Pentecostalism – WorldAtlas

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Pentecostalism is a movement within the Christian faith. As the name suggests, it stems from the events of Pentecost, shortly after the first Easter. Pentecostalism traces its beginnings back to the 19th century. It grew rapidly during the 20th century and continues to quickly gain followers today. The movement is characterized by spontaneous worship and services that may look more like celebrations than actual religious services for other followers of Christianity. In fact, Pentecostalism arose out of the desire of many to bring Christian worship back to the masses outside the confines of churches and ordained rituals.

Pentecostal beliefs

The Pentecost fresco in the Chiesa di Santo Spirito dei Napoletani church by Pietro Gagliardi. Editorial credit: Renata Sedmakova / Shutterstock.com

At the heart of Pentecostalism is the event for which it is named – Pentecost. The biblical book of Acts deals with Pentecost. It took place 50 days after the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, which is now celebrated as Easter and is considered the day on which the first Christians received the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Among these gifts was the ability to speak in other languages ​​so that they could spread Christianity around the world. According to the book of Acts, on the day of Pentecost, the people gathered in a house, where the Holy Spirit filled them, and they began to speak in other languages. This event drew a large crowd, and by that day Christianity had reached 3,000 new followers. Pentecostals believe in recreating the kind of miracle that would have taken place on the first Pentecost.

A person speaking in tongues the same way people would have done during the first Pentecost is considered by Pentecostals to be a sign that the Holy Spirit has filled that person. But speaking of unknown tongues is by no means the only sign of sanctification by the Holy Spirit according to Pentecostals. According to the principles of Pentecostalism, another sign of the baptism of the Holy Ghost is when a person is spiritually or physically healed. Pentecostals believe that a person can be healed of their ailments when the Holy Spirit fills them. Whenever such healing takes place, Pentecostals believe it is by direct intervention of God. To be sanctified by the Holy Spirit, Pentecostalism considers that a person must maintain faith in God and in Jesus Christ, whom Pentecostals and all other Christians consider to be the son of God and the savior of mankind, otherwise known as Messiah.

History of Pentecostalism

According to Pentecostal tradition, the movement dates back to the time of the Apostles. In reality, however, Pentecostalism began at the end of the 19th century CE. It is inspired by an earlier movement born at the beginning of the 19th century called the holiness movement. The holiness movement was born out of Methodism. His fundamental belief was that a second act of grace after a conversion to Christianity could “sanctify” Christians and eliminate their desire to sin.

Like the holiness movement, Pentecostalism initially attracted people dissatisfied with mainstream religion. It was a time when emotional modes of religious expressions, such as singing, spontaneous testimonies, and sermons given by lay preachers, gave way to more formal and orderly religious services led by specially “reverends”. trained to preach. Instead of informal settings like camps and wood-frame tabernacles, church services were held in formal and elegant shrines. At the same time, churches of the major Protestant denominations have become churches of the upper middle class. As a result, many people from the lower classes felt alienated.

Although Pentecostalism began informally in the late 19th century, the real turning point in the early 20th century came at Bethel Bible College, a small religious school located in Topeka, Kansas. It was the director of this college, Charles Fox Parham, who inspired his students to adopt a new perspective on Christianity. He was inspired by the holiness movement and disliked the formal and orderly way in which religious services were conducted. Parham believed that by performing acts such as prayer, fasting, and studying the Holy Scriptures, people could cause the recurrence of commemorated events such as Pentecost, which marks the time when the apostles received the blessing of the Holy Spirit after the crucifixion, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ to heaven. On January 1, 1901, one of Parham’s students began to speak in an unknown language, which Parham took as a sign that the sanctification that occurred during Pentecost had recurred and that the Holy Spirit did indeed hallowed this student. He and his students also believed that such recurrences of Pentecostal events signaled the last days or the end of times. Thus, they felt the urgent need to spread their message to others.

Initially, the beliefs of Parham and his students were rejected and even ridiculed. But in 1903, their movement began to attract followers when Parham reintroduced the practice of faith healing, which became an important facet of Pentecostalism. Pentecostalism had gained followers throughout the southern United States and the southwest in just two years, particularly in Texas, Alabama, Florida, Kansas, and Missouri. The movement was particularly popular among the poor and people living in rural areas. In 1906, the Pentecostal mission began to internationalize. Pentecostalism continued to grow throughout the 20th century, germinating different denominations and gaining followers among Protestants and Roman Catholics who joined the movement but did not give up their membership in the more common denominations.

Pentecostalism today

Pentecostal Church
Pentecostal Church in Plashet Road, Newham, London, UK. Editorial credit: Abdul_Shakoor / Shutterstock.com

Pentecostalism today is by no means limited to any particular church or denomination. Many churches claim to be Pentecostal. There are also different forms of Pentecostalism. Some forms of Pentecostalism, for example, may have strict rules, including dress codes and limitations for certain activities such as sports and movies. At the same time, Pentecostalism can also be quite progressive. In fact, the Pentecostal movement was one of the first religious movements to allow women to take leadership positions in its churches. Of the approximately two billion Christians in the world today, about a quarter identify as Pentecostals. It is today one of the fastest growing Christian movements in the world.

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