The Spirit, Pathos, and Liberation: Toward a Hispanic Pentecostal Theology 9781850759423, 1850759421

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The Spirit, Pathos, and Liberation: Toward a Hispanic Pentecostal Theology
 9781850759423, 1850759421

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Pathos and Liberation Toward an Hispanic Pentecostal Theology


Journal o f Pentecostal Theology Supplement Series


Editors John Christopher Thomas Rickie D. Moore StevenJ. Land

Sheffield Academ ic Press Sheffield

The Spirit, Pathos and Liberation Toward an Hispanic Pentecostal Theology

Samuel Solivan

^ r ASheffield Academic Press

1 dedicate this study to my mother, who from infancy taught me what it is to walk in the Spirit and to be a servant o f the Body of Christ. I also dedicate this study to my beloved wife Irene, who with so much love and patience supported my studies, lovingly and prayerfully giving advice and reflecting with me in the process of writing. To my children Bonnie Lynn, Samuel Jr, Grace Ann and Marianne who serve as constant reminders of the challenges posed by future generations of Pentecostal children.


i m Copyright © 1998 Sheffield Academic Press Published by Sheffield Academic Press Ltd Mansion House 19 Kingfield Road Sheffield SI 1 9AS England

Printed on acid-free paper in Great Britain by The Cromwell Press Melksham, Wiltshire

Bntish Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A cataJogu6 ^

for ^

from the British Library

ISBN 1-85075-942-1




A b b re v ia tio n s


In trodu ction


C hap ter 1 h is p a n ic

1. 2. 3. 4.

-A m e r ic a n R o o t s

The Hispanic Presence in North America The Hispanic Protestant Ethos Orthopathos: An Intermediary Matrix The Need for a North American Hispanic Theology


15 26 35 39


1. God’s Identification with Broken Humanity 2. Orthopathos: Interlocutor between Orthodoxy andPraxis


47 60

Chapter 3 APPLICATION TO THE HISPANIC-AMERICAN REALITY: B ib l ic a l P a r a d ig m s

1. 2. 3. 4.

A Starting-Point Biblical Paradigms Three Theological Principles of Orthopathos 'Whose Weakness Was Turned to Strength’

Chapter 4 CRITICAL ISSUES 1. Scripture and Religious Experience: Sources and Norms 2. The Starting-Point of Orthopathos 3. The Holy Spirit as Precondition of Hope, Love and Faith 4. Cultural Glossalalia: From Particularity to Universality


70 72 80 86

93 93 97 103 112

The Spirit, Patlws and Liberation

6 Chapter 5


1. New Testament Reality and Contemporary Continuity: Orthopathos, an Affirmation of a People 2. Americanization Versus Pluralism of the Hispanic Church 3. Orthopathos: Pending Issues Chapter 6 C o n c l u s io n

Bibliography Index of References Index of Authors



Anchor Bible Jerusalem Bible Journal o f Pentecostal Theology Journal o f Pentecostal Theology, Supplement Series Library o f Christian Classics Colin Brown (ed.). The New International Dictionary o f New Testament Theology (3 vols.; Exeter: Paternoster Press. 1975) New International Version New Revised Standard Version J.-P. Migne (ed.), Patrologia cursus completa ... Series graeca (166 vols.; Paris: Petit-Montrouge. 1857-83) Revised Standard Version Gerhard Kittel and Gerhard Friedrich (eds.). Theological Dictionary o f the N ew Testament (trans. Geoffrey W. Bromiley; 10 vols.; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, I9 6 4 -)


The arrival of the twenty-first century will find Americans facing the challenges posed by the growth of Am erica's largest minority: the Hispanic-American community. For Hispanic Americans it will mean an unprecedented growth in population and in opportunity. This growth is mirrored among Hispanic Pentecostals both in the United States and the rest of the Spanish-speaking world. For others this growth may represent the ongoing maintenance of a social system that has played havoc with the Hispanic family and community. Thus the twenty-first century poses both a threat and an opportunity to Hispanic Americans in general and Pentecostals in particular. Our response will greatly depend on how we come to terms with who we are as an HispanicAmerican community socially and religiously, and how we creatively integrate into the American mainstream without losing our own identity and contribution. The growth of the Hispanic-American population in the United States and a parallel growth among Hispanic-American Pentecostals pose a number of challenges to the ability of Pentecostalism's theo­ logical and socio-ethical world-view. Will Pentecostal theology be wil­ ling and able to incorporate into its hermeneutics insights gained from the decades of the 1970s and 1980s, especially from the biblical and theological contributions of some liberation theologians as they relate to issues of the poor and disenfranchised members of society? This book attempts to respond to some of these issues from an Hispanic Pen­ tecostal perspective and seeks to apply an understanding of the person and work of the Holy Spirit to the questions and issues that an eco­ nomically disadvantaged but Spirit-filled and Spirit-led Pentecostal community has to give to the churches. The underlying premise of this book is the belief that the Holy Spirit continues to guide and empower the Body of Christ in all truth. Belief in this biblical truth provides the trust needed to examine theological perspectives and insights from persons or traditions that would normally be suspect or rejected by tra­ ditional Pentecostal norms. As often stated by Gustavo Gutierrez, my


The Spirit, Pathos and Liberation

, ■ . I ..tin American liberation theology, former professor and originator ol L‘ a si |c denomination a theology of liberation is not the patnmox y ■ 0 r th„ or tradition or theological school of thought: it is the pat.tmony gospel and therefore of the Christian church.



