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   The June 2001 Pneuma Informer

The June 2001 Pneuma Informer

In this issue:
  • Are there Membership Dues?
  • Resources you can use: Radio Bible Class Online
  • Pentecostal World Conference News
  • Reports from around the world
    • Special Report from Europe: Romania
    • Growth and Persecution in China
    • Woman raised from the dead in German hospital
  • Thought to Ponder: Prayer
  • Excerpts from the Summer 2001 issue (Vol 4, No 3) of the Pneuma Review:
    • From 'The Secret Codes in Matthew: Examining Israel's Messiah' Part 2 from the Messianic Foundations Series, by Kevin Williams
    • Full article: 'Pentecostalism and Ecumenism: Past, Present, and Future' Part 3 of 5 by Amos Yong
    • Book Review: Evangelical Truth by John Stott, Reviewed by Raul Mock
  • Prayer Request & Praise Report



Are there Membership Dues?

Have you considered joining the membership of the Pneuma Foundation?

The Pneuma Foundation does not charge membership fees or dues. Membership in the Pneuma Foundation is open to all believers in Jesus Christ. Membership is voluntary and without obligation. Becoming a member of the Pneuma Foundation is just a way of expressing your support for the vision of the Pneuma Foundation: Helping meet the need for Biblically sound teaching from a Pentecostal/charismatic perspective.

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As a principle, the Foundation will not solicit donations, though we will make needs known to our members. We believe it is better to trust the Lord to provide our support or else to scale down our outreach. The 'needs' of the Pneuma Foundation must never get in the way of presenting the Message with clarity and without hindrance. Please see /supporting.jsp for more information about supporting the Pneuma Foundation. You will find more information about Becoming a Member on the Pneuma Foundation website.



What is God Doing in the World?

Special Report from Europe: 100,000 Romanians turn to Christ in 8 years
'When God looks at Romania, he sees more evangelical Christians than in all other Eastern European nations together,' according to the most recent research into Romania's Evangelical churches by the mission agencies OC International and United World Mission, together with the Rumanian Evangelical Alliance. The report claims that in Europe, only Germany and England have more evangelical Christians.
The report estimates that at least 100,000 people have decided to follow Christ and join churches in the past 8 years.
In 1989, there were some 2,000 evangelical churches in Romania; today, there are around 5,000 - a growth of 165% in ten years. That means that on average, five new churches were planted every Sunday. Many Rumanian churches already have a missionary vision, and hundreds of young Christians have decided to become missionaries, planting churches in other cultures. However, 500,000 Christians is only 2.1% of Romania's population. The research, initiated following the recognition that a strategic mobilization requires strategic information about the status quo, shows that over 22 million people never attend an evangelical church, and more than 9,000 villages have no church. 'Romania's churches, with their current development and motivation, are able to make decisive progress in evangelization and church planting,' the report continues. The project's aim is to mobilize Romania's churches to cooperate in planting enough churches to clearly call the entire nation to follow Christ.
Source: Friday Fax 2001/17 (Used with permission).

Growth and Persecution in China
The Chinese city of Wenzhou, Zhejiang province, is known in Christian circles as the 'Jerusalem of China' because of the huge increase in the number of Protestant Christians since the end of the Cultural Revolution in 1976. Keston News Service reports that according to a leading local pastor in the State-supervised Christian Council, registered Protestants number about 10% of the city's population of 6 million. There are many more Christians in the city than this because this figure does not include large numbers in the unregistered churches who for many years had enjoyed a degree of freedom unusual in China.
KNS reports that the official Communist-controlled press in Wenzhou has confirmed the rumor about the destruction of unregistered religious buildings in the city at the end of last year. A carefully planned campaign against 'feudal superstition,' was unleashed throughout the municipality, destroying hundreds of Buddhist, Daoist and Christian temples, shrines and churches. Lasting from the end of October to December last year, the razings were carried out with the explicit approval of the municipal Communist Party and state authorities.
Please pray for the Wenzhou's Christians as they continue to meet in homes and go into hiding. Although it may be a long time before we hear of what effect this has upon their outreach and evangelical efforts, there is no doubt that God will use this persecution to bring many more into His kingdom.
Source: Keston Institute

