Charismatics – Part 6

By: Dr. Thomas Figart; ©2012
Pentecostalism – Definition: “Very simply, then, the now nearly 8 million Pentecostals bear that name because they are convinced of a present-day experience for….believers such as was received by the early disciples on the Day of Pentecost.”


Charismatics – Part 6

VII. Pentecostalism in America

  1. Definition: “Very simply, then, the now nearly 8 million Pentecostals bear that name because they are convinced of a present-day experience for….believers such as was received by the early disciples on the Day of Pentecost.” From Pentecostalism, John Thomas Nichol, pp. 1-2 (Harper & Row, N.Y., 1966). The emphasis is upon a recurring experience of Pentecost.
  2. Pentecostal Fellowship of North America: Statement of Truth.
    1. Inspiration, infallibility and authenticity of Scripture.
    2. Trinity.
    3. Deity of Christ, Virgin Birth, sinless life, miracles, vicarious and atoning sacrifice through His blood, bodily resurrection, ascension, personal return in power and glory.
    4. Salvation is by regeneration of the Holy Spirit.
    5. The Gospel includes:
      1. Holiness of heart and life.
      2. Healing for the body.
      3. Baptism in the Holy Spirit.
      4. Speaking in tongues.
    6. Present ministry of indwelling of the Holy Spirit, by whose indwelling the Christian is enabled to live a godly life.
    7. Resurrection of the saved and lost to life and damnation respectively.
    8. Spiritual unity of believers.

Note: Except for #5, the entire list was taken from the 1943 statement of the National Association of Evangelicals.

  1. History of Pentecostalism.

It is closely allied to the Holiness movement, which was an outgrowth of post-Civil War revivals by Methodists to revive John Wesley’s doctrine of Christian perfection, which Methodists had neglected. Though Methodists started this revival, others joined.
William Boardman, an American Presbyterian, and Robert Pearsall Smith conducted meetings all over England. They started the Keswick movement. Their idea was similar to Pentecostalism: “When the Spirit makes His abode within, it will be accompanied by the believer experiencing a definite emotional reaction. This is his baptism in the Spirit, his secured blessing.”
Sanctification, or “second blessing” is an experience subsequent to and distinct from justification or conversion. His effect is the eradication of natural depravity or inbred sin. In 1894 Methodist bishops issued a pastoral letter enunciating their disaffection for the Holiness contingent. Various groups formed, including: Church of the Nazarene, Pilgrim Holiness Church, Church of God (Anderson, Ind.). Two emphases arose within these groups; the one said that the experience of sanctification was either an instantaneous total cleansing from sin or an abiding devotion to God (Holiness group). The other group said sanctification would be certified by some supernatural sign; a vision, dream, or speaking in tongues (The Pentecostal group).
Two groups of Holiness churches leaned toward the Pentecostal experience: the Church of God (Cleveland, Tenn.) and the Pentecostal Holiness Church.

  1. Outburst of Pentecostalism in Topeka, Kansas in 1901.

Charles Fox Parham, was born in Muscatine, Iowa, June 4, 1873. He had been a lay preacher in the Congregational church, was later associated with Methodists and then withdrew to join a Holiness group. He was head of Bethel Bible College which opened in Topeka, October, 1900.
Dec. 1900: He told his students to study the Bible to see if there was some sort of special witness to the fact that a person has been baptized with the Holy Spirit. When he returned, the students told him that on each occasion in Apostolic times there was speaking in tongues. From that time, each member of the College family determined to pray and look for an experience like those in Acts.

