Category Archives: Systematic Theology

Worship In Revelation

WORSHIP IN REVELATION

Worship is a key element in the book of Revelation. However, there have been a plethora of claims and arguments made concerning their function. While it would be impossible in such a short paper to cover all of the different views, I will provide a few for the sake of promoting discussion. Fiorenza argued that the hymns of Revelation were intended to promote political struggle.[1] G.K. Beale stated that the heavenly worship in Revelation was intended to be patterned by the Church on earth.[2] Osborne asserts that the hymns are strategically placed in order to draw attention to two things: the majesty and sovereignty of God, and the worship of his people, heavenly as well as earthly.[3] Still Bauckham says that the worship of Revelation has a polemical significance in that it “sees the root of the evil of the Roman Empire to lie in the idolatrous worship of merely human power, and therefore draws the lines of conflict between the worshippers of the beast and the worshippers of the one true God.”[4] Bauckham understands the significance of this polemic to flow from the Jewish and early Christian importance of worshipping the one God and creator.

Fiorenza’s position seems to be problematic in that she solely focuses upon what she sees as liberation elements within the Apocalypse. In addition, the context of the hymns and their heavenly imagery would suggest that John would have not considered earthly political struggle to be of primary concern. Beale, Osborne, and Bauckham’s positions seem to have valid argumentation from the vantage point of context and history. Beale’s argument is the weakest of the three but it might be significant to take seriously the connection that he makes between the tabernacle of Moses and the worship scenes, especially considering the exodus and wilderness imagery found in Revelation. The imagery of the slain Lamb of God standing in the middle of the throne while being flanked by elder worshippers is very similar, if not identical to, the Eucharist. Could John have been drawing upon early Christian practice as well? Osborne seems to corroborate Beale’s argument while also touching on Bauckham’s sovereignty motif. Bauckham seems to recover Fiorenza’s position without the need to place primary importance upon political struggle; instead he is concerned with the sovereignty of God and Christ.

Like Bauckham, I believe that Revelation intends to convey theology. I also believe, with Beale and Osborne, that John intends his readers to learn from and emulate the more perfect worship that takes place in the heavenly realm. It would seem illogical that the early Church would receive this book as truth and not seek to pattern their behavior after the divine reality that it represents. I think that in a sense all of the positions mentioned contain truth. John certainly intended the worship presented to be a polemic to the worship of Rome and the beast. However, this does not seem to be his primary purpose or message in these scenes. The primary purpose seems to be, to borrow from Wilson’s motif, a message concerning the sovereignty of God which points to ultimate victory for his worshippers. This is not to say that the worship is limited to this aspect but simply flows from it.


[1]. Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, Revelation: Vision of a Just World, ed. Gerhard Krodel (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1991), 103.

[2]. G.K. Beale, The Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999), 312.

[3]. Grant R. Osborne, Revelation (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2002), 236.

[4]. Richard Bauckham, The Theology of the Book of Revelation (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1993), 59.

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In the Days of Caesar by Amos Yong

Again, I wanted to post this because I think that my readers can see in my questions some of the problems that I have with Amos Yong’s writing and theology. This is a class response posting to my reading of his book. Obviously, I had to be a bit generous due to the fact that he was the professor 😉

In his book In the Days of Caesar: Pentecostalism and Political Theology Yong presents his argument for a distinctly Pentecostal and ecumenically concerning political theology. Yong’s central motif is centered around his unique hermenutic concerning the pouring out of the Spirit on all flesh which is taken from Lukan pneumatology. In his work he handles such issues as the phenomenology of a Pentecostal politic, an overview of political theology, a Pentecostal trajectory within political theology, political dimensions of Pentecostal deliverance from powers, a culturally concerned pentecostal holiness, Pentecostal power within civil society, a theology of economics and Pentecostal eschatology. Yong’s thesis is “that Pentecostalism invites not one but many forms of political, economic, and social postures and practices” (38).

Yong’s book is especially helpful to Renewal Studies and Pentecostalism in that he focuses our attention upon the need for a multicultural view of the Church. His hermenutic surrounding the Spirit being poured out on all flesh leads him to affirm the uniqueness of the Pentecostal message of unity through diversity. He also emphasizes the need for people of renewal to concern themselves with social involvement. Yong connects the people of God with the heavenlies by promoting the enthronement of God through Pentecostal praise and worship (157). In addition, he attacks dispensational eschatology which has been responsible for a demeaning of the Church and a lack of concern for the present.

Yong’s book should receive great attention and recognition from the wider world of academia. Much of what Yong promotes is in agreement with the trends of North American society and academy within our postmodern context. His concern for a more tolerant, politically concerned, ecologically friendly Christianity fits in well with the montra of modern academy.

Questions Emergent from the Text:

1. Is it exegetically correct to use Luke – Acts to say that the pouring out of the Spirit on all flesh was on every single individual on earth rather than narrowly for the community of believers? Specifically, what was Luke talking about when he said “this is what” in the Acts passage? Does not the near demonstrative pronoun τοῦτό (touto) and the context of Peter saying “for these men are not drunk, as you suppose,” point to the fact that this is specifically the insiders/believers in the upper room who experience the pouring out?

2. Does being “prophetic” mean being more socially active (35)? Also, does the indication that these socially active groups “are more prophetic” because they “have some focus on non-members” indicate that conservatives do not (35)? Is social transformation the same thing biblically as liberation theology?

3. Is Yong’s question here not the real central concern of the debate: “Are liberation and black theologians correct in depending on social scientific analyses as part of the theological task, or are the ‘Radically Orthodox’ theologians right to insist on theology (or the biblical text – my emphasis) as an interpreter of rather than a dialogue partner with the social sciences” (83-84)?

