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«_ A Dissertation Presented to the Faculty of the School of Theology Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary Fort Worth, Texas _ In Partial ...»

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foundationalism, postmodernism rejects any “interpretation of the particular historical purposes of groups and individuals” through “objective, transhistorical truths.”2 The apostolic church in Acts believed that God purposed “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). The Greek text comes from, The Greek New Testament, eds. K. Aland, M. Black, et al., 3rd ed. (Stuttgart: United Bible Societies, 1983). All translations are the author’s unless otherwise noted.

See previous chapter, footnote 6.

everything in history to culminate in the Christ-event.

This divine purpose continues through the work of the Spirit in the church. According to J. C. O’Neill, “the success of Christianity, despite all the set-backs it encountered, was used to support its claim to be the only true religion.”3 Schlatter further suggests that the apostolic church possessed the conviction that Christ directed the community “from within and from without,” so that He is the supreme interpretation of history and the future.4 In other words, an apostolic approach promotes the conviction that the Christian way is true because it corresponds to the external reality of God’s redemptive activity in history.

Second, postmodernism’s exaltation of “communal truth” dismisses any proposal of absolute, universal truth.

Accordingly, any claim to truth is the creation of the social group and context. The apostolic church, however, construed truth as the external product of God’s mind communicated to humanity by God’s Spirit. Insightfully, John Frame proposes that “communal truth” demands omniscient justification in the social context, so that all potential J. C. O’Neill, The Theology of Acts in Its Historical Setting, 2d ed. (London: SPCK, 1970), 177-78.

Adolf Schlatter, The Theology of the Apostles: The Development of New Testament Theology, trans. A. J.

Köstenberger (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1998), 28-31, 361.

objections to any particular truth-claim may be refuted.

If, however, God were a member of this social group, then His omniscience would provide the necessary justification for “objective knowledge.”5 With the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost, the Spirit of truth provides the necessary justification of “objective knowledge” and universal truth in an apostolic approach (John 16:13).

Third, postmodernism’s “precommitment” to deconstruction dismisses the possibility of certainty in meaning. The apostolic church, however, found meaning in the Spirit’s illumination of Christ’s doctrine through the apostles and Scripture.6 The apostolic church believed that the Spirit indwells and instructs believers within the community, so that they discover the intention of the God of revelation.

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postmodernism disdains any proposal of an ultimate “master narrative.” The apostolic church, however, believed that the gospel is the “master narrative” which presents the only true pathway to life. Peter’s statement to the Sanhedrin in John Frame, “Christianity and Contemporary Epistemology,” Westminster Journal of Theology 52 (Spring 1990): 136.

Everett F. Harrison, The Apostolic Church (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1985), 113.

Acts 4:12 depicts this conviction in the apostolic church.

In answer to the Sanhedrin, Peter declares: kai; oujk e[stin ejn a[llw/ oujdeni; hJ swthriva, oujde; ga;r o[noma; ejstin e{teron uJpo; to;n oujrano;n to;

dedomevnon ejn ajnqrwvpoi~ ejn w|/ dei` swqh`nai hJma`~.7 As C. E. Autrey indicates, this statement declares that Christianity cannot “peacefully coexist” with a plurality of religious options, for “Christ and not man was the Messiah.”8

–  –  –

postmodern proposal. Unlike Gordon Kaufmann, an apostolic approach does not suggest that the Christian faith is only one among many worldviews imaginatively constructed in the

–  –  –

community construe the communication of the gospel as the articulation of “one particular perspective on life among others.”10 An apostolic approach presents the gospel as the only “universal salvific truth.”11 “And there is no salvation in another, for there is no other name under heaven which has been given in humanity by which we must be saved.”

C. E. Autrey, Evangelism in the Acts (Grand Rapids:

Zondervan, 1964), 78.

Gordon Kaufmann, “Religious Diversity, Historical Consciousness, and Christian Theology,” Journal of Religion 68 (October 1988): 9.


Schubert M. Ogden, “Problems in the Case for a Pluralistic Theology of Religions,” Journal of Religion 68 As the apostolic church set out to evangelize the world, these biblical convictions became prominent. The following discussion will seek to indicate how God alleviates the barrier of competing worldviews and opens the door for evangelization of postmodern people.

Pentecost and the Spirit of Truth, Acts 2:1-13 Pentecost is the starting-point for a discussion of an apostolic approach to evangelize postmodern people.

