Taking Stock Of Pentecostalism The Personal Reflections Of A Retiring Editor

Taking Stock Of Pentecostalism  The Personal Reflections Of A Retiring Editor

Click to join the conversation with over 500,000 Pentecostal believers and scholars

Click to get our FREE MOBILE APP and stay connected

| PentecostalTheology.com

35

Taking

Stock of Pentecostalism: The Personal Reflections of a

Retiring

Editor

Cecil M.

Robeck,

Jr.*

Recently

I was

privileged

to minister in Finland as a guest of Ristin Voitto,

the

weekly newspaper

of the Finnish Pentecostal Movement and the name

given

to their

publishing

house. As

part

of that

experience

I participated

in a

day-long

media seminar

sponsored by

the

publishing house. The

general manager

and editor-in-chief for the Finnish Pentecostals is Vallter

Luotto,

a man of

high energy

and

refreshingly open

vision. As he summarized the seminar that

day

he did so by raising a series of rhetorical

questions

and

making

a few

poignant observations. His

audience,

of course, was a gathering of church-based editors and

journalists

from

Pentecostal, Baptist, Orthodox, Lutheran, Salvation

Army, Evangelical

Free

Church,

and other Christian newspapers

and

periodicals.

One of his

observations,

in

particular, struck me.

At the

beginning

of each renewal movement in the

church, papers, magazines,

and

journals

burst

upon

the scene. Editors

play a

formative role in

establishing

the

agenda

for the renewal and

they

use their respective periodicals

as a teaching forum.

They

are often the ones who participate

most

heavily,

not

only

in

choosing

the

topics

to be addressed and

selecting

the items which will be

printed,

but

they

are often the most

frequent

contributors to the

publication

as well. In this way, they guarantee

that the

subjects

which

they

think are

important

in the

formation, survival,

and success of these new movements are addressed in such a way as to

provide

for those

purposes.

As movements

mature, however,

editors tend to take less responsibility

for

writing

and

forming opinion. They frequently

take a pro-active

role in

soliciting

items for

publication,

in

conceiving

themes which

might

be

usefully addressed,

and

perhaps occasionally they might author a

piece

with more or less relevance for a

particular

issue. But their role as

primary contributors,

as

important teachers,

and as visionaries for the movement seems

steadily

to move toward the margins

of

journalism

as more and I more

they

become editorial specialists

and

budget managers.’

One need

only survey

The

Apostolic Faith,

The

Upper Room,

The New

Acts,

Samsorr ‘s

Foxes,

The Church

of

God

Evangel,

The

Weekly Evangel,

The

Pentecostal Testimony,

The Whole

Tnlth,

The Bridegroom ‘s Messenger,

and other

early

Pentecostal

papers

to see just

*Cecil M. Robeck, Jr., is Associate Professor of Church

History

and Ecumenics at Fuller

Theological Seminary

in Pasadena, California.

‘ Vallter Luotto, “Kysymnyksia Kristillisen Lehden Toimituspolitiikasta,” a speech delivered to the journalists gathered at Ristin Iroitto, March 26, 1993.

1

36

how

heavy

a hand the earliest Pentecostal editors

played

in

teaching their readers and

superintending

these

organs.

When we review more contemporary examples

we soon realize

just

how true Vallter

Luotto’s s observation is.

Very

few are the

examples

in which the editor

plays

the major teaching role,

or in which he or she

plays

much more than some form of managerial role.

When Pneuma: The Journal

of

the

Society for

Pentecostal Studies was established in

1979,

Dr. William

Menzies,

its founding editor chose to take a low

profile

as editor. He concentrated on

publishing

selected papers

which had been read at the annual

meetings

of the

Society

for Pentecostal Studies. The reasons for this

approach

are self-evident. Few articles

by

Pentecostal scholars were

being published

in

any journal. Furthermore, prior

to 1982 members of the

Society

did not have access to the annual

proceedings

of the

Society. Pneuma, then, provided

a new forum for such items to

gain

some further circulation. When in 1982 the

papers

of the annual

meeting

were first

published

for purchase by

the members of the

Society,

this made other alternatives possible

with

respect

to the contents of Pneuma. When I was asked to begin serving

as editor of Pneuma in

1984,

I decided that it

might

be possible

to think of Pneuma’s role more

broadly

than we had in the past.

I viewed it as both

possible

and desirable to turn Pneuma into an academic

journal

which could be formative in the

thinking

of the Society

for Pentecostal Studies and I believed that it could

conceivably make a

positive

contribution to those outside the movement. As a student of the

church,

I also

thought

that Pentecostal

scholarship

could be

greatly

enriched if we were to include occasional articles authored by

those outside the Pentecostal/Charismatic tradition as well as from parts

of the world other than North America.

By viewing my

task in this

way,

I came to

identify myself

as

standing within the tradition of our earliest Pentecostal editors. I had no illusions that I would transform the Pentecostal

Movement,

but I had the

hope that I would be able to

help,

in some small

way,

to motivate our scholars, especially

our

younger

Pentecostal and Charismatic scholars to raise their

sights,

to think more

broadly,

to lose their

fears,

and to listen, really listen, to those

from within the tradition and from outside the tradition who had contributed to our intellectual formation.

As a church

historian,

or more

precisely,

as an historical

theologian by training,

I have found it

important

to focus our attention on issues which are rooted

deeply

in our

origins

or which lie at the core of our spiritual

or ecclesial essence. I have

attempted

to address issues which are both

intellectually stimulating

and

critically challenging,

but more importantly,

I have tried to lift

up

issues which have

daily

or

on-going relevance to the life of the Pentecostal churches which we serve.

My position

or

placement

in the administration and on the

faculty

of Fuller

Theological Seminary provided

me with a unique vantage

point, a

relatively

secure

position

from which to

speak,

and with financial

2

37

resources which few of our Pentecostal schools could afford. Fuller’s financial commitment toward the

production

of Pneuma from 1984 through 1992,

for

instance,

has been

substantial,

and it is a

tangible commitment for which

I,

as editor of Pneuma

during

those

years,

and the members of the

Society

as a

whole,

have been most

grateful.

But Fuller

provided

me with

something

more than

merely

the financial contribution and the technical skills

necessary

for the success of Pneuma

during

these

years.

It has

provided

me with an

ongoing

and ever

expanding

access to the broader church world.

In 1982 when I was elected President of the

Society

for Pentecostal Studies I was

greatly

troubled

by

the

apparent

division which had appeared

between the older Pentecostal scholars and a number of the younger

ones. In two or three

meetings, very sharp

words had been exchanged,

and sometimes I wondered whether the

Society

would survive. I was

very

concerned that the

Society

not become a

place which would drive a

wedge

between these two

generations

of Pentecostal scholars. There were

(and are)

still too few of us. From

my perspective,

our various churches needed for us to work

together.

And my experience

of the

larger evangelical community

had convinced me that we had a unique

testimony

and

perspective

that we could offer to the

larger church,

one which

might

enrich us all. For several months I prayed

about what I should

say

in my

upcoming presidential

address.

During

the summer of 1983 I received

my answer,

and I wrote and delivered

my

address at the annual

meeting

held at the Church of God School of

Theology

in

Cleveland,

Tennessee that

year. My

title was “Name and

Glory:

The Ecumenical

Challenge.”

In that

paper

I surveyed

the

writings

of a number of our earliest Pentecostal leaders who,

almost

universally, argued

that the Pentecostal Movement was going

to be the answer to Jesus’

prayer

in John 17:21

regarding Christian

Unity.’

I then traced our sordid

history,

in which our initial vision which was both

optimistic

and outward

looking,

even if somewhat

triumphalistic, slowly began

to

decay, turning

in upon

itself, becoming increasingly defensive, pessimistic, compromising,

and protectionistic.

In

many ways,

it was and is a depressing history which involves

specific personalities, power struggles, misunderstandings,

and above

all, a large

measure of fear and disinformation.3

‘Charles F. Parham, A Voice Crying in the Wilderness (1902, 1910, Baxter

Kansas: Apostolic Faith Bible no date) Third Edition, 61-67; W. F.

Springs,

Carothers,

The Baptism with the College, rpt. Holy Ghost and

Speaking

in

Tongues (Houston:

W. F. Carothers, 1906-7), 25; W. J. Seymour, “Christ’s

Messages to the Church,”

The Faith 1:11

(October 1907-January, 1908): 3;

W. J. Seymour,

“The Apostolic Baptism of the Holy Ghost”, The Apostolic Faith 2:13 [sic.] (May 1908): 3;

“The

Prayer

of Jesus Must Be Answered,” The Latter Rain

Evangel (October

21.

‘ See

1908):

Cecil M.

Robeck, Jr.

“Name and

Glory: The Ecumenical Challenge,”

in Pastoral Pentecostal-Charismatic Movement, ed. Harold D. Hunter (Cleveland, TN: Society

of Pentecostal Theology, 1983), 78 pp.

3

38

Because of the volatile nature of the

subject,

I presented that address with a great deal of

personal anxiety. Conceivably,

it held the

potential not

only

for further division within the

Society,

but also the

potential for

my

own self-destruction as a Pentecostal minister. But I used the occasion as an

opportunity

to

challenge

the

Society

to

reappropriate one facet of the vision of our earliest leaders

by becoming

“known as a generation

of scholars who seek after

God,

and who

speak

the truth … in love–a

generation

of

bridge-builders

who

emphasize giving

and serving

rather than

keeping, guarding,

and

protecting.”‘

That address

changed my

life! I was

surprised

to find David J. du Plessis in attendance that

day.

