website statistics Thinking in Tongues: Pentecostal Contributions to Christian Philosophy - PDF Books Online
Hot Best Seller

Thinking in Tongues: Pentecostal Contributions to Christian Philosophy

Availability: Ready to download

The past several decades have seen a renaissance in Christian philos­ophy, led by the work of Alvin Plantinga, Nicholas Wolterstorff, William Alston, Eleonore Stump, and others. In the spirit of Plantinga’s famous manifesto, “Advice to Christian Philosophers,” James K. A. Smith here offers not only advice to Pentecostal philosophers but also some Pentecostal advice to Chri The past several decades have seen a renaissance in Christian philos­ophy, led by the work of Alvin Plantinga, Nicholas Wolterstorff, William Alston, Eleonore Stump, and others. In the spirit of Plantinga’s famous manifesto, “Advice to Christian Philosophers,” James K. A. Smith here offers not only advice to Pentecostal philosophers but also some Pentecostal advice to Christian philosophers. In this inaugural Pentecostal Manifestos volume Smith begins from the conviction that implicit in Pentecostal and charismatic spirituality is a tacit worldview or “social imaginary.” Thinking in Tongues unpacks and articulates the key elements of this Pentecostal worldview and then explores their implications for philosophical reflection on ontology, epistemology, aesthetics, language, science, and philosophy of religion. In each case, Smith demonstrates how the implicit wisdom of Pentecostal spirituality makes unique contributions to current conversations in Christian philosophy.


Compare

The past several decades have seen a renaissance in Christian philos­ophy, led by the work of Alvin Plantinga, Nicholas Wolterstorff, William Alston, Eleonore Stump, and others. In the spirit of Plantinga’s famous manifesto, “Advice to Christian Philosophers,” James K. A. Smith here offers not only advice to Pentecostal philosophers but also some Pentecostal advice to Chri The past several decades have seen a renaissance in Christian philos­ophy, led by the work of Alvin Plantinga, Nicholas Wolterstorff, William Alston, Eleonore Stump, and others. In the spirit of Plantinga’s famous manifesto, “Advice to Christian Philosophers,” James K. A. Smith here offers not only advice to Pentecostal philosophers but also some Pentecostal advice to Christian philosophers. In this inaugural Pentecostal Manifestos volume Smith begins from the conviction that implicit in Pentecostal and charismatic spirituality is a tacit worldview or “social imaginary.” Thinking in Tongues unpacks and articulates the key elements of this Pentecostal worldview and then explores their implications for philosophical reflection on ontology, epistemology, aesthetics, language, science, and philosophy of religion. In each case, Smith demonstrates how the implicit wisdom of Pentecostal spirituality makes unique contributions to current conversations in Christian philosophy.

30 review for Thinking in Tongues: Pentecostal Contributions to Christian Philosophy

