Ed Stetzer, the President of LifeWay Research and great missiologist, has recently embarked on a series of blog posts about the Pentecostal / Charismatic / Third Wave Movements. The first post starts off by defining the “continualist movement” (i.e. Christians who believe that the spiritual gifts are still active today) as opposed to the cessastionists who believing that such gifts have stopped. From there, Stetzer gives a good history overview of the beginning of Pentecostalism before summarizing their doctrine/theology.
In the second post, Stetzer tackles the Charismatic movement – with a great history on how that movement got started in in the early 1960s. This was, to me, the most interesting article of the series as I didn’t know very much about how the Charismatic movement got started. (Spoiler: God used Dennis Bennett at Saint Mark’s Episcopal Church in Van Nuys, CA to spark the movement).
The next post was about the Third Wave, which moved through the USA in the 1980’s. This wave was different from both the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements in both doctrine and practice. Pentecostalism was rooted in the Holiness Revival of the 1800’s and hold to a doctrine of subsequence (meaning that a believer is fill with the Holy Spirit in a second, or subsequence, event after conversion). The Charismatic movement pick up this doctrine of subsequence and brought it into the mainline churches (i.e. Anglican, Episcopal, Roman Catholic, Lutherans, Orthodox, and Reformed).
Third Wavers, a term coined by C. Peter Wagner Professor of Church Growth at Fuller, disagreed with this doctrine. They believe that a follower of Jesus is baptized with the Holy Spirit at the time of conversion and that one could be filled with the Spirit without speaking in tongues (something the Pentecostal and Charismatic churches would disagree with). Stetzer lists John Wimber of the Vineyard and Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel as proponents of this view.
As I write this overview of Ed Stetzer’s articles, I can’t help but smile as I’ve personally been shaped by all three movements. My paternal great-grandmother, paternal great-granduncle, paternal great-uncle, maternal grandfather, mother, step-father, maternal aunt, and maternal uncle all have been licensed and/or ordinated pastors within Pentecostalism (mostly with the Independent Assemblies, who broke off from the Assemblies of God in 1967). Growing up, I remember attending Buddy Harrison’s Faith Christian Fellowship in Tulsa, Ok, before my family sifted over to some Charismatic churches in Tyler, TX. College found me deeply rooted in a local Church On The Rock church, a network of Charismatic churches in Texas started by Larry Lea. After college I moved to Idaho where I fell headlong into the Third Wave through Tri Robinson and the Vineyard Movement.
Looking back, I can see where these three movements have shaped my worldview and theology. My Pentecostal roots taught me to look at the world through spiritual eyes, seeing the spiritual battle waging around us every day. It also introduced me to spiritual gifts, miracles, and the Christus victor atonement model, among other things. My journey within the Charismatic movement tampered my typically emotional self and introduced me to the Reform/Calvinist approach to spiritual gifts as well as the penal substitutionary atonement model. Charismatic and Evangelical college professors also opened my eyes up biblical studies, giving me a taste of the joy that comes with studying the Scriptures.
Life within the Third Wave over the last ten years have transformed me once again – opening my eyes up the center-set beauty of enacted inaugurated eschatology Kingdom Theology. Big words describing a worldview deeply rooted in the Kingship of Jesus who transformed history and all of creation with his birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension. Gone is guilt of not having enough faith when praying for the sick, or anything else matter; gone is the doctrine of subsequence (granted, I was introduced to the Holy-Spirit-at-conversion concept at the Charismatic leaning Church On The Rock); gone is the strict holiness club mind set of Pentecostalism…
It has been an interesting journey full of twists and turns (like any good journey). Three unique movements with different histories and doctrines with some overlapping theology and practices…three movements that have left their stamp on global church and my life. Three movements all chasing after the Holy Spirit with a belief that God is still working in the world today and is calling His people to step out in faith and do the impossible.
Fun times. Let’s go.