Pentecostalism

Pentecostalism or Classical Pentecostalism is a renewal movement [1] within Protestant [2] Christianity that places special emphasis on a direct personal experience of God through the baptism with the Holy Spirit. The term Pentecostal is derived from Pentecost, the Greek name for the Jewish Feast of Weeks. For Christians, this event commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the followers of Jesus Christ, as described in the second chapter of the Book of Acts.

Like other forms of evangelical Protestantism, Pentecostalism adheres to the inerrancy of the Bible and the necessity of accepting Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior. It is distinguished by belief in the baptism in the Holy Spirit that enables a Christian to live a Spirit-filled and empowered life. This empowerment includes the use of spiritual gifts such as speaking in tongues and divine healing—two other defining characteristics of Pentecostalism. Because of their commitment to biblical authority, spiritual gifts, and the miraculous, Pentecostals tend to see their movement as reflecting the same kind of spiritual power and teachings that were found in the Apostolic Age of the early church. For this reason, some Pentecostals also use the term Apostolic or Full Gospel to describe their movement.

Pentecostalism emerged in the early 20th century among radical adherents of the Holiness movement who were energized by revivalism and expectation for the imminent Second Coming of Christ. Believing that they were living in the end times, they expected God to spiritually renew the Christian Church thereby bringing to pass the restoration of spiritual gifts and the evangelization of the world. In 1900, Charles Parham, an American evangelist and faith healer, began teaching that speaking in tongues was the Bible evidence of Spirit baptism. The three-year-long Azusa Street Revival, founded and led by William J. Seymour in Los Angeles, California, resulted in the spread of Pentecostalism throughout the United States and the rest of the world as visitors carried the Pentecostal experience back to their home churches or felt called to the mission field. While virtually all Pentecostal denominations trace their origins to Azusa Street, the movement has experienced a variety of divisions and controversies. An early dispute centered on challenges to the doctrine of the Trinity. As a result, the Pentecostal movement is divided between trinitarian and non-trinitarian branches, resulting in the emergence of Oneness Pentecostals.

Comprising over 700 denominations and a large number of independent churches, there is no central authority governing Pentecostalism; however, many denominations are affiliated with the Pentecostal World Fellowship. There are over 279 million Pentecostals worldwide, and the movement is growing in many parts of the world, especially the global South. Since the 1960s, Pentecostalism has increasingly gained acceptance from other Christian traditions, and Pentecostal beliefs concerning Spirit baptism and spiritual gifts have been embraced by non-Pentecostal Christians in Protestant and Catholic churches through the Charismatic Movement. Together, Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity numbers over 500 million adherents. [3]

Beliefs

A Pentecostal church in Jyväskylä, Finland

Pentecostalism is an evangelical faith, emphasizing the reliability of the Bible and the need for the transformation of an individual's life through faith in Jesus. [4] Like other evangelicals, Pentecostals generally adhere to the Bible's divine inspiration and inerrancy—the belief that the Bible, in the original manuscripts in which it was written, is infallible. [5] Pentecostals emphasize the teaching of the "full gospel" or "foursquare gospel". The term foursquare refers to the four fundamental beliefs of Pentecostalism: Jesus saves according to John 3:16; baptizes with the Holy Spirit according to Acts 2:4; heals bodily according to James 5:15; and is coming again to receive those who are saved according to 1 Thessalonians 4:16–17. [6]

Salvation

A Pentecostal congregation in Brazil

The central belief of classical Pentecostalism is that through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, sins can be forgiven and humanity reconciled with God. [7] This is the Gospel or "good news". The fundamental requirement of Pentecostalism is that one be born again. [8] The new birth is received by the grace of God through faith in Christ as Lord and Savior. [9] In being born again, the believer is regenerated, justified, adopted into the family of God, and the Holy Spirit's work of sanctification is initiated. [10]

Classical Pentecostal soteriology is generally Arminian rather than Calvinist. [11] The security of the believer is a doctrine held within Pentecostalism; nevertheless, this security is conditional upon continual faith and repentance. [12] Pentecostals believe in both a literal heaven and hell, the former for those who have accepted God's gift of salvation and the latter for those who have rejected it. [13]

For most Pentecostals there is no other requirement to receive salvation. Baptism with the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues are not generally required, though Pentecostal converts are usually encouraged to seek these experiences. [14] [15] [16] A notable exception is Jesus' Name Pentecostalism, most adherents of which believe both water baptism and Spirit baptism are integral components of salvation.