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jacob Aitken

    Thesis: Pentecostal worldview offers a distinct way of being-in-the-world (Smith 25). Embodied practices carry within them a “tacit understanding” (27). Is a Pentecostal Philosophy Possible? Much of the chapter deals with the relationship between theology and philosophy. The difference is one of field, not “faith basis” (Smith 4). Smith gives us Five Aspects of a Pentecostal Philosophy: 1. radical openness to God, or God’s doing something fresh. 2. An “enchanted” theology of creation and culture. S Thesis: Pentecostal worldview offers a distinct way of being-in-the-world (Smith 25). Embodied practices carry within them a “tacit understanding” (27). Is a Pentecostal Philosophy Possible? Much of the chapter deals with the relationship between theology and philosophy. The difference is one of field, not “faith basis” (Smith 4). Smith gives us Five Aspects of a Pentecostal Philosophy: 1. radical openness to God, or God’s doing something fresh. 2. An “enchanted” theology of creation and culture. Smith means that we see reality not as self-enclosed monads, but realizing that principalities and powers are often behind these. this entails spiritual warfare. I cringe at terms like “enchanted” because it’s more postmodern non-speak, but Smith (likely inadvertently) connected “enchanted” with demons, which is correct. 3. A nondualistic affirmation of embodiment and spirituality. Smith defines “dualism” as not denigrating materiality. Fewer and fewer Christians today do this, so I am not sure whom his target is. Even chain-of-being communions like Rome that officially denigrate embodiment say they really don’t mean it. 4. Affective, narrative epistemology. 5. Eschatological orientation towards mission and justice. God’s Surprise Some hermeneutics: Smith rightly notes that “The Last Days” (per Acts 2) is connected with “today” ( 22; we accept this model in eschatology but abandon it in pneumatology). Smith wryly notes that Acts 2:13 is the first proto-Daniel Dennett hermeneutics: offering a naturalistic explanation for inexplicable phenomena (23). Following Martin Heidegger, Smith suggests two kinds of knowing: wissen and verstehen, justified, true belief and understanding. The latter is tacit and is at the edges of conscious action. Per the dis-enchanted cosmos, Smith astutely points out that “There is a deep sense that multiple modes of oppression--from illness to poverty--are in some way the work of forces that are not just natural” (41). In other words, spiritual warfare assumes a specific, non-reductionist cosmology. Promising Suggestions “What characterizes narrative knowledge?” (65) a connection between narrative and emotions Narratives work in an affective manner The emotions worked are themselves already construals of the world There is a “fit” between narrative and emotion There is a good section on Pauline-pneumatological accounts of knowing (68ff). Anticipating Dooyeweerd, Paul critiques the pretended autonomy of theoretical thought (Rom. 1:21-31; 1 Cor. 1:18-2:16) and that the Spirit grants access to the message as “true.” While I found his chapter on epistemology inadequate, he does say that we know from the “heart” as embodied, rational beings (58). This isn’t new to postmodernism, but is standard Patristic epistemology. A Pentecostal Ontology This section could have been interesting. Smith wants to argue that pentecostalism sees an open ontology that allows the Spirit to move from within nature, rather than a miracle that is “tacked on” to nature from the outside. He makes this argument because he wants pentecostalism to line up with the insights from Radical Orthodoxy. I have between 50-75 pentecostal relatives who “embody pentecostal spirituality.” I promise you that none of them think like this or are even capable of thinking like that. I do not disparge them, simply because I am not to sure Smith’s project at this point is really coherent. He wants to reject methodological naturalism (rightly) but argues for his own version of supernatural naturalism. If Smith is successful, then he can show that pentecostalism lines up with quantum mechanics. Okay. Thus, nature is “en-Spirited” (103). While I have problems with his “suspended materiality” ontology, Smith makes some interesting points: miracles are not “add-ons.” They are not anti-nature, since “nature is not a discrete, autonomous entity” (104). Tongues We are considering “tongue-speech” as a liminal case in the philosophy of language (122). Exegetical discussions are important (and ultimately determinative), but we can’t enter them here. Smith wants to argue that tongues (T₁) resists our current categories of language and emerges as resistance to cultural norms. I think there is something to that. T₁ as Phenomenology There is a difference between signs as expression (Ausdruck) and those that do not mean anything (indications, Anzeigen). Ausdruck is important as it means something, whereas Anzeigen serves as a pointer (127, Smith is following E. Husserl). Husserl even notes that there can be signs that are not Ausdrucken nor Anzeigen. This turns on the question: can signs which do not express anything nor point to anything be modes of communication? As many critics of Husserl note, his account of speech links communication with intention, so he has to answer “no” to the above question. Or maybe so. What kind of speech can there be that is not bound up with inter-subjective indication? Husserl (and Augustine!) suggest the interior mental life. Thus, signs in this case would not point to what is absent. Tongues as Speech-Act Attack Utterances (of any sort) are performative. While such utterance-acts do convey thoughts, sometimes their intent is far more. Let’s take tongues-speak as ecstatic, private language. What does the pray-er mean to do? We can easily point to an illocutionary act of praying in groans too deep for words. We can also see a perlocutionary act: God should act in response. Tongues as Politics Oh boy. Smith wants to say that tongues is a speech-act against the powers that be. I like that. I really do. I just fear that Smith is going to mislocate the powers. He begins by drawing upon neo-Marxist insights (147). However, without kowtowing fully to Marx, he does point out that Marx has yielded the historical stage to the Holy Ghost. Tongues-speech begins as “the language of the dispossessed” (149). This, too, is a valid sociological insight. The chapter ends without Smith endorsing Marxism, which I expected him to do. While we are on a charismatic high, I will exercise my spiritual gift of Discerning the Spirits.” The reason that many 3rd World Pentecostals are “dispossessed” is because they are in countries whose leaders serve the demonic principality of Marxist-Socialism. Let’s attack that first before we get on the fashionable anti-capitalism bandwagon. Possible Criticisms *Smith, as is usual with most postmodernists, gets on the “narrative” bandwagon. There’s a place for that, but I think narrative is asked to carry more than it can bear. In any case, it is undeniable that Pentecostals are good storytellers. Smith wants to tie this in with epistemology, but he omits any discussion from Thomas Reid concerning testimony as basic belief, which would have strengthened his case. Smith (rightly) applauds J. P. Moreland’s recent embrace of kingdom power, but accuses Moreland of still being a “rationalist” (6 n14, 13n26). Precisely how is Moreland wrong and what is the concrete alternative? Smith criticizes the rationalist project as “‘thinking’ on a narrow register of calculation and deduction” (54). Whom is he criticizing: Christians or non-Christians? It’s not clear, and in any case Moreland has come under fire for saying there are extra-biblical, non-empirical sources of knowledge and reality (angels, demons, etc). Smith then argues that all rationalities are em-bodied rationalities. That’s fine. I don’t think this threatens a Reidian/Warrant view of knowledge. Perhaps it does threaten K=JTB. I don’t know, since Smith doesn’t actually make the argument. Smith makes a good argument on the “heart’s role” in knowing, yet Moreland himself has a whole chapter on knowing and healing from the heart in The Lost Virtue of Happiness (Moreland 2006). Smith elsewhere identifies aspects of rationality as the logics of “power, scarcity, and consumption,” (84) but I can’t think of a serious philosopher who actually espouses this. Elsewhere, Smith says Christian philosophy should be “Incarnational” and not simply theistic (11). What does that even mean? Does it simply mean “Begin with Jesus”? Does it mean undergirding ontology with the Incarnation, per Col. 1:17? That’s actually quite promising, but I don’t think Smith means that, either. So what does he mean? Is Smith a coherentist? I think he is. He hints at good criticisms of secularism, but points out “that the practices and plausibility structures that sustain pentecostal (or Reformed or Catholic or Baptist or Moonie--JBA) have their own sort of ‘logic’,” a logic that allows Christians to play, too (35). But even if coherentism holds--and I grant that Smith’s account is likely true, it doesn’t prove coherentism is true. All coherentism can prove is doxastic relations among internal beliefs, but not whether these beliefs are true. Of course, Smith would probably say I am a rationalist. In his desire to affirm materiality, Smith seems to say that any religious materiality is a good materiality. Smith approvingly notes of Felicite’s clinging to feasts and relics (36). It’s hard to see how any one “Materiality” could be bad on Smith’s account. But this bad account is juxtaposed with some good observations on the book of Acts (38) and tries to connect the two. *Smith says that “postmodernism takes race, class, and gender seriously” because it takes the body seriously (60). This is 100% false. If facebook is a true incarnation (!) of postmodernity, may I ask how many “gender/sexual preference” options facebook has? I rest my case. *Smith waxes eloquently on the Pentecostal “aesthetic” (80ff), which is basically a repeat of his other works, but one must ask, “How does faith come per Romans 10?” *Smith doesn’t miss an opportunity to criticize “rationalism” for separating beliefs and faith/practice, yet Smith himself seems mighty critical of those who focus on “beliefs” in their philosophy of religion (111). Smith's attack seems ironically dualistic. Sure, most post-Descartes philosophy of religion is overly intellectual, but I do think the Reidian/Reformed Epistemology model, if wedded to Dabney’s Practical Philosophy, integrates belief and faith-practice. It goes back to our doctrine of the soul. The soul includes both mind and will. You really can’t isolate them. Unmasking this was Dabney’s genius in Practical Philosophy (Sprinkle Publishing), pp. 3ff.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Devon Bowman

