The Spirit Baptized Church Dogmatic Inquiry, By Frank D. Macchia

The Spirit Baptized Church  Dogmatic Inquiry, By Frank D. Macchia

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

Click to get our FREE MOBILE APP and stay connected




Book Reviews

Frank D. Macchia,The Spirit-Baptized Church: Dogmatic Inquiry, T&T Clark System-

atic Pentecostal and Charismatic Theology (London,UK: T&T Clark, 2020). 223 pp.

$82.80 hardback.

This monograph completes Frank Macchia’s fifteen year labour towards con- structing a systematic theology proceeding from the Classical Pentecostal assent on Spirit baptism. I believe this is the first ever full blown Pentecostal ecclesiology; a quest he first proposed in his 2005 “prolegomena”-functioning book, Baptized in the Spirit: A Global Pentecostal Theology; thereafter followed by his Justified in the Spirit (2010) and Jesus the Spirit Baptizer (2018) volumes.

Foundational to Macchia’s theological method are three integrated sources: the New Testament Spirit baptism metaphor; the Acts 2 Pentecost event; and the unique spirituality these themes have historically fostered within Classical Pentecostalism (5, 13). I would say that Macchia’s deeper “point of departure” is the ecclesial experience which the Pentecost event and the Spirit baptism metaphor together reach for. Hence, he stresses, “The church is the Spirit bap- tized people of God” (10, 56).

Macchia’s ecclesiology emerges from mining the ethos of Pentecostal spiri- tuality. Yet readers will constantly discover how he works from sustained ecu- menical conversations that have long shaped his theological approach and vision. As programmatically articulated in his Baptized in the Spirit book, his portrait of the church derives from an ecumenically informed doctrine of Spirit baptism that expands beyond the too often Pentecostally narrow focus on “empowerment for service.” He thus relies on the metaphor’s semantic reach towards the salvific event of conversion–initiation into the body of Christ, yet also towards the eschatological renewal of all creation (5–9, 11–12, 15–16, 210– 211).

Macchia consistently proceeds through a congenial spirit of receptive ecu- menism, comprising extended conversations with formalized ecumenical dia- logues over the past few decades on ecclesiological issues, particularly those involving Pentecostal delegations. He thus engages Roman Catholicism, East- ern Orthodoxy, Anglicanism, Lutheranism, Methodism, Evangelicalism, and the Reformed tradition. This reveals another important facet to Macchia’s ecumenically-tuned methodology; namely, one that also deeply mines for- mal conciliar processes and their resultant consensus statements. As evident throughout his previous works, he also consistently reveals his close depen- dence on Barth’s Trinitarian description of God (38–39) as the “self-giving God … for others” (96). These coalesced resources leads him towards a Pentecostal vision of the church that we might squarely situate within “communio”-type ecclesiologies (9); that is, those that appreciate the inner Trinitarian life of God


© koninklijke brill nv, leiden, 2020 | doi:10.1163/15700747-04202017


Book Reviews


as programmatic towards the nature of the church (35).This makes for an eccle- siology that is both pneumatologically and Christologically assented, though I must also stress it is also dogmatically Trinitarian founded and structured.

We should add that Macchia’s contribution to “communio” ecclesiologies is actually a logical outcome from his long standing argument that Spirit-baptism is profoundly more than anything else, a pouring out of God’s “overflowinglove” (56). It is a “divine embrace” that turns us outward, as if swept up into an “ocean of love”, sending us forth in the Fathers’ cause for saving world; actually, all cre- ation (12, 56–57). As a result, that which Macchia calls the “church,” is the initial outcome of Spirit-baptism transforming people “into the very embodiment” of God’s love and saving mission (57).

I have spent much effort describing Macchia’s methodology because I find this needful for best reviewing the book’s chapters and content. He begins with an “Introduction” that delineates contemporary malaises (“salvation ma- chines”) warranting his ecclesiological vision. Chapter 1 (“The Spirit Baptized Church”) delineates his theological premises and methodology, which I have already discussed. Here he also substantially presents a biblical theology that grants exegetical foundations to the following chapters.