He was on his way to Rome to meet with Pope

John Paul II. We had met

briefly

once or twice

before,

but as a person

he was still a

stranger

to

me,

and I was intimidated

by

his presence

as I reviewed some of his

ministry

in a

public

forum. But of equal significance,

and unknown to me at the

time,

Donald W.

Dayton sent a

copy

of

my

address to Brother

Jeffrey Gros, F.S.C.,

at that time serving

as Director of the Commission on Faith and Order of the National Council of Churches. He read the

address,

then sent

copies

to the

Vatican,

to the World Council of Churches in

Geneva,

and to several ecumenical officers in the United States.

I soon

began

to receive a

variety

of unsolicited invitations to

speak and to

participate

in circles where

few,

if

any,

Pentecostals had previously gone.

I began to read more

broadly

in the field of ecumenics and

pay

closer attention to the different

perspectives

offered not

only by

those outside the Pentecostal and Charismatic

Tradition,

but from those

who,

as

part

of our

tradition,

live outside the North American context,

do not

necessarily

view

things

in the same

way

that North Americans

do,

and

experience

the

larger

church in ways that differ from the

experience

of North American Pentecostals.

My

invitation to serve as editor of Pneuma came on the heels of

my tenure as President of the

Society

for Pentecostal Studies and at the outset of

my unsought ministry

to the broader church. While

serving

as editor of Pneuma I became a member of the Commission

(now Working Group)

on Faith and Order of the NCC

(1984),

I was invited by

David du Plessis to

join

him as a member of the

steering

committee of the International Roman Catholic-Pentecostal

Dialogue (1985),

I was asked to serve first as Assistant Dean

(1985)

then as Associate Dean

(1988)

of the School of

Theology

at

Fuller,

I was

urged

to

help form,

then lead an

Evangelical-Roman

Catholic

Dialogue

with the Archdiocese of Los

Angeles (1987),

and I came to

serve,

first as a consultant to

(Budapest, 1989),

then as a member of the Commission on Faith and Order of the World Council of Churches

( 1991 ).

Many

other

ecumenical, ecclesial, administrative,

and

scholarly ventures have

punctuated

these

years

as editor as

well,

but

they

have each served as an

important

stimulus to

my understanding

of the

‘ Robeck, “Name and Glory,” 60.

4

39

Pentecostal tradition. It is now more

globally informed,

less individualistic,

more

realistic,

less

triumphalistic,

more

willing

to

listen, and less

willing

to talk. There

are, however,

several conclusions I have reached as I have taken stock of the Pentecostal Movement as it nears the end of its first

century.

Some of these reflections have

surprised even

me,

but I offer them to

you

with the

hope

that these reflections might

in some

way help

us

gain

a new

revitalizing perspective

of who we Pentecostals have been called to be and what we have been called to do.

1. Pentecostals Are Ecumenical

It

may

come as a

very big surprise

to most

Pentecostals,

but I have reached the conclusion that we Pentecostals are ecumenical, we just don’t know it. Professor Walter J. Hollenweger wrote in 1966 that “the Pentecostal Movement started as an ecumenical revival movement within the traditional churches….”‘ Our

early

leaders

frequently spoke to the

subject.6

The theme has been

part

of the Pentecostal Movement since its

inception.

Even the mission statement of the Azusa Street Mission

proclaimed

it when it noted that “THE APOSTOLIC FAITH MOVEMENT stands for … Christian

Unity everywhere.”‘

But if this is true,

if Pentecostals are

truly

ecumenical

why

do we not

recognize

that fact? The

answer,

of

course,

lies in the definition

given

to the term and

to the

history

of how this definition

gained supremacy.

Pentecostals

generally

understand and embrace the notion of

genuine unity existing among Christians,

but

they

tend to view it more as an invisible

reality,

the creation of the

Holy Spirit,

than as

anything

with visible, tangible trappings.

“We do not come

together

to ‘make’

unity,” wrote Donald

Gee,

“for it

already

exists

by

the

grace

of God. It

only needs to be cherished. ,,8

When the modem “ecumenical movement”

(most notably

understood to be

represented by

the World Council of

Churches)

came into existence,

Pentecostals

rejected

it

fairly quickly.

For one

thing,

it looked to

many

of them, too much like a human

attempt

to do the work of God.9 It made visible what was

rightfully invisible,

and it empowered a structure

(the WCC)

or a series of structures

(the

constituent denominations),

with

power

that Pentecostals believed was best left to the

Holy Spirit.

In

short,

it appealed to Jesus’

prayer

of John 17:21-23 as the basis for its call to

unity

in a manner which violated Pentecostal

‘ Walter J. Hollenweger, “The Pentecostal Movement and the World Council of Churches,”

The Ecumenical Review 18 (July 1966): 313.

6Robeck,

1

“Name and Glory,” 10-19.

The Apostolic Faith 1.1

1906): 2.

“Donald

Gee, “Possible

Pentecostal (September

Unity,” Pentecost 13 (September 1950): 17. 9 H. A.

Gross, “Whither Are

We Bound, Brethren?” Herald

of Faith

9

(June 1944): 2, 30;

`.`No Pentecostal World Organization,” Herald of Faith 12

1947): 4; Lewi Pethrus, “No Pentecostal World Organization,” Herald

(July

of Faith 12 (July 1947): 7;

“A World Council of Churches,” Pentecostal

Evangel,

20 November 1948, 15; “Church Union,” Pentecostal Evangel, 27 November 1948, 15.

5

40

sensitivities. Everett Stenhouse

argues,

for instance that “our Lord did not

pray

for absolute

unanimity

of mind. Nor did he pray for

uniformity of ritual. Nor did he

pray

for union of visible

organization.”‘°

The issues which have led Pentecostals to

reject

the so-called modem ecumenical

movement, however, go

far

beyond

the issue of

visibility. Visibility

was

important

because of the fear to which Pentecostals have frequently appealed

with

regard

to an

interpretation

of

prophecy

which to some

suggests

that a worldwide church will ultimately become a tool of the antichrist.”

Thus, any

movement toward visible

unity

which advertises itself in

organizational

terms has been viewed as a human attempt

to “make”

unity.”’

But

beyond

the

visibility issue,

some

groups have worried about the doctrinal

positions

held

by

some who

belong

to such an

organization

as the World Council of

Churches,

and

they

have worried about the

priorities

of the ecumenical movement

especially

in the areas of social concerns and

evangelism.”

To note all of

this, however,

is not to

say

that Pentecostals have rejected ecumenism, only

that

they

have

rejected

one

particular form or instrument

of

ecitmenism. If ecumenism is viewed as

something “spiritual,” something

created

by

the

Holy Spirit,

a

genuine unity

or koinonia in the

Spirit,

a

fellowship

of all those who are “blood

bought Christians,”

then Pentecostals have embraced rather than

rejected ecumenism. As Everett Stenhouse went on to

explain,

Jesus “did

pray for

unity,

born of the

Holy Spirit,

that would unite hearts and minds of members of His

body

to the extent that this world would know the love of God for mankind.”14

Similarly,

Donald Gee contended that the

only test of Christian

unity

is merely the “mutual

acceptance

of the

Lordship of Jesus Christ. Its

energy

is the one

baptism

in the

Holy Spirit

that He bestows. Its aim is that ‘the world

may

believes

‘° Everett R. Stenhouse, “Unity of the Spirit,” in Conference on the Holv Spirit,

ed. Gwen Jones (Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, 1983), 2:69.

“”To Create a Superchurch?” Pentecostal

2:68.

Evangel, 10 December 1949, 8-9. ‘1 Stenhouse, “Unity of the

“The

Spirit,”

Assemblies of God, for instance, worried about each of these items regarding the

sufficiently

“Ecumenical Movement” that they passed a bylaw (Article VIII, Section II) stating that

(a)

We believe the basis of doctrinal fellowship of said movement to be so

broad that it includes people who reject the inspiration of Scripture, the

of Christ, the universality of sin, the substitutionary atonement, and

other cardinal

deity

teachings

which we understand to be essential to Biblical

Christianity. We

(b)

believe the emphasis of the Ecumenical Movement to be at variance

with what we hold to be Biblical

priorities, frequently displacing

the

urgency We believe that the combination

of individual salvation with social concerns.

(c)

of many religious organizations into a

World Church will culminate in the Religious Babylon of Revelation 14 Stenhouse,”Unity of the Spirit,” 2:68.

17-18. Super

‘S Gee, “Possible Pentecostal Unity,” 17.

6

41

Pentecostals have

appealed widely

to the

prayer

of Jesus in John 17:21-23 as one which

represents

a grave concern of Christ.

They

have understood its answer to lie in submission to Christ’s

Lordship

and the grace

of the

Holy Spirit.

But

they

have also

appealed

to this

passage

of Scripture

as a justification for the formation of various

organizations, visible

organizations

in which

they

have chosen to

participate

and which have been founded for

many

of the same reasons that the so-called “ecumenical movement” has been founded. What are some of these

organizations

and what are their

purposes?

One

example

is the Pentecostal

Fellowship

of North America (PFNA).

Founded in 1948 it drew

up

the

following objectives:

.

.

(1)

To

provide

a vehicle of

expression

and coordination of efforts in

matters common to all member bodies,

including missionary

and

evangelistic effort throughout the world.

(2)

To demonstrate to the world the essential of

believers, fulfilling the prayer

of the Lord

unity

Jesus “that they all may be

Spirit-baptized

one” (John 17:21).

