The adjective pentecostal in our day has been generally associated in the church-going mind with a conception of noisy and unruly assemblies of those who profess an ecstatic form of religion. This conception has not been entirely false; at the same time it has not been universally accurate. After all, an observer of the noisiness and unruliness which the Apostle Paul found it necessary to rebuke in the Corinthian church would have been disposed, understandably, to dismiss these gatherings as something less than Christian. But he would have been mistaken had he concluded that there was no such thing as the spiritual gifts to which the Corinthians laid claim. Does not Paul thank God because the Corinthian believers had been enriched in Jesus Christ in all utterance and in all knowledge and because they came behind in no gift (1 Cor. 1:4 ff.)? It is precisely their misuse of these gifts that causes him to admonish them that all things are to be done decently and in order (14:40).
Today, however, the massive respectability of the old-established denominations is being invaded and in some measure disturbed by the manifestation of a pentecostal experience within the ranks of their membership. Does it not reflect on our settled ecclesiastical ways that for Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Methodists, and Baptists to speak in tongues should seem strange and even bizarre? Would we not have felt somewhat out of place in the church of the New Testament?—that at least is a question that should give us pause! Is it perhaps possible that in this new-old way God is breaking through the lethal formalism and superficiality of the churchanity which is all too prevalent in our Western world?
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