    2.5/5 I read this book in a “book club” that a friend and I have where we read and discuss together. The conversations the book brought about were incredibly fruitful however the book itself I had several problems with. First off I really admire what Smith is trying to do here but at times I feel like the goal is lost. In the beginning there are parameters set for the approach to Pentecostal philosophy. The main ones are that since Pentecostalism is primarily formed in practice before it is form 2.5/5 I read this book in a “book club” that a friend and I have where we read and discuss together. The conversations the book brought about were incredibly fruitful however the book itself I had several problems with. First off I really admire what Smith is trying to do here but at times I feel like the goal is lost. In the beginning there are parameters set for the approach to Pentecostal philosophy. The main ones are that since Pentecostalism is primarily formed in practice before it is formed in doctrine then we glean the essentials from practice first and then from that we gain understanding from those practices not from propositions. Although this is what is set out, Smith breaks from this frequently. He says that Pentecostal experience is A but it should be B if they believe their doctrinal understanding from practice. Even though the practice says something totally different. Perhaps our experiences of Pentecostalism are different since I come from a traditional Pentecostal background (A/G) but it just didn’t seem to line up with my experience (ironically enough). There are parts of this book where I do agree and others where I vehemently disagree with his conclusions. Some of my reading was honestly a frustrating slog. Overall I appreciate the way the book made me think about Pentecostal experience and worldview and it’s seat at the table philosophically and theologically. I must also admit that I don’t fit the “intended audience” I am in the ministry but all I have is a bachelor degree soon to start seminary so some of the foreign concepts could be a lack on my part and not due to the author’s writing.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Steve Irby

