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Sarah Coakley’s Théologie Totale: Starting with the Holy Spirit and/or Starting with Pneumatology?

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image of Journal of Pentecostal Theology

God, Sexuality, and the Self, the inaugural volume of Sarah Coakley’s théologie totale, is a revision of the task of systematic theology that comes at a time in which some critics feel this genre of theology should be jettisoned. Intertwining the doctrine of the Trinity and theological method, the book is a programmatic statement on the relationship between human and divine desire. It also proposes a close relationship between social-scientific field work and qualitative analysis in constructive theology. What is perhaps most important for Pentecostal theology is the potential the book creates for théologie totale to be a third article theology, a theology with a pronounced pneumatological orientation throughout. Based largely on Romans 8, Coakley’s ‘incorporative’ model of the Trinity invites theologians to ‘start with the Holy Spirit’. This should encourage Pentecostals to pursue further the prospects of a pneumatological theology. At the same time, Pentecostals might want to incorporate the voice of Luke–Acts into the Pauline voice that Coakley accentuates well.

Affiliations: 1: Lee University, Cleveland, Tennessee, USA,


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