On New Year’s Eve 40 students and 70 others met. Miss Agnes Ozman asked Parham to “lay hands” on her; he did, and she began speaking Chinese and was unable to speak English for three days. The significance for Pentecostals is that this is not a gift of tongues, but a sign of the baptism or filling of the Spirit.
Classes were suspended during January, 1901 and the student body engaged in prayer, expecting the same thing. Soon, the majority of them, including Parham, had a Spirit baptism and had spoken in “other tongues.” They associated this with Joel 2:28-32 and were convinced they were in the last days. They determined to preach the gospel to every creature. Initially they were unsuccessful, for two years. Revival efforts in Kansas City were a dismal failure. Bethel College closed and Parham moved to Kansas City. There he was opposed by pulpit and press.
In August, 1903 Mary A. Arthur of Galena, Kansas was healed of various diseases, including serious eye trouble. One of her friends was also healed of cancer. In October Parham began to preach in the Arthur home, then in a tent, and finally in the Grand Leader building, until Jan. 1904. In three months over 1,000 were “healed” and 800 converted.
From Kansas this movement spread to Missouri, Texas, Alabama and Florida. Parham started a Bible School in Houston, Texas. One of his students was a black Holiness preacher, William J. Seymour.
Note: Parham and his son were British Israelism theorists. Seymour was invited to Los Angeles as an associate pastor. He preached from Acts 2:4 and was kept out of the Holiness Church for emphasizing the need for “tongues” and the “baptism” of the Spirit. He then went to a home and for three days they shouted and praised God. The crowd was too large, so they procured an old Methodist church on Azusa Street and named it the Apostolic Faith Gospel Mission.
Soon after, two Baptist pastors, Dr. Joseph Small of First Baptist, Los Angeles, and Elmer K. Fisher of First Baptist, Glendale, resigned their churches and associated with Seymour’s group. People came from all over the world to Azusa Street. This Azusa Street Mission lasted until 1923.

  1. Pentecostalism in America in the 1960’s (from The Pentecostals, by Walter J. Hollenweger (Minneapolis, Minn: Augsburg Publishing Co., 1972).)
    1. The Van Nuys, California Revival.

This began with a young couple in an Episcopal Church and then to another couple. The vicar told his superior, Father Benner. But the vicar and 700 members were soon involved. One of these was Mrs. Jean Stone, wife of a director of Lockheed. She began to give lectures on Spirit baptism and she laid hands on people to receive this baptism. Finally, even Father Dennis J. Bennet resigned, since he too became “Pentecostal,” and the revival of Pentecostalism spread in the Anglican Church in America and Europe.

    1. Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International (FGBMFI)

A Pentecostal organization of business men, it was founded by an American, Demos Shakarian. They helped to finance Oral Roberts University, Tulsa, Oklahoma. They have branches all over the world; the European branch has become a separate group. There is considerable tension between FGBMFI and other Pentecostal denominations for clarification of their preachers. Contrariwise the denominations accuse the business men’s organization of too much business organization and not enough Spirit. Their magazine is Full Gospel Men’s Voice. They claim that the person full of the Holy Spirit will have more success than the unbeliever, or the believer not baptized by the Spirit.

    1. David J. Du Plessis is a S. African descendant of Hugenots. He is a leader in S. African Apostolic Faith Mission and a long time General Secretary of the World Pentecostal Conferences. He advocates contacts with the World Council of Churches. He participates in ecumenical conferences with Catholics, and is not seen in fundamental churches. In 1962 this led the Assemblies of God to disfellowship him.
    2. Roman Catholic Pentecostalism.

In 1966-1967 several Catholic laymen, all faculty members of Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA, were drawn together on Pentecostal experiences. Mr. and Mrs. Ranaghan were leaders. They were influenced by David Wilkerson’s story. This revival spread to Notre Dame University and eventually over all America. There is considerable freedom (such as smoking and drinking) in the Roman Catholic groups.

  1. Present-day Pentecostalism.

There are so many different groups that it is not feasible to give an adequate review of the movement today. Numerous scandals of televangelists of Pentecostal persuasion have not helped their cause. As in any denomination, there are sincere, godly men, and there are deceivers. The only fair thing to do is to evaluate each one on his own merit, and in the light of the Word of God.


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