4. Was America really founded on the principals of separation of church and state (84)?

5. Does Sola Scriptura really lead to cessationism, or does the Bible (scripture) not teach the practice of charismata (89)? Does the lack of cessation lead to an open canon, or is there not a unique foundational element to the scriptures which is unrepeatable? Furthermore, as Yong has aptly pointed out that the Spirit moves differently at different times and locations, then is it not plausible that the Spirit simply moved in a unique and different way with the writing of scripture which is not repeated but does not indicate a lack of spiritual or Spirit efficacy for today?

6. Is Christian community meant to be the model which draws others in by love and evangelism or is it meant to promote social activism (107)?

7. Is it healthy to use experiential elements of the pentecostal global south to promote theology while not dialoging with penetecostal theology proper (i.e. theological writings from the tradition)?

8. Is it responsible to compare Christians who support their military in a fight against terrorism to those who are guilty of supporting Montt’s wholesale slaughter of peoples (133)?

9. Exegetically, is it correct to say that Paul intended to speak about powers and principalities as something other than spiritual in the context of Paul’s statement that “we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against…”?

10. Are the premises of pentecostal apocalypticism in which the world will come to destruction by God’s wrath and be remade incorrect biblically (327-28)?

11. Is there still a uniqueness to Israel as a people or nation apart from the Church?

12. Is it not a modern expectation which sees the Church helping to bring about the kingdom on earth through making the earth better and better (347)? Are plants, animals and geographic spaces recipients of the Spirit being poured out?

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Spirit Poured Out on All Flesh by Amos Yong

I wanted to post this because I think that my readers can see in my questions some of the problems that I have with Amos Yong’s writing and theology. This is a class response posting to my reading of his book. Obviously, I had to be a bit generous due to the fact that he was the professor 😉

Amos Yong presents a great book which revolves around the question “what does it mean that God did so then (talking about Spirit Baptism) and continues to pour out the Spirit on men and women, young and old, slave and free (31)? In Yong’s work he tries to develop a way forward for a Pentecostal Theology through Lukan lenses. He expands upon his thoughts by starting with a phenomenological overview of world Pentecostalism and then moving on to subjects such as pneumatological Soteriology, pneumatological Ecclesiology, the ecumenical potential of Pentecostalism, the issues of Oneness and Trinity theology, a pneumatological theology of religions, and a pneumatological theology of creation. Throughout his work, Yong leans heavily on the hermeneutic of Pentecostal experience to help him define the parameters of a pneumatological world theology.

Yong’s work provides many elements that are supportive to the Renewal movement. One of the most encouraging points that he makes is in regard to egalitarianism. Yong shows how the worldwide Pentecostal movement has provided opportunities for socially low members, such as women and low caste Hindus, to have upward mobility. He also gives an adequate argument for at least including Pentecostal experience within the theological paradigm. In addition, Yong brings the often forgotten element of community to the fore in his theological treatise on Soteriology. Although his view of the importance of ecology seems rather extreme, Yong also helps shed some light on the fact that people of the renewal need to be good stewards of the world that God has made for us.

Judging by the content of Yong’s book, I would guess that this work would be widely accepted in the world of academia. First, I believe that social scientists will greatly appreciate his in depth understanding and use of their methods. Furthermore, people of other religions will like his work for his focus on including them and their tradition in the “process” of salvation. Finally, religious and many theological scholars will love some of the suggestions he makes regarding a more universal salvation, an emphasis on social action, and a salvation which includes ecology.

Questions Emergent From The Text:

1. Should Pentecostals be politically active, and if so to what extent (34)?

2. If Pentecostalism causes egalitarianism, then why do we have all black, hispanic, or white churches(39)? or do we?

3. Does the maturity of some Pentecostal Churches, organizations, or groups compared to the lack there of in others show a deficiency in discipleship? And could this be the problem with many 3rd world Pentecostal movements which were started by missionaries and evangelists (47-49)?

4. Does Yong advocate a new look at syncretism which might re-frame it in a mission-based multi-cultural context (49)? (see statement just before last paragraph on p. 49 and look at p. 62)

5. Is it biblical to excommunicate members of the body for environmental reasons (63)? (I guess I should start recycling 🙂

6. Can we call everything “led by the Spirit” which includes elements of Pneumatology (63)? And is this akin to calling Mormonism Christian?

7. Are the premises behind the first and final points on page 78 true?

8. If physical liberation here on earth “is always the consequence of the presence of the Spirit,” then was the Apostle Paul not Spirit empowered in that he told a slave to return to his master (79) & (93)? Did Jesus conquer the Romans and “liberate” all of the oppressed peoples under their rule? Did the disciples believe or teach this?

9. Does experience make for valid biblical theology (86)?   

10. Is there a difference between the fulfillment that Luke talks about in Acts and salvation (93)? If not, what do we do with passages which show “we have received John’s baptism” but not of the Spirit? How would a biblical demarcation affect Yong’s hermenutic?

11. Is social salvation found in the N.T. (93)?

12. Is “process” salvation scriptural? Is it not universalistic to include other religions who are in the “process” of salvation, or are saved in that they are in the “process” just like Christians?

13. Is Christianity truly not superior to paganism (237)? Do Christians in the N.T. learn from pagans or do they, through cultural understanding, reach out to them with the truth in love? (see Paul’s Mars Hill experience) Also, do the Samaritans equate to a different religion (241)?

14. Is not accepting religious other’s religion as beneficial or truthful the same as a lack of love for them (243-244)?

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