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nr. 15 -  15 martie 1999

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Pentecostalism

One Dangerous Religion?


Between the advertising industry and a handful of scholars, this issue has nearly come to ruin.

Let's begin with advertisers, who have destroyed the very words that should litter this issue. What can you do with sensational after it's been used to describe the results of facial cream, or phenomenal, when it's been describing the ride of a new car. When I use such words to describe early Pentecostalism, they sound trite.

But they remain two of the best words to describe it. It was sensational: it created a sensation and (with tongues, laying on of hands, and slayings in the Spirit) touched the senses of its adherents. It was also phenomenal: it shocked America and was filled with spiritual phenomena. So we've decided to use these and other Madison Avenue adjectives--though sparingly. But when we do use them, please note we mean them. Really.

On the other hand, as we prepared the issue, we were warned by some scholars not to highlight the sensational but to remember that Pentecostalism is a maturing movement that now includes well-behaved, middle-class people, like, uh, scholars. The behavior of some Pentecostals seems to be an embarrassment to others.

I can understand this. Pentecostals have done a few strange things in their day: seeing 90-foot Jesuses, falling into trances, and, lately, barking like dogs. But they've also done pretty remarkable things, like reaching out to the poor, reintroducing many spiritual gifts to the church, and reinvigorating the faith of entire continents (Africa and South America). Not bad for a century.

As a liturgically minded, theologically educated, decidedly non-charismatic Episcopalian (I used to lift my hands in prayer, but then only waist high), I'm impressed with Pentecostals. Mainline Christians like myself have managed to so tame the Holy Spirit, one can hardly tell the difference between "the divine presence" and a well-oiled liturgical service.

When Pentecostals are accused of acting foolishly, I reply: So? If God were really to descend in power, wouldn't some recipients of that power go crazy? (Moses said he'd die.) What do we expect when the Spirit of the Living God enters people: that they'll form a committee to write a new set of church by-laws?

A number of Pentecostals have suggested that being filled with the Spirit is like touching a live electrical wire: it's dangerous. Pentecostalism is dangerous, indeed, and as such produces some excesses. Then again, God is reported to be dangerous.

The only embarrassment to me is Pentecostalism's embarrassment of riches: it is too dynamic a movement to do justice to in one issue, let alone one book. So in this issue, we narrow our focus to early, white (mostly), American Pentecostalism. Though this variety is a minority in worldwide Pentecostalism, it is the type of Pentecostalism we suspect you, our readers, have some acquaintance with.

It is also a variety that was sensational and phenomenal. Really.

--Mark Galli

Pentecostalism's Global Language

It's not tongues but a different way of being a Christian.

an interview with Walter J. Hollenweger

Why is Pentecostalism so popular? It is nearly half a billion strong worldwide, and has been and continues to be the fastest growing Christian movement in the world. It has made inroads not only in third-world regions like Africa and Latin America, but it also continues to attract huge followings in the United States and Europe.

Walter J. Hollenweger is the leading expert on worldwide Pentecostalism, which he has been studying for more than 40 years. Having grown up in the Pentecostal church, he later became ordained in the Reformed Church of Switzerland. From 1965 to 1971 he was executive secretary of the World Council of Churches, then served as professor of mission at England's University of Birmingham for 18 years. His seminal book The Pentecostals (Hendrickson, 1972) was recently followed up by Pentecostalism: Origins and Developments Worldwide (Hendrickson, 1997).

What is a Pentecostal?
Worldwide there is so much variety that about all one can say is that a Pentecostal is a Christian who calls himself a Pentecostal. Though Americans tend to focus on the gift of tongues, overall Pentecostals emphasize that God has given several gifts--not just speaking in tongues but also healing and the so-called rational gifts like organization or building a school. Diverse gifts to diverse people. It's not a strictly theological definition but a phenomenological one.

Why is speaking in tongues the focus in America?
There are many reasons, of course, but one is that American and other middle-class cultures, as in Switzerland, find tongues an extraordinary phenomenon, so these experiences get a lot of attention. In Africa or Mexico, on the other hand, speaking in tongues and healings are not considered extraordinary--they can even be found in some indigenous pagan religions. (Speaking in tongues is not even "supernatural," as many Pentecostals have found out.) Tongues aren't even spoken in a lot of third-world Pentecostal churches. Instead, third-world Pentecostals focus on corporate worship, singing together, and Christian education. American Pentecostals don't seek education as much as an experience of the supernatural.