Pentecostal preaching and teaching have, since then inccpuon, voiced a message and a practice of liberation to those bound by sin or illness. In line with this rich heritage of liberal,on. this book seeks to broaden the categories of personal sin in order to encompass what the apostle Paul called ‘principalities and power’ that manifest themselves in social and corporate forms of social evil and injustice. The growth of the Pentecostal community has been and continues to be most evident among the poor and disenfranchised of the world. Whether at Azusa Street in Los Angeles, or in the countryside at Cherokee County, North Carolina, or in the barrios of New York or San Paulo, the Pentecostal message has been shared and continues to be shared most effectively with the poor and unattended. This book seeks to examine the issues of divine suffering and its implication for those who experience suffering, hope and trust in a loving and compassionate God. I will also explore the social and religious factors that impact and inform the faith of Hispanic-American Pentecostals in particular and other Hispanic Christians. In the United States there are approximately 30 million Hispanic Americans who for the most part go unattended. Demographics place Hispanic Americans among those with the highest rate of poverty, as the least educated, and soon to be the largest minority group. In com­ munities such as East Harlem, New York, Hispanics already comprise the largest minority group. Like their African American and Latin American cousins, these Hispanic Americans need to assume respon­ sibility for formulating a theological perspective that is representative of their plight, their hopes and their contribution to their churches and communities. This book seeks to make such a contribution. The method employed here can be termed ‘conjunctive’. It is a ‘both/and’ theology rather than an eit er/or theology. This conjunctive orientation reflects the mestiza/e (mixture) of culture, language and sociopolitical and theological oca ion. t is a so indicative of the important role that personal and ,den.,lic„ion plays i„ f„rming a rheology for ,he The wells from which we drink are fed by several aquifers. Hispanic

Introduction religion has been shaped and continues to be impacted by principal streams of Roman Catholicism, Western Christendom, the Protcslanf Reformation and what Henry P, Van Duscn called the Third Wave of Christendom, namely, American Pcntccostalism. European. African and Caribbean indigenous blood, culture and history come together in the Hispanic community. We are white and black, white and indigenous people. We are a conjunctive, eclectic people, drawing from many wells. This ethnic, racial and religious mixture is what the Mexican American theologian Virgilio Elizondo calls ‘mestiz^je'. This generally poor and suffering mestizo people often ask how their faith and religious practices inform their identity and social reality. Often they express their assurance that God loves them and that they expect to go to heaven, but on another plane of their lives, they wonder if theological claims and doctrinal statements take into account their poverty and suffering in a concrete manner. The introduction of the concept of orthopathos attempts to address this issue. Orthopathos is that understanding of theology as the proper relation­ ship between correct belief (orthodoxy) and proper ethics or action (praxis). The concept of orthopathos proposed in this study seeks to rectify an imbalance that is present in the North American context of the use and understanding of orthodoxy and orthopraxis. On the one hand, history testifies to the fact that an understanding of orthodoxy as correct doctrine has done little to address the issues of oppression and injustice among the poor and disenfranchised people. Correct doctrine does not and has not automatically led to biblically responsible action on behalf of the widow, the poor or the incarcerated. On the other hand, orthopraxis as a critical reflection on action in the context of the United States often remains distant from the very persons it seeks to serve or to represent. Orthopraxis in the United States is often reduced to a critical reflection on the praxis of others and is not a direct contact or engagement with those who suffer. This state of affairs has led me to consider the concept of orthopathos as the type of criti­ cal, theological and personal first-hand engagement with the biblical, theological and social reality of suffering and m arginalized communities. Orthopathos is an attempt to bridge the gulf between orthodoxy and orthopraxis. As a third leg of the theological stool it seeks to reintro­ duce to the theological endeavor the important role that pathos plays in theological construction and faithful Christian proclamation. Pathos