Woman raised from the dead in German hospital
Dung Ly-Cam emigrated from Vietnam to Germany in 1983. She was suffering from a potentially fatal heart defect, but was too afraid to undergo an operation. In 1997, when doctors gave her no chance of survival without an operation, she finally decided to go ahead, and was admitted to hospital in Bremen. A group of Vietnamese Christians, led by pastor Le Dinh, was praying at the time of the operation. 'We had the impression that God wanted to raise her from the dead,' says Le Ding, 'so we prayed for that.' Mrs. Dung Ly's heart had stopped after around 16 hours of the 20-hour operation, while outside her body; she had also lost half of her blood, and one of her arteries had been destroyed. The doctors saw no way to restore her bodily functions, and left the operating theater. They considered her dead. The only question remaining was whether the corpse should be stitched together, or if adhesive tape would suffice. 'In that moment, I had a vision,' says Mrs. Dung Ly. 'I sensed that I should shout and move, which I did. The anesthetist noticed, and was shocked. I had a tube in my throat for the artificial respiration, so nobody could understand what I said, but it was clear that I was alive! The anesthetist ran out to fetch the doctors.' The doctors completed the remaining four hours of the operation, and Mrs. Dung Ly was able to return home only a few days later, to everyone's astonishment. She now lives in Bremen with her husband Phanh Nguyen.
Source: Friday Fax 2001/3. For more information, contact Pastor Le Dinh, Fax (+49)-2331-462935, and Phanh Nguyen, Tel. (+49)-421-235866



Thought to Ponder: Prayer

'The main benefit of giving yourself more to prayer is not to be able to preach better, prophecy more, lay hands on the sick, cast out devils, and evangelize the world. To be sure, all of these good things will happen, but the main benefit of giving yourself more to prayer is that, by God's good grace, you will be able to pray more. Pray more, and better. Quantity will eventually lend itself to quality. Your more frequent and extended times with Him will become richer, fuller, and a great delight to both you and your God. I say this because I believe that prayer is its own reward.'
-- Ken R. Anderson prayken [at] hotmail.com



Excerpts from the Summer 2001 issue (Vol 4, No 3) of the Pneuma Review

The Pneuma Review is a quarterly printed journal of ministry resources and theology for Pentecostal and charismatic ministries and leaders.



From 'The Secret Codes in Matthew: Examining Israel's Messiah' Part 2 from the Messianic Foundations Series, by Kevin Williams

. . .
    'Miriam had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit' (Matthew 1:18).
Here we find that Miriam was betrothed to Joseph, but that she mysteriously (albeit miraculously) became pregnant. Yet verse 19 states that Joseph was her 'husband.'

In our modern, western society, this seems irreconcilable. Were they engaged or were they married?

The answer is 'Yes.'

In Israeli society, according to the laws and customs of Torah, a betrothed woman is as good as married. In other words, the betrothal is a legally binding covenant that sets the bride-to-be apart from all others.

In fact, one of the words for betrothed is kiddushin - separated. This young woman was now 'off limits' to any other potential courtiers, and reserved only and solely for her bridegroom.

In a remarkable parallel, this contract was officially sealed with a cup of wine. The hopeful groom proposed to his potential bride with a covenant called a ketubah. In the ketubah were all the promises to care for, love, and provide for his intended. If the young woman agreed to the stipulations of the ketubah, she drank from a cup of wine. From that moment on, she was kiddush - separate (but most frequently translated in the Scripture as 'holy'.)

How like our own Bridegroom? When we first drank from the cup of communion, we affirmed His covenant promises to us, and we sealed our contract as His Bride. The betrothal was official and we were made kiddush - holy, separated from the world and reserved solely for our Bridegroom until the wedding day.

According to the custom of the day, once the ketubah had been confirmed by the bride and groom, a marriage would take place in approximately one year. The bridegroom went away to build a bridal chamber, a house in which the married couple would dwell. His parting words after the sharing of the cup were, 'I go and prepare a place for you.'

