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(Theology of Humans)
is the study of humankind. The academic discipline of anthropology
studies human origins, human nature, and human diversity in an
empirical manner. Pentecostals have very different, theological,
ideas on human origins and human nature. They also have beliefs
about the destiny of humankind that are central to their faith.
Pentecostals adhere to fundamentalist teachings on the issue of
creation and reject the idea of evolution. Following the book
of Genesis in the Bible, they believe that there was a being called
God who created the heavens and the earth and all living things,
including Adam and Eve, the first humans, who were fashioned in
His image. Unlike anthropologists, Pentecostals believe that humans
are a separate creation, set apart from other creatures, and the
climax of creation. They preach that only humans have free will
and an immortal soul and believe that God gave humans the power
to rule over the earth.
to Pentecostals, God created woman so that man might have company,
making Eve from Adam's rib. This provides a foundation for the
idea that men and women are meant to be together as monogamous
couples, as well as for a belief in the superiority of men. According
to Pentecostals, Adam and Eve were created without sin. It was
God's plan for them to dwell in Paradise forever, but they disobeyed
God and tasted good and evil from the tree of knowledge. God then
punished Adam and Eve by casting them out of the Garden of Eden
and condemning them and their descendants to suffering and death.
Because of this Fall, men know the burden of labor and women the
pain of childbirth and the duty of submitting to their husbands.
Both have the burden of choosing right from wrong.
Pentecostals believe that every individual is made lovingly by
God and is therefore a divine creation. Because God is responsible
for the abilities they enjoy and the disabilities they have to
bear, they believe that both should be cherished as parts of His
divine plan. In the Pentecostal worldview, God determines the
destiny of every individual, although He does not often reveal
His reasons. Taking a life, even one's own, is sinful, because
it interferes with God's plan.
is also part of God's plan. The Assemblies of God, for example,
says that sexuality is a "God-given desire." On the
other hand, Pentecostals are opposed to homosexuality, believing
it to be unnatural or contrary to God's plan. Also, according
to Pentecostal teaching, life begins at conception; therefore,
abortion is murder and a sin.
they see themselves as God's creations, Pentecostals believe that
they come into the world tainted with the sin of Adam and Eve.
Because sin is a fundamental part of human nature, humans are
destined to suffer. But the purpose of suffering, as Pentecostals
see it, is to bring people to God, who provided them with the
gift of healing to relieve suffering.
believe that, because of the fall of Adam and Eve, they are born
into a world of temptation and sin. The world as they know it
is not the one that God created, but a man-made world under the
rule of Satan, who surrounds them with temptations to make them
sin and offend God. The world they live in is therefore a challenge.
Pentecostals preach that Jesus came to earth to bear their sins
for them, asking only that they accept Him as their savior.
believe they are called to "holiness" by God-that is,
to live life according to "the Word," which is the Bible.
They believe that God also gave them His Holy Spirit to guide
the way. The Holy Spirit is said to dwell inside everyone who
accepts Christ as their savior. The Spirit serves as a guide to
living a moral life in an immoral world. The Spirit may bring
the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control as well as the gifts
of wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, prophecy, speaking in tongues,
and interpretation of tongues.
consider the body to be the temple of the Holy Spirit and say
that it should be kept clean and pure because the Spirit will
not dwell in an impure body. Likewise, the demons of the world
cannot dwell in a spiritually clean body. Pentecostals believe
that in order to maintain purity, they should abstain from alcohol,
tobacco, narcotics, and the use of profanity.
place special emphasis on sexuality, which they believe has a
place only in reproduction. Sin and sexuality are virtually synonymous
in the Pentecostal world, and sermons often dwell on fornication
and adultery. Social dancing and gambling are discouraged and
sometimes prohibited because they take place in "sinful"
surroundings, and cosmetics, jewelry, and fancy hairdos and clothes
are discouraged because they call too much attention to the physical
self. Pentecostals are family-centered and place a high value
on raising children. They believe the two-parent nuclear family
is a key part of God's plan for humanity.
see their lives as a constant struggle to choose between sin and
holiness, Satan and God, and eternal damnation and salvation.
They say that those who choose to become Christian must accept
Jesus as their personal savior and live in a Christ-like manner.
Christians turn their backs on the past and are born again as
new, changed people, kind, loving, humble, and obedient people,
pure in thought and deed. This experience of spiritual rebirth
not only erases past sins, it also changes the nature of the reborn
person. A saved person is a "saint" who has a personal
relationship with God.
Being a Christian
is a constant struggle because Christians have to face the devil
and the temptations of the world, and they are naturally inclined
to sinful pursuits. A Christian needs to pray, study the Bible,
follow the Holy Spirit, avoid the world, and seek the fellowship
and support of other Christians to stay on the path of salvation.
Salvation is based solely on faith in Jesus and not on good works.
Pentecostals believe that death is God's punishment for the sin
of Adam and Eve, but that it is God's plan to put an end to death
itself and restore the initial state of immortality in Paradise.
Pentecostals are premillennial-that is, they believe they are
living in the Last Days before the end of the world. In the Last
Days, it is prophesied, there will be a decline in morality and
"signs and wonders" or miraculous events (the "Latter
Rain") signaling the imminent Rapture of the Living Saints,
when Christians will be taken to heaven. Pentecostals therefore
interpret social decay as a sign of impending glory.
that the Rapture will be followed by a period called the Tribulation,
when the world will be ruled by the Antichrist. It will begin
with prosperity and end in plagues. After seven years, Jesus will
return (known as the Second Coming) and vanquish Satan in the
Battle of Armageddon, casting him into the Bottomless Pit. Christians
will enjoy a thousand-year period of perfection on earth they
call the Millennium. Satan will then be released from the Bottomless
Pit as a final test. The living and the dead will be judged by
God, and those who are saved will live for eternity in the Holy
City of New Jerusalem, while those who are not will be cast with
Satan into the Lake of Fire, to burn in Hell forever.
R. M. (1979). The Pentecostal message. In Visions of the disinherited:
The making of American Pentecostalism (pp. 79-97). New York:
Oxford University Press.
P. (2003). Pentecostalism in translation: Religion and the production
of community in the Haitian diaspora. American Ethnologist
30 (1), 85-101.
W. (1996). The everlasting gospel: The significance of eschatology
in the development of Pentecostal thought. Sheffield, UK:
Sheffield Academic Press.
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