Baptism with the Holy Spirit

Pentecostals identify three distinct uses of the word " baptism" in the New Testament:

  • Baptism into the body of Christ: This refers to salvation. Every believer in Christ is made a part of his body, the Church, through baptism. The Holy Spirit is the agent, and the body of Christ is the medium. [17]
  • Water baptism: Symbolic of dying to the world and living in Christ, water baptism is an outward symbol of that which has already been accomplished by the Holy Spirit, namely baptism into the body of Christ. [18]
  • Baptism with the Holy Spirit: This is an experience distinct from baptism into the body of Christ. In this baptism, Christ is the agent and the Holy Spirit is the medium. [17]

While the figure of Jesus Christ and his redemptive work are at the center of Pentecostal theology, that redemptive work is believed to provide for a fullness of the Holy Spirit of which believers in Christ may take advantage. [19] The majority of Pentecostals believe that at the moment a person is born again, the new believer has the presence (indwelling) of the Holy Spirit. [15] While the Spirit dwells in every Christian, Pentecostals believe that all Christians should seek to be filled with him. The Spirit's "filling", "falling upon", "coming upon", or being "poured out upon" believers is called the baptism with the Holy Spirit. [20] Pentecostals define it as a definite experience occurring after salvation whereby the Holy Spirit comes upon the believer to anoint and empower him or her for special service. [21] [22] It has also been described as "a baptism into the love of God". [23]

The main purpose of the experience is to grant power for Christian service. Other purposes include power for spiritual warfare (the Christian struggles against spiritual enemies and thus requires spiritual power), power for overflow (the believer's experience of the presence and power of God in his or her life flows out into the lives of others), and power for ability (to follow divine direction, to face persecution, to exercise spiritual gifts for the edification of the church, etc.). [24]

Pentecostals believe that the baptism with the Holy Spirit is available to all Christians. [25] Repentance from sin and being born again are fundamental requirements to receive it. There must also be in the believer a deep conviction of needing more of God in his or her life, and a measure of consecration by which the believer yields himself or herself to the will of God. Citing instances in the Book of Acts where believers were Spirit baptized before they were baptized with water, most Pentecostals believe a Christian need not have been baptized in water to receive Spirit baptism. However, Pentecostals do believe that the biblical pattern is "repentance, regeneration, water baptism, and then the baptism with the Holy Ghost". There are Pentecostal believers who have claimed to receive their baptism with the Holy Spirit while being water baptized. [26]

It is received by having faith in God's promise to fill the believer and in yielding the entire being to Christ. [27] Certain conditions, if present in a believer's life, could cause delay in receiving Spirit baptism, such as "weak faith, unholy living, imperfect consecration, and egocentric motives". [28] In the absence of these, Pentecostals teach that seekers should maintain a persistent faith in the knowledge that God will fulfill his promise. For Pentecostals, there is no prescribed manner in which a believer will be filled with the Spirit. It could be expected or unexpected, during public or private prayer. [29]

Pentecostals expect certain results following baptism with the Holy Spirit. Some of these are immediate while others are enduring or permanent. Most Pentecostal denominations teach that speaking in tongues is an immediate or initial physical evidence that one has received the experience. [30] Some teach that any of the gifts of the Spirit can be evidence of having received Spirit baptism. [31] Other immediate evidences include giving God praise, having joy, and desiring to testify about Jesus. [30] Enduring or permanent results in the believer's life include Christ glorified and revealed in a greater way, a "deeper passion for souls", greater power to witness to nonbelievers, a more effective prayer life, greater love for and insight into the Bible, and the manifestation of the gifts of the Spirit. [32]

