History and Development of the Charismatic/Pentecostal Movement Essay

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History and Development of the Charismatic/Pentecostal Movement

Charismatic movement is a religious revival movement that developed during the late 1960’s among members of several Christian denominations, notably Roman Catholics, Episcopalians, and Methodists. Charismatic believe they can become infused with the Holy Spirit. When so infused, they believe, they may be granted such charisms (gifts) as the ability to speak in tongues, to make prophecies, and to heal by faith. Charismatics share many beliefs and practices with the Pentecostal churches but do not consider themselves to be Pentecostals (Duin, 2000).

Moreover, Pentecostal churches base their faith and practice on certain religious experiences that are recorded in the New Testament. Pentecostal churches teach that every Christian should seek to be “filled with the Holy Spirit. ” The proof of this occurrence comes when the person speaks in tongues. That is, the person will speak in a language he has never learned. The New Testament refers to the disciples speaking in tongues on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), and mentions speaking in tongues elsewhere (Blumhofer, 2004).

Pentecost is an important springtime Jewish and Christian feast. Its name comes from the Greek word fifty because Pentecost occurred on the fiftieth day after the first day of Passover. As a Jewish thanksgiving feast for the harvest, it was called Feast of Firstfruits (Exodus 23:16) and Shabuot or the Feast of Weeks (Leviticus 23: 15-21): “From the day after the Sabbath, the day you brought the sheaf of the wave offering, count off seven full weeks. Count off fifty days up the day after the seventh Sabbath and then present an offering of new grain to the Lord.

From wherever you live, bring two loaves made of two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour, baked with yeast, as a wave offering of firstfruits to the lord. Present with this bread seven male lambs, each a year old and with out defect, one young bull and two rams…” From the least the 200’s, Christians celebrated Pentecost on the seventh Sunday after Easter as one of their greatest feasts. It commemorated the descent of the Holy Spirit (called Holy Ghost in older English) upon the apostles on this day (Acts 2: 1-4):

“When the day of the Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled tem. ” He had been promised by Jesus as “another Comforter” (John 14:16) and came to strengthen the apostles after their nine days of prayer following the ascension of Jesus into heaven.

Then they showed themselves more courageous and zealous than they had been before. Pentecost was later called Whitsunday or White Sunday, because the newly baptized wore their white baptismal robes on that day, marking the end of the joyous Easter season (Pentecostalism. The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition, 2004). In masses of the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church, red vestments are worn on Pentecost to symbolize the tongues of fire representing the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:3).

This paper studies the origin of Pentecostal/Charismatic movement and knows some denominations that practice the Pentecostal beliefs. II. Discussion Pentecostal churches that emphasize glossolalia (speaking in unknown tongues). The term “Pentecostal” refers to the day of Pentecost, soon after the death of Jesus, when the disciples spoke in unknown tongues. In present-day Pentecostal churches, during the highly emotional moments of the service, members make utterances that have not been identified with any known language (Wakefield, 1999).

Pentecostals also believe that they can receive other supernatural gifts. For example, they believe they can be given the ability to prophesy, to heal, and to interpret what is said when someone speaks in an unknown tongue. The New Testament refers to these gifts in I Corinthians 12-14. Aside from these distinctive qualities, however, individual Pentecostal denominations do not usually resemble each other. There are more than three dozen Pentecostal groups in the United States of America alone. They differ radically in size as well as in their interpretations of matters of faith and practice.

Some of the largest Pentecostal bodies are: Church of God in Christ, 3,700,000 members; Assemblies of God, 2,100,000; United Pentecostal Church International, 500,000; Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee), 455,000; Church of God in Christ, International, 200,000; International Church of the Four-square Gospel, 180,000; Pentecostal Holiness Church, 110,000; and the Pentecostal Church of God, 90,000. Pentecostal churches trace their origins to revivals of tongue-speaking that occurred at Bethel Bible College in Topeka, Kans.

, in 1901, and at the Azusa Street Mission in Los Angeles in 1906. Similar revivals also took place in Great Britain and in Europe, Asia, and Latin America during the early 1900’s. Since the 1930’s, the Pentecostal denominations have grown rapidly. With a worldwide membership estimated at seven million, the Pentecostals are sometimes called Christianity’s “Third Force,” alongside the Roman Catholicism and traditional Protestantism (Ferm, 2001). Many Pentecostal churches are Methodist in origin. John Wesley, one of the founders of Methodism, believed on perfectionism.