Our issue covers Pentecostalism up to about 1950. What have been the key changes in Pentecostalism since then?
First, more and more young Pentecostals are becoming scholars through reputable universities. It's true for Pentecostals in Europe, North America, and Latin America. It's also true for Africa and for Asia.

There are now several hundred young Pentecostal scholars with doctorates, and that, of course, changes the breadth and depth of Pentecostalism. Most of them have maintained their roots in Pentecostalism, so they are now bilingual. They can speak in the university language, in the language of concepts and definitions, but they can also speak in the oral language of Pentecostalism, and I think that is an extremely important part of their success.

Second, this increase in education has led in many places to more ecumenical openness. In the past, nobody wanted to talk to the Pentecostals, and the Pentecostals didn't want to talk to any of the other churches because they saw them as a lost cause. Now, for instance, there is a worldwide dialogue between Pentecostals and Roman Catholics that has been going on for 20 years. There have also been many contacts with the World Council of Churches, and the latest example is a global dialogue with the Presbyterian churches.

David du Plessis, a pioneer in ecumenism, has been instrumental in both these changes. He went to the Catholics. He went to the World Council of Churches. He went to all the universities. And the fact that he was a reasonable man and also a Pentecostal astonished many people. They thought Pentecostals were all a little crazy and could not think properly. But when they got to know him, they realized that it is possible to speak in tongues and be a critical scholar.

Another change, of course, is the worldwide explosive growth to nearly half a billion adherents. Why is Pentecostalism so popular?
Some scholars think it has to do with its theology and doctrine. But Pentecostal theology is not homogeneous. Others think it's because of Pentecostals' aggressive evangelism. That is partly true because a real Pentecostal is by definition an evangelist, whose faith is as infectious as the flu.

The most important reason is that it is an oral religion. It is not defined by the abstract language that characterizes, for instance, Presbyterians or Catholics. Pentecostalism is communicated in stories, testimonies, and songs. Oral language is a much more global language than that of the universities or church declarations. Oral tradition is flexible and can adapt itself to a variety of circumstances.

Can't oral tradition drift off into sub-Christian and even heretical beliefs?
Certainly, but overall there is a basic evangelical consensus among Pentecostals. They are similar to the early church in this respect. Early Christians didn't have a formal, written confession of faith, as Presbyterians and others do today. They had the stories of Jesus. Even Jesus didn't spell out doctrine; he gave his followers stories of miracles, and taught through proverbs and parables.

The earliest church was united, but not as much through their theology as through the Lord's Prayer, Paul's collection for Jerusalem (his theological "enemies"), baptism, and the Eucharist. Their statements of faith were simple, and the simplest was "Jesus is Lord." It was a very different way of achieving togetherness, and it was achieved through these oral forms.

Ironically, when the ecumenical confessions came later, they did not unite the church. They divided it, as propositional theology always does. But across divided theology, it is possible to pray together, to sing together, and to act together. That's what Pentecostals do at their best.

Is it fair to say that when you convert to Pentecostalism, you are converting not to a certain theology but to a new experience of faith?
Yes, and that has important evangelistic consequences for Pentecostals.

In many circles, when you become a Christian, you talk about gaining a new understanding of the Lord's Supper and baptism (they are either more or less sacramental), but other people are not terribly interested in that. When you become a Pentecostal, you talk about how you've been healed or your very life has been changed. That's something Pentecostals talk about over and over, partly because people are interested in hearing that sort of thing.

Pentecostalism today addresses the whole life, including the thinking part. More mainline forms of Christianity address the thinking part first and that often affects the rest of life, but not always.

Yet it seems most Pentecostals are far more right-brained and intuitive than left-brained and rational.
Indeed, the "orality" of Pentecostalism--the singing, the dancing, the speaking in tongues--accents the intuitive. But a mature Pentecostal will try to connect the intuitive and the rational. Always emphasizing the analytical will destroy faith. But only emphasizing the intuitive leads to chaos. A challenge of the Pentecostal movement is to combine rational thinking with its spontaneous emotional side.