While the baptism with the Holy Spirit is a definite experience in a believer's life, Pentecostals view it as just the beginning of living a Spirit-filled life. Pentecostal teaching stresses the importance of continually being filled with the Spirit. There is only one baptism with the Spirit, but there should be many infillings with the Spirit throughout the believer's life. [33]

Divine healing

Pentecostalism is a holistic faith, and the belief that Jesus is Healer is one quarter of the full gospel. Pentecostals cite four major reasons for believing in divine healing: 1) it is reported in the Bible, 2) Jesus' healing ministry is included in his atonement (thus divine healing is part of salvation), 3) "the whole gospel is for the whole person"— spirit, soul, and body, 4) sickness is a consequence of the Fall of Man and salvation is ultimately the restoration of the fallen world. [34] In the words of Pentecostal scholar Vernon L. Purdy, "Because sin leads to human suffering, it was only natural for the Early Church to understand the ministry of Christ as the alleviation of human suffering, since he was God's answer to sin ... The restoration of fellowship with God is the most important thing, but this restoration not only results in spiritual healing but many times in physical healing as well." [35] In the book In Pursuit of Wholeness: Experiencing God's Salvation for the Total Person, Pentecostal writer and Church historian Wilfred Graves, Jr. describes the healing of the body as a physical expression of salvation. [36]

For Pentecostals, spiritual and physical healing serves as a reminder and testimony to Christ's future return when his people will be completely delivered from all the consequences of the fall. [37] However, not everyone receives healing when they pray. It is God in his sovereign wisdom who either grants or withholds healing. Common reasons that are given in answer to the question as to why all are not healed include: God teaches through suffering, healing is not always immediate, lack of faith on the part of the person needing healing, and personal sin in one's life (however, this does not mean that all illness is caused by personal sin). [38] Regarding healing and prayer Purdy states:

On the other hand, it appears from Scripture that when we are sick we should be prayed for, and as we shall see later in this chapter, it appears that God's normal will is to heal. Instead of expecting that it is not God's will to heal us, we should pray with faith, trusting that God cares for us and that the provision He has made in Christ for our healing is sufficient. If He does not heal us, we will continue to trust Him. The victory many times will be procured in faith (see Heb. 10:35–36; 1 John 5:4–5). [39]

Pentecostals believe that prayer is central in receiving healing. Pentecostals look to scriptures such as James 5:13–16 for direction regarding healing prayer. [40] One can pray for one's own healing (verse 13) and for the healing of others (verse 16); no special gift or clerical status is necessary. Verses 14–16 supply the framework for congregational healing prayer. The sick person expresses his or her faith by calling for the elders of the church who pray over and anoint the sick with olive oil. The oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. [41]

Besides prayer, there are other ways in which Pentecostals believe healing can be received. One way is based on Mark 16:17–18 and involves believers laying hands on the sick. This is done in imitation of Jesus who often healed in this manner. [42] Another method that is found in some Pentecostal churches is based on the account in Acts 19:11–12 where people were healed when given handkerchiefs or aprons worn by the Apostle Paul. This practice is described by Duffield and Van Cleave in Foundations of Pentecostal Theology:

Many Churches have followed a similar pattern and have given out small pieces of cloth over which prayer has been made, and sometimes they have been anointed with oil. Some most remarkable miracles have been reported from the use of this method. It is understood that the prayer cloth has no virtue in itself, but provides an act of faith by which one's attention is directed to the Lord, who is the Great Physician. [42]

During the initial decades of the movement, Pentecostals thought it was sinful to take medicine or receive care from doctors. [43] Over time, Pentecostals moderated their views concerning medicine and doctor visits; however, a minority of Pentecostal churches continues to rely exclusively on prayer and divine healing. For example, doctors in the United Kingdom reported that a minority of Pentecostal HIV patients was encouraged to stop taking their medicines and parents were told to stop giving medicine to their children, trends that placed lives at risk. [44]