    I just finished "Thinking in Tongues: Pentecostal Contributions to Christian Philosophy, " by James K.A. Smith First, I ordered this book in September. The USPS lost it, I was refunded for the cost and then on 11/8 it was delivered. Now I have to track down who to pay. Thanks USPS for being the inefficient entity you are. The ghost of Lysander Spooner keeps you up at night, and rightly so. Intro: What hath Athens to do with Azusa I love the title and have used Tertullian's phrase similarly. My twis I just finished "Thinking in Tongues: Pentecostal Contributions to Christian Philosophy, " by James K.A. Smith First, I ordered this book in September. The USPS lost it, I was refunded for the cost and then on 11/8 it was delivered. Now I have to track down who to pay. Thanks USPS for being the inefficient entity you are. The ghost of Lysander Spooner keeps you up at night, and rightly so. Intro: What hath Athens to do with Azusa I love the title and have used Tertullian's phrase similarly. My twist on it usually involves the church and Constantinian state. This intro is a self-welcoming for Pentecostals and Charismatics to the larger table of academia. What is described is something I have noticed from the outside: academia are Lutheran or Calvinist. That's not bad. What is is unless one reflects academia in Ecclesiology one will not be taken seriously. So the above title is asking "What hath the academy of theological and philosophical learning to do with a Holiness splinter grassroots revival group?" I think the larger picture implied by the question is: what can Pentecostals teach Academia? Which really is less of a question and more of a statement. And both as a question or statement reveals a value judgement. Smith quickly goes over the historical aspects of Pentecostalism, from Azusa as "Pentecostal" or classical Pentecostal, to the 1960s and 70s Charismatic movement and then the neo-pentecostal, third wave. While much ink has been spilled over classifying these distinct movements he makes quick work of how one can view the difference between these three waves of the Spirit's working. Ch. 1, advice to Pentecostal philosophers: Smith states that a Pentecostal spirituality is more of a worldview which is pre theoretical. This worldview should be the framework for both Pentecostal theology and philosophy. Since theology begins upon the philosophical concepts already possessed by the theologian it should go without saying that the Pentecostal theologian should begin not just with a Christian philosophy, but a Pentecostal one. Ones philosophy is nourished by ones worldview. Hence this book. Per FNs 14 & 26 pp 6 & 13; J.P Moreland: I agree with you here and for anyone else so constrained by cessationism as was Moreland. It is either "The Spirit is alive and well; everything changes now," or not. Smith really begins by looking at Christian Philosophy in general using Plantinga as a springboard to develop the legitimacy for a specifically Pentecostal Philosophy. As a side note, Smith is writing well and not far out in the academic weeds. Theologically I can usually handle all the weeds possible but dealing with epistemology, ontology and philosophy in general I am as dumb as a stump. His only real criticism of Plantinga is that his broad "Christian Philosophy" easily moves into Theistic Philosophy. The understood constraints should be incarnational and cruciform (I would add "Kenotic," unless that is implied in "Cruciform"). Smith lists five key aspects of a Pentecostal worldview: A radical openness to God; an "enchanted" theology of creation and culture; a non dualistic affirmation of embodiment and materality; a narrative epistemology; an eschatology orientation to mission and justice. Awesome observations. [Break to take my son to a birthday party. While in transit we listened to the "Things Not Seen" podcast where Smith speaks about his work "On the Road with St. Augustine." So much of what I heard seemed to resonate with this current work, a Pentecostal philosophical approach to Augustine.] Ch. 2, elements of a Pentecostal worldview: This chapter begins by placing the reader in the culture and context of an inner city, working class, Pentecostal service which takes place in a store front. This is done in such a way as to sympathize with the Family there and to raise the seeds of questions about an enchanted worldview. He next takes the reader to Acts 2 and shows some similarities between how Peter was seen as ignorant and how the Family in the storefront may be thought of likewise. How Peter and company were seen as drunk and how one may perceive the storefront Family. Peter gives a "this is that" interpretation from Joel in spite of the jeers: Wine theory (Hebraic naturalism?) vs Spirit theory (Jesus people acting as the Spirit leads). "Pentecost, we might say, is a hermeneutic," p 23. What a wonderful way to counter prepositional revelation with historic revelation: this is that; Joel is fulfilled now; Babal is reversed; interpret all through the Pentecost revelation; the glass is still dark but not as dark as yesterday. Mentioned above one doesnt begin with a philosophy in as much as one begins with a worldview and upon the reality that is that worldview one constructs a philosophy which forms and reforms ones theology. If, for instance, ones worldview says that miracles cant happen--they have no experience of miracles in their life or world--then this will be a presupposition in their worldview and directly impact their philosophy; this will formulate a theology which demands cessationism as an end product. It is this worldview Smith is laying out for us now. Worldview is a pre theoretical framework of fundamental ultimate beliefs which shape our identity for the telos of our being-in-the-world. That is a single sentence summary of Smith's five points which define a worldview and specificity a Pentecostal one. After a bit more reading I would timidly resummarize the above as "the givens of reality based on experience," but I could be off track here. "To be Christian is to be charismatic," p 32; if not in active practice then at least in perspective. Else, what does the gift of the Holy Spirit even mean? 1. A radical openness to God: In this first attribute of a Pentecostal worldview Smith states that the Pentecostal expects the unexpected, is not surprised at being surprised; when God moves in a new way this is the way God moves and has always moved in the Pentecostals life. And the Pentecostal embraces this uncertainty--or this certainty of change or difference. "Pentecostalism clings to the plausibility structures of a mythical world," p 35. 2. An enchanted theology of creation and culture: This can be summed up by saying that an enchanted theology is a dynamic Ecclesiology, that the Spirit is dynamically active in the church. While I dont know a Christian who would deny it I believe many dont experience the dynamic presence in community of the Spirit. This enchantment is "an expectation that the Spirit operates within the created order," p 40. This enchantment or affirmation to the presence and working of the Holy Spirit also means that the enchanted worldview encompasses the affirmation of all spirits. This worldview is a tearing of the fabric of the physical, looking beyond and seeing the realm where battles are waged between good and evil for things in the physical. The Pentecostal worldview sees the line between natural and supernatural as merely opaque, and not a hard black line which upon acknowledging one throws up ones hands because "we dont go there," (if I may speculate upon a paraphrase). 3. A non dualistic affirmation of embodiment and materality: This is a fancy way of saying "Jesus cares for my physical person and wants to see me healed." "...the gospel is not just a tonic for the souls," p 42. Smith here seems to springboard from healing (not seeing the body and soul as distinct where we deal with soul things on Sunday but not body) to its further dualistic tendencies which have been affirmed by more fundamentalist sects. For instance if we see no dualism and the body/soul are both atoned for then what does this say about how we view sex or our interaction with modern culture? I would follow this up with an attack on the theology of a Platonic disembodied Heaven and the attitude fostered by this view that one is saved so that one can die and escape this horrible world. Not to mention the ecological impact of this escapist view. He said about all He made "it is good," not "it is good enough until I can snatch them from their bodies." 4. An affective, narrative epistemology: "[K]nowledge is rooted in the heart and traffics in the stuff of story," p 43. He is not getting rid of propositions but he precedes the by story; "...imagination precedes intellect," p 44. The next chapter is on this so there is more to come. 5. An eschatological orientation to mission and justice: Since pentecost is a symbol of the last days Pentecostalism primarily represents an eschatological movement. Speaking in tongues by the outpouring of the Spirit which are vividly affirmed in pentecostalism directly and unashamedly point to the eschaton. Seymour of Azusa fame, believed that the racial reconciliation more than the tongue speaking was a sign of the miraculous and Divine blessing. Absolutely great chapter. This is a must read, even if one, like me, isnt a "practicing charismatic" in Familial experience week to week. Ch. 3, Storied experience: This chapter begins with another wonderful story. Smith's style is really approachable and very unpretentious. I have read other generic Christian philosophies and they all collapse into academia-speak. When we are talking about theology I personally don't have a problem with that, philosophy, though, I need someone to slow their roll and accept my ignorance. Smith does this well. I wouldnt hesitate handing this book off to any friends. "...narrative is central to Pentecostal identity," p 50. "This narrative function of testimony is bound up in the very DNA of Pentecost where, in Acts 2 we see Peter and the disciples making sense of their experience by weaving it into a larger recieved narrative: to be able to say that 'this is that' (Acts 2:16, pointing to Joel 2:28-32) is to frame and make sense of the phenomenon by situating it within a narrative," p 50. This epistemological foundation is to place the hear in primacy and as the basis for rational, intellectual engagement with and interpretation of the world. It is not anti rational but anti rationalism. This removes rationalism as a elevated deity. The reason is that said rationalism has to have a foundation from someone's interpretation, which is usually the minds at the top in academia. The stress Smith places on story or narrative--especially on narrative as testimony--is very interesting. One can know that they know that they know but most people want a gift wrapped tweet sized logical proposition of of X then Y therefore Z. But seeking out this logical structure when dealing with the Infinite is not an easy thing. So within the religious sphere many ot seems will reject anything sans an XYZ structure and miss out on what God has in store while the "I know that I know that I know" experience grace in multitudes because they know and dont have to call Aristotle into play. And where the breaking point seems to lie is on the participation of knowledge with another. If one is a member of the same Family then it is on trust vertically and horizontally. But what about apologetically? That seems to be the soft spot here. Of the skeptic--an unbeliever--they will enter in and experience this as a means of grace by the Spirit in the Body through another or they wont. And this also makes me think about what Wittgenstein said about apologetics: they are for shoring up the believer rather than proving wrong the unbeliever. Ch. 4, shattering paradigms, opening the world: "Embedded in Pentecostal practice is a worldview--or better, social imaginary--whose ontology is one of radical openness and thus resistant to closed, immanentist systems of the sort that emerge from reductionistic metaphysical naturalism," p 88. Smith says that a Pentecostal engagement with science would be done in light of and respect of both the Spirit's immanence and transcendence. This would break down the Deistic distinction of natural and (or vs) supernatural. If I am reading this correct post enlightenment Deism hosted in a dualism, if not dichotamy, of "this" as natural and "that" as supernatural. Science will worry about "this" and yall worry about "that" on Sunday (which I believe was self fulfilling for the most part; 1/7th sanctified Christian's because of their supernatural day). This line in the sand is how people began to live their lives--this and that side or part. The Pentecostal worldview sees this line in the sand and scuffs it out. The Spirit who immanent directing us in our philosophical, theological and scientific dialogue is also awe inspiring in transcendence rationally. There is no division. No walls. This is life lived in the very presence of the transcendently-immanent God, or as Smith calls it "enchanted naturalism." Interestingly Smith points out something I have smelled in the past but wasnt sure, so I bought a book I'll read in 3 or 4 books: but based on what I know now Whitehead's Process Theology is Naturalistic. It establishes walls which prevent immanence and /or water downs what "miracle" means because everything is a miracle thus nothing is exceptional. Smith points out that this natural/supernatural divide really is supernatural/antisupernatural. Where this path leads is if one is scientifically minded one has to opt for a non-interventionist supernaturalism. I read that as if one is a scientist and a Christian they--to maintain what integrity they have left after "Christian"--have to appeal to a Process or semi Deistic (cessationist) view to keep God from upsetting their laws. So if it comes up over lunch the scientist Christian could say "well, not that kind of God.... You know, He minds His own business so as not to mess up my quarks." "[T]he Spirit is always already present at and in creation. The Spirits presence is not a postlapsarian or soteriological 'visiting' of a creation that is otherwise without God; rather, the Spirit is always already dynamically active in the cosmos/world/nature. God doesnt have to 'enter'nature as a visitor and alien; God is always already present in the world. Thus creation is primed for the Spirits action," p 103. Ch. 5, a Pentecostal critique of philosophy of religion: Once more Smith begins this chapter from the trenches, a story which begins with half a family dying to themselves and rising again in Christ in baptism. But this episode closes with all the family joining in unexpectedly. How do we categorize this form of event? There was no apologetic to theism and then a delivery of a minimal facts argument /evidentialism for the resurrection of Christ so one can be convinced that He is Lord. But nonetheless something transcendent happened. How does one envelope this in a philosophy of religion? A philosophy of religion has historically been based in what we think. Smith counters that the Pentecostal offering is what we do, or very roughly speaking "liturgy." As long as propositions trump practice we are still in the same ditch. Taken to its logical conclusion this leads to legalism. There is a chance that one, year after year, checks the Orthodox boxes and yet rarely participates with or submits to the Spirit. Smith says that [Pentecostal] worship is a catalist for revelation. Along side this I would suggest we expand our category of "liturgy" to be flexible enough to see what is liturgical to a local body. This chapter seemed a bit brief. Smith brings things back to earth by speaking about how the neighbor whither tough life story who, after having been saved, couldnt tell someone about his epistemology. But he can go all day about the Jesus who knows his pain and took it on while on the cross for him. It is this mindset for a philosophy of religion the Pentecostal deviates to. Not propositions but in what reminds me of the liberation theologians in solidarity with the "least of these," praxis: real life lived; doctrine recontemplated in light of real life lived. Ch. 6, a Pentecostal contribution to the philosophy of language: I'll try to keep up but this chapter is philosophically deeper in the weeds than I normally go and yes, I have skipped commenting on some of the speech theory and phenomenology. I appreciate how when speaking about tongues as ecstatic speech (glossolalia) as differentiated from human languages not previously known by the speaker (xenolalia) may not "communicate" something but it does "say" something: Glossolalia attest to the Divine presence in Community, the presence of the Holy Spirit. As such Glossolalia functions as a "Gesture," a mode of speech which does not employ words but is expressive. (Your footnotes make me want to buy your "The Fall of Interpretation.") "[T]ongues speech I'd the language of faith communities that are marginalized by the powers-that-be, and such speech can be indicative of a kind of eschatological resistance to the powers. We might say that the proletariat speak in tongues," p 147. This was a great book and the vast majority was an easy read.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Nathan

