The Dividing Line
Understanding and Applying Biblical
It is sometimes difficult today
to see any distinction between Pentecostalism and the Charismatic
movement, but there are differences. Pentecostals have remained
in their distinctive denominations. They belong to clearly
Pentecostal bodies such as the Pentecostal Holiness Church
or the Assemblies of God. Charismatics, on the other hand,
generally belong to churches in the major denominations.
Normally, Pentecostals insist on speaking in tongues as
the mark of the Holy Spirit's baptism, but Charismatics
are sometimes open on this question.4
Historically, Pentecostals have been stricter than Charismatics
in personal and ecclesiastical separation. Pentecostal Ray
Hughes notes that "one of the most painful concerns
among some traditional Pentecostals is the life-style of
some who profess the baptism in the Spirit. Most of the
traditional Pentecostals believe in a 'separated life,'
and many of the new Pentecostals do not."5
As we will see, lack of separation from false teaching and
from disobedient Christians is one of the major weaknesses
of the Charismatic movement. Despite these differences,
the two movements generally cooperate with one another today.
The movements have continued
to grow and to develop. The 1980s saw the emergence of what
is known as the "third wave" or the "signs
and wonders" movement. Just as Pentecostalism was the
first wave of the Holy Spirit and the Charismatic movement
was the second wave, so the signs and wonders supposedly
represent a third wave of spiritual blessing. The third
wave appeals to Evangelicals who want to be neither Pentecostal
nor Charismatic but seek the same kind of spiritual gifts.
Supporters of this position claim that miraculous signs
and wonders are necessary to proclaim the gospel. They advocate
"power evangelism," in which the preaching of
the gospel is accompanied by alleged miracles such as healings
and exorcisms of demons. Among the leaders of this third
wave were John Wimber and his Vineyard Christian Fellowship.6
One of the most visible examples of the signs and wonders
movement has been the "Toronto blessing," or "laughing
revival," which grew out of the Vineyard movement.
The mark of the Toronto blessing is the claim that periods
of uncontrolled laughter are signs of the Holy Spirit's
Pentecostal and Charismatic
growth has been even more spectacular outside the United
States. D. B. Barrett reported in 1988 that Pentecostalism
and its offshoots numbered 332 million adherents worldwide.
Of this number, Barrett said, 176 million were Pentecostals,
123 million were Charismatics, and 28 million belonged to
the third wave.8
Unquestionably Pentecostalism and the Charismatic movement
were among the most influential worldwide religious movements
of the twentieth century. The question is whether their
impact was good or bad.
The Dividing Line: Understanding and Applying Biblical Separation. By
Mark Sidwell. ©1998. BJU Press. Reproduction prohibited. This work is available
for purchase at the Bob Jones University Campus Store (phone: 1-800-252-1927;
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