Book Description
Introduction
A-Z Entries List
Contributors
Reviews
Religion & Society Encyclopedias
Order Information
Contact Us
Routledge Library Reference Home
 


(Note: Sample material is taken from uncorrected proofs. Changes may be made prior to publication.)

Protestantism

Pentecostal and charismatic movements have maintained a somewhat tumultuous and multifaceted relationship with the larger body of Protestant Christians worldwide. By "Protestant" we are referring in broad terms to one of the three main branches of Christianity today (the others being Catholicism and Orthodoxy). Protestants trace their roots to the movement initiated by Martin Luther in 1517 by the posting of his famous "95 Theses" (indicting the Catholic practice of "indulgences") along with similar actions taken in Switzerland by Huldreich Zwingli in 1518. Initially, the Reformation spawned three major churches, Lutheran, Reformed, and Anglican, which over the last 500 years have splintered into literally thousands of denominational and independent Protestant groups (including Pentecostal denominations). Broadly speaking, Protestants have historically not embarked on a wholesale rejection of Catholic doctrine so much as they have rejected certain Catholic practices and spiritual emphases, choosing to move away from practices such as infant baptism, viewing communion/eucharist in terms of "transubstantiation", and the veneration of Mary and the Saints.

Our goal here will not be to provide a documentary history of "Protestantism" per se but rather to understand Pentecostal and charismatic interactions with the greater Protestant world beginning in the mid to late 19th century and continuing through today, including how Pentecostals and charismatics have reacted to changes in 19th and 20th century Protestantism and the major convergences between Pentecostal and Protestant doctrines.

1865-1900: The Protestant Roots of Pentecostalism
The origins of Pentecostalism are rooted in divisions within Protestantism in the 19th century. The divisions leading to the U.S. Civil War separated people not only politically but also theologically. Scientific advances, including Darwin's theory of evolution, challenged the literal view of scripture and the advances of "higher criticism" challenged traditional views of the authority, interpretation, and authorship of scripture. It also birthed a new optimism, which provided a platform for an emphasis on "postmillennialism" (the belief that the Second Coming and other eschatological events would occur after a 1000 year period of peace) in many protestant pulpits. The practice of slavery demanded the church no longer ignore its broader social responsibilities, and once the mind of the church had been opened towards social issues, the problems created by the industrial revolution captured the church's energies.

"Conservatives" and "liberals" divided on essentially two fronts; the view of scripture and the view of salvation. The former was of particular concern to the more theologically based conservatives (usually Calvinists), as nearly every seminary in the north underwent a liberal conversion which alienated those who held to a traditional view of scripture. On the latter, the emphasis on the social responsibility of the church led to a neglect of the doctrine of personal regeneration. Groups emphasizing experience and responsibility (usually Wesleyan) were particularly drawn to the social gospel, and the conservative concern for personal regeneration came largely out of these same groups.

The two fronts might not have become part of the same war had it not been for the conservatives' willingness to unite around an innovative theology—"Dispensationalism." The liberal emphasis of the social gospel on improving society dovetailed with the well-known postmillennial eschatology that gained stature through the preaching of Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758). However, those who were in need had little faith in the ability of the church to create a better world. Their circumstances cultivated a yearning for a more cataclysmic renovation, something Dispensationalism offered to them. The conservative Calvinists, who were intellectually ostracized from the seminaries, and the conservative Wesleyans, whose emphasis on personal experience was excluded from the mainline churches, found an alliance in a theological system that embraced a very literal interpretation of scripture and a very personal redemption, in fact, a personal "rapture," a word which describes an end time event where individuals who have experienced a personal salvation will be "caught away" into heaven. It also provided a neo-intellectualism in its study of infinite detail of the apocalyptic (i.e. Daniel and Revelation) literature of the Bible.

