Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A New Course on the Holy Spirit

By Dr. John Jefferson Davis

“God’s love has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us”: Rom.5:5

I am excited about a new course that I will be offering for the first time this semester, “TH715: Seminar in Pneumatology: the Person and Work of the Holy Spirit.” Strange as it may seem, it appears that it has been decades since a course devoted exclusively to the person and work of the third person of the Holy Trinity has been offered at Gordon-Conwell. In recent years there has been a renaissance of theological interest in the Holy Spirit, due in significant part to the modern Pentecostal and charismatic revivals here and around the globe, and also to the re-emergence of the Orthodox churches on the world scene after the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, bringing a fresh appreciation in the West of Orthodoxy’s theological understandings of the role of the Spirit in the church and in Christian spirituality. Contemporary theologians such as Moltmann and Pannenberg are now asking how the reality of the Holy Spirit can be more fully integrated across the full range of topics in systematic theology.
I have organized this new course historically, beginning with the Old and New Testament teachings on the Holy Spirit; moving then to the experience of the Holy Spirit in the early church; the Montanist movement; the development of Trinitarian theology and pneumatology in the fourth century by the Cappadocian fathers; developments in the Middle Ages, including the filioque controversy; the Reformation and modern periods; and in the latter part of the course, giving extensive attention to the modern Pentecostal revival, and issues of spiritual gifts, tongues, prophecy, “cessationist vs. non-cessationist” points of view, and criteria for the “discernment of spirits.” My hope is to provide to the students who are taking the course fresh insights from biblical, historical, and theological sources, with a view to practical applications for church ministry and personal spiritual growth.
If you would like to take a look at the syllabus and its extensive list of required and recommended readings, you can click on the provided link and download the full document. May we all find fresh energy, power, and joy through a deeper experience of the person and presence of the Holy Spirit!

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