Sound familiar? Our Bridegroom, Jesus, mirrored these words to us in the gospel of John.
    'I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also' (John 14:2-3)
So, there is no discrepancy between being betrothed and being married in Israel at that time. Rather, through the instructions of God's Torah, and through this picture, we find a remarkable parallel to our own relationship with our anticipated Bridegroom!

Verse 19 reads, '[Joseph] being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly.'

The penalty for breaking a betrothal covenant by adultery was death. Looking at outside circumstances, any thinking human being would come to one of two conclusions: either Miriam had been impregnated by another man or Joseph had not waited until the wedding day. In Israeli society, either option was scandalous.

Joseph knew the truth - at least part of the truth. He had no part in the pregnancy, which left him with one earthly conclusion. But his conclusion meant death for Miriam and the child within her.

According to Talmud, 'A man who has intercourse with a betrothed girl is subject to the same penalty as one who has intercourse with his mother, namely, stoning.' (Sanhedrin 7:4).

Yet we see a glimpse of Joseph's compassion, by virtue of the fact that he wished to send her way secretly. This syntax, 'to send her away' is legal vocabulary insinuating divorce. It is the same syntax Pharaoh uses in Exodus 12:31 'Then he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, "Rise, go out from among my people, both you and the children of Israel. And go, serve the Lord as you have said.' This is the syntax used to give a letter of divorce. In doing so, the whole matter could be handled discretely, Joseph's reputation might remain untainted and Miriam's life - and the life of the child - would be spared.

Then comes another miracle:
    But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Miriam as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. "She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins." Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: "BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL," which translated means, "GOD WITH US." And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Miriam as his wife, but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus. (Matthew 1:20-25).
The angel does not address Joseph as 'son of Jacob,' as our genealogy reads (v. 16). Rather he is addressed as 'son of David.' The angel's use of the royal lineage, instead of the patrimonial, is a strong message potentially meant to get Joseph's spiritual attention. This angel does not see Joseph as merely a common man, but the one through whom the Messiah was promised. Joseph may have been struck with the noble weight with which he was regarded.

The angel then begins quoting prophecies from Isaiah 7:14; Isaiah 9:6, 7; and Isaiah 8:10. Unlike Miriam, who quizzed the angel about how this pregnancy could be (Luke 1:34), the angel's assertions and use of Scripture fully satisfy Joseph. Could this imply that Joseph was a learned man, and not some simple carpenter from Nazareth? Was he familiar enough with the prophet (read regularly in the synagogues at that time), to comprehend the impact of the angel's words? Miriam saw a literal manifestation, and still needed to be convinced (as does Zechariah in Luke 1). Joseph had a dream, and it was sufficient. It is this author's opinion that Joseph was learned, and a man of immense, undoubting faith.

In Israeli society, an adopted child is considered to be as if from your own body. Through this betrothal - truly a match made in heaven - Joseph would claim this son as his own, and rear him with the Torah of Moses, in accord with the prophets.

There are some detractors who insist that Jesus held to a more liberal theological world-view, possibly molded by His earthly father, Joseph. Yet time and again, as we view the early days and years of Jesus' life, it appears that Joseph is quite committed to his faith, both in Torah and temple observance, and in simple obedience to God's angelic messenger. It would be inconsistent to have the 'Word made flesh' born into a Hellenized, secular home.

Part of Joseph's obligation was to name this child 'Jesus.' Traditionally in Jewish homes, a child is named after an honored relative. In the gospel of Luke (1:67), we read that it caused some confusion for Zechariah and Elizabeth to name their son 'John,' since no one else in the family had that name.

We have no clue that a relative of Joseph's was named 'Jesus,' but we have biblical precedent that this name was vital for the Messianic appellation.

