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Pentecostal and Charismatic Contributions: Beyond What We Normally Think

Similar thoughts are echoed by Calvin College philosophy professor, James K.A. Smith, in an interview with the Evangelical Philosophical Society. He notes his Pentecostal background as he discussed the reasoning behind his penning of Thinking in Tongues: Pentecostal Contributions to Christian Philosophy:

My spiritual pilgrimage has included a significant, formative time in Pentecostalism (the Assemblies of God in particular).  And while I am now Reformed, I very much consider myself a Reformed charismatic.  So as a Christian philosopher who is trying to work integrally from the riches of a Christian worldview, I felt I also needed to take serious what I “know” as a pentecostal—to let some of the unique “intuitions” of charismatic spirituality function as starting points for working through some philosophical issues about knowledge and reality.  Because I believe Pentecostal and charismatic Christianity has a unique “apostolate” [read “mission”] in the body of Christ, I thought that apostolate should also translate into an intellectual project.6

These leaders, and many others, have paved the way for a proper forging of Pentecostal-Charismatic theology and life practice. Matter of fact, it is quite common to read of Christians across all denominational settings receiving, on some level, Spirit-inspired Scriptural-foci, revelations, prayers, words, pictures, impressions and more. The church owes a lot to these formative thinkers on the work of the Holy Spirit.

2) Breaking Denominational Barriers

There is no denomination or church tradition that has opened the doors for inter-denominational relations like the Pentecostal and Charismatic branches. This is largely due to the explosive move of the charismatic renewal in the 1960’s and 1970’s, which crossed all denominational barriers. This is highlighted by historian, Vinson Synan:

9780785245506_p0_v2_s260x420“In addition to these classical denominational Pentecostals, there were millions of charismatics in the mainline denominations and nondenominational churches, both Roman Catholic and Protestant. The combined number [in 2000] now stands at more than five hundred million people.”7

The most notable Protestant charismatic was Episcopalian rector, Dennis Bennett. His encounter with the Holy Spirit in late 1959, expressed through prayer in tongues, would lead people to remark such things as this: “…the major churches of Christendom were to be strangely affected in the years to come as a result of this event.”8

David Barrett would go on to note the detailed affects of the Charismatic movement in The Century of the Holy Spirit:

“These members are found in 740 Pentecostal denominations, 6,530 non-Pentecostal mainline denominations with large organized internal charismatic movements, and 18,810 independent neo-charismatic denominations and networks. Charismatics are now found across the entire spectrum of Christianity. They are found within all 150 traditional non-Pentecostal ecclesiastical confessions, families, and traditions.”9

Here we see the lasting marks of a century of Pentecostal and Charismatic renewal. People from all manners of church tradition have a strong faith connection point, that being at the practical level of the Holy Spirit’s work of empowering and spiritual gifts.

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Category: Ministry, Winter 2015

About the Author: Scott Lencke, MA (Covenant Theological Seminary), is currently undertaking a Doctor of Missiology from Fuller Theological Seminary. He serves on staff at Visible Music College, a music and ministry college with campuses in Memphis, Chicago, Dallas, and Germany. Scott is an active blogger at prodigalthought.net. He is the author of Change For the First Time, Again.

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