I was initially intrigued by Chapter 2’s focus on “The Elect Church.” Yet as Macchia points out, I quickly realized that the historic deficiency of Pentecostal attention to this doctrine warrants its place within a Pentecostal theology of the Church (60). And here, Macchia’s Barthian influences well serve this need; pas- torally enabling educators and general readers alike, towards an understanding of Godelecting himself “to humanity”; and how the “anointed Christ” comes to include us withinthatelectionof “Godself” (102–103).

In chapter 3 (“The Pilgrim Church”) Macchia explores from Pentecostal intu- itions coupled again with ample ecumenical conversation, varied New Testa- ment models of the Church (“Field of God,” “Body of Christ,” “Temple of the Spirit,” “Army of God”) followed by an exposition of the Nicene marks of the Church (one, holy, catholic, apostolic). I must say that I find his four chosen “models” rather arbitrary without sufficiently expressed warrant. Yet I like the way he justifies the “army of God” metaphor through its implicit reference to historical Pentecostal cosmology that appreciates the reality of opposing spiri- tual powers to the church’s missional labour in the world (121–125). I also appre- ciate how he places all these themes within the notion of pilgrimage, given how the metaphor is not only ecumenically popular since its seminal use in Vatican II but may well capture the revivalistic and eschatological fervour of Pentecostal spirituality (105–108).

Macchia appropriately titles his final chapter, “The Witnessing Church”; thereby climaxing this ecclesial vision by delineating as thevocationaloutcome

Pneuma 42 (2020) 263–323



Book Reviews

of Spirit baptism (63), the mission of the church in the world as the “instru- mental” means through which (in a “derivative sense”) the Spirit of Christ “mediates” salvation in the world (165–168). Readers will find the rest of the chapter as the book’s most praxis-oriented section, comprising a wealth of the- ological reflection specifically applied to varied church ministry endeavours. These Macchia categorizes within the rubrics of: “practices” of “proclamation” (169–185), “sacraments” (185–210), and “Spiritual gifts and mission” (200–210). Permeating this whole section is a strong focus on the liturgical and worship life of the church, thus tightly linking the book’s concluding themes to its introduc- tory concerns on the adversarial power of “secular ‘liturgies’” (3).

Notwithstanding my praise for this seminal work, I feel Macchia could have more extensively engaged other efforts towards a Pentecostal ecclesiology. One instance is Wolfgang Vondey’s thesis that a crucial historic theme within Pen- tecostal ecclesial assumptions is its implicit “movement”-ecclesiality, which he stresses has eschatological nuances. Notice how this trajectory converges with Macchia’s broader theological vision: from his first volume to now, he con- sistently stresses the integrative role that eschatological fervour plays within Pentecostal spirituality and in this work, ecclesiology.

Macchia has long attributed Pentecostal eschatological expectancy to Spirit baptism, describing it through the imagery of nuptial arousal (Baptized in the Spirit).Hestatesthatthislatestbookcompleteshiswork.Yet,isitcomplete?For given his ongoing reference to Gregory of Nyssa’s dictum (“Christ is king”; his “Spirt is the kingdom”) I find another question arising for “dogmatic inquiry”: how might the Spirit baptism metaphor enable us toward a Pentecostal escha- tology? One that addresses wrong-headed other-worldly escapism and specu- lative date-setting, while rightly accentuating—as well testified through Pen- tecostal experiences of Spirit baptism—“bridal arousal” for the Bridegroom’s return?

Monte Rice

Independent Scholar, Republic of Singapore

Pneuma 42 (2020) 263–323



  • Reply January 27, 2024


    NOW this is something else John Mushenhouse David Bundy William DeArteaga Philip Williams Neil Steven Lawrence

  • Reply February 5, 2024


    Philip Williams from time to time ppl lke Jeffrey Snyder Anička Bubanová and yes even Link Hudson would make such bombastic heresay claims which are NOT true of course AG is pretty well on this part

    HOWEVER in the global movement we NOW know only 1/4 speak in tongues

    BACK in the 90s COG made a study only 1/3 of their ppl in America spoke in tongues Dale M. Coulter Bill Coble John Mushenhouse Tony Richie and this number has probably declined even more by today

    • Reply February 5, 2024


      RT Matt Cohn
      We should get baptised in the Holy Spirit and speak in tongues as an act of obedience. People don’t usually say ‘oh I don’t need to be baptised in water… why is it any different for tongues. Pentecostals need to get their doctrine of Baptism

    • Reply February 5, 2024


      Troy Day The idea that not agreeing with the idea that the answer to Paul’s question ‘Do all speak with tongue?’ should be yes is ‘heresy’ especially coming from someone who claims to have advanced academic degrees in theology.