It is worth noting that his literal name could not have been 'Jesus.' There is no 'jay' sound in Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek. 'J' is of Anglo-Saxon origin and unfamiliar in the Ancient Near Eastern tongues. Strong's Concordance lists his name in the Greek as Iesous. Yet Strong's also states that this word is of Hebrew origin - Yehoshua, literally meaning, 'Jehovah is salvation.' Common to the period, this name, Yehoshua, was contracted into Yeshua.

Why is this name so crucial? Many Jewish opponents to Jesus as the Messiah use following argument: 'If Jesus is the Messiah, why doesn't his name appear in the Tanakh? Certainly God would have given us insight into his name!'

This is a true statement, yet you will not find an Anglo-Saxon name in a Hebrew text written centuries before the Anglo-Saxons were a people. You will, however, find Hebrew names in the Hebrew text.

That might seem obvious, but for many Jewish and non-Jewish people, it is not. 'Jesus' has become such an indoctrinated concept, that accepting any other name seems ludicrous. It is, in many ways, one subtle way that has separated the Church from its Hebraic roots and has driven a wedge between Jewish and Christian peoples. To insist on calling the name 'Jesus,' after an Anglican tradition, is pure legalism and not based on an honest evaluation of the Bible.

For instance take a look at Isaiah 62:11 (italics mine), 'Behold, the Lord has proclaimed to the end of the earth, Say to the daughter of Zion, 'Lo, your salvation comes; Behold His reward is with Him, and His recompense before Him.'

In this text, we find a grammatical error, unless the text says more that we see. 'Salvation' is written as a proper noun, yet this is grammatically impossible unless 'salvation' is a person. The Hebrew text is yesha, the root of Yeshua 'YHWH is Salvation.' In Isaiah 62:11, the word is both a concept and a person, 'and His reward is with Him, and His recompense before Him.' Grammatically, therefore, Isaiah is speaking of a persona specific person.

The name was no accident. Neither was it Greek or Anglican in origin. It points to the character of the Jewish Messiah in ways both simple and profound.

Matthew dots the first chapter of his testimony with specific clues. Some obvious, some less so, and some hidden to the unfamiliar eye. To a learned Jewish man or woman, though, his clues point to only one conclusion - this Yeshua was the Son of God, the Messiah of Israel.

What do you think? Will he continue along this vein in the following chapters? Let's find out.
. . .

Kevin Williams, Litt. D., H.L.D. has served in Messianic ministries since 1987, planting indigenous Messianic Jewish congregations with the purpose of reaching God's Chosen with the good news. He helped establish Adat Etz Chayim (Tree of Life Congregation) in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and is on full-time staff with RBC Ministries. Kevin has written numerous articles and been a featured speaker at regional and international conferences on Messianic Judaism.



The full article: 'Pentecostalism and Ecumenism: Past, Present, and Future' Part 3 of 5 by Amos Yong

III. Ecumenical Pentecostalism: A Historical Overview

I hope to have shown that Pentecostal anti-ecumenism stems in part from theological convictions imported into rather than derived from the Pentecostal experience of the Spirit. Such importations have inhibited Pentecostals from a genuine understanding of what the biblical ecumenism stands for. On the other hand, it has also certainly been the case historically that there has been a lack of spiritual fervor within the mainline churches, especially in terms of how Pentecostals gauge these expressions. Going back to the biblical material in section I, however, this should come as no surprise. Different communities of faith bring different gifts to the one body of Christ. It goes without saying that these various communities also bring different liabilities and have diverse struggles.

My goals in this and the next section are threefold. First, I would like to demonstrate that Pentecostalism and ecumenism have not been inherently antithetical historically. This historically oriented presentation supplements the biblical and theological arguments presented in the first two sections. Secondly, I want to make a similar case on behalf of the ecumenical movement. I wish to show that historically, ecumenists have shared many of the convictions and goals of Pentecostals. Third, however, I also want to demonstrate that the devil is at work not only on 'their' side but on both sides of the fence. The history of God's work among the people of God always features both triumphs and failures, and this applies to both ecumenists and Pentecostals alike.[11]

Let me begin with what I call 'ecumenical Pentecostalism.' I want to focus in what follows on the ecumenical character of Pentecostalism in three stages. There is, first, the ecumenism of the Azusa Street revival. Second, there is the ecumenism of the charismatic renewal. Finally, there is the ecumenism now inherent within a Pentecostalism that has grown to be a global phenomenon. Let me overview each in order.

