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Research Initiative | 2006-2008

Science and the Spirit:
Pentecostal Perspectives on the
Science/Religion Dialogue

A Research Initiative
directed by

Amos Yong (Regent University) and
James K. A. Smith (Calvin College)

Funded by the John Templeton Foundation

This research initiative seeks to stage a sustained encounter between two significant global forces: Pentecostal/charismatic Christianity and contemporary science. In fact, these two globalizing influences would seem diametrically opposed: the one taken up with the “supernatural,” the other based on a trenchant naturalism. However, we believe this perception of mutual exclusivity is mistaken.

Rather, we see this unique juncture as an instance of both challenge and opportunity. On the one hand, there is a clearly a need for Pentecostal and charismatic traditions to take science seriously. We live in a modern (or postmodern) world that reaps incredible benefits from science, and Pentecostal communities have been quick to avail themselves of applied science via technology. On the other hand, a naturalistic worldview—which tends to dominate science—poses a serious challenge to the distinct sense of transcendence in charismatic spirituality. But naturalism in science is not the end of the story. Indeed, some of the most important discussions in science—particularly in dialogue with theology—have emphasized a new role for “Spirit” as a scientific category. This represents a portal for Pentecostal participation in the science/theology dialogue.

We believe that Pentecostals need to seriously engage the sciences as Pentecostals, and need to be involved in the science and religion dialogue. But we also believe that the “need” here is reciprocal: we believe that Pentecostal spirituality, with its distinct emphasis on the Spirit and pneumatology, can yield unique insights for the broader science and religion dialogue. Indeed, we believe that Pentecostal spirituality remains a largely “untapped resource” in current discussions.

With funding and support from the John Templeton Foundation, we are launching a 3-year research initiative that seeks to fund a team of scholars who will undertake original scholarship related to these issues and disseminate the fruit of their labor in peer-reviewed scholarship.

Research Initiative Description

Research Team Members

For further information, contact the Directors at spirit@calvin.edu.