What Is The Pentecostal Movement – Pastor Luciano Padilla greets visitors at Bay Ridge Christian Center in New York in 2005.
Pastor Luciano Padilla greets visitors at Bay Ridge Christian Center in New York in 2005. Robert Nickelsburg/Getty Images
What Is The Pentecostal Movement
After every election, political analysts look to polls to see how conservative Christians, especially evangelicals, are voting. The 2022 midterm elections are no different. But these discussions often ignore a group that is playing an increasingly important role in national politics: Evangelicals’ theological cousins, Pentecostals.
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In the summer of 2022, Pentecostal Rep. Myra Flores flipped her 84% Hispanic South Texas district to the Republican Party for the first time in more than 150 years. In the wake of the midterm election campaign, Pentecostal preachers rallied against Republican candidates.
Pentecostals are diverse, but they share a common emphasis on the presence of the Holy Spirit, or God, in their lives. But it also creates disagreement within the movement about what they believe the Holy Spirit empowers them to do in the real world, especially in activism and politics.
For more than 100 years, from the church in Los Angeles to the world, one of the things that has defined Pentecostalism to insiders and outsiders alike has been “charisma” or “spiritual gifts.” Pentecostals believe that the Holy Spirit works through special skills such as speaking in tongues and performing healing and exorcisms.
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Pentecostalism in the United States has come from a variety of schools of thought, but primarily it is rooted in two traditions. his late 19th century “Holiness Movement” based on evangelical Methodist teachings and African American religious practices.
Two of his preachers in particular, Charles Parham and William Seymour, were instrumental in spreading the Pentecostal message in the early 20th century. Seymour founded the Azusa His Streets Revival, a series of religious gatherings in Los Angeles, which led to the movement’s rapid growth worldwide. The headquarters of Pentecostal sects around the world are located far from Beijing. Lagos, Nigeria. Guadalajara, Mexico. And Sydney.
Pentecostalism is a movement, not a sect, and its members do not belong to a single faith group. Therefore, it is difficult to determine the exact number. However, approximately 4.5% of U.S. adults are members of Pentecostal denominations, according to national surveys in 2007 and 2014. Additionally, Pentecostals exist in other churches, ranging from nondenominational congregations to charismatic Catholic groups that share the idea of spiritual gifts.
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Stories of the Holy Spirit Preaching during Pentecost is often based on stories, using worshipers’ testimonies of miracles and how they believe the Holy Spirit has supported their lives.
Pentecostal churches also place special emphasis on his fifth book of the New Testament, the Book of Acts, also known as the Book of Acts. Unlike his four Gospels, which described Jesus’ mission, the Book of Acts tells the story of the early disciples, which is a powerful source of inspiration for Pentecostals today.
In fact, Pentecostalism derives its name from an event in the book of Acts. According to the Bible, Jesus’ followers gathered on the day of Pentecost and were suddenly filled with the Holy Spirit, performing miracles and being able to speak in tongues.
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Many early Pentecostals took inspiration from the description of the first-century church in the Acts of the Apostles and sought to recreate it in their own communities. For example, as early Christians shared resources and helped widows, some Pentecostals believed that the Holy Spirit would lead them to seek modern social justice.
Through collective action, African American Pentecostals advanced the civil rights movement by supporting Baptist minister Martin Luther King Jr. during the sanitation workers’ strike in Memphis, Tennessee. Dr. King gave his famous “Mountain Top” speech, his last before his assassination, at the headquarters of the Church of Christ, the largest Pentecostal denomination in the United States.
Other Pentecostals are less concerned with institutional or social problems such as sweatshop labor or food insecurity than with how the Spirit can empower individuals to overcome their personal struggles with sin. I’m interested.
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Common Ground with Evangelicalism In its early days, Pentecostalism attracted worshipers primarily from the lower and working classes. However, during the post-World War II economic boom, many congregations became wealthy, and Pentecostals began to emphasize practices such as exorcism, speaking in tongues, and strict modesty. Many scholars see this change as an attempt by mainstream Protestants to gain respect and acceptance in the wider world of American evangelicalism, which often looked down on Pentecostals as uneducated.
