Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Amos Yong and His Dangerous Developments

Today, Christianity Today online posted "A Wind that Swirls Everywhere: Pentecostal scholar Amos Yong thinks he sees the Holy Spirit working in other religions, too." I have one word to describe this development: frightening!

This article is written about Amos Yong, an up-and-coming Pentecostal scholar. Here is a brief glimpse into some of his views:

This has remained Yong's pressing question: Is it possible that the Holy Spirit is active not only among Christians of all denominations but also among believers of non-Christian world religions?

The question arises in each of Yong's most important publications: Spirit-Word Community (Ashgate, 2002), Beyond the Impasse (Baker Academic, 2003), and The Spirit Poured Out on All Flesh (Baker Academic, 2005). His central thesis is that, because the Spirit of God is universally active in creation and new creation, "the religions of the world, like everything else that exists, are providentially sustained by the Spirit of God for divine purposes." Where most Pentecostals see the devil's work, Yong sees the Spirit's. Concretely, that means Christians should be open to learning from and being enriched by the Spirit's work in world religions. Dialogue must take place alongside evangelism, he argues, so that all the religions—including Christianity—can learn from each other what the Spirit is doing.

. . . .

Yong has yet to answer where his investigations are leading him. Does the Holy Spirit reveal something of God truthfully in non-Christian religions? Does the Spirit work salvation through them? Does this salvation look anything like what Jesus describes to Nicodemus in John 3 or what Paul depicts in Romans 8? On the one hand, he underscores the dynamic and unpredictable work of the Spirit in world religions; on the other hand, he always links Word (Christ) and Spirit together. Is he leaning toward religious pluralism or promoting inclusivism? One thing is certain: He regards these traditional categories as too static and is looking for an alternative.

This raises a second question: What criteria should we use for discerning the Spirit's work in non-Christian movements? Yong hesitates to elevate Jesus Christ to exclusive status for such discernment. For him, "signs of the kingdom," such as personal and social transformation in love, might serve as such tools. The Spirit might be active, then, wherever the kingdom of God is being advanced, whether or not Jesus Christ is central to the religious messages and practices. But can Christians ever separate the person of Jesus Christ from the kingdom of God? That seems problematic and will raise doubts in many Christians' minds about Yong's project.
posted at 1:00 PM  
Comments (5)

At 3:28 PM, Blogger Jodi said...

This issue addresses the age-old questions that have run through almost every Christian's head: What happens to those who don't hear the gosple? They are good, with a sense of morality...perhaps God has other ways of salvation.
You are right that Mr. Yong is entering dangerous ground when he claims that there is perhaps another way to salvation than through Jesus Christ. I think that many people fail to see some other ways in which God works.
1) Common Grace. That is, grace shown to the whole world (it raise on the godly and the ungodly). God blesses both believers and unbelievers in this life...even with senses of morality and well-doing. He sends comforts even to those who aren't His sheep.
2) Natural Revelation. Yes, it would seem that other religions have truth in them, for they offer good morals, high values, and dedication to a higher power. Perhaps they can be saved through those means? Is the Spirit of God at work in those religions, or is it that God's creation is revealing truth to all of mankind (see Romans 1)?
As to the question: "Is it possible to be saved without Jesus?" I think that's an emotional question arrising from our inability to comprehend God's greatness. If the BIble makes it clear that a person must "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved" then we as Christians must accept that without questioning the Father with "but, but, but..."
I am a strong supporter of missions to unreached people groups, just as I am of evangelism to those around us in our everyday lives. However, when the day ends, we simply must trust that those who are God's sheep will hear his voice. Election is a hard doctrine, but with the propper understanding, can bring great rest to the Christian's heart.

At 4:53 PM, Blogger Jeff Downs said...

Thanks for this post John.

At 6:43 PM, Blogger Aaron Shafovaloff said...

This won't come as a shock, but John Morehead (the guy whose writings Standing Together is appealing to for support for their activities)... speaks favorably of Amos Yong's theology in recent blog posts. It's pluralism (or at least on-the-fence corporate inclusivism), without the nasty label.

At 6:55 PM, Blogger Aaron Shafovaloff said...

..."Yong regards the traditional categories of religious pluralism and inclusivism too static and as a result he is looking for an alternative..."

That should give us a clue...

At 9:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Syncretism, pure syncretism. Please don't think all (or even many) Pentecostals hold Yong's view. According to the Gospel of John and the book of Acts, the Holy Spirit was sent to bear witness of Jesus Christ and empower others to bear witness of Jesus Christ.
Even our favorite Scripture, John 3:16, points to the exclusivity of Christianity, for it begins with an adverb (in Greek) and should be translated, "In this way God loved the world: that He sent His only begotten Son...."
Yong has ignored the admonition in Deut 12:29-30, ""When the LORD your God cuts off before you the nations which you are going in to dispossess, and you dispossess them and dwell in their land, beware that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, `How do these nations serve their gods, that I also may do likewise?' Yet Yong's writings indicate that he thinks Christians should look to other religions to get insight. This reminds me of what Jeroboam did, mixing Baal worship with the worship of Yahweh. God did not regard Jeroboam's actions as a distortion of Yahwism, but as idolatry. Yong has stepped into idolatry.


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