The Pentecostal Movement Part II
Pentecostalism, which gathered speed in the USA at the beginning of the 20th Century, is a Protestant Christian denomination that has grown faster than any other over the past century, particularly in the USA and the Caribbean. The term Pentecostal is coming from Pentecost, as in the biblical day of Pentecost, when fire through the Holy Spirit, descended upon the followers of Jesus Christ.
The authority of the Bible governs Pentecostalism. There is strict adherence to Scripture, and anything outside of it has no place in Pentecostal teachings. The evidence must be found in the Bible, and because of this strict adherence to the Bible, Pentecostalism is also known as Apostolic and Full Gospel. And in addition to the sanctity of Scripture, Pentecostals have four fundamental beliefs: salvation through Jesus Christ, Baptism of the Holy Spirit, miraculous healings, and the second coming of Christ. It is also divided into two branches, Trinitarian (Father, Son and Holy Ghost) and non-Trinitarian (Jesus only).
At the end of time, as we know it, Pentecostals believe people who have accepted and obeyed Christ will spend eternity in Heaven, and those who have not will abide in Hell with Satan as their host. But there is the chance for reconciliation through spiritual rebirth, as Jesus' death, burial and resurrection were to save the world from sin. This rebirth should bring former sinners closer to God as they have been sanctified and regenerated, and are now a part of the family of God. In Jesus, believers are secured, but they have to repent of their sins before such security is given. And after repentance comes baptism.
There are three levels of baptism: baptism into the body of Christ, water baptism, and Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Baptism in the body of Christ is the salvation referred to earlier. Every convert becomes a part of the body of Christ through the agency of the Holy Spirit. Water baptism is symbolic of the washing away of the things of this world. It is the physical cleansing of the body in which the Holy Spirit will dwell. And at the moment of rebirth, the Holy Spirit descends upon the converts and begin to dwell therein. This is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit in which Christ is the agent and the Holy Spirit is the medium.
This infilling of the Holy Spirit is the ultimate relationship with Christ. Speaking in tongues is one of the manifestations of being filled with the Holy Spirit. Yet, some converts believe that baptism and speaking in tongues, though desirable, are not generally required. The Oneness Pentecostal branch believes that both water and spiritual baptism are the way to salvation and that divine healing may come through prayer.
Pentecostals believe in the purity of the mind and body, and that Jesus can heal the afflicted mind and body. This belief in divine healing is underpinned by examples of such in the Bible, by the understanding that it is a part of salvation, that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is about the sanctity of spirit, soul and body, and that illnesses are the consequences of sin and can only be corrected through divine healing. Prayer is integral to the act of healing, as well as the laying of hands on the affected and the use of anointed prayer cloths.
The Second Coming of Jesus Christ is what Pentecostals look forward to more than anything else. It is the ultimate manifestation of His authority. They believe that Christ is coming soon to rescue them from the sins and vagaries of the world, and take them to Heaven. It is the time when the dead will be resurrected to face the final judgement, and it may be anytime now, so they are prepared to be caught up in the Rapture, which will take them away from the 'Great Tribulation', after which there will be a new Earth.
SIMPLICITY OF WORSHIP
Those are the major beliefs, as there are other things that the different branches believe in. And according to Reverend Ashley Smith, Pentecostal researcher, in an article called 'Pentecostalism in Jamaica', in Jamaica Journal Number 42, published in September 1978, the individual, as well as the group, should submit to the leading of the spirit; there should be a return to the simplicity of worship of the Apostolic age; believers ought to separate themselves from the world; converts should give testimonies of their new experience and forsake evil manifestations of the world, such as the enjoyment of secular amusements and the use of jewellery and cosmetics.