CYBERJOURNAL FOR PENTECOSTAL-CHARISMATIC RESEARCH
"Pentecostal Spirituality: Ecumenical Potential and
Dr. Daniel E. Albrecht
What connections exist between Christian spirituality and ecumenism? How might the
elements and dynamics of a particular type of Christian spirituality contribute to the
quest for Christian unity? These questions guide the following investigation.
This paper attempts to address the guiding questions in two main sections. First, we
offer a descriptive interpretation of Pentecostal spirituality rooted in a recent ritual
study informed by ethnographic field research.(2)
Hopefully, this descriptive section (by far the larger of the two) will make Pentecostal
spirituality more accessible, raising questions, stimulating discussion, and assisting
dialogue toward a better understanding of Pentecostal spirituality. The second section of
the paper seeks to forge a direct link between the Pentecostal spirituality, described in
the first section, and the quest for Christian unity. This brief section will attempt to
locate the inherent potential for ecumenism within Pentecostal spirituality and it will
address some of the challenges of ecumenism for Pentecostal spirituality.
Before we proceed it might be helpful to present a working definition of spirituality.
When we speak of spirituality in this paper, we mean the lived experience which
actualizes a fundamental dimension of the human being, the spiritual dimension, namely
"the whole of one's spiritual or religious experience, one's beliefs, convictions,
and patterns of thought, one's emotions and behavior in respect to what is ultimate, or
God."(3) Little distinguishes Pentecostalism other
than its spirituality. Its trademarks include religious practices, social behaviors,
emphasis on individual religious experiences and perceptions of the world.(4)
As we hope to show, Pentecostal spirituality fosters a deep, even mystical, piety that
emphasizes the immanent sense of the divine. The belief system accentuates an
understanding that "gifts of the Spirit," including the subjective religious
experience of "Spirit baptism" appear and operate as normative in the life of
the Pentecostal churches. This conviction informs all of Pentecostal religious experiences
Part I of this paper seeks to describe the characteristic qualities of Pentecostal
spirituality.(6) In order to explicate the major qualities
of the Pentecostal spirituality we will proceed in two ways. First, we will suggest six
selected indigenous ritual symbols, each symbolizing a cluster of qualities,
characteristics, concerns, and inclinations of Pentecostal spirituality. Second, we will
present a general outline of the characteristic qualities of Pentecostal spirituality
within the organizing symbol of "experiencing God."
Part I --CHARACTERISTIC QUALITIES OF
Pentecostal spirituality can be thought of as the lived experience of a particular
configuration of beliefs, practices, and sensibilities(7)
that put the believer in an ongoing relationship to the Spirit of God. In order to
explicate the major qualities of the Pentecostal spirituality we will proceed in two ways.(8) First, we will suggest six selected emic (or indigenous) ritual
symbols,(9) that function as primary factors within
Pentecostal spirituality.(10) Each factor symbolizes a
cluster of sensibilities, qualities, beliefs, and practices connected to Pentecostal
spirituality. Second, we will present a general outline of the characteristic qualities of
Pentecostal spirituality within the organizing symbol of experiencing God. We
begin by selecting six emic ritual symbols [see appendix for our presuppositions and
definitions of ritual and Pentecostalism].
A. Selected (Emic/indigenous) Ritual Symbols:
Elemental Factors of Pentecostal Spirituality
Elsewhere we have described and interpreted a variety of data concerning Pentecostal
ritual symbols.(11) Here, we select six fundamental
indigenous symbols central to Pentecostal ritual and thus important to the understanding
of Pentecostal spirituality in general. We will consider them as elemental factors for
understanding particular qualities of Pentecostal spirituality. We chose emic or folk
terms, that is, familiar idiomatic concepts rooted in Pentecostal parlance. The following
six emic symbols commonly surface in each of the Pentecostal communities that we studied.
Each of these symbols enjoys wide use among American Pentecostals: leadership,
worship, word, gifts, ministry, and mission(s). We begin with the leadership factor.
The symbol of leader within the Pentecostal ritual context suggest certain qualities
about the leadership factor and the Pentecostal spirituality in general. In each of our
focus churches leadership functions as a powerful symbol. Here, we will focus on five
characteristics of leadership as experienced in the Pentecostal spirituality: leadership
as spokesman or woman, as lay (non-specialist/expert), as spontaneous and recognized, as a
responsive social dynamic, as boundary for order and ecstacy. Let us begin by looking at
leadership as spokesperson.
Leader(ship) as spokes(wo)man and model. Much of leadership in the
Pentecostal tradition emerges within the role of spokeswoman or spokesman.(12)
The prophetic role is essentially open to any Pentecostal ritualist. And anyone who
functions as a spokeswoman for God leads, at least during the giving of their oracle. As a
result of the prominent prophetic role in the Pentecostal tradition, the symbol of
leadership conforms in part to the prophetic type. The prophetic role within the liturgy
continues to shape the notion of leadership, specifically the role of the Pentecostal
pastor. Though others may bear the message to the faithful, particularly during the
ritual, the pastor must carry out the role of the prophet. Of course, the pastor carries
the burden of the prophet during the preaching rite. But in all of our study churches the
senior pastor also functions as the primary spokesman for the divine during other rites.(13)
But leadership means more than anointed utterances. The boundaries of leadership
include other functions and other types. For example, worship teams in some of our focus
churches are primarily the leaders of the first phase of the ritual process. Members of
the teams do not normally lead by giving verbal directions or announcements. Rather, they
model and facilitate worship and praise.(14) They, as a
team, symbolize leadership in their actions and demeanor during the worship and praise
Leadership as lay (non-specialist/expert). Elders and deacons also
represent leadership in the Sunday ritual. Though the role of elders and deacons varies
from church to church, normally they are all lay and not part of the professional staff of
the church. Their leadership is more a leadership within the congregational life of the
church, but they are also recognizable symbols of leadership within the ritual context to
the discerning eye. Their presence is felt. Often they greet visitors, serve as ushers,
make announcements, help serve communion, pray for the sick, minister around the altars
during prayer times, teach, even preach from the pulpit. Elders, deacons represent the
importance and the prominence of lay leadership in Pentecostal spirituality.
Leadership as spontaneous and legitimate. Leadership is not limited to
the standard established roles (e.g., pastor, elder, deacon, worship team). Spontaneous
leadership may emerge through nearly any member of the congregation, as one "moved by
the Holy Spirit" takes action.(15) However, the mere
action does not assure a resulting leadership identity. A spontaneous action must be
legitimized, emerging acts of leadership must be recognized. To be legitimate it must be
recognized as "from God" or "Spirit;" it must be "in order"
or appropriate to the moment in the service. In other words, to be legitimated, the
congregation (and the established leadership) must discern the burgeoning leadership's
charismatic qualifications.(16) The congregation must see
a spontaneous act of leadership as "anointed" or "operating in the
gifts." And if they are Spirit anointed, and properly operating in the gifts of the
Spirit, they must be recognized as "moving out" during an appropriate moment in
the service and with an appropriate tone or else they will be seen as "not in
order." The congregation and the established leadership must believe in the
appropriateness of spontaneous charismatic leadership.
Leadership as legitimated by a responsive social dynamic. It is clear
that spontaneous leadership, while available to any individual ritualist, depends on a
corporate legitimation and recognition. In this dynamic we see that even the spontaneous
charisms have a social dimension.(17) And thus, the
Pentecostal symbol of leadership speaks of the social functions of the spirituality.
Certainly, spontaneous charismatic eruptions may symbolize the immediacy of the divine and
the docility of the emerging leader, but they also reveal the complex social dynamic of
discernment that either recognizes an action as legitimate or not.
This social dynamic of leadership also emerges in a quality of responsiveness within
the liturgical ritual. Leadership provides a symbol for the responsive/relational quality
of the Pentecostal spirituality. A dialogical relationship defines the interaction between
leader(s) and followers in the ritual setting.(18) A sense
of responsiveness characterizes the whole ritual.(19) The
expressive actions of liturgical leaders almost always, either explicitly or implicitly,
call for and expect a congregational response. For example, worship teams lead in a manner
that will elicit a maximum responsive form of worshipful singing; the pastoral message
seeks a response--often an immediate one; calls for healing and commissioning rites also
invoke congregational responses as do various charismatic words. Pentecostals use
leadership roles to rouse responses from liturgists to their God. Fundamentally,
liturgical leadership metaphorically stands for the divine leadership. And Pentecostals
consciously seek to reply to the voice of the Spirit, to respond to the "leading of
the Spirit" both in the ritual and beyond.
Leadership as a boundary: order and ecstacy. Finally, the Pentecostal
ritual leadership symbolizes a basic binary opposition: order/ecstacy.(20)
The Pentecostal service maintains a leadership balance in part through a dynamic tension
between order and ecstacy. An individual ritual leader, particularly the pastor functions
as a symbol of both order and ecstacy. The pastor must fulfill the congregation's
expectations that s/he can lead them into forms of group ecstacy. On the other hand, the
pastor remains responsible for maintaining the boundaries that provide order. As we have
mentioned, there are various leaders and potential leaders in any of the liturgies of our
focus churches. This variety of leaders must incorporate the order/ecstacy tension, as the
individual pastor must.(21)
How is this tension of order and ecstasy understood in the leadership symbol? As we
have said, the Pentecostal congregation recognizes the leader as one who follows God's
Spirit. As the follower of God, she or he must be "in tune" with the Spirit.
Pentecostals ardently believe in a divine order (as opposed to a merely human order that
is insensitive to God's design), and they insist that to authentically follow the Spirit
one must participate in the divine order. Thus, leadership must discern order with
sensitivity to the Spirit and the people. The people may be led into ecstasy but it must
reflect the Spirit's order. And most often the established leadership, in Pentecostal
churches functions as a boundary for ecstacy, a symbol of orderliness. In this way the
pastor in the liturgy functions somewhat analogously to the early Rebbes of Hasidism.(22)
Thus, what may appear as disorder even chaos in the Pentecostal ritual to the
non-Pentecostal or the non-discerning, represents a godly order to the Pentecostal
believer, an order that includes the "interruptions" in the human plan, an order
that provides for ecstacy within its boundaries. For the Pentecostal the symbol of
leadership represents both order and ecstacy. We turn now to consider our other main
elemental factors of Pentecostal spirituality, beginning with "worship."(23)
"Worship" represents a set of meanings configured by Pentecostals. Their
understanding and practice of worship lies at the heart of their liturgies and
spirituality. For example, throughout our field research we heard the term continually,
"I come for the worship," or "'Vineyard' has the best worship" or
"worship is the most important part of our service."
Pentecostals understand worship as having three main connotations: 1) worship as a way
of Christian life, particularly outside of the church services and activities. All of life
is seen as worship, as an expression, a gift, offered to God; 2) worship as the entire
liturgy, the whole of the Pentecostal service, and 3) worship as a specific portion,
aspect, or rite within the overall liturgy. While all three of these connotations contain
the Pentecostal understanding of the symbol, here however, we will draw mainly from the
third. We will consider these dimensions of worship as experimental in the worship rite:
worship as encounter with hierophany, as attentiveness to God, and as yielding a
sensitivity to human need.
Encounter with hierophany.(24) For
some contemporary Pentecostals congregants, "worship" is another way of saying
"presence of God." "Worship" functions as a code term. For many, it
refers to the encounter with the divine as mediated by a sense of the divine presence or
power. Pentecostals believe strongly in the manifest presence of God. Their experience of
the holy presence shapes them spiritually. In the liturgy the heightened awareness of this
presence occurs often within the dimension they refer to as worship.
Pentecostals practice worship as both the experiencing (the immediate presence) of God
and as the "techniques," iconic ways into the presence of God.(25)
Forms of musical expressions, including powerfully suggestive symbolic worship choruses
and verbal and kinesthetic praise practices serve to "trigger" a sense of close
presence, a hierophany.(26) Within the milieu of
hierophany, the Pentecostals encounter and experience the divine.(27)
The rites then function both as experiences themselves and as icons into particular forms
of experience (e.g., hierophany).
The Pentecostal attitude toward worship is essential to understanding their practice of
it.(28) For Pentecostals, worship is not strictly a human
activity. Worship involves a deep communion between divinity and humanity, an
encountering. An attitude of expectancy shapes the practice of this communion. Believers
expect God to come and meet with his people. Pentecostals believe that God alone
inaugurates the experience by God's gracious acts and presence, congregants can only
prepare themselves (through their iconic ways). Ritualists cannot force God's presence and
movings. They can only prepare and wait for God's actions in and among the worshippers,
and then respond to the "flow of the Spirit" when God's "promptings"
or "strirrings" occurs. The Spirit initiates, guides, facilitates, and leads the
worship. Pentecostals believe that God "desires to meet with His people." Thus,
the Pentecostal approaches worship in an attitude of expectancy; God will encounter God's
people. This understanding molds the style and structure of the ritual and informs the
symbol of worship as a type of encounter with hierophany.
Worship as attentiveness to God. While the goals of encounter,
experience, (and transformation) always predominate, worship embodies a kind of
performance that attends closely to the divine. Particularly in the praise and worship
rites, frequently at the beginning of the ritual, the people of our focus churches see
themselves as performing for the divine. God is the audience and the congregation is to
perform the drama of praise. For as they say, "God inhabits the praises of His
people." This "performance" for the ritualists represents a way of
attending to God, a way of focusing on the divine, a "ministry to God."
Ministry unto God both differs from and connects with other aspects of
"ministry" in the Pentecostal worship economy. To perform acts directed toward
God, is understood as the ultimate in human expression. All other performance, or
ministries, have secondary importance. According, to a Pentecostal understanding other
ministries "flow from worship." The ministry of worship or attending to God
functions as the foundational ministry. As a result Pentecostals root the other four
selected symbols: word, gifts, ministry and missions, in their understanding of worship.