Dispensationalism cemented these groups together in a series of "prophecy conferences" held during the last quarter of the nineteenth century. While prophecy conferences were held earlier in the century, a growing sense of frustration with the direction of mainline denominations combined with the results of holiness revivals during the first ten years after the Civil War to fuse holiness groups with conservatives looking for an intellectual identity for those ideas unwelcome in mainline seminaries. This coalition is the birth mother of the classic Pentecostalism born in 1901.

What genes does this mother provide for Pentecostals' identity within Protestantism? Perhaps the most profound is the role of restorationist (Blumhofer 1989, 15) and an accompanying sense of disenfranchisement. Along with the fundamentalist/holiness tradition, classic Pentecostals saw themselves as ostracized by a mainline Protestantism that had lost its moorings with the early church. Therefore, the trappings of denominations were rejected and replaced with a sense of pride in what Pentecostals did not have, i.e. money, buildings, liturgy, formal education, and tradition. For much of their early history poverty has been a mark of dedication, not only as a sign of rejecting mainline denominations, but for identifying with their own millennial roots. At times this disenfranchisement has been married to the holiness tradition in such a way as to ascribe value to a way of dress or an activity simply because doing so was socially unacceptable. Ironically, this rejection of tradition allowed them to quickly adapt worship styles or marketing techniques to changing social and cultural situations, sometimes with little thought to theological considerations.

This backdrop has created an interesting tension in the Pentecostal attitude in key areas. On the one hand, the liberal shift of mainline seminaries left deep suspicions about formal theological education. On the other hand, the core identity formed in the prophecy conferences left informal education as a priority for most classic Pentecostals. Their identification with pre-millennialism has also exposed them to criticism for lack of social responsibility from mainline Protestants. Although they largely rejected social gospel, Pentecostals' initial identity with the economically oppressed created a close relationship with the needs of the poor. The result seems to have been, at least in the first half of the 20th century, a significant presence among the poor and a significant impact on their social well being, while presenting as their greatest gift the hope in the imminent return of Christ.

1901-1928: Division Without and Within
The restoration mindset of the late nineteenth century held a natural attraction for those uncomfortable with ecclesiastical authority. Charles Parham (1873-1929), who is credited as the first to identify speaking in tongues as the normative evidence of the baptism in the Holy Spirit, was a Methodist lay minister who repudiated his denominational affiliation because of the "narrowness of sectarian churchism" (Blumhofer 1989, 71). If denominational hierarchy had lost its authority to define what the church should be, the field was open to preachers like Parham to define a "truly restored church." It was this anti-organizational bias that delayed any formal division between Pentecostals and non-Pentecostals within the restoration ranks.

The anti-organizational mindset prevented the restorationist group from developing a defining position on any issue. Opposition to the Pentecostal mindset grew through the publication of the Scholfield Reference Bible in 1909, a dispensation reference used by many in the restoration movement. This Bible provided easy access to the extension of the dispensation system into a belief that tongues and other gifts found in the book of Acts were part of a dispensation that ceased at the end of the Apostolic period, providing a unified doctrinal basis for non-Pentecostal millennialists to reject the Pentecostal experience. A reasonably solid division between the two groups did not occur until the Fundamentalist Convention in Chicago (1928) voted overwhelmingly in favor of a resolution against the Pentecostal movement.

Before this pronouncement, the most significant development towards a separate identity probably arose from a division among Pentecostals themselves. A new innovation on the formula for baptism, and in fact, the nature of the trinity emerged after a camp meeting in Arroyo Seco, California in 1913. The "Oneness" movement gained enough momentum that more than a quarter of AG clergy left the organization when the Assemblies of God (AG) adopted a statement of fundamental truths that rejected the "oneness" position in 1916. The relationship of these groups to Protestantism is hard to define since their unorthodox view on the Trinity would disqualify them in the eyes of many Protestants, and their own views on a baptismal formula as a basis for salvation would exclude most Protestants from orthodoxy by their standards.

