One of the most exciting recent developments in theology has been an unprecedented interest in the person and work of the Holy Spirit. In fact, Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen describes this phenomenon as a “pneumatological renaissance.” But such discussion should be informed, he contends, by two overarching principles. First, we must acknowledge the variety of approaches to the experience of the Holy Spirit ecumenically: “No church can claim a monopoly on the Spirit, and no tradition is specifically ‘spirited.’” Second, talk about the Spirit must always be contextual and therefore culture-specific: “The Spirit of God . . . indwells believers and creation in specific and tangible ways.”
Working from this perspective, the book introduces readers to pneumatology, the theology and spirituality of the Holy Spirit, in current international theology. As such, the work offers a biblical, historical, and theological assessment of the Third Person of the Trinity. However, unlike most textbooks on pneumatology, Kärkkäinen takes a fresh, innovative approach. Rather than focusing on any single topic, his aim is to chart the various territories of contemporary writings and reflections on pneumatology.
Consequently, the volume examines various theological and denominational understandings of the Spirit (all major Christian traditions are reviewed), assesses key contemporary theologians of the Spirit (e.g., Pannenberg, Moltmann, and Pinnock), and inquires into several contextual approaches (e.g., liberation, feminist, and green). These distinctives and the emphasis on the contemporary global scene make this a unique volume.
An up-to-date survey of the most noteworthy and theologically pregnant orientations to the Spirit in the worldwide ecumenical and intercultural scene, this work will guide readers in discerning the Holy Spirit’s activity at the beginning of the third millennium.
Essential for students, scholars, pastors, and laypeople, this informative volume brings fresh perspectives on theological matters. With the Logos Bible Software edition, searching by topic or Scripture references will further help your understanding—you’ll compare, for example, the systematic theologies of various scholars or denominations.
Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen’s Pneumatology is the most comprehensive yet succinct introductory text to the doctrine of the Holy Spirit on the market today. It covers a tremendous amount of ground and does not miss much of importance in reflection on the Holy Spirit in the last two generations. Readers will come away with their appetite whetted for more in-depth study on this topic. Even seasoned theologians would be well-advised to look at Kärkkäinen’s text to ensure that they do not overlook important resources for reflection and engagement. Here is evangelical theologizing on pneumatology at its best: ecumenical, engaged, aware, and alert.
—Amos Yong, J. Rodman Williams Professor of Theology, Regent University
Kärkkäinen brings to the study of pneumatology an unusual breadth, namely a deep knowledge of the classical Pentecostal tradition at the international level and an understanding of Lutheran systematics and Eastern Orthodoxy pneumatology, as well as a more than passing acquaintance with the Roman Catholic tradition. Few young scholars can boast as much. To his scholarly concerns he adds his experience as a missionary in the Far East. His review of theologians working in the field of pneumatology is especially helpful.
—Kilian McDonnell, founder and president, Collegeville Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural Research
Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen’s book provides an excellent introduction to the study of contemporary pneumatology. It offers the reader a number of entry points to the subject by looking at pneumatology from various perspectives. Kärkkäinen summarizes an impressive array of positions and viewpoints accurately and succinctly without losing sight of the main issues, themes, and theologians. Pentecostals and charismatics will find it particularly helpful, as Kärkkäinen keeps many of their distinctive concerns in view. I highly recommend it as an introductory text.
—Simon Chan, lecturer, Trinity Theological College
Kärkkäinen’s book will help scholars and students alike appreciate recent efforts at reflection on the Spirit in the light of their ecumenical and historical past. Kärkkäinen successfully takes readers through the maze of contemporary pneumatology. He is attentive to the complexity of thought involved in pneumatologies past and present but utilizes a lucid style that will make his work valuable for the classroom. This up-to-date treatment makes an important addition to the histories of pneumatology written in the past.
—Frank D. Macchia, professor of theology, Vanguard University
Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen received his DTheol from the University of Helsinki. He is a professor of systematic theology at Fuller Theological Seminary and also holds teaching posts at the University of Helsinki and Iso Kirja College in Finland. He is the author of Pneumatology: The Holy Spirit in Ecumenical, International, and Contextual Perspective and Christology: A Global Introduction.