“The Spirit is thrilling, but the church is weak” – another over-reaction.


  • Many world religions have a devotional & mystical strand where the worshipper’s devotion involves the emotions to a great extent, even to the point of ecstasy.  The worship becomes very experientially-oriented.
  • This type of worship involves such practices as ecstatic speech, trance-like behavior, miraculous healings and prophetic messages.
  • Historically, these movements often arose when the parent religion had become ritualistic and stale.  We see “charismatic” worship in Hinduism, Islam and Christianity today.
  • Compare with Catholicism, where the work of the Spirit was channeled through the bishop and sacraments, now you can go directly to God!
  • Around the first century, there were a number of pagan religions that involved healings and tongue-speaking. (Greek cult of Asklepios – followers hung plaster casts of healed body parts in the temple; Egyptian cult of Isis – followers of the goddess were involved in tongue-speaking.)

Point 1: The History of Pentecostalism

  1. First Century
  • AD 30 – the Holy Spirit was poured out on the Day of Pentecost, fulfilling Joel 2:28-32, beginning the church age and the availability of the Holy Spirit to Christians.
  • Early New Testament period – apostles had the miraculous gifts and the ability to pass them on. Miraculous activity centered on the apostles.
  • AD 40 the Spirit was poured out on to the Gentles (Acts 10).
  • Miraculous gifts spread in the early church by the apostles – Corinth, Rome, etc.
  • Speaking gifts were abused in the Corinthian church
  1. Second Century
  • AD 150 Gnostics (heretical sect) spoke in ecstatic “tongues.”
  • AD 170 Montanism (heretical sect) –
    • Montanus uttered ecstatic prophecies.
    • He was active in the region of Phrygia and claimed to be the mouthpiece of the Paraclete (Holy Spirit).  Ascetic.
    • Tertullian (patristic writer) joined up.
    • Died out in about one generation
    • Eusebius, who wrote History of the Church, wrote “… a recent convert, Montanus by name, through his unquenchable desire for leadership gave the adversary opportunity against him.  And he became beside himself, and being suddenly in a sort of frenzy and ecstasy, he raved, and began to babble and utter strange things, prophesying in a manner contrary to the constant custom of the Church handed down by tradition from the beginning.” (Book 5, Chapter 16).
  1. Post Mid-Third Century
  • No documented charismatic activity until some revival groups in Reformation times.
  1. Modern Roots
  • 18th century – Wesley, Whitefield
  • John Wesley – had an experience where he left his heart “strangely warned.”
    • Taught that sanctification (being made holy) was a second work of grace distinct from and following justification (conversion/forgiveness)
  • 19th century – Holiness movement – “Higher life movement,” camp meetings, preachers proclaimed a “second blessing” where the heart was cleansed from all sin.  Sometimes this second blessing was called “the baptism of the Holy Ghost.”
  • Edward Irving attempted a charismatic revival in London in 1831.  Movement failed in England but established “glossolalid” as the “standing sign” of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
  1. 20th Century Beginnings (Classic Pentecostalism – First Wave)
  • USA – Methodist, Holiness church and camp meetings
  • 1 Jan 1901 (first day of 20th century), at Bethel Bible College in Topeka, Kansas, led by Charles Fox Parham. Students were seeking the baptism of the Spirit, and Agnes Ozman was the first to receive it.  Parham was the first to teach that “speaking in tongues” was the initial evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  He believed that this was actual languages (xenoglosolalia).  He told his missionaries not to study foreign languages because they would preach in miraculous tongues.
  • 1906 – Azusa Street revival in Los Angeles – William Joseph Seymour was an African-American preacher who had been taught by Parham.  Three services a day, seven days a week, thousands visited to receive the “tongues baptism.”  It was a merger of the white, American Holiness religion with the black American worship styles.  Pentecostalism spread from there.
  • Many churches developed and split.  E.g., Pentecostal Holiness Church, the Fire-Baptized Holiness Church, and the Pentecostal Free-Will Baptist Church, Church of God in Christ.
  • Baptism of the Holy Spirit and glossolalia added as a “third blessing” to the second blessing holiness theology.
  • Assemblies of God (AOG) began in 1914 led by Charles H. Durham, who had been an Azusa Street pilgrim. It is the largest Pentecostal church in the world today.
  • There are 11,000 Pentecostal denominations today.
  1. Neo-Pentecostal or Charismatic Movement (Second Wave)
  • “Second wave” Pentecostalism penetrating mainline Protestant and Catholic churches.  “Charismatic renewal” with the aim of reviving historic churches.
  • Beginnings in 1960 in Van Nuys, California with Dennis Bennet, rector of St. Marks Episcopal Church.
  • Within 10 years, the Charismatic movement had spread to all the 150 major Protestant denominations.  55 million people were reached by 1990.
  • Catholic Charismatic movement existed from 1967 on.
  • Full Gospel Businessmen’s Fellowship
  • Pat Boone leaves the Church of Christ to join a Charismatic group.
  • Multi-million dollar Television ministries and facilities – Bakkers, Swaggarts, Jerry Falwell.
  1. Third Wave
  • Early 1980s.  John Wimber.  “Power Evangelism,” Vineyard Fellowship.
  • Mainline evangelicals who moved in “signs and wonders.”
  • Included miracles, visions, prophecy, healings, etc., as essential supplements to the gospel.
  • Evangelism via miracles replaced preaching in effect.
  • Had 33 million by 1990.
  • Was becoming more acceptable in more traditional churches.
  • More relaxed on sin than Pentecostals
  • Rodney Howard Browne of the Toronto Airport Church (origin of the “Toronto Blessing” – holy laughter).  Even the Vineyard distanced themselves from Toronto.

