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Summer 2012, Vol. 9

Reading the Bible with Help from the African Pentecostals: Allowing Africa to Inform Our Western Hermeneutics

Inaugural Lecture, January 31, 2012

Douglas P. Lowenberg, D.Min.
Assemblies of God Theological Seminary

2011-2012 J. Philip Hogan Professor of World Missions

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The center of Christianity has moved from the Northern Hemisphere to the Global South and more particularly to Africa. At the forefront of the expansion of the Christian faith are Pentecostals, 1 now globally estimated at 600 million Spirit-filled believers, approximately 26 percent of the entire Christian community, 2 of which over 100 million are Africans. David B. Barrett predicts that by 2025, the global population will reach 7.8 billion; Christians of all varieties will number 2.6 billion. Of this number, 228 million will be Renewalists from Africa, followed in size by Asians and Latin Americans. 3 Philip Jenkins, observing that the most vibrant centers of Christian growth are in Africa today, comments, “In our lifetimes, the centuries-long North Atlantic captivity of the church is drawing to an end.” 4

What makes African Pentecostal practitioners so vibrant in their faith and witness where they are not only committed to reaching the people of their respective countries through the proclamation of the gospel with signs and wonders following, but to taking the lead in bringing closure to the Great Commission by making disciples of all nations? 5 Lazarus Chakwera, a leading advocate for African-sponsored missions and general superintendent of the Malawi Assemblies of God, writes, “Reaching the nations with the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is a biblically based mandate … revival is bringing a consciousness among African leaders and believers that they too can participate in missions.” 6 He envisions a mighty force of Africans who are highly trained and committed to the task of planting the church among the unreached without the normal trappings associated with Western missions: affluence and power. He notes, “The Bible speaks of ‘beautiful feet upon the mountains,’ not ‘beautiful four wheel drives.’” 7 Rather than blaming Western missionaries for failing to train Africans to personally participate in the Church’s mission mandate or using poverty, colonialism, or civil strife as excuses for previous, minimal involvement in missions, he declares, “Africa’s church needs to confess its failure … Africa’s material poverty may be the source of its spiritual wealth … it may be that poverty and suffering have been the best school through which our people have been taught to depend on God for their needs.” 8

Echoing Chakwera, Nigerian Joe Kapolyo writes, “For too long we have been recipients of the benefits of the gospel, and with few exceptions most of our church communities do not anticipate, let alone participate in, missions. … This is disobedience to the words of the Lord of heaven and earth. We must repent of this sin and take up his call to make disciples of all nations.” 9

Northern Hemisphere Pentecostals could be envious of what they see God doing among African brothers and sisters, but they cannot change their place of origin, worldview, life history, or the unique persons God has made them to be. Rather, God’s global people have much to learn through dialogue with fellow Pentecostals from South and North, working together with a sense of humility rather than superiority, celebration rather than competition, a desire to serve rather than control, and an exuberance over the church’s cultural diversity, unique gifts, and distinct identities as bestowed on each individual and people group by the Holy Spirit.

The church of Africa, in particular the Assemblies of God, is growing in spite of current global and continental challenges. Current realities in Africa are tenuous, but the Pentecostal Church is moving forward filled with faith and courage. In the last year [2011], the northern tier of Arab-Muslim countries shaken by the continuing “Arab Spring” has created aftershocks across the continent. Economic woes in Europe and North America have caused the value of African currencies to plummet and costs to skyrocket. The HIV/AIDS pandemic continues unabated taking lives and creating orphans. Wars deprive the land of her youth and exhaust her natural resources. Terrorist groups such as Al Shabaab in Kenya and Somalia and Boko Haram in Nigeria devalue human life in their jihadist march for societal domination.

Neo-Imperial forces, three in particular, cross the landscape of Africa looking for natural and human resources to exploit and new markets to monopolize. In every African country where one finds development, China is providing finances, equipment, laborers and expertise—with strings attached. 10 Islam is shrewdly positioning itself to peacefully usurp control over political, economic, legal, and ultimately religious systems in Africa’s developing nations. 11 The United States government, acting on behalf of her national security interests, continues to negotiate for strategic military bases and promotes diplomatic relationships with so-called moderate Islamic nations. Meanwhile, she attempts to impose her social-economic agenda on African nations by tying American aid to the acceptance of her values, some which are honorable, such as gender equality, entrepreneurship, and democracy; and others ignoble, such as the legalizing of abortion and the propagation of homosexuality.

Meanwhile the kingdom of God advances. Churches like the Kenya Assemblies of God, one of the strong indigenous 12 Christian bodies committed to a healthy fraternal partnership with the Assemblies of God (USA), has developed a five-year strategy to double from 4,000 to 8,000 churches and from 1.4 million members and adherents to 2.8 million. 13 The Tanzania Assemblies of God has embraced a ten-year goal of expanding from their current 3,200 churches to 10,000, seeing the number of Pentecostal servant-pastors reach 10,000, placing ten Tanzanian missionary families in other countries, and starting fifty churches abroad. 14 Likewise, Malawi reports phenomenal growth and a rising tide of revival. 15 Acts in Africa Initiative, the mobilization of Assemblies of God churches across the continent, has established a ten-year goal of seeing 10 million people enter God’s Kingdom and be baptized in the Holy Spirit. While addressing political, cultural, and social issues such as the freedom of religion, truth and reconciliation in government, homelessness, orphans, female genital mutilation, widow inheritance, famine and drought, these churches unashamedly proclaim a non-pluralistic message: there is salvation in no other name, but the name of Jesus Christ; preparation for one’s eternal destiny is significantly more important than one’s temporal health, prosperity, and political freedom; and the imminent return of Jesus calls for an urgent missional response to reach the unengaged peoples of our world. They are secure in their identity as Pentecostals, pursuing a Spirit-filled life marked by supernatural giftings and miracles. Without suspicion or modern critical analysis, they uphold the Bible as the authoritative, transcultural revelation of God, which comes from God, the tangible, objective manifestation of His will for all humanity.

The Problem

Tokunboh Adeyemo has observed, “The church in Africa was a mile long in terms of quantity, but only an inch deep in terms of quality.” 16 Byang H. Kato adds, “The church is generally unprepared for the challenge because of its theological and biblical ignorance. … If she is to meet the challenge, theological training must be strengthened.” 17 With the Pentecostal Church leading the way in Africa’s revival, in order for her to conserve the growth and maintain her Pentecostal missional vitality, she must develop a hermeneutic that is thoroughly Pentecostal, biblically based, and culturally relevant. Such a hermeneutic must critically evaluate what is available from Evangelical interpretive perspectives so that what emerges can authentically be labeled, “Made in Africa.” These lectures are an initial attempt to propose a Renewal or Pentecostal hermeneutic committed to apostolic function, modeled after the New Testament church in the Book of Acts. The process of formulating a Pentecostal hermeneutic is enriched by the theological reflections of Africans equally concerned about the leadership formation of African Pentecostals, the impact of a Pentecostal hermeneutic on the ecclesiological environment, and Africa’s missional commitment.

The dialogue with African Pentecostals attempted in this document is intended to be mutually beneficial to representatives from the global North and South and will focus on three research topics related to the development of a Pentecostal hermeneutic: (1) the importance of one’s view regarding the nature and function of Scripture; (2) the effect of worldview on the reading and interpretation of the Bible; and (3) the adequacy of the hermeneutics presently being used in ministerial-missional training programs in Africa to prepare Christ’s ambassadors (2 Cor. 5:20) to address the contingencies of the twenty-first century. Some proposals for a Pentecostal hermeneutic distinct from Evangelical approaches have been offered. Amos Yong, 18 John Christopher Thomas, 19 and Kenneth Archer 20 have each developed a tripartite dialogical hermeneutic involving the Holy Spirit, the biblical text, and the believing community. I will propose a pentadactic system based on Acts 2 and Acts 15, which adds to their schemes the “individual interpreter” and “theophanic interventions,” where God manifests himself, independent of the individual or believing community, along with the driving purpose of this interpretive method being missional-apostolic function: to go where the church does not exist. 21

Before considering the first topic dealing with the nature and function of Scripture, “The Book We Hold Dear,” three relevant issues must be addressed. The first is the term “African Pentecostals.” The second is the methodology used to facilitate this dialogue between Africans and believers from the Northern Hemisphere. The third is a brief reflection germane to this study regarding missiologist, mission executive, and friend, Rev. J. Philip Hogan, whose memory and ministry are honored through this chair. His views concerning Scripture, his hermeneutics, and the major missiological principles derived from his years of reading the inspired text will be considered.

African Pentecostals

Three terms related to this heading need attention: Africa, African, and Pentecostal. Africa represents a continent of 1.03 billion people, 22 fifty-seven countries with 3,746 tribal-ethnic groups and as many as 3,000 different languages. 23 Obviously, Africa reflects great diversity.

Some people question the adequacy of using “African,” in the singular, due to such vast differences. Tinyiko S. Maluleke claims that there is no homogenous notion of Africa, and the concept of an African continent is a European invention. 24 On the other hand, Jesse N. K. Mugambi stresses the current Pan-African movement offsetting the balkanization on the continent and promoting cohesive efforts to address regional and continent-wide concerns. 25 He comments, “Africans have much more in common with each other than the peoples of the twenty nations which the European Union has bound together. … African identity transcends race and religion.” 26 Blaming much of the fragmentation in Africa on the colonial, imperial, and Christian missionary expansionists, who had a divide and conquer mentality as they arbitrarily established borders to their liking, he advocates viewing Africa ideologically rather than racially, claiming that “diversity has been exaggerated at the expense of its cultural unity.” 27 While Africans operate with numerous worldviews and diverse cultures, including personal, local, tribal, national, and regional perspectives, this study assumes that general aspects of an African worldview and culture exist, as acknowledged by a majority of scholars involved in this research.

Who is an African? Mugambi recognizes all people born on the continent, from North to South including the Arab Northern tier, as having an African identity independent of race, color, or religion. However, inclusion of the Africa Diaspora blurs identities as individuals develop different non-typical worldviews through non-African enculturation and education. The Diaspora is not included in this project.

While a missionary, like myself, cannot claim African citizenship based on Mugambi’s criterion, “born in Africa,” I would attempt to heed Paul’s injunction to “become all things to all men [Jew, Gentile, slave, free—African] so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings” (1 Cor. 9:22-23, NIV). My identification with Africa is ideological, but also must be Spirit-directed and compassion-based. Respect, appreciation, Christian love, and advocacy for the African people, their identity, dignity, uniqueness, culture, history, and potential are mandatory. Yet I am a “foreigner,” and, as Mugambi bemoans, most experts on Africa are foreigners.28 However, while I approach this study as an “etic” participant, acknowledging the extreme value of an “emic” perspective, I believe an outsider’s view can add insights that an insider may overlook. 29 While foreign-born missionaries can never become thoroughly African, according to Sherwood Lingenfelter, they can become “150 percent persons,” 75 percent foreign and 75 percent African. 30 Following the model of the incarnation of Jesus, who emptied himself of certain attributes of His divine nature to become fully human, missionaries need to minimize the effects of their native culture that impede a humble attitude and understandable presentation of the gospel while incarnating as much of the culture as is possible in order to serve others in ministry. 31 Acknowledging my cultural myopia, I desire to accurately represent what African scholars and local pastors describe as the dimensions of their lives that are distinctly “made in Africa” and will portray what they claim uniquely characterizes African Christianity and a generic African worldview.

