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Pentecostalism and Ecumenism: Past, Present, and Future (Part 1 of 5) by Amos Yong

Pneuma Review Winter 2001

Amos Yong challenges classical Pentecostals to re-examine what ecumenism really is.

Editor’s Introduction to “Pentecostalism and Ecumenism: Past, Present, and Future”

I am pleased to present this important series by Professor Amos Yong. The subject of what ecumenism truly is and what it means to the Pentecostal/charismatic is an important one today.

This article has been specifically written to classical Pentecostals, those whose traditions come from the Azusa Street Outpouring of the early 20th Century. Classical Pentecostals have historically been predisposed against ecumenism. The reason for this is that ecumenism has often been viewed as an attempt by ungodly men to bring together all religions of the earth into a compromised one world religion.

Perhaps at no other time in North American history has the church been on the precipice that we are today. While the rest of the nations of the earth are experiencing dramatic awakenings, the church of North America continues to lose ground. Morally and evangelistically (if nothing else), the church is not the agent for change or preservation she was just decades ago. Some have forecasted persecution of Christians in the relative near future. All Christian leaders seem to realize that something must change in order for the church to impact the rising generations of fatherless, visionless youth.

Whether the woes of the church can be rectified such that she regains her saltiness is more than a matter of eschatology. Whether you believe that the church is going to usher in the Millennial reign of Christ or that we are on the brink of the Tribulation, we have standing commands in God’s Word to embrace believers as brethren and love one another. My prayer is that you will study this subject with heart tuned to what the Spirit is saying to the church. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

— Raul Mock, Executive Editor

In this paper, I would like to raise and attempt to answer four questions. First, is there a biblical ecumenism, and if so, what does that mean (this will be answered in Part 1)? Second, what are some of the classical Pentecostal objections to ecumenism, and how might these be answered (Part 2)? Third, does Pentecostalism have an ecumenical history, and if so, how has this related to the ecumenical movement in the mainline churches (Parts 3-4)? Finally, what is the future of Pentecostal ecumenism and what might be ways we could contribute to such a venture (Part 5)? Let us plunge right into this difficult topic.

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Category: Ministry, Pneuma Review, Winter 2001

About the Author: Amos Yong is Professor of Theology & Mission and director of the Center for Missiological Research at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena. His graduate education includes degrees in theology, history, and religious studies from Western Evangelical Seminary and Portland State University, Portland, Oregon, and Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts, and an undergraduate degree from Bethany University of the Assemblies of God. He is the author of numerous papers and over 30 books. Facebook

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