    I was deeply disappointed with this book. I have heard a great deal about James K.A. Smith from friends and elsewhere, mostly in connection with his summary on the philosophy of Charles Taylor. I decided to read him, but my local library could not get his "How (Not) to be Secular." They could get this. It looked very interesting both for its novelty and connection to me personally (since I grew up in Pentecostal churches and have family that identify as Pentecostals of some stripe). Between the I was deeply disappointed with this book. I have heard a great deal about James K.A. Smith from friends and elsewhere, mostly in connection with his summary on the philosophy of Charles Taylor. I decided to read him, but my local library could not get his "How (Not) to be Secular." They could get this. It looked very interesting both for its novelty and connection to me personally (since I grew up in Pentecostal churches and have family that identify as Pentecostals of some stripe). Between the appeal of Smith and the content itself, I very much looked forward to digging into it. A brief review like this will not be able to adequately detail all the nuances I would hope to give in a critique of a philosophical work, but I can provide a few issues I had with Smith's overall project and argument. Firstly, the book comes across, not so much as "Pentecostal Contributions to Christian Philosophy," but as "A Continental Critique of Analytic Philosophy." This is done by Smith aligning Pentecostalism repeatedly with continental thinkers and lambasting what he takes to be reductionism outside of continental thought. Rarely, if ever, are we given an actual argument for this critique, however. (For a brief ad hominem, what we are treated to is the typical continental strategy of abundant quotation of the usual suspects (Derrida et al.) and being told that modernism/rationalism/analyticity (these are all apparently conflated) failed because it is myopically concerned only with privileged European men. Analytic philosophers themselves are quoted sparingly and a direct engagement with them is limited to Austin and Searle almost exclusively; Moreland appears in a few places.) This goal inevitably sets the tone for the book, which I thought was unnecessarily divisive. I also often failed to see why these were PENTECOSTAL contributions since much of the Pentecostal part was an add on that is not essentially tied to continental thought and does very little real work on its own (more on this later). I am not saying that Continental philosophy has nothing of value to say. Not at all (though I am obviously more on the analytic side of things)! But trying to bitterly topple over the analytic side of the philosophical divide is not one of its valuable programs. But could rationalism have some insights and be supplemented with something to make it more religiously satisfactory, even done so in a way that captures Pentecostal (or rather, Christian) inclinations surrounding the affections and pre-cognitive understanding? That option is left unexplored. Smith merely assumes that nothing remotely rationalistic (to use Smith's term) is viable. However, that simply isn't true. To name one example, a forthcoming book by John Pittard on "Disagreement, Deference and Religious Commitment" actually defends an "affective rationalism" that provides partisan justification in peer disagreement. Pittard does this in an analytic setting to reconcile these affective, pre-philosophical elements (that Smith triumphs as the end of rationalism) with the role of reasons, serious reflection and evidence. He does this in a Bayesian framework where the pre-philosophical aspect is identified with fundamental plausibility judgments, or ur-priors. In a religious setting, the affections allow one to see necessary truths about what is worthy and beautiful and can put one in a position to better appreciate the evidence for a religious proposition precisely by forming and informing these ur-priors. This is much in line with the work of the religious epistemology of Jonathan Edwards (that William Wainwright has done much work on). I mention Pittard and Edwards here not to say that Smith should be aware of these types of alternatives, but that his lack of imagination and agenda regrettably turn his opponents into strawmen. Even worse, it is a bit naive to think that rationalism (as Smith defines this) is not of interest to many Pentecostals. I grew up Pentecostal and retain certain leanings in that direction, but my trail into philosophy began with asking certain "rationalistic" questions that I have heard many Pentecostals talk about. Smith ignores this and generalizes across Pentecostalism to motivate his thesis. And something as in Pittard trying to bring the experiential and rational strands of the Christian faith together could more holistically address the Christian experience in these regards than does Smith. In fact, I routinely was puzzled as to how anyone can evaluate these quasi-formless intuitions as veridical or not on Smith's account. We simply happen to find ourselves at the sway of contingent factors that determine how we proceed intellectually, but we never seem to get at the root of our worldviews - or "social imaginaries," as he prefers. Perhaps more could be said and developed on his behalf on this score. That being said, his project appears largely presuppositional in nature but he does not go on to talk about fit with the world or other factors that may vindicate our worldviews. His attack on some kind of Christian minimalism in philosophy also leaves much to be desired. As I have already stated, I honestly did not see much that was distinctly Pentecostal. Even the most die-hard cessationists of whom I am aware still speak of God acting today. Merely saying that Pentecostals believe that God does this more and in other ways is a disagreement about when and how often God acts, but spelling it out philosophically can largely remain agnostic about that polemical dispute. All want to say that miracles do and have occurred and they can join forces against naturalism. This reminds the Christian body of the need to be ecumenical. Besides, what exactly does the Pentecostal angle actually accomplish here that is unique ? All sides develop models that they hope capture God's special action with God's regular laws in nature. Many Christians also see an over-emphasis on dualism (or rather downplaying of the physicality of humanity) and God's transcendence over God's immanence as unhelpful and confused. (Even then, we are not given much detail about what Smith replaces something like substance dualism with that avoids the pitfalls of materialism.) Where Smith does bring out a Pentecostal distinctive in speaking in tongues, he does his best work in the book. There are some good insights here on the nature of/relationship between communication and known languages, but he leaves out other examples to reinforce his point. (For instance, he writes that hunters could communicate with sounds that are not a formal language, but the disparity with the tongues phenomenon does not make these examples parallel). There are also some mind-boggling inferences. He loosely connects tongues/Pentecostalism with neo-Marxism/social justice and I could not follow how these leaps were anything short of long conceptual stretches. Again, this seemed to be aspects of Smith's own thought that he wanted to argue for individually (his Pentecostalism and politics) but opted to throw them together in a hodgepodge that he asserted was a Pentecostal contribution to philosophy. I admit that my review here is haphazard, but the gist is that I do not think that Smith's outline (or cartoon as he sees it) yields much fruit for those who are unconvinced of his philosophical presuppositions. Moreover, there seem to be far more promising ways to integrate affective capacities and philosophy that do not succumb to dismissing whole areas of philosophy as out-dated and misguided.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Richard Leo