Point 2: Theology and Practices

  1. Key differentiator: Holy Spirit Baptism
  • All are encouraged to seek the Holy Spirit baptism (Acts 2:1-4)
  • Pentecostal theology: Tongue-speaking as the “initial evidence” of salvation.
  1. Being “Slain in the Spirit”
  • Hands are laid on you for either healing, imparting of gifts, or deliverance from demons and you fall backwards onto the ground.  The explanation is that human flesh cannot stand up before the power of God.
  • Ushers are there to catch you.
  • People may remain on the floor for quite some time afterwards, often in an unconscious or trance-like state.
  1. Word of Knowledge
  • One of the revelation gifts of the Holy Spirit.  A word of knowledge is when someone knows something currently going on in another’s life.  It may be a secret sin, a prayer need, a heart’s desire or a sickness, e.g., “The Lord has shown me someone here as a back pain.”

Point 3: The Really Out-there Stuff

  • “Toronto Blessing” is at the Toronto Vineyard Church, led by Rodney-Howard Browne (also known as the Holy Ghost Bartender).  The phenomena started one day while he was preaching on hell.  The folks just fell out on the floor with laughter and the rest is heretical history.  People would travel from other countries to see what was going on. This church later disassociated from the Vineyard and was renamed the Toronto Airport Church.
  • Word of Faith Movement – Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland
  • Name it and Claim it Theology
  • Health, Wealth and Prosperity teaching – nothing less than prosperity and perfect health is God’s will.
  • The believer becomes above God.  You control God.  You are a god.
  • Kenneth Copeland
    • “You don’t have a God in you.  You are one!”
    • “God’s reason for creating Adam was His desire to reproduce Himself.  I mean a reproduction of Himself, and in the Garden of Eden He did just that.  He was not a little God.  He was not almost like God.  He was not subordinate to God even… Adam is as much like God as you could get, just the same as Jesus… Adam, in the Garden of Eden, was God manifested in the flesh.”
    • Virtually Mormon theology!
    • “I was shocked when I found out who the biggest failure in the Bible actually is … The biggest one in the whole Bible is God … I mean, He lost His top-ranking, most anointed angel; the first man He ever created; the first woman He ever created; the whole earth and all the Fullness therein; a third of the angels, at least – that’s a big loss, man.”
  • John Scotland – makes chicken sounds while preaching.  Spiritual drunkenness idea.  He as “the gift of offending people.” Was totally wild.
    • Actual transcript from a Scotland “sermon”: “See, some of us are saying, I can’t get my head around this.  You’re not supposed to get your head around it, you’re supposed to get your heart around it.  You’ve got PhD “Permanent Head Damage,” listening to too many sermons. For 20 years I’ve preached 3 point sermons.  Nobody set free.  Now I get drunk and ramble and God offends people to reveal their hearts.  I was at another service and I had the bag with my bottles in it. And I staggered to the front, and I am going through my bag looking for my bottles, and I know the spirit of God is doing something.  And my natural mind is saying, get on with the sermon.  And the spirit of God is carry on, go with the low.  What do you want?  You want religion.  You want sermons? Tickle your ears? Or do you want the foolishness? Do you want the foolishness of the Holy Spirit to come in?  In Power.  Isn’t it great to shout in church?  Isn’t it?  It’s great, you know all these years, you’ve been told.  When you walk into church SHHH. SHHH. You might wake God up.”