Azusa Street ecumenism

One of the least well-known facts about the Azusa Street revival is its multi-racial environment. This is especially remarkable given the segregationist mentality prevalent in North America during the first half of the twentieth century. From 1906-1908, the Azusa Street mission drew persons from several races, ethnic groups, cultures and nationalities together in worship. Blacks and whites were found worshipping and singing together, tarrying before the Lord and praying for one another, 'mingling and even touching[!] in the mission.'[12] One participant recollected that at Azusa Street, 'the 'color line' was washed away in the blood.'[13] What happened at Azusa Street, in other words, was unprecedented. The result was not only a transformation of hearts, but also a tearing down of barriers to the experience of genuine Christian unity such that 'there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all' (Col. 3:11; cf. 1 Cor. 12:13, and Gal. 3:28 which adds 'male or female').

That the ecumenical miracle at Azusa Street did not last is also a well-known historical fact. Whites and blacks formed their own denominations due to the socio-economic and political pressures in force at that time. White Pentecostals drifted toward their yankee (read fundamentalist and, later, evangelical) relatives, thus forging alliances that have, in more recent times, left many Pentecostals wondering what has happened to the Pentecostal fervor. Many contemporary Pentecostals complain that one can attend any Pentecostal service on a Sunday morning today, and feel as if one were in a Baptist, Covenant, Alliance or other evangelical-type congregation. This is the case, however, only among white Pentecostal churches and denominations. Black Pentecostals have continued to emphasize the shout, the dance, the sway, the clap, and the many other electrifying features of the Azusa Street revival. This parting of ways has signified, in some respect, the socio-economic distinctions between whites and blacks in this country. Upwardly mobile whites moved farther and farther away from lower class blacks, leaving, in places, a chasm unbridgeable (sad to say) even for a Spirit-led people. In hindsight, it is seen that Pentecostals squandered a golden opportunity to continue as a prophetic voice not only on racial and ethnic issues, but also on socio-economic ones as well. Racial discrimination and socio-economic segregation would persist for another sixty plus years before being legally confronted. What might have happened if the original ecumenical character of Pentecostalism would have persisted and developed instead?

Even in light of the civil rights movements of the 1960s and 70s, however, Pentecostals have been slow to respond to the need for racial reconciliation. It was not until October 1994 when the all white Pentecostal Fellowship of North America (PFNA) voted to dissolve and reconstitute as a racially inclusive group. The result was the emergence of the Pentecostal/Charismatic Churches of North America (PCCNA). Whites and blacks were led to seek forgiveness from and dispense forgiveness to each other, celebrate the Lord's Supper together, and, at one point, participate jointly in a spontaneous foot-washing ceremony. One should not disparage the import of this 'Memphis Miracle,' as it has come to be called.[14] As the old saying goes, better late than never. One cannot help but lament, however, the fact that rather than being the pacesetters in reconciliation, Pentecostals have been slow in acting out the impulses inherent within its original ecumenical experience.

This original ecumenical Pentecostalism was not limited to racial and ethnic distinctions in the body of Christ. As will be noted below, the modern ecumenical movement also began about the same time, and early Pentecostals were not oblivious to those developments. Further, these Pentecostals also recognized the denominationally schismatic nature of the body of Christ, especially in its Protestant forms. Their encounter with the Spirit thus led them to envision that the Pentecostal outpouring would be central to re-experiencing Christian unity. Such unity cannot emerge from structural or organizational efforts, but only through the healing presence of the Spirit of God.[15]

In short, early Pentecostals did understand the ecumenical significance of the Pentecostal experience of the Spirit. Thus, the founding of classical Pentecostal denominations like the Assemblies of God brought together individuals from a variety of backgrounds: Keswick Reformed, Wesleyan Holiness, revivalist, Baptistic, African American, and so on. Their motivation was common mission in the power of the Spirit, whether such be with regard to the taking of the gospel to foreign lands, social, publication or educational projects, and the cultivation of Pentecostal faith. This also explains why the Assemblies of God as well as other early Pentecostal groups saw themselves as movements rather than denominations. The latter were stigmatized as dead and lifeless organizations, whereas the former were inherently more dynamic entities conducive to the Spirit's guidance and invigoration. Inevitably, however, institutionalization processes set in, leaving groups like the Assemblies of God practically indistinguishable from established churches and mainline denominations in terms of organizational structure.