    The quality of writing and thought in this book is so far above the general schlock that one tends to find is the staple in the pentecostal arm of the Christian church (think Tim Lahaye, Jerry Jenkins, John Hagee, Joyce Meyer, Joel Osteen, Brian Houston et al), that the key implications of James KA Smith's work will be lost on those who need to hear it most. James KA Smith is the Professor of Philosophy at Calvin College and his extensive background in this discipline shines through. This book si The quality of writing and thought in this book is so far above the general schlock that one tends to find is the staple in the pentecostal arm of the Christian church (think Tim Lahaye, Jerry Jenkins, John Hagee, Joyce Meyer, Joel Osteen, Brian Houston et al), that the key implications of James KA Smith's work will be lost on those who need to hear it most. James KA Smith is the Professor of Philosophy at Calvin College and his extensive background in this discipline shines through. This book sits in the general field that discusses Christian Philosophy and Smith describes his contribution as an 'unapologetic [as opposed to an apologetic] articulation of the elements of a distinctly pentecostal philosophy' (p.xiii). From a general comparative religious ethnographic description of pentecostal worship to using (amongst many) Derrida, Heiddegger, Lyotard, Descartes, Augustine and Wittgenstein he provides an analytical unpacking of the ways of thinking of this particular branch of the Christian Church. Through his use of a wide range of philosophical scholars throughout the ages, he critiques and discusses various aspects of a pentecostal philosophy towards epistemologies, ontologies and praxis in areas such as inter-faith dialogue or language. In taking this approach, Smith manages to uncover a distinct paradox that sits at the heart of modern expressions of pentecostal Christianity. As a form of Christian expression that, in the USA and Australia at least, has tended to align itself with the more conservative forms of political, economic and social thought (think the worst of Fox News et al), this work provides a unique charge, using their own traditions and language. That Smith ultimately concludes each chapter by implicitly or explicitly directing pentecostal practitioners towards more progressive modes of thought is a challenge that, unfortunately, I suspect will be left untouched by these same practitioners. One example of this type of challenge is that he concludes his analysis of the hallmark of pentecostal thought and practice, the glossolalia, through the construct of neo-Marxism and the Derridan semiotic turn and shows how it is a form of expression that resists and transforms the dominant socio-political construct rather than aligning itself with it. Conclusion? Finally. A book that treats its reader as intelligent and educated from the pentecostal / Charismatic arm of the Christian church.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jason Clark

    A book for any pentecostal/charismatic who wants to understand the place of that tradition in current conversation about philosophy. Also a compelling read for those enamoured with post-modern philosophy who have given up on being charismatic, giving them some hope.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jon

    Outstanding introduction to a pentecostal philosophy--obviously heavy on philosophy and not a casual read. He is not posing this is a finished piece but hopes it is an initial take that is a catalyst for continued musings.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Josh Hopping

    God used James Smith’s book, “Thinking in Tongues”, to give me permission to connect my mind and my heart in a way that I have never done before. Both are to be trusted; both are to be respected and used for the Glory of God.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Anderson

    Smith is thought provoking and frustrating. Very good insights, but I am not necessarily convinced that the vast majority of pentecostalism practice reflects his thought which seems to undermine his argument especially in light of his book Desiring the Kingdom. Highly recommended book.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ian Caveny

