Evangelical-Pentecostal scholars continue to produce fruitful work for the benefit of Christ’s church. Such advances will help contribute both toward a Reformation among Charismatics and for a renewed pneumatology among evangelicals and their ecclesiology.
One notable example of this work is Gary Tyra’s worthwhile book, The Holy Spirit in Mission: Prophetic Speech and Action in Christian Witness (InterVarsity Press, 2011). J.P. Moreland sets the context for understanding the significance of this book when he writes:
Outside of the West, the church is exploding in rapid growth and influence, and leading experts tell us that much of it is due to supernatural manifestations of the Holy Spirit. What has been needed is a biblically and theologically savvy defense of this role of the Spirit in the church’s mission. Tyra’s excellent book more than adequately fills that need. His treatment of the importance of the prophetic is alone worth the price of the book.
Recently, Joe Gorra interviewed Gary Tyra about the book and its implications for our theology and practices. Below is Part One of that interview. Currently, Gary is Associate Professor of Biblical and Practical Theology at Southern California’s Vanguard University. Along with his scholarship and writing, Gary has extensive pastoral leadership experience, and great love to see people grow into all that God has called them to be.
You dedicate your book to the renowned Russell P. Spittler, who you rightly describe as “a consummate evangelical-Pentecostal scholar and statesman whose example, counsel and friendship have meant a great deal to me over the years.” As a self-identified evangelical-Pentecostal scholar, can you share a little about your own journey, especially with regard to your own work, and how Russell has influenced you?
I became a Christ follower as a young adult (19-years-old) while a pre-med student in college. Since my conversion to Christ took place within a Pentecostal/charismatic ecclesial setting, my first worship, nurture, community and mission experiences occurred in an environment where the folks simply took for granted the need to be empowered by the Holy Spirit for life and ministry over and over again throughout one’s spiritual journey.
Within a year of my conversion I found myself involved in full-time Christian ministry. Once I responded to the call to transition from medicine to ministry, I began the pursuit of a formal biblical, theological ministry education. Eventually I was exposed to the broader evangelical movement, earning my graduate and post-graduate degrees at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.
I emerged from my time at Fuller as an evangelical who nevertheless continues to embrace the best aspects of his Pentecostal/charismatic heritage due in no small part to the influence of fellow Fuller Pentecostals such as Russ Spittler and Mel Robeck. I consider both of these men to be consummate scholars who represent the Pentecostal-charismatic tradition well within the larger evangelical and ecumenical settings. As well, both have spent time with me over the years helping me better understand and negotiate the challenges involved in functioning as a pastor-scholar within an ecclesial tradition that, historically, hasn’t always emphasized the need for advanced theological degrees, much less a critical scholarship.