Worship as yielding a sensitivity to human need. Pentecostals claim
that their forms of worship sensitize them to human needs and concerns. The priority of
worshipping God, and thus maintaining a "right relationship with God," they
believe allows them a subsequent awareness of human needs. Pentecostals experience a self
reflexivity, an empathy toward the needs of others, and a motivation to minister to others
as a result of their worship. According to Pentecostals, the terms of "word,"
"gifts" and "missions" (see below) each represents human interaction
enhanced by ritual worship and graced by the divine. God, they believe, "desires to
minister to peoples' needs" through the faithful and gifted ritualists. In worship
the believers minister to God and then God in turn ministers in and through the believers
to others.(29) For example, at one of our study churches,
often during or immediately following the rite of worship and praise, a ritual leader will
ask for prayer requests. From week to week it varies, but some form of prayer or healing
rite will normally emerge at the end of the worship rite. Congregants may form circles of
prayer, praying for one another's needs. Or, the pastor may call those who desire prayer
for a need to come to the altar to be prayed for by the elders. Other times congregants
may simply be asked to stand to signify a prayer request, other ritualists will then come
to pray with them. In each case, congregants reflect a sensitivity to human needs.
3. "The Word"
Pentecostals employ the term "the word" to symbolize the belief that
God speaks. And that "God speaks today," as in the past, i.e., that God speaks
to God's people even as God spoke in the biblical days. In the ritual, the symbol of word
functions as part of the divine-human "conversation." If praise and worship
symbolize the human half of the conversation, then the word symbolizes the divine side of
the dialogue. Pentecostals recognize the voice of God, the word, in various forms, e.g.,
biblical messages, sermons, teachings, exhortations, testimonial narratives, and
Bible and biblical messages. The Bible as word is seen as speaking to
contemporary needs, sometimes in an overly simplistic interpretation, but always relevant
in "the now." Pentecostals claim to give the Bible a central role in their
liturgies and their spirituality. It has priority over other forms of "word."
Other "words" they say are judged by the scriptures. The pastoral message
(sermon) seeks to proclaim or teach a "biblical truth." And as a liturgical
rite, the sermon (as word of God) is most often set at the center of the service between
the worship rite and the rite of altar response. Comforting or challenging, edifying or
exhorting, directional or didactic, the pastoral message aims for biblical relevance. But
in the Pentecostal ritual, "word" is not limited to the sermon.
Testimonial narratives. God speaks in other moments of the ritual. The
symbol of word extends to testimonies and narratives that place daily life as well as
"spiritual experiences" within a biblical/faith framework. These
"sharings" may occur in speech or song; they may take on a formal aim or be
informally related. But by authentic testimony which speaks out of human experience,
Pentecostals seek to discern the works of God in the life of the individual, of the faith
community, and of the world. Functioning in this way, testimony narratives provide a way
of doing theology. Thus, the narratives both interpret the works of God and give voice to
the words of God.(30)
Charismatic word. Perhaps the most dynamic dimension of the
Pentecostal understanding of "word" is that of "charismatic word(s)."
Aspects of these phenomena are referred to as "gifts," "utterances,"
"words," "prophecies," "messages in tongues," "word
from the Lord," "manifestation of the Spirit," etc. Not every charism or
charismatic activity fits the category of word (e.g., gifts of healing are seen as actions
of God and "discernment of spirits" is seen as insight), but many charismatic
manifestations in the ritual emerge within the classification, word (e.g., "word of
knowledge,""word of wisdom").
Fundamentally, the word in Pentecostal parlance, is a speaking forth in the name of the
Lord. It gives voice to the divine, under the impulse of the Spirit. Charismatic words
vary. The style and form of such words varies with the context, the community, the
personality of the speaker and the perceived need.(31)
Frequently, a ritualist casts a word in a prophetic mode, with a "thus saith the
Lord" as a prelude or postscript. At other times a charismatic word's introduction
takes a more cautious turn, "I feel the Lord is saying. . . ," a congregant
begins. In either case there is an inherent risk. What if the "prophesy" does
not represent the word of God? What if the impulse to speak was not rightly discerned?
What if the congregation does not "receive" the word? These questions represent
the risk faced by the would be charismatic prophet. However, Pentecostal prophets face
this risk with a belief that relies on the Spirit and on their own experience and
knowledge of the Spirit's ways. Yet, in the end, the congregation must discern a
charismatic word's appropriateness and validity.
While charismatic words ideally represent a word from God, the ideal is not always
realized. Pentecostals test the words, they recognize the room for error and the
importance of the human dimension. One Pentecostal told us the story of a brother who felt
he had a word from the Lord, but when he attempted to give it all he could say was,
"Be not ascared, for I am ascared sometimes too saith the Lord." Sympathetic
Pentecostals would neither ridicule this brother, nor would they accept the theology of
his utterance. Charismatic words nonetheless are potentially edifying and at least at
times the Pentecostal spirituality is enriched by the word of God as mediated in
4. "The Gifts"
Charismatic utterances are best understood within the symbol word, but the Pentecostal
elemental symbol of "the gifts" discloses charismatic activity. The
gifts continue, as they have historically, to distinguish Pentecostal ritual from other
Christian liturgies and to serve as a trademark of the overall spirituality. The
manifestations of the gifts (especially the Pauline charisms), plays prominently in the
liturgies and congregational life of our focus churches. The gifts symbolize at least
three categories of meaning, Spirit baptism, empowerment, and edification.
Symbol of Spirit baptism. In a classical Pentecostal view the gifts
are understood as incorporated in the Spirit baptism, which is seen as a primary gift of
the Spirit. In this view Spirit baptism or "being filled with the Holy Spirit"
represents a "conversion-type" event subsequent to an initial Christian
conversion. Spirit baptism does not symbolize a salvific, justifying event to
Pentecostals. Rather, it represents a confirmation of the Spirit's presence in the
believer's life and an empowerment or gifting. In this view, speaking in tongues evidences
the initial event of baptism in the Spirit. Spirit baptism, then, occurs initially as an
event and continues as the process popularly called the "spirit-filled life."
This process includes an openness to the Spirit's gifts and a willingness by the believer
to operate within these gifts toward the edification of the body of Christ. Classical
Pentecostal ideology continues to view Spirit baptism as the doorway into the larger more
diverse experience and practice of charisms.(33)
Symbol of empowerment. The baptism in the Spirit is a symbol of
empowerment. Spirit baptism is more than "conversation" or an encountering with
the divine. The Pentecostal baptism symbolizes an infusion of the divine, a union, with a
resulting "enduement with power." Since Pentecostals seek and expect to do the
work of God, modeling themselves after the biblical apostles subsequent to pentecost, they
acknowledge the need for empowerment. Spirit baptism, then, symbolizes an on-going
experience of the Spirit, that is, an empowering experience that facilitates and supports
the Pentecostal believer in her or his personal life and in serving God and humankind.
While many Pentecostals expect the sign of tongues to accompany this experience, they do
not reduce Spirit baptism to glossolalia. But the charism of tongues represents only one
of the expected phenomena to accompany the on going life in the Spirit, the empowered life
of the Spirit baptized believer.(34) So, while tongues may
symbolize prayer to and presence of the divine, Spirit baptism as a gift represents the
power and empowerment of the Spirit in the Pentecostal's spirituality.
Symbol of edification. Apart from the Spirit baptism, the practice of the gifts, particularly in the ritual, reveals that the gifts function as symbols not only of empowerment but of edification. In all of the churches we studied, the gifts function in a variety of ways, as media of edification. These Pentecostals frequently refer to edification as "ministry." Normally, this type of "ministry" implies an orientation toward the members of the faith community, an intention to fortify and renew, "to edify the saints."(35)
Pentecostals believe then, God grants gifts to individual believers for the benefit of
the whole, that the church might be edified, "strengthened and built up." Thus,
the term "the gifts" points to at least three things: Spirit baptism,
empowerment of individuals and edification of or ministry to the faith community. But
ministry to the faith community cannot be restricted to the medium of certain charismatic
gifts. We now turn to our fifth indigenous term, "ministry."
Ministry within the framework of Pentecostal spirituality occurs in three
dimensions: ministry to God in worship, an edification ministry directed within the
"body of Christ," and ministry to the world. The symbolic center of the
"ministry" ideal lies in the second dimension as we have just described the
gift-edification. Ministry, especially in the liturgy, consists of the actions, prayers,
and other rites in which believers share and serve the needs of one another in "the
body" (i.e. the church or faith community). Here we will consider the symbol of
ministry (to the body) as a consideration of personal hunger and exigencies, as
opportunity to serve, as a framework for the rites.
Consideration of personal hunger and exigencies. Much of the reason
for a Pentecostal gathering can be understood in this ministry present in the ritual. In
fact, Pentecostals have been criticized at times by other Christians for being too focused
on the human dimension of the service (i.e., edifying the body) with a resulting neglect
of worship and the focus on the divine. But Pentecostals, in their own defense point to
the biblical Jesus, who they insist was intensely interested in addressing human needs.
Consequently, Pentecostal ritualists, rather than avoiding the personal needs of members
and visitors, seek out those in need and use the liturgical setting to address the
personal troubles and concerns. Our focus churches provided numerous examples of how
Pentecostals consistently pursue opportunities to minister in the name of their God to
human hungers, personal exigencies. For example, the senior pastors of each of these
churches encourage their people to be alert to people's needs both inside and outside the
church. One pastor, for instance, often exhorts his congregation to be attentive to the
needs of friends and colleagues in the work place and the market. "Offer to pray for
them" he instructs. "They may think you're crazy, but you may be able to help
them. Let Jesus work a miracle."
Ministry as opportunity to serve. Ministry "in and to the body" often takes place during the Pentecostal liturgy. For instance, the pastor will ask for those who have a need to raise a hand, or come forward to the altar, to indicate their needs so that they might be prayed for. This not only allows those in need to respond but it provides an opportunity for friends and co-believers to serve, to minister. Normally, following the indication of a need, ritualists near those who raised hands, or moved to the altars, will move from their near by seats in order to "minister" in prayer to those in need. The "ministers" will typically reach out and touch the one in need. They will take them by the hand or lay a hand on the shoulder. They may speak to them about their needs, and then will "enter
into prayer" on behalf of the prayer request. The whole congregation will begin to
pray together, in "concert," all ritualists voicing their prayers
simultaneously. Those ritualists who have moved from their pews now cluster around the
believer in need. In their circles of faith these ministers raise their voices in specific
prayers for those in need. In this kind of prayer ministry, each congregant may become a
minister, one who serves the needs of another. But Pentecostal ministry cannot be
restricted to specific microrites as we have just described, the symbol of ministry
provides a lens through which to understand the primary Pentecostal rites and the liturgy
as a whole.(36)
Ministry as a framework for the rites. The symbol of ministry serves
as a framing device for the primary rites of the Pentecostal service, particularly the
rite of pastoral message and the altar/response rite. Certainly, the ministry of the Word,
i.e., the pastoral message is seen by Pentecostals as "ministry" that serves
their needs. Pentecostals speak of being "fed by the Word." The close attention
of the members, in each of our study churches to the teaching or sermon seem to indicate
the importance and sense of relevance to life the ministry of the Word has to the
But ministry is seen perhaps in its most salient form around the altars, often as a
climax to the rest of the ritual. Healing rites are most prevalent during this time.
Pentecostals attempt to minister to the "whole person." Physical conditions are
dealt with, though not exclusively. During ministry times around the altars, they pray
diligently for any dimension of felt need. No need is out of bounds or inappropriate. Any
need can be discussed, discerned and dealt with in prayer, council, and action. While each
of the focus churches designs its liturgy to minister to people's needs at some the
churches (especially the Vineyard type) the "ministry time" has become their
trademark.(37) At our Vineyard focus church, the whole
service aims toward "the ministry." The ministry time is their version of the
altar/response rite. The first two foundation and processual rites, the worship and the
pastoral message, build upon each other in order to arrive at a climactic ministry time.
Congregants expect the opportunity to be prayed for, cared for, ministered to at the
Vineyard church. The third phase of the service is nearly always the designated period for
Pentecostal spirituality characterizes ministry as a giving and receiving of empathic
understanding, a concerned touch, heartfelt prayer and appropriate action, by people who
deeply care for one another. But Pentecostal concern extends beyond the liturgy from
within the faith community outward where the symbol of ministry shifts to the symbol of
The indigenous symbol missions connotes an orientation to the world or to
society as distinct from the church. It is one of three theological relationships that the
Pentecostal liturgy expresses--"relationship to the world." Here we want to
highlight the importance of this symbol, "missions," as expressing an integral
dimension of Pentecostal spirituality. To Pentecostals "missions" means:
ministry beyond the faith community, called to accomplish God's purposes, gifted service,
and distribution of resources.
Ministry beyond the faith community. As we have argued elsewhere,
although the ritual is one of the best windows of insight into Pentecostal spirituality,
the Pentecostal liturgy does not contain the whole of the spirituality.(38)
Edified and transformed in and through their rituals, Pentecostals push past the limits of
the liturgy and seek to move beyond their faith communities. They are, so to speak,
"launched" from the community. Within the faith community Pentecostals train and
equip themselves to meet their mission. They "experiment" with charisms and
ministries all with an eye toward missions. They want effectively to meet and to
"minister to the world." Of course such language seems lofty, but the symbol of
missions pervades the consciousness of Pentecostals.(39)
Called to accomplish God's purposes. The language of "reaching
the world" sounds so idealistic in part, because it draws on an understanding of
being called by God to become involved in God's purposes. Our focus church Pentecostals
not only appropriate to themselves Christ's commission to his disciples to "go into
all the world and proclaim the gospel" (Mark 16:15), they believe that God
"raised them up" for this period of history.(40)
They feel called to "this generation." They have a mission: to spread the gospel
in their society and around the world. As a result of their sense of mission, the
spirituality of Pentecostals seeks to "equip" toward the accomplishment of their
missions goals. And part of the equipping process they believe is accomplished by the Holy
Spirit. For according to Pentecostals, the Spirit leads into missions, the Spirit gifts
for missions, and the Spirit enlightens the understanding concerning missions, i.e., its
aims and methods. Pentecostals discover themselves, and their spirituality, in the context
of God's purposes, God's will. Missions for Pentecostals not only gives a reason for
being, it takes them beyond themselves and their own concerns to consider the needs of
Gifted service. Their emphasis on the Holy Spirit's role in outreach
most distinguishes the Pentecostal understanding of missions. The Spirit is "the
Great Evangelist" in Pentecostal belief; God's Spirit "is active in the world
today," assert the Pentecostals. And the Spirit "draws men and women to
Jesus." It remains then for believers to "work with the Spirit" in gifted
service. Pentecostals regard the charisms of the Spirit as "tools" for doing the
"work of the ministry in the world." This form of gifted service seeks to take
the forms of ministry expressed in the liturgy and within the faith community and extend
them into a broader arena. For most of our focus church congregants this means using their
spiritual gifts in daily life.(41) But for many, it means
stepping out into forms of service overseas.(42)
Distribution of resources. Finally, the symbol of missions means a
distribution of resources. According to statistician and missiologist David Barrett,
Pentecostals in general give a higher potion of their resource to missions than other
Christian groups.(43) Some of our study churches, for
example, seek to give twenty-five percent of the church income to missions. But each of
the churches of our study "invests" heavily of their time, energy and financial
resources in missions projects. The distribution of their resources into missions provides
a way of giving "unselfishly." Missions dollars do not pay the salaries of the
pastors, nor the church utility bill, nor other important and legitimate expenditures that
benefit the congregation's members. Missions funds seek only to benefit others, those
beyond the faith community. Thus, missions means unselfish distribution of resources.
