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Neil Hudson, You Will Never Know Where You Are Going Until You Know Where You Came From: British Pentecostals’ past development and future challenges

Though we are many, we are one

Throughout this paper Pentecostalism has been referred to as though it were a monolithic group. It is far more accurate to speak about Pentecostalisms, even in Britain. The development during the past fifteen years of strong, innovative and resourceful African and Hispanic Pentecostal churches has provided a new landscape to be considered. These churches are exuberant in worship and preach a gospel which is a liberating this-worldly emphasis where Jesus wants to bless every area of one’s life so that one can enjoy life to the full. The challenge to British Classical Pentecostalism is to develop relationships with these newer churches, and where possible to learn from them. Increasingly, with the numerical strength of Pentecostalism lying with the southern hemisphere, Pentecostal theologies are being shaped by worldviews very different from the western enlightenment influenced ones.

Pentecostalism has come of age. From very inauspicious beginnings, it has grown to be a global movement of considerable significance. Part of the development of any new religious movement is the questioning that happens once the first and second generation of adherents has passed. British Pentecostals are in a position now where they want to celebrate their past and all that God did, even whilst also having the confidence to recognize the weaknesses that were apparent even then. There is a also a re-envisioning happening of theology as the old formulations are re-examined, and reapplied to a changed world. Moreover, there is a confidence that is more than insecure triumphalistic blustering. It is a confidence based on the belief that that which has been shaped and developed through the last century should and can make a contribution to the ongoing life of the Church in Britain in the new century.




William K. Kay, Inside Story: A History of British Assemblies of God (Mattersey Hall Publications, 1990).

Keith Warrington, Pentecostal Perspectives (Paternoster Press, 1998).

Editor’s note: See also The Quest for a Pentecostal Theology, by Keith Warrington from his book Pentecostal Theology: A Theology of Encounter (2008). Peter Hocken, Streams of Renewal: Origins and Early Development of the Charismatic Movement in Great Britain (Paternoster Press, 1997).

Andrew Walker, Restoring the Kingdom: The Radical Christianity of the House Church Movement (Eagle, 1998).

Stanley M. Burgess and Eduard M. van der Maas, The New International Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements: Revised and Expanded Edition (Zondervan, 2010).


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Category: Church History, Pneuma Review, Summer 2012

About the Author: Neil Hudson is a Pentecostal pastor who has worked in local churches, theological colleges, and is currently working with the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity as a church consultant and trainer. His most recent book is Imagine Church: Releasing Whole-Life Disciples (IVP, 2012).

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