Point 4: Features of the Charismatic Mindset

  1. Emphasis on spiritual experiences.  Two errors here:
  • Experience thought to validate truth.  Some people even base their salvation on a conversion experience over what the Bible teaches.  The Bible is clear that obedience to the Word is the key.
    • Matthew 7:21-23: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you.  Away from me, you evildoers!”
    • Deuteronomy 13:1-5: “If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a miraculous sign or wonder, and if the sign or wonder of which he has spoken takes place, and he says, ‘Let us follow other gods’ (gods you have not known) ‘and let us worship them,’ you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer.  The Lord your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul.  It is the Lord your God you must follow, and him you must revere.  Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him.  That prophet or dreamer must be put to death, because he preached rebellion against the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery; he has tried to turn you from the way the Lord your God commanded you to follow. You must purge the evil from among you.”
    • Acts 5:32: “We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”
  • Can develop a mentality of seeking greater and greater experiences.  Jesus played down the miraculous and discouraged a sign-seeking mentality.
    • Matthew 12:38-39: “Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, “Teacher, we want to see a miraculous sign from you.”  He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign!  But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.”
  1. Feelings Orientation
  • Tend to make decisions based on emotions. This idea comes from an idea that the Spirit will lead via an “inner witness.”  It is also known as “feelings led”
  • It is the fallacy of confusing the deception of inner feelings with the leading of God’s spirit.
  • Feelings can deceive
    • Proverbs 14:12: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.”
    • Jeremiah 17:9: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.  Who can understand it?”
    • 1 Samuel 13:12-13: “I thought, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the Lord’s favor.’ So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering.”  “You acted foolishly,” Samuel said. “You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time.”
    • Jude 1:19: “These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.”
  • The Spirit will lead us to be obedient to the Word of God.
    • Psalms 143:10: “Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.”
  1. Irrational – unwilling to test things logically
  • The Pentecostal movement is notorious for an anti-intellectual approach to the Bible.  Those who seek to study the Bible thoroughly and do the work of exegesis, etc., will be labeled “religious.” (a negative term)
  • Robert Schuller: “Don’t try to understand it, just start to enjoy it.”
  • Kenneth Copeland: “Believers are not to be led by logic.  We are not even to be led by good sense”[1] and “I don’t preach doctrine, I preach faith.”[2]
  1. Call it the Spirit and Anything goes
  • It seems that virtually all activity is condoned if it is attributed to the Spirit.
    • Holy Laughter, barking, writing on the floor, “spiritual drunkenness” …
  • If you question this, you may be accused of “quenching the Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 5:19 but read 1 Thessalonians 5:21)
    • 1 Thessalonians 5:19-21: “Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt.  Test everything.  Hold on to the good.”
  1. Lack of emphasis on righteousness
  • Spiritually equated to “feeling the divine” instead of “obeying the divine.”
  • Shocking record of sexual and financial sin in Charismatic leadership
  • Disunity and church splits a major feature of the Pentecostal movement.
    • Over 11,000 groups today
  1. Extra Revelation
  • Modern day revelatory gifts accepted (Prophecy, etc.)
  • “God told me….” Common in sermons
  • “Word of knowledge” – supernatural insights