Pentecost is an historical and theological hinge for the role of the Spirit and evangelism.12 The fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy (Joel 2:28-32) and Christ’s promise of the Paraclete (John 14:16-17, 26; 15:26-27; 16:7-15) demonstrate the historical significance and theological implications of the Spirit in the evangelization of postmodern people.13 Fulfillment of the Visionary Gift, Joel 2:28-32 The coming of the Spirit at Pentecost presents the (October 1988): 498.

James D. G. Dunn, Jesus and the Spirit: A Study of the Religious and Charismatic Experience of Jesus and the

First Christians as Reflected in the New Testament (London:

SCM Press, 1975; reprint, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997), 135.

Dunn, Jesus and the Spirit, 135.

historical hinge for the inauguration of a new age.14 Peter’s sermon at Pentecost acknowledges the coming of the Spirit as the inauguration of Joel’s prophecy (Acts 2:16-21;

Joel 2:28-32) in which the Spirit provides the duvnami~ promised by Christ for evangelization.15 The prophecy of Joel demonstrates the power of the “visionary gift” through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

This “visionary gift” is the abiding presence of God with

–  –  –

prophecy of Joel 2:28-3216 promises “something greater than what the fathers under the Law experienced,” for God “did not pour out His Spirit so abundantly and so largely under the Law, as after the manifestation of Christ.”17 Through Joel, God said, rc;B;AlK;Al[' yjiWrAta, JwPov]a, keAyrej}a' hy:h;w.18 This prophecy depicts a future when God will establish His Merrill Unger, “The Significance of Pentecost,” Bibliotheca Sacra 122 (April 1965): 175.

See the discussion on the relationship between duvnami~ and ejxousiva below on pages 84-87.

Joel 3:1-5 in the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, eds. A. Alt, O. Eissfeldt, et al. (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1966-1977). Hereafter cited, BHS.

John Calvin, A Commentary on the Prophet Joel, trans. J. Owen (London: Banner of Truth, 1958), 81.

“And it shall come to pass after so I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh” (Joel 2:28, 3:1 BHS).

presence through the outpouring of His Spirit.19 Peter affirms the prophecy’s fulfillment at Pentecost (Acts 2:16).

When God pours out His Spirit (jWr), He pours Himself upon whom He chooses to accomplish the work He desires,20 so that the intention of God is “the personal experience of every member of the religious community.”21 Joel indicates the essence of the “visionary gift” through three terms: abn (to prophesy),.lj (to dream), and har (to see). Keil suggests that abn is the general designation of the prophetic gift, and that visions and dreams are two forms of prophetic revelation.22 When God pours out His Spirit, He will reveal Himself and His word to His people, and they will proclaim it to the world.

At Pentecost, all of Christ’s followers receive the Duane A. Garrett, Hosea, Joel, New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman and Holman, 1997), 368-69.

H. W. Wolff, Joel and Amos: A Commentary on the Books of the Prophets Joel and Amos, trans. W. Janzen, S. D.

McBride Jr., and C. A. Muenchow, Hermeneia (Philadelphia:

Fortress, 1977), 66.

Leslie C. Allen, The Books of Joel, Obadiah, Jonah, and Micah, New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1976), 99.

C. F. Keil, Minor Prophets: Two Volumes in One, trans. James Martin, vol. 10, Commentary on the Old Testament in Ten Volumes, by C. F. Keil and Franz Delitzsch (reprint, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1973), 1:211.

“visionary gift” and become a “nation of prophets.”23 It is an historical turning-point in God’s redemptive purposes.24 The Spirit fills (ejplhvsqhsan) the followers of Christ to “make them missionaries and proclaimers of the good news.”25 The Old Testament (OT) prophets present one paradigm for the “visionary gift.” One aspect of this paradigm is that God clothes the prophet with His Spirit.

Schniedewind suggests that God clothes the prophet with His Spirit, so that the person receives and delivers His word with the people to whom he is sent.26 Having received this “visionary gift” of God through revelation, the prophet discloses to humanity “what otherwise would remain concealed.”27 Von Rad suggests that the prophet “completely submerges his own ego” and speaks “as if he were his master H. W. Wolff, Joel and Amos, 66.

Boyd Hunt, Redeemed! Eschatological Redemption in the Kingdom of God (Nashville: Broadman and Holman, 1993), 14, 30.

