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It can be a little intimidating in a Reformed context to admit that one is Pentecostal. It's a bit like being at the ballet and letting it slip that you're partial to NASCAR and country music. Both claims tend to clear a room. And yet I happily define myself as a Reformed charismatic, a Pentecostal Calvinist.

It's been said that testimony is the poetry of Pentecostal experience, so permit me to begin with a personal poem to provide some background. I wasn't raised in the church; rather, I was quite "miraculously saved" the day after my 18th birthday through my girlfriend (now wife!), who was doing a little missionary dating. I received my earliest formation among the Plymouth Brethren, in a sector that defined itself as anti-Pentecostal and took a certain pride in knowing that the "miraculous" gifts had ceased to function with the death of the last apostle. Through a path that is convoluted and riddled with hurts, our spiritual pilgrimage eventually took us across the threshold of a Pentecostal church where we were welcomed, embraced, and transformed.

There, in that Pentecostal church in Stratford, Ontario—once home to Aimee Semple McPherson—God showed up. Encountering him in ways I hadn't experienced or imagined before, God shook my intellectual framework and rattled my spiritual cage at the same time.

But let me add one more layer to this story: Just as I was being immersed in the Spirit's activity and presence in Pentecostal spirituality and worship, I started a master's degree in philosophical theology at the Institute for Christian Studies, a graduate school in the Dutch Reformed tradition at the University of Toronto. So my week looked a bit odd: Monday to Friday I was immersed in the intellectual resources ...

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In the Magazine

May 2008

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