Pentecostals seek to utilize their resource and their gifts to extend the good news. In
this sense Pentecostal spirituality is an evangelical spirituality.
B. Experience of God: Outlining the Pentecostal Spirituality(44)
We have considered six emic symbolic terms that disclose characteristic qualities of
Pentecostal spirituality. Inherent to each of these six selected symbols is the
fundamental binary opposition or distinction of human/divine. In this section of the
paper, we want to address this distinction in Pentecostal spirituality within the
foundational category of the human experience of God as understood within
Pentecostal spirituality.(45) The following sketches a
general outline of the characteristic qualities of Pentecostal spirituality under the
organizing, symbolic rubric of experiencing God. We categorize the qualities under main
headings: experiencing God mystically as supernatural, experiencing God in a communal
context, experiencing God as an empowering Spirit and commissioning Lord, and
experiencing God as creative.
1. Experiencing God Mystically as Supernatural
In our original study, we considered the central ritual and rites of the Pentecostal
churches, we noted highly expressive forms of worship. We discovered practices richly
dramaturgic. We classified, identified, and described the modes of ritual sensibility.
And, we asserted a fundamental supposition that these ritual expressions are rooted in a
spirituality, a spirituality that expresses itself and is nourished by its rituals. We
assumed that the performance of the rites is an encompassing experience, one that includes
the elements of the ritual field, and, according to Pentecostals, one that grounds itself
as a human experience of the divine. Pentecostals assign all that is ultimately holy and
supernatural to the divine One, their God. Here, let us consider this cluster of
qualitative characteristics under two main headings: experiential/mystical and
Experiential/Mystical. The category of experience is essential to understanding the spirituality of Pentecostals. One way to approach this important quality is situating it within the Christian mystical tradition. Though Pentecostals seem largely unaware, they participate in a rich heritage of Christian mysticism. Evelyn Underhill describes mysticism as
the direct intuition or experience of God; and the mystic as a person who has, to a
greater or less degree, such a direct experience--one whose religion and life are
centered, not merely on an accepted belief or practice, but on that which he regards as
first-hand personal knowledge.(46)
The Christian mystic, she continues "is one for whom God and Christ are not merely
objects of belief, but living facts experimentally known at first-hand; and mysticism [is
then for the mystic] . . . a life based on this conscious communion with God."(47) Underhill's definition characterizes well a dimension of
In a very real sense the Sunday services of all of our focus churches are designed to
provide a context for a mystical encounter, an experience with the divine. This
encounter is mediated by the sense of the immediate divine presence. The primary rites of
worship and altar/response are particularly structured to sensitize the congregants to the
presence of the divine and to stimulate conscious experience of God. The worship and
praise rite especially functions as a framing context for certain mystical experiences of
God. At least in part, the apparent goal of the worship service is to allow the
worshippers to have a heightened sense of the presence of the divine. The gestures, ritual
actions, and symbols all function within this context to speak of the manifest presence.
Within the "contemplative" mode of sensibility that we described in our
research,(48) the Pentecostals seek a mystical sense of
the divine presence. When a worship leader says, "let's enter into the presence of
the Lord," it is not heard as mere rhetoric. The congregation expects to have a keen
awareness of divine presence. The ritual mode of sensibility we have designated
"celebration" is frequently used to facilitate the process of entering into the
presence. Its music and ritual actions function as Pentecostal icons, as windows into the
reality of the divine. Often in the overall worship service, the celebrative mode melts
into the mode of contemplation-- in which an even more salient sense of the divine is
A young man we interviewed from one of our focus congregations wanted us to understand
his experience. As we questioned him concerning the contemplative mode of sensibility
within the worship rite, he emphasized the sense of "being."
"Worship is more than just preparation for the sermon," he insisted, "it is
a time of just being, not doing or even worshipping, but being." This experience of
being in the presence of God is fundamental to the Pentecostal spirituality. Although, the
trade mark of Pentecostalism has been seen in active, even boisterous ritual, beneath such
manifestations is an essential belief in the experience of the presence of their God.
Complementary to the sense of immediate presence, the experience of the divine is
expressed as a responsive spirituality. Pentecostal congregants respond not only
to the sense and other symbols of divine presence, they participate in a responsive
relationship with the symbolic elements, that signify the actions of the Spirit. The
Pentecostal liturgies model a kind of dialogic relationship between God and humans that is
espoused as normative for the Christian life by Pentecostals. The rite of altar/response
illustrates the kind of responsiveness that occurs continually throughout the rites.
Ritualists respond individually and as a group, they respond "in their hearts"
and in their actions. But passivity has little place in Pentecostal spirituality,
Pentecostals actively pursue a spirituality characterized by a responsiveness to their
Emphasis on Supernatural. When observing, listening to, or
participating in, even at a cursory level, the worship rites of the churches studied here,
the emphasis on the Supernatural is unmistakable.(50) The
entire ritual assumes the awareness of the presence of God in a general sense, if not the
in-breaking of the Spirit in a "supernatural way."(51)
Expectancy is heightened, as the congregation approaches certain rites, rites sometimes
charged with anxious anticipation.(52) Such anticipation
is stimulated by the history of the experience of the rite and the perceived presence and
action of the Supernatural.(53)
Pentecostal spirituality emphasizes the supernatural. The Pentecostal realm envisions a
world subject to invasions by the supernatural element. Pentecostals teach adherents to
expect encounters with the supernatural. For the Pentecostal the line between natural and
supernatural is permeable, but the two categories are radically separate. This of course
is seen in the rites, but for the Pentecostal it is extended from the Sunday communal
ritual to the world at large. Even mundane elements of life are envisioned as the
territory for supernatural exploits. Claims of signs, wonders, and miracles are not
limited to the regions of the Sunday ritual. They are to be a part of daily life.(54)
At the core of Pentecostal spirituality abides the belief in an experience
characterized as a divine "overwhelming" of the human person.(55)
This experience of overwhelming may be identified by various terms (Spirit baptism and
baptism in the Holy Spirit being among the most common) and has been understood in various
ways. Yet, there seems to be a general belief among Pentecostals and Charismatics that the
overwhelming experience of God in the Spirit is something that they share in common.(56)
Our field studies support the sense of shared experience among groups with dissimilar
doctrines of charismatic operations. A Vineyard church, for instance, does not even claim
for themselves the terms "Pentecostal" or "Charismatic," but
congregants often speak among themselves about their experiences in the power of the
Spirit. They may even avoid the term "baptism in the Holy Spirit" but they pray
and believe for special infusion of the power of the Spirit to work miracles, to discern
spirits, to pray for healing, to pray in tongues.
On the other hand, some of our focus churches use language that conveys a more
classical Pentecostal tinge. The central category for the experience of overwhelming of
the Spirit is understood in the symbol of Spirit baptism as an event and process in the
Christian life. Other experiences of the overwhelming Spirit are related but for the most
part they are understood within the baptism in the Spirit framework. Thus, Spirit baptism
functions more as a boundary that defines these communities and their spiritualities.
Spirit baptism may functions less as a defining boundary among the members of the
neo-Pentecostal churches. Despite the difference in emphasis on Spirit baptism, the point
remains that in each of our focus churches there is a central belief in and understanding
of their spirituality as one that flows from experiences of overwhelming by the
supernatural, the Holy Spirit. In the section to come we will consider the pragmatic
function, empowerment for life and service, of such overwhelming. But now, we turn to our
second main category, the Pentecostal communal experience of God.
2. Experiencing God in a Communal Context
Pentecostal spirituality is rooted in a communal experience of God typified by its
encouragement of democratic-participatory forms, and by its stresses on the media of
biblical symbols, oral exchange, and kinesthetic/music. There is truth in the
characterization that Pentecostals are individualists. The essential mystical quality of
their experience lends itself to a certain focus on the personal/individual dimension of
spirituality. To bypass the communal characteristic of the spirituality, however, would to
be miss an elemental and determinative component of Pentecostal spirituality.
Communal context. The communal context of the Pentecostal rites
provides for both social and individual experiences. The findings of our field research
confirm social historian Martin Marty's characterization of American Pentecostal worship
as demonstrating distinctly dramatic social behavior.(57)
These dramatic social behaviors we have identified and described as rites.(58)
We have also pointed to the social importance of these rites as symbolic boundaries that
shape the Pentecostal ethos and spirituality, while functioning in the process of communal
and individual self-definition. Such defining occurs within the potent social dynamics of
the Pentecostal ritual process.(59)
The social dynamics of the Pentecostal community are often contextualized by a
liminality that facilitates moments of communitas and continued community
building.(60) These communal aspects of the ritual and the
extended group life are in part the secret of the Pentecostal attraction. Time and again,
in interviews people told us that they came to the church because of "the
worship." The worship rite is often the richest rite in distinctive, dramatic, social
expressions of worship. Social bonding is strongly reliant on these rites. The sense of
community among the members of each of the study congregations, to a large extent grows
out of their common practice of their Pentecostal rites. So, the communal aspect of the
rites both attracts and retains Pentecostal worshippers. It provides the basis from which
the individual may express his or her own personal spirituality.
Participation/democratic. While the routinization of the Pentecostal
rites tends to limit broad based ritual participation, the democratic-participation
persists among Pentecostals.(61) In each of the focus
churches we discovered highly participatory forms of spirituality.
Lay leadership and involvement is still emphasized, though in varying degrees in
Pentecostal churches.(62) The programs of most Pentecostal
churches depend heavily on lay leadership. For example, several of our focus churches ran
extensive food distribution programs. These exemplified the functioning of lay leadership
and involvement. Foreign service/missions trips that are completely lay also were
prominent in several of our study churches.
The democratic participation involving lay persons has also to some extent been open to
women of the Pentecostal tradition. From the beginning of the Pentecostal movement women
preachers, Bible-teachers, evangelists, and foreign missionaries have had a prominent role
in transmission of the group's life, doctrine, and spirituality in general. The roles
available to women varied among the churches of our study. This in part seems to have
resulted both from the larger cultural influences and the growing impact of conservative
American Protestant Evangelicalism that has maintained a more rigid perspective concerning
women's roles in church leadership. Predictably then, among our focus churches, those
churches rooted more in the American Evangelical tradition, display the least openness to
women's roles in leadership. Women participate in roles of support with their husbands or
work with children in Christian education. On the other hand, the more traditionally
Pentecostal churches seemed to be more open to women in leadership roles. For example, two
of our focus churches had women as staff pastors and on the board of deacons.
Theoretically, in the classical Pentecostal churches of our study, there are no
restricting limits for women in leadership. Any role is open including that of senior
pastor and preacher. In practice however, the opportunities for women in leadership
ministry appear somewhat more restricted. On the other hand, within the Sunday ritual
women play prominent roles by their participation and leadership in the rites. For
example, women lead worship, participate on worship teams, lead dance expressions,
exercise charismatic speech acts, preach, pray and perform healing rites. The Sunday rites
provide a relatively free context in which women, as well as men, can express their
spirituality within the congregational context in participatory-democratic forms. These
participatory patterns that include women, laity and all groups within the Pentecostal
congregation spring from a communal experience of God, a spirituality that effectively
encourages a participatory communal experience.
Media of the participatory communal experience. Basically three media
function as channels through which the communal experience is transmitted and in which it
is experienced: biblical, oral, and kinesthetic/musical. The fundamental symbols of
Pentecostal spirituality are biblical symbols. Pentecostals consciously attempt
to understand the biblical messages and appropriate them to their community. Biblical
terms and biblical images abound in the liturgy, the language and the life-styles of
Pentecostals. Any doctrine, practice, or innovation in the ritual or in the community
programs faces the question, "Is it biblical?" Pentecostal see themselves as a
"people of the Book."(63) And as such, the book,
more correctly their understanding of the book, shapes their lives and their community
experience. Pentecostals seek to transmit their spirituality in the framework of biblical
images. And as a result they filter their experience of God through their
"reading" of the book. In other words, the biblical symbols provide the primary
medium through which the community understands itself and communicates that understanding;
biblical images contain and carry the Pentecostal spirituality.
Pentecostals also exploit forms of orality as a second main medium of their
participatory-democratic, communal experience of God.(64)
Hollenweger was perhaps first to note the oral emphasis that characterizes Pentecostal
spirituality. He rightly assessed that to a great extent the Pentecostal spirituality is
transferred within an oral subculture. Of course, the oral dimensions of the spirituality
appear most obviously in Pentecostals in developing countries. But orality plays a major
role even within the American Pentecostal communities. For while American Pentecostals
have written tracts and cursory theological treatments (and more recently scholarly
works), to a great extent the Pentecostal liturgies, moral codes and taboos, and
"histories" remain in oral form. To a large extent the Pentecostal spirituality
persists in "a lively oral tradition."(65)
If it is true that Pentecostals are people of the book and people of the spoken word,
then it is also true that they are people of music and movement.(66)
The third medium through which Pentecostals transmit their spirituality is the dual
dimension of kinesthetic/musical. The kinesthetic/musical medium for some
Pentecostals claims primacy as the fundamental form of transmission. This is certainly,
true among many Pentecostals of the so-called "third world."(67)
But, in our field research we observed the significance of music and movement to the
participatory nature of the communal experience. Music shapes a large part of the
liturgies in each of the focus churches. Some Pentecostals link forms of kinesthetic
movements and dance to the music while other forms of movement connect to the spoken word
or to personal spiritual impulses. Pentecostals seek to worship their God with their whole
being. They have intuitively presented their bodies, their physicality, as instruments of
worship. They seek to move with the Spirit, but not as incorporeal selves. Pentecostals
experience God as embodied people propelled by the Spirit and by their songs. Thus, the
Pentecostal communal spirituality is born in and conveyed by biblical symbols, oral
exchange, and kinesthetic/musical transactions.