Eschatology

The last element of the gospel is that Jesus is the "Soon Coming King". For Pentecostals, "every moment is eschatological" since at any time Christ may return. [45] This "personal and imminent" Second Coming is for Pentecostals the motivation for practical Christian living including: personal holiness, meeting together for worship, faithful Christian service, and evangelism (both personal and worldwide). [46] Many, if not the majority, of Pentecostals are premillennial dispensationalists believing in a pretribulation rapture. [47]

Spiritual gifts

Pentecostals are Ephesians 4:7–16 continue to operate within the Church in the present time. [48] Pentecostals place the gifts of the Spirit in context with the fruit of the Spirit. [49] The fruit of the Spirit is the result of the new birth and continuing to abide in Christ. It is by the fruit exhibited that spiritual character is assessed. Spiritual gifts are received as a result of the baptism with the Holy Spirit. As gifts freely given by the Holy Spirit, they cannot be earned or merited, and they are not appropriate criteria with which to evaluate one's spiritual life or maturity. [50] Pentecostals see in the biblical writings of Paul an emphasis on having both character and power, exercising the gifts in love.

Just as fruit should be evident in the life of every Christian, Pentecostals believe that every Spirit-filled believer is given some capacity for the manifestation of the Spirit. [51] It is important to note that the exercise of a gift is a manifestation of the Spirit, not of the gifted person, and though the gifts operate through people, they are primarily gifts given to the Church. [50] They are valuable only when they minister spiritual profit and edification to the body of Christ. Pentecostal writers point out that the lists of spiritual gifts in the New Testament do not seem to be exhaustive. It is generally believed that there are as many gifts as there are useful ministries and functions in the Church. [51] A spiritual gift is often exercised in partnership with another gift. For example, in a Pentecostal church service, the gift of tongues might be exercised followed by the operation of the gift of interpretation.

According to Pentecostals, all manifestations of the Spirit are to be judged by the church. This is made possible, in part, by the gift of discerning of spirits, which is the capacity for discerning the source of a spiritual manifestation—whether from the Holy Spirit, an evil spirit, or from the human spirit. [52] While Pentecostals believe in the current operation of all the spiritual gifts within the church, their teaching on some of these gifts has generated more controversy and interest than others. There are different ways in which the gifts have been grouped. W. R. Jones [53] suggests three categories, illumination (Word of Wisdom, word of knowledge, discerning of spirits), action (Faith, working of miracles and gifts of healings) and communication (Prophecy, tongues and interpretation of tongues). Duffield and Van Cleave use two categories: the vocal and the power gifts.

Vocal gifts

The gifts of prophecy, tongues, interpretation of tongues, and words of wisdom and knowledge are called the vocal gifts. [54] Pentecostals look to 1 Corinthians 14 for instructions on the proper use of the spiritual gifts, especially the vocal ones. Pentecostals believe that prophecy is the vocal gift of preference, a view derived from 1 Corinthians 14. Some teach that the gift of tongues is equal to the gift of prophecy when tongues are interpreted. [55] Prophetic and glossolalic utterances are not to replace the preaching of the Word of God [56] nor to be considered as equal to or superseding the written Word of God, which is the final authority for determining teaching and doctrine. [57]

Word of wisdom and word of knowledge

Pentecostals understand the word of wisdom and the word of knowledge to be supernatural revelations of wisdom and knowledge by the Holy Spirit. The word of wisdom is defined as a revelation of the Holy Spirit that applies scriptural wisdom to a specific situation that a Christian community faces. [58] The word of knowledge is often defined as the ability of one person to know what God is currently doing or intends to do in the life of another person. [59]

Prophecy

Pentecostals agree with the Protestant principle of sola Scriptura. The Bible is the "all sufficient rule for faith and practice"; it is "fixed, finished, and objective revelation". [60] Alongside this high regard for the authority of scripture is a belief that the gift of prophecy continues to operate within the Church. Pentecostal theologians Duffield and van Cleave described the gift of prophecy in the following manner: "Normally, in the operation of the gift of prophecy, the Spirit heavily anoints the believer to speak forth to the body not premeditated words, but words the Spirit supplies spontaneously in order to uplift and encourage, incite to faithful obedience and service, and to bring comfort and consolation." [52]

