- Preliminary Points 1
- Pentecostals tend to be very difficult to engage in a reasoned Biblical discussion.
Inevitably, the discussion becomes a stalemate when the Pentecostal asserts that he has
had a personal experience with the Lord and is now led into all truth by the Holy Spirit.
It has been said that "the man who has had an experience is never at the mercy of a
man with an argument". The point is, there is no longer any common ground from which
to reason from the accepted to the disputed. The non-Pentecostal is relegated to the
position of a "natural man" who "cannot understand the things of the
spirit" (i.e., the spiritual "truths" of Pentecostal teaching).2
- One problem area in such discussions is that there is no common
authority to which appeal might be made. It may at first be thought that the obvious
authority is the Bible, but in actual fact this is seldom the case. The real authority is
nearly always extra-Biblical, i.e., the Holy Spirit, or the "reality" of a
personal encounter with the Lord. The apostolic instruction to "prove all
things" (1 Thess. 5:21) is an objective basis for discussion, but Pentecostalism
operates on the highly subjective basis of personal experiences and Holy Spirit guidance.
The tragedy of such authorities is the way in which the Holy Spirit is, in effect, charged
with errors taught in the name of Pentecostalism. It is not uncommon to find
"Spirit-guided" Pentecostals repeatedly differing in their respective
interpretations of the same verses.3
Is the Holy Spirit power of Almighty God the author of confusion?
- There are many factions within the Pentecostal movement with
differences of belief. Some are independent and known as "Jesus only" (denying
the orthodox trinitarian belief), but all Pentecostals emphasize the
"born-again" experience and the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The term
"Pentecostal" is used in this analysis to include all groups within the general
- Time called Pentecostalism the "fastest growing
church in the hemisphere". ("Fastest Growing Church in the Hemisphere", Time,
80, (Nov. 2, 1962), p. 56. Life regarded it as "the third force", equal in
significance to Roman Catholicism and historic Protestantism. ("The Third Force in
Christendom", Life, 44, (June 9, 1958), p. 113. A. A. Allen is currently one
of the most popular Pentecostals in America. The A. A. Allen Revivals Inc., in 1968
grossed $2,692,342.00 (not counting the salaries of Allen and his two associate preachers
who take their cut directly from "their ministry", printed 55 million pieces of
literature; maintained daily radio-broadcasts (58 stations), and weekly television
programmes (43 stations). See "Religion: Faith Healers Getting Back Double from
God", Time (Canadian edition), 93, No. 10, p. 52. Return
- Historically, official differences have existed among
Pentecostal groups. For example, the Elim movement and the Assemblies of God have these
- Whether the initial sign of "Baptism of the Holy Ghost" is necessarily
speaking in tongues - affirmed by the Assemblies of God, whereas Elim has regarded tongues
as only one of several possible signs.
- Whether there are apostles in the church today-asserted by the Apostolic Church.
- Whether there would be a total or partial rapture of the saints.
- Interpretations of Bible prophecy. This latter was a source of division within Elim
See Elim Evangel, 21, (1940), p. 125. Referred to by Bryan Wilson, Sects and
Society: A Sociological Study of Three Religious Groups in Britain, (London: William
Heinemann Ltd., 1961), p. 57. Return