A gracEmail subscriber writes, following a gracEmail fun quiz on “Holiness, Pentecostals, Charismatics,” asking what the similarities and differences are in those three groups.
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John and Charles Wesley were present at a prayer meeting on Fetter Lane in London when, about 3:00 o’clock in the morning of January 1, 1739, the power of God was poured out in what later came to be known as “the Methodist Pentecost.” In the beginning, the Methodists or Wesleyans were very expressive in their religious fervor (some others referred to them as “shouting Methodists”) and deeply committed to “Bible holiness” or “sanctification” in personal life. In time, the spiritual fervor eroded and with it (in the minds of some Methodists) doctrinal conviction and a “holy” lifestyle.
In 1867, following the U.S. Civil War, several Methodist preachers were among those leading the interdenominational National Camp Meeting for the Promotion of Holiness, which spurred more than 50 similar camp meetings across the country. In 1885, a Methodist preacher named John P. Brooks led the “Come-Outism” Movement (calling God’s people to “come out” from the world with its vices), urging people to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, which he understood to be a dramatic “sanctification” experience as a “second work of grace” following conversion. From this broader holiness movement were formed the Holiness Church of Christ (later merged into the Church of the Nazarene) and the Church of God (Anderson, Indiana). These churches were “Holiness” churches but not Pentecostal. For them, baptism in the Holy Spirit involved “sanctification” but not speaking in tongues.
Then on New Year’s Eve 1900, at a prayer meeting at Bethel College in Topeka, Kansas, a student named Agnes Ozman spoke in tongues, with others rapidly following her experience. In 1906, revival broke out at a Methodist church on Azusa Street in Los Angeles and continued for three years. Glossolalia, or speaking in tongues, was a hallmark of the Azusa Street revival. Those involved came to teach that speaking in tongues was the certain and necessary sign of Holy Spirit baptism. Such believers eventually formed the “Pentecostal” denominations, among which are the Assemblies of God, Church of God (Cleveland, Tenn.), Church of God of Prophecy, Church of God in Christ, International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, Pentecostal Holiness Church, United Pentecostal Church and the Elim Fellowship.
A half century later, in the 1950s, David duPlessis, the secretary of Pentecostal World Conference, contacted the World Council of Churches, which opened its doors to Pentecostals. During the 1960s, the Pentecostal experience broke out across the Christian landscape. A Pentecostal-style “baptism of the Holy Spirit” accompanied by speaking in tongues began to occur among Catholics (centered at Notre Dame University and Word of God Community in Ann Arbor, Michigan), Lutherans (Larry Christensen), Episcopalian (Dennis Bennett), Churches of Christ (Pat Boone) and others. As these individuals were expelled from their original denominations, they began to form new, independent “charismatic” churches. While charismatics believe that God gives all the spiritual gifts today, including speaking in tongues, many charismatics do not believe that this gift necessarily accompanies baptism of the Holy Spirit.