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Pentecostalism | The Origins of the Pentecostal Movement

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The term “Pentecostalism” is coming from the Pentecostal Church (also called the “Apostolic Church of God”) which is a Neo-Protestant church. That emerged at the turn of the century with the “revivalist” movements of the faith. American preacher Charles F. Parham began to argue, based on several New Testament verses, that the Holy Spirit still descends on believers.

Pentecostalism is a faith revival movement that led to the growth of Protestant churches in the United States in the 20th century. And is unique in its belief that all Christians should undergo a religious experience called “Baptism in the Holy Spirit.”

Referring to the descent of the Holy Spirit among the first Christians in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2-4). This experience seems to have been common for this Christian movement during its earliest generations.

What is the origin of the Pentecostal movement?

The Pentecostalism phenomenon (glossolalia), however, long predates the Pentecostal movement of the early 20th century. 

The actual origins of the modern Pentecostal movement can be traced back to events at Bethel Bible School in Topeka, Kansas, which opened in 1900 with 40 students by Methodist pastor Charles F. Parham. During their studies, the students concluded that the sign of the baptism of the Holy Spirit must be the glossolalia. 

The name of the movement originates from the Greek word Pentecost, which means “fifty” and refers to the act of the apostles receiving the Holy Spirit at the Feast of Pentecostalism in Jerusalem, followed by speaking in unknown tongues (glossolalia). 

Who started the Pentecostal movement?

Many itinerant preachers had compromised themselves by the tricks they resorted to warm the crowds. The masses were demanding something new, and the new offering came with the slogan “God is doing a new work.”

The Pentecostal movement that is considered to be one of the “religious revival” movements in the United States was also the so-called “Latter Rain” was led and started by A.J. Tomlinson, originally a simple book distributor for the American Bible Society. Several preachers preached the renewal of religious living through “filling with the Holy Spirit”.

The support for this preaching was the account of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost described in Acts chapter 2. These preachers claimed that this outpouring, accompanied by “speaking in other tongues”, is possible today for individual believers. Thus, in the USA and Wales, prayer meetings have sprung up in which fervent believers confess their sins before the Lord and tearfully implore Him to “baptize them with the Holy Spirit”. Besides Tomlinson, another promoter of the new ideas was Charles Parham.

What do Pentecostals believe?

The Pentecostal religion is a Neo-Protestant religion that emphasizes the direct relationship between man and God through the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The Pentecostal Church has a set of rules that it has followed for over a century.

According to the Pentecostal faith, it is believed that the basis of every believer’s spiritual life is personal conversion, after which baptism by immersion in water is administered.

They practice “foot-washing”, the leaders are pastors and deacons, they observe Sunday and other feasts, salvation is by God’s grace, good works (almsgiving) have saving value, and they believe in the 1000-year kingdom that Christ will establish with true believers. They practice “speaking in tongues” and “tongues translation” given by the Holy Spirit and believe in the 1000-year kingdom that Christ will establish with true believers.

Pentecostalism

Read also: The Anabaptist Movement

What are the values of the Pentecostal movement?

The Pentecostal movement believes that the Bible is the only norm in the life of faith. Pentecostals also believe in divine (supernatural) healing. And Pentecostals also celebrate the Lord’s Supper with unleavened bread and unfermented fruit of the vine. They also practice the gesture of humility, symbolized by the ritual of foot washing.

Among the core values of the Pentecostal movement are moderation, and modesty (even in dress, as there are strict rules), but also correcting social injustices or fulfilling social obligations.

A characteristic feature of the Pentecostalism movement is fragmentation. This makes it difficult for a researcher to identify and study the dozens of Pentecostal branches and groups that currently exist globally.

What are the teachings of Pentecostals?

The Pentecostalism movement has also spread to India, China, and Australia. Gradually, it penetrated deep into Christianity, despite opposition and open condemnation in the early 20th century. This was the first wave of the Pentecostal movement, when believers organized themselves into churches of their own, though different from each other.

Among the most important teachings of the Pentecostals, besides those common to all the Neo-Protestant denominations, we can mention: that the Pentecostal translation of the Bible is the only one accepted, the Holy Spirit is the foundation of the Pentecostal conception and the Baptism with the Holy Spirit can be received by laying on of hands; when baptizing with water, they practice one immersion; they believe in the 1000-year kingdom that Christ will establish together with true believers.

The second wave of the Pentecostal movement was the emergence and development of the charismatic movement after 1960 when glossolalia and other manifestations of Pentecostalism also entered the Roman Catholic Church and various Protestant churches.

What doctrine do Pentecostals claim?

In the neo-Protestant “tradition” of division, Tomlinson’s “Church of God” did not last long. The first split occurred in 1917, thus giving rise to the “Assemblies of God”. Subsequently, these two branches also split, giving rise to independent groups. 

As main doctrinal points, Pentecostals hold to the theory of Sola Scriptura (“Scripture alone”). As do all (neo)Protestants, adult baptism, the teaching of the rapture of the Church. 

Some Pentecostal sects claim two steps of the grace experience: the new birth and the baptism of the Holy Spirit. While others add one more, that of sanctification.

What do Pentecostals practice?

Pentecostals were the leaders in the ordination of women. Because they are less bureaucratic. And more “gift-based”, Pentecostals were the first (and not liberal Protestants) to ordain/ordain women. Aimee Semple McPherson was one of the first women pastors in America. To pastor a mega-church (Angelus Temple in L.A., which at its inception had services with 5,000 people at a service).

On an individual note, Pentecostals practice “anointing with oil” to heal diseases and have a passion for miracles. And also miraculous healings, which are attributed to the Holy Spirit. The oil with which the anointing is done by the pastor. Or also the prophet endowed with the “gift of healing” is ordinary cooking oil.

Pentecostalism is quintessentially American. It began (though there have been pre-sanctions for many centuries). At the Azusa Street Awakening in Los Angeles, a multi-ethnic gathering. This is arguably our most influential export of its kind.

Primary Takeaways

  • Pentecostals must pay the sect ten percent of their monthly income. This is done to obtain God’s blessing over all their possessions, but also as a gesture of thanks for all they have. Pastors’ salaries are set by local congregation committees based on income and expenses.
  • Besides Tomlinson, another promoter of the new ideas was Charles Parham. The preachers were creating through their sermons a psychological conditioning and blood boiling which eventually degenerated into “glossolalia” (uncontrolled speech in a semi-transient state).
  • The nonconformist style of Pentecostal (from Pentecost = Pentecost in Greek) gatherings ensured the spread of the movement and attracted attention outside the United States.

Conclusion

Many itinerant preachers had compromised themselves by the tricks they resorted to warm up the crowds. The masses wanted something new. And this news was not slow in coming under the slogan “God is doing a new work”.

One of the “religious revival” movements in the United States was the so-called “Latter Rain” led by A.J. Tomlinson, originally a simple book distributor for the American Bible Society.

Several preachers preached the renewal of religious living through “filling with the Holy Spirit”. The support for this preaching lies in the account of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost described in Acts chapter 2. These preachers affirmed that that outpouring, accompanied by “speaking in other tongues”, is still possible today for individual believers.