(3)

To

provide

services to its constituents which will enable them to

accomplish

more

quickly and efficiently their responsibility for the of the world.

speedy evangelization

(4)

To encourage the principles of community for the members of the body

of Christ, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit until we all come

to the unity of faith. 16

Items two and four of this statement

clearly represent

the ecumenical vision of this

organization

in language which is very similar to that used by

the formal “ecumenical movement.”

Appeal

is made to Jesus’

prayer for

unity among

his

disciples (John 17:21)

and the intent of the PFNA is a visible

organizational

demonstration of Pentecostal

unity. Appeal is also made to

Ephesians 4:11-13,

a

passage

which holds forth the ultimate

hope

of what is often understood to be doctrinal

unity.

In

1947,

a

very

similar

agenda brought

Pentecostals

together

in an international arena. The first Pentecostal World Conference was convened that

year

in

Zurich,

Switzerland. The Pentecostal World Fellowship

which resulted had a

clearly

articulated ecumenical

agenda of seven

points.

Pentecostals who chose to

align

with the Pentecostal World

Fellowship

did so in order:

(a)

to encourage

Fellowship and

facilitate coordination of effort

Pentecostal believers

among

throughout the world;

(b)

to demonstrate to the world the essential

unity

of

Spirit-baptized

believers, fulfilling the prayer of the Lord Jesus Christ: “that . they all

may be one” (John 17:21);

.

‘6 W. E.

Warner,

“Pentecostal

Fellowship of North America,”

in

Pentecostal

Dictionary

and Charismatic

of

Afovements, ed. Stanley M. Burgess

and

Gary B. McGee

(Grand Rapids,

MI:

Regency

Reference Library/Zondervan Publishing House,1988),704.

7

42

(c)

to cooperate in an endeavor to respond to the unchanging commission

of the Lord Jesus, to carry the message to all men of all nations; (d)

to promote courtesy and mutual understanding, “endeavoring to

the

keep

unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace until we all come in the of the faith”

unity (Eph. 4:3, 13);

(e)

to afford prayerful practical assistance to any Pentecostal body in need

of such;

(t)

to promote and maintain the scriptural priority of the Fellowship of

Bible study and prayer;

, (g)

to uphold and maintain those Pentecostal truths, “most surely believed

among

us” (Luke 1: 1).17

Once

again

it is

easily

demonstrated that not

only

on a continental level

(North America),

but also on a world-wide

level,

Pentecostals were

willing

to form a visible

organization

whose avowed

purposes include the demonstration of

unity

before the world

(point b) through cooperation

in the Great Commission

(point c),

in doctrinal

purity (points

f and

g),

and in

practical

aid to those who need it (point

e).

But it is important to

note, too,

the

appeal

to the term

“fellowship,”

for that term translates the New Testament word koinonia

just

as it describes the essential

relationship

between members of the same household (oikoumenê),

in this

case,

the Pentecostal household. And it is this

very term, oikoumene,

which

gives

rise to the word “ecumenism.”

Neither the Pentecostal

Fellowship

of North America nor the Pentecostal World

Fellowship

extend

membership

to “Oneness” or “Jesus’ Name” Pentecostals. Both

organizations

are

explicitly Trinitarian. But this situation has not

kept

“Oneness” Pentecostals from sharing

the same basic ecumenical concerns. In

1970, Apostolic W.

Bishop

G. Rowe issued a call to form a world-wide

fellowship

of “Oneness” Pentecostals. The result was the

Apostolic

World Christian Fellowship. Currently

it boasts a

membership

of roughly 120

Apostolic denominations or

organizations.’$

The founders of this

organization

defined

“fellowship”

in terms of “spiritual unity

with all

groups

and

persons

of like

precious faith, throughout

the

world,

who wish to

enjoy

this blessed

fellowship

in Christ.”” In their initial letter of

intent,

the founders of the

Apostolic World Christian

Fellowship appealed preeminently

to Jesus’ in John

prayer

17:21 as

needing

fulfillment so “that the world

may

believes Subsequent

to its

organization, Bishop

Rowe addressed an

open

letter to “All leaders and trustees of the

Apostolic

World Christian

“These articles appear in Klaude Kendrick, The Promise Fulfilled: A the Alodern Pentecostal Alovement

History of

(Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, 1961), 209-210.

18The last date for which I have firm figures is November, 1989. It had a total membership

at that time of 109 groups. I have been told that it has had substantial growth since.

“”Letter of Intent,” Clarion 13 (February 1989): 35.

World Christian

Fellowship,” undated,

8

page

brochure. Cf. also “Letter of Intent,” 35.

2″‘apostolic

8

43

Fellowship.”

In that letter he revealed a three-point

agenda

of how this group

could achieve

unity.

First, we have a moral responsibility to assist in bringing about unity.

Second, we must preach and teach it as an objective. This is based on the fact that both the Lord Jesus and Apostle Paul stressed unity.

Third, we must subject ourselves to it. 21

.

Pentecostal

participation

in such other

organizations

as the National Association of

Evangelicals (NAE),

the National Black

Evangelical Association

(NBEA),

and the World

Evangelical Fellowship (WEF)

are further indication that Pentecostals are ecumenical. The NAE was formed in 1942 not

only

to

support

what has been

frequently

cited as “cooperation

without

compromise,”

but also to

provide

a visible means to demonstrate that its constituents could stand

against

the forces of unbelief and

apostasy

before an unbelieving world.”

Each of these

examples, then, supports

the basic assertion that Pentecostals view themselves as ecumenical, but

they

do not understand that this is so.

They

tend to overlook the

reality

that these organizations,

like the National Council of Churches or the World Council of Churches, are

humanly

formed.

They emphasize

the fact that they

are

merely participating

in the summons of the

Holy Spirit

to enter into an answer to Jesus’

urgent prayer

for

unity among

his

disciples. While the WCC is described as

“making” unity happen,

Pentecostals deny

that their

groups

do this.

They

are

simply recognizing

that their unity already

exists.

Donald Gee’s assertion that Christianity is rooted

in the “mutual acceptance

of the

Lordship

of Jesus Christ”” is

apparently

insufficient for most Pentecostals to

accept.

The National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. states in the

preamble

to its constitution that it is a “community

of Christian communions which, in response to the

gospel as revealed in the

Scriptures,

confess Jesus

Christ,

the incarnate Word of

God,

as Savior and Lord. ,,24 The World Council of Churches understands itself to be “a

fellowship

of churches which confess the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Savior according to

the

scriptures….””

21 Bishop W. G. Rowe, “Chairman

to All Leaders and Trustees of the

Apostolic World Christian Fellowship,” Clarion 13 (February 1989): Inside back cover. 22 C. M. Robeck, Jr., “National Association of

ed.

Evangelicals,” in Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements,

Stanley M. Burgess

and

Gary

B. McGee

(Grand Rapids,

MI:

Regency

Reference Library/Zondervan

Publishing House, 1988), 634-636; James Deforest Murch, Cooperation Without Compromise: A History of the National Association of Evangelicals (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans 23 1956).

See

Publishing Company,

above, note 15.

24″Triennial Report National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., 1982-84,” (New

York: National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., 1984), 1.

9

44

In

spite

of these

claims,

Pentecostals have

repeatedly repudiated

these organizations

and their calls to visible

unity.

But

why

is this the case? Is not ecumenism

by any

other

name,

even under the label of

spiritual unity,

still ecumenism?

The answer to these

questions,

of

course,

lies buried in the realization that the attitudes which North American Pentecostals hold concerning

the “modem ecumenical movement” have been formed within a specific cultural and historical context. The word “ecumenism” is viewed

pejoratively

while

“spiritual unity”

is viewed

positively.

Even though

the NCC and WCC

require

that their members confess Jesus Christ as Lord and

Savior,

their confession is viewed as

inadequate while similar confessions

by

those in the

WEF, NAE,

and PFNA are

acceptable.

The

agendas

embraced

by

the WCC and the NCC are viewed as “liberal” while the

agendas

of the

WEF, NAE, WPF,

and PFNA are viewed as “biblical.” What this boils down to is that North

American Pentecostals are ecumenical but

they

are

choosy

about their ecumenical

partners. They

look for more than a confession of faith. They

look for a confession of faith in words with which

they resonate, an

agenda

which

they

view as

being

in

keeping

with their own priorities,

and a view of unity which is decidedly

spiritualized.

There are Pentecostals who are members of the World Council of

Churches. But it should come as no

surprise

to find that all of

them, without

exception,

are Pentecostals who do not share the same cultural or historical context shared

by

North American Pentecostals.

They

are typically

Latin

American, belonging

to a more or less autochthonous form of Pentecostalism which has been

relatively

free of external, North American

missionary

control.’6

All of this

suggests

that

many

of the real reasons

why

North American Pentecostals have

rejected

the so-called “modem ecumenical movement” in favor of their own ecumenical

organizations

has less to do with

theology

than it does with

history, culture, experience,

and power.

To be

sure,

doctrine and

experience

do

play important

roles in the definition of

genuine

ecumenism. But it

may

be that social and political agendas

and

ideologies,

cultural

conflicts,

and

independent historical

development

are much more

powerful

in

establishing ecumenical vocabularies and

setting

ecumenical boundaries than either theology

or

experience.

Most

groups

with which Pentecostals have chosen to

participate ecumenically

have been established to

preserve rather than to

give something away.

Often

they

have been formed in reaction to some other

group,

sometimes on

social/political grounds

‘This

quote comes from

the WCC’s Constitution, Section I. Basis,

printed

in Michael

Kinnamon,

ed.

Signs of

the Spirit: Official Report: Seventh Assembly (Geneva: WCC Publications/Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1991), 358. 26 See Cecil M.