3. Experiencing God as Empowering Spirit
and Commissioning Lord
Thirdly, Pentecostals experience God as empowering and commissioning. The language of
power has always played a part in the Pentecostal liturgy and spirituality. Their language
reflects their reality. Pentecostals not only see God as an all powerful Spirit, they
believe that God manifests God's power in their world. The manifestation of power (e.g.,
in healing, or other "signs and wonders") has a sacramental quality for
Pentecostals. In the manifestations of power God proves God's interest in the affairs of
humankind in specific ways. The experiences of power reflect very personal experiences, an
individual experiencing a personal God. They are rather very personal. For example,
Pentecostals not only speak of a personal experience of Salvation (i.e., a conversion
event), by the speak of another event as well. Pentecostals testify to an initial and on
going experience of Spirit baptism which is often presented as profoundly personal and
intimate. And the sense of personal intimacy continues in the "Spirit filled
life." The empowerment for "life and service" that Pentecostals claim as a
result of Spirit baptism is typically experienced as "a closeness to Jesus."
Many speak of their Spirit empowerment as "making Jesus more real." They say
that daily life looks and feels different because they sense a presence of Christ
"in" them and they are confident in his ability, "power" to assist
them in the mundane matters of life as well as the opportunities for service.
Pentecostal congregants testified to us of a sense of empowerment as a result of
participation in their liturgical rites. Such witnesses to empowerment did not speak only
of the symbol of Spirit baptism, though that symbol remains central. Experiences of
empowerment seem to occur throughout the liturgy: in the worship rite during celebrative
singing, as a part of prayer times, during the rites of transition, and of course, during
the altar response. Empowering experience, also, seems to occur often when a ritualist is
ministering to another as when one is being ministered unto. For example, frequently,
congregants noted a sense of empowerment as they prayed for someone else's needs. Often,
charismatic phenomena accompany such prayers. Such efficacious prayer is central to the
Pentecostal understanding of "ministry." But the power of the Spirit seems to be
experienced by both the parties in the ministry diad. Pentecostals experience God as an
empowering Spirit in their rituals.
As we have indicated above, however, while Pentecostals experience the empowerment of
the Spirit often in their corporate ritual, they move outward with a sense of the Spirit's
power to serve the needs of the society, "the world." Although the answers to
society's ills have often been viewed simplistically by Pentecostals, nonetheless, they do
in their own way seek to positively effect the society by sharing good news in word and in
deed. The result has been a disproportionate level of involvement in missionary,
evangelistic and other service ventures. Each of these ventures emerges out of the sense
of empowerment and the belief that they have been commissioned.
Pentecostals experience God as the commissioning Lord. The One who empowers, they
believe, also calls and sends. Empowerment seeks more than self edification. Instead,
Pentecostals recognize in their sense of empowerment a calling to assist others. They
understand the commission of Jesus to serve the world as their commission. They believe
that their Lord's mission to fulfill the will of God on the earth now includes them and
they believe that the Spirit enables them to accomplish the mission, not in their
"own strength" but "in the power of the Holy Spirit." Thus,
Pentecostals experience God as empowering Spirit and commissioning Lord.
4. Experiencing God as Creative
Lastly, Pentecostals experience God as creative; and consequently, they live out a
creative spirituality. "Exuberant creativity" seems intrinsic to Pentecostal
spirituality. More than one Pentecostal observer, has been "struck by Pentecostal
self-taught inventiveness."(68) Elsewhere, we
discussed such "exuberant creativity" and "inventiveness" as revealed
in the ritualization, improvisation and spontaneous inclinations within the rites of
Pentecostal churches, the creative impulse extends beyond the liturgy throughout the
Pentecostal spirituality.(69) Pentecostals live out a
creative spirituality because they conceive of their God as creative, and their engagement
with the Spirit confirms this conception experientially. Consequently, a creative and
entrepreneurial form of spirituality emerges from their experience of their creative God.
The emergent spirituality then displays an adaptability, a pioneering spirit, and an
God as Creative. Pentecostals conceive of God as creative. The
Pentecostal God is a God who is ever creative and seeks by the Spirit to interact with and
minister to humankind creatively. For Pentecostals, God's (re)creation among humanity is
yet to be completed. But, this notion of God as ever creative Spirit is more than a
cognitive category. Pentecostals experience God as creative. We have
characterized the Pentecostal interaction with the Holy Spirit as liberating, empowering
and gifting experiences. These experiences are seen as God's creative work in the
individual through an engaging transaction with the Spirit. This creative, freeing,
endowment convinces Pentecostals that God "has done a work in" them and
more. Inherent in God's "work," God's baptism, lies a sense of intimate
connection to God and to the divine creativeness symbolized in the charisms for the
Pentecostals, gifts are not so much possessed by the human as available divine resources.
The perception of being personally attached to God and the supernatural resources
converges with the Pentecostal understanding of (com)mission.
A creative entrepreneurial form of spirituality. As we have indicated
previously, Pentecostals experience God as their commissioning Lord. That is, they believe
they have been given a divine mission, a purpose in life. It is particularly within this
sense of mission that Pentecostal spirituality expresses itself in its creative,
entrepreneurial form. This model of Pentecostal spirituality reveals traits of pioneering
innovation, adaptability, and pragmatic action, among others. The history of this
century's Pentecostal movement is replete with examples of Pentecostal people combining
innovation, adaptability and action to produce new patterns of religious life.(70) Our field studies revealed, the sparks of creative,
entrepreneurial, Pentecostal life in the histories and ongoing life of our focus churches.
The innovative actions of Pentecostal pastors and congregants from the past are yet
unfolding. These religious entrepreneurs arrived in town armed with a message, and a
belief in their experience of a creative God. Their gifting, creative applications, and
adaptability have served in the process of creating communities which now engage in
revitalizing and reappropriating symbols Pentecostals have long held dear. The resulting
spirituality is authentically Pentecostal, creative and Christian.
To summarize this section, we have characterized Pentecostal spirituality as a
mystical/experiential spirituality that emphasizes encounter with the supernatural. We
have asserted that it is rooted in a communal experience of God typified by its
encouragement of democratic-participatory forms, which transpire in and through biblical
symbols, orality, and kinesthetic/musical activity. Thirdly, this characterization
presents Pentecostals as those who experience their God as an empowering Spirit who
commissions through callings and giftings toward a life of service, mission and
evangelism. And, finally Pentecostals experience God as creative and thus, as One who
encourages creativity marked by an inventive and improvisational actions and an adaptable,
Part II --ECUMENISM AND PENTECOSTAL SPIRITUALITY
In this final part of the paper we wish to link Pentecostal spirituality to the quest
for Christian unity. Under two main headings: "Pentecostal Spirituality as a Force
for Ecumenism" and "Challenges of Ecumenism for Pentecostal Spirituality,"
we will briefly suggest categories for consideration and discussion.
A. Pentecostal Spirituality as a Force for Ecumenism
Cecil M. Robeck, Jr. has argued convincingly that Pentecostals are ecumenical although
they do not always fully recognize their own ecumenical dimension.(71)
In this section we would like to suggest a few ways in which Pentecostal spirituality
functions as a force--or potential force--for ecumenism.
1. An Original Vision
Walter Hollenweger may have been the first to call attention to the original ecumenical
dimension of Pentecostal spirituality when he rightly assessed, "The Pentecostal
Movement started as an ecumenical revival movement within the traditional churches."(72) Others have supported this assertion. Mel Robeck insists
that even "a cursory reading of the earliest Pentecostal publications is sufficient
to validate [the] claim."(73)
Examples of key Pentecostal leaders who voiced the vision of ecumenism include: William
J. Seymour, the African-American pastor of the original "Azusa Street" mission
in Los Angeles; Charles Parham, Seymour's teacher and the earliest Pentecostal proponent;
W. F. Carothers, who helped Charles Parham direct the early Apostolic Faith Movement
during its formative years; and Dr. Amelia Yeomans, a physician, leading spokeswoman and
Early Pentecostals believed that Christian unity would mark the culmination of
salvation history. Their ecumenical vision drew upon a restorationist spirituality, which
looked to the New Testament and the early church as its model. They believed that God was
restoring the dynamics and blessings of the early church within the twentieth century and
that their Pentecostal spiritual experience was an expression of that restoration, a
restoration that would help produce the answer to Jesus' prayer in John 17.
Unfortunately, the optimistic vision for Christian unity blurred as early Pentecostals
encountered resistance to their message and to their general experience of spirituality.
It would remain for the Charismatic renewal of the mid-twentieth century to refocus the
vision of the ecumenical dimension of Pentecostal spirituality.(75)
That is not to say that all Pentecostals of the second and third generation lost their
ecumenical focus. Notable exceptions were Donald Gee, a leading British Pentecostal
spokesman, and of course, David du Plessis, whose ecumenical vision (rooted in his own
Pentecostal spirituality) and world-wide work for Christian unity earned him the epitaph
2. "Grassroots" Cooperation
While the vision for complete Christian unity may have weakened among the Pentecostals
who followed the founding generation, the original impulse discovered new expressions. One
category of these expressions might be termed "grassroots cooperation."
Throughout much of their history, Pentecostals, most often at the local (grassroots)
level, have sought to cooperate in broadly based Christian endeavors. "Union
meetings" (meetings supported by the churches of different denominations in a
particular town) were often encouraged and supported by the local Pentecostal church.
These meetings frequently focused on evangelism, and Pentecostals found them a meaningful
expression, not only of evangelization but of Christian cooperation and unity. Of course,
large cooperative efforts such as Billy Graham or Luis Palau meetings have typically
received Pentecostal promotion and participation.
Social ministries on the grassroots level have also garnered support among
Pentecostals. For example, Teen Challenge (an outreach to inner-city youth focusing on
drug addictions and other social needs) and similar social programs have often been
conceived by Pentecostals (e.g. David Wilkerson). More importantly, these programs have
actively encouraged a broad base for Christian cooperation toward the meaningful goal of
living out the Gospel amid a society's neediest. Again, a significant
"by-product" of such cooperation has been the stimulation of ecumenical
As a result of the Charismatic renewal, grassroots ecumenical impulses gained momentum.
Especially during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, ecumenical prayer meetings, Bible studies,
and conferences were supported and/or initiated by Pentecostal churches. Again, these were
generally on the local and not the denominational level. However, these grassroots
meetings produced a greater openness to, interest in, and mutual understanding of
Christians of diverse traditions. During this period many Pentecostal churches invited
ministers from nearly all Protestant denominations as well as priests from Roman Catholic
and Orthodox churches to speak to their congregations. In home meetings, and prayer groups
of all sorts, Pentecostals shared in prayer and fellowship with Christians of "all
stripes." Many other cooperative efforts with significant ecumenical overtones (such
as community prayer meetings and civic prayer breakfasts) have been part of the
Pentecostal grassroots movement.
3. Ecumenical Organizations
Although the Pentecostal grassroots level of ecumenical endeavor has been quite
significant, another level can be recognized. Pentecostals have founded, co-founded and/or
joined existing national and international organizations seeking to transcend
denominational lines. Among Pentecostals, they have established in 1947 the Pentecostal
World Conference, a triennial, international, ecumenical gathering of Pentecostals and
similar regional ecumenical fellowships. Pentecostals also reached beyond themselves, when
in America they helped to found the National Association of Evangelicals, an association
of American evangelicals, Holiness and Pentecostal peoples. While many of these
organizations have a limited view of ecumenism, they nonetheless do express a certain
interest in Christian unity.(76)
Perhaps a greater spirit of inclusiveness is present in the para-church organizations that are a direct result and expression of Pentecostal spirituality. Women's Aglow Fellowship (WAF) and Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship International (FGBMFI) exemplify this spirit. Both groups have become worldwide organizations. WAF encourages groups of women to gather for luncheons focusing on prayer and fellowship. At the organizational level these women commit explicitly to work toward unity among believers by bringing women together (trans-denominationally) to share in worship, witness, and fellowship.(77) Likewise, FGBMFI seeks to provide a forum for ecumenical fellowship and outreach. Avoiding church buildings and facilities, the FGBMFI aims at providing a non-sectarian fellowship of laity within the context of restaurants and hotel ballrooms. Seeking a non-threatening environment, they reach out to Christians of all denominations and assist in fellowship and evangelization through mutual support and selected focused testimonies. This ecumenical fellowship with a Pentecostal flavor was founded in 1951, and by the late 1980s included more than 3000 local chapters in 87 countries. These two groups illustrate, in part, the ecumenical force among Pentecostals embodied organizationally.
4. Contributions to the Larger Christian World
Perhaps because of the growth of Pentecostalism and its attending spirituality around
the world this century, church leaders have begun to pose questions as to what
contributions Pentecostal Christians could and perhaps do make to the Church and the
If Pentecostals have anything to offer to the larger Church it is rooted in their
spirituality. A spirituality that, as we have pointed out, emphasizes a
converting/transforming relationship with God as revealed in Jesus Christ, and a
sanctifying/empowering relational experience with the Spirit of God. The Pentecostal
experience of God--often symbolized in or spoken of as the "Spirit filled life,"
or "Spirit baptized life"--not only grounds the believers' spirituality, it
produces within their movement significant outcomes which may have relevance to the Church
at large. Here let us quickly highlight a few of these outcomes.(78)
Pentecostal spirituality seems to produce a new and often keen sense of community.