    What constitutes the fundamental departure between the Pentecostal and the world around him? Is it simply an openness to the supernatural? or is it a more radical gulf, involving a wholesale rejection of Cartesian dualisms and the malaise of modernity? Or, to put the question in a slightly different way, paraphrasing James K.A. Smith's opening chapter in Thinking in Tongues, What hath Charles Taylor to do with Azusa Street? It turns out, far more than any of us had ever expected. Following the th What constitutes the fundamental departure between the Pentecostal and the world around him? Is it simply an openness to the supernatural? or is it a more radical gulf, involving a wholesale rejection of Cartesian dualisms and the malaise of modernity? Or, to put the question in a slightly different way, paraphrasing James K.A. Smith's opening chapter in Thinking in Tongues, What hath Charles Taylor to do with Azusa Street? It turns out, far more than any of us had ever expected. Following the themes traced out in his groundbreaking Desiring the Kingdom, James K.A. Smith uses the insights of postmodern philosophy to investigate the lived theological and philosophical claims inherent in pentecostal (lower-case "p") worship and practice. The result is more than just a sum of enlightening observations, ranging from the proximity of pentecostal worship and sacramental liturgy to the political implications of pentecostalism's embodied worship; it is an intellectual labor of love. More than in his other projects, I felt I could hear the pentecostal, tongue-speaking heart of the author reverberating with a deep conviction, with the joy of manifesting to even a doubting Christian theological and philosophical the glories of pentecostal practice. It is ... a revelation. All pentecostals knows that they stick out like a sore thumb in the context of other believers. This is something that any one of us could tell by a multitude of stories. But putting a finger on precisely what makes the difference is a little more difficult than simply "we speak in tongues, they don't." In fact, there is sometimes (and this can be dangerous if given a head) an underlying sense of a seismic difference, a significant gap between our experiences of Christianity. Some pentecostals disavow non-pentecostal manifestations of faith altogether because they cannot seem to reconcile their supernatural experiences with other believers' relatively tame ones. What James K.A. Smith does in this book, and what he manages so successfully to portray, are the inner-logics of pentecostal belief that are carried alongside pentecostal practice, even if those things are not explicit in pentecostal dogma. This leads to some fruitful, some intriguing, and some surprising conclusions. For instance, the embodied nature of pentecostal worship in-itself communicates something of an anti-Gnostic, anti-Cartesian set of values: the pan-en-theism of the Spirit of God moving within His Creation, as opposed to the simplistic dualisms maintained by those who "deny the flesh." When thought through on the terms of its own logic, this embodiment should lend itself to a radical commitment to bringing the Spirit's voice to this-worldly concerns. In this manner, as Smith observes, there is a strange overlay between pentecostal practice, liberation theology, and Catholic social teaching. There is a confluence of thought here. And, yet, because of the ways pentecostals have been socially absorbed by broader evangelical political concerns (in America, at least), sometimes the effects of our social witness is deadened. That dichotomy / tension is one present throughout the book. Pentecostal practice, in-itself, reveals some key theological revelation or point for philosophical reflection; Pentecostal thought (as it is commonly seen in the American context) is often at odds with its own practiced / embodied logic. In some ways, at least for me, Thinking in Tongues is helping me understand some of the socio-political realities around Pentecostal and Charismatic movements and their political pre-commitments that are, nevertheless, contested by their own spiritual worship practices. Altogether, this book is extremely helpful and a useful starting point for further theological / philosophical work. The final chapter engaging glossolalia with Searle's speech-act theory and Marcuse's understanding of the reality principle (etc.) was exceptionally thrilling and feels worth an entire book on its own. As a Christian theological and philosophical reader, it felt so refreshing to have an author breathe to life the pentecostal world I know so well. In some real sense, reading Thinking in Tongues reminded me of all the things I love so deeply in pentecostalism, and why, even to this day, I still pray in the Spirit.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Peter Rapp

    Classic James KA Smith, I appreciated the thoughtful unpacking of the philosophical implications of Pentecostal/charismatic practice. As a reformed Presbyterian with ecumenist visions, I have to rebut that many (or even all?) of his "5 key aspects" of a Pentecostal worldview (1 radical openness, 2 enchanted creation, 3 nondualism, 4 affective epistemology, 5 eschatological orientation to justice) are just to my mind fundamentally Christian as opposed to being somehow uniquely Pentecostal. Still Classic James KA Smith, I appreciated the thoughtful unpacking of the philosophical implications of Pentecostal/charismatic practice. As a reformed Presbyterian with ecumenist visions, I have to rebut that many (or even all?) of his "5 key aspects" of a Pentecostal worldview (1 radical openness, 2 enchanted creation, 3 nondualism, 4 affective epistemology, 5 eschatological orientation to justice) are just to my mind fundamentally Christian as opposed to being somehow uniquely Pentecostal. Still the unpacking of them is good. I wished he had spent more time defending certain of the practices (e.g. glossolalia) as normative or biblically/historically warranted. For someone not coming from the Pentecostal tradition, his analysis of tongues as a speech-act was not entirely convincing. Chapter 4 needed more rigorous or nuanced discussion of the differences between enchanted naturalism and emergent panentheism.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Gareth Clark

    Good, well written, and interesting but not what I thought This book is very dense. It takes a lot of brain power to focus and soak up the information dense sentences. It also seems like the author has a strong agenda to tie Pentecostal beliefs into postmodern and various other theories. This is the thesis of the book but the position often feels a little forced at times. This comes across as over the analyzing and trying to find something that is not there. That being said, many of his points la Good, well written, and interesting but not what I thought This book is very dense. It takes a lot of brain power to focus and soak up the information dense sentences. It also seems like the author has a strong agenda to tie Pentecostal beliefs into postmodern and various other theories. This is the thesis of the book but the position often feels a little forced at times. This comes across as over the analyzing and trying to find something that is not there. That being said, many of his points landed strongly and were well supported and comprehensible. The unfamiliar information is also explained in detail so that even the non-heavily read reader (If they are up for a challenge) can understand what the author is trying to say.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kate Eggenberger