Robeck, Jr.,

“Pentecostals and Ecumenism: An

Expanding Frontier,”

in Crossing Borders the proceedings of the Conference on Pentecostal and Charismatic Research in Europe. Kappel a. A., Switzerland (July 3-6,

1991): 55 pp.

.

10

45

that are

disguised by “theological” arguments,

and sometimes on lines of

race, class,

or

geographic

location. It is

important

for us as a movement who seek to do the will of the

Holy Spirit,

to isolate and speak

to the real issues which

keep

all who confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior from

cooperating fully

with one

another,

from participating

with the

Holy Spirit

in a visible manifestation of Christian unity

before the

world,

so that the world

might

believe.

2. Pentecostals Are Multi-Cultural

The

adjective

“multi-cultural” and its

cognate

noun “multi-culturalism” are relative newcomers to a

range

of discussions raging

within North America these

days.

The old

adage

found on the US

dollar,

“E Pluribus Unum”

meaning

“from

many, one,”

is

disputed as

being

assimilationist. Assimilation

is

out. Pluralism and multi-culturalism are in. The

picture

of America as the

“melting pot”

is now

hotly

debated as new and

newly

rediscovered cultures demand their

space.2′

Identities are

being

defined or

claimed,

and for the moment at

least,

the

emphasis

is upon diversity instead of unity.

Pentecostals are no

exception

to this debate which is not limited simply

to North America. In

many respects

this debate is a global

one, just

as Pentecostalism is a

global

movement. Pentecostals are multi-cultural, therefore,

if for no other reason than that

they

are found around the world. But Pentecostal multi-culturalism runs

deeper

than that. It

may

be the case

that,

for now at

least,

we must

speak

of Pentecostalisms rather than Pentecostalism. Pentecostals are multi-cultural,

but we haven’t

yet

learned how to act like it without hurting

one another.

In North

America,

at

least,

there

appears

to be a tendency to read all other Pentecostals in the same

way

we read ourselves. The

tendency

is to read Pentecostalism as

essentially

mono-cultural with little if

any legitimate divergence

in Pentecostal

thinking

world-wide. If we claim as do some that Pentecostalism resulted from a spontaneous

outpouring of the

Holy Spirit granted simultaneously

around the

world,

this reading

of Pentecostalism is somewhat

surprising.28

Pentecostalism must be

interpreted

as

being

formed

solely by

the culture of the

Holy Spirit.29

For those who

argue

for a North American

origin

to the modem Pentecostal

Movement,

there is some

logic.

to the idea that what

began

in North America was

simply transplanted,

more or less intact,

into new cultural

settings

around the world. But even a cursory survey

of the Pentecostal Movement in North America should be

“John D. Buenker and Lorman A. Ratner, eds., Multiculturalism in the United States: A

Comparative

Guide to Acculturation and

(New

York: Greenwood 28

Press, 1992) 271

is full of

Ethnicity

pp. examples of this debate.

See, for instance, Donald Gee, Wind and Flame (Craydon, England: Heath Press, Ltd., 1967), 29-30 and Carl Brumback, Suddenly… From Heaven (Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, 1961), 48-63.

29 iso, Brumback,

From Heaven who calls the Pentecostal Movement a “child of the

Suddenly…

Holy Ghost.”

11

46

sufficient to illuminate the

complexity

of this

thing

we describe as Pentecostalism.

Pentecostalism in North America must be viewed as

Canadian, U.S., and Mexican. We have to

acknowledge

that there are caucasians who claim to have been the first real Pentecostals3°

just

as there are those who claim its African-American

origins.3′

There are Trinitarian Pentecostals and there are Oneness Pentecostals.32 There are Holiness Pentecostals and there are “Finished Work” Pentecostals.33 There are many

Pentecostal

fellowships

and

denominations,

and there are

solidly independent

Pentecostals.34 There are Pentecostals of

every stripe

and color and class. It does not

help

to

deny

these differences nor to make disparaging

remarks about those Pentecostals with whom we

may

have profound disagreements

as

though by doing

so the

problem

of Pentecostal

diversity

ceases to exist. The fact

is, Pentecostalism

in the U.S. alone is a

many-splendored thing.

When it is viewed within the larger global context,

it emerges with even more color and

beauty.

Such

diversity, including

multi-cultural

diversity,

is

something

which can and should be

celebrated,

but it also holds the seeds for

problems. A

survey

of the relations which have existed and continue to exist between African-American Pentecostals and White Pentecostals in the U.S. should serve our

point

well. Most of the

major

Pentecostal denominations in the U.S. are

highly segregated.

Racism is a

rampant problem

in American Pentecostalism. It has been since its earliest days.35

Frank Bartleman’s

suggestion

that “the color line was washed away

in the blood” at Azusa Street is a

description

which was appropriate

for the earliest

days

of that revival. 36 Blacks and whites

30 So Charles W. Conn, Like a Mighty Army : Moves the Church of God (Cleveland, TN: Church of God Publishing House,

1955), 25; Sarah F. Parham,

The Charles F. Parham: Founder

Life of

of the Apostolic Faith Movement (Joplin, MO: Hunter 1930

rpt

1969 and New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., rpt

Publishing Company,

1985).

“James

Tinney,

“William J.

Seymour (1855?-1920?):

Father of Modem

Day Pentecostalism,” The Journal of the Interdenominational Theological Center 4 (Fall 1976): 33-34; Douglas

J. Nelson, “For Such a Time as This: The Story of William

Bishop

J. Seymour and the Azusa Street Revival: A Search for Pentecostal Roots,” unpublished

PhD Dissertation, University of Birmingham, England, 1981 and Iain MacRobert,

The Black Roots and White Racism of Early Pentecostalism in the Cm4.

(New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1988).

32 see David A.

Reed,

Pentecostalism in the

“Origins

and

Development of the Theology of Oneness

United States,”

unpublished

Ph.D. Dissertation, Boston University, “R. A.

1981.

Riss,

“Finished Work

Controversy,”

in

Stanley

M.

Burgess, Gary

B. McGee, and Patrick H. Alexander, eds. Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Afovements (Grand

Rapids: Regency

Reference

Library/Zondervan Publishing House, 3″ 1988), 306-309.

Various independent Pentecostals have been present since the beginning of the movement. During the late 1940s and early 1950s many of them participated in the “Latter Rain Movement.”

MacRobert, Black Roots

and White Racism.

12

47

mingled freely,

in

spite

of local

religious

culture and

clearly

to the consternation of the local

press.37

But as time went

on,

“the blood” seemed to lose its

power

as cultural differences came to the fore and the whites

rejected

black

leadership.

Charles Parham and William Seymour represented

two

quite

different

cultures,

and the one would not be

subject to,

nor would it share

power

with the other.”

In later

years,

white Pentecostals

aligned

themselves with the Pentecostal

Fellowship

of North America and the National Association of

Evangelicals.39

African-American Pentecostals did not

participate

in the

organization

of either of these

groups. Instead, they aligned themselves with the National Black

Evangelical

Association established in 1963.40 White Pentecostals have moved toward

greater

assimilation with white

evangelicalism”

while Black Pentecostals have found greater commonality

with other non-Pentecostal African-American churches. White Pentecostals have

supported

the

Republican party

and the so-called

“religious right”

while Black Pentecostals have tended to support

the Democratic

party

and have refused to be

co-opted by

the “religious right.”

If

anything,

the Black Pentecostal Movement has in recent

years

become more

self-consciously African, embracing

some “black

theologies”

and “liberation

theologies”

while White Pentecostals have been overfed on

prosperity

or health and wealth

teachings.’2

To be

‘6Frank Bartleman, How Pentecost Canre to Los

Angeles (Los Angeles:

F. Bartleman, ” no date), 54, (New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., rpt 1985).

See, for instance, “Women with Men Embrace,” Los Angeles Daily Times, 3 September 1906, 11 or “New Religions Come, Then Go,” Los Angeles Herald,

24 September 1906, 7.

38 See on this Cecil M. Robcck, Jr., “William J.

Evidence: Historical and Biblical

Seymour

and ‘The Bible Evidence’,”

in Initial

Pentecostal Doctrine

Perspectives

on the

of Spirit Baptism,

ed.

Gary

B.

McGee, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson

‘9

Publishers, 1991), 72-95.

Among

them were the Assemblies of God, the Christian Church of North America,

Church of God

(Cleveland, TN),

Church of God of the Mountain Assembly,

Elim

Fellowship,

Full

Gospel

Pentecostal

Association, International Church of the

Foursquare Gospel,

International Pentecostal Church of

Christ, International Pentecostal Holiness Church,

Open

Bible Standard

Churches, Pentecostal Church of 40 God, and the Pentecostal Free Will Baptist Church.

A brief overview of the NBEA has been written by William H. Bentley, National Black

Evangelical

Association:

Reflections

on the Evolution

of

a

William H. revised 151

Concept of iVIinistry (Chicago: Bentley, 1979, edition), pp.; cf. also M. R

Sawyer, “National Black Evangelical Association,” in in Dictionary of Christianity, 41 America, ed. Daniel G. Reid (Downers Grove, IL:

Intervarsity Press, 1990), 795.

One illustration of this is William W. Menzies, “The Biblical Basis for Missions and

Evangelism:

An

Evangelical/Pentecostal Perspective,” unpublished paper presented

to the International Roman Catholic-Pentecostal Dialogue, Venice, Italy, July 15-21, 1991,

1-2. On these opening pages Menzies states that “the Pentecostal movement in its various manifestations, with some

to be identified as a

exceptions, appears quite willing

sub-species of evangelicalism worldwide. Consequently, the themes

major

of conservative evangelicalism ” are owned by Pentecostals as valid expressions The

of their own cherished beliefs.”

debates within the National Black Evangelical Association in which Black

13

48

sure,

there are

exceptions

to this

generalization,

but it is clear that the differences between Black and White Pentecostals are much more than skin

deep.