Much could be said about “Pentecostal,” but simply stated, this study holds to the tenets of Traditional Pentecostalism: it is biblically normative for New Testament Christians to seek an encounter with the Spirit of God that becomes a lifestyle whereby they receive divine power to obey Christ, to operate with supernatural gifts accomplished by the Spirit, and to bear witness to the Lordship of Jesus Christ to the spiritually lost in ever-expanding geographical and ethnic dimensions. This study, likewise, recognizes the validity and sincerity of Charismatic and Neocharismatic groups and acknowledges the staggering diversity that exists among the African-initiated and African-indigenous churches.


The methodologies employed in this study to provide dialogue between theologians and practitioners from African and Northern Hemisphere incorporate textual research of materials written by African scholars with special attention given to works published in Africa not accessible in the United States, textual research of Evangelical and Pentecostal scholars from the minority world. Furthermore, it includes insights gleaned from surveys, focus groups, and personal interviews from African Pentecostal leaders who are students attending Assemblies of God diploma, undergraduate, and graduate programs in Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Madagascar, and Togo. The students completed open-ended written surveys responding to social science research questions exposing their views of the nature and function of Scripture, their methods of biblical interpretation, and the influence of worldview on their reading of the biblical text. 32 Some of the students participated in semi-structured interviews and focus groups addressing follow-up questions arising from the written surveys. The results of the surveys, interviews, and focus groups were coded, collated, and compared with the outcomes from students at the other locations to increase the validity of the findings. Their synthesized perspectives were used to complement the biblical and theological literary research as a Pentecostal hermeneutic was constructed.

The ultimate goal of the research is to propose a robust, thoroughly Pentecostal hermeneutic that will equip African Pentecostal practitioners, and possibly ambassadors from the minority world, to effectively interpret God’s Word as they face dynamic contingencies in Africa and work to complete the Great Commission in the twenty-first century.

J. Philip Hogan, Executive Director, Division of Foreign Missions, 1960-1989

J. Philip Hogan’s theology and missiology were shaped by his study of Scripture. Concerning his views of the Bible, he declared that “the Word of God is truly the incorruptible seed; and when faithfully sown and watered by the Holy Spirit, it will spring up and produce life.” 33 The Bible was the missionary’s weapon in penetrating the darkness. During his watch, as he faced the fall of China to Communism, the militant expansion of Islam, sickness, and death within the missionary family, the message of Scripture was always “equal to the challenge.” 34 The gospel was not a creation of Western imperialism, but a supracultural message that adapts to every culture. He write, “God is fluent in thousands of tongues and He has no favorites among languages or cultures.” 35

His hermeneutical approach was to identify normative, paradigmatic examples and patterns in Scripture that established doctrine, practice, and missional strategy. “God has seen fit to reveal to us in His Word His own priority pattern and strategy.” 36 The patterns revealed God’s plans, which were to be followed meticulously. For example, after studying God’s revelation to Moses concerning the details of the tabernacle, Hogan remarked, “When seeking to carry out the details of God’s plan, innovation is just as dangerous as omission. The children of Israel were as much in danger of omitting some of the details of construction as they were of adding them.” 37 He taught his missionaries: “The Pauline example shall be followed” which was that churches were to be planted after the New Testament pattern. 38

His missiology could be distilled into five Bible-based principles, what Everett A. Wilson calls “compelling convictions,” that marked his thirty years of leadership for the Assemblies of God mission beyond the borders of the United States. 39 During these three decades, Assemblies of God World Missions (AGWM) grew in missionary personnel from 753 to 1588, not including family members, expanded deployment from 69 to 124 countries, and observed national churches affiliated with the Assemblies of God increase from 13,975 to 110,608, and from 627,443 to over 14 million members and adherents. 40 His hermeneutics established five compelling convictions:

1. God’s missional people must be prayerfully reliant on and led by the Holy Spirit. He noted that the Spirit of God is found in the beginning and at the end of Scripture (Gen. 1:1 and Rev. 22:17). In the beginning, the Spirit hovered over the undifferentiated mass of newly created matter to provide order. As the end of human history approaches, the Spirit and the bride invite the return and final judgment of Christ. Hogan writes,

From the beginning of recorded time to the last moment of history, the Spirit of God is at work. I have long since ceased to be interested in meetings where mission leaders are called together to a room filled with charts, maps, graphs, and statistics. All one needs to do to find plenteous harvest is simply to follow the leading of the Spirit. 41

Commenting on the implications of Acts 1:8, he said it was the Spirit who calls, inspires, reveals, and administers the mission of God to the ends of the earth. He believed in intentional, strategic planning, bathed in prayer, along with a sensitive openness to divine interruption by the Holy Spirit. At times, he wrote, we are privileged to “catch the tide of the great moving gush of the Spirit, yet finally and lastly, our successes and victories are hammered out on the anvil of daily faithfulness and prayer.” 42 With profound conciseness, he penned, “We advance on our knees or we do not advance at all.” 43

2. God’s missional people must focus on the evangelism of the lost that leads to the establishing of indigenous churches and the training of national leaders. He stated, “Our primary task is to win men and women for Christ, to point the road to full development in the Christian life, so that twice-born Christians filled with the Holy Spirit and experiencing the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free can go forth and disciple the nations.” 44 He added, “The magnitude of our task is simply that we present to every living man and woman a viable option, which he can understand, which is translated into the medium of his intelligence in a way that he knows what he is accepting or giving up. This is our mission.” 45 He observed,

There is something terribly wrong with the imbalance of preaching the gospel a thousand times to gospel-hardened sinners who have heard and rejected it again and again while one-third of the population of this planet is still without a single witness. … As in the beginning, so today, the ceaseless, never-ending movement of the Spirit is our guide. 46

He declared that the goal of our mission’s efforts was to “establish the church abroad. This is the acid test of missions—to plant a church that reproduces itself and emerges to a position of solidarity and independence with its own leaders and still pleads for further missionary presence and ministry.”47 He added, “We have never sought to build a worldwide organic structure. Instead we build independent national churches. Our structure is totally fraternal and benevolent.” 48 Wilson describes the relationship Hogan wanted with these emerging churches as “balanced development without demeaning servility, slavish copying, and limiting dependence.” 49 Hogan wrote, “I place a great priority on church planting. The world cannot be witnessed to adequately without the presence of the local unit of the body of Jesus Christ.” 50 He concluded that one is not doing an adequate job of witnessing unless a part of the body of Jesus Christ, a local identifiable unit, emerges from the witness. 51 The lessons he learned in China, as he observed the Cultural Revolution sweep away everything foreign while the Christian faith flourished, emphasized the need for an unencumbered, incorruptible gospel to be proclaimed. 52 “To the extent that the missionary witness fails to found a church strong and independent, to that extent it fails in achieving its purpose.” 53
As national churches grew in strength, Hogan’s aim was to “use our influence to direct these Assemblies of God bodies overseas toward staying on the frontier of evangelism and church planting. We must keep before them the challenge of the unfinished task.” 54 If new, indigenous churches were to multiply, pastoral practitioners needed to be called by God and equipped for the work. Training local pastors was a priority of his administration—a commitment substantiated by the multiplication of Bible schools and students that occurred during his tenure. 55

3. God’s missional people need to contextualize their ministry, serve in the trenches, and concentrate on the great cities of our world. Contextual ministry was described by Hogan as people “with the call of God upon their lives who will go and identify themselves with a culture, learn a language, and live among the people whom they intend to win.” 56 He looked for qualified personnel, compelled by divine calling and committed to serve over the long-haul. He refused to be donor-driven, reactionary to innovative missiological and communicational technologies, or accepting of creative evangelistic trends. An enduring mission required dedicated people. 57 As they adapt to the cultural context and are mobile in their response to the more urgent spiritual needs, they must use influence rather than power. 58 Wilson concisely portrays the missionaries Hogan mentored: they did not “export made-in-the USA religion; they devoted their efforts to preaching that God’s provision was more than adequate for human needs … they encouraged and nurtured the groups that came into being.” 59

Serving in the trenches demanded a willingness to renounce a privileged position and become equal with or to be led by nationals. 60 Life in the trenches called for maturity marked by diplomacy, patience, humility, restraint in action and conversation, adaptability to extreme sacrifice when necessary, and above all, deep spirituality. The demands may be “unreasonable” as the missionary faces loneliness, deprivation, risk, and hazard. Contrary to the concepts of self-fulfillment and self-actualization, he posed, “Whoever said God promised to make you feel fulfilled?” 61 He expected that there would be “certain casualties.” 62 For him there was no room for “moral cowardice, spiritual indifference, or un-Christ-like racial barriers—these have to go!” 63

Influenced by Scripture, along with Roland Allen’s Missionary Methods—St. Paul’s or Ours, Hogan noted, “A study of Paul’s labors would indicate that these cities were chosen strategically. In every city where he worked … it was a center of Roman administration, of Greek civilization, of Jewish influence, and was on the crossroads of commercial trade routes.” 64 “If Scripture is to give us any lead—then we must not neglect the teeming, seemingly impenetrable metropolises from which the truth of the gospel can radiate into all corners of the nation.” 65 To reach the nations, one must strategically target the large, sprawling cities because the city cannot be reached from the “bush,” but gospel influence must flow in the opposite direction. He noted high expectations for urban evangelists and church planters: “A city missionary must be an educator and a trainer. He [or she] must be an innovator and an original thinker.” 66

4. God’s missional people must minister holistically, without dichotomizing spiritual and humanitarian responses to human need, while firmly prioritizing the main purpose of the mission: “soul-winning and church planting.Referring to feeding, clothing, construction of shelters, educating, and providing medical care, the reason we do these things, Hogan said, is because Jesus Christ did them—another example of his pattern hermeneutic. “Our relief efforts are inseparable from our gospel witness.” 67 He observed that wherever the church has gone, there has been social betterment, but there was no question about priority:

The Assemblies of God is primarily a soul-winning and church planting body. … We realize that the spiritual plight of man is far more consequential than his physical plight. However, the Holy Spirit within compels us to hurt with the hurting. The Holy Spirit within compels us to care. And the Holy Spirit within compels us to do something. Because Jesus did! 68
Hogan rightly said, 