The Spirit, Pathos and Liberation


points to and highlights the importance that should be given to a people's suffering, dehumanization, pain and marginalization. Oitliopathos seeks to show how correct doctrine uninformed by a people's suffering often tends to be stoic, apathetic and distant. Orthodox approaches to suffering and pain are often allegorized or dealt with m the context of either the result of sin or slothfulness or a means by which one is tempered spiritually. These responses represent an aspect of the truth, but fall short of a holistic response that is present in the Scriptures. Another way in which pathos has been used in recent Pentecostal theology is evident in the important and insightful work of Steven Land of the Church of God School of Theology. In his book Pentecostal Spirituality: A Passion for the Kingdom, Land examines passion in the context of devotion to God. Passion encompasses the ‘integration of beliefs and practices in the affections which are themselves evoked and expressed by those beliefs and practices’. These are said to be right affections or orthopathy.1 He goes on to clarify further that orthopathy or ‘right affections’ serve as the ‘personal integrating center of ortho­ doxy and orthopraxis ... those distinctive affections which are belief shaped, praxis oriented and characteristic of a person’. Land identifies three categories of affections which he understands to be essential as the integrating center of a Pentecostal-Wesleyan spirituality: gratitude as praise-thanksgiving, compassion as love-longing, and courage as confidence-hope.2 Land s use of orthopathy attends to extrapolating the fundamental ethos of Pentecostal spirituality by focusing on the passion often asso­ ciated with Pentecostalism and articulating its content, motive and subject, namely the praise and glory of God in Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit. Land goes on to state that these ‘[ajffections are abiding dispositions which dispose the person toward God and the neighbor in ways appropriate to their source and goal in God’ 3

Ii is the issue of disposition toward neighbor that I wish to attend to L T d e5! ^ 1 should note that both Steven Land M e n e t r J r r” T ? * * “ '°nh°P*>>y and 'otthopathos’ independently of each other, I ant convinced that orthopathy and

2. 3.

Land, Pentecostal Spirituality, p. 56. Land. Pentecostal Spirituality’, p. 136.



orthlH,tl,s, taken together, comprise a more integrative understanding of Pentecostal spirituality in its pneumatic and social context. The following chapters lay out some guidelines and insights for informing the liberating power of the Spirit which is orthopathrji. Chapter 1 is an overview of Hispanic diversity and our common roots and struggles. Chapter 2 studies the nature of God. particularly our encounter with God in our suffering. This chapter explores an altern­ ative to the traditional formulation of theology and gives a new charac­ terization to the divine nature to be called ‘orthopathic’. Abraham Heschel called this ‘the divine pathos’.4 Chapter 3 examines some bib­ lical paradigms that disclose the essential aspects of orthopalhos for us today. It seeks to articulate the conditions under which our suffering and oppression can be transformed by the Holy Spirit into a liberating life full of hope and promise. The biblical revelation continues to be the principal witness to the possibility of liberation. As experienced by Hispanic people, this liberative reading of Scripture has been described by historian Justo Gonzdlez as a Spanish reading of Scripture.5 Chapter 4 reflects on four critical issues in Hispanic theology: religious experi­ ence, suffering, the work of the Holy Spirit, and the importance of lan­ guage and culture. The Anal chapter examines some contemporary issues facing the Hispanic-American church and its missio Dei, namely, they are the challenges of acculturation and assimilation, the danger of the loss of our language, the danger of losing our culture through attempts to homogenize us, and the insights to be gained through the experience of the Hispanic churches as multilingual and multicultural communities of faith.

4. Abraham J. Heschel, The Prophets (New York: Harper & R ow , 1962), Ch. 12. 5. Justo L. G onzilez, Manana: Christian Theology from a Hispanic P ersp ec­ tive (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1990), p. 75.


7 G 0 2 0

Chapter 1 h is p a n ic


-A m e r ic a n R o o t s

The Hispanic Presence in North America

a. Earliest roots To place all Hispanic Americans in the same category as other immig­ rants to the United States is to misplace and thereby misunderstand history. Since 1492, when Columbus arrived at the shores of the land of San Salvador, and the resulting colonization of the Americas by Juan Ponce de Leon, Cortes, Pizarro and other Spanish conquistadores. the influence of Spain and Spanish-speaking peoples has played an impor­ tant role in the history of this nation and the continents of the world. The struggle of today’s Hispanic peoples in the United States is not simply a recent event but one tied intimately to the larger history of the United States.1 The well-known Cuban American historian Justo Gonzilez made the following observation: Nineteen years before the British founded their first colony in the land that Sir Walter Raleigh called Virginia, the Spanish based in Cuba founded a city that still exists in Saint Augustine, Florida. And twelve years before the Pilgrim s landed on Plymouth Rock, the Spanish founded the city of Santa Fe, New M exico.12

The Latin American historian Enrique Dussel points out that our ten­ dency is to identify the center of the universe as the place where we

1. The immigration pattern and history o f Puerto Ricans is compared and con­ trasted with other immigrant communities in Joseph P. Fitzpatrick, P uerto Rican Americans: The Meaning o f Migration to the M ainland (Englew ood C liffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1971), Ch. 2, pp. 10-21. 2. Justo L. G onzilez, Manana: Christian Theology from a H ispanic P erspect­ ive (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1990), p. 31.


The Spirit, Pathos and Liht’>'ati