    Great book on what it truly means to be Pentecostal.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    What has Azusa Street to do with Geneva or even Amsterdam? Is it possible to integrate pentecostal and Calvinist or even neocalvinist views? Smith maintains that it is and with this manifesto he tries to do just that. Reformed charismatic is obviously not an oxymoron. However, most Reformed charismatics tend to be pietist in outlook. Smith writes from a neocalvinist perspective, a perspective that rejects pietism but embraces a transformational perspective on culture and society. Smith taking his What has Azusa Street to do with Geneva or even Amsterdam? Is it possible to integrate pentecostal and Calvinist or even neocalvinist views? Smith maintains that it is and with this manifesto he tries to do just that. Reformed charismatic is obviously not an oxymoron. However, most Reformed charismatics tend to be pietist in outlook. Smith writes from a neocalvinist perspective, a perspective that rejects pietism but embraces a transformational perspective on culture and society. Smith taking his cue from Alvin Plantinga's seminal paper 'Advice to Christian Philosophers' here issues advice to pentecostal philosophers; advice that comes with more than a neocalvinist assist. Smith makes no claim to being exhaustive or comprehensive but claims to be offering an outline, a manifesto. I must confess that the Pentecostal/ charismatic perspective sketched by Smith here is one I don't fully recognise - I wish that it were. I left a charismatic house church two decades ago because it was dualistic and had a tendency towards neo-gnosticism; if Smith is correct things have changed over the years. Smith's program[me] for pentecostal philosophy strangely warmed my heart. He identifies five 'key aspects of a pentecostal worldview'; aspects which owe much to neocalvinism: 1. A position of radical openness to God 2. An 'enchanted' theology of creation and culture 3. A nondualistic affirmation of embodiment and materiality 4. Affective, narrative epistemology 5. An eschatological orientation to mission and justice. To each of these I would shout a loud 'Amen, preach it!' If this is pentecostal philosophy, then give me pentecostal philosophy! Smith has ably shown that a charismatic neocalvinism is a viable option. Pentecostalism is often caricatured by an escapist world-denying mentality, one that stresses the heart over the head, emotions over the rational and is profoundly anti-intellectual. Smith has adequately demonstrated that it need not be. In chapter 3, the longest in the book, he sketches a pentecostal epistemology, making a good case for understanding it as resonating with a "'postmodern' critique of autonomous reason" (p. 52). It is not antirational, but antirationalist (p. 53). His 'core claim is that 'pentecostal worship constitutes a kind of performative postmodernism, an enacted refusal of rationalism' (p. 59). I love the way he describes a Pentecostal epistemology as being 'more like dance than deduction' (p. 82). Chapter 4, subtitled 'Science, Spirit, and a Pentecostal ontology', takes a look at a pentecostal contribution to metaphysics. Smith maintains that a pentecostal ontology is one of 'radical openness and thus resistant to closed, immanentist systems of the sort that emerge from reductionistic metaphysical naturalism' (p. 88). He describes it as an 'enchanted naturalism' and contrasts it with reductionalistic naturalism and naive supernaturalism. He views naturalism as a spectrum from the reductiuonistic naturalism of Dan Dennett to the interventionist supernaturalism of naïve pentecostalism, passing through non-reductionistic rationalism of Arthur Peacocke, and Philip Clayton and the enchanted or non-interventionaits supernaturalism advocated here by Smith. This is a rich typology and one that will bring clarity to the discussions on naturalism(s). Smith is arguing for a supernatural materialism that contests the natural/ supernatural distinction. Here he draws, perhaps predictably considering Smith's previous works, on radical orthodox's 'participatory' ontology (p. 100). The philosophy of religion comes under scrutiny in chapter 4. The contemporary paradigm is that doctrine is prior to worship and that ideas trump practice (p. 111). Pentecostalism challenges this. Chapter 5 is perhaps the most explicitly pentecostal, it takes a look at glossolalia (speaking in tongues) and the challenge with which it confronts the philosophy of language. Smith side steps the theological issues and focuses on the philosophical. This chapter provides a model for how pentecostals can do philosophy. The book concludes with a heart-felt plea for others to take up the baton and so see, as Smith has stated elsewhere First Things (April 2008), pentecostals at the academic table rather being on the table as a topic of study. Al Wolters once wrote: 'I believe that neocalvinism, if it remains true to its radical original intuition, can truly embrace the riches of other traditions, even as it shares its own with others.' Smith has done just that with this book. [First published in Philosophia Reformata 76 (2011): 160-162]

  15. 5 out of 5

    David Holford

    I had read Desiring the Kingdom and I had intended to get to this book eventually, after reading more of Smith's other work. I'm glad I didn't wait. After defending the idea a pentecostal philosophy with Christian philosophy, Smith sets out a framework for a pentecostal worldview ("pentecostal" having a lower case "p" to include various strands of charismatics). Having established this very plausible framework, he then explores key ideas that are (consciously or not) or should be found in pentec I had read Desiring the Kingdom and I had intended to get to this book eventually, after reading more of Smith's other work. I'm glad I didn't wait. After defending the idea a pentecostal philosophy with Christian philosophy, Smith sets out a framework for a pentecostal worldview ("pentecostal" having a lower case "p" to include various strands of charismatics). Having established this very plausible framework, he then explores key ideas that are (consciously or not) or should be found in pentecostal ontology and epistemology. He also explored where penecostalism fits within the philosophy of religion, and the inadequacies of received PoR models to integrate it, primarily because they concentrate entirely on beliefs and not believers. Likewise, there is some groundbreaking exploration of philosophy of language with regards to glossolalia. Part of the role of this book is to put pentecostalism on the philosophical map to be studied and taken seriously. However, if pentecostal pastors who have to intellectual wherewithal to grasp it will take it on board, it could also have a substantial impact on pentecostal theology.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

    First fruits of a Pentecostal philosophy. The intuitive logic of the movement are teased out and developed into a distinct ontology, epistemology, linguistics, etc. Pebtecostalism without checking your brain at the door.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Luke Dubbelman

    Great Book! All the essays in this book are good, but especially ch.3 and 4 on a pentecostal epistemology and ontology. This does not need to be read in order, just read the essays as they interest you.

  18. 4 out of 5

    John

    Outstanding book bringing together serious philosophy with us diluted Pentecostal experience.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Brant

    Smith gives words to my charismatic cries. Well articulated and unapologetic! Fantastic work.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

  21. 5 out of 5

    Aaron

  22. 4 out of 5

    Elli

  23. 5 out of 5

    Terry

  24. 4 out of 5

    K.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Miguel Solano

  26. 4 out of 5

    Dave Mowers

  27. 5 out of 5

    Elton Kelly

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Snider

  29. 5 out of 5

    Timothy

  30. 4 out of 5

    Divinia

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...