SPS 2007 Meeting in Cleveland

January 30, 2007 by  
Filed under Events


The Role of Experience in Christian Life and Thought – Pentecostal Insights

Cleveland, Tennessee

March 8-10, 2007

The Thirty-Sixth Annual Meeting of the Society for Pentecostal Studies will convene 8-10 March (Thursday – Saturday) at Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee. Cleveland is one of several centers across the USA and the world for the birthing of specific traditions within the Pentecostal movement. Influenced by the Holiness Movement, the Church of God began in 1886 about 50 miles east of Cleveland in the hills of eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina. By 1904, the center of the movement shifted to Cleveland, TN. It was here that Lee University began as Bible Training School (B.T.S.) in 1918. Today, it is a Christian liberal arts institution with over 4000 students in undergraduate and graduate programs. Under the leadership of President Paul Conn, the past 20 years have produced unprecedented physical and numerical growth. We are pleased to welcome you to our campus and sponsor this conference.

And what a conference it portends to be. Our theme is on the role of experience in Christian life and thought. Within Pentecostal circles, experience of God and the things of God has long been a potent motif for doctrine, life, and practice. The theme of this conference is the exploration of the role of experience in Christian life and thought, with a special emphasis on Pentecostal perspectives. The conference will seek to explore such issues as: can one experience God directly or is the experience of God always mediated by something else (e.g., church, culture); how is experience to be considered in relation to doctrine and theology; have Pentecostals laid too much stress on experience in their view of the Christian life; what is the relation of experience to epistemology; how do various Pentecostal groups throughout the world consider the role of experience in Christianity; what is an understanding of the role of experience from a psychology of religion perspective within Pentecostalism?

Our plenary speakers will offer a variety of approaches to this topic. Dr. Paul Conn, President of Lee University, is an inspiring speaker. He received his Ph.D. in psychology from Emory University. As a leader in Christian higher education and Pentecostal education in particular, he will provide excellent insight into the theme of the conference. It will be an exciting way to “kick off” the weekend.

Dr. David Daniels, our current president of SPS, is Professor of Church History at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago. Dr. Daniels will offer his Presidential Address in our second plenary session. Dr. Ben Witherington, Professor of New Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary, will be our keynote speaker in the third plenary session. Known for expertise in the study of the quest for the historical studies as well as his socio-rhetorical approach to reading Scripture, Dr. Witherington will address the SPS audience on his recent book, The Problem with Evangelical Theology: Testing the Exegetical Foundations of Calvinism, Dispensationalism and Wesleyanism. Several reviewers from SPS will offer their analysis and discussion and dialogue will fill the evening. Dr. Allan Anderson, Professor of Global Pentecostal Studies at the University of Birmingham (UK), will offer an address on the experience of the Spirit in early Pentecostalism for the fourth plenary session. Finally, during the Banquet, we will have our fifth plenary session provided by a panel of three SPS members: Drs. Emerson Powery, Amos Yong, and Arlene Sanchez Walsh. They will share personal stories and insights into the area of ethnicity and its implication for Pentecostal experience and scholarship. It is clear that the plenary sessions are events that members will not want to miss.

In addition to the plenary sessions, the specific papers and symposia in the pre-conference and parallel sessions are striking on topics related to the theme (experience) or not related to it at all. This conference portends an excellent weekend for the society.

The Program Committee for the 2007 Annual Meeting is as follows: Terry L. Cross (Lee University), chair; David Roebuck (Lee University), Executive Secretary; Donald Smeeton (Lee University), Library and Research; Angela Aubry (School of Urban Missions, LA), Diversity; James Shelton (Oral Roberts University), Bible; David Cole (Eugene Bible College), Ecumenical Studies; Kimberly Alexander (Church of God Theological Seminary), History; Joseph Castleberry (Assemblies of God Theological Seminary), Missions; Douglas Olena (Evangel University), Philosophy; Oliver McMahan (Church of God Theological Seminary), Practical Theology; Derrick Rosenior (Vanguard University), Religion and Culture; Dale Coulter (Lee University), Theology; Sang-Ehil Han (Church of God Theological Seminary), Asian/Asian-American.