This is the challenge for all Christians, really. The rationalist needs the Toronto Blessing and has to be slain in the Spirit to realize that. It sometimes seems silly to me, but you'll notice that it is rationalists and intellectuals who fall down. People who have a balanced emotional and intuitive life don't need that. True, some rationalists dance, sing, go walking in the mountains, or play a musical instrument, but then they go back to their science, to rational lives, and the two are not connected.

What most concerns you as you think about Pentecostalism in the coming century?
First, Pentecostalism must confront its tendency to segregate and separate into countless denominations. It's happening all the time, and it really is a scandal.

The other challenge is common to all Christian churches: What do we do with the ecological threat to the world? What do we do with the threat of hunger and the plight of refugees? It's a challenge that will hit Pentecostals harder than any other churches because their largest churches are on the poor side of the world. But as Christians, we have a contribution to make -- not just in money but in prayer and in developing solutions that politicians cannot.

But Pentecostals are not known for their social activism.
That's true in some ways, but it is a misconception in others. Many of Martin Luther King's marchers were black Pentecostals. In Brazil there are many Pentecostals sitting in parliament. And in many third-world countries, Pentecostals are trying to develop new ways of gaining political influence without the game playing we have in the West. In Latin America, for example, they try to work with sectors of the Catholic church to get water or a school or a new street for a poor district. So there are quite a number of places where Pentecostals take up the structural issues, but they do not take them up by founding political parties. They start from the local needs and the local misery people experience every day.

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Holiness Roots
1867  National Holiness Association forms in Vineland, New Jersey

1879  Isaiah Reed forms the largest holiness association in America, the Iowa Holiness Association

1887  A. B. Simpson founds the Christian and Missionary Alliance to promote the Holiness "Fourfold Gospel"

1895  B. H. Irwin teaches a third blessing "baptism of Fire," splitting the Iowa Holiness Association and forming the Iowa Fire-Baptized Holiness Association

1896  Schearer Schoolhouse Fire-Baptized Holiness revival experiences tongues

1897  Charles H. Mason and C.T. Jones form the Church of God in Christ in Lexington, Mississippi

1898  First congregation of the Pentecostal Holiness Church in Goldsboro, North Carolina

Pentecostal Birth
1901  Agnes Ozman speaks in tongues in Topeka. Charles Parham calls tongues the "Bible evidence" for baptism in the Spirit

1902  First congregation of the Church of God formed at Camp Creek, North Carolina

1905  William Seymour accepts Pentecostal doctrine from Parham in Houston, Texas

1906  First General Assembly of the Church of God (Cleveland, Tenn.)

1906-1909 Azusa Street Revival; Pentecostalism becomes global under Seymour's leadership

1907  T. B. Barrett opens Pentecostal meetings in Oslo. Begins Pentecostal movements in Scandinavia, England, and Germany

1907  G. B. Cashwell spreads Pentecostalism in the South

1908  John G. Lake begins South African Apostolic Faith Mission

1908 Church of God (Cleveland, Tenn.) accepts Pentecostalism under A. J. Tomlinson

1909  Luigi Francescon and Giacomo Lombardi begin Italian Pentecostal movements in the U.S., Italy, Argentina, and Brazil

1909  German evangelicals condemn Pentecostals in the "Berlin Declaration"

1909  Florence Crawford founds the Apostolic Faith Church in Portland, Oregon

Maturing Movement
1910  W. H. Durham begins "Finished Work" movement in Chicago

1912  Maria Woodworth-Etter becomes a popular Pentecostal preacher in Dallas

1914  The Assemblies of God formed in Hot Springs, Arkansas

1916  The Oneness Movement splits the Assemblies of God

1919  Pentecostal Assemblies of the World incorporated

1923  A. J. Tomlinson forms the Church of God of Prophecy

1927  Aimee Semple McPherson forms International Church of the Foursquare Gospel in Los Angeles

1928  Mary Rumsey opens first Pentecostal missions to Korea and Japan

1943  American Pentecostal churches accepted as charter members of the National Association of Evangelicals

1945  Several mergers produce the United Pentecostal Church (Missouri)

1948  Healing crusades begin under William Branham and Oral Roberts

World Events
1867  Karl Marx predicts a proletariat takeover in Das Kapital

1877  Thomas Edison invents the phonograph, recording the words "Mary had a little lamb"

1883  Friedrich Nietzsche, in Thus Spake Zarathustra, writes, "I teach you the Superman. Man is something to be surpassed."