Similar

points

can be made when one

analyzes

the

relationship between South African Pentecostals who are black,

colored,

or white. In one denomination

alone,

the

Apostolic

Faith

Mission,

racist attitudes have dominated toward the different ethnic

groups

and cultures for decades. The Kairos Document3 which

emerged

under the careful oversight

of the black

Apostolic

Faith Mission minister Frank Chikane has been

rejected by

the whites of the same denomination.’ Its publication

led to a substantial debate not

only

within

Apostolic

Faith Mission

circles,

but within the

larger

church world-wide. It was followed

by

the

Evangelical

Witness in South

Africa

which criticized The Kairos Document as being too influenced

by liberation theology.45 Dr.

Frangois

P.

M61ler,

then General

Secretary

of the

Apostolic

Faith Mission, responded

with Church and Politics.46 Subtitled “A Pentecostal View of the South African Situation,”4′ in this work he struggled

to

explain

the

problems

of South Africa in an anti-Marxist and Communist

ideological framework, rejecting

these documents and suggesting

that “the Marxist-Communist

onslaught against S[outh] A[frica]”

was “even

prepared

to

pose

as

‘Pentecostal’,” undoubtedly

a less than subtle reference to fellow

Apostolic

Faith Mission member Frank Chikane.? The debate continued with the

publication

of “The

Pentecostals, especially

from the Church of God in Christ,

played

a role is illustrative of the concerns expressed here.

“The Kairos Document: Challenge to the Church (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1986), 58

“For an overview Frank Chikane’s life and pp. of

ministry see Frank Chikane, No Life ofkfy

Own: An Autobiography

(Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1989), 132 pp. as well

as a brief interview by Ron Sider, “Interview with Rev. Frank Chickane,” Transformation 4S 5 (ApriUJune, 1988): 9-12.

Concerned Evangelicals, Evangelical Witness in South Africa: A

Critique of Evangelical Theology

and Practice

by

South African Evangelicals Themselves (United The Evangelical Alliance: Regnum Books, 1986), 40 pp. 46Dr. F. P. Kingdom:

Moller, Church and Politics: A Pentecostal

View of the South African Situation (Braamfontein, South Africa: Gospel Publishers, no date), 4.

47 The subtitle is It may be the view of a Pentecostal or even the view held

extremely problematic.

by many Pentecostals, particularly white Pentecostals in South Africa, but

there is “Pentecostal” in the

argument

of the

position adopted by

the nothing inherently

author, and to allow this subtitle to stand unchallenged is to link the Pentecostal

message unjustly

with support of the apartheid system.

” M611er, Church and Politics, 20. While Möller never mentions Chikane by name here, Frank Chikane was portrayed in certain wing” Christian publications in the mid- to late 1980s as a radical who is linked to or “right

alleged

to be

overly sympathetic

to the African National

Congress. Cf. United Christian Action, UCA NEWS 17/89 issued 03.10.1989; “Political Priests Have Access to R115 Million!” Signposts:

A

Digest of

Researched

Information for

Concerned Christians 7:3 (1988): 1-2.

.

14

49

Road to Damascus: Kairos and Conversion and

ultimately

with the publication

of the Relevant Pentecostal Witness. 50

In Latin America the multi-cultural discussion has taken a different turn. A number of Pentecostal

groups

have

begun

to

cooperate

not only

with one

another,

but also with

groups

that North American Pentecostals would view as

strange

bedfellows. I have

already mentioned the fact that some Pentecostals in Latin America hold membership

in the World Council of Churches. 51 Others

participate

in Consejo

Latinoamericano de

Iglesias (CLAI)

which is made

up

of a wide

range

of historic Protestant churches. 52 Of

particular

interest to this discussion is the fact that Pentecostals in these

groups

take

political and social

positions

which run counter to

many

of those

positions supported by

White Pentecostals from North America. One Pentecostal pastor

who

participated

in the 1988 CLAI

meeting

was

quoted

as pleading

that U.S. and

European money, typically designated

for arming regimes

and

propping up

the “dominant classes” in the

region, be

replaced by “developmental

funds for schools and medical services….”53

A number of Latin American Pentecostals have

begun meetings

of what has become known as Encuentro Pentecostal Latinoamericano (EPLA).54

These

meetings

have surfaced a number of

important discussions within the

region. Among

them are

(1)

the role which Pentecostals should take in relation to structural

changes (e.g.

social class); (2)

the

changing relationship

between church and state in light of 49 The Road to Damascus: Kairos and Conversion

(Johannesburg:

Skobaville

Witness,

Publishers, 1989),

50 A Relevant Pentecostal 36pp. Witness (Chatsglen, South Africa: Relevant Pentecostal

no date), 12 pp.

” Those Pentecostal churches

holding membership

in the World Council of Churches include the

Iglesia

Pentecostal de Chile, the

Misi6n

Iglesia

Missiones Pentecostal Libres from

Chile, the

Church with leadership from the U.S.A., and the African

Iglesia Pentecostal,

also Chilean, the International

Church

Evangelical

which is Kenyan. At the 1991 Assembly of the WCC other Pentecostals also of the Holy Spirit

participated. Among them were Dr. Peter Kuzmic of the Church

Evangelical Yugoslavia, the Reverend Frank

Chikane of the Faith

Apostolic

Nlission in ” South of Africa, Pastor Orlando Silva on behalf of Igreja “0 Brazil para Cristo,

Pastor Daniel Fernández Godoy on behalf of the Latin American based

Confraternidad

Christiana de

Iglesias,

Ms. Maria Zeballos Flores from Argentina’s

Fuente de Salvacion and myself.

52 Those Pentecostal bodies with membership in CLAI include the Iglesia Cristiana Pentecostal de Cuba, the Pentecostal de Chile, the Misi6n Pentecostal de Chile, the Uni6n Evang6lica Pentecostal Venezolana [Venezuela],

Iglesia Iglesia and the Asociación la Iglesia de Dios of Argentina.

“John H. Sinclair, “A New Pentecost: Hope in Solidarity,” The Christian Century 106 (25 January 1989): 83.

“These

meetings or encounters were begun in earnest when in 1988 Ms. Marta Palma, a member of the Iglesia Pentecostal de Chile and a staff person

for the World Council of Churches in Geneva, Switzerland, took the initiative to gather a number of Pentecostals in Salvador, Brazil. Since then, the group has met also in Buenos Aires (1989), and in Santiago, Chile (1990).

15

50

indigenous expressions

of

and

missionary

in Latin

America; (3)

the role of

and

discovery

or Pentecostalism the

relationship

the

rapid growth

of Pentecostalism

women in the

church; (4)

the

relationship

between autochthonous

Pentecostalism in Latin America to the immigrant expressions

identification of the factors which constitute a Pentecostal

realization of the

and what

implications between so-called

of the

movement;55 (5)

identity; (6)

strength

of Latin American

that fact

might produce;

and

(7) “academic

theology”

and “narrative

American

Pentecostals churches speaking

theology.”56

Other differences between Latin American and North

have surfaced as well. Some Latin American Pentecostal

manifestations, equally

including “dancing

mutilating

reject

the exclusive claims of the PFNA churches that

in

tongues

is the “initial

physical

evidence” of

baptism

in the Spirit,

and

they

substitute the indefinite “an” in its

place.

Other

in the

Spirit,”

are considered as

valid evidences of the

Spirit’s baptism.’7

Communitarian concerns stand over

against

an individualistic

mentality. Solidarity

with the

poor

and criticism of

tele-evangelism

and radio

broadcasting

as

the

community experience

and

personal testimony

of Pentecostalism are also

important

differences which have been lifted

up for discussion.

What has been sketched here in terms of North

American,

South African,

and Latin American differences

attention

shifts to other

portions

for

themselves,

gifts

are

only highlighted

as our of the

globe.

We must learn to let define

themselves,

and celebrate the

That is

right

these

people speak

which

they bring

in their

particular

form of Pentecostalism. not

easy,

for it

requires

Pentecostals

everywhere

to take on and embrace new

understandings

of “the other.”

Who, ultimately,

has the

to define Pentecostalism? Whoever it

is,

is

placed

in a

unique

immigrant

Evangelism

surprised

ss Within these encuentros a major distinction has been made between

and

missionary,

or autochthonous Pentecostals. The

questions of how Pentecostalism

indigenous

should be defined, and who defines it have also been lifted up for major

discussion.

Eugene

L.

Stockwell, then

the Director of the Mission and

Office of the WCC

“Pentecostal

reported to the WCC in unpublished notes titled

Consultation:

Salvador, Brazil: 6-9 January 1988,” 2-3, that he was

to hear the Assemblies of God so

heavily

criticized

by

Chilean Pentecostals who wanted to place some distance between the Assemblies of God and the real Pentecostal Movement. One

as to form a new council of Nicaraguan pastor sought

Stockwell’s advice

whether it would be possible to churches in made

Nicaragua

up of groups never having had missionary ties. ‘4These

issues have also been addressed in

how

subsequent meetings. One example of

these concerns are

being

lived out can be seen in the of a Pentecostal woman of Brazil found in Ken Serbin, “Benedita da Silva:

description

Prophet from the favelos,” The Christian

Century

110 (5 May 1993): 489-92.

