Dr. Thomas Zimmerman is a former president of the National Association of Evangelicals who presently serves as general superintendent of the Assemblies of God. As part of the twenty-fifth anniversary of CHRISTIANITY TODAY, I asked him to write an article for us on what Pentecostals are doing right.
When I was a youth, I didn’t think Pentecostals did much of anything right. I considered them fanatics who carried on antics, in the name of religion, far across town on the other side of the railroad tracks. Later I changed my mind about Pentecostals. Of course, I got converted—to Christ, that is. And I met a few live Pentecostals.
But the really decisive factor in my changed attitude came when—of all things—I first read the work of Jonathan Edwards: Distinguishing Marks of a Revival of the Spirit of God. That book gave me a new standard—a biblical standard—by which to evaluate the structure of the Christian church. It cut through frothy superficialities and put the focus on the really significant aspects of Christian experience.
We evangelicals have much to learn from our Pentecostal brothers and sisters. God has greatly blessed their witness during the last half century. That does not mean we agree with them about everything—especially about their distinctive doctrines of the baptism of the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues. Still, we confess that God has wonderfully used them in many ways, and there is much they can teach us. In his article, Tom Zimmerman shares some of the things God has done through the Pentecostal churches