1900  Sigmund Freud publishes The Interpretation of Dreams, one of the seminal works of psychoanalysis

1901  Guglielmo Marconi sends the first wireless message across the Atlantic Ocean

1903  Bicycle mechanics Orville and Wilbur Wright fly the first airplane

1905  Albert Einstein begins publishing his theory of relativity

1912  The Titanic sinks, killing 1,500 passengers and crew

1917  Bolshevik troops, led by Vladmir Lenin, take control in Russia

1925  Adolf Hitler pens Mein Kampf (My Struggle)

1926  Television invented in London by John Logie Baird

1927  Charles Lindbergh crosses the Atlantic Ocean alone in his Spirit of St. Louis

1941  Rudolf Bultmann questions biblical history in his New Testament and Mythology

1945  Atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Vinson Synan is dean of Regent University's divinity school (in Virginia Beach, Va.) and author of The Holiness-Pentecostal Tradition: Charismatic Movements in the Twentieth Century (Eerdmans, 1997).

Facts about Our Brothers

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Recently Life magazine, in listing the top 100 events of the second millennium, put Pentecostalism at 68th. The Dictionary of Christianity in America says that Pentecostalism is perhaps "the single-most-significant development in twentieth-century Christianity."

Though many consider the 1906 Azusa Street Revival as the birth of modern Pentecostalism, speaking in tongues took place at two earlier Holiness gatherings, one in Topeka, Kansas, in 1901, and another in Cherokee County, North Carolina, in 1896.

It is hard to say which is the oldest Pentecostal denomination. The United Holy Church and the Church of God (Cleveland, Tenn.) point to pre-Pentecostal roots as far back as 1886. The Pentecostal Holiness Church, with pre-Pentecostal roots as far back as 1879, was the first to adopt a clear Pentecostal statement of faith in 1908.

Early Pentecostals claimed the gift of tongues was not primarily the speaking of a heavenly language (glossalalia) but other human languages (xenolalia). The purpose? Early leader Charles Parham said, "I had felt for years that any missionary going to the foreign field should preach in the language of the natives, and that if God ever equipped his ministers in that way [by xenolalia], he could do it today." Though many anecdotes of xenolalia exist, none have been confirmed.

Many early Pentecostals were pacifists. At the outbreak of World War I, some Pentecostals called for a "great peace council" at which they could state their opposition to warfare. Every major Pentecostal denomination has at some point adopted a pacifist resolution.

Pentecostals have often been as stern as fundamentalists about social behavior. In addition to banning traditional vices like alcohol, tobacco, and the movies, they have targeted chewing gum, short-sleeved dresses, soft drinks, and neckties.

Though most early Pentecostals came out of the blue-collar working class, the movement thrived among the poor and marginalized of society. Early Pentecostals taught a "theology of the poor," interpreting their remarkable growth as God's special favor upon the poor.

Racial harmony marked the earliest stage of the movement; the Azusa Street Revival was led by a black, William Seymour, and blacks and whites worshipped and shared leadership in the church. As one Pentecostal historian of the day remarked, "The color line was washed away in the blood."

On the other hand, some white critics noted that since the movement "started with a black man" and began "like a simoon from the African desert. . . , [it is] better adapted to tropical climates where there is plenty of water to immerse the victims of this hellish power."

Pentecostals found occasion to argue about most any subject, from prohibitions on pork to the correct doctrine of the Trinity. The result: today, worldwide, there are 11,000 Pentecostal or charismatic denominations.

There were many women preachers and pastors in the early years of the movement, and the most well-known Pentecostal of the twentieth century was evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson. Another early preacher of fame was Maria Woodworth-Etter, who once argued, "It is high time for women to let their lights shine; to bring out their talents that have been hidden away rusting, and use them for the glory of God."

For most Pentecostals, tongues and healings have been a means to a greater end. As one modern Pentecostal leader put it, "In spite of charges to the contrary, Pentecostals do not spend all their time talking about tongues. They have instead consistently sought to bring people to Christ."

