Spirit, Pathos and Liberation
The research presents Hispanic Pentecostalism as “the voice of the voiceless.” Solivan prepares the reader for the cultural and religious context in which orthodoxy has failed for various cultural, historical and theological reasons. He further proposes that the new term of “orthopathos” should be used. Orthopathos is the combination of orthodoxy (what we believe) and orthopraxis (what we do). As such, it introduces an interlocutor between God and humanity and between beliefs and works. God is the God who suffers for creation and with creation. The act of repentance is then the human response to the passion of God for humanity and joining with His sorrow in the death and alienation of mankind. Such appeal is against the dehumanization of revelation. It reduces the salvific experience to a simple claim of Biblical truths based on a logical choice.
Several reasons are given to prove that such intercalative paradigm is necessary for the Hispanic Pentecostal communities. Among them are not only Biblical, theological and mission requirements, but also sociopolitical, ecumenical and identity ones. These necessities expand the orthopathic approach beyond the church-religious context into the area of social transformation, thus proposing it as a larger paradigm for Christian mission to the world. Solovan claims that pathos denotes the idea of goodness and passion, which were very often missed by the ecclesial formations which followed the early church and was never properly restored by the Reformation. The discussion addresses the imago Dei and the pointed by Tertullian’s argument that God’s expression of passion is not a reflection of ours, but rather a reflection of His image.
Having established the pathos idea, Solivan goes further with showing how orthopathos can become a means of human liberation even through suffering. Three theological principles of orthopathos are presented as follows:
1. In connection with the Biblical principle of identification.
2. In connection with the Biblical principle of location.
3. In connection with the Biblical principle of transformation.
Through the Biblical foundation, the starting point of orthopathos is identified with the suffering and its relations to the category of poverty within the socioeconomic matrix. The author continues with a parallel between suffering and the work of the Holy Spirit and His work among the poor.
Once, the pneumatological factor is introduced, Solivan goes a step further to discuss Pentecostal glossolalia. He sees it as an affirmation of the work of the Spirit among the poor. This gives a Pentecostal conclusion of the orthopathos topic and allows the author to explore its practical implementation within the Hispanic Pentecostal community.
The book further introduces three critical questions concerning the topic of orthopathos. The first one is concerned with the imago Dei in reference to the emerging identity of Hispanic Americans and more specific Hispanic American Pentecostals.
The first concern is continued by the second question about the common experiences and culture in the context of North American immigration dynamics. This factor has a rather unicultural and ecumenical approach, but brings several interesting possibility for communality within the Holy Spirit. The third concern deals with the transformation of practice into praxis in a Pentecostal context and is connected with the last question which calls against passivity toward suffering and poverty. The book concludes with a call for social transformation which is addressed by Pentecostal theology and praxis.
In the background context of the treated problems and issues, the book inevitably stands against passivism toward social injustice and touches on the role of the church in the social transformation dynamics. Although, the book is dedicated to a Hispanic Pentecostals, the principles of social transformation are applicable also in my area of ministry in postcommunist Bulgaria. The similarities are many.
First, just like South America, Eastern Europe after the Fall of the Berlin wall in 1989 is struggling economically. Along with the social and political instabilities in the region, the economical crises have separated the Bulgarian community into a small percentage of extremely rich, and a majority of extremely poor with minimal or no middle class separation between them.
Second, while South America’s religion is monopolized by the Catholic Church, this role in Bulgaria has been occupied by the Eastern Orthodox Church. The last has been credited as the protector of the Bulgarian culture during the Turkish Yoke and the Communist Regime. However, in both cases, the Eastern Orthodox Church has participated in historical dynamics which have created environments for the rich and powerful minorities, thus oppressing the poor and the underprivileged majorities.
Thirdly, through the Protestant missions Pentecostalism was introduced to the Bulgarian culture in the 1920s. Today it is the fastest growing religious movement in Eastern Europe. Protestantism has rightly and faithfully fulfilled its role as a sociological factor in the formation of the Bulgarian culture exactly in the historical moments when the Eastern Orthodox Church has been or had chosen to become socio-culturally inactive.
Fourth, cross-cultural problems which Hispanic communities in North Amerca face are similar to the problems which Bulgarian immigrant communities face. The cross-cultural processes, struggle with identity, loss of heritage, as well as their recovery and reclaiming through the Biblical salvific experience, are dynamics which essential for the Bulgarian immigrant communities and the Bulgarian immigrant individually.
Finally, Pentecostalism has drawn a paradigm for personal and social transformation which has created an environment for liberation of the oppressed by postcommunist reality Bulgarians both in Bulgaria and internationally. It has further effectively addressed theological and practical issues through Pentecostal identity, experience and community becoming a factor within the social transformation and the postcommunist mentality as well. As such Pentecostalism, in a larger scale, has become an answer for many through providing answers to existential questions in the midst of crises, transitions and insecurity as its call for orthopathos has integrating the sacrifice of God with the present search and suffering of the Bulgarian nation.