[Some would] have the church direct all her missionary energies at tangible, temporal efforts—eliminating poverty, eradicating hunger, curing disease, and ending discrimination and other injustices from our world. But these people fail to realize such things are the result of sin. These evils will not vanish from this present world … Spiritual purists, on the other hand, would have the church concentrate on only the intangible needs of mankind. … God desires balance … For the gospel is both “this worldly” and “other worldly.” 69

It was not his purpose to impugn those who channel material goods to the poor, but for him, this was not the main purpose of the New Testament church. The AGWM Hogan envisioned and actually placed priority on proclamation, evangelism, indigenous church planting, and training. Reflecting on his vast knowledge of church history, Hogan spoke of the efforts of the Church during the period of Justin Martyr to address human need, “They seem to feel their duty was to save the individual from the corrupt society in which he found himself, not necessarily to save the society itself.” 70 He quoted fellow Asian missionary, John Bennett: “A missionary institution will be judged by whether or not it is a channel for the proclamation of the gospel … The urgency of our mission, the brief time at our disposal, and the limited resources at hand do not permit us to indulge in such extravagances as merely being helpful.” 71

While assisting those desperate for humanitarian need, Hogan articulated his priority in the words of fellow missiologist, Louis L. King, “We must never permit ourselves to be drawn away from the vital primary objective and lessen our missionary effectiveness by over-emphasis upon less-direct approaches to the perishing people whom it is our responsibility to evangelize.” 72

5. God’s missional people must labor with the end of time and the completion of the final assignment in mind. Hogan wrote, “The terminus of history will be the return of the Lord Jesus Christ.” 73 Examining Matthew 24:14 and Acts 1:8, he noted the divine connection between the mission of God reaching to the end of the earth and the arrival of the end of time: “Here the ends of time, the ends of the earth, and the whole of humanity are related to each other. The whole work of the church, the whole command of Jesus, the out-pouring of the Holy Spirit—indeed the whole world—is included in the concept that there will be an end.” 74 Even though some misguided people have announced dates for the return of the Lord and the end, Hogan appreciated their conviction that every follower of the Lord needs to emulate—the imminent appearing of Christ. He cautioned that one’s love for the world has caused the church to be “at ease in Zion and the message of the unpredictable nearness of the New World is repugnant.” 75

May the biblical convictions and living legacy of Hogan’s missiology challenge the Assemblies of God church and mission in a day where compassion ministries, temporal tragedies, and technological advancements seem to mesmerize donors and mission’s personnel while the church’s historic commitments to prayer, the supernatural, evangelism, indigenous church planting, and the training of local church leaders and pastors are overshadowed.

The Book We Hold Dear: Looking at the Bible in Dialogue with Africa

Fresh consideration is needed as to one’s understanding of the nature and function of Holy Scripture. What makes the Bible so meaningful to people from both the majority and minority worlds? 76 Why is the Bible the most read, revered, and studied book of all time? What is unique about this book that qualifies it to possess the attribute “holy?” Is the Bible’s holiness the result of human authors or the decision of human agents and Early Church councils? Is its holiness due to the book’s relation to the triune God and His revelatory, communicative, and saving activity? If so, what is that relation? How is the Bible to function in the lives of Christian believers?

African Pentecostal practitioners describe the Bible as the Word of God, but not words dictated by God to human scribes. The biblical authors wrote with God’s inspiration while operating within their own intellectual and physical capacities. African Pentecostals claim that the Bible is the only book where God himself talks with people providing each new generation of readers with a fresh, relevant message. The book is the source of life and truth and has power to change the lives of those who listen and believe.

Have Christians become too minimalistic and utilitarian in their handling of Scripture so that it functions merely to dictate how to think and live as individuals and as a faith community in a world dominated by sin and power-hungry, pleasure-seeking people? Has the Bible been restricted to serving as a text of rules establishing the standards for Christian conduct and the conditions for both earthly and heavenly success? For example, Patrick M. Musibi states that the Bible is “the owner’s manual on how to live successfully.” 77 The biblical message for earthly, material success resounds across Africa. Has the true nature and function of Scripture been skewed? The Bible is handled as the resource book from which missionaries, pastors, and educators craft sermons, proclaim inspirational principles, and declare moral truths for the purpose of making converts and fashioning disciples. The Church would be well-advised to heed the words of Kwame Bediako: “Scripture is not just a holy book from which we extract teaching and biblical principles. Rather, it is a story in which we participate.” 78 He claims that the recorded history of Israel and the Early Church is the history of contemporary believers. God’s Word to the ancients is His word for today. Bediako states, “Scripture is the living testimony to what God has done and continues to do, and we are part of that testimony. … Scripture is not something we only believe, it is something we share in.” 79

For some people, the book is the repository of magical and miraculous powers that can be unleashed by physical contact with it. The Bible provides magical formulas and faith-filled confessions that serve as divine mantras to be claimed and confessed; these words have supernatural, creative power. David T. Adamo reports that the Bible is used as a means of protection, healing, and success.80 John Wesley Kurewa comments that the Bible is used as a fetish to protect believers from physical harm and demonic attacks. 81 He refers to believers setting the Bible on the heads of the demonized to exorcise the spirits. The Bible is buried with the deceased to assist them in their afterlife experiences. To bring blessing on all who enter one’s home or business, Bibles are laid in the foundations of houses before being erected.

For Christian fundamentalists, has the book become the exclusive, objective remnant of a deistic God who acted in history, but now has retreated to the heavens awaiting the eschaton? The reader holds the promissory note, but there is little life-transforming power. Are fundamentalists accurate in their claims that since the canonization of Scripture, the Bible is God’s primary means of revelation making supernatural manifestations of the Holy Spirit either suspect or unnecessary?

Do Christians function as though the “Word became text, dwelt among us, and we beheld its glory?” Can a radical biblicism border on bibliolatry with an inflated view of the nature of Scripture exalting the book into the realm of divinity and advancing a hypostatic union where the integration of the human and divine has produced a text beyond the creaturely? Is it theologically accurate to depict the Bible with a dual nature 82 sometimes functioning as earthy and human, sometimes as divine—reminiscent of docetism,83 adoptionism, 84 or transubstantiation?85 While these theologies are not usually attributed to the nature of Scripture, these explanations seem operative in the minds of some Christians in both the global North and South as they portray the nature and function of the biblical text.

How might God want His Church to view this unique Book? How does Holy Scripture serve the missional purposes of God? As Northern Hemisphere believers attempt to answer the primary question of the nature of the Bible in dialogue with Africans, they must consider how bibliology relates to theology. Does one’s belief in the inspiration and authority of Scripture form the basis for establishing the belief and doctrine of the triune God? In systematics, should one’s bibliology precede one’s theology? As the interpreter reads the Book with a priori faith or experiences faith rising or awakening while the biblical words are heard, it fulfills Romans 10:17 that “faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ” (NIV). Faith acknowledges the presence of God before the book was written and prior to its words being read. Faith recognizes the voice of God speaking in and through the text. Augustine expressed well the relationship of faith to knowing with his slogan: credo ut intelligam—I believe in order to know. 86 Faith in God precedes the knowledge of God. God’s self-revelation encountered experientially by faith precedes one’s commitments to the doctrines of the inspiration and authority of Scripture. People believe initially in this holy and self-revealing God who is on a mission to save humankind, and then their faith is clarified, confirmed, and enriched by His written testimony.

Scripture should be viewed as a byproduct of the triune God whom believers experience as holy, loving and mighty as well as self-revealing and self-communicative. Because of His revelatory nature, He makes His presence knowable. Rather than God simply manifesting His will and providing a historical litany of His saving actions accompanied with an explication of their significance, He makes himself known through the presence of the Holy Spirit, creation and nature, miraculous events and manifestations, revelatory gifts within the church, and written Scripture. The Church has the Bible because God chose to reveal himself—not only spiritually, subjectively, and experientially. God gave Scripture as an objective means and medium by which He reveals His presence and will and provides evidence or written testimony to His character and saving actions.

Reflecting further on the nature of the triune God, one could propose that God’s attribute of self-revelation is grounded in His missional, outward moving character. God reveals himself because He is on a mission—not simply because He desires for people to know about His divine sovereignty. God’s revelation of himself has the purpose of drawing people to Him in worship and covenantal love. Christopher J. Wright claims that the Bible is the product of the self-revealing, missionally-directed God. 87 One reads Scripture not primarily to know the character of God or to establish the validity of missions searching for proof-texts supporting a biblical theology of missions. Because of the nature of God, who is self-revealing in His movement towards estranged humanity, He has orchestrated the writing of the Bible. The God who is on a mission to reconcile all people to himself chose to inspire a written record of His self-revelation and saving activity in this book we call Holy Scripture. One instinctively recognizes the metanarrative of Scripture—the mission of the triune God is to spiritually recreate alienated humans, salvage a despoiled creation, and reunite the redeemed with himself.

The nature of God is Spirit (John 4:24), but many Bible scholars from the Northern Hemisphere prefer to deal with objective, tangible, and precise realities located in a written text rather than attempt to grasp the subjective, intangible, and ambiguous aspects of Spirit. Scholars of the North are more comfortable with God revealed in a book than God manifest as Spirit, making himself known in the wind and fire. They are more comfortable with propositions than stories, and are more confident in handling literature than oral communication. Eunice Okorocha rightly observes, “Western time-consciousness and intolerance of ambiguity affect patterns of worship, preaching and church government. … This lack of tolerance of ambiguity may also lead Western believers to try to pin down the exact meaning of what the Bible teaches. … Africans can happily live with unresolved ambiguity.” 88 God has determined to reveal himself and operate in history in multiplex ways, including the objective and subjective, the internal and external witness, the precise and the ambiguous. Why? Possibly to lovingly irritate and humble believers from North and South, making them dependent on each other in analyzing and pondering the tangible and intangible, written and oral, text and testimony—to better grasp the magnitude of God’s holiness, greatness and mercy.

The dynamic tension between objective and subjective revelation is reminiscent of the ancient Old Testament conflict between priests and prophets, and Early Church struggles between church bishops and charismatics such as Montanus of Carthage. Stanley M. Burgess reports four effects of the victory of Orthodox Christianity and the established church over Montanism: (1) the canon was understood to be closed, and there was no possibility for new revelations to be added; (2) ecclesiastical hierarchies were given authority over prophets and prophetic pronouncements; (3) the significance of the imminent return of Christ began to fade; and (4) moral laxity in the church replaced the strict disciplines imposed by Montanus. 89 Max Weber describes these confrontations in terms of the common sociological typology of institution versus charisma. 90 Maintaining a God-ordained equilibrium between scriptural and pneumatic revelation, between the objective and subjective, and between the fixed and the fluid will be significantly influenced by how people understand the nature and function of Scripture.

