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Forty Years On: An Appreciation and Assessment of Baptism in the Holy Spirit by James D.G. Dunn

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image of Journal of Pentecostal Theology

Baptism in the Holy Spirit by James D.G. Dunn was noteworthy for its challenge to the interpretation of Luke's data about the Holy Spirit by the Pentecostal Movement of the twentieth century. The following response to Dunn's book focuses on Part Two of Dunn's now classic study. In these chapters Dunn interprets Luke's primary data about the baptism in the Holy Spirit to be about conversion-initiation. In contrast to Dunn's conversion-initiation interpretation Pentecostals interpret Luke's data about Spirit-baptism to be about Christian vocation; i.e., commissioning-empowerment. This understanding of Luke's theology about Spirit-baptism is reinforced by his antecedent spiritual state motif whereby everyone who receives the Holy Spirit – from Zacharias to the Ephesian twelve – is first described as being either righteous or a believer.


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