Point 5: Perspectives

  • Tongues in the New Testament
    • Actual languages in Acts 2
    • Again, actual languages in Acts 10 but is seen to be a rare thing (Acts 11:15).
    • Also Acts 19.
    • Only in 1 Corinthians 12-14, where the emphasis is definitely one or correction and not direction.  The Corinthians are blowing it.  Many Charismatics quote 1 Corinthians 14:4 as a positive reason for tongue-speaking.  Yet the context is profoundly negative.  They are being selfish!  Tongue-speaking is of no value unless someone interprets it.  What people need to hear is the word of God.
  • 1 Corinthians 14:4-5: “He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church.  I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy.  He who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tonuges, unless he interprets, so that the church may be edified.”
    • Miraculous tongue-speaking is a relatively minor thing in the New Testament.
    • Compare this to the extreme focus Charismatics have on this ability.
    • Tongue-speaking claimed today is known technically as glossolalia.  Truthfully, it is a psychological phenomenon, and can be easily learned.  It has been a subject of psychological and scientific tests that have universally concluded that “tongues” is not a language at all.  It is acquired behavior.
    • Tongue-speaking is a phenomenon found in many cultures and religions, including Mormons and Muslims.
  • The purpose of miraculous gifts is to confirm the spoken message, not the written message.
    • Acts 14:3: “So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to do miraculous signs and wonders.”
    • Hebrews 2:3-4: “How shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation?  This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him.  God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.”
    • Also see Moses in Exodus 4:1-9; Jesus in John 10:38, 14;11, Acts 2:22; Elijah in 1 Kings 17:24.  Once the written word was available, miracles were no longer required.  The Word is all we need.
  • 2 Timothy 3:16-7: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
  • Also see John 20:30-31; Luke 16:19-31; Ephesians 4:11-14
  • Miracles and mystical experiences are no proof of salvation anyway. (Matthew 7:21-23, Matthew 24:4, Galatians 1:6-9, 2 Thessalonians 2:9)
  • Claims of Charismatic miracles today are nowhere near New Testament miracles. Spectacular failure of healing of true organic conditions.  Many still in wheelchairs, etc.
  • Miraculous gifts were transmitted by the hands of an apostle in the first century.
    • Acts 8:18: “When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money.”
    • But they who were given them could not pass it on as they were not apostles (Acts 6:6, 6:8, 8:18, 2 Timothy 1:6).  When the apostles died, the true miraculous abilities died out.  History shows this, too.

Point 6:  How to Help

  •       Do not be insensitive
  •       Do not deny your friend’s experiences
  •       Do not belittle their views
  •       Nail down obedience to the word.
  •       Teach your friend to be logical
  •       Point out when emotions are being followed.
  •       Take time to do the Feelings Study with them.
  •       Focus on Sin and Discipleship.  The Spirit convicts us of sin.
  •       Go evangelizing together.
  •       Repentance is the issue.  Not the Holy Spirit or Baptism.


Title: Pentecostalism
Point 1: The History of Pentecostalism
Point 2: Theology and Practices
Point 3: The Really Out There Stuff
Point 4: Features of the Charismatic Mindset
Point 5: Perspectives
Point 6: How to Help

Memory Verses:

Psalms 143:10: “Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.”
The Spirit leads on level ground.
Romans 8:9-13: “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you.  And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.  But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.
Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation – but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it.  For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.”
We must have the Spirit to belong to Christ.
Acts 8:18: “When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money.”
The Spirit was passed on by the laying on of the apostles’ hands.
Acts 5:32: “We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”
The Spirit is received via obedience.

[1] Copeland, Kenneth, Force of Faith, (Harrison House Publishers, 2015), 7.
[2] Copeland, Kenneth, “Following the Faith of Abraham,” (Kenneth Copeland Ministries, 1989), tape 1, side 2.

Leave a Comment