Many

of her concerns will z7

challenge white, North American Pentecostals. This

observation is made on the basis of numerous conversations with a number

of the autochthonous variety.

of Latin American Pentecostals, especially

16

51

position

of

privilege.

That

person

or that

group

becomes or determines the norm

by which all others

are

subsequently

defined.

To

date,

Pentecostals have not done

well, anywhere,

on

studying their multi-cultural

heritage.

Our actions toward one

another,

our speech

about one

another,

our beliefs

concerning

the

legitimacy

about the existence or the roles which each other should

play

are all

abysmal. We are

endangering

our future as a movement

by denying

our differences on the one hand or

by overplaying

them on another. We have no

adequate

forum where such substantive issues can be discussed and

understood,

let alone be resolved.

Our first

step

toward reconciliation is repentance. That means that we Pentecostals must admit that the Movement is not well. It means that we must learn to listen to one

another,

to learn one another’s stories and to

adopt

one another’s heroes. It means that we need to

recognize the fact that we have been

placed

into one

Body,

the

Body

of Christ. It means that we must draw on God’s

reconciling

love toward us and extend it to one another It means that we must come to terms with the value of our multi-cultural

heritage

in such a way that we live out our

unity

with new

depth.

It means we can no

longer

afford our

racism, our

nationalism,

or our

high-handedness

toward one another. We must gain

a

new, global self-understanding

which celebrates both our

unity as a Movement and our cultural

diversity

as

gifts

to that

Movement, gifts given

and received without

competition

or indifl:’erence. To do less than this is to miss the

opportunity

to demonstrate before the world the reality

of God’s

reconciling

love and

power.59

3. Pentecostals Are

Evangelistic

This third observation should come as no

surprise

to

any

Pentecostal. Since its

inception

at the turn of the

century,

Pentecostalism has been synonymous

with mission and

evangelism.

As

early

as

1908,

J. R. Flower contended that

“Carrying

the

gospel

to

hungry

Souls in this and other lands is but a natural result of

receiving

the

baptism

of the

Holy Ghost.”‘ Pentecostals are

evangelistic,

but we are

frequently indiscriminate about the

appropriate object(s} of

our

evangelistic efforts.

Our lack of

discrimination,

I

think,

stems from at least three sources; zeal, fear,

and

ignorance.

Zeal has been a hallmark of Pentecostals for

years.

When the earliest Pentecostals received the

dynamic experience

which

they

understood to be the

baptism

in the

Holy Spirit, they

shared it with as many people as they

could find. Their indiscriminate

sharing

of an exuberant

experience was not

always

well received. The zeal of the

early recipients

was

58Paul’s

repeated

use of the

“Body

of Christ”

metaphor, coupled

with his continuous calls for unity (cf. 1 Cor 1, Gal. 1-2, Eph. 1-2, 4; Phil. 2, Col. 1, etc.) as well as Jesus’ concerns that his disciples should be known for their love and

(John 15) 59 His prayer for their unity (John 17:21-23) set the background for this concern. John 17:21-23.

“°J. R. Flower, The Pentecost 1 (August 1908): 4.

17

52

sometimes understood as a divisive issue rather than an

edifying

one. Pentecostals were often told that

they

were

wrong,6′

that their experience

was

shallow,

that it was

psychologically induced,6Z

that it was demonic in

origin.63

Zeal. mixed with stiff-necked stubbornness resulted in more than one

unsavory

incident. Zeal continues to

contribute to the

spread

of the

Gospel

and to

charges

of

proselytism

in our own

day.”

Pentecostals have claimed the

power

of the

Holy Spirit

to bear witness to the

Gospel throughout

the world

(Acts 1:8).

Pentecostals have

assiduously attempted

to follow the mandate of the Great Commission

(Matthew 28:19-20), going

into all the world to

preach the

Gospel.

But Pentecostals have done so in a scatter-gun approach, in a more or less indiscriminate manner. Part of

this,

I

think,

is because Pentecostalism in North America is heir to the Arminian-slanted

frontier revivalism of Charles G.

Finney

and others.65 The lack of the continuous assurance of salvation meant that the

Gospel

had to be preached

and received even

by

the

saved, precisely

because

they weren’t

easily

assured that

they

were.’

It has

always

been clear to Pentecostals that

they

were intended to take the

Gospel

to the heathen who either had no

religion

or

practiced some form of animism. It has been

equally

clear to Pentecostals that they

were to take the

Gospel

to non-Christians of all

kinds, including those who held

membership

in one of the so-called

“Living Religions.” Jews and

Muslims, people

of “the

Book,”

were no

exception

to this conviction. Without

Christ, they

were lost.

They, too,

needed the Gospel. 67

6′

This charge is as prevalent in Frederick Dale Bruner, A Theology of the Holy Spirit (Grand Rapids: William B. EerdmanslPublisher, 1970), 319,

and James D. G. Dunn, Baptism in the

Holy Spirit,

Studies in Biblical Theology: Second Series, 15 (Naperville, IL: Alec R. Allenson, Inc., 1970), 224-229 as it was in the earliest of

days 62 the movement. See, for instance,

George Barton Cutten, Speaking With and

Psychologically

Considered

Tongues: Historically

(New Haven, CT: Yale 193 University Press, 1927),

See H. pp.

Burse, “Be Not Deceived,”

The Free Methodist

(Chicago), 27 August 1907,547.

‘Edward L. Cleary, O.P. “John Paul Cries ‘Wolf : Misreading the

Pentecostals,” Commonweal 119 (20 November 1992): 7-8.

65 Donald W. Dayton, Theological Roots of Pentecostalism (Grand Rapids: Francis Asbury

Press/Zondervan Publishing House, 199

66 once need

only survey

who

pp.

those hold 1987),

membership with

various Pentecostal Churches but who make

periodic

treks to the altar to be re-saved or note the emphasis placed on re-baptism for those who have “backslidden” to see the truth of this claim. See M. A. Tomlinson, Basic Bible Beliefs of the Church

of God of Prophecy (Cleveland,

TN: White Wing Publishing House, 1961), 22.

6′ The existence of a Jewish ministry in the Assemblies of God, for instance, and such publications Pentecostals as

Phillip

E. Goble’s

Everything

You Need to Grow a Messianic by

Synagogue (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 1974), 158 pp.

and the May, 1992 issue of Mountain Movers, the Foreign Missions Magazine

18

53

Rising

as it did

among

the sanctified

Wesleyan-Holiness folk, Pentecostalism with how to view members of the historic

struggled

churches. The view from the

margins

of the

larger

ekkmsia was such

that Pentecostals

quickly developed

an ambivalent

approach

to those

who claimed to be Christians but who chose to

stay

in these historic

churches. At Azusa Street

they

said that

they

stood for “Christian

Unity

everywhere,”

but

they

also

sought

“… to

displace

dead forms and

creeds and wild fanaticisms with

living practical Christianity.”68

The

Movement

struggled

with whether it was a restoration of the

primitive

New Testament Church69 or whether it was

merely

a

spiritual

renewal

movement in the

contemporary

church.’° This ambivalence

ultimately

led to the conviction that

many, perhaps most, people

within the

historic churches were not

really

Christian or were in some

way

sub-Christian.”

Inevitably,

their

sharing

of their new found faith and/or

subsequent experience

was viewed as acts of betrayal and

proselytism.

Those who were adult converts to

Pentecostalism,

who “came out”

of the

“bondage”

and “darkness” of their

previous

church were often

especially strong

in their denunciation of historic

Christianity. Little,

if

any, attempt

was made to entertain the notion that these

groups might

have been

responsible

for

sowing

the seed of the

Gospel

which now

sprouted

and flourished under the

watering

of Pentecostal

evangelists.

Few,

if

any,

were

willing

to ask whether

they

had been in such a

spiritual

state while members of these other churches that

they

could

have heard or received the

Gospel message

if it were

adequately given

there.

Few,

if any, ever asked the

question

of whether the

Gospel

had

been

accurately preached

in these churches but had been done so in a

form which did not meet their

peculiar

needs or

simply

did not minister ‘

to them where

they

were.

Many

of them

simply

concluded that for

some reason or in some

way,

their

previous

tradition had covered

up,

hidden,

or otherwise withheld the truth of the

Gospel

from them. 72

of the Assemblies of God, published entirely on the theme “Reaching the World of Islam,”

63

make this fact clear.

69 The Apostolic Faith

1 (September 1906): 2.

“The Pentecostal Baptism Restored,” The .4 postolic Faith 1 (October 1906): 1; D.

The Latter Rain Covenant and Pentecostal Power (Chicago, IL: The Evangel Publishing House,

Wesley Myland,

1910), and B. F. Lawrence, The Apostolic Faith Restored (St. Louis, MO: The Gospel Publishing House, 1916) all demonstrate the restorationist theme.

‘° Frank Bartleman, “God’s Onward March through the Centuries: The Pentecostal Experience Opens

to Us a New Realm,” The Latter Rain Evangel (July 1910): 2-8. “The

emphasis upon such terms as “Full Gospel” when speaking about Pentecostal Churches only contributed to the idea that at best, other churches were

less.

preaching

Aimee

Semple McPherson’s

What’s the Iv/atter? (Los Angeles: Echo Park

something

Evangelistic Association, 1928), 9 contended, for instance, that

“The denominational church as ” a whole is backslidden. It has joined hands with the world.”

72This has been the case

presented by many formerly

mainline or historic Protestants,

but it has been more strongly stated by former Roman Catholics.