The "Oneness" crisis in the AG led to adoption of a definitive doctrinal statement in 1916- although the statement was adopted, not as doctrinal statement but a basis for ministerial cooperation. Even so it opened the door to higher levels of organization and denominational control which has created something of a distinction between AG and most other classical Pentecostals in the eyes of most Protestants. When the AG adopted the position on sanctification most effectively espoused by William Durham (1873-1912), i.e. sanctification as progressive rather than a second definite work of grace, Pentecostals could be largely categorized as Oneness, Holiness, or AG. Most who held to progressive view did so due to AG influence.

1928-1972: Tensions and New Alliances
Organizational identity is often shaped around a common enemy. Following the formal ostracism by the fundamentalists, the great question about the relationship of Pentecostals to Protestantism during the next fifty years seemed to revolve around who was considered "the enemy." For extreme separatists, the fundamentalists were just one more enemy, and enemies are often used as a sign of "authenticity." Those who had displayed a willingness to cooperate in forming fellowships were more concerned about the isolation from other Bible believing groups who shared the same goals (although they shared different experiences).

During the next twelve years (1928-1940), fundamentalists sensed a need for closer cooperation arising from considerations about radio broadcasting rights. The question over including Pentecostals in the group created a division between the more separatist minded Fundamentalists and the Evangelicals (who were willing to include Pentecostals). Both identified with each other on the same doctrinal fundamentals, and regarded mainline Protestantism as their foe. With the participation of the Church of God (Cleveland) and the AG (among others) as founding members of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) in 1941 Pentecostals enjoyed broader acceptance on the Protestant scene.

Pentecostal identity took a new turn around 1960 as word spread of glossolalia occurring among mainline church members. The most well-known leader in the early development of this phenomenon was Episcopal Priest Dennis Bennett, who led many in his congregation to the Pentecostal experience in 1959. The initial response of the Pentecostal members of the NAE was to identify more with the separatist mindset of the NAE than the Pentecostal experience of some mainline church members. David DuPlessis, an AG minister, was defrocked in 1962 because of his ecumenical position and involvement in what became known as the charismatic renewal. The anti-ecumenical sentiment was so strong that that same year a resolution was passed by the General Presbytery and later by the General Council of the AG identifying the ecumenical church as culminating in the religious Babylon of Revelation. This illustrates the tendency of Pentecostal denominations to identify more closely with conservative Protestants than with the distinctively Pentecostal practices has not been met with unanimous support among the continuing independent constituencies.

1972-2004: Broadening Influence and Acceptance
By 1972, the Pentecostal denominations seemed to be opening their arms to embrace the charismatic movement. This may have been brought about by the divergent pressures of classic Pentecostals involved with charismatic ministries and the increasing acceptance of the charismatic movement by the mainline churches. Perhaps the interaction of Pentecostals with the charismatic movement has done more to move the mindset of many Pentecostals away from the restorationist mentality and into a place in mainstream Protestantism. This happened in convergence with a general rejection of established authorities and institutions by American culture in general, so that variants of all types, including Pentecostals were more readily accepted in the quarter of the twentieth century. The expansion of the charismatic movement in Western civilization is paralleled by an unprecedented growth among Pentecostals in less developed areas of the world during this same time.

The effect has not only been the acceptance of Pentecostals into mainstream Protestantism, but to some extent, the acceptance of mainstream Protestantism by Pentecostals. Many Pentecostals have shed their differences with mainline denominations in dress and practices, and have shifted the purpose of their educational institutions from protection to influence. Pentecostals embraced certain elements of traditional worship that they once shunned, while a significant number of mainline churches adopted the spontaneous and emotional elements formerly exclusive to Pentecostals.