As Methodism later decreased its emphasis on perfectionism, many American Methodists broke away and formed their own churches. Stressing the perfectionist doctrine, these bodies are became known as Holiness churches. The Pentecostal churches are usually defined as those Holiness churches that consider speaking in tongues an important sign of having attained holiness. A. Assemblies of God Assemblies of God are Protestant Christian churches forming the largest of the Pentecostal denominations. The basic belief of this denomination is that conversion is a spiritual rebirth.

Speaking in tongues is the first sign that that the Holy Spirit has been received by the reborn. Members believe in the infallibility of the Bible, the second coming of Christ to rule the world, eternal bliss for believers, and eternal punishment for the wicked. The denomination is composed of churches (assemblies) that are self-governing in local affairs. Each ordained minister and one lay delegate from each assembly is a member of the General Council, which is responsible for missions, publications, and other matters affecting the entire denomination (Assemblies of God.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition, 2004). The church arose out of a rival movement about 1900. The General Council was organized in 1914. Membership is about 2,100,000 in the United States. The church has missions in a number of African and Latin American nations. International headquarters are in Springfield, Missouri. B. Practices and Beliefs • Gift of Tongues Gift of tongues in Christianity is the ability to praise God in words that cannot be identified with any known language.

It is also called glossolalia (Greek: tongue talking). Speaking in tongues occurs during moments of intense religious emotion. Many people believe that the speaker is possessed by the Holy Spirit. In Pentecostal churches, the gift of tongues is considered a sign of spiritual perfection. Early in the 1960’s, speaking in tongues spread through some congregations in other denominations, especially in the Episcopal, Roam Catholic, and Methodist churches (Glossolalia. The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition, 2004).

According to the Bible (Acts 2:1-13), 50 days after the Resurrection of Jesus, on the Jewish Pentecost, the Holy Spirit entered the disciples of Jesus and caused them to speak strange words. Many foreign Jews who were present understood the words, even though they were not spoken in their language. Instances of the gift of tongues are recorded in later New Testament books. However, in all these cases the words were directed to God and were not understood by any human being (Pentecostal movement. Grolier Encyclopedia of Knowledge). • Faith healing

Faith healing is another practice of Pentecostal church. Faith healing is the curing of physical and mental ailments through religious faith of the sufferers. Medical science recognizes many kinds of physical disorders that are caused or made worse by the patient’s state of mind. These ailments can often be cured or relieved by mental therapy—by changing the patient’s outlook rather than by prescribing medicine. Faith in the curing power of religion or religious relics has often brought about this mental change. Some reported cases faith healing, however, cannot be explained medically (Foster, 2006).

Faith healing has been recorded in many religions under various conditions. In the Old Testament, the Syrian general Naaman was cured of leprosy when, as instructed by the prophet Elisha, he washed himself seven times in the River Jordan (II Kings 5:10-14). Jesus performed many miracles of healing. After healing a leper, Jesus said to the man: “Arise, go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole” (Luke 17:19). The apostles performed acts of healing. They believed that “prayer of faith shall save the sick” (James 5:15). III. Conclusion

The Pentecostal churches stress the doctrine of perfectionism, or holiness, which states that man has free choice, while still on earth, may become sinless through uniting with God. This doctrine rose in reaction to the Calvinist doctrine of predestination, which states, in part, that man is sinful by nature and may be saved only through God’s choice. Other beliefs common to many Pentecostal churches are the fundamentalist ideas that the entire Bible is literally true and that Jesus will return physically to rule the earth; some of the Pentecostal churches also practice faith healing (Pentecostal churches.New Standard Encyclopedia).


1. Blumhofer, Edith L. Thinking in the Spirit: Theologies of the Early Pentecostal Movement. The Christian Century. Volume: 121. Issue: 7. Page 43+. April 6, 2004. 2. Duin, Julia. Charismatic Movement Transcends Sects. The Washington Times. Page Number: 2. March 31, 2000. 3. Pentecostalism. The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. Columbia University Press, New York, 2004. 4. Wakefield, Dan. Fire from Heaven: The Rise of Pentecostal Spirituality and the Reshaping of Religion in the Twenty-First Century.

The Nation. Volume: 260. Issue: 3. Page Number: 98+. January 23, 1999. 5. Pentecostal churches. New Standard Encyclopedia. Vol. 13, Page 456-457. 6. Assemblies of God. The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. Columbia University Press. New York, 2004. 7. Glossolalia. The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. Columbia University Press. New York, 2004. 8. Foster, Mark. Sugar Grove Pentecostal Church Draws Members. Daily Herald. Page Number: 4, Dec. 18, 2006. 9. Ferm, Vergilius. An Encyclopedia of Religion. Philosophical Library. New York,

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