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Encyclopedia > Pentecostal

The Pentecostal movement within Protestant Christianity places special emphasis on the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Pentecostalism is similar to the Charismatic movement, but developed earlier and separated from the mainstream church. Charismatic Christians, at least in the early days of the movement, tended to remain in their respective denominations.



Theologically, most Pentecostal denominations are aligned with Evangelicalism in that they emphasize the reliability of the Bible and the need for conversion to faith in Jesus. While there is cross pollination with other movements, Pentecostals differ from Fundamentalists by placing more emphasis on personal spiritual experience (often emotional), and, in most cases, by allowing women in ministry.

Pentecostals embrace a transrational worldview. Although Pentecostals are concerned with orthodoxy ("correct belief"), they are also concerned with orthopathy ("right affections") and orthopraxy ("right reflection or action"). Reason is esteemed as a valid conduit of truth, but Pentecostals do not limit truth to the realm of reason.

Dr. Jackie David Johns, in his work on Pentecostal formational leadership, states that the Scriptures hold a special place in the Pentecostal worldview in that the Bible is held as a book in which the Holy Spirit is always active; to encounter the Scriptures is to encounter God. For the Pentecostal, the Scriptures are a primary reference point for communion with God and a template for reading the world.

One of the most prominent distinguishing characteristics of Pentecostalism that separates it from Evangelicalism is its emphasis on the work of the Holy Spirit. Speaking in tongues, also known as glossolalia, is seen as evidence that a person has received one of many blessings or spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit. Most major Pentecostal churches also accept the corollary that those who don't speak in tongues have not received the blessing that they call "The Baptism of the Holy Spirit" (this claim is uniquely Pentecostal and is one of the few consistent differences from Charismatic theology).

In addition, some ministers and members admit that a believer might be able to speak in tongues, but for various personal reasons (such as a lack of understanding) might not. This would be the only case where a beliver would be filled with the Holy Spirit, but not exhibit the so-called "initial physical evidence" of speaking in tongues. This, however, would be a minority perspective.

Critics charge that this doctrine does not mesh well with what they believe to be Paul's criticism of the early Corinthian church for their obsession with speaking in tongues (see 1 Corinthians, chapters 12-14 in the New Testament). Advocates say that the Pentecostal position aligns closely with Luke's emphasis in the book of Acts and reflects a more sophisticated use of hermeneutics.

The idea that one is not saved unless one speaks in tongues is rejected by most major Pentecostal denominations.

Some churches claiming the Pentecostal label hold to "Oneness theology", which denies the traditional doctrine of the Trinity. The largest Pentecostal "Oneness" denomination in the United States is the United Pentecostal Church. Oneness Pentecostals, sometimes known as "Jesus only" or "apostolic" Pentecostals for their belief that the original apostles baptized converts in the name of Jesus only, believe that God has revealed Himself in three different roles rather than believing that God exists in three distinct persons sharing one substance. The major Pentecostal organizations, however, including the Pentecostal World Conference and the Fellowship of Pentecostal and Charismatic Churches of North America, have condemned Oneness Theology as a heresy, and refuse membership to churches holding this belief.


Modern Pentecostalism began around 1901. Although the 1896 Shearer Schoolhouse Revival in Cherokee County, North Carolina might be regarded as a precursor to the modern Pentecostal movement, the commonly accepted origin dates from when Agnes Ozman received the gift of tongues (glossolalia) at Charles Fox Parham's Bethal Bible College in Topeka, Kansas in 1901. Parham, a minister of Methodist background, formulated the doctrine that tongues was the "Bible evidence" of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Parham left Topeka and began a revival ministry which led to a link to the Azusa street revival through William J. Seymour whom he taught in his school in Houston, although because Seymour was African American, he was only allowed to sit outside the room to listen.

The expansion of the movement started with the Azusa Street Revival, beginning April 9, 1906 at the Los Angeles home of a Mr. and Mrs. Edward Lee when Mr. Lee experienced what he felt to be an infilling of the Holy Spirit during a prayer session. The attending pastor, William J. Seymour, also claimed that he was overcome with the Holy Spirit on April 12, 1906. On April 18, 1906, the Los Angeles Times ran a front page story on the movement. By the third week in April, 1906, the small but growing congregation had rented an abandoned African Methodist Episcopal Church at 312 Azusa Street and organized as the Apostolic Faith Mission.

The first decade of Pentecostalism was marked by interracial assemblies, "...Whites and blacks mix in a religious frenzy,..." according to a local newspaper account. This lasted until 1924, when the church split along racial lines (see Apostolic Faith Mission). When the Pentecostal Fellowship of North America was formed in 1948, it was made up entirely of Anglo-American Pentecostal denominations. In 1994, Pentecostals returned to their roots of racial reconciliation and proposed formal unification of the major white and black branches of the Pentecostal Church, in a meeting subsequently known as the Memphis Miracle. This unification occurred in 1998, again in Memphis, Tennessee. The unification of white and black movements led to the restructing of the Pentecostal Fellowship of North America to become the Pentecostal/Charismatic Churches of North America.

