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A Reply to Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen’s Response

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This reply to Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen further affirms the importance of work in the theology of religions for Pentecostals and Charismatics today that first prompted the author’s original inquiry into the views of a major early Pentecostal leader, Bishop J.H. King, concerning interfaith encounter and understanding. This dialogue with Kärkkäinen supports suggestions that an overall program of rediscovering, reclaiming, restoring, and revisioning our Pentecostal theology of religions heritage seems advisable. King’s obviously optimistic theology of religions, however, must be carefully distinguished from pluralism and set in the context of its Wesleyan roots and Evangelical emphases. Further development of what King provides in embryonic form is demanded. King represents an optimistic but still Christocentric strain shared by other Pentecostals within early stages of the movement. Not at all amounting to an uncritical approbation of world religions, this revolutionary discovery does decidedly enlarge understandings of Christ’s lordship beyond the pale of any particular religion. Careful terminology in order to avoid misunderstanding is called for and conceded. Pentecostal hypersensitivity regarding theology of religions highlights the need for constant clarification of contrariness to liberal religious pluralism. King’s legacy invalidates any assumption that earlier (older) Pentecostal resources on religions are exclusively pessimistic. Implications are immense for Christian mission and interreligious relations.

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