The ecumenism of neo-Pentecostalism

This may explain, in part, the flowering of the charismatic renewalalso called 'neo-Pentecostalism'in the mainline churches in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, what I call the second stage of ecumenical Pentecostalism. The fact is that by this time, the Pentecostal experience of the Spirit had ceased to be a unifying force for Christians. Rather, denominational lines had hardened, and the power of the Spirit to bring people together from diverse branches of Christendom was being resisted by the various human-made boundaries that had emerged in Pentecostal churches over the course of a generation. Ironically, those who participated in the renewal movements in the mainline churches also began to see the ecumenical potential of the experience of the Spirit. These neo-Pentecostals or charismatics recognized that the vitality imparted to Christian faith by the pentecostal outpouring was a common experience that cut across creedal, denominational, liturgical, traditional, and theological/doctrinal lines.

Of course, classical Pentecostals were initially--and for quite a while, actually--rather suspicious of the authenticity of the charismatic renewal movement. These misgivings were especially intensified upon the outbreak of charismatic revival in the Roman Catholic Church in the latter half of the 1960s. Pentecostals were incredulous that followers of the antichristfollowing Luther's initial labeling of the Popecould have anything to do with the distinctive Pentecostal experience! Yet for many of these churches, ecumenical activities were sustained and furthered precisely because of the acknowledged commonality of experiencing the Spirit's presence and activity. For many Christians, the pentecostal experience of the Spirit meant a revitalized spiritual life, increased Bible reading, intensified devotional piety, the manifestation of the charismata including speaking in other tongues, renewed appreciation for liturgical and sacramental worship, deeper motivation toward social action, and, most important for our purposes, stronger ties with all those who call upon the name of the Lord.

Over the past few decades, however, Pentecostal fears regarding the charismatic renewal in the established churches have been calmed. This has been enabled in part by the development of Pentecostal relationships with more evangelical type denominations and groups. Models of Christian unity centered around common mission such as Billy Graham crusades, World Vision famine relief endeavors, and parachurch ministries like InterVarsity, Women's Aglow and the Full Gospel Businessmen's Fellowship International have mollified Pentecostal apprehensions and actually encouraged Pentecostal participation and koinonia with non-Pentecostals. As Pentecostals have come to know non-Pentecostals in a deeper way in these joint efforts, they have come to appreciate the diversity present in the body of Christ. And, of course, they have also begun to open themselves up to the power that a biblical ecumenism affords the Church's witness.

What was lost, however, was the opportunity to influence the mainline denominations in more intentional ways. As previously noted, the onset of the charismatic renewal movement in the 50s and 60s raised many questions for the established churches. These initially turned to Pentecostals for assistance in understanding their newly-found experiences. Outside of discerning and capable individuals like David DuPlessis, however, few classical Pentecostals responded. At that time, this served only to confirm mainline stereotypes of Pentecostals as fundamentalistic and sectarian. Since then, Pentecostal relationships with the mainline churches have come a long way. What remains, however, is the long-standing reluctance among Pentecostals to be associated with structural efforts at church unity, especially those derived from organized ecumenical activities such as those of the National Council of Churches (NCC) and the WCC.