19

54

Younger

converts and converts of the next

generation

were

simply

told that these churches out of which

they

had come had been

negligent

for withholding

the

truth,

and when confronted

by

the

testimony

of their new

experience,

these churches had

put

them out of the church

There is clear evidence that in some

cases, newly

bom Pentecostals were

put

out of their

previous church,

even from those in the

tradition.’4 But it is also clear that the zeal of these

Wesleyan-Holiness

new converts often

played

a role in their dismissal as well .7′ The fact that a sense of

marginalization,

of

betrayal,

and of

suspicion developed among

Pentecostals toward the older churches led

inevitably

to their nurturing

of the

view, triumphalistic

as it

was,

that Pentecostalism as practiced by

them was the

only place

the “Full

Gospel”

was proclaimed

and that

anything

less needed to be

challenged

to

change. being 6 The

evangelization

of those who held

membership

in historic denominations,

both Protestant and Roman Catholic was

given

a

high priority.

This

“evangelization”

was

quickly

labeled

by

the historic churches as a

policy

of

“proselytism,”

and the walls which

separated Pentecostals from their

counterparts

in historic churches

suddenly grew

much

higher.

When the charismatic renewal burst

upon

the scene in the 1960s and

70s,

the refusal

by

those within the historic churches to leave their churches and

realign

with the classical Pentecostalism left many

within the Pentecostal Movement confused and frustrated. Some rejected

this movement almost out of hand.”

Fear has much to do with this state of affairs as well. Pentecostals are a fearful

people. They

fear that

they

will miss the will of

God,

that

they will be found to be unfaithful

servants,

that

many

will

perish

before

they have

opportunity

to hear and to receive the

Gospel.

These are

good fears,

fears which have motivated

many

Pentecostals to be entrepreneurial

and

aggressive

in the

propagation

of the

Gospel.’8

“See, for instance, the testimony of Mrs. W. H. McGowan, “Another Echo from Azusa,” (Covina, CA: Mrs. W. H. McGowan, no date), 15.

“McGowan, “Another Echo from Azusa,” 15.

“The

exchange which took place in the Los Angeles Holiness Church as told Mrs.

McGowan from the perspective of a new Pentecostal in her

by tract and told from the Holiness

privately published

perspective in Josephine M. Washburn, History and Reminiscences

of the Holiness Church

Work in Southern

California

and Arizona (New

York: Garland

Publishing, Inc.,

1912

rpt 1985),

383-385 is instructive in this

especially

regard.

” See, for instance, W. F. Carothers, “Unity

and

Separation,”

The Latter Rain Evangel

3 (September 1911): 23-24 who criticizes Methodism.

“Much of this rejection had as much to do with mores as it did with the movement from one

in the

group to another. It was even more difficult to understand why a baptism

Spirit would enable Roman Catholic Charismatics to claim, for instance, a greater

devotion to

“The

Mary.

pre-millennial teaching has been encouraged within a range of evangelical holiness,

and Pentecostal series of

Errors” and recommends that regardless of what personal position

groups. The

Assemblies of God has listed a “Eschatological

pastors might

hold on the subject of eschatology they should

“teach the imminent coming of Christ, warning all men to be prepared for

20

55

These

fears, however, may

also be maintained

by embracing

a view of God’s

grace

which is narrower in theory than it is in reality. This view of God’s

grace, too,

can turn us into

legalists.

But these

fears,

because they

are

positive

motivators are

easily

admitted.

Pentecostals are a fearful

people

but

they

also embrace fears which they

have

difficulty admitting.

In the

past they

were

rejected by the very people they thought

their

message

of

power

could serve

best,

the Wesleyan-Holiness

Movement. 79 In the 1920s when

they

looked for acceptance among

the Fundamentalists

they

were

again rejected.8° Pentecostals

appear

still to fear

rejection,

but

they

are slow to admit it. The

acceptance by

the NAE of

many

white Pentecostal

groups

came somewhat as a

surprise8′

and even

though

these Pentecostals

compose at least 60% of the total

membership

of the NAE

today,82 their

fear of rejection

has led to the

change

or

compromise

of certain Pentecostal distinctives as

they

have become more assimilated into the

Evangelical subculture.83

Assimilation, itself,

or the

prospects

of assimilation raises fears too. Pentecostals

frequently

define themselves over

against

the world and other churches. With the arrival of charismatic renewal and the rise of

interest in the

person

and work of the

Holy Spirit

in the historic churches,

new reasons for

being

were

adopted

to ensure

continuity with the

past, yet

to

guarantee

a Pentecostal future The

very large disparity

of numbers between the NCC

membership (42 million)

and NAE

membership (5-6 million) only

further forestalls

significant ecumenical contact

beyond

the NAE in the U.S.

that coming, which may occur at any time, and not lull their minds into

that would cause them to feel that

Tribulation events must occur before the

complacency by any teaching specific

rapture of the saints.” A-finutes

Article VIII Section 3.c.

Imminence is then Bylaws,

applied by pastors in a variety of ways which frequently on the fears that some

play

people have of such an event in

order to obtain either repentance,

or to motivate workers who are now convinced that time is short. ‘9 See,

for instance, Alina White, The Story of My Life and the Pillar

of Fire NJ: Pillar of

(Zaraphath, Fire, 1936), 3:116 and Alma White, Demons and Tongues (Zaraphath,

NJ: Pillar of Fire, no date), 90

pp.

are but two examples of this

rejection. ‘Cf. Norman F.

Furniss, The Fundamentalist Controversy: 1918-1931 (Hamden, CT: Archon

Books, 1963), 51-56; Stanley Frodsham, “Disfellowshipped!”

The Pentecostal 81 18 August 1928, 7.

“The attitude of the N.A.E. has Evangel,

encouraged and emboldened us. And still, some are holding their fingers crossed lest the good fortune that has come to them be finally

lost.” Letter from J. R. Flower to Dr. Harold J. Ockenga, July 5, 1943, p. 2. See Robeck, “National Association of Evangelicals,” 634-636.

83 on this see Edith L. Blumhofer, The Assemblies of God (Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, 1989), 1:343-372 for two such

“The Assemblies of for

examples.

God, instance, adopted a new Reason-for-Being in 1961 1 which now

appears

as a Constitutional Declaration at the

beginning

of the Constitution within the Minutes of each General Council.

21

56

Fear of a loss of power,

then,

also comes into

play.

Not to be defined over-and-against

the

larger

church means that Pentecostals

might

lose some of their voice. It

may

be the fear of a loss of

power

that has

kept many

Pentecostal

groups

from

participating

in the much

larger ecumenical bodies.

Thus,

it is in the best interest of

self-preservation and the maintenance of the status

quo

in power that the

emphasis upon differentiation between Pentecostals and the

larger

church is perpetuated.

All of these fears

ultimately play

into a

practice

of evangelism

which is indiscriminate and which at times has come to receive the

charge of proselytism.

Proselytism

is a serious

charge.

It is a

charge

made

by

those who perceive

that

they

are under attack. It is seldom a charge either made or acknowledged by

those on the

fringes. Proselytism

is a

subject

never addressed

by Pentecostals,

but it is a charge which is frequently lodged against

them.85 And one of the

primary

reasons we

proselytize

is because as a movement we are

largely ignorant

of what God has been doing among

the historic churches.

We Pentecostals need to ask ourselves whether these

charges

of proselytism

are true or whether

they

are fabricated. We need to reassess our

evangelistic goals.

From where do our new members come? Are

they

from those who are

clearly

non-Christian? Are

they converts from other

religions?

Are

they

the former members of other churches? Or are

they merely

a redistribution of our own

people

who move from church to church as new teachers or

“prophets”

or “apostles”

arise?

What are our attitudes toward the historic churches and do

they

have any validity

at the

present

time? Are we still

perpetuating

the stereotypes

which were handed down to

us,

or have we found that these

people

in other churches

truly

are non-Christians? Is their confession that Jesus Christ is both Lord and Savior sufficient for us to turn our attention and

evangelistic

resources

elsewhere,

or is it

simply that we do not believe their

confession of faith?

What do we do with the so-called “liberal” Protestants who are members of the NCC or the WCC? How do we read and

portray

Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians who claim that Jesus Christ is both Lord and Savior? Who

are the real ones that need

evangelization?

The

growth

of Pentecostalism in Latin America and our rush to move toward the

evangelization

of the former Soviet Union have left

many questions

for Pentecostals. But these

questions

are not

being adequately perceived.

In a recent article in the Los

Angeles

Times regarding

the

growth

of anti-American sentiment in the

Ukraine, appeal is made to the

insensitivity

of American

evangelists

to Ukrainian sensitivities.

“They

come from a country that didn’t exist 300

years ago

$3 One of the latest examples are to be found in the tendency to lump Pentecostals among

the problem of the sects. On this see the article by Fr. Edward Cleary, above note 64.

22

57

to

preach

in a

country

that was Christianized

1,000 years ago,” complained

one

spokesman.

“Even more

galling–they

use Russian translators.”$6 How do we

respond

to these

charges?

To be

sure,

there is reason to ask whether a country which has been dominated

by

the disinformation of an atheist

regime

for some 70

years can be viewed as

culturally

Christianized. But what role does Christianity play

vis-a-vis culture? In the

U.S., popular

white Pentecostalism,

at

least,

seems to

identify

itself with the culture and politics

of the

right. Popular

black Pentecostalism seems

increasingly

to see itself in the criticism of the

“right”

and identifies itself more to the “left.” Where does

Christianity

end and a form of cultural

syncretism

begin?

