies.
• Pentecostals’ strong ecclesial, personal, and cosmic sanctificationism and their more fully pneumatic Trinitarianism give a particularly charismatic and narrative shape to the properly teleological account of the universe in which both science and theology will find their rightful roles.
I gotta prepare for the 2007 colloquium! So we're gonna read ...
The Science-Religion War Dialogue
Larry Witham, The Measure of God: History's Greatest Minds Wrestle with Reconciling Science and Religion:
The Gifford lectures offer a view into over a century of western theology in conversation with science over the knowledge of God.
John Polkinghorne, Science and Theology: An Introduction:
A physicist/priest/theologian surveys issues, treatments, and principal opinions regarding
the natures of science and theology,
pivotal historical moments in their interaction,
the nature of the human person,
the nature of God and the role of natural theology,
the character or possibility of divine action and agency in the universe,
the relevance of specifically Christian doctrines,
science's impact on interreligious difference and dialogue, and
ethics' role in science and vice versa.
Pneumatology
Kilian McDonnell, The Other Hand of God: The Holy Spirit as the Universal Touch and Goal:
An introduction to pneumatology that treats
the history of Christian pneumatology, and
the Spirit's role in Christian salvation, worship, eschatology, and experience.
Michael Welker, ed., The Work of the Spirit: Pneumatology and Pentecostalism:
The corpus of a Templeton Foundation-funded consultation, "Pneumatology: Exploring the Work of the Spirit from Contemporary Perspectives," explores
biblical, historical, and constructive pneumatology,
specifically Pentecostal pneumatology and history, and
their implications for contemporary science and philosophy.
Two Interactions
John Polkinghorne, Science and Providence: God's Interaction with the World:
A project focused specifically on the intelligibility of accounts of purposeful divine action to scientific accounts of reality and philosophical notions of cosmic, human, and divine freedom (e.g., providence, miracles, prayer, evil, theodicy, sacrament).
F. LeRon Shults, Reforming the Doctrine of God:
A reexamination of the Christian doctrine of God's essence and classic attributes (omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence) in conversation with biblical, theological, and doxological tradition and the schools that have recently challenged it (historical criticism, late modern philosophy, and the natural and social sciences).
My Goals for This Course
To prepare for this summer's colloquium!
To take advantage of Westmont's liberal arts setting (and our multidisciplinary educations)
(i.e., to learn lots of new words — and maybe even how to use them).
To teach and learn pneumatology, an underappreciated but vital aspect of Christian theology (e.g., Galatians 3:1-5).
To search for coherence in the fragmented and even hostile traditions of learning and living into which our Christian and secular cultures have initiated us.