During the beginning of the twentieth century, Albert Benjamin Simpson became closely involved with the growing Pentecostal movement. It was common for Pentecostal pastors and missionaries to receive their training at the Missionary Training Institute that Simpson founded. Because of this, Simpson and the C&MA (an evangelistic movement that Simpson founded) had a great influence on Pentecostalism, in particular the Assemblies of God and the FourSquare Church. This influence included evangelistic emphasis, C&MA doctrine, Simpson's hymns and books, and the use of the term 'Gospel Tabernacle,' which evolved into Pentecostal churches being known as 'Full Gospel Tabernacles.'

About the latter third of the 20th century there was a movement of Pentecostalism, sometimes called the Charismatic Movement into the mainline Protestant denominations and the Roman Catholic church. Unlike earlier Pentecostals, they did not leave their churches for strictly Pentecostal churches, or found new denominations. Their motto became, "Bloom where God planted you."


The largest Pentecostal denominations in the United States today are the Church of God in Christ, Church of God (Cleveland) and the Assemblies of God. According to a Spring 1998 article in Christian History, there are about 11,000 different pentecostal or charismatic denominations worldwide.

The size of Pentecostalism in the U.S. is estimated to be more than 20 million and also including approx 918,000 (4%) of the Hispanic-American population, counting all unaffiliated congregations, although exact numbers are hard to come by, in part because some tenets of Pentecostalism are held by members of non-Pentecostal denominations in what has been called the charismatic movement.

Pentecostalism was conservatively estimated to number around 115 million followers worldwide in 2000; other estimates place the figure closer to 400 million. The great majority of Pentecostals are to be found in Third World countries (see the Statistics subsection below), although much of their international leadership is still North American. Pentecostalism is sometimes referred to as the "third force of Christianity." The largest Christian church in the world is the Yoido Full Gospel Church in South Korea, a Pentecostal church. Founded and led by David Yonggi Cho since 1958, it had 780,000 members in 2003.


Source: Operation World by Patrick Johnstone and Jason Mandryk, 2000, unless otherwise indicated.


Early history


Additional Pentecostal theologians are listed in the article entitled, "Renewal Theologians".

Radio preachers and televangelists


Pastors and evangelists


See also

External links

  • "The Oneness of God" (http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/pentecostal/One-Top.htm) by David K. Bernard (Series in Pentecostal Theology, Volume 1)
  • Apostolic Herald (http://apostolicherald.com) Online newsletter sharing Pentecostal and Apostolic concepts written primarily by pentecostal authors.
  • Life Media Productions (http://lifemediaonline.com) Life Media produces and distributes high definition DVD's of Bible based ministry of kingdom concepts for today's committed Christian. Pentecostal Preachers and Speakers from around the world.
  • Religious movements homepage: Pentecostalism (http://religiousmovements.lib.virginia.edu/nrms/penta.html)
  • "Pentecostalism" (http://religiousmovements.lib.virginia.edu/lectures/Pentecost.html) by Jeffrey K. Hadden, Department of Sociology, University of Virginia
  • United Latin American Pentecostal Church (Iglesia Pentecostal Unida Latinoamericana) (http://www.ipul.us/quienes.htm)
  • Map of USA showing Percentage of Pentecostal Population in each county (http://www.valpo.edu/geomet/pics/geo200/religion/pentecostal.gif)

  Results from FactBites:
Pentecostalism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (3604 words)
Pentecostals believe that one must be saved by believing in Jesus as Lord and Saviour for the forgiveness of sins and to be made acceptable to God.
Pentecostals believe that there are three different types of instances of speaking in tongues: One, being tongues spoken as initial evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit; two, being a prayer language developed in daily prayer with God; and three, being tongues and interpretation ("public utterances").
Pentecostalism is sometimes referred to as the "third force of Christianity." The largest Christian church in the world is the Yoido Full Gospel Church in South Korea, a Pentecostal church.
Oral Roberts University - Library (3628 words)
The first Pentecostal churches in the world were produced by the holiness movement prior to 1901 and, after becoming Pentecostal, retained most of their perfectionistic teachings.
The first "Pentecostals" in the modern sense appeared on the scene in 1901 in the city of Topeka, Kansas in a Bible school conducted by Charles Fox Parham, a holiness teacher and former Methodist pastor.
The final phase was the penetration of Pentecostalism into the mainline Protestant and Catholic churches as "charismatic renewal" movements with the aim of renewing and reviving the historic churches.
  More results at FactBites »



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