Hendel and SBL: The REAL Issue
Ron Hendel wrote an article in Biblical Archaeology Review, “Farewell to SBL.” There has been no shortage of responses to his criticism of his perception that the SBL has allowed some faith groups into the fold thereby confusing their academic mandate.
James McGrath’s posted a roundup of many of the responses. Bob Cargill highlighted the SBL’s professional response in asking for feedback from their membership on the issue. That conversation took place on the SBL web site.
But it seems to me that everyone has missed the real important question from his piece: Pentecostals are involved in biblical studies?
Hmmmm… I wonder if their sessions would look like this
or maybe this…
Actually, truth be told: if their sessions were like the last video you might find me in the back row taking in the spectacle!
First, you have to take issue with a denomination that has this in their statement of faith:
We believe the full gospel includes holiness of heart and life, healing for the body and baptism in the Holy Spirit, with the initial evidence of speaking in tongues as the Spirit gives utterance.
Now, I don’t think that is theologically or exegetically sustainable, but whatever… it’s not my purpose here to critique charismatic theology.
However, I did grow up charismatic… and I have the emotional and psychological scars to prove it! So my first thought after reading the article was: Pentecostals are doing biblical studies? Real biblical studies? Is that even possible?
So I checked. I went to the Society for Pentecostal Studies. And was promptly greeted by this first image:
Skepticism now turned on…
But I continued. Their purpose statement from their constitution
The purpose of this Society shall be to provide a forum of discussion for all academic disciplines as a spiritual service to the kingdom of God by the implementation of the following objectives:
1. To stimulate, encourage, recognize, and publicize the work of Pentecostal scholars;
2. To study the implications of Pentecostal theology in relation to other academic disciplines, seeking a Pentecostal world-and-life view;
3. To support fully, to the extent appropriate for an academic Society, the statement of purposes of the World Pentecostal Fellowship, which reads as follows:
(a) To encourage fellowship and facilitate co-ordination of effort among Pentecostal believers throughout the world.
(b) To demonstrate to the world the essential unity of Spirit-baptized believers, fulfilling the prayer of the Lord Jesus Christ, “That they all may be one” (John 17:21).
(c) To cooperate in an endeavor to respond to the unchanging commission of the Lord Jesus, to carry His message to all people of all nations.
(d) To promote courtesy and mutual understanding, “endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, until we all come in the unity of the faith” (Ephesians 4:3,13).
(e) To afford prayerful and practical assistance to any Pentecostal body in need of such.
(f) To promote and maintain the scriptural purity of the [World Pentecostal] Fellowship by Bible study and prayer.
(g) To uphold and maintain those Pentecostal truths, “most surely believed among us” (Luke 1:1)
Disposition of doubt activated.
Seems more theologically and religiously motivated to me, but maybe it’s possible they might be doing some biblical studies. Not very probable based on the above, but still possible… maybe?
So I soldiered on some more, and took a peek at the Article Index for their journal Pneuma… hey, it’s a Greek word, maybe there is still a chance!
“A Biblical Foundation For a Prophetic Mantle”
“Bishop J. H. King and the Emergence of Holiness Pentecostalism”
“Foursquare Missions: Doing More With Less”
“The Fury and Wonder: Pentecostal-Charismatic Spirituality in Theological Education”
“The Indwelling, Baptism, and Infilling with the Holy Spirit: A Differentiation of Terms”
That”s page one… it doesn’t get much better, though I admit I couldn’t get very far. But let’s be honest: no one is doing any biblical studies there.
Now let’s not confuse the matter: it’s OK to do what they are doing but let’s use the correct terminology for it: theology. If the SBL wants to have theological sessions at their meetings I really don’t care. I simply will not go to those sessions just like there are a lot of sessions I won’t go to. No one makes it to them all. However, I would still say let’s not confuse eisegetical defenses of theological presuppositions as ‘biblical studies’.
Maybe they can get my new favorite preacher in for one of their sessions. I would definitely be in attendance:
I fixed it
And it’s good
I’m a god
It’s Biblical Studies! “Out of the Mouths of Infants: The Glossolalia of Children. A Biblical Defense.” Sign me up for Atlanta!