David. S. Dockery, “The Theology of Acts,” Criswell Theological Review 5 (1990): 47.

William M. Schniedewind, The Word of God in Transition: From Prophet to Exegete in the Second Temple Period, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, Supplement 197 (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1995), 55-57.

Abraham Heschel, The Prophets, 2 vols. (New York:

Harper and Row, 1962; reprint, Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2000), 2:216.

himself speaking.”28 Thus, the outpouring of the Spirit empowers the prophet to engage culture as a living, speaking embodiment of God’s word.

Fretheim suggests that Christ is the “culmination” of the “visionary gift.”29 Jesus fully reveals divine truth, proclaims the way of forgiveness, and calls for decision as prophet.30 His ministry as prophet extends to His followers. Thus, Pentecost marks the continuation of the “visionary gift” by which God’s people fulfill the function of prophet with Christ.

Pentecost signifies a new relationship between God and humanity.31 Although Joel most likely envisions rc;B;AlK;

solely as Israel,32 Pentecost (Acts 2) and the outpouring of Gerhard von Rad, Old Testament Theology, vol. 2, The Theology of Israel’s Prophetic Tradition, trans. D. M.

G. Stalker (New York: Harper and Row, 1965), 37.

Terence Fretheim, The Suffering of God: An Old Testament Perspective (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1984), 166.

Thomas C. Oden, The Word of Life: Systematic Theology, Volume Two (Peabody, MA: Prince Press, 1998), 286.

David Allan Hubbard, Joel and Amos (Downers Grove:

InterVarsity, 1989), 69.

For rc;B;AlK; as a reference only to Israel, see T. J.

Finley, Joel, Amos, Obadiah (Chicago: Moody, 1990), 71-72.

For arguments that rc;B;AlK; includes Gentiles, see, Walter Kaiser Jr., “The Promise of God and the Outpouring of the Holy Spirit: Joel 2:28-32 and Acts 2:16-21,” in The Living and Active Word of God: Essays in Honor of Samuel Schultz,

eds. Morris Inch and Ronald Youngblood (Winona Lake:

Eisenbrauns, 1983), 119.

the Spirit upon the Gentiles (Acts 10:43-45) recasts rc;B;AlK;

to include pavnta to;n pisteuvonta eij~ aujtovn (Acts 10:43).33 Everyone who believes in Jesus will receive forgiveness of sin and “will stand in a relationship of immediacy to God” through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.34 Pentecost’s events in Acts 2 provide a framework for the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy. Indeed, “the whole historical context in which it [Pentecost] takes place shows that it was the outgrowth and development of God’s past dealings with Israel.”35 Pentecost was the culminating act in an agelong process of redemptive activity, the final step in the descent of the divine into human. Jesus as an external Presence now became enthroned Sovereign in the hearts of His people. A new era of the Kingdom had begun in Spiritendued witnesses. The Gospel had become life and power within them. At last they were ready to go forth as laborers in the harvest of the Lord.36 The followers of Christ continue His ministry in the I. H. Marshall, The Acts of the Apostles, Tyndale New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980;

reprint, 1999), 193. Marshall proposes that this phrase, “everyone who believes in Him,” probably intends a wider meaning than Israel.

Wolff, Joel and Amos, 67.

W. T. Connor, The Work of the Holy Spirit: A Treatment of the Biblical Doctrine of the Divine Spirit (Nashville: Broadman, 1940), 60.

Robert Coleman, The Master Plan of Discipleship (Grand Rapids: Fleming H. Revell, 1987), 124.

world.37 They reveal God’s truth, proclaim His redemptive work, and call the world to accept His salvation.

Likewise, Pentecost elucidates contemporary application for apostolic evangelism with postmodern people.

An apostolic approach depends upon the duvnami~ promised by Christ (Acts 1:8), inaugurated at Pentecost (Acts 2), and continued today through the presence of the Spirit.

Christ’s followers continue in the postmodern milieu as a “nation of prophets” possessed by God’s Spirit to accomplish His redemptive mission in the postmodern world.

Selected Paraclete Passages in John’s Gospel An examination of the Paraclete passages in John’s Gospel provides a theological foundation for engaging individuals in the postmodern milieu.38 These passages demonstrate that Christ’s redemptive mission “is continued through the Paraclete and the disciples.”39 Much of the literature on these passages focuses C. E. Autrey, The Theology of Evangelism (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1966), 36-37.

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