THE PENTECOSTAL POSITION
THE PENTECOSTAL POSITION
This book is a presentation of the Pentecostal position on Holy Spirit baptism. Not all those who are connected with the movement will agree with all that is in these pages; but the position taken does generally represent both the Pentecostal and Charismatic viewpoint. It probably hovers somewhere in the middle of the more extreme views taken by some on either side. The Pentecostal position on the baptism in the Holy Spirit, and on the gifts of the Spirit, depends on establishing four things
- that there is available to every Christian an experience known (among other titles) as “Holy Spirit baptism”
- that new birth (or regeneration) and the baptism in the Spirit are discrete; that is, they are separate and distinct happenings, though they may sometimes occur simultaneously
- that “glossolalia” (speaking in tongues) is the usual initial evidence that a person has been baptised in the Spirit
- that the miraculous gifts of the Spirit (the charismata) which existed in the early church are still available and should be occurring in the worship of the modern church.
The remainder of this book will try to establish those propositions.
A SUPERNATURAL VIEW
You will soon realise that I endorse the world-view of the early church, which recognised supernatural experiences, accepted the reality of miracles, and believed in God’s personal involvement in human experience. I accept also that the scriptures give us an accurate presentation of the teachings and practices of the early church, and that what they did establishes the normative pattern for Christianity. As a corollary, I reject that essentially secular theology in which there is no place for miracles. When one has seen a miracle it is hard to say that they don’t happen!
I am of course aware of the arguments against seeking an absolute paradigm in the early church. There are necessarily many places where the modern church, in its practice and emphasis, must part company with the first Christians. However, I am satisfied that the same general practices and beliefs, or at least those that are revealed in scripture, and which led those first Christians to such resounding success, are equally relevant to our time. The success story of the current world-wide charismatic movement certainly supports this view. (There are today at least 50 million members in the various Pentecostal denominations, after less than 100 years of witness. To those must be added the many millions more who belong to the “neo-Pentecostal” or “charismatic” movement, which is located in the older denominations.)
ONLY HOLY SPIRIT BAPTISM
Perhaps I should also say that this study is not a comprehensive discussion of the work of the Holy Spirit in the believer or in the church. It is not even a comprehensive discussion of the baptism in the Spirit. Many important aspects of the work of the Holy Spirit have been omitted. This study is mainly intended to be a presentation of what might be called the distinctly charismatic aspects of the activity of the Holy Spirit in the believer.
A ROSE BY MANY NAMES
This study adopts the position that the following and other similar terms are all more or less synonymous:
- baptism in the Spirit
- gift (singular) of the Spirit
- infilling of the Spirit
- fullness of the Spirit
- promise of the Father
- the Holy Spirit falling “on” or “upon” someone.
They all refer basically to the same experience: that “clothing with power from on high”, which every Christian should receive subsequent to his or her conversion to Christ.
In recent years the custom has become widespread of omitting the definite article, and of speaking about “Holy Spirit baptism”, or even “baptism in Holy Spirit”. Others prefer the older phrase, “the baptism in (or of) the Holy Spirit”. Since the original Greek text of the scriptures sometimes includes and sometimes omits the article, this varied terminology must be allowed. Possible there is no more reason to speak of “the baptism in the Holy Spirit”, than to say “the baptism in the water”. You will probably find all the variations scattered through these pages. I feel no more need to be rigidly consistent than did the apostles. However, “Holy Spirit baptism” at least has the advantage of agreeing with the usage, “water baptism”.