The Holiness Movement

(December 2004 – Volume 10, Issue 12)  Pentecostalism was born in the cradle of the Holiness Movement of the nineteenth-century. The Holiness Movement actually traces its roots to John Wesley in the eighteenth-century, who taught sort of a two-tiered salvation. The first tier was conversion or justification, in which one is forgiven and freed from past sins. The second tier was “entire sanctification” which liberated one from their fallen nature, or at least the tendency toward sin. Revivalists, in the early 1800s, such as Asa Mahan (president of Oberlin College) and evangelist Charles Finney advanced Wesley’s theology. They taught “that sinners had the natural ability to believe, and that evangelistic methods could overcome their ‘moral’ inability through the persuasive power of the Gospel.” “Finney and Mahan applied this same understanding to the Christian’s growth toward spiritual maturity…. To be sanctified, they insisted, required only the same kind of simple,...

The History of the Charismatics

(March 1999 – Volume 5, Issue 3)  What began in a corner at the turn of the twentieth century is now barreling down main street, with flying colors, at the close of that same century. What was once known as the Pentecostal movement has now splintered into numerous diverse, yet overlapping movements: Pentecostal, Charismatics, Vineyard, Word of Faith, Holy Laughter. The goal of our papers on this subject will be to inform, clarify, document and warn concerning some of the teachings and practices of those claiming to be charismatic (the term we will use, rightly or wrongly, as a generic handle for all the above-mentioned splinter groups). The salvation of the charismatics is not at issue here. We believe many to be born again. Indeed over half of all “evangelicals” plant their spiritual feet in some wing of this movement. On the other hand, we do not assume their salvation...

Pentecostalism

(December 1999 – Volume 5, Issue 12)  Pentecostalism has become the fastest growing segment of 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” (Christian History, “The Rise of Pentecostalism,” issue no. 58, vol. XVII no. 2, p.3). In addition, the largest church in the world (the Yoi Do Full Gospel Church) is a Pentecostal church in Korea, pastored by David Yongii Cho, with a weekly worship attendance of 240,000. Two Pentecostal Churches in Buenos Aires attract together 150,000 each week (ibid.). Just who are the Pentecostals, how did they originate and what do they believe? The intent of this paper is to answer these questions. Pentecostal History Most consider the father of Pentecostalism to be Charles Parham, a young college student from Kansas with roots in the...

Doctrinal Distinctives of the Charismatic Movement – Part 2

(September 1999 – Volume 5, Issue 9)  If, as was demonstrated in our last paper, the gift of tongues has fulfilled the purpose for which it was designed, and therefore has ceased, what is going on today? That is, how do we explain the present day phenomenon of speaking in tongues, if the Holy Spirit is no longer bestowing this gift upon people. What is the origin of speaking in tongues in the modern church? Certainly there is more than one origin. Tongues can be demonic, as is demonstrated by documented tongues-speaking in pagan religions. Tongues can be faked for the purpose of peer-approval. After all, if you attend a church which teaches that speaking in tongues is a sign of spiritual maturity, the pressure to conform could be enormous. My personal opinion is that the majority of tongues-speaking in the modern church is a learned response. In other words,...

Doctrinal Distinctives of the Charismatic Movement – Part 1

(August 1999 – Volume 5, Issue 8)  The focus of the Pentecostal and charismatic movements has always been centered on shared experiences, not theology. This is especially true of those in the charismatic movement which transcends all denominations. Thus, for example, there are Catholic charismatics, who believe in a sacramental form of salvation, and there are Lutheran charismatics who believe that infant baptism is redemptive, and there are Baptist charismatics who believe they are saved through faith alone. While these three types of charismatics might vary widely in their views of the fundamentals of their faith, what they have in common is an experience — the experience of speaking in tongues. While all charismatics do not personally speak in tongues, all would accept the validity of tongues-speaking. This experience does have a doctrinal framework, of course, which could be expressed in the following two statements: The baptism of the Holy...