Doctrinal Similarities Between Protestants and Pentecostals-Charismatics
As might be expected, many Protestant charismatics see little or no discontinuity between their distinctively "charismatic" spirituality and the social or doctrinal demands of their local church body or greater denominational structure. Within existing protestant denominational structures, charismatic believers are likely to hold to similar (if not identical) doctrinal stances on "key" issues in relation to non-charismatic members; the same is also true of the major Pentecostal denominations. For instance, in most cases there will probably be no significant difference in the "charismatic" understanding in salvation by faith as opposed to "non-charismatic," Protestant understandings of salvation (which generally include some notion of "faith alone" or "saved by grace" theology). Along with the broader evangelical and Protestant world, Pentecostals and Protestant charismatics generally adhere to the following: the Bible as the inspired, infallible/inerrant, and authoritative Word of God; the priesthood of all believers; one eternal God, existent in three eternal persons (Father, Son, Holy Spirit); the deity and virgin birth of Jesus Christ, His sinless life, miracles, death, burial, resurrection, and vicarious sacrifice for sin; the second coming of Christ and the resurrection of the dead.

A notable exception occurs in the case of so-called "Oneness Pentecostals," who reject trinitarian theology in favor of faith in Jesus alone. Believers in Oneness traditions are baptized in "Jesus' name" only (as opposed to other Pentecostal denominations who baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) and comprise approximately one percent of worldwide Pentecostalism (about 2-5 million members).

Outlook for the 21st Century
It remains to be seen how, in the long term, Pentecostal and charismatic groups will relate to each other and to the greater Protestant world; Pentecostal/charismatic identities are constantly being formed and reformed in the context of explosive growth and missionary efforts, as these new groups have only recently become leaders and spokespersons for Protestant Christianity. Despite their humble beginnings in relatively small revival meetings, denominational Pentecostals have grown to what accounts for the largest Protestant group on the world scene in the 21st century. Pentecostal and charismatic missiologists are quick to assert that virtually all new Christian believers in the world today can be classified as either charismatic or Pentecostal, driving the worldwide number of Pentecostals and charismatics in Protestant denominations to well over 500 million.

— Phil Duncan and Brian R. Doak

Further Reading
Ahlstrom, S. E. (1971). A religious history of the United States. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Anderson, R. M. (1992). Vision of the disinherited. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers.

Blumhofer, E. L. (1989). The assemblies of God, 1-2. Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House.

Blumhofer, E. L., Spittler, R. P., & Wacker, G. A. (Eds.). (1999). Pentecostal currents in American Protestantism. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.

Burgess, S. (Ed.). (2002). The new international dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic movements. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Cox, H. (2001). Fire from heaven: The rise of Pentecostal spirituality and the reshaping of religion in the 21st century. New York: DaCapo Press.

Cross, T. L. (2002). A proposal to break the ice: What can Pentecostal theology offer Evangelical theology? Journal of Pentecostal Theology, 10(2), 44<N>73.

Dayton, D. W. (1991). Theological roots of Pentecostalism. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson.

Hempelmann, R. (1994). The Charismatic movement in German Protestantism. Pneuma: The Journal for the Society of Pentecostal Studies, 16 (2), 215-226.

Hollwenweger, W. J. (1997). Pentecostalism: Origins and developments worldwide. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson.

McGee, G. B. (2004). People of the spirit: The assemblies of God. Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House.

Nichol, John Thomas (1966). The Pentecostals. Plainfield, N.J.: Logos International.

Synan, V. (2001). The century of the Holy Spirit: 100 years of Pentecostal and Charismatic renewal. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Synan, V. (1997). The holiness Pentecostal tradition: Charismatic movements in the twentieth century. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans.

Synan, V. (1987). Pentecostalism: Varieties and contributions. Pneuma: The Journal for the Society of Pentecostal Studies, 9 (1), 31-49.

Wacker, G. (2003). Heaven below: Early Pentecostals and American culture. Cambridge, MA: Ha

Sample Entries

Description | Introduction | A-Z Entries List | Contributors | Reviews
Order Information
| Order Online | Contact Us | Routledge Library Reference Home