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The Spirit bears witness: pneumatology, truth, and the religions

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 February 2004

Amos Yong
Bethel College, 3900 Bethel Drive, # 80, St Paul, Minnesota 55112,


The question concerning conflicting truth claims so often at the center of theological discussions of religious pluralism has not shown signs of resolution insofar as the debates have proceeded from within the framework of propositional discourses. Among other reasons, this is in part due to the inadequacies of language to capture and communicate transcendental realities, in part due to the variety of interpretative systems associated with the religions, and in part due to religious truths claims as inviting inhabitation and practical embodiment rather than just describing objective realities. The thesis proposed here is that a pneumatological approach to the diversity of religions provides hitherto untapped resources for the theological understanding of religious truth. Building on the narrative of Pentecost in Acts 2, it is suggested that the Spirit's being poured out upon all flesh enables us not only to register the values of particular and distinct claims to truth, but also to engage such truths in some ways ‘from the inside’. This preserves the otherness of the religious other even while enabling interreligious dialogue.

Research Article
© Scottish Journal of Theology Ltd 2004

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Portions of this paper were originally presented to the Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society, Toronto, Canada, 20–22 November 2002, under the title ‘Toward a P(new)matological Paradigm in Christian Theology of Religions’. I am grateful to the audience for their questions and remarks. Thanks also to Dan Magnuson, Barry Linney, and especially David Woodruff, for helping me think through some of the issues raised in the discussion about objective and absolute truths. Of course, they should not be imputed with the views advocated here.