As we have said, Pentecostals experience God in a communal context. This context is both
the result of and an encouragement to a dynamic expressive worship (liturgy)
marked by participatory forms of prayer, a love of scripture, and other rites which
stimulate communal worship including spiritual gifts. Pentecostals do not "own"
the charismata. Perhaps, however, their focus offers a revalorization of the
Pentecostal spirituality has also produced an emphasis on various forms of Christian
outreach including evangelism, missions, and social concerns.(80)
Perhaps the contribution most relevant to this discussion, however, is best stated in one
Pentecostal ecumenist's testimonial, "Our experience of the Spirit has taught us that
genuine Christian unity is ultimately a creation of the Spirit of God."(81) If Pentecostals have an offering to make toward
Christian unity, which derives from their experience of God, it is the reminder that God's
Spirit is forever the Author and Architect of authentic ecumenism.
5. Other Impulses for Ecumenism Native to Pentecostal Spirituality
There are other native impulses toward ecumenism within Pentecostal spirituality. To
conclude this section on Pentecostal spirituality as a force for ecumenism, let us mention
two sensibilities often recognized as inherent to the lived experience of Pentecostals: a
native desire for fellowship,(82) and a propensity for
crossing the boundaries.(83)
From the beginnings of the Pentecostal movement, its adherents have claimed and generally demonstrated a deep desire for Christian fellowship. Often at the grassroots level this fellowship has disregarded denominational lines. In fact, at times Pentecostals have relished the opportunity to cross boundaries, particularly when the barriers were seen as merely human. In other words, the Pentecostal propensity for crossing the boundaries symbolizes an aspect of their entrepreneurial spirituality
and relates to their experience of God as creative (see above).
B. Challenges of Ecumenism for Pentecostal Spirituality
If the potential for ecumenism inherent in Pentecostal spirituality is to be more fully
realized, certain challenges must be addressed. Here we will only identify and briefly
comment on a few. Incidentally, we are not suggesting that the following challenges are
utterly unique to Pentecostals. In fact, it seems likely that each challenge in some form
must be faced by each Christian tradition. Nonetheless, the following issues remain for
Pentecostals to confront.
1. The Challenge of Inherent Fears and Stereotypes
We spoke above about impulses of Pentecostals for ecumenism, and we noted examples and
expressions of the force of Pentecostal spirituality toward Christian unity. Implied
throughout, however, is that Pentecostals have avoided some forms of ecumenism. Why have
they hesitated if inherently they have such potential and desire for Christian unity? A
number of reasons might be offered. Here, however, let us suggest certain fears and
stereotypes that hinder Pentecostals from functioning more fully in the ecumenical
Pentecostals worry about some forms of organization. They are concerned that they
follow the Spirit and not be entrapped in a human system that is out of step with God's
desires and plans. As a result, a certain hesitancy among Pentecostals might be expected
when attempting to engage them in some organizational forms of ecumenism. Pentecostals
fear a pseudo-church. They know that the true Church exists by the Spirit of God, they are
nervous about systems and organization that they perceive as humanly manufactured and
Some of Pentecostal apprehension is rooted in stereotypes. Perhaps the most troublesome stereotypes concern other forms of Christianity. While Pentecostals seek fellowship, as noted above, when they are unsure of the authenticity of another's Christianity, they avoid fellowship. If Pentecostals are to proceed in the quest for Christian unity, they need to address their fears and the unfair stereotypes of others who "name the name of Christ," yet experience God differently.
One way to address the stereotypes issue is to recognize the need for respect among
Christians from divergent groups. It seems that respect for God's creation--expressed in
humanity and specifically in God's work in and among communities that espouse a faith in
God-- is fundamental to a Christian ethic. It is certainly essential to ecumenical
Pentecostals have need of respect.(84) That is to say,
they have desired and sometimes been denied respect from other Christians. In kind, at
times they too have not respected their sisters and brothers. Sometimes the lack of
respect has been connected to the misunderstood elements of the others' spirituality.
Differences in spiritual devotions or unfamiliar liturgical practices can be excuses for
Pentecostal lack of respect.
Our hope is that Pentecostals will be able to build upon their own internal diversity
(which they affirm) and begin to recognize the potential for diversity in the Body of
Christ. With that recognition, respect might emerge.
3. The Challenge of Discernment
Another challenge for Pentecostals, as they move into ecumenical streams, is that of
discernment. Glenn Hinson suggests that when Christian groups attempt to relate
ecumenically it is necessary for them to be able to discern the Spirit's work in the
history of the other.(85) If discerning the Spirit's work
in the history of the other is fundamental for Pentecostals, then discerning the Spirit's
actions in the contemporary faith community is essential to a meaningful ecumenical
In part, the challenge of discernment is the challenge of genre. For Pentecostals, the
genre of choice is often testimony, a narrative telling of the story. Narrative permeates
the spirituality of Pentecostals. It emerges in their sermons, liturgies, Bible studies,
prayer meetings, evangelism, and missions efforts. When Pentecostals talk about their God
(theology) and their experience of God, it most often will be framed in narrative. To
understand them, you must listen to their story, their story: about God and their story
about themselves. The two story-lines are integrally woven together.
The challenge for Pentecostals is to learn to listen. They must have ears to hear the
other's "story." If the dialogue partner is less inclined to use narrative,
Pentecostals must learn to translate, or ask for help in translating. Hearing and
discerning the presence of God in the history of the others and hearing the other's
understanding of God's presence and actions in the contemporary community experience, is
important to the ecumenical process.
4. The Challenge of Recognizing the Different Orientations of Christian Spiritualities
While we might locate several areas of orientation that affect a particular Christian
spirituality, we will limit our remarks to only two: orientation to experiencing God and
orientation to the "world" and the Kingdom.
Orientation to experiencing God. Mel Robeck argues convincingly that
groups of Christians often misunderstand each other because they have fundamentally
different approaches to God.(86) Basing his thought on the
work of scripture scholar Samuel Terrien, Robeck suggests that some groups of Christians
are oriented more to the symbolic experience of the divine "Glory" (Glory/ eye/
space/ enthusiasm) while other traditions focus more on the divine "Name" (Name/
ear/ time/ ethics). These two orientations to God's presence, both biblical, can exist in
a dynamic tension within one community's spirituality. However, as Robeck implies, often
either Glory or Name becomes the dominant epistemological orientation for a Christian
tradition or denomination. When the tension of having the two orientations within the same
group is lost, a certain myopia results. This narrowing vision makes it more difficult to
recognize or understand other Christians who experience God and God's presence quite
Clearly, to better participate in ecumenical life Pentecostals must face the challenge
of first recognizing that others may perceive and experience God quite differently (and
that difference may be due to their natural orientation to and sensibilities of God). Of
course, with this recognition comes the insight that a particular orientation results in a
particular type of Christian spirituality. These insights need to lead toward a desire to
understand and affirm the other's experience of God.
Orientation to the "World" and the Kingdom. Similarly,
Pentecostals will need to recognize that there are a variety of orientations toward the
world (society) among Christian groups. This understanding, of course, emerged from the
work of Ernst Troelsch with his Church and sect (and mystical) topologies. Later, H.
Richard Niebuhr expanded and refined Troeltsch's three types into five.(88)
In his work, Niebuhr spoke of the relation between Christ and culture. While his work was
particularly concerned with social ethics, his typology has provided a foundation for
thought concerning the Church's liturgy,(89) and recently
has been applied to Christian spirituality.(90)
Geoffrey Wainwright has suggested that Niebuhr's five types provide a useful analysis
of the orientations of particular spiritualities. For Wainwright, the issue turns on the
group's understanding of the eschatological Kingdom of God. For example, in Niebuhr's
first type, "Christ against culture," Wainwright points out that the eschatology
of this type of Christian group is the "most discontinuous kind: the world to come
and this world are direct opposites; the one will simply replace the other. In the
corresponding spirituality, this world is merely a place to be 'out of.'"(91) On the other end of the spectrum lies Niebuhr's
"Christ of culture." Niebuhr has less good to say about this extreme than he
does the first. With this orientation it is difficult to distinguish the "world"
or its culture(s) from the church. In its typical form, Wainwright suggests, it has no
eschatology, for if there was no fall nor need for redemption, then what can be said of
the Kingdom.(92) Such extremes make dialogue difficult.
The three middle types of Niebuhr provide an understanding of orientations that are
less extreme. The "Christ above culture" (synthetic) type affirms numerous
elements of the culture while recognizing some distinction between the roles of the church
and the culture. It does, however, emphasize the "already now" more than the
"not yet" understanding of the eschatological Kingdom. In the "Christ and
culture in Paradox" (dualist) type there remains a more severe separation between the
world and the church. This type is more on the world-denying side of the spectrum, though
not as extreme as the Christ against culture orientation. A certain polarity between law
and gospel, wrath and grace, emerge in this orientation. The corresponding spirituality is
"characteristically one of conflict," a tension between two kingdoms.(93)
Niebuhr's and Wainwright's thought alert us that historically and presently, Christian
groups have revealed a variety of orientations to the world and its host culture(s). A
particular orientation has influenced and been influenced by the group's understanding of
the eschatological Kingdom of God. Our point is that Pentecostals interested in ecumenical
spirituality, must face a two-part challenge. They must work to better understand the
orientation(s) of their own spirituality, its stance toward the culture, and its view of
the eschatological Kingdom. Secondly, they need to better comprehend the orientations of
brothers and sisters,from other traditions, so that they might better dialogue with them
and appreciate their spirituality.
In light of these and other challenges, one final challenge emerges, which is: what is
an appropriate approach or approaches to ecumenism? Or, what are some of the elements of
such approaches? Ecumenist Walter Hollenweger implies that a
"one-approach-fits-all" style may not work. He suggests that sensitivity to the
uniqueness, the essence, of a particular form of Christian spirituality must be employed.(94) Depending on the nature of the spirituality, Hollenweger
believes that we may be called to "invent new forms of ecumenical encounter if we
want to learn . . . and if we want to contribute with our own spiritual gifts."(95)
We would not attempt to invent new forms within the format of this paper. However, let
us draw from what we have already said, to suggest a few elements foundational to an
authentic approach to ecumenism. First, it would seem that a successful approach must
assess the potential and the gifts within one's own tradition that can be employed toward
Christian unity. Secondly, challenges and impediments must be faced, lest naively we
stumble. Thirdly, as we have noted earlier, authentic ecumenism calls for a sincere
respect for the other's spirituality; an appreciation for their life in Christ and all
that it means to them. Fourthly and fifthly, prayer and research is essential--prayer to
discern and understand the other's spirituality, and research "to put legs" to
our prayer. We might think of such prayer and research as learning a language. Ecumenical
spirituality calls us to learn the language of the other. To learn a foreign language is
to learn another's culture. Learning to speak and hear with new symbolic meaning is
fraught with ecumenical potential. Lastly, let us commend the study of Christian
spirituality--historically, theologically, biblically, phenomenologically, comparatively,
and any way that assists--as an approach to authentic Christian ecumenism. Such studies
surely would produce a harvest of wonderful insights, and opportunities to better
understand, appreciate and affirm the varieties of Christian spiritualities that relate to
May our God assist us as we seek to cooperate with the desire of Jesus' prayer in John
17, that we "may become completely one" (17:23b, NRSV).
Appendix: Ritual and Pentecostalism
Pentecostals and ritual. In this paper we maintain that ritual
functions as an important component of Pentecostal spirituality. Consequently, a study of
Pentecostal ritual can assist the analysis and comprehension of Pentecostal spirituality.
One might question whether a ritual study can truly facilitate an understanding of the
elements and dynamics of Pentecostal spirituality. After all, traditionally Pentecostals
themselves have often objected to or reject the term "ritual" and its implied
conceptualization. To them, ritual represents something "dead," meaningless, or
even "unscriptural" and "unspiritual," mechanical religion. At best,
many Pentecostals speak of "ritual" as too restrictive, mechanical, potentially
inhibiting the Spirit's moving and therefore not conducive to the spiritual experiences
that they encourage.(96) However, Pentecostals do in fact,
engage in rituals, though they often call them by other names: "worship
services," "spiritual practices," "Pentecostal distinctives," for
Defining "ritual" (and "rites"). Ritual has many
definitions,(97) but throughout this paper ritual connotes
those actions, dramas, performances that a community creates, continues, recognizes and
sanctions as ways of behaving that express appropriate attitudes, beliefs, and values
within a given situation. In particular, we apply the term ritual to the corporate
worship service.(98) The Pentecostal service lies at
the heart of the Pentecostal spirituality and with its attending rites and practices
constitutes the most central ritual of Pentecostalism.(99)
We employ the term rite when referring to a portion or phase of the service
(e.g., the sermon, the song service), a particular practice or specific enactment (e.g.,
laying on of hands and prayer, taking an offering, receiving water or Spirit baptism) or a
set of actions (e.g., various types of altar/responses) recognized by Pentecostals as a
legitimate part of their overall ritual.(100)
Ritual and Pentecostal spirituality. Ritual by nature dramatizes and effects the life of a people.(101) In particular, the Pentecostal rites both dramatize and vitalize the spirituality of a believing community.(102) Pentecostals often experience their rites as essential, life giving, and arguably responsible in part for the vitality of their movement, its spread and the spirituality it encourages. And though it is true that Pentecostal spirituality does not confine itself to its rituals, the rites of the Pentecostals form an indispensable component of the spirituality.(103) Thus, we believe that the Pentecostal ritual performance deserves serious consideration. We assert that looking through the lens of ritual the deliberate and sensitive participant-observer can access, assess and comprehend the symbols, qualities, processes, consequences, and general ethos of a Pentecostal spirituality. With this presupposition, this paper assumes a ritual study of Pentecostal spirituality based on field research of the ritual performances of three selected Pentecostal/Charismatic communities.
1. See brief Appendix at the end of the paper for introductory issues and definitions, "Ritual and Pentecostalism."
2. The research for this paper is largely based on a study of Pentecostalism, Daniel E. Albrecht, Rites in the Spirit. Sheffield, ENG: Sheffield Academic Press, forthcoming, 1998.
This analysis examined Pentecostal rites and ritual as expressions of and efficacious dynamics within Pentecostal spirituality. It aimed to describe and interpret Pentecostal spirituality by means of a ritual study. A team of seven researchers participated in the early stages of ethnographic fieldwork/research which included the methods of participant observation and ethnographic interviewing. While the study's initial phase included at least twelve Pentecostal type churches in North America (referred to as "study churches" in this paper), it ultimately focused on data collected from three Northern California congregations (called "focus churches" below). The selection of these congregations narrowed the scope of the study to three types of Pentecostal/Charismatic congregations but kept a certain limited diversity for sake of comparison: one church was of the "classical" Pentecostal type, one was a church more heavily influenced by "neo-pentecostal" trends, and one was a so-called "Third Wave" or "Signs and Wonders movement" type. The churches represented three different denominations.