The largest church in the world is a Pentecostal church in Korea: the Yoido Full Gospel Church pastored by David Yongii Cho. 240,000 attend weekly worship. Two Pentecostal churches in Buenos Aires attract together 150,000 each week.

Pentecostalism has become the fastest growing family of world Christianity. It is growing at a rate of 13 million a year, or 35,000 a day. With nearly a half billion adherents, it is, after Roman Catholicism, the largest Christian tradition.


More resources:
One of the main works on Pentecostalism is also one of the easiest reads: Vinson Synan's The Holiness-Pentecostal Tradition: Charismatic Movements in the Twentieth Century. This revision of the 1971 The Holiness-Pentecostal Movement in the United States will likely be as influential as the original.

Any student of Pentecostalism should own a copy of The Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements. It contains more than 800 entries (and 300 photographs) written and edited by the top scholars of Pentecostalism; it includes everything from biographical sketches to lengthy discussions of theological distinctives.

Links:
An overview of the Pentecostal movement, including a brief history and summary of beliefs, is available at the New Religious Movements area of the University of Virginia's Sociology department site.   For a more academic look, check out the Cyberjournal for Pentecostal-Charismatic Research. It covers Pentecostal history as well as current trends.



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Almost immediately after the birth of Pentecostalism, the branch of Christianity that gave birth to the movement was disowning the offspring. The parent, radical evangelicalism, regarded the child as an ugly mutant. Abusive words flew back and forth for decades, subsiding into sullen silence only in the 1930s.

A mere craze
These "radical evangelicals"--Holiness Wesleyans and "higher life" fundamentalists (such as the Christian and Missionary Alliance)--repeatedly called the new movement a "fad" or a "craze." The Christian Witness and Advocate of Bible Holiness, for example, charged that the "new fanaticism" would soon "have its run and lie a curiosity in the museum of ten thousand dead follies."

Others highlighted the notoriety of the revival's geographical birthplace. F. W. Pitt, a prominent London pastor, dismissed the stirring as a peculiarly American phenomenon, "the land of wonder-meetings and freak religions." Another writer affirmed what many suspected: Los Angeles harbored more fanatics than any city in the United States.

Still another arrow in the critics' polemical quiver was minimizing the numerical size of the menace. Phineas F. Bresee, founder of the Church of the Nazarene, dismissed the revival as of "small account," exerting "about as much influence as a pebble thrown into the sea."

As the months wore on, fear eroded restraint. By 1908 for most, the bugle had sounded. It was time to choose sides and to expose toleration for what it really was: flirtation with the Devil.

Families dissolved, churches split, denominations broke apart. The most conspicuous divisions took place within the Church of God in Christ, the Fire-Baptized Holiness Church, the Holiness Church of North Carolina, and the Christian and Missionary Alliance, all of which ruptured or suffered severe defections between 1907 and 1910. Many fellowships witnessed steady and painful attrition.

Seething immorality
In the face of this real-life nightmare, evangelical leaders mounted a multi-pronged counterattack, specifying Pentecostals' defects one by one.

Perceived sexual immorality ranked high on everyone's list. What Pentecostals did on the floor of the camp meeting aroused the darkest of suspicions. Thus when A. T. Pierson, editor of the prestigious Missionary Review of the World, first alerted his readers to the Pentecostal menace in July 1907, he observed that their meetings involved instances of "shocking impropriety." Two months later Pierson judged that he had erred on the side of "mildness and moderation."

Accumulating evidence from reliable eyewitnesses contained "statements of facts too shocking to print." Other leaders felt no compunctions about exposing Pentecostals' so-called depravities.

Southern Holiness evangelist W. B. Godbey detected a good deal of "hell-hatched free lovism" in their circles, adding, for good measure, that gamblers, atheists, whores, and thieves also spoke in tongues. Even Reuben A. Torrey said Pentecostal meetings, "seethed with immorality of the grossest character."

In their critics' eyes, Pentecostals' spiritual pride ranked even worse than their sexual misdeeds. Denver preacher Alma White found Pentecostals the most "self-righteous, self-sufficient" people on earth. One Free Methodist minister left a Pentecostal meeting in Chicago shaken less by the doctrines he heard than by the "offensive, arrogant, and bombastic manner" in which they were presented. A Nazarene author said that Pentecostals treated their ability to speak in tongues as a prize, "worn as a peacock carries its tail feathers."