The dual manner of God’s self-revelation through subjective and objective means is observed as God established His covenant with Israel at Mount Sinai. God’s presence was seen and felt as the earth shook, trumpets blared, and the mountain was covered with smoke (Exod. 19:16-19). God also revealed himself through His own literary activity and by commanding Moses to write down what was communicated to him. Israel received both the written covenant and the revelatory experience of God becoming Immanuel tabernacling among His people as Spirit, fire, and cloud. Rickie D. Moore reports that Moses, in the Book of Deuteronomy, was constantly calling the people of his generation and future generations to a vital covenantal relationship with Yahweh. This relationship was mediated through His holy words written on stone and parchments and the holy fire (Deut. 9:10), reliving their memorable encounter with His divine presence on Sinai, and experienced daily as a fiery pillar throughout their desert wanderings.91 The first divine words were inscribed in creaturely material by God himself (Exod. 31:18; 32:15-16). These stones, engraved by the “finger of God,” were destroyed by Moses. The second set of documents was chiseled out by the efforts of Moses, but inscribed again by the gracious finger of God, the Divine etching words on earthy materials (stone; 34:1-4, 28). Later copies were the works of people on clay, skins, and papyrus to remind Israel of God’s holy presence and their responsibility to lovingly and loyally obey him (17:14; 34:27).

The process that began at Sinai on that day of writing, adding later revelations, collating, copying, combining testaments, and translating has produced the Bible, God’s communicative act of self-revelation, the most widely distributed and read book in human history. The triune God, who has mercifully manifest himself, His love, saving acts, and will through the text, desires for readers to believe in Him and in His provision of salvation, and then to lovingly follow Him. The text and the entire process that makes the Bible available in thousands of languages are servants of the God who is self-revealing, self-communicating, and present among His people as He continues His mission of reconciliation: present as Spirit and fire, testified to through His written Word.

John Webster, in Holy Scripture: A Dogmatic Sketch, suggests three concepts to help explain the unique nature of the Bible: revelation, sanctification, and inspiration. 92 While the first and third traits are commonly attributed to the biblical text, Webster’s use of sanctification is unique and insightful. Revelation is generally understood as the content and process whereby God makes available that which is beyond the realm of human perception and reflection. Sanctification is the process of the triune God setting something apart for His service whether the object sanctified is an individual or community, an object, or specific location. Inspiration, translated from God-breathed (θε?πνευστος), is understood as God’s interaction with the minds and spirits of the biblical authors to guarantee that they accurately grasped what He wanted them to communicate to their respective audiences on given occasions and His supervision of their written communication so that what they inscribed accurately conveyed the message God intended. Pentecostals from North and South would be well-served to reflect on these three characteristics of Holy Scripture.

The Bible as an Act of God’s Self-Revelation

Most global Christians would agree with Samuel Ngewa who states, “God uses the Bible to communicate his thoughts to us.” 93 African Pentecostal practitioners comment that God manifests His present reality through the words and stories of Scripture. For Webster, revelation is much more than God pulling back the curtains on the unseen and suprarational. Revelation is the triune God’s loving and life-giving presence manifest in the power of the Spirit among His worshipers and witnesses. 94 Revelation is more than cognitive enlightenment; it is encountering the Almighty and thereby being transformed. Webster clarifies, “Revelation is the self-presentation of the triune God, the free work of sovereign mercy in which God wills, establishes and perfects saving fellowship with himself in which humankind comes to know, love and fear him above all things.” 95

Through revelation, the triune God not only makes the ineffable available, He makes himself present and knowable. Seeing the Bible as an act of God’s self-revelation gives greater significance to the importance of vernacular translations expressed in the statement reputed to early North African theologian, St. Augustine of Hippo, “God seems nearer to people when he speaks their language.” 96 Bediako reports, “Our mother tongue is the language in which God speaks to each of us.” 97 Readers not only hear God communicating His inspired message through the local language and culture, they subjectively encounter a God who graciously makes himself knowable from an emic (insider’s) perspective.

In terms of the triune God, as one reads the revelatory text, God the Father is present as the Origin of all things, the Creator, the Lover of humankind, the Holy One who longs to be worshiped, and the One whose will superintends history and eternity. God the Son is present as God incarnate—God clothed in flesh, which is the clearest and greatest self-revelation of God, Redeemer, Savior, Lord, Conqueror over sin and death, and the Great High Priest who empathizes with our weaknesses and struggles. God the Son mediates the sinner’s way back to fellowship with the Father. God the Spirit is present as Advocate, Guide, the One who empowers His people to fulfill missio Dei (the mission of God), and the Sanctifier—making believers holy. The Spirit reminds the church of the words of Jesus, provides ongoing revelation of the significance of the life and ministry of the incarnate Son, and serves to exalt Jesus as the risen Lord and imminent King of Kings.

From the perspective of Pentecostal theology in the Age of the Spirit, the Holy Spirit, who emanates from the Father, ushers in the presence of the Father and functions as the revealer of the Son while transfusing the believer’s life with the salvation accomplished by the Son. It is the Spirit who unites believers with the Father and Son in the mysterious body of Christ. As Scripture is opened and read, the triune God is present through the dynamic presence of the Holy Spirit and working among His people.

The overarching purpose of God’s self-revelation is to enable people to experience life-transforming fellowship with Him. Not only can an individual and community know about God through His divine self-communication, they encounter His presence, which frees them from the enslaving powers of sin, dissolves their self-righteous pride, enlivens them to reverential worship and communion, and enables them to be vessels through whom He can manifest himself to others. While the Bible is not the exclusive medium by which God reveals himself, He sanctifies its pages so that He can communicate himself through its content.

The Bible as an Act of God’s Sanctification

The Old and New Testaments provide examples of God employing humans and creaturely realities in His service to reveal himself and accomplish His purposes among humankind. Webster states that sanctification “is most generally described as set apart by God as a means of divine self-communication … the overall process of God’s ordering of creaturely realities as servants of his self-presentation.” 98

God instructed Moses to gather the materials necessary for the building of a wilderness tabernacle (Exod. 25:1-9). Moved by the Spirit, people generously provided precious metals, wood, skins, cloth, oils, and incense to give tangible form to the heavenly vision received by Moses (35:1-36:7). When all was in order, God’s presence filled the tabernacle, sanctifying the creaturely, so that the community of faith could encounter the Living God in that place and experience covenantal fellowship with Him (40:34-38). The physical properties of the materials were not altered, but they became servants of God so that people received grace-filled, divine revelation when they approached the tabernacle with obedient faith. Those who flippantly mishandled the furnishings or desecrated the location were subject to God’s divine judgment (e.g. Lev. 10:1-11; 2:9; 2 Sam. 6:6-7).

On an earlier occasion, as Moses shepherded his father-in-law’s sheep in the seemingly endless deserts and infrequent oases of Sinai, he heard the voice of God coming “from within” a bush instructing him to take off his sandals for he was standing on “holy ground” (Exod. 3:2-4, NIV). A bush, sand, rocks, and grass sprinkled with deposits of sheep dung were sanctified by God’s revealed presence, set apart as creaturely servants of God where Moses confronted the I AM of Israel (v. 14). In both cases, there is a close relationship between God’s acts of revelation and His acts of sanctification. He employs the creaturely to serve as a venue where He manifests himself and makes His will known.

For Webster, this perspective of Holy Scripture as an act of God’s sanctification enables one to avoid the dual nature attributed to Scripture, which divinizes aspects of the book followed by the bifurcation of the transcendent reality of God and the creaturely, human, historical dimensions of the text. 99 The triune God employed biblical authors with their fallenness and finiteness, their limited worldview perspectives and experiences, the oral traditions and pre-textual sources that preceded the inscribing of the text, the limits of language and grammar, the historical occasionality of the writings, stones, skins, and papyrus, and the long processes of canonization, transcription, and translation to reveal himself, His will, and His love. Through human words that represent His words to readers and hearers, He offered himself for saving and transforming fellowship. Viewing Scripture as an act of God’s sanctification allows Christ’s incarnation to be unique: the Word became flesh, not a text. This perspective accepts the humanness and historicality of Scripture, the ongoing impact of the text on people throughout the flow of history, while explaining how the text continues to serve God’s purposes of revelation to each new generation. The God who revealed himself in time and space inspired and guided people to diachronically record some of these revelations along with their significance, still reveals himself and still speaks relevantly into every historical, cultural, and spiritual context through the medium of Holy Scripture.

Scripture, as an act of God’s sanctifying revelation, safeguards Christians from a Neo-Deistic perspective with its tendency of extracting God from ongoing engagement in the world, believing that He has already done and said all He is going to do and say until the eschaton, leaving us merely with the inspired testimony. Restricting the interpretation of Scripture to its historical meaning could be considered another form of cessationism. Rather, the Spirit of God, through the Book and beyond the Book, is the unfettered presence of Almighty God who is free to act, speak, and dwell in dynamic communion with His people.

The Bible is unique as the Book God has sanctified to serve as a medium whereby He makes known His presence, will, words, and the significance of His saving acts. By sanctifying the creaturely, God himself is encountered and heard. With regards to the Bible, this act of sanctification, which began with the writings of Moses and concluded with the contributions of John, is ongoing and revelatory as generation after generation reads and hears the life-bestowing message set apart by the Spirit for its role in the economy of salvation.

As the Son was incarnate for a limited time in human history to supremely reveal God and His righteousness and satisfy salvation’s demands, the consequences of His act of obedience remain eternally transformative for all who call upon His name. In the same way, over a limited period of time, God employed human beings to inscribe Holy Scripture and canonize its content. But the canon is closed. However, God’s nature, which includes His attributes of self-revelation and self-communication, is not abrogated. The God who spoke still speaks. He will not contradict himself regarding what has already been revealed in the biblical text, but God has not limited himself to redundancy. Because Holy Scripture is an act of God’s revelation and an act of His sanctification, in reading the text one freshly encounters God through His self-communication each time the holy atmosphere of the text is entered.

This view allows one to avoid becoming enmeshed in the debate over inerrancy and infallibility, which historically is a relatively new issue emerging in the Modernist-Fundamentalist controversy of the early twentieth century. 100 Wilson observes that Pentecostals usually identified with the unflinching Biblicism of the fundamentalists in spite of their antagonism and repudiation. The debates tend to exalt scientism, phenomenology, and historical criticism as the ultimate measurements of truth rather than acknowledging that both Christianity and science begin with faith commitments that extend beyond tangible evidence. Ngewa says that although the Bible comes from God, is a revelation of God’s way of redemption with its central teaching on salvation and contains no errors, it is not a science, geography, astronomy or political science textbook. 1 101

Thomas Oden insightfully comments on the distinction that needs to be made between African Orthodoxy and American Fundamentalism:

Classical African orthodoxy is not to be rashly identified with American fundamentalism. The rationalistic spirit of American fundamentalism has never had a close affinity with the spirit of Africa. Fundamentalism was a response to the failure of the European Enlightenment, which was never fully at home in Africa. Fundamentalism is a defensive reaction against modernity and hence dependent on modernity. Orthodoxy does not compete with modernity. It precedes and transcends modern consciousness and all claimants to postmodern consciousness.

