What is the Pentecostal Church or Pentecostal denomination? A critic's version
Article by S. Michael Houdmann at Got Questions Ministries
Intro note from Dr. Eric Gondwe to fellow Pentecostals on the article below by S. Michael Houdmann:
The article below, on this page, was written by a non-Pentecostal Christian. Although his critic belittles and denounces the denomination right from its early years he has some good points on doctrinal matters and practices that are worth our consideration. It has been included here to add to addressing matters that other fellow believers see in us Pentecostals that deserve genuine concern and applying appropriate solutions.
Our denomination grew from nothing in less than a century to become the single largest protestant denomination. A move of God with such huge historical proportions would not be spared from alarm and terror by God’s enemies. Jesus illustrates this in the ‘Parable of the Wheat and Weeds.’
The Parable of the Wheat and Weeds is not to be confused with the Parable of the Sower. Each has its deep meaning. The Parable of the Wheat and Weeds focuses on the enemy’s activity of sowing weeds at night after the good sower sowed good seed.
This parable is also called the ‘Parable of the Weeds,’ or ‘Parable of the Wheat and Tares.’ It’s in Matthew 13:24-30. It’s one of Jesus’ parables, which appears in only one of the Canonical gospels of the New Testament. In Matthew 13:36-43 Jesus explains what this Parable specifically means.
“He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels,” Matthew 13:37-39.
When we factor in the matters of the Parable of the Wheat and Weeds we can see that the Pentecostal movement and denomination has had its share of the wicked one sowing weeds or tares. The word translated "tares" in the King James Version is said to refer to darnel, a ryegrass which looks much like wheat in its early stages of growth. Thus the weeds sown by the wicked one in God’s garden are not easily noticeable weeds. They look like the wheat itself.
In the body of Christ these weeds are what the bible refers to as false prophets. They come as men or women of God, and appear as so, but they’re not. This is how church infiltration occurs. The outsiders who’re not Christians but have an agenda against Christianity enter the body of Christ pretending to be part of us.
Once they’ve entered and been received by us as God’s people they begin their mission. Their mission is to stop or at least corrupt the move of God. They bring in teachings that appear inspired by God but are doctrines or teachings of demons.
“The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron,” 1 Timothy 4:1-2.
Thus when a fellow believer from another denomination points out the problems in our Pentecostal denomination it’s not a call to defend the denomination. It’s a call to see if actually what he/she is pointing out is true and how we can solve it.
It’s worth noting that every denomination has been infiltrated by false prophets, in one way or another. The job of enlightened believers is to identify areas that appear biblical yet are actually twisted teachings brought by God’s enemies.
Some of the false teachings could easily be by sincere but deceived saints who ended up using their opinions instead of to “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth,” 2 Timothy 2:15.
After unrelenting sowing of weeds by false prophets in our denomination we have a lot of work to enlighten fellow Pentecostals on what’s biblical and what’s not. I myself, after being made aware of the various false teachings that have cropped up in our denomination have taken the task of being vigilant and waking up fellow believers.
Erroneous teachings (from misinterpreted scriptures) and false teachings pose corruption or hindrances to believers and ultimately the entire body of Christ. “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge,” Hosea 4:6.
Thus false doctrines or false teachings at their lowest level are a hindrance to true Christian living. At their worst level they are severely destructive to a believer spiritually, emotionally, socially, materially, or even physically. As watchmen and women we have a mandate to reveal erroneous and harmful teachings circulating in the body of Christ.
Most of my published books point out where the doctrinal errors are, how to avoid falling for these false teachings, and how to apply the true empowering biblical principles that overcome the schemes of Satan. Below are web links to some of my published books. Most have chapter contents are freely available online among the first editions.
The following are books published so far:
1. Breaking Curses, Including Breaking Generational Curses
2. Bible Prophecy Unlocked: God Breaks the Seal in End Times
3. Breaking Spiritual Strongholds and Healing the Wounded Spirit
4. Hearing the Voice of God and Fulfilling God’s Purpose for Your Life
5. Biblical Financial Breakthrough Principles for Purposeful Stewardship
6. Major Spiritual Warfare Principles: Biblical Do’s and Don’ts of Warfare
7. Natural Health and Divine Healing Guide: End-Time Physical Health Keys
8. All Fasting Principles: Biblical Purpose, Prayer, Power, Price, Precautions, etc
9. Major Christian Deliverance Principles: Keys for Self-deliverance and Ministry
10. Overcoming Demonic Oppression, Schizophrenia & Psychosis: Christian Guide
11. Occult Deliverance & Breaking Witchcraft Spells, Christian Deliverance Guidebook
S. Michael Houdmann’s critic on the Pentecostal denomination
Pentecostalism is a fairly modern movement within Christianity that can be traced back to the Holiness movement in the Methodist Church. A major focus of Pentecostal churches is Holy Spirit baptism as evidenced by speaking in tongues. There are approximately 170 different denominations that identify themselves as Pentecostal.
