What Evangelicals Can Learn from Pentecostals
There is much to learn and adopt from a Pentecostal-Charismatic view of the church. I personally consider myself a third-wave charismatic and speak from this perspective. First, the hunger and desire to experience the manifest presence of God and live in the fullness of the Spirit is something all Christ followers should seek. The encouragement for each person to understand and share their gifts – whether it be the gift of healing, prophesy, tongues or faith – for the building up of the body enables each member to live out the reality of the priesthood of all believers as well as live up to their sacred potential. Having taken four trips to Africa, being in places where there are no doctors or medical help, I have appreciated the simple faith that Pentecostal’s have in a supernatural God, who not only can intervene in peoples lives, but actually desires to heal and deliver people, out of his love and mercy. I appreciate the energy, aliveness and the spontaneity that Pentecostalism has brought to the gathered people of God, along with the desire to see unbelievers come into a vibrant relationship with Christ. Finally, I think a possible hidden value that Pentecostal-charismatic’s have brought to ecclesiology is that ecclesiology may best be done while on mission in the power of the Spirit in light of God’s word.
One of the fundamental challenges to classical Pentecostalism is the separation of classes of Christians, first class being those who can speak in tongues and second class, those who can’t. While the Azusa experience united the unlikely and still does, insisting that everyone speak in tongues, as a sign of the baptism of the Spirit seems to unnecessarily divide the church. One of the original purposes of the gift of tongues was to unite Jew and Gentile, the most extreme divide in that day. The third wave has corrected this unnecessary division of Christians, while retaining an appreciation of all the gifts of the Spirit. A greater appreciation for tradition, spirit-imbibed structure, and ecclesiological praxis could prove helpful.