The European Christianity that tracked the illusions of the Enlightenment was continually tempted to be overly awed by the vitality of the fallen world. That world, in view of African orthodoxy, has, in the mercy of God, already been brought low. 102

The fact that God sanctifies the text to reveal himself issues a caution to the exegete who desires to atomize and analyze every jot and tittle of the text as the master of the grammatical-historical data, and to the noncritical practitioner who finds the meaning intuitively. The exegete, who investigates in, behind, and in front of the text by considering authorial intent and context, the complexities of semiotics in literary communication, and the presuppositions and contextual factors of the reader that impact interpretive meaning and completes the cycle of understanding, must recognize that biblical interpretation is bidirectional. As individuals examine the self-revelation of God in this sanctified book, penned through the Spirit’s inspiration, they are being exegeted and parsed by the Spirit speaking through the words of the text. While attempting to master the book of God, the God of the book desires to evaluate and master the thoughts, motives, actions, and culture of the hermeneuts. The author of Hebrews explains, “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight” (Heb. 4:12-13, NIV). As the exegete examines the text, the text exegetes the reader. The reader must humbly open its pages and hear God speaking, see God in action, respond to His critique of one’s prideful carnality, and accept His invitation for repentance, reconciliation, and conformity to Christ’s image. Reading the sanctified Word, those who hold its pages need to metaphorically “take off their sandals for they are standing on holy ground.”

It is possible that both the scholar and the practitioner err in their reading of Scripture—one in over-analyzing words and grammar, exposing aspects of the text not intended in the original writing, the other ignoring Ngewa’s advice to read each passage in the way the author intended, not over-literalizing or allegorizing the passage, and not ignoring historical or literary contexts. 103 Both find meanings beyond the biblical author’s intent. Though this topic will receive more attention when discussing a hermeneutical scheme for African Pentecostals in the twenty-first century, a few thoughts are appropriate here.

Kevin J. Vanhoozer rightly describes written discourse as what an author wrote to someone about something. 104 He states that discourse is always someone’s performance. 105 Hermeneutics is a matter of discerning the discourse performed by someone. 106 I would propose that Pentecostal interpretation, alongside conservative, Evangelical exegesis, pursues the understanding of the author’s discourse—grasping what the author said about something to someone. This requires an examination of the historical contexts of the author and audience, and an attempt to reconstruct the spiritual, cultural, and social milieu of the audience in order to determine the purpose for which the author wrote. The interpreter must also consider the meaning of the text and its application for the first readers. After exegeting or approximating the meaning, the interpreter switches from being the exegete to the hermeneut and recontextualizes the original meaning to his or her own historical and cultural context by extending the meaning, considering the implications of the text into a new situation. Application is essential, but requires a careful examination of the similarities and differences between the original audience’s culture and that of the contemporary audience. Gordon D. Fee refers to this comparison as looking for similar particulars. 107 Ngewa reinforces Fee’s caution when considering women’s headcoverings (1 Tim. 2:8; 1 Cor. 11:5-6). He comments, “If we insist on behavior that was appropriate in ancient Greece when preaching on these passages in Africa, we may not be communicating the correct message.” 108

Should Pentecostals view the nature of the Bible differently from Evangelicals and devise a unique hermeneutical approach to the Scripture? For a Pentecostal interpreter, there are additional considerations as one notes the dynamic impact of the Holy Spirit on reading the text and on understanding what the Spirit-filled, inspired authors intended to say as they were set apart by the Spirit to serve God’s purposes and reveal Him through their inscriptions. African Pentecostal practitioners are under no delusion that they can grasp the full meaning of the text and the vast array of implications employing human reasoning and academic training alone. Repeatedly, they comment that the Bible can be understood only with the illumination of the Spirit of God. One’s ability to understand is not measured by human intelligence or reason, but requires the Spirit to grant an enhanced capacity to comprehend the message given from the mind of God. This perspective is consistent with Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 2:14 that the human mind, without the help of the Spirit, cannot comprehend or accept what God has communicated through the Spirit in Scripture. 109

The Pentecostal, likewise, must consider the possibility that the Spirit could sanctify the words of the biblical authors to communicate more than what they intended. The authors of Scripture were inspired by the Holy Spirit, yet finite and fallen. They were conscious of the content of their intended communication. But is the Spirit of God limited to communicate only what human authors consciously intended to say to their target audiences within their specific, historical contexts? Were the authors, while redeemed and Spirit-filled, able to fully grasp and communicate all God was revealing to them and wanted them to understand and convey? A Pentecostal interpreter may assume that the authors fully knew what they intended to say, but also consider that the authors did not fully grasp how God would take their human words to communicate more than they consciously intended. For example, many times a preacher has consciously prepared and delivered a message fully aware of the content. After the service parishioners report that God spoke a helpful word to them through the message; the wonder—what they heard was far from what the preacher thought or intended to communicate. The unlimited Spirit could most certainly communicate more through the author’s words than the inspired human realized. Accepting the possibility that God could intend a fuller meaning than the author inscribed requires that one affirm sensus plenior.

One might further question if the readers, then and now, fully grasp the message the author intended? It is possible that the Spirit uses the author’s words to communicate more to the readers than the biblical author intended. This surplus of potential meaning can make one nervous because the subject matter being analyzed may be multivalent, more dynamic than inert words possessing meanings limited to their historical context, and because the interpreter cannot master the extent of the sanctified and inspired revelatory communication. 110 Interpreters can establish the general intent of the author’s meaning and the legitimate implications that flow from the text, but they cannot limit the unfettered voice of the Spirit who sanctifies the message to make himself present and relevant to every person and generation and culture. The meaning of the text has boundaries and cannot mean all things to all people. God has given the community of faith the objective text to establish the inspired meaning as it relates to the author’s intent. Study, sensitivity to literary and historical contexts, and examination of the historical meaning of the text establish safeguards from heretical interpretations. But the Spirit, who blows where he wants (listeth, John 3:8 KJV), requires a humble openness to new insights and perspectives, accountability to all of Scripture and to the believing community, and discernment of the voice of God as one prayerfully meditates upon God’s self- and written-revelation.

Jesus told His disciples that when the Spirit would come, He would lead them into all truth (John 16:13). This text could be viewed from two perspectives. One, Jesus had already given the disciples all the truth they would need, but the Spirit would lead them into understanding and obeying the truth. A second view could be as follows: Jesus provided His disciples with part of the truth they needed, but His time was limited and their capacity to handle and retain all the truth was restricted. With the coming and abiding presence of the Spirit, more truth would be revealed for them to appropriate and obey. It seems the infinite God would want to continue to reveal himself and His truth to those who love and follow Him.

Thus, through God’s sanctification of, and His self-revelation and communication through the author’s words and ideas, it is possible that both exegete and practitioner are exposing truths God intended for them to discover that speak into their current situation. Clark H. Pinnock describes this exposition as surplus meaning. In the hermeneutical model that will be proposed, there needs to be a dialogical accountability between the Holy Spirit’s revelation, the author’s inspired, historical meaning, the individual exegete’s discernment, the input of the faith community, and the testimony and impetus of God’s theophonic, unfettered manifestations outside of the Christian community. These aspects of dialogical accountability ultimately guide the faithful in apostolic function to engage the unreached peoples and make disciples for Jesus Christ.

The Spirit set apart human and creaturely agents for this God-ordained task supervising the entire process of reflection, writing, editing and redacting, compilation, canonization, and translation. The sanctification of the people and the process that has generated this book, which is the result of God’s self-revelation and self-communication, is no natural book. The Bible is the book that God uses to become present and to speak to its reader. God’s revelation in Holy Scripture and sanctification of Holy Scripture are ongoing. As with the burning bush, through whom God spoke, and later through a donkey, or in the midst of desert sand or a tent that served as a locale where God was encountered, sanctification results in the creaturely functioning beyond its normal limits to serve God’s purposes without changing its substance or internal nature. Through sanctification, the Spirit speaks not only the message intended by the authors for their target audiences, but a relevant message to the contemporary reader—sometimes a meaning more simple and restricted than the authors intended; sometimes more profound and far-reaching than their words were expected to bear.

The Holy Scripture as an Act of God’s Inspiration

Inspiration is the dimension of the downward movement from the self-revealing God to the process of sanctifying the creaturely for God’s salvific and missional purposes to His employment of human agents in their communicative role of writing. While the revelatory-communicative task flows from God to the author, to the text, to the reader, inspiration focuses on the author inscribing words that serve to faithfully carry God’s message to His people. Ford observes, “Inspiration gives revelation infallible expression.” 111 Inspiration, however, is a derivative of revelation. The bedrock of one’s faith rests on God himself rather than in the inspiration and authority of Scripture. As Augustine said, “I believe in order to know.” It is one’s faith in the Almighty, self-revealing, and self-communicating God that enables a person to acknowledge that God has provided people with this precious book that is inspired, authoritative, and trustworthy concerning what it intentionally teaches. 112 As inspired words, these humanly constructed symbols of communication represent God’s voice speaking to the reader; as authoritative words, the message should be obeyed; as trustworthy words, the communication is a guide for a living faith and moral conduct that leads to eternal life. John Calvin commented, “Certainty of faith should be sought from none but God only.” 113 Because one believes in the reality and certainty of a righteous, self-revealing God, the person can examine the book God has ordained to make known His gracious presence and will.

Second Peter 1:20-21

Peter provides a window into the process of inspiration: “No prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for ?no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men ?moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God” (2 Pet. 1:20-21, NASV). In the context of 2 Peter, the prophecy (prophēteia) was the revelatory message about the imminent return of Christ recorded in Old Testament Scripture (graphē). 114 The reality of His Second Coming was opposed by Peter’s antagonists who claimed the prophecy and its interpretation were of human origin. 115 Richard J. Bauckham distinguishes the initial revelation from the interpretation (epilysis), the former coming as a heavenly vision, dream, or some other revelatory manifestation, the latter being the interpretation of the vision which serves as the prophecy. 116 The prophetic message, which involved interpretation, was not arbitrary, but originated with God (apo theoui). 117 Bauckham interprets “one’s own” (idias) as referring to the prophet rather than to a contemporary reader. 118 For Bauckham then, the initial revelation and its meaning were given by God to the Old Testament prophet. Peter and his fellow apostles were merely to relay the message to their contemporaries not imposing any additional meaning on the text.

In 2 Peter 1:21, Peter explains that no prophecy was impelled (ēnechthē)—or possibly borne, brought forward, carried, or delivered—by the will of man, but on the contrary men spoke from God, [men] impelled—gripped, borne, brought forward, carried, or delivered—by the Holy Spirit (hyppo pneumatos hagiou pheromenoi). The prophets actively spoke the Spirit-delivered word as they were passively borne along or driven by the Spirit. The prophetic, self-revealing message from God was conveyed to human minds by the Holy Spirit who carried them or brought them forward to publicly announce God’s will. Peter uses cognates of pherō twice in this text: in the first phrase of 1:21, he reports that it was never by means of or through a person’s will (thelēmati) 1 119 that a prophecy was brought forth or delivered (pherō); 120 In the second phrase, he explains—on the contrary, men who were being brought forth (pherō) by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. 121 Both the prophecy from God and the prophet who voiced and inscribed the Spirit-delivered message were brought forth or publically presented through the agency of the Holy Spirit. Through the agency of the Spirit both message and messenger were faithfully presented to their hearers.

