The Pentecostal Hypothesis

The Pentecostal Hypothesis

Christ Talks, They Decide

Nimi Wariboko


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The Pentecostal Hypothesis is the capacity to resist conventional wisdom in social actions. On a daily basis Pentecostals deploy or enact this capacity through the use of the formula: "It does not make sense, but it makes spirit" in their decision-making processes. This is an alternate way of knowing that is keyed to a particular interpretative understanding of Jesus Christ as constitutive of and normative for the good decisions relevant to human flourishing. The book offers a critical-philosophical analysis of the social-ethical implications of this hypothesis intended for private decisions and social actions. This text is ultimately a critique of Pentecostal reason. In this book Wariboko explores the epistemological dimensions of everyday Pentecostal Christology, their interpretation of Jesus's character and nature as epistemology. For Pentecostals Jesus did not have an epistemology, but the story of his life as a whole is an epistemology. For them the validity of a truth claim is always (in)formed by the story of Jesus that claims them, the story that gives them the meaning and courage to affirm their decisions without fear of being contradicted by Enlightenment rationalism. What kind of normative sway does this orientation to modernity have over Pentecostals' pattern of thought? This book configures the response to this question with profound insights into the convergence of epistemology and Christology within the impelling matrix of a provocative social ethics. The epistemological in this book is not about the that of knowing, but the how (the performative dimension) of knowing, which is affective, emotive, and an embodied practice. The Pentecostal Hypothesis is the capacity to resist conventional wisdom in social actions.


Nimi Wariboko:
Nimi Wariboko is the Katherine B. Stuart Professor of Christian Ethics at Andover Newton Theological School. He is author of The Pentecostal Principle: Ethical Methodology in New Spirit (2012), and God and Money: A Theology of Money in a Globalizing World (2008).