Spiritual pride seemed to spawn other worms, especially looseness with the truth. Critics suspected Pentecostals exaggerated the number of people who attended their meetings, misstated the results of their services, and told outright falsehoods about miraculously speaking foreign languages.

Above all, they perjured themselves when they recounted the healings that took place in their meetings. In a work symptomatically called Faith Healing Tragedies, F. W. Pitt claimed that he had attended many healing meetings and, yes, he had seen a few cures but only of slight nervous conditions.

Worse yet, according to the critics, Pentecostal religion actually endangered the physical body. Enthusiasts got hurt when they fell into trances, bumping into objects or crashing to the floor. Critics claimed the records bristled with stories of devotees sprawling to the ground after discarding their crutches, fighting back tears after tossing away their eyeglasses, or even dying after stopping desperately needed medical treatments. Famed Bible teacher Harry A. Ironside knew one adolescent woman who had lost all of her hair because of the "unnatural excitement" of Holy Ghost meetings. On several occasions, some said, the determination to fast until Jesus returned had led to near or actual death by starvation.

"Strain upon the brain"
Physical harm proved only half of the peril. "Good honest people," stormed an Alabama educator, were turned into "wild eyed fanatics . . . with love leaked out and their faith forever ruined."

China Inland Mission personnel worried that meetings of the local Pentecostal Missionary Union produced "consequences of a dangerous character," including "strain upon the brain" and, occasionally, "insanity." The Nazarene Herald of Holiness alleged--without a scrap of proof, it should be said--that Pentecostal teaching actually stirred converts to go out and murder their enemies.

The situation became especially volatile when children were involved. In Alliance, Ohio, Quaker Pentecostal Levi Lupton made the mistake of inviting a boy to his camp meeting. The boy's mother sprang into action. She hired local toughs, who invaded the meeting, squirted Lupton and several worshippers with sulfuric acid, then retrieved her child.

If the wrenching of families aroused the most intense passions, the disruption of local churches ran a close second. "No community is safe from this most dangerous heresy," thundered one editor.

In Alabama a Holiness college president wrote to a friend that the Pentecostal eruption marked one of the saddest events of his life. "[It has] slashed and utterly ruined . . . the work of God," he sighed. Everywhere in the world, protested Jesse Penn-Lewis, Pentecostals inflicted "division and separation among Christians."

As anger turned to bewilderment, evangelicals found a master explanation for everything: Satan. By this reckoning, Pentecostalism was--take your pick--"a gross deception of Satan," a "gigantic scheme of Satan," a "satanic attack . . . at our Lord Himself," wholly "of the Devil," "purely of the Devil," a "monstrous heresy . . . from hell."

Turning the tables
Pentecostals fought back. And their response was often every bit as vigorous, innovative, and unfair as the attacks of their critics.

To Pentecostals, their record of accomplishment was nothing less than supernatural.. The most common retort was, in effect, "Look at our record, see what we have done." To Pentecostals, their record of accomplishment was nothing less than supernatural.

Souls saved, bodies healed, addictions eradicated, debts paid off, marriages restored, even adolescent children tamed and brought back into the loving folds of family and church.

A. P. Franklin, stationed in India as a missionary of the Scandinavian Alliance, wrote of the struggle within himself when he first heard of the Pentecostal teaching:

"The Devil tempted me to believe that we were on the wrong track, that it was some sort of made up hypnotism, or altogether from the Devil himself." But when Franklin opened his eyes and observed the dramatically changed lives of those who had undergone the baptism experience, he knew beyond doubt that the movement could only be of God.

Of all the indictments against them, Pentecostals found the charge of schism the most incredible. With a regularity that bordered upon litany, they pointed out that the revival had brought together Friends, Brethren, Methodists, Salvationists, Baptists, Congregationalists, even Roman Catholics.

In the words of T. B. Barratt, patriarch of the revival in Norway, the new movement was proving itself "able to melt long-divided hearts." Barratt clearly spoke for thousands of Pentecostals around the world: "Instead therefore of ruining and blighting the lives and the homes of people, as our opponents state, this revival is sent by God."