It worked to some extent. By the last quarter of the 20th century, Pentecostals began to gain power in national politics. Of course, African American and Latino Pentecostals have a long history of widespread political mobilization on issues such as labor and immigration. However, electoral politics provided easy access to the mainstream.
Today, there is little distinction between Pentecostals and Evangelicals in national politics, and the terms are often used interchangeably. In fact, today there is more agreement between white Pentecostals and white evangelicals on politics than on theology. Together, these are more like cultures than fixed beliefs.
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Since the 1980s, white Pentecostals and evangelicals have played an important role in advancing the agenda of the Religious Right. Pentecostal voting patterns lean strongly toward the Republican Party.
But Latino and African American Pentecostals, a diverse “values electorate,” are less united on issues of religious politics. But recent voting trends suggest that Latino voters may be starting to move more to the right, especially when that number identifies as Protestant.
African American Pentecostals have a broader range of political ideologies than white Pentecostals. They claim to be “values-minded voters,” as social conservatives often call themselves, but are not part of the religious right.
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The power of the Holy Spirit, not political power, remains important in the daily lives of most Pentecostals. But what they believe the Holy Spirit is empowering them to do in the real world may be the most significant faith transformation of the past 100 years. This year, in my Protestant Spiritual Traditions class at Tyndale Seminary, I was asked to write a paper on Pentecostalism. The challenge was simple. The idea is to ask a Pentecostal to write three questions and answer them as if you were that Pentecostal. No further research will be carried out (other than the content discussed in class and the assigned textbook will be used). As a Charismatic Anabaptist, this challenge was interesting to me. And when I shared what I was writing, a few people wanted to read more. So I’m posting this essay here. This essay also marks the beginning of a series of more academic and wide-ranging articles on this blog. These essays will be published once a week during May as an experiment to see if readers like this type of writing. Please let me know what you think about this in the comments.
Many believe that speaking in tongues, prophecy, and other manifestations of the Holy Spirit are the essence of the Pentecostal movement. However, the scope of Pentecostal spirituality includes much more than the characteristics listed above. In a class on Protestant spiritual traditions, Dr. Van Johnson stated that Pentecostalism is a fairly young movement, having only been formed a hundred years ago (Johnson, March 27, 2015). Nevertheless, in this short period of time, Pentecostalism has become a diverse and world-wide phenomenon that embodies and integrates aspects such as spiritual gifts, personal awareness of the movement of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers, and a passion for evangelism and mission. It has established itself as a leading movement. Johnson). However, despite the fact that many Christians from other faith traditions do not fully understand Pentecostalism, it remains one of the greatest Christian traditions in the world. Today, more than a quarter of Christians around the world identify as Pentecostal or Charismatic, most of them children and young people from urban and geographically poor areas (Johnson). Since Pentecostalism has had a significant influence on evangelical Christianity, this paper attempts to discuss the specific characteristics of Pentecostalism in a way that can be understood by those who are not familiar with the Pentecostal movement.
Many Pentecostals believe in a post-conversion experience of being filled with the Holy Spirit. This is often called “the baptism of the Holy Spirit” and involves visible manifestations, primarily speaking in tongues. What does this baptism mean and why do Pentecostals consider it important?
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, is often considered the first evidence that a believer was baptized with the Holy Spirit and subsequently filled with His power. Just as a person is physically baptized in water to prove their love for Christ, being baptized in the Spirit involves being fully immersed in the Holy Spirit and being willing to bear witness to the Lord. According to Pentecostals, the concept of speaking in tongues as evidence of baptism in the Holy Spirit first arose in the book of Acts, and on the day of Pentecost many believers began preaching in foreign languages they had never spoken before. It is said that When the crowd around the believers heard them speaking in their own language, many were amazed and attracted to the gospel (Acts 2).
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