“A Pentecostalist is a person who thinks he’s arrived because he speaks in tongues.”
These are not words from a critic of the “charismatic renewal,” which continues to penetrate the historic denominations and Roman Catholicism. This is Pentecostalist David J. du Plessis, World Council of Churches gadfly, speaking to a Presbyterian congregation. Sharing the platform last month was renowned Presbyterian John A. Mackay, former president of Princeton Theological Seminary.
“Forgive all the Pentecostals for all their blunders, but don’t shun the experience,” du Plessis continued. He was talking about the baptism in the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues, an experience that twenty years ago you probably didn’t admit to unless you belonged to a Pentecostal church.
Du Plessis’s comments typify a counter-trend: In many Pentecostal circles the big issue isn’t tongues anymore; it’s the total ministry of the Holy Spirit. Unlike the cork-popping new wine of Pentecostal revivals following the 1906 Azusa Street Mission meetings—which resulted in the Pentecostal churches—the characteristic of the charismatic renewal of the sixties is reformation from within. For instance:
• A charismatic communion of more than one hundred Presbyterian (U. S. and U. S. A.) ministers maintains an aura of anonymity and meets with minimum publicity. Last month twenty gathered in Austin, Texas, with Mackay and J. Rodman Williams, professor of systematic theology at Austin Seminary. Stated aims: avoiding the quenching of the Spirit, and becoming a “leavening rather than a divisive force in the Church.”
• Ecumenical, Inter-Church Team Ministries, based in Newhall, California, promotes “full Gospel” conferences “in all branches of the Christian Church, as well as in ...1
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