Before turning more specifically to 'organized ecumenism,' however, one more word must be said concerning the kind of ecumenical Pentecostalism that now permeates the movement in its global forms. The remarkable power of the Pentecostal experience to bridge not only denominational differences but also to speak to the hearts of people that come from divergent institutional, geographic, cultural, political, and religious backgrounds has recently been dawning on those perceptive to recent trends and developments. Revivals like those at Toronto and Pensacola (Brownsville), for example, have reached staggering numbers, many of whom would never have been found together under the same roof or have broken the same bread apart from their life-transforming encounter with the Spirit of God. The masses have come from every continent to experience the power of God, and have returned to their places of origin full of the Holy Spirit. This is not to affirm all that goes on at these prolonged evangelistic campaigns. It is, however, to testify to the unitive power of what I call ecumenical Pentecostalism.

Global ecumenism and global Pentecostalism

And this unique ecumenical Pentecostalism is by no means confined to revivalist phenomena either. In fact, Pentecostalism in its global forms has now reached such proportions that recent estimates believe the number of Pentecostals and charismatics of all stripes to exceed 500 million. The startling fact is that a very small percentage of these are of the classical type of Pentecostalism found in North America. In fact, the Pentecostal boom is taking place in such faraway places as Latin and South America, sub-Saharan Africa, and even inland China. These have not been indoctrinated into the Assemblies of God sixteen Fundamental Truths, or any like statement. Rather what makes people embrace the Pentecostal message is their experience of the power of the Spirit of God. Common faith, in the global Pentecostal context, is not predicated upon the unity of doctrinal or theological beliefs, but rather on the unity of the Spirit's presence and activity.

Before being triumphalistic about the incredible growth of Pentecostal movements worldwide, however, the potential difficulties associated with such developments should be frankly acknowledged. Pentecostals are just as guilty of schisms as any other Protestant group. Such belong to the infancy of Pentecostalism as seen in the debates over the oneness or trinitarian character of God or Spirit-baptism as a second or third blessing. The problematic caused by Oneness denominations remains to the present since Oneness adherents number up to one-fourth of Pentecostals worldwide. More recently, the emergence of new religious movements on the North American scene have included groups like The Way, International, and Christian Identity Movement that have been founded and endorsed by isolated and sectarian individuals nurtured within (among other groups) Pentecostalism.

Multiplied to a global scale, however, the phenomenon of religious syncretism is now what poses the greatest threat to worldwide Pentecostalism. Some have charged the African independent, charismatic or Spirit-churches with being a bridge back toward native or tribal religious practices instead. The claim is that charismatic movements in Africa have so interpreted Christian beliefs and practices within the context of African indigenous religious that they have compromised distinctive faith in Christ. Such charges are far from absent in other parts of the world as well. In South American Brazil, the religious folk people go to the Catholic priest for births, marriages and burials, to Afro-Brazilian shamans for relief from nightmares, and to Pentecostal churches when they are sick and desire healing. Most notably, in Korea, skeptics have accused Korean Pentecostal ministers of practicing a form of Korean shamanism in Christian guise. My intention here is neither to confirm or deny these allegations, but solely to bring up the importance of discernment, even of anything that might fly under the banner of 'Pentecostalism.' Historically, revival movements have always been accompanied by the genuine and the spurious. The contemporary global Pentecostal explosion is no different. We should rejoice in the things that God is doing upon discerning that. We should also exercise caution and discernment with regard to distinguishing the presence and activity of the Holy Spirit from that of other spirits.

The same goes for our relationship to and participation with the ecumenical movement. The point is not to avoid the ecumenical movement since, in a very real sense, Pentecostals have always been ecumenical even though most of us have not realized this before. Rather, ecumenical Pentecostalism should emphasize discerning participation. As a global movement, it has no other choice. There is no place left to withdraw to. Pentecostal mission, whether we like it or not, includes the ecumenical dimension.