Brownsville Revival – A River Runs Through It

(November 1999 – Volume 5, Issue 11) On Father’s Day I am lucky to get a card from my adoring sons, so you can imagine my chagrin when I found out that on Father’s Day 1995 a church in Pensacola, Florida, got the Holy Spirit. Up until that time the Holy Spirit had apparently been camping out up in Canada (see paper on “The Toronto Blessing”), but for some unknown reason He decided to move South. Since He did, the Brownsville Assembly of God has experienced “Revival.” Four nights per week, 48 weeks per year, services are held, usually with long lines of anxious seekers wanting to get in. Of course the stats keep changing (so fast that the church’s marquee actually is a McDonalds’ type sign that reads “Over ___ souls saved”). But according to the church’s web site (www.Brownsville-revival.org), over 2,660,000 have attended the Revival and 141,387 have...

Ancient-Future Faith, Its Practices

(July 2008 – Volume 14, Issue 7)  In a recent sermon dealing with the emergent/emerging church, Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill in Seattle and self-described emerging church leader, identified four lanes in which the emergent/emerging movement is traveling. In the first lane are emerging evangelicals who believe in basic Christian doctrine, such as the Bible being God’s Word and Jesus dying for our sins. They also tend to form the “hip, cool church,” according to Driscoll. Pastors who may fall in this category include Dan Kimball and Donald Miller. Without taking much time to debate with Driscoll at this point, I would certainly challenge the notion that Donald Miller is a supporter of basic Christian doctrine. Kimball, on the other hand, does hold to certain doctrinal positions such as the three ancient ecumenical creeds, but would not want to drift much beyond them. Traveling down the second lane are...

Ancient-Future Faith, Its Beliefs

(August 2008 – Volume 14, Issue 8)  In his most recent book Finding Our Way Again, The Return of the Ancient Practices, Brian McLaren, the most recognizable name in the emergent church movement, signals a shift, or at least a new emphasis within emergent, toward ancient practices of earlier periods of church history. As usual, McLaren believes the church has lost its way due to its refusal to follow God’s leading. The church has become “proud and unteachable” but fortunately a few “humble and teachable” people (guess who?) are pointing out the right path: “When the community of faith realizes it has lost its way, it begins looking forward by looking back…It looks to its ancient practices to help it reset its future course.” This means that the church, in order to find its way again, must look to and adopt the early church (not New Testament church) traditions and...

Ancient-Future Faith Or Do All Roads Lead to Rome

(June 2008 – Volume 14, Issue 6)  Rumors are starting to circulate that the emergent church movement is running out of steam. After making the biggest splash and the most noise of anything in the Christian community for many years it appears to be approaching exhaustion. Some like Rob Bell and Erwin McManus who are clearly in the “emergent conversation” have denied their involvement. And people seem a bit tired of hearing about postmodernism, its rejection of universal truth and its promotion of relativism. After all, how long can people live questioning the obvious and denying reality? These things play out nicely in philosophy class and in college coffee shops, but have serious limitations in the real world. Maybe it is time for the emergent ship to leave the dock and make way for the next fad. But before we begin to make funeral arrangements for the emergent church it...

A Matter of Purity

(January 2004 – Volume 10, Issue 1)  As the author of Hebrews begins to wrap up his intensely doctrinal epistle, he makes it clear that doctrine has as its goal the changing of lives. It matters little how much theology you know; it matters little if you write doctrinal treatises on the Melchizedekian priesthood of Jesus Christ; it matters little if you can understand and explain everything in this epistle; if this knowledge does not change your life, it is of little value. What does it matter if I know all of these things and more: If I can’t be kind to my wife and kids at home; if I am in constant battle with people at work; if I am hard to get along with, mean spirited, divisive, easily offended, a gossip or lack concern (Hebrews 13:1-3)? If I can’t live in moral purity or I live for the...