Any Spirit-filled Christian, according to Pentecostal theology, has the potential, as with all the gifts, to prophesy. Sometimes, prophecy can overlap with preaching "where great unpremeditated truth or application is provided by the Spirit, or where special revelation is given beforehand in prayer and is empowered in the delivery". [61]

While a prophetic utterance at times might foretell future events, this is not the primary purpose of Pentecostal prophecy and is never to be used for personal guidance. For Pentecostals, prophetic utterances are fallible, i.e. subject to error. [56] Pentecostals teach that believers must discern whether the utterance has edifying value for themselves and the local church. [62] Because prophecies are subject to the judgement and discernment of other Christians, most Pentecostals teach that prophetic utterances should never be spoken in the first person (e.g. "I, the Lord") but always in the third person (e.g. "Thus saith the Lord" or "The Lord would have..."). [63]

Tongues and interpretation
Pentecostals pray in tongues at an Assemblies of God church in Cancún, Mexico

A Pentecostal believer in a spiritual experience may vocalize fluent, unintelligible utterances ( glossolalia) or articulate a natural language previously unknown to them ( xenoglossy). Commonly termed "speaking in tongues", this vocal phenomenon is believed by Pentecostals to include an endless variety of languages. According to Pentecostal theology, the language spoken (1) may be an unlearned human language, such as the Bible claims happened on the Day of Pentecost, or (2) it might be of heavenly ( angelic) origin. In the first case, tongues could work as a sign by which witness is given to the unsaved. In the second case, tongues are used for praise and prayer when the mind is superseded and "the speaker in tongues speaks to God, speaks mysteries, and ... no one understands him". [64]

Within Pentecostalism, there is a belief that speaking in tongues serves two functions. Tongues as the initial evidence of the baptism with the Holy Spirit and in individual prayer serves a different purpose than tongues as a spiritual gift. [64] [65] All Spirit-filled believers, according to initial evidence proponents, will speak in tongues when baptized in the Spirit and, thereafter, will be able to express prayer and praise to God in an unknown tongue. This type of tongue speaking forms an important part of many Pentecostals' personal daily devotions. When used in this way, it is referred to as a "prayer language" as the believer is speaking unknown languages not for the purpose of communicating with others but for "communication between the soul and God". [66] Its purpose is for the spiritual edification of the individual. Pentecostals believe the private use of tongues in prayer (i.e. "prayer in the Spirit") "promotes a deepening of the prayer life and the spiritual development of the personality". From Romans 8:26–27, Pentecostals believe that the Spirit intercedes for believers through tongues; in other words, when a believer prays in an unknown tongue, the Holy Spirit is supernaturally directing the believer's prayer. [67]

Besides acting as a prayer language, tongues also function as the gift of tongues. Not all Spirit-filled believers possess the gift of tongues. Its purpose is for gifted persons to publicly "speak with God in praise, to pray or sing in the Spirit, or to speak forth in the congregation". [68] There is a division among Pentecostals on the relationship between the gifts of tongues and prophecy. [69] One school of thought believes that the gift of tongues is always directed from man to God, in which case it is always prayer or praise spoken to God but in the hearing of the entire congregation for encouragement and consolation. Another school of thought believes that the gift of tongues can be prophetic, in which case the believer delivers a "message in tongues"—a prophetic utterance given under the influence of the Holy Spirit—to a congregation.