The focus church phase of the research concentrated on the central Pentecostal ritual, the Sunday worship service and its attending rites. The phase lasted for a period of more than two years. The research and its presentation endeavored to understand Pentecostal/Charismatic spirituality by utilizing both indigenous categories and those suggested by ritologists, social scientists and theologians, especially Ronald L. Grimes, Victor Turner, and Donald Gelpi. See also Daniel E. Albrecht, "Pentecostal Spirituality," Pneuma 14:2 (Fall 1992) 107-125.
3. Anne E. Carr, Transforming Grace, (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1988) 201-202. For an understanding of contemporary use of the term "spirituality" see Sandra Schneiders, "Spirituality in the Academy," Theological Studies 50 (1989); for a survey of definitions and the development of the term see Jon Alexander, "What Do Recent Writers Mean by Spirituality?" Spirituality Today 32 (1980): 247-57; Sandra Schneiders, "Theology and Spirituality: Strangers, Rivals, or Partners?" Horizons 13 (1986) 256-67; and Philip Sheldrake, Spirituality and History: Questions of Interpretation and Method (New York: Crossroad Publishing Company, 1992), 32-56.
4. See Robert M. Anderson, "Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity," in Encyclopedia of Religion vol. 11 ed. Mircea Eliade, et al. (New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1987), 229-235; Barbara Hargrove, The Sociology of Religion: Classical and Contemporary Approaches (Arlington Heights, IL: Harlan Davidson, Inc., 1979); Martin E. Marty, A Nation of Behavers (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1976); Russell P. Spittler, "Spirituality: Pentecostal and Charismatic," in DPCM, ed. Stanley M. Burgess et al. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1988), 800-809; Grant Wacker, "America's Pentecostals: Who They Are," Christianity Today (October 16, 1987): 16-21.
5. Fredrick Dale Bruner, A Theology of the Holy Spirit: The Pentecostal Experience and the New Testament Witness (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1970).
6. Studying any type of Christian spirituality presents a challenge. Studying Pentecostal spirituality is particularly precarious. Walter J. Hollenweger has rightly warned that while Pentecostalism has great potential for ecumenical contribution, "it is, however, difficult to introduce this kind of spirituality into the ecumenical discussion because--if reduced to concepts and propositions--it loses its very essence." He goes on to assert
that the Pentecostal "strength does not lie in what they conceptualize but in what happens to the participants in their liturgies." See Hollenweger, "Pentecostals and the Charismatic Movement," in Cheslyn Jones et al (eds), The Study of Spirituality (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986), 549-54.
Hollenweger's assertion directs us toward a particular type of study. In this case, we have chosen to study Pentecostal spirituality in the midst of its most common and salient experiences, the Pentecostal worship service, the main liturgy or ritual. The following seeks to relate an understanding of Pentecostal spirituality based on this study.
7. By "sensibilities" we mean embodied attitudes which are the results of abilities to feel or perceive, as in a receptiveness to impression or an affective responsiveness toward something. These sensibilities both orient and animate the spirituality's beliefs and practices.
8. No single treatment can possible claim to encompass all of the varieties of Pentecostal spiritualities even in North America nor represent in detail the texture of the experience of each group let alone each individual Pentecostal. We recognize the dilemma of generalization, but we believe that we can with some clarity focus on the essential, elemental qualities that represent the core of Pentecostal spirituality (at least within the churches of our study). As a comparative device, we have also considered the reflections of numerous scholars of Pentecostalism that bear directly on Pentecostal spirituality. The following are some of the works that we have consider and drawn from. Some of these will be specifically cited below. David B. Barrett, "The Twentieth-Century Pentecostal/Charismatic Renewal in the Holy Spirit," International Bulletin of Missionary Research 12 (July 1988): 119-124; Edith Blumhofer, The Assemblies of God, vol. I, 141-78; Idem, "'Pentecost in My Soul': Probing the Early Pentecostal Ethos," Assemblies of God Heritage (Spring 1989): 13-14; Louis Bouyer, "Some Charismatic Movements in the History of the Church," in The Pentecostal Movement in the Catholic Church, ed. Edward D. O'Connor (Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press, 1971), 113-131; Stanley Burgess, Gary McGee, and Patrick Alexander, "Introduction," in DPCM, 1-6 Charles Farah, "America's Pentecostals: What They Believe," Christianity Today (October 16, 1987): 22, 24-26; Donald Gee, Concerning Spiritual Gifts (Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, 1937, 1972); Donald L. Gelpi, The Divine Mother: A Trinitarian Theology of the Holy Spirit (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1984); Experiencing God: A Theology of Human Emergence (New York: College Theological Society, University Press of America, 1987); Peter D. Hocken, "Charismatic Movement," in DPCM, 130-60; W. J. Hollenweger, "Pentecostals and the Charismatic Movement," in The Study of Spirituality ed. Cheslyn Jones, et al., (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986), 549-51; also idem, The Pentecostals, especially 291-511; Wayne Kraiss and Barbara Kraiss, "The Changing Face of Worship," Theology, News and Notes (March 1991): 7-11; Steve Land, Pentecostal Spirituality (Sheffield, ENG: Sheffield Academic Press, 1993);"Pentecostal Spirituality: Living in the Spirit," in Christian Spirituality vol. 3, ed. Louis Dupre and Don Saliers (New York: Crossroad, 1989), 479-499; Kenneth Leech, Soul Friend: The Practice of Christian Spirituality (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1977); Martin E. Marty, A Nation of Behavers (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1976), 106-25; Idem, "Pentecostalism in the Context of American
Piety and Practice," in Aspects of Pentecostal-Charismatic Origins, ed. Vinson Synan, Plainfield, NJ: Logos International, 1975), 193-233; L. G. McClung, Jr., "Evangelism," in DPCM, 248-88; Gary B. McGee, "Missions, Overseas, (North American)," in DPCM, 610-25; Richard Quebedeaux, The New Charismatics II (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1983), 127-192; Cecil M. Robeck, Jr. "Azusa Street Revival," in DPCM, 31-36; Roger G. Robins,"Pentecostal Movement." In The Dictionary of Christianity in America, ed. Daniel G. Reid, et al. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 885-891; Idem, "Pentecostals and the Apostolic Faith: Implications for Ecumenism." Pneuma 9 (1987): 61-84; Russell Spittler, "The Pentecostal View," in Christian Spirituality: Five Views of Sanctification, ed. Donald L. Alexander (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 133-154; Idem, "Spirituality: Pentecostal and Charismatic," in DPCM, 800-809; Idem, ed. Perspectives on the New Pentecostalism (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1976); Vinson, Synan, ed., Aspects of Pentecostal-Charismatic Origins (Plainfield, NJ: Logos International, 1975); Idem, "Pentecostalism: Varieties and Contributions," Pneuma 8 (Fall 1986): 31-49; Grant Wacker, "America's Pentecostals: Who They Are." Christianity Today (October 16, 1987): 16-21; Idem, "The Function of Faith in Primitive Pentecostalism." Harvard Theological Review 77:3-4 (1984): 353-375; "Pentecostalism," in The Encyclopedia of American Religious Experience vol. 2, ed. Lippy, Charles H., Peter W. Williams (New York: Scribner's, 1988), 933-45; James F. White, Protestant Worship: Traditions in Transition (Louisville, KY: Westminster/Knox Press, 1989); J. Rodman Williams, The Pentecostal Reality (Plainfield, NJ: Logos International, 1972).
9. Anthropologists often distinguish between emic and etic descriptions of culture, a distinction made first by K. Pike, Language in Relation to a Unified Theory of the Structure of Human Behavior, vol. 1 (Glendale: Summer Institute of Linguistics, 1954), 8. An emic term is a term employed by the people of the culture. An emic analysis of a culture utilizes not only the folk terms but attempts to portrays the culture and its meaningfulness as an insider understands it. Whereas an etic analysis applies categories that the anthropologist finds helpful in describing the culture to outsiders. In this chapter we do not attempt to operate wholly within either of these types of analyses. However, in this first section especially, we do find it helpful to use prevalent emic terms to describe aspects of Pentecostal spirituality.
10. On "select symbols" of a ritual see Victor Turner, Forest of Symbols, 19-47 and Margaret Kelleher, "The Communion Rite," , 108-111; Paul Ricoeur, The Symbolism of Evil (Boston: Beacon Press, 1967) especially, "the primary symbols," 3-157.
11. Albrecht, Rites in the Spirit; and Albrecht, "Pentecostal Spirituality," Pneuma 14:2 (Fall 1992) 107-125.
12. In the history of the Pentecostal movement spokeswomen have played a prominent and significant role. Aimee Semple McPherson and Kathryn Kuhlman represent only two or the most well known. But as specialists (i. e., preachers, evangelists, teachers, missionaries) or lay, women have spoken from within the Pentecostal tradition usually to their own local congregations. Their congregations believed them to be speaking on behalf of God.
13. For example, in one church the pastor gives most of the "words of knowledge" that follow the sermon and preceded the rites of healing. In another church the pastor most often gives the interpretation to a message in tongues.
14. They represent leadership as a team, as opposed to individual leadership. For example, on the first visit to one of our study churches we did not recognize that there is a "head" of the team. During the worship rite the team of four vocalist and several instruments seem to be one unit--a true team. Upon further investigation, it became clear that one was the principal leader, but the sense of multiple leadership in the form of a team continues even after one knows who primarily directs.
15. The Pentecostal understanding of charismatic "leadings" and "giftings" yields a potential for a variety of leadership roles and styles both in the ritual and in the larger Pentecostal communities. For both the established leaders (e. g., pastors) and spontaneous leaders are expected to move and lead according to the Spirit's guidance. And the resulting leadership roles will vary according to the individual leader and the particular situation.
16. See Albrecht, Rites in the Spirit, especially chapter four, "charismatic criteria." For questions of Pentecostal discernment in a worship service see Stephen E. Parker, Led by the Spirit: Toward a Practical Theology of Pentecostal Discernment and Decision Making (Sheffield, ENG: Sheffield Academic Press, 1996).
17. For an informative view of charismatic leadership as social see Peter Worsely, The Trumpet Shall Sound, 2d ed., (New York: Schocken Books, 1968), especially the Introduction.
18. Victor Turner, Mary Douglas and other anthropologist consider inherent "binary oppositions" that often define a symbol. A sampling of biany oppositions within the ritual leadership symbol, suggests that the variety of the leadership roles each has a responsive congregational role: pastor/people; prophet/listeners; priestly/needy; teacher/learners; exhorter/responders; worship leaders/responsive worshippers; facilitator/congregation; musicians/singing ritualists; word giver/word receivers; leader of a rite/participants in the rite; charismatic spontaneous leaders/discerning followers. See Turner, Ritual Process, 106, for an example, and Douglas' Purity and Danger for extended illustrations.
19. For a study that recognized the unique responsiveness of Pentecostal spirituality see Salvatore Cucchiari, "The Lords of the Culto: Transcending Time through Place in Sicilian Pentecostal Ritual," Journal of Ritual Studies, 4 (Winter 1990): 1-14.
20. Anthropologists at least since Claude Levi-Strauss express distinctions and tensions within a culture by locating binary oppositions or discriminations. Victor Turner uses this method to contrast liminality and status system. See Turner, The Ritual Process, 106-107. For other examples of this technique see Mary Douglas' use of symbolic boundaries in cultural analysis in Purity and Danger and Robert Wuthnow, Meaning and Moral Order, especially 66-96.
21. Though it is not always recognized the Pentecostal ritual leaders are surrounded by signs of order. See the author's discussion of the "ritual field," especially in chapter three, Rites in the Spirit. There we identified ritual objects associated with the symbol of leader: pulpit, platform space, altar space, microphone, musical instruments, and other technological instruments. These symbolic objects help to create the field in which the ritual proceeds. These symbolic objects and spaces together with the leader(s) interact to give shape and order to the ritual experience.
22. The Rebbe, especially in Jewish Hasidism was a very charismatic leader who led his followers in high states of ecstacy. He functioned, however, as an ordering boundary. The symbol of the Rebbe (or Zaddik) was a firm boundary, his leadership was absolute and quite domineering. But within the well defined, firm boundaries of his leadership the hasidim were granted greater flexibility and freedom in their worship and life-styles than other contemporary Jewish groups. The Hasidic ecstacy could be approached with a sense of abandon because their Leader provided such secure and dependable boundaries. And as long as the group was within his boundary they were free. On Hasidism and the Zaddik or Rebbe see Louis Jacobs, Hasidic Prayer (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1972); Ada Rapoport-Albert, "God and the Zaddik as the Two Focal Points of Hasidic Worship," History of Religions 18 (1978): 269-325; Gershom G. Scholem Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism, (New York: Schocken Books, 1941), chapter 9. See also Mary Douglas conceptualization of boundaries in her categories of "grid" and "group" in Natural Symbols.
23. The leadership symbol is central to an understanding of the other elemental factors of Pentecostal spirituality that we have selected: worship, word, gifts, ministry, and mission. The dynamics between the leadership symbol and these other main symbols are based on the congregations' values. The leader of Pentecostal worship is perceived as embodying the values of the community. In some ways the leaders symbolize the community in total, its values, and potentials. Leaders help to model the ideals of the community in worship. There roles in worship, word, charisms, ministries, and outreach help to demonstrate the possibilities within each symbol. The potential for transformation and (re)ordering of the community are in part recognized in the symbol of leadership. The leadership symbol, then, helps to shape the common vision and guide the worshippers toward that vision.
24. We understand hierophany here to mean an earthy manifestation of the scared, the holy, divine power, or God.
25. Elsewhere we have described Pentecostal "iconic ways" (i.e., ways in which Pentecostals use elements of their liturgy to function analogously to the function of icons in the Eastern Orthodox Churches. See Rites in the Spirit chapter three; also Albrecht, "Pentecostal Spirituality," 110-111.