Inspiration is the divine movement of God’s message from Him to the biblical authors to the written text where the entire process was set apart or sanctified by the Holy Spirit The creatureliness of the authors was not eliminated, suspended, or overwhelmed by the Spirit, but engaged to employ their words, thoughts, and intentions within their historical setting, giving them the communicative capacity of bringing forth God’s faithful and trustworthy message. One sees the dimensions of revelation, sanctification, and inspiration in the receiving, interpreting, and declaring of the message that God is coming to cataclysmically judge and save, and eternally dwell among His people (2 Pet. 3).

2 Timothy 3:16

Paul provides Timothy, his Ephesian audience, and readers today with a reference to the inspiration of Scripture: “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (NASV). Most scholars recognize the use of theopneustos (“inspired” or “God-breathed”) as predicative rather than attributive claiming that “all Scripture is inspired” rather than “all inspired Scripture is profitable,” 122 introducing the possibility that some components of Scripture are not inspired. Instead of limiting Scripture to Old Testament, William D. Mounce proposes that the term graphē had achieved technical status by the time Paul penned this epistle around A.D. 67, which referred to all the books that were currently recognized by the churches as being authoritative, such as the Gospels and Epistles. 123 Amidst the challenges the younger apostle faced, Paul wanted to assure him that the gospel he was to preach and teach had divine origin, the source being God, and was sufficient for all the challenges his ministry would encounter. 124

This text provides little fresh insight regarding the nature of Scripture, but it describes the Bible’s usefulness and functionality. Profitable or useful (ōphelimos) governs the four following prepositional phrases each starting with “for” (pros). All of Scripture is equally useful for these four distinct purposes: for teaching (comprehensively), reproving (exposing the errors or punishing the carnal), correcting (improving, setting right, or pointing believers to the right path), and training (habitual discipline focused on practical results) in righteousness. 125 Luke T. Johnson claims that the regular and comprehensive use of Scripture leads to a culture of righteousness.126 The term “righteousness” would refer not only to being graciously placed in right relationship with God through Christ, a forensic understanding, but being made spiritually upright and empowered to do what is right before God.

Verse 17 adds, “So that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (NIV). While Johnson says this phrase is a hina (hina) clause serving as a result rather than the purpose for heeding inspired Scripture, Fee presents a stronger argument that it is a purpose clause with Paul’s chief concern being the readiness of his young understudy to withstand the challenges he faced in this apostolic assignment. 127 Timothy needed to nurture his own life in the Scripture for the purpose of being thoroughly equipped for every good deed. Timothy was instructed to examine the entirety of Holy Scripture for the purpose of being a man of God (the common Old Testament designation of a prophet) who was thoroughly equipped, perfectly prepared, and fully ready for every good work. The Holy Scriptures, which testify to the self-revealing, sanctifying, and inspiring nature of the triune God, function for the purpose of making God’s people proficient for every task. 128


Ultimately, Scripture is the revelation of God’s Person and His inspired message to those who read its pages. When one opens the Book, he or she enters into the sanctifying mystery of God and stands on holy ground. As Christians read the Word of the Lord, they encounter the majestic presence and terrifying mercy of the triune God. 129 They sense the penetrating eyes of God examining their lives and cultures.

Bediako claims that the Bible is a prism, and when a person and culture are passed through its refracting powers, all intrinsic aspects are seen more clearly and evaluated more thoroughly by God. Through the Holy Bible, God examines believers’ traditions, relationships, and commitments. As a representative of the Northern Hemisphere, Rickie Moore’s perspective mirrors Bediako. 130 He testifies to his academic journey as a Pentecostal, intimidated by the hyper-rationalism and historical criticism of the academy. During his study of Deuteronomy, the theophanic revelation of God in his holiness and power on Mount Sinai that confronted Israel became his personal experience. He describes the encounter as a “radical Charismatic criticism,” a criticism not of text or history, but of his own charismatic commitments and ethos. The prism of Scripture and God’s Holy Spirit exposed his cultural presuppositions and fears, brought transformation to his worldview, and enhanced his faith and courage.

Gazing at Scripture, this sanctified medium of communication between the Holy God and fallen humankind, Christians become aware of His presence; they hear His offer of reconciliation and covenant; and they are invited to partner in the task of building His Kingdom among the nations. As followers of Christ open the wrinkled pages once again, may they be freshly amazed at the dynamic presence of the living God and acknowledge that they are standing on mystery-laden, holy ground.

Sources Consulted
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"Africa's Population: Miracle or Malthus?" The Economist, 17 December 2011, http://www.economist.com/node/21541834 (accessed January 30, 2012).

"China-Africa Relations: A Neo-Imperialism or a Neo-Colonialism? A Reflection." African and Asian Studies 10 (2011): 234-266.

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"The Abuja Declaration." East Africa Center for Law and Justice. http://eaclj.org/component/content/article/25-religion-feature-articles/10-the-abuja-declaration.html (accessed January 26, 2012).

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Adamo, David T. "Historical Development of Old Testament Interpretations in Africa." In Biblical Interpretation in African Perspective. Edited by David T. Adamo, 7-30. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 2006.

Archer, Kenneth J. A Pentecostal Hermeneutic for the Twenty-First Century: Spirit, Scripture and Community. London: T & T Clark, 2004.

Barrett David B., and Tim M. Johnson. "Global Statistics." In New International Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements. Rev. and expanded. Edited by Stanley M. Burgess and Eduard M. van der Maas, 284-302. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002.

Bauckham, Richard J. Jude, 2 Peter. Waco, TX: Word, 1983.
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Berger, Peter L., and Thomas Luckman. The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1966.

Bigg, Charles. A Critical and Exegetical Commentary of the Epistles of St. Peter and St. Jude. Edinburgh, England: T & T Clark, 1902.

Burgess, Stanley M. The Holy Spirit: Ancient Christian Traditions. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1984.

———."The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit: The Ancient Fathers." In New International Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements. Rev. and expanded. Edited by Stanley M. Burgess and Eduard M. van der Maas, 730-746. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002.

Burgess, Stanley M., Gary B. McGee, and Patrick H. Alexander, eds. Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1988.

Calvin, John. Articles Agreed Upon by the Faculty of Sacred Theology of Paris, with the Antidote in Tracts and Treatises. Vol. 1. Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd, 1958.

Chakwera, Lazarus M. Reach the Nations: A Biblical Mandate. Springfield, MO: Africa Theological Training Service, 2001.

Epstein, Edmund L., and Robert Kole, eds. The Language of African Literature. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 1998.

Eshete, Tibebe. The Evangelical Movement in Ethiopia: Resistance and Resilience. Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2009.

Fee, Gordon D. 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1988.
Fee, Gordon D., and Douglas Stuart. How to Read the Bible for All It's Worth. 3rd. ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2003.

Ford, Charles W. The Inspired Scriptures. Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, 1978.

Hillyer, Norman. 1 and 2 Peter, Jude. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1992.
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———. "Because Jesus Did." Mountain Movers (June 1989): 10-11.

———. "Can the World Really be Evangelized?" Advance (February 1968): 13.

———. "Critical Issues." Advance (May 1987): 4-5.

———. "The Assemblies of God in Mission." Pentecostal Evangel, October 12, 1969, 2-4.

———. "The Holy Spirit and the Great Commission." World Pentecost (First Quarter 1972): 4-5.

———. "We are Not Creating Utopia." Pentecostal Evangel, February 11, 1973, 20-21.

———. "What Makes a Modern Missionary?" Pentecostal Evangel, July 28, 1963, 6-7.

———. "Bush or Boulevard?" Pentecostal Evangel, February, 11, 1968, 16-17.

———. "Moving Mountains." Mountain Movers (September 1981): 3-5.

———. "Social Implications of the Gospel." Intercom no. 3, October 22, 1962, 1-9.

———. "The Great Commission: A Continuing Mission." Advance (March 1974): 4-5.

———. "This Year in Foreign Missions." Intercom no. 4, November 2, 1962, 1-3.

Johnson, Alan R. Apostolic Function in 21st Century Missions. Springfield, MO: Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, 2009.

Johnson, Luke T. The First and Second Letters to Timothy. New York, NY: Doubleday, 2001.

Klaus, Byron D., and Douglas P. Petersen, eds. The Essential J. Philip Hogan. Springfield, MO: Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, 2006.

Kurewa, John Wesley Z. Preaching and Cultural Identity: Proclaiming the Gospel in Africa. Nashville, TN: Abingdon, 2000.

Lock, Walter. The Pastoral Epistles. Edinburgh, England: T & T Clark, 1924.
Maluleke, Tinyiko S. "The Bible and African Theologies." In Interpreting the New Testament in Africa. Edited by Mary N. Getui, Tinyiko S. Maluleke, and Justin S. Ukpong, 165-176. Nairobi: Acton, 2001.

McGee, Gary B. "Hogan, James Philip." In New International Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements. Rev. and expanded. Edited by Stanley M. Burgess and Eduard M. van der Maas, 404-406. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002.

———. People of the Spirit: The Assemblies of God. Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, 2004.

Mojola, Aloo Osotsi. "Bible Translation in Africa." In Africa Bible Commentary. Edited by Tokunboh Adeyemo, 1315. Nairobi: WordAlive, 2006.

Moore, Rickie D. "Deuteronomy and the Fire of God: A Critical Charismatic Interpretation." Journal of Pentecostal Theology (1995): 28-33.

Mounce, William D. Pastoral Epistles. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2000.

Mugambi, Jesse N. K. "Foundations for an African Approach to Biblical
Hermeneutics." In Interpreting the New Testament in Africa. Edited by Mary N. Getui, Tinyiko S. Maluleke, and Justin S. Ukpong, 9-29. Nairobi: Acton, 2001.

Musibi, Patrick M. "Authority and the Bible." In Africa Bible Commentary. Edited by Tokunboh Adeyemo, 79. Nairobi: WordAlive, 2006.

Newbigin, Lesslie. Proper Confidence: Faith, Doubt, and Certainty in Christian Discipleship. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1995.

Ngewa, Samuel M. 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus. Nairobi: WordAlive, 2006.

———. "Principles of Interpretation." In Africa Bible Commentary. Edited by Tokunboh Adeyemo, 1103-1104. Nairobi: WordAlive, 2006.

Oden, Thomas C. How Africa Shaped the Christian Mind: Rediscovering the African Seedbed of Western Christianity. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2007.

Okorocha, Eunice. "Cultural Issues and the Biblical message." In Africa Bible Commentary. Edited by Tokunboh Adeyemo, 1467-1468. Nairobi: WordAlive, 2006.

