Recently we've heard a lot about the rapid worldwide growth of Pentecostal and charismatic groups. Researcher David Barrett and his team have been reminding us for years that these groups have passed all others in their global spread. Polls here at home have showed similarly high domestic growth rates in such groups.

Some secular commentators have found this growth menacing—the burgeoning of yet another potentially violent, reactionary religious group. Some evangelicals, too, are discomfited, finding the charismatics' emphasis on Spirit-bestowed gifts such as tongues and prophecy exotic, if not downright alien.

Yet one needn't search far in the history of evangelicalism to discover a close affinity between charismatic and non-charismatic evangelicals. And evangelicals who envy the charismatics' global growth may even find in this affinity a source of inspiration.

The truth is, some of the most prominent, influential leaders and groups in the evangelical lineage have yearned for, attained, and taught a transformative, post-conversion experience identified with the Holy Spirit.

Sure, these experiences have not usually come attached to the gift of tongues. But in other ways they have resembled closely the modern charismatic experience dubbed "baptism in (or with, or of) the Holy Spirit."

Take, for instance, the prayers of the early American Puritan Cotton Mather (1663-1728), recorded in his diary. Mather asked God to "fulfill the ancient Prophecy, of pouring out the Spirit on all Flesh," and in so doing "revive the extraordinary and supernatural Operations with which He planted His Religion in the primitive Times of Christianity, and order a Descent of His holy Angels to enter and possess His Ministers, and cause them to … fly thro' ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

July/August
Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
Read These Next
Current Issue3 Ways to Prevent Bible Study Dropouts
3 Ways to Prevent Bible Study Dropouts Subscriber Access Only
What really keeps us engaged with the discipline of studying Scripture.
Recommended
Should We All Speak in Tongues?Subscriber Access Only
Some say speaking in tongues is proof of 'baptism in the Holy Spirit.' Are those who haven't spoken in tongues without the Holy Spirit?—Renea Chastain, Phoenix, Arizona
TrendingKay Warren: 'We Were in Marital Hell'
Kay Warren: 'We Were in Marital Hell'
Through God's work in our lives, we've beaten the odds that divorce would be the outcome of our ill-advised union.
Editor's PickThe Refugee Ban Is Back, But Church Connections Might Trump It
The Refugee Ban Is Back, But Church Connections Might Trump It
World Relief wants clarification over today’s big Supreme Court decision.
Christianity Today
Do Non-Charismatics 'Do' Holy Spirit Baptism?
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

September 2002

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.