26. See Steven Tipton, Getting Saved from the Sixties for his understanding of a "circle of reciprocally reinforcing links." According to Tipton's study, the rites "induce experiences. Experiences prove teachings. Teachings interpret experiences," (237). Tipton recognized the centrality of experience to the groups he researched and he rightly notes the "triggering" effect of rites, they "induce experiences." However, he seems to minimize the experiential dimension of rites themselves. In our treatment we recognize that while rites may function as a cause of another experience, they are themselves forms of experience.
27. Of course, Pentecostal believe in encountering and relating to their God outside of the hierophanic dimension. They often encourage each other with the verse "we walk by faith and not by sight" (2 Corinthians 5:7). To the Pentecostals this verse means that the Christian life is not based on "sight" or manifestations of the divine. It is rather founded on faith in God. Nonetheless, hierophanies are appreciated as facilitating worship, particularly within the ritual setting.
28. See Jerry Shepperd, "Worship," in DPCM, 903-05.
29. Such rites point to the creative potential inherent in the Pentecostal practices and understanding of worship. The potential has both positive and negative possibilities. Positively, Pentecostal worship allows for enthusiastic, vital participation of all ritualists. It encourages each person to enter in to a dramatic conversation with God mediated through a faith community, wherein worshipping Pentecostals become a people, a family, an interconnected, supportive, transformative community. The community seeks to reorder itself within its understanding of divine guidance, guidance from the Holy Spirit as understood in the worship context.
But there are of course potentially negative possibilities inherent in the Pentecostal practice and understanding of worship, as well. One danger of the Pentecostal understanding of worship is that it can become too narrow. Pentecostals have in the past been intolerant to other forms of worship. Or, Pentecostals can become fixated on their own icons and rites revealing little appreciation for other possible symbolizations from historic Christianity or contemporary spiritualities. These potentially negative attitudes may work together to produce a form of Christian elitism (an oxymoron). Finally, the Pentecostal conception of worship is also ripe with the danger of self-deception. In the affectively charged dimension that Pentecostals call worship, human sensations and emotions are encouraged and believed to help in the communicative process with the divine. The need to rightly discern an authentic "move" of the Spirit is opposed to self deceiving impulses. The danger of assigning divine origins to neurotic impulses and behaviors always threatens in the absence of
rigorous discerning practices. The Pentecostals of our study seem aware of these potentials, positive and negative, and apparently believe the risk is worth the taking. The benefits outweigh the negative possibilities.
30. See Steven J. Land, "Pentecostal Spirituality," 485; see also his Pentecostal Spirituality: A Passion for the Kingdom (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1993).
31. Charismatic words vary in style and function within the same congregation as well as from congregation to congregation. In some congregations the style of charismatic words is that of a "sharing:" normally the presentation emerges as "low key"during a pause in the worship rite. Other congregations reflect a more traditional Pentecostal style, at times a charismatic word is given in a booming voice declaring "this is the word of the Lord." The function of charismatic words also varies. For example, they are most often seen as encouragement, inspiration, or exhortation for the whole congregation at some churches. But, at other churches ritualists typically direct charismatic words to a single individual rather than to the congregation in general. This focus on the individual carries over into the ministry and healing rites that distinguish the Vineyard churches, for instance. In these churches, "healers" seek to give charismatic words as insight. Such insight is believed to assist in the healing process. Words are thus connected to the discerning process and the rites of healing.
32. Charismatic words may also occur as non-edifying, even destructive manifestations. This negative potential represents a continual pastoral concern.
33. Neo-Pentecostals and/or so-called third wavers often understand Spirit baptism in a less distinct fashion.
34. Tongues as a charism may be considered a sign of Spirit baptism but as a sign or "evidence" it is distinguishable from the baptism or "in-filling." Tongues functions primarily as a form of prayer.
35. Gifts are not only oriented to the faith community's edification. The manifestation of the gifts may at times also direct attention toward God. This second orientation, manifests in, for instance, an extensive use of the charisms within the worship and praise rites in all of our focus churches. Pentecostal ritualist believe that their worshipful adoration, praise and communion are greatly facilitated by the practice of the gifts as instruments of praise (the prayer language, i.e., tongues prayer is perhaps most widespread in the "gaps" in the liturgy). A third orientation sees the purpose for the gifts in part as facilitation for service outside of the church. In a general way, this is the understanding of Spirit baptism that we have presented.
36. For a list of microrites see Albrecht, Rites in the Spirit, Appendix. Also, for a discussion of the primary rites, i.e., the foundational/processual rites, see chapter four.
37. For some concrete examples of this rite, see Albrecht, Rites in the Spirit, chapters four and five.
38. Albrecht, Rites in the Spirit.
39. Pentecostals stand within the Protestant missionary movement of the past two centuries. As other American Evangelicals, Pentecostals seek to reach their world with the gospel. In fact, according to noted missiological researcher and Vatican consultant David B. Barrett, Pentecostals as a group have produced one quarter of the world's 4,000,000 "full time Christian workers" and missionaries. And Pentecostal churches have financially supported missionary efforts around the world at a level disproportionate to their size. See Barrett, "The Twentieth-Century Pentecostal/Charismatic Renewal in the Holy Spirit," International Bulletin of Missionary Research 12 (July 1988): 119-124 and Idem, World Christian Encyclopedia (New York: Oxford Press, 1982).
40. From the beginning of the American Pentecostal movement the Pentecostals have had a belief that they were "raised up" by God in their time to be a missionary movement. Drawing on the rich Lucan imagery in the New Testament book of Acts, Pentecostals apply to themselves Christ's prophecy "you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you shall be my witnesses . . . to the ends of the earth."(Acts 1:8, RSV) See L.G. McClung, Jr., "Missiology," DPCM, 607-09; G. B. McGee, "Missions," DPCM, 610-25; idem, "The Azusa Street Revival and Twentieth Century Missions,"International Bulletin of Missionary Research 10 (April 1988): 58-61; W. Menzies, Anointed to Serve, 242-54;E. Blumhofer, Assemblies of God, 166-67; R. M. Anderson, Vision of the Disinherited, 72; W. Hollenweger, The Pentecostals, 63-69.
41. A typical remark linking the gift and ministry follows, "I encourage you to push past the [Spirit] baptism, push past gifts and move on into the actualization of ministry in Christ's name, ministering in the world - in his name ." Here Vineyard Ministry leader prods his congregation to actualize ministry. The gifts function to actualize the Pentecostal mission. John Wimber, Power Points: A Basic Primer for Christians (Anaheim, CA: Vineyard Ministries International, 1985) with accompanying tape 2 "Baptism in the Spirit."
42. The symbol of Missionary though altered in connotation, continues to serve Pentecostals as a paradigmatic symbol of the committed and called Christian.
43. Barrett, "The Twentieth-Century Pentecostal/Charismatic Renewal," 119-20.
44. Following Donald Gelpi we have chosen the (edic/analytic) category experience of God as a central organizing symbol by which to consider spirituality. Gelpi's adroit use of this category produced a philosophically sensitive theology of "human emergence" within the North American tradition. See especially, Gelpi, Experiencing God and Idem, "On Perceiving the Human Condition North Americanly: A Strategy for Theological Inculturation," in Grace as Transmuted Experience and Social Process, and Other Essays in North American Theology (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1988), 1-40.
45. Similarly, we might think of the six symbols, explicated above, as ways in which Pentecostals experience God. For example, they experience God in their leadership, their worship, the word, the gifts, their forms of ministry and in mission(s).
46. Evelyn Underhill, Mystics of the Church (Wilton, CN: Morehouse-Barlow: 1925), 10.
47. Evelyn Underhill, Mystics of the Church, 10. Also by Underhill on the Christian mystical tradition see The Essentials of Mysticism and Other Essays (New York: E. P. Dutton & Co., , 1960); Mysticism, 12th ed. (New York: New American Library, , 1974); Practical Mysticism (New York: E. P. Dutton & Co., 1915); also see R. C. Zaehner, Mysticism, Sacred and Profane: An Inquiry into some Varieties of Praeternatural Experience (Oxford: Clarendon Press, Oxford University Press, 1957).
48. Albrecht, Rites in the Spirit, see chapter five for descriptions of the ritual modes of sensibilities; also see Albrecht, "Pentecostal Spirituality."
49. Examples of responsiveness (the dialogic relationship between congregants and their God) can be seen both in speech acts and actions of Pentecostals. Their language illustrates the point. They speak of: "hearing from God"/"speaking to God," of being "touched by God"/"touching God," "meeting with God."
50. The supernatural emphasis has been a hallmark trait from the very beginning of the Pentecostal movement. See Grant Wacker, "The Functions of Faith in Primitive Pentecostalism," Harvard Theological Review 77:3-4 (1984): 353-75, for a discussion on the "thoroughly supernaturalistic conceptual horizon" that characterized early Pentecostalism.
51. At one of our focus churches, for example, an "in-breaking of the Spirit in a 'Supernatural way'" occurs when a "word of knowledge" reveals something that according to the ritualist, was "unknowable" apart from divine insight. At this church such words of knowledge normally accompany the "ministry times." When people ask for prayer, a ministering ritualist may receive a word of knowledge about and for the one requesting healing. This spiritual insight symbolizes to these congregants an in-breaking of the supernatural.
52. For example in some churches healing rites are quite charged with anxious anticipation, that is congregants seem to have a very high level of expectation that there will be supernatural involvement.
53. An example of heightened anticipation of supernatural actions occurs at one of our focus churches' monthly "miracle service." Due to testimonies of miracles and reported healings from the previous miracles services, congregants approached the monthly service expecting to "see God at work." They call this heightened sense of the presence of the Spirit the "supernatural."
54. For Pentecostals, the term supernatural often refers to any perceived action or grace that goes beyond their understanding of "the natural," or is believed to have a divine (supernatural) cause or source. When a Pentecostal believer perceives that God has intervened in some way in the midst of daily life, then the perceived intervention reveals the supernatural. Supernatural help, for example, comes to the believer in the form of miraculous works (e.g., dramatic healing) and in the form of divine help to do mundane tasks (e.g., accomplishing work in one's profession, work that is believed to be beyond the natural capabilities of the worker).
While such examples reveal the subjective interpretation of Pentecostal believers, the fact remains for them the "supernatural" penetrates the natural realm.
55. Russell Spittler has used the term "an overwhelming by the Holy Spirit" to describe the most fundamentally agreed upon theological experience among Pentecostal and Charismatics. Cited by Edith Blumhofer, Faculty Forum Lecture, Scotts Valley, California, Spring, 1991.
56. See Kilian McDonnell and George Montague, eds., Fanning the Flame (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, A Michael Glazier Book, 1991). These Roman Catholic scholars recognize this overwhelming in the Spirit as "the later awakening of the original sacramental grace" (Christian initiation). They claim that this experience, "baptism in the Holy Spirit" (term used by the editors) is found "almost universally in the churches, both Protestant and Catholic, in which the charismatic renewal" is experienced, 9, 28. For a fuller treatment by the same authors see Christian Initiation and Baptism in the Holy Spirit: Evidence from the First Eight Centuries (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, A Michael Glazier Book, 1991).
57. Martin Marty, A Nation of Behavers, 106-220 and Idem, "Pentecostalism in the Context of American Piety and Practice," in Aspects ed. Vinson Synan, 193-233.
58. Albrecht, Rites in the Spirit, chapter four.
59. The religious experience of the individual is both rhetorically and practically important to the members of our study churches. Their rites allows significant "room" to individually sense, experience, and express the divine presence within the ritual. But these personal explorations and experiences are within the highly social ritual context. A context that provides for a "confluence of experience" where the multitude (of experiences) merge into one corporate expression (experience). The result of such a convergence of experience is the sensation of the multiplication of the power of the Spirit and an intensification of the awareness of the Spirit's presence. Ibid.
60. See Albrecht, Rites in the Spirit, chapter six for a discussion of liminality and communities (communitas). Also see Victor Turner, The Ritual Process.
61. For a discussion of routinization among Pentecostals see Margaret M. Poloma, The Assemblies of God at the Crossroads: Charisma and Institutional Dilemmas (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1989).
62. Lay participation is obvious in the churches' programs and their liturgies. This too is deep in the Pentecostal tradition. As far back as the Azusa Street mission, lay participation has been a trade mark of the Pentecostal service. See Frank Bartleman, Azusa Street, (Plainfield, NJ: Logos International, 1980); C. M. Robeck, "Azusa Street Revival," in DPCM, 31-36; Edith Blumhofer, Restoring the Faith (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1993), especially chapter seven; Roger G. Robins, "The Rule of the Holy Spirit in Early Pentecostalism: Order in the Courts," an Unpublished paper presented to the Sixteenth Annual Meeting of the Society for Pentecostal Studies, November 13-15, 1986, at Southern California College, Costa Mesa, California. The early Azusa meetings allowed for great freedom to its attenders within its own basic structural rites. While William Seymour functioned as symbolic boundary for the service, he was not the only leader. In fact, because the Holy Spirit was the recognized Leader of the services, many and various other human leaders, lay and clergy were allowed to serve spontaneously. Extemporaneous testimonies sometimes lasting two hours, were woven into the service. Of course, charismatic utterances and gifts were freely expressed by people moved of the Spirit. Seymour even permitted anyone to preach spontaneously, if he believed they were prompted by the Spirit. This heritage of participatory-democratic spirituality is adapted and more controlled forms persist still today.
63. As "people of the book" Pentecostals have a tendency toward forms of fundamentalism. Their emphases on the actions, gifts and words of the Spirit, however, challenge their tendency toward bibliolatry. Normally, we observed a healthy tension existing between the two Pentecostal poles of charismata/Spirit and bible/literalism. In the absence of the dynamic tension between the disparate elements inherent in the Pentecostal spirituality, Pentecostals can, however, slip into a literalist-fundamentalism form of religion bordering on bibliolatry or they can move toward the other extreme into of a form of spiritism.
64. See W. J. Hollenweger, "Pentecostals and the Charismatic Movement," in The Study of Spirituality ed. Cheslyn Jones, et al., (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986), 551; idem, The Pentecostals; R. Spittler, "Spirituality," in DPCM, 805; Richard Quebedeaux, The New Charismatics II (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1983), 182-183; S. Land, "Pentecostal Spirituality," in Christian Spirituality, vol 3, ed. Louis Dupre, 485.