Endnotes

[11] So as not to bog down the reader, I will forego detailed documentation in these historical sub-sections in favor of a brief reading list at the end of this essay.
[12] Dale T. Irvin, ''Drawing All Together into One Bond of Love': The Ecumenical Vision of William J. Seymour and the Azusa Street Revival,' Journal of Pentecostal Theology 6 (1995): 46.
[13] Frank Bartleman, Azusa Street: The Roots of Modern-day Pentecost (1925; reprint, Plainfield, NJ: Logos International, 1980), 54.
[14] For details, see the 'Roundtable: Racial Reconciliation' articles by Frank Macchia, Ithiel Clemmons, Leonard Lovett, Manuel Gaxiola-Gaxiola, Samuel Solivan, and Cecil M. Robeck, Jr., in the spring 1996 issue of Pneuma: The Journal of the Society for Pentecostal Studies.
[15] This vision was prominent in early Pentecostal literature such as William Seymour's Azusa Street periodical, The Apostolic Faith.

Amos Yong, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor of Theology at Bethel College in St. Paul, Minnesota. Dr. Yong has served as a pastor, educator, conference speaker, and has authored numerous articles. He is the Book review editor for PNEUMA: The Journal of the Society for Pentecostal Studies, he has also been a contributing editor to the Pneuma Review since 1999. His webpage may be found at: http://www.bethel.edu/~ayong



Book Review:
Evangelical Truth: A Personal Plea for Unity, Integrity & Faithfulness, John Stott. Downer's Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press (1999). Pp. 131.


In this 1999 book, John Stott has summarized with excellence that which all evangelicals hold in common. He begins by defining who the evangelicals are and then applies the three R's - revelation, redemption, and regeneration - to succinctly explain the breadth of evangelical faith.

As part of his definitions, Stott distinguishes between fundamentalism and evangelicalism. In describing the many 'tribes' of evangelicalism, he unapologetically includes Pentecostals and charismatics in his list of the different, but sometimes overlapping groups. Rightfully so, for the essentials he defines as evangelical belief are certainly embraced by Pentecostal/charismatics.

Stott relates revelation to the Father, redemption to the Son, and regeneration to the Spirit, thereby bearing 'witness to the supreme authority of the Word of God, the atoning efficacy of the cross of Christ and the indispensable ministries of the Holy Spirit' (p. 122).

This threefold introduction to evangelical theology could not be sufficiently summarized here, so allow me to make some brief comments. First, Stott makes a distinction between revelation and illumination that many Pentecostal/charismatics do not feel necessary (see the section entitled 'personal revelation' beginning on page 43).

For anyone needing a refresher on the grace of God and reminder of what Messiah accomplished on the tree of Golgotha, Stott's summary of the redemption story may well begin the flood. I believe that sound teaching on this subject is deeply necessary to bring balance to those who have over emphasized holiness in the life of the believer. Such over emphasis has led to good actions being equated with righteousness, thereby turning the 'good news' into a man-centered endeavor. When we rightly understand what Jesus has finished, we are able to enter that rest instead of practically striving to earn it.

There are many things to be said about Stott's presentation of the Spirit and His ministry. While he takes issue with the pneumatology of the late John Wimber, he is friendlier to general Pentecostal/charismatic pneumatology - perhaps he does not know how similar these two are. Stott does seem unaware of how classical Pentecostals and charismatics frame the doctrine of the subsequence of Spirit-baptism. Overall, he is fair and reasonable, calling for biblical balance and a reminder of the Spirit's primary work - regeneration.

Stott closes by echoing Paul's fivefold summons given to the church at Philippi. Stott calls for holiness of living in 'evangelical integrity' (p. 113), 'evangelical stability' anchored in God's Word (p. 115), contending for 'evangelical truth,' 'evangelical unity,' and 'evangelical endurance.'

One potential weakness I see is that Stott's Anglicanism seems to have flavored his outlook on evangelicalism as a whole. This flavor might be quite foreign to others, such as the classical Pentecostal or Baptist. I hope that this becomes a strength by opening readers from other traditions to see things in a different perspective and expand their palette.

I highly recommend this book to the Pentecostal/charismatic church leader for the prime introduction Stott gives to the first two Persons in his trinitarian approach to theology. While Pentecostal/charismatics may have much to learn from a biblically balanced understanding of the Holy Spirit and His ministry, they arguably have a greater need for a solid biblical understanding, what Stott frames as the revelation of God, and the cross of Christ.

Reviewed by Raul Mock



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