Pinnock, Clark H. The Scripture Principle: Reclaiming the Full Authority of the Bible. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2006.

Reicke, Bo. The Epistles of James, Peter and John. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1964.

Thomas, John Christopher. "Women, Pentecostals and the Bible: An Experiment in Pentecostal Hermeneutics." Journal of Pentecostal Theology 5 (1994): 41-56.

Vanhoozer, Kevin J. "Discourse on Matter: Hermeneutics and the 'Miracle' of Understanding." In Hermeneutics at the Crossroads. Edited by Kevin J. Vanhoozer, James K. A. Smith, and Bruce E. Benson, 3-34. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2006.

Weber, Max. The Sociology of Religion. London: Methuen, 1965.
Webster, John. Holy Scripture: A Dogmatic Sketch. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

Whitehead, James D., and Evelyn E. Whitehead. Method in Ministry: Theological Reflection and Christian Ministry. New York, NY: HarperSanFrancisco, 1980.

Wilson, Everett A. Strategy of the Spirit: J. Philip Hogan and the Growth of the Assemblies of God Worldwide 1960-1990. London: Regnum, 1997.
World Christian Database. http://worldchristiandatabase.org (accessed January 18, 2012).

Wright, Christopher J. H. The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible's Grand Narrative. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press Academic, 2006.

Yong, Amos. Spirit-Word-Community: Theological Hermeneutics in Trinitarian Perspective. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2001.


1 The expression “Pentecostal,” as described by Burgess, McGee, and Alexander is employed here: “The terms ‘Pentecostal’ and ‘charismatic’ are often used interchangeably. Indeed, they do have many features in common … ‘Pentecostals’ subscribe to a work of grace subsequent to conversion in which Spirit baptism is evidenced by glossolalia; ‘Charismatics” do not always advocate either the necessity of a second work of grace or the evidence of glossolalia as an affirmation of Spirit baptism. Yet both emphasize the present work of the Spirit through gifts in the life of the individual and the church.” Stanley M. Burgess, Gary B. McGee, and Patrick H. Alexander, eds., Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1988), 1.

2 World Christian Database, http://0-worldchristiandatabase.org (accessed January 18, 2012). This source uses the terminology Pentecostal, Charismatic, and Neocharismatic and combines the three groups under the title “Renewalists.” The third category, Neocharismatics, represents those groups who do not fit within the general definitions of either Pentecostals or Charismatics.

3 Barrett calculates the number of Renewalists by 2025 in Asia to be 218 million and in Latin America, 203 million. David B. Barrett and Tim M. Johnson, “Global Statistics,” in New International Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements, rev. and expanded, eds. Stanley M. Burgess and Eduard M. van der Maas (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002), 287.

4 Philip Jenkins, The New Faces of Christianity: Believing the Bible in the Global South (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2006), 9.

5 According to Matthew 24:14 and 28:19-20, the gospel of the kingdom of God is to be preached in all the world geographically for the purpose of making disciples of individuals from within every ethnolinguistic people group (π?ντα τ? ?θνη), and then the end (τ?λος) will come.

6 Lazarus M. Chakwera, Reach the Nations: A Biblical Mandate (Springfield, MO: Africa Theological Training Service, 2001), 7.

7 Ibid., 8.

8 Ibid., 10.

9 Joe Kapolyo, “Matthew,” in Africa Bible Commentary, ed. Tokunboh Adeyemo, 1103-1170 (Nairobi: WordAlive, 2006), 1170.

10 My observations are confirmed by Tukumbi Lumumba-Kasongo. He defines imperialism as “a policy, practice, or advocacy of extending the power and dominance of a nation especially by direct territorial acquisition or by gaining indirect control over the political or economic life of other areas: the extension or imposition of power, authority, or influence” and reports that China has instituted this agenda in Africa. See “China-Africa Relations: A Neo-Imperialism or a Neo-Colonialism? A Reflection,” African and Asian Studies 10 (2011): 244.

11 The Abuja Declaration outlines Islam’s plans for making Africa an Islamic continent. See “The Abuja Declaration,” East Africa Center for Law and Justice, http://eaclj.org/component/content/article/25-religion-feature-articles/10-the-abuja-declaration.html (accessed January 26, 2012).

12 Indigenous is used to describe those entities that thrive in their natural habitat. To apply this term to a national church is to report that the church has its own leadership, provides its own funding for church operations, is actively engaged in evangelism and church planting among the majority people groups in the country, has contextualized her theology and worship styles to be meaningful for the local people, sends believers to make disciples and plant churches among the unreached people groups at home and abroad, and participates in acts of compassion to assist people in physical need.

13 Kenya’s current population is approximately 40 million. If the Kenya Assemblies of God reaches their growth goals by 2015, 7 percent of Kenya will attend her churches.

14 “A Decade of Harvest, 2008-2018,” Tanzania Assemblies of God, http://www.tagchurcht.org/?page_id=256 (accessed January 7, 2012).

15 Chakwera, 7.

16 Tokunboh Adeyemo, “General Introduction,” in Africa Bible Commentary, ed. Tokunboh Adeyemo, viii-x (Nairobi: WordAlive, 2006), viii.

17 Byang H. Kato, “Theological Anemia in Africa,” in Biblical Christianity in Africa: Theological Perspectives in Africa, ed. Byang H. Kato, 11-14 (Achimota, Ghana: Africa Christian Press, 1985), 11, 13.

18 Amos Yong, Spirit-Word-Community: Theological Hermeneutics in Trinitarian Perspective (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2001).

19 John Christopher Thomas, “Women, Pentecostals and the Bible: An Experiment in Pentecostal Hermeneutics,” Journal of Pentecostal Theology 5 (1994): 41-56. Another scholar who advocates this hermeneutic is Kenneth J. Archer, A Pentecostal Hermeneutic for the Twenty-First Century: Spirit, Scripture and Community (London: T & T Clark, 2004).

20 Kenneth J. Archer, A Pentecostal Hermeneutic for the Twenty-first Century: Spirit, Scripture and Community (London: T & T Clark, 2004).

21 Dr. Johnson, Apostolic Function in 21st Century Missions (Springfield, MO: Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, 2009), v.

22 “Africa Population Tops a Billion,” BBC News, 18 November 2009, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi /8366591.stm (accessed January 30, 2012). Also see “Africa’s Population: Miracle or Malthus?” The Economist, 17 December 2011, http://www.economist.com/node/21541834 (accessed January 30, 2012).

23 The Joshua Project reports fifty-eight countries including Western Sahara. “Africa,” Joshua Project, http://www.joshuaproject.net/continents.php (accessed January 24, 2012); African Tribal Names reports 7,400 different tribes on the continent; “Tribal Groups of Africa,” Ezakwantu, http://www.ezakwantu.com/Gallery%20 Tribal%20Names%20-%20African%20Tribe%20Names.htm (accessed January 24, 2012); Edmund L. Epstein and Robert Kole, eds. The Language of African Literature (Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 1998), ix.

24 Tinyiko S. Maluleke, “The Bible and African Theologies,” in Interpreting the New Testament in Africa, eds. Mary N. Getui, Tinyiko S. Maluleke, and Justin S. Ukpong (Nairobi: Acton, 2001), 168.

25 Jesse N. K. Mugambi, “Foundations for an African Approach to Biblical Hermeneutics,” in Interpreting the New Testament in Africa, eds. Mary N. Getui, Tinyiko S. Maluleke, and Justin S. Ukpong (Nairobi: Acton, 2001), 10.

26 Ibid., 11.

27 Ibid., 11-13.

28 Ibid., 16. I am not inferring from Mugambi’s quote that I am an expert on Africa; I am a pilgrim called there to serve God’s Kingdom and learn.

29 For a discussion on the benefits of both an emic and etic view, see Tibebe Eshete, The Evangelical Movement in Ethiopia: Resistance and Resilience (Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2009), 11-12. Thomas C. Oden, in his attempts to define Africa and the contribution early Africans made to the development of Christianity, states, “If a text was written in Africa it will be treated as African. That is simple, straightforward criterion, much clearer than speculations about ethnicity or pigment as decisive criterion for Africanness.” See How Africa Shaped the Christian Mind: Rediscovering the African Seedbed of Western Christianity (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2007), 69. While the author of this dissertation is not native to Africa, he hopes to manifest an authentic Africanness throughout this project.

30 Sherwood G. Lingenfelter and Marvin K. Mayer, Ministering Cross-Culturally: An Incarnational Model for Personal Relationships (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1986), 24-26, 117-121.

31 Kenneth McElhanon, “Don’t Give Up on the Incarnational Model,” Evangelical Missions Quarterly 27 (1991): 390-393.

32 Each student answered four questions that are factors effecting one’s interpretation of Scripture: 1) In your own words, explain what the Bible is. 2) Describe the process you use to determine the meaning of a scriptural text. 3) What are cultural factors that you consider unique to Africa? and 4) Select a brief passage in Scripture of 4-10 verses and explain what it means to you. This approach assumes the theories of Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckman, in The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1966), which claims that a people’s worldview is shaped unconsciously from birth acquired through primary socialization by significant others. As one matures, a secondary socialization occurs as the circle of influencers is broadened and institutional structures affect one’s perception of reality. The process of forming one’s worldview, or the way a people perceive, deal with, and explain reality, includes externalization, objectification, internalization, and legitimation. Once the worldview is internalized and legitimated, changing it is extremely difficult. This research works with the assumptions of James D. Whitehead and Evelyn E. Whitehead, in Method in Ministry: Theological Reflection and Christian Ministry (New York, NY: HarperSanFrancisco, 1980) that the Christian and spiritual content of one’s worldview is determined by religious traditions (doctrines, theologies), personal experience, Scripture knowledge, and the surrounding culture. The significant component missing from both groups of theoreticians is the work of supernatural intervention or theophany.

33 J. Philip Hogan, “Bush or Boulevard?” Pentecostal Evangel, February, 11, 1968, 17.

34 Ibid.

35 J. Philip Hogan, “Moving Mountains,” Mountain Movers (September 1981): 3.

36 J. Philip Hogan, “This Year in Foreign Missions,” Intercom no. 4, November 2, 1962, 2.

37 J. Philip Hogan, “Social Implications of the Gospel,” Intercom no. 3, October 22, 1962, 3.

38 J. Philip Hogan, “The Great Commission: A Continuing Mission,” Advance (March 1974): 4.

39 Everett A. Wilson, Strategy of the Spirit: J. Philip Hogan and the Growth of the Assemblies of God Worldwide 1960-1990 (London: Regnum, 1997), 23.

40 Wilson, 2; Gary B. McGee, “Hogan, James Philip,” Dictionary of Pentecostal Charismatic Movements, in New International Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements, rev. and expanded, eds. Stanley M. Burgess and Eduard M. van der Maas; Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002), 406; Gary B. McGee, People of the Spirit: The Assemblies of God (Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, 2004), 406; “A Letter of Thanks,” letter  distributed at Hogan’s Farewell Banquet, January 23, 1990.