    • Reply February 5, 2024


      Link Hudson
      I Corinthians 12:30
      “Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?….”

      The context of this passage is that not everyone has the same  Holy Spirit gifting. The “Gift of Tongues” is different than the general speaking in tongues that all Spirit baptized, believers speak in.

      Speaking in tongues and prophesying, are the scriptural normative evidences which manifest when someone is initially baptized in the Holy Spirit AND is continually filled with the Holy Spirit— during their Christian walk. Paul spoke about this when he says, “I speak in tongues more than all of you…“

      The gift of tongues has an outward purpose to bless the body of Christ. It normally pairs together with the gift of interpretation. 

      The normative speaking in tongues as a prayer and praise language for the believer has more of an inward focus, blessing the believer’s spirit and walk. 

      What I have just written is standard Pentecostal doctrine.

      Why are you conflating these two distinct workings of the Holy Spirit? 

    • Reply February 5, 2024


      Neil Steven Lawrence I don’t accept taking one concept and turning it into two like many Pentecostals do.

      The only source we have Biblically for speaking in tongues being used as prayer treats speaking in tongues for prayer and tongues for the assembly as the same thing, except you add an interpretation to it.

      Look at these verses in I Corinthians 14
      2 For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.
      3 But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.
      4 He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church.
      5 I would that ye all spake with tongues but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying.

      So regarding praying in tongues we learn he speaks to God, he speaks mysteries, but in verse 5, still on the same topic, he talks about interpreting it to edify the body. So he isn’t treating prayer as a separate gift.

      Let’s read further down.
      13 Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret.
      14 For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful.
      15 What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.
      16 Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest?
      17 For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified.
      18 I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all:
      19 Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.

      Verse 15 __could___ describe a situation where one prays in tongues then interprets. But be that as it may, it is talking about praying in tongues in church not edifying. It doesn’t make the type of tongues used for prayer into a whole different category from those that are interpreted.

      Notice how Paul treats it as one category here:

      27 If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret.
      28 But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God.

      In verse 28, the same sort of tongue that would otherwise be interpreted is to be spoken ‘to himself and to God.’

      The Bible doesn’t create this separate category.

      [And of course, speaking in tongues CAN be uttered/spoken which is why it is called ‘speaking in tongues’ and the disciples spoke as the Spirit gave them ‘utterance.’ Romans 8:26 is about groaning that cannot be utterred/spoken. ]

    • Reply February 5, 2024


      Link Hudson
      The point is some people may have been out of order and trying to speak loudly in the congregation with their personal prayer language, and it was not being interpreted. Thus Paul gives the advice to keep it to themselves. But in the passage you have quoted, it gives all the distinctions I was speaking about . The purpose of body ministry of the gifts of tongues is so that it can be interpreted. Thus it acts like the gift of prophecy which edifies the body because it brings understanding. This is exactly the point Paul is making.

      The scripture does show a distinction between a personal prayer language of tongues and a body ministry of tongues. The major distinction is ideally. The tongues spoken out loud in the body should be interpreted. 

      I have seen the gift of tongues and interpretation in operation in numerous places around the world and have myself participated in interpretation on several occasions. I know that it is real, and it matches the advice Paul gives.

      The same thing applies to the personal prayer language of tongues having experienced it personally for 35 years. 

    • Reply February 5, 2024


      Neil Steven Lawrence I have experienced tongues used both ways, but I’ve been speaking in tongues for 40 years. Walk me through how you arrive at the idea that Paul creates two distinct categories for tongues used interpreted or uninterpreted.

      Verse 28 treats it as the same thing. Speaking in tongues is the same thing as speaking in tongues, but if there be no interpreter, let him keep silent in the church and speak to himself and to God. But if there is an interpreter, it is allowed. So here, prayer in tongues or speaking in tongues is the same thing as tongues for the congregation, except there is no interpreter.

    • Reply February 5, 2024


      Link Hudson
      I am not saying that tongues prayer language is necessarily different than tongues ministry gift in how it sounds but only different and how it operates.