65. Spittler, "Spirituality," DPCM, 805.
66. See chapter 3 in Albrecht, Rites in the Spirit, for a discussion of kinesthetic forms of worship. For the importance of movement and gestures in ritual see Ann Hawthorne, "Introduction - Method and Spirit: Studying the Diversity of Gestures in Religion...," in Diversities of Gifts: Field Studies in Southern Religion, ed. Ruel Tyson, Jr., et al. (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1988), 3-20. See also Harvey Cox, Fire from Heaven (New York: Addison-Wesley Pub. Co., 1995).
67. See Walter Hollenweger, "Dancing Documentaries: The Theological and Political Significance of Pentecostal Dancing," in Worship and Dance, ed. J.G. Davis (Birmingham: University of Birmingham, Institute for the Study of Worship and Religious Architecture, 1975), 76-82. For a series of essays on a related topic see Bjorn Krondorfer, ed., Body and the Bible: Interpreting and Experiencing Biblical Narratives (Philadelphia: Trinity Press International, 1992).
68. Grant Wacker, "Character and the Modernization of North American Pentecostalism," in the Unpublished Conference Papers: Twenty-First Annual Meeting of the Society for Pentecostal Studies (Lakeland, FL: Southeastern College, November, 1991), 15. See also Blumhofer, Assemblies of God, 161-75; Everett A. Wilson, "Latin American Pentecostal, Pneuma 9 (Spring 1987): 85-90; Vinson Synan, "Pentecostalism: Varieties and Contributions," Pneuma 9 (Spring 1987): 31-49.
69. Albrecht, Rites in the Spirit.
70. Among the many examples of those who have noted the Pentecostal creative, adaptable, pragmatic, entrepreneurial qualities see David B. Barrett, "The Twentieth-Century Pentecostal/Charismatic Renewal;" Edith L. Blumhofer, Restoring the Faith (Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1993); Steve Lawson, "The Foursquare Church Faces the Twenty-First Century," Charisma 18 (March 1993):16-26; Vinson Synan, "Pentecostalism: Varieties and Contributions," Pneuma 8 (Fall 1986): 31-49; Grant Wacker, "The Function of Faith in Primitive Pentecostalism." Harvard Theological Review 77:3-4 (1984): 353-375; C. Peter Wagner, Look Out! The Pentecostals are Coming (Carol Stream, IL: Creation House, 1969); Everett A. Wilson, "Revival and Revolution in Latin America," in Modern Christian Revivals, ed. Edith Blumhofer (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1993).
71. Robeck's work on Pentecostalism and Ecumenism provides an extensive body of thought and genuine insight on the topic. We have drawn heavily upon the following articles for this part of the paper: "Pentecostals and the Apostolic Faith: Implications for Ecumenism," Pneuma 9:1 (spring, 1987), 61-84; "The Ecclesiology of Koinonia and Baptism: A Pentecostal Perspective," with Jerry L. Sandidge, Journal of Ecumenical Studies 27:3 (summer, 1990), 504-534; "Taking Stock of Pentecostalism: The Personal Reflections of a Retiring Editor," Pneuma 15:1 (spring, 1993), 35-60; "Discerning the Spirit in the Life of the Church," William Barr and Rena Yocum, eds. The Church in the Movement of the Spirit (Grand Rapids, Mich.: William Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1994), 29-49; "A Pentecostal looks at the World Council of Churches," The Ecumenical Review, 47:1 (1995), 60-69; "Mission and the Issue of Proselytism," International Bulletin of Missionary Research, 20:1, (1996), 2-8; "David du Plessis and the Challenge of Dialogue," Pneuma, 9:1 (spring, 1987), 1-4; "The Assemblies of God and Ecumenical Cooperation: 1920-1965," in Wonsuk Ma and Robert Menzies, Ed., Pentecostalism in Three Contexts: Essays Presented to William W. Menzies on the Occasion of His Sixty-Fifth Birthday, Journal of Pentecostal Theology Supplement Series (Sheffield Academic Press, anticipated late 1996/early 1997), 102-143; "Name and Glory: The Ecumenical Challenge," Presidential Address, Society for Pentecostal Studies, Church of God School of Theology, Cleveland, Tenn., (November 4, 1983); "Pentecostals and Ecumenism: An Expanding Frontier," Conference on Pentecostal and Charismatic Research in Europe, Kappel, Switzerland (July 5, 1991); "Revisioning the Unity We Seek: The Calling of Faith and Order," a theological Symposium, sponsored by the Ecumenical Development Initiative, Atlanta, Ga., (February 24, 1995).
72. Walter J. Hollenweger, "The Pentecostal Movement and the World Council of Churches," The Ecumenical Review 18:3 (July 1966), 313, as quoted in Cecil M. Robeck, Jr., "Pentecostals and Ecumenism," 1.
74. Seymour expressed a very early Pentecostal self-understanding of the emerging movement when he wrote in the first issue of The Apostolic Faith that it "stands for the restoration of the faith once delivered . . . and Christian Unity everywhere" [emphasis mine]. "The Apostolic Faith Movement," (Sept. 1906). See Robeck's "Pentecostals and Ecumenism" and his "Pentecostals and the Apostolic Faith" for examples and citations of the early Pentecostal vision of Christian unity.
75. Kilian McDonnell, O.S.B. is one of the many examples of Christians from historic churches that recognized the ecumenical dimension and potential of Pentecostal spirituality within the Charismatic renewal. See The Baptism in the Holy Spirit as an Ecumenical Problem (South Bend, IN: Charismatic Renewal Services, 1972); see also his The Charismatic Renewal and Ecumenism (New York: Paulist Press, 1978); and his edition, Presence, Power, Praise: Documents on the Charismatic Renewal. 3 vols. (Collegeville, MN.: Liturgical Press, 1980) for a compilation of documents from a wide variety of Christian denominations concerning Charismatic renewal.
76. See Stanley M. Burgess et al. (eds) Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1988) articles, "World Pentecostal Conference" and "National Association of Evangelicals," (NAE) by Cecil M. Robeck. Describing the application of the term "ecumenical" to such groups, Robeck speaks specifically about the NAE, "To describe the NAE in ecumenical terms may, at first glance, seem odd. Most of its members view genuine Christian unity as spiritual unity and champion the doctrine of an invisible church. They tend to shy away from any contact with the formal 'ecumenical movement.' Yet the NAE provides cross-denominational fellowship, shares common doctrinal and social agendas, and it raises a visible voice that is demonstrative of the Christian character and commitments of those involved. These factors are indicative of its basic ecumenical nature," 634.
77. See "Women's Aglow Fellowship," and "Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship International" both in Stanley M. Burgess et al. (eds) Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1988) 899 and 321-2 respectively.
78. Much has been written concerning the contributions of Pentecostal/Charismatic Christians. For an extensive citing of books, articles and pamphlets addressing this issue see footnotes 206-209 in Robeck, "Pentecostal Perspectives on the Ecumenical Challenge," 63-65. This section builds upon Robeck's suggested contributions. See pp. 65-77.
79. This term is used by Vinson Synan in his article "Pentecostalism: Varieties and Contributions," Pneuma (Fall 1986) 36-37.
80. There are, of course, other "contributions" or potential contributions to be made including: Pentecostal/charismatic force for renewal among churches and individuals, and particular elements of Pentecostal spirituality which are being adopted and adapted by non-Pentecostal traditions. On the first point see Edith Blumhofer, Restoring the Faith (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1993) 6, where she notes a "third force" for renewal orientation among Pentecostals. The second point is established by the Notre Dame professor of Liturgy James White who asserts a large scale "borrowing" of Pentecostal liturgical elements by other Protestant worship traditions. See Protestant Worship: Traditions in Transition (Louisville, KY: Westminster/Knox Press, 1989) especially chapter 11, "Pentecostal Worship." Also, see John Fenwick and Bryan Spinks, Worship in Transition: The Liturgical Movement in the Twentieth Century (New York: Continuum Publishing Co., 1995) 105-114.
81. Robeck, "Pentecostal Perspectives," 77.
82. 66Lilian B. Yeomans expressed the typical early understanding of Pentecostal experience when she described it as "a sudden impulse of fellowship with all who name the name of Christ." Pentecostal Papers (Columbia, S.C.: J. M. Pike, c. 1908) 48 quoted in Robeck, "Pentecostals and the Apostolic Faith." This impulse for fellowship with all Christians never died in Pentecostal spirituality.
83. Walter Hollenweger, in a discussion at one of the main session of "The European Pentecostal and Charismatic Research Association" (EPCRA), Mattersey Hall, Mattersey, Doncaster, England (July 10-14, 1995), asserted that Pentecostal spirituality has always had a facility and a propensity for "crossing boundaries."
84. E. Glenn Hinson makes a similar point when he identifies mutual appreciation as an essential ingredient of ecumenical spirituality. Mutual appreciation means "appreciation for one's own tradition and for that of others." See E. Glenn Hinson (ed), Spirituality in Ecumenical Perspective (Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1993), 3.
85. See Hinson (ed), Spirituality in Ecumenical Perspective, 1-14. Hinson cites Emmanuel Sullivan, S.A. as observing that mutual appreciation, fundamental to ecumenism, depends on discerning "the continuing activity of the Holy Spirit over long periods of separation among churches," 5.
86. Robeck, "Pentecostal Perspectives," 1-4.
87. Ibid. Robeck illustrates the differences by saying that many groups "take pride in hearing God speak through the word preached, and who pledge their allegiance to the Name through the recitation of creeds, and emphasizing the ethical nature of the Christian life." Others "seem to prefer seeing God act within their midst in worship, praise, and manifestations of the Spirit. They emphasize the presence of God in His Glory and the mystical and enthusiastic nature of the Christian life." Robeck insists that "neither way of meeting with God is wrong." But with ecumenical values, Robeck challenges us to "consider ways of reaching out to the rest of the church," even to those whose way of encounter with God is very different from our own.
88. H. Richard Niebuhr, Christ and Culture (New York: Harper & Row, 1951); Ernst Troeltsch, The Social Teachings of the Christian Churches, vol. 2, trans. Olive Wyong, (New York: Macmillan, 1931).
89. See Geoffrey Wainwright, Doxology: The Praise of God in Worship, Doctrine and Life (London, Epworth, 1980) chapter 11.
90. Geoffrey Wainwright, "Types of Spirituality," in Cheslyn Jones et al. (eds), The Study of Spirituality (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986) 592-605.
91. Wainwright, "Types," 592.
93. Wainwright, "Types," 599-600. We have not focused on the most central type, "Christ the transformer of culture" which seems to be the most central position, and Niebuhr's favorite. The point of using the four types was to present contrasting positions, orientations that affect spirituality.
94. Hollenweger, "Pentecostal Spirituality," 553-54.
96. Pentecostals are not the only modern Westerners to question the value of ritual. Many view ritual as foreign or pre-modern, i.e., something that has been left behind from a previous era, culture or religious tradition. Others see ritual as irrelevant, not really vital, because for them ritual means "a routinized act," merely an external gesture void of internal engagement and commitment. This view sees all "ritual" as "ritualized ritual," a barren symbol of empty conformity. See Mary Douglas, Natural Symbols: Explorations in Cosmology (New York: Pantheon, 1970, 1982). Such views of ritual are too restrictive, if not wholly inaccurate. Examples of a more adequate perspective on ritual and a distinction between "ritualized ritual" and authentic, vital ritual see Douglas, Symbols; Tom F. Driver, The Magic of Ritual: Our Need for Liberating Rites that Transform Our Lives and Our Communities (San Francisco: Harper Collins Publishers, 1991); Ronald L. Grimes, Beginnings in Ritual Studies (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1982), Idem, Ritual Criticism (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1990); Barbara G. Myerhoff, Number Our Days (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1978); B. Myerhoff et al. "Rites of Passage, an Overview," in M. Eliade ed. The Encyclopedia of Religion, vol. 12 (New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1987) 380-86; Victor Turner, The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-Structure (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1969, 1977).
97. See Grimes, Beginnings, 53-69, for a survey of definitions and a refined composite of connotations with a unique contribution toward a definition of (nascent) ritual.
98. Examples of Pentecostal rituals (service type) other than the normal weekly corporate worship service include: prayer meetings, evangelistic meetings, home group meetings, Bible studies, Sunday School, youth and children's services, camp meetings, retreats, conferences. See Appendix A for a more complete list of Pentecostal (macro) rituals.
99. 66Robert Mapes Anderson, Vision of the Disinherited: The Making of American Pentecostalism (New York: Oxford University Press, 1979) and Idem, "Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity," in Encyclopedia of Religion vol. 11 ed. Mircea Eliade, 229-235 (New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1987). We use the term ritual here to speak of the entire Pentecostal service.
100. 66See Appendix B for a categorization and listing liturgical rites, foundational and microrites in the Pentecostal service.
101. 66See Albrecht, Pentecostal/Charismatic, chapter six where we deal in more depth with some essential roles of ritual.
102. 66Because Pentecostal ritual embodies a spirituality, ritual performance portrays that spirituality. But ritual performance functions as both expression and "work." By ritual work we mean that Pentecostal ritual has efficacious qualities. Rites may induce experiences and rites emerge as experience themselves. Through their rites Pentecostals work out their values and produce a sense of meaning, through their rites they do theology and they "work out their salvation."
103. 66In this paper, "Pentecostal spirituality" refers to a specific type of spirituality within the broader category of Christian spirituality. Pentecostal spirituality cannot be utterly unique for it shares in a basic Christian experience. Pentecostal aims, values and other characteristics are not in themselves peculiar. The editors of the Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements have correctly noted, "each of the [Pentecostal] characteristics . . . has appeared before in the rich and colorful tapestry of Christian spirituality through the ages. But the combination is new" [emphasis mine]. Consequently, much of what we say about Pentecostal spirituality and ritual, in this work, applies to other Christian traditions. We do not claim that our observations are applicable exclusively to Pentecostalism, nonetheless, we center our observations and interpretations around Pentecostal spirituality. See Stanley Burgess, Gary McGee and Patrick Alexander, eds. Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movement [DPCM] (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1988), 5.