Thursday, 31 January 2008

Being Pentecostal Today

Attending a Pentecostal church for the first time nearly 30 years ago, I was struck by the contrast with the Anglican churches that I had previously been familiar with. I mean struck. The differences were stark! Not only was the difference in the way they conducted a worship service, but the entire philosophy and theological understanding was different. To be Pentecostal then meant that you were different - very different. But not today.

Pentecostals once emphasized seeking God, studying the Bible for illumination, and exercising spiritual gifts that could not be emulated naturally (this began with speaking in tongues). The more extreme Pentecostals went so far as to say that if a person didn't demonstrate the power of the Holy Spirit in their lives with at least the gift of tongues then they weren't really saved in the first place! But this was always a heretical fringe, not the mainstream of Pentecostalism.

Philosophically Pentecostals generally regarded the studying of theology as unhelpful to ministry. Ministers were then proudly untrained but "anointed". The "Anointing" was regarded as the pre-eminent requirement for a ministry candidate. With the anointing an unlearned person could heal the sick, cast out demons, and save the lost. Afterall, this was what Jesus told His disciples to do and He also told them that they would need the anointing of the Father's Promise to be able to do it. When the initial outpouring of the Holy Spirit's anointing took place on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:4) it gave rise to the designation of what later Spirit-filled believers would be called: Pentecostals.

As the next generations of "Pentecostal" have replaced the early ones there has also been a replacement of theology and philosophy. Many of the things that the early Pentecostals of the mid-twentieth century did are now considered uncouth. To be Pentecostal today apparently no longer requires that a person has had any experience with the Holy Spirit or His gifts. Ministers no longer consider the anointing the exclusive component for ministry. And Theology is now a major emphasis in most Ministry Training Colleges (although which theology is still being determined).

I want to be a Pentecostal who heals the sick, casts out demons, saves the lost, teaches the Bible, grounds in sound Reformed Theology, motivates people into their Spiritually-gifted ministries, lives with passion for Christ, inspires faith, influences society, and continually seeks God. I want to declare that Jesus Christ is not only Lord, but our Healer, Deliverer, Saviour, and Vindicated King!

Andrew Corbett

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