      From the list of 9 spiritual gifts that Paul makes others can be added up to 21 if combined with other lists in other passages. These lists do not exhaust the gifting of the Holy Spirit, but provide a representation of the major ones in operation during New Testament times.

      Paul himself makes a distinction “to all prophesy or speak in tongues, or have the gift of healing…” – – Showing the “gift“ of tongues is NOT the same as the tongues received by every Pentecostal believer when they are baptized in the Holy Spirit.

      The statements in the exemplar passage we are referring to mutually excludes some people from having various gifts. “Not all have…— this gift, or that gift.” Yet we know that all who are baptized in the Holy Spirit speak in tongues as a manifestation proof that they are filled with the Holy Spirit. 

      Thus the distinction between general tongues prayer language
      the Gift of Tongues (for the purpose of interpretation).

      All Pentecostals have the first but not all Pentecostals have the second. 

    • Reply February 5, 2024


      Neil Steven Lawrence First of all, you are assuming ‘tongues as a sign’ is the same as a prayer language. Some people experience tongues one-off but then aren’t able to just pray in tongues any time. Denominations have formed around this difference in personal experience. I went to a Congregational Holiness for a couple of years. It was a Pentecostal church with preaching, tongues and interpretation, and prophesying, an offshoot of the Pentecostal Holiness that split over congregational rather than episcopal government and believing it was okay for believers to go to the doctor. Jentzen Franklin is probably the most famous pastor of a CH in the US.

      In their doctrinal booklet in the 1990’s they said they did not believe in speaking in tongues ‘at will’ without the moving of the Holy Spirit (a false dichotomy, IMO) and some people in Sunday school held to that position. Of course, that idea, along with sanctification as a distinct one-off experience are the kinds of things that fade away in Pentecostal denominations as they react with other Pentecostals and since there isn’t really any scripture to back it up.

      But if someone speaks in tongues one time, that doesn’t mean they are guaranteed to be able to speak in tongues for life.

      Also, the idea that every believer who is filled/baptized with the Spirit is guaranteed to speak in tongues is based on some weak exegetical reasoning. Let’s apply the same reasoning to hearing God at Mt. Sinai. Consider these two sets of statements:

      1. Since in these three passages, people were filled with the Spirit and spoke in tongues, if people are filled with the Spirit now, they are guaranteed to speak in tongues.

      2. Since in these three passages, people who went to Mt. Sinai/Mt. Horeb heard God speak audibly then anyone who goes to Mt. Sina/Mt. Horeb will hear God audibly.

      We could look at Moses, the people of Israel, and Elijah as examples. But did God guarantee that anyone who goes to Mt. Sinai will hear Him speak audibly? No.

      And the case is better for that than for initial evidence. If ‘they’ do something in scripture, it is often a representative of the group or part of the group that actually does it. The disciples asked why the ointment wasn’t sold and given to the poor. But in John we see that it was Judas who actually said it.

      In Acts 10, ‘they’ spoke in tongues and magnified God. And if half of them spoke in tongues and half of them magnified God in Greek or Latin, the passage would still be true. In Acts 19, they spoke in tongues and prophesied. If only half of them spoke in tongues and half prophesied, the passage would still be true.

      If believing the A/G, COG, etc. doctrine on initial evidence is what makes one Pentecostal, then was FF Bosworth not a Pentecostal?

    • Reply February 5, 2024


      What is prayer language?

      This is NOT Pentecostal terminology and is not mentioned in the BIBLE

      The term was introduced in the 70s by catholic charismatics

      What your prayer language Link ?

    • Reply February 5, 2024


      Troy Day I think it was Philip Williams who posted that there was an influential Presbyterian Sunday School material writer who used the term when trying to tell Pentecostals not to pray in tongues all at the same time at her events.

      I’m not fully endorsing that full concepts, since I consider the stuff to be interpreted to be the same sort of thing that is interpreted, but tongues can be used for prayer.

    • Reply February 5, 2024


      Link Hudson nevertheless prayer language is NOT in the BIBLE as John Mushenhouse Neil Steven Lawrence indicated Philip Williams is namely from the charismatic catholic renewal who still worship the pope

    • Reply February 5, 2024


      Link Hudson Henrietta Mears, I believe.

Leave a Reply

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