Toward the end of the 19th century, there was a dramatic rise in religious fervor as various groups anticipated the end of history and the return of Christ in 1900. Much of this fervor was driven by the revival meetings held by those in the Holiness movement, and there were occasional reports of people speaking in tongues. The first widespread use of tongues was at a revival in Topeka, Kansas, in January 1900, led by Charles Parham. Agnes Ozman, a Methodist, began to speak in tongues, and others in the meeting eventually followed suit.
In 1906, a series of revival meetings on Azusa Street in Los Angeles led to a widespread experience of tongues-speaking, which spread to many parts of the country. The meetings were led by William Seymour, one of Charles Parham's students. Parham and Seymour eventually parted ways, because Parham believed many of the manifestations of Azusa Street were of the flesh, or perhaps even demonic. By 1909, Seymour had excluded all but African-Americans from holding office in the mission, and the ministry eventually faded into history.
Though the Azusa Street mission had a brief life, its impact on the Pentecostal movement has been a lasting one. Many new churches and missions were founded across America which carried the new emphasis on seeking the baptism of the Spirit as evidenced by speaking in tongues. Today, there are over 200,000,000 denominational Pentecostals and another 200,000,000 who identify themselves as Pentecostal or charismatic in mainline churches.
There are three main divisions within the Pentecostal movement. The original group which came out of the Holiness churches (Methodist and Nazarene), sees three progressive steps in the life of a believer which indicate growth and blessing. The first step is justification, which is the forgiveness of sins that comes from putting faith in Jesus Christ.
The second step is sanctification, or the second blessing, which was first taught by John Wesley in his “A Plain Account of Christian Perfection” (1766). The essence of this doctrine is an inner purity of heart and an infusion of power, whereby the believer no longer practices sin. This is sometimes followed by the third step, the “baptism of the Spirit,” as evidenced by speaking in tongues or other signs. The Church of God in Christ and the Church of God, Cleveland, Tennessee, are two major denominations in this group.
The second division is comprised of those who came out of a Baptist background, but were heavily influenced by the Holiness revivals of the late 1800s. The Assemblies of God was founded in 1914 under the leadership of Eudorus N. Bell, who had been a Southern Baptist pastor. The key difference in doctrine for this group is that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is available for anyone, regardless of attaining sanctification.
The third division is the Oneness Pentecostals. At the meeting which formed the Church of God in Christ (1914), there was intense debate over Trinitarian doctrine. While the majority of Holiness believers held to the traditional belief in the Trinity, there was a growing group which held to a modalist belief and affirmed that baptism should be done in Jesus' name only. Another tenet of this group is the necessity of speaking in tongues as evidence of salvation. This group was to form the United Pentecostal Church and the Apostolic Pentecostal Church, among others.
What are we to make of this movement? The early Holiness believers recognized that Christianity ought to result in visible changes in a person's life. The focus of many early prayer meetings was to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles” (Hebrews 12:1). These earnest believers wanted to run their race faithfully and were seeking God's help to do so. As that earnestness gave way to emotional religious fervor, doctrines were developed to explain and support the emotions and experiences. For many today, the emphasis is on the excitement, the experience, or the new word of prophecy. Some of the questionable foundations laid by John Wesley (e.g., a second blessing of perfection) paved the way for later Pentecostal doctrines of new works of the Spirit.
Many Pentecostals allow experience to trump Scriptural teaching and will twist Scripture to support what they “know by experience.” Jesus Himself warned of false teachers who spoke of mighty spiritual experiences in Matthew 7:22-23: “Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'” Peter affirmed the value of Scripture over experience when he said, “We also have a more sure Word of prophecy, to which you do well to take heed, as to a light that shines in a dark place...” (2 Peter 1:19).
© 2014 S. Michael Houdmann at Got Questions Ministries