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