In the face of so much good accomplished, how could anyone court God's wrath by mocking the Pentecostal revival? True believers among the Pentecostals offered many answers. Many of the detractors, they asserted, were backsliders to begin with. Some were born fighters who would rather foment trouble than save souls. Other critics had already proved themselves intractably obstinate, very much like the foolish virgins in the Scripture. Some were simply and inexplicably perverse, for no good reason.

And then there was pride--stubborn, damnable pride. As far as evangelist Frank Bartleman could see, God had finally by-passed the Holiness missions in California because they were "too well satisfied with their own goodness." The Lord demanded a "humble people," but the Holiness folk were "too proud of their standing."

And so it went, year in, year out. Occasionally gentler spirits like Aimee McPherson spoke up, but not often. Relations improved somewhat after World War II, but even today the two groups often find themselves on opposite brinks of the ecumenical canyon, eyeing each other with suspicion.

Grant Wacker is associate professor at Duke University Divinity School, and co-editor of Church History journal. This article appeared in a slightly different form in the Journal of Ecclesiastical History in July 1996.


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THE EARLY CHURCH
Clement of Rome (died c.96), and Ignatius (c.35-c.107) document the continued operation of spiritual gifts among average Christians.

Irenaeus of Lyon (c.130-202) describes charismatic gifts, especially prophecy, in his church in southern Gaul (modern France), warning against Gnostics who fabricate the gifts to win the naive.

Tertullian (c.160-c.225) and the Montanist "New Prophets" (whose condemnations as heretics has recently been questioned) practice healing, prophecy, and tongues. Tertullian separates "apostles," who have the Spirit fully, from "believers," who have it partially.

Antony of Egypt (251?-356) is said to practice healing and the discernment of spirits, as well as perform signs and wonders.

The heretical Messalians (c.360-800) teach that everyone is possessed from birth by a personal demon, driven out only by prayer and the reception of the Holy Spirit. They practice laying on of hands for this Spirit baptism, and they expect visual proof of the demon's departure.


THE MIDDLE AGES
Augustine (354-430) declares (as does John Chrysostom in the East) that glossolalia has ceased but also reports numerous divine healings.

Simeon the New Theologian (949-1022), an Eastern mystic, reports his most intimate spiritual experiences, including a "baptism in the Holy Spirit" distinct from those graces received in the sacraments. This Spirit baptism is accompanied by compunction (awareness of one's guilt before God), penitence, copious tears, and an intensified awareness of the Trinity as light dwelling within.

Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) experiences ecstatic visions, gifts of tears and compunction, wisdom, knowledge, and prophecy. Numerous miracles are attributed to her. She also is said to sing "concerts" in the Spirit and to write entire books in unknown languages.

The Cathars (c.1140-1300), the most radical heretics in the West, replace all Catholic sacraments with consolamentum--baptism with fire and the Holy Spirit. Members are expected to observe a severe ascetic lifestyle intended to lead to perfection.

Gregory Palamas (1296-1359) emphasizes the laying on of hands for reception of the gifts of healing, miracles, foreknowledge, irrefutable wisdom, diverse tongues, and interpretation of tongues.


THE REFORMATION AND BEYOND
Thomas Müntzer (1490-1525), a radical German reformer, emphasizes the "inner word" and baptism of the Holy Spirit, direct revelation in visions and dreams, Holy Spirit possession and guidance, as well as radical social reforms and the imminent return of Christ.

Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556), founder of The Society of Jesus (the Jesuits), frequently receives divine communication in visions, the gift of tears, and loquela (sung glossolalia).

Though the movement's founder, George Fox (1624-1691), discourages speaking in tongues, some Quakers do. Early Quaker literature also records visions, healings, and prophecies, which are likened to the day of Pentecost.

Jansenists, a radical Augustinian movement in the Roman Catholic church from 1640 to 1801, become known for their signs and wonders, spiritual dancing, healings, and prophetic utterances. Some reportedly speak in unknown tongues and understand foreign languages in which they are addressed.

Tears, trembling, groans, loud outcries, religious "noise" and ecstasies mark the first Great Awakening, though Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) says the signs are not necessarily evidence of the Spirit's operation.

Stanley M. Burgess is professor of religious studies at Southwest Missouri State University, and co-editor of the Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements (Zondervan, 1988).

 

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