Roman Catholics

frequently

bear the brunt of criticism for

religion

at the

popular

level. Their

mariology,

devotion to the

saints, pilgrimages, penance

and other

practices

are often cited as “superstitious”

examples which convince us that

they

are not

really

Christian. This

assumption

is aided and abetted

especially

in areas

where,

like the

Orthodox, they have a cultural

hegemony. 17

But are all these

charges

true? Is there room in our

theology

of

grace

for our

concept

of

grace

to be expanded?

Is it not

possible

that we could be

wrong

about what we perceive

to be true? Is it not

possible

that the enormous

changes brought

about

by

Vatican II and the rise of the charismatic renewal within the Roman Catholic Church are sufficient for us to

begin

to recognize many, perhaps

most Roman Catholics as

genuinely

Christian? Could

this, then,

not release some of our

evangelistic energy upon those who have never heard the

Gospel,

or those who are

clearly non-Christian rather than

expending

it on those who confess the name of Jesus Christ?

To

say

all of this is not for me to

argue

that the Orthodox or Roman Catholic or Liberal Protestant traditions do not need to be

challenged by

what we have to

offer,

our distinctive

testimony

about the

power and

presence

of God in our lives

through

the

working

of the

Holy Spirit.

But it

may

once

again

call us to

repentance

and

forgiveness

and

‘Mary Myeio, “America Losing Luster in Ukraine,” Los Angeles Times, 1 June 1993, H-2.

?This fact led Edward Cardinal Cassidy, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting

Christian Unity, in his May 10, 1993 Prolusio (p. 11) to a meeting of the Ecumenical Commissions of the

Episcopal

Conferences and of

representatives

of Synods

of Eastern Catholic Churches at which I was present, to

We must be

say,

careful, however, not to confuse the issue

under the term

by lumping together

“sect,” groups

that do not deserve that title. I am not

speaking here,

for instance, about the

evangelical

movement

nor about Pentecostalism as such. The

among

protestants, had fruitful

Pontifical Council has

dialogues

and

significant

contacts with certain

and with Pentecostals.

evangelical

groups Indeed,

one can

speak

of a mutual .

enrichment as a result of these contacts.

This

speech

will

appear

in an

upcoming

issue of the Pontifical Council’s Information

Service.

23

58

reconciliation for

bearing

false witness

simply

because we have believed a lie. We Pentecostals need to reevaluate our indiscriminate

evangelistic efforts so that

they

will build

up

the church rather than render it increasingly

divided in the world.

4. Conclusions and Observations:

Where Do We Go from Here?

A. The current ecclesial climate demands that we become

Pentecostals who are

willing

to listen before we

speak

or

judge.

If we are to be taken

seriously

and treated with

respect,

we must learn to do the same. This is not

easily done,

for it flies in the face of much of our action over the

past century.

Our

tendency

has been to

label, name,

or otherwise

perpetuate stereotypes

of what we have heard about other historic denominations. Our actions have

ranged

from the subtle to the not so subtle. Our

pastors

continue to

harangue

on the weaknesses of other

groups

without

paying

sufficient attention to our own. Our denominational

magazines

continue to

print highly

biased news

reports of the failures in historic churches without

reporting

our own.

I was struck

just recently

with our

tendency

to

highlight

the visible works of the flesh mentioned in Galatians

5:19-21, things

like fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, drunkenness,

and carousing,

and our failure to

speak clearly

on the less

visible,

internal and

equally

church

dividing

works of the flesh such as

enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions,

and

envy.

In the same context,

Paul

urges

us to walk in the

Spirit, allowing

the

Spirit

to produce

its

good fruit,

and he ends the

chapter

with a call to Christian unity.

“Let us not become

conceited,”

he

writes, “competing against one

another, envying

one another.”

In

short,

the current state of

intolerance,

and the

bearing

of false witness

by Pentecostals

about other Christians is deplorable! It calls for genuine repentance,

transformed

hearts,

ears

willing

to

hear,

and tongues

touched

by the coals off the

fire of a holy God.

B. The current ecclesial climate demands that we look

past

ourselves and our

parochialisms

be

they theological, denominational, cultural,

or regional,

and become active

participants

in the work of God for some form of visible

unity

in the world. Whole denominations are disintegrating

before our

eyes.

The National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA has announced that it is looking for a

gracious way to

die,

or at least for

ways

to be

reorganized

so that

Pentecostals, Holiness

people, Evangelicals,

Roman Catholics and all the Orthodox groups

can become

equal partners

to

something

new. 88 Our

“%is is according to the April, 1992 National Council of Churches Ecumenical Networks

publication

Corletter

(p. 1) which notes that

in conversations with Cardinal Cassidy, “The NCC Executive Coordinating Committee told Cassidy the NCC would be

Roman

willing to give up its life in favor of a broader organization with

Catholics and Evangelicals.” Within the context of the NCC, Pentecostals are frequently viewed as merely a subculture among Evangelicals.

24

59

unwillingness

to

participate

in

any

substantive discussions or consultations at this kairotic moment will

only

damn us once

again

to the

perpetuation

of

mistrust, misinformation,

and hatred that has plagued

our

relationship

with them since the 1940s.

Similarly,

the World Council of Churches is at a critical

juncture

in its history.

The

assembly

in Canberra in 1991 revealed how

deeply

the potential

for division runs within that

organization.

It has

great potential

as it seeks

actively

to be inclusive of

input

from

unrepresented and

under-represented groups

around the world. It has

great potential as it seeks to

provide

a forum for voices

previously

muffled or not heard at all–voices of

oppressed peoples,

of

cultural, ethnic,

and other minorities,

of vast

groups

in the so-called “two-thirds”

world,

of Pentecostals. Their new

attempts

to reach out to Pentecostals should not be

rebuffed,

but should be met with warm enthusiasm even if such an action is

politically risky.

But this means that we must be

willing

to set aside our

fears,

our

prejudices,

our

ignorance,

and our long-cherished stereotypes

in order to

participate

in

discussion,

even discussion

apart

from

membership,

if we are to be successful in this regard.

C. The current ecclesial

climate,

as well as the

incredibly changing world

political

situation demands that Pentecostals take on a new commitment to

understanding

and

participating

in the

globalization process.

This is a

particularly

difficult

challenge

to North American Pentecostals who are used to

seeing

themselves as the navel of the universe.

Increasingly,

Pentecostals around the world are

beginning

to rise

up

and move to

positions

of

leadership

and influence that

compete with the

long

tradition of North American Pentecostal dominance. At the recent Pentecostal World Conference in

Oslo, Norway,

I received two

reports

that in the executive committee

meetings

Pentecostal leaders had extended debate on whether to

pass

the North American sponsored

declaration

condemning pornography.

This

poorly

worded resolution which blamed

pornography

for a range of sexual sins without any proof

of their connection

passed,

but not without the

protest

of many

other Pentecostal leaders who, while

abhorring pornography, viewed other social issues

including

the U.S.

bombing

of

Iraq,

the starvation of thousands in Somalia and

elsewhere,

and the terrible bloodletting

and ethnic

cleansing currently taking place

in Bosnia-Hercegovina

as more

significant

and of

higher priority

for Pentecostals than the issue of pornography.

Issues related to self-definition and self-determination are increasingly going

to come to the

fore,

as Pentecostals from Latin America and elsewhere move toward the center of the world

religious stage.

North American Pentecostals need to be in discussion with these brothers and sisters lest their Latin American differences with the encultured North become a source of further division even within the Pentecostal o/?OM/7?/?.

25

60

D. The current ecclesial climate demands that Pentecostals in North America turn their attention to issues where our differences are the

greatest

when we face the church around the world. Critical to our survival and our

ability

to

speak

to and be heard

by the larger

church is our

willingness

to

engage

in hermeneutical

self-understanding. Personally,

I am not

yet

convinced that there is a

unique

Pentecostal hermeneutic,

but the hermeneutic with which most Pentecostals

operate is only

marginally adequate.

When we face

many

of the

larger

social ills of the

day,

we often come

up

short because of our failure to

weigh

the options.

Issues

relating

to

homosexuality, indeed,

to

sexuality

in general,

to the

way

the church should

approach

the issue of

AIDS,

to our

continuing acquiescence

to

racism,

sexism and militarism are but a few

places

where

honest, forthright

self-reflection needs to take

place. The issue

of proselytism

has never been addressed

by Pentecostals, yet the World Council of Churches is

asking

us for the answer to that

knotty

issue.

These

changes may require

a transformation of heart, a willingness to accept

all others who name the name of Jesus as

genuinely

Christian even if we

disagree profoundly

with the

way

in which

they express

their faith. It

may

also mean that we need to

change

our

approach

to education,

to rethink our

priorities

in mission, and to seek collaborative possibilities

in discipleship.

Indeed,

it may mean that we as Pentecostals will need to

develop

a greater understanding and trust in the nature and extent of God’s

grace among

“the other.” And it

may

well mean that we need to

develop

a new

theology

of who “the other” is and how we must relate to him or her.

As

you

can

see,

the

potential

for Pentecostals to contribute

substantially

to

greater

Christian

Unity

is

enormous.

It is now

up

to us to find creative

ways

to live

up

to the

challenges

am

grateful

to the Society

for Pentecostal Studies for the

opportunity

afforded to me to edit Pneuma for

nearly

a decade. I look forward to

watching,

and from time to

time, participating

in the life of this

society

as it continues to mature and take

ownership

of some of the

important

discussions

being raised. I am

especially pleased

to see Dr.

Murray Dempster

named as the new editor of this

journal

and I look forward to the vision and leadership

he will

bring

to this

great enterprise.

26

Facebook Comments

Be first to comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.