Whether prophetic or not, however, Pentecostals are agreed that all public utterances in an unknown tongue must be interpreted in the language of the gathered Christians. [56] This is accomplished by the gift of interpretation, and this gift can be exercised by the same individual who first delivered the message (if he or she possesses the gift of interpretation) or by another individual who possesses the required gift. If a person with the gift of tongues is not sure that a person with the gift of interpretation is present and is unable to interpret the utterance him or herself, then the person should not speak. [56] Pentecostals teach that those with the gift of tongues should pray for the gift of interpretation. [68] Pentecostals do not require that an interpretation be a literal word-for-word translation of a glossolalic utterance. Rather, as the word "interpretation" implies, Pentecostals expect only an accurate explanation of the utterance's meaning. [70]

Besides the gift of tongues, Pentecostals may also use glossolalia as a form of praise and worship in corporate settings. Pentecostals in a church service may pray aloud in tongues while others pray simultaneously in the common language of the gathered Christians. [71] This use of glossolalia is seen as an acceptable form of prayer and therefore requires no interpretation. Congregations may also corporately sing in tongues, a phenomenon known as singing in the Spirit.

Speaking in tongues is not universal among Pentecostal Christians. In 2006, a ten-country survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found that 49 percent of Pentecostals in the US, 50 percent in Brazil, 41 percent in South Africa, and 54 percent in India said they "never" speak or pray in tongues. [16]

Power gifts

The gifts of power are distinct from the vocal gifts in that they do not involve utterance. Included in this category are the gift of faith, gifts of healing, and the gift of miracles. [72] The gift of faith (sometimes called "special" faith) is different from "saving faith" and normal Christian faith in its degree and application. [73] This type of faith is a manifestation of the Spirit granted only to certain individuals "in times of special crisis or opportunity" and endues them with "a divine certainty ... that triumphs over everything". It is sometimes called the "faith of miracles" and is fundamental to the operation of the other two power gifts. [74]

Oneness and Trinitarianism

Pentecostals are divided over the nature of the Godhead. The majority of Pentecostal denominations believe in the doctrine of the Trinity, which is considered to be Christian orthodoxy. Oneness Pentecostals (self-identifying as "Apostolic Pentecostals") are nontrinitarian Christians, believing in a "Oneness" theology about God. [75] The Oneness doctrine may be considered a form of Modalism, an ancient teaching considered heresy by most Christians.

In the Oneness view, the Godhead is not three different persons united by one nature, but rather God’s titles. Nevertheless, Oneness Pentecostals hold to the traditional Christian doctrine of the incarnation, professing Jesus Christ to be God. [76]

In contrast, Trinitarian Pentecostals, and other Trinitarian Christians alike, may accuse Oneness Pentecostals of heresy. The Catholic Church, for example, usually does not recognize Oneness baptism, in part, because of their beliefs about the Trinity, as well as their "improper" formula of baptizing in the name of Jesus Christ instead of the entire Trinity; but Trinitarian Pentecostals who do baptize in the traditional Christian formula of the Trinity are accepted by most other Christian denominations at large and their baptism is consider valid by the Catholic Church, [77] as well as most other Protestants, and most Eastern Orthodox by "economy".

Other Languages
العربية: خمسينية
arpetan: Pentecoutismo
azərbaycanca: Əllincilər
беларуская: Пяцідзясятніцтва
español: Pentecostalismo
français: Pentecôtisme
Gaeilge: Cincíseachas
Gàidhlig: Caingeiseachd
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Ńg-sùn-chiet Yun-thung
한국어: 오순절주의
Bahasa Indonesia: Gereja Pentakosta
italiano: Pentecostalismo
қазақша: Елуліктер
Kiswahili: Wapentekoste
لۊری شومالی: پنتاکوستالیسم
latviešu: Pentakosti
lietuvių: Sekmininkai
lingála: Nzámbe-Malámu
македонски: Пентекостализам
Mirandés: Pentecostalismo
Nederlands: Pinksterbeweging
norsk nynorsk: Pinserørsla
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Pentecostallar
português: Pentecostalismo
română: Penticostalism
sicilianu: Pinticustalisimu
Simple English: Pentecostalism
slovenčina: Letničné hnutie
slovenščina: Binkoštništvo
српски / srpski: Пентекостализам
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Pentekostalizam
Türkçe: Pentikostalizm
українська: П'ятдесятництво
Tiếng Việt: Phong trào Ngũ Tuần