I’m currently reading a book on the subject of Pentecostalism and it’s amazing rise in the last forty to fifty years. The book is called Global Pentecostalism, and it is an interesting book so far and I am currently recommending it (a statement I could possibly rescind in the future).
The point of the first chapter has been a little lacking in it’s understanding of the Early Church. The Author seems to propose that Pentecostalism (he uses the capital “P”, implying a definitive movement, which in our own context refers to the contemporary movement) was the expression of the First century church. I think that it is unfair to say Pentecostalism was an expression of this early church and not pentecostalism as a general expression of elements of spiritual acts that transcend normal human experience. The authors also propose that it was the establishing of national religion under the Roman Empire and the organization of Christianity into a hierarchical institution was the death of ecstatic experience. What these authors do not understand is that the Early Church was most definitely hierarchical. If you read the Acts of the Apostles, you see that the first century church still had councils and also had persons of authority that were looked to for advice and direction, even though the following was completely voluntary. The leaders worked with persuasion and men like Paul were well versed in rhetoric in order to convince people of the correct doctrine.
The points that I like about these authors is that the Pentecostal movement has high potential to transform the social situations of today. Pentecostalism, as they describe it is not a filled with wild spiritual experiences by an all lower-class congregation who are too dense to think outside of their own bubble. What they are is now (at least the majority of it) is a socially aware, Spirit driven, and sometimes well-educated people. It almost seems to be having results of the social gospel of the 20th century, but if you go back far enough, it resonates with the early Holiness movement as far back as the 1800’s.
I think that eventually Pentecostalism will see a huge growth not just Spiritually, but academically and practically as well (men like Gordon Fee are evidence that they are beginning to approach academic influence). I can see that the Pentecostals may be the influence of the next Holiness movement, since it is very closely related to the Holiness movement. I hope to see mergers that do not compromise, but seek a true pursuit of holiness. That pursuit, however, should not just be emotionally Spiritual, but also intellectually Spiritual.
I hope some of you can give an ear to certain Pentecostal movement in it’s more contemporary, not so legalistic forms. They have excellent things to say and I love conversing with them, or even their Charismatic counterparts.
Grace and peace.