James Dunn's Baptism In The Holy Spirit

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Since Pentecostalism began in 1901, Pentecostals and non- Pentecostals have by and large been at odds concerning New Testament pneumatology. But as the growth of the Pentecostal and Charismatic movement began to take place world-wide, it also set into motion a lot of dialogue and deliberations on this subject. The release of James Dunn’s Baptism in the Holy Spirit triggered the modern phase of these discussions and resurgence in the research of New Testament pneumatology. With this resurgence came fresh interest which brought to the fore the dialogue that had began to shape up between three well known scholars James Dunn, Max Turner, and Robert P. Menzies. Each of these scholars brings quite divergent views into this theological
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He sees a consistent theme that runs through all the different authors and argues that they present a single and common pneumatology. Although the soteriological purpose of Spirit baptism is prominent in Pauline letters, this aspect of the Spirit’s activity is also intergrated in Luke’s writings and the rest of the New Testament. In the light of this perception, Dunn takes a strong stand and indicts Pentecostals for having a strong Lukan bias, because he contends that in taking this path, then in relation to Spirit baptism “Paul need not have written anything”. Dunn concedes though that while the Pentecostal belief in the dynamic and experiential nature of Spirit-baptism is well-substantiated, the separation of it from conversion-initiation is totally…show more content…
He argues from his Pentecostal background that Spirit-baptism is distinct from and subsequent to conversion. He argues that “Luke does not present the reception of the Spirit as necessary for one to enter into and remain within the community of salvation.” This perspective is based on the gift’s function which is to provide “power for witness and not justification before God or personal cleansing.” He continues that it is “prophetic enabling that empowers one for participation in the mission of God.” When Jesus received the Spirit at the Jordan, it was to empower Him to fulfill His messianic assignment. Menzies buttresses his point by adding that Luke understands the Pentecostal gift to the disciples as being parallel to Jesus’ Jordan experience and it is for empowering for mission and this Pentecostal experience is paradigmatic to all believers. He strengthens his case by adding that “the Spirit came upon the disciples at Pentecost (Acts 2), not as the source of new covenant but as the source of power for effective witness.” Since it is a separate event from conversion, the gift of the Spirit is bestowed upon those who are already converted. Therefore for Jesus the Spirit was to empower Him for His preaching and miracles and later for the disciples it was to empower them to be witnesses. He adds that Luke context of stating that the Spirit came to empower was the prophecy of Joel in Joel
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