41 J. Philip Hogan, “The Holy Spirit and the Great Commission,” World Pentecost (First Quarter 1972): 5.

42 Byron D. Klaus and Douglas P. Petersen, eds. The Essential J. Philip Hogan (Springfield, MO: Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, 2006), 17.

43 Ibid., 25.

44  Hogan, “Social Implications of the Gospel,” 7.

45 J. Philip Hogan, “The Assemblies of God in Mission,” Pentecostal Evangel, October 12, 1969, 4.

46 J. Philip Hogan, “75 Years of Pentecostal Missions,” The Council Today, August 9, 1989, 10.

47 Hogan, “Moving Mountains,” 5.

48 J. Philip Hogan, “Critical Issues,” Advance (May 1987): 4.

49 Wilson, 5.

50 J. Philip Hogan, “We are not Creating Utopia,” Pentecostal Evangel, February 11, 1973, 21.

51 Ibid., 21.

52 Wilson, 38-49.

53 Hogan, “Social Implications of the Gospel,” 1-9.

54 Hogan, “Critical Issues,” 4.

55 Wilson, 53-54.

56 Hogan, “This Year in Foreign Missions,” 1.

57 Wilson, 56-67.

58 J. Philip Hogan, “Can the World Really be Evangelized?” Advance (February 1968): 13.

59 Wilson, 5.

60 J. Philip Hogan, “What Makes a Modern Missionary?” Pentecostal Evangel, July 28,1963, 6.

61 Klaus and Petersen, 90.

62 Ibid., 91.

63 Hogan, “The Assemblies of God in Mission,” 4.

64 Hogan, “Bush or Boulevards?” 17.

65 Ibid.

66 Ibid.

67 Klaus and Petersen, 30.

68 J. Philip Hogan, “Because Jesus Did,” Mountain Movers (June 1989): 11.

69 Ibid., 10.

70 Hogan, “Social Implications of the Gospel,” 4.

71 Ibid., 6.

72 Ibid., 1-9.

73 Hogan, “Critical Issues,” 5.

74 Hogan, “Social Implications of the Gospel,” 7.

75 Ibid.

76 For a helpful discussion on the meaning of majority and minority worlds, see “Majority World,” Apropedia, http://www.appropedia.org/Majority_world (accessed January 23, 2012).

77 Patrick M. Musibi, “Authority and the Bible,” in Africa Bible Commentary, ed. Tokunboh Adeyemo (Nairobi: WordAlive, 2006), 79.

78 Kwame Bediako, “Scripture as the Interpreter of Culture and Tradition,” in Africa Bible Commentary, ed. Tokunboh Adeyemo (Nairobi: WordAlive, 2006), 3.

79 Ibid., 4.

80 David T. Adamo, “Historical Development of Old Testament Interpretations in Africa,” in Biblical Interpretation in African Perspective,ed. David T. Adamo (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 2006), 19.

81 John Wesley Z. Kurewa, Preaching and Cultural Identity: Proclaiming the Gospel in Africa (Nashville, TN: Abingdon, 2000), 102.

82 The Bible with a dual nature, like the dual nature view of Christ, sees two separate natures functioning simultaneously: there is the human dimension and there is the separate, distinct divine nature, both operating simultaneously within the Holy Scriptures. For Christ, rather than one, melded, unique nature that is simultaneously fully God and fully Man, two separate natures are operative. Concerning the Bible, the claim would be that the Bible is both divine and human, two natures that operate separately, but simultaneously.

83 Docetism, as it relates to Jesus, is the theory that Jesus appeared to be fully human, but this was an illusion. He was the divine Son of God as a pure Spirit-being with a human appearance. Relating this concept to the Bible, one would claim the Bible appears to be creaturely with pages and ink, the product of a human, historical process, but in reality, the Bible is divine in nature.

84 Adoptionism Christologically believes that Jesus was born with a human nature, but at some point after His conception or birth, most likely at His baptism, He was absorbed into the divine, adopted by God to be the divine Son of God. The human was taken over by the Spirit. Concerning Scripture, this view would claim that the Bible was a human product which was taken over by the triune God to become something other than creaturely or natural.

85 Transubstantiation within Roman Catholicism believes that at the moment of a priest’s invocation and consecration of the Eucharist, the creaturely nature of the bread and wine is transformed miraculously into the physical body and blood of Christ. Some Pentecostal practitioners describe the human words of the text being transformed or transmuted through prayer and the infusion of the Holy Spirit producing divine words and a divine text.

86 Cited in Lesslie Newbigin, Proper Confidence: Faith, Doubt, and Certainty in Christian Discipleship (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1995), 9-12.

87 Christopher J. H. Wright, The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press Academic, 2006), 48.

88 Eunice Okorocha, “Cultural Issues and the Biblical message,” in Africa Bible Commentary, ed. Tokunboh Adeyemo (Nairobi: WordAlive, 2006), 1467-1468.

89 Burgess, The Holy Spirit,49-50; Stanley M. Burgess, “The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit: The Ancient Fathers,” in New International Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements, rev. and expanded, eds. Stanley M. Burgess and Eduard M. van der Maas (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002), 419.

90 Max Weber, The Sociology of Religion (London: Methuen, 1965).

91 Rickie D. Moore, “Deuteronomy and the Fire of God: A Critical Charismatic Interpretation,” Journal of Pentecostal Theology (1995): 28-33.

92 John Webster, Holy Scripture: A Dogmatic Sketch (Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press, 2003). Webster is professor of systematic theology at the University of Aberdeen. In this text, he provides a dogmatic theology on the ontology of Scripture.

93 Samuel Ngewa, “Principles of Interpretation,” in Africa Bible Commentary, ed. Tokunboh Adeyemo (Nairobi: WordAlive, 2006), 1103-1104.

94 Webster, Holy Scripture, 12.

95 Ibid., 13.

96 Aloo Osotsi Mojola, “Bible Translation in Africa, in Africa Bible Commentary, ed. Tokunboh Adeyemo (Nairobi: WordAlive, 2006), 1315.

97 Bediako, 4.

98 Webster, Holy Scripture, 9-10.

99 Ibid., 18-30.

100 Wilson, 11, 31, notes the paradoxical relationship between Pentecostals and the fundamentalists during these debates. He comments, “The Pentecostals usually identified with their fundamentalist antagonists’ unflinching biblicism, apparently unbothered by ostracism and satisfied that were the fundamentalists able to see the light, those ‘fiery sons of thunder’ would probably themselves make good Pentecostals.” The repudiation from the fundamentalists included accusations of fanaticism, unscriptural healings, and a menacing, injurious commitment to speaking with unknown tongues.

101 Ngewa, “Principles of Interpretation,” 1103.

102 Oden, 129, 131.

103 Ngewa, “Principles of Interpretation,” 1103.

104 Kevin J. Vanhoozer, “Discourse on Matter: Hermeneutics and the ‘Miracle’ of Understanding,” in Hermeneutics at the Crossroads, ed. Kevin J. Vanhoozer, James K. A. Smith, and Bruce E. Benson (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2006), 4-5.

105 Ibid., 20.

106 Ibid., 19.

107 Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart, How to Read the Bible for All It’s Worth,3rd. ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2003).

108 Ngewa, “Principles of Interpretation,” 1103.

109 See Charles W. Ford, The Inspired Scriptures (Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, 1978).

110 Pinnock says, “The text can give meaning on several levels and possesses a surplus of meaning potential that transcends the meaning it originally had” in Clark H. Pinnock, The Scripture Principle: Reclaiming the Full Authority of the Bible, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2006), 71.

111 Ford, Inspired Scripture, 10.

112 Pinnock asserts the Scripture Principle as follows: “The Bible is the primary and fully trustworthy canon of Christian revelation, the reliable medium for encountering and understanding the God who seeks to transform all persons who read the sacred text into the image of Jesus Christ. In this regard, when we affirm the term ‘inerrancy,’ we basically mean the belief that Scripture never leads one astray in regard to what it intentionally teaches.” See Pinnock, The Scripture Principle, 11.

113 John Calvin, Articles Agreed Upon by the Faculty of Sacred Theology of Paris, with the Antidote in Tracts and Treatises, vol. 1 (Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd, 1958), 106.

114 Bo Reicke, The Epistles of James, Peter and John (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1964), 158.

115 Richard J. Bauckham, Jude, 2 Peter (Waco, TX: Word, 1983), 228.

116 Bauckham, Jude, 2 Peter, 231-35. The noun (?πιλ?σεως) is in the form of a genitive of origin with the verb γ?νομαι which would translate: the prophecy originating from one’s own interpretation.

117 Charles Bigg states that God gives both the vision and the interpretation in A Critical and Exegetical Commentary of the Epistles of St. Peter and St. Jude (Edinburgh, England: T & T Clark, 1902), 270.

118 Bauckham, 229. Norman Hillyer, 1 and 2 Peter, Jude (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1992), 180, takes exception to Bauckham claiming that the reference should be to the contemporary exegetes of Peter’s context. As they read they should look to the same divine Spirit to inspire their explanation or unraveling of the prophecy.

119 Dative of Means shows the instrument or means by which something is accomplished. Bo Reicke interprets this phrase as “through human resolution;” Reicke, 158.

120 Peter uses φ?ρω as an aorist passive where the agent is divine, the Holy Spirit, in contrast to human will. Prophecy at no time was brought forth (or publicly presented) by the will of a person.

121 The second use of φ?ρω is a present, passive participle modifying the subject, men. The word order places the emphasis on this adjectival characteristic. It could read: men, the ones being brought forth (or publicly presented) by the Holy Spirit—spoke from God.

122 See Luke T. Johnson, The First and Second Letters to Timothy (New York, NY: Doubleday, 2001), 420; Samuel M. Ngewa, 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus (Nairobi: WordAlive, 2006), 286; Walter Lock, The Pastoral Epistles (Edinburgh, England: T & T. Clark, 1924), 110; Gordon D. Fee, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1988), 279; William D. Mounce, Pastoral Epistles (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2000), 565.

123 Mounce, Pastoral Epistles, 567. Samuel M. Ngewa, 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus (Nairobi: WordAlive, 2006), 286, is of the same opinion.

124 See Fee, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, 279; Ngewa, 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus, 287.

125 Ngewa, 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus, 288.

126 Johnson, The First and Second Letters to Timothy, 421.

127 Ibid., 425; Fee is ambivalent concerning the hina clause. He first comments that it is a purpose clause then retracts his statement saying, “or perhaps here a result clause,” Johnson, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, 280.

128 Mounce, 570.

129 Webster, 40-41. Webster states, “Scripture, sanctified and inspired, is the vessel which bears God’s majestic presence … what we encounter in Scripture is the terrifying mercy of God’s address.”

130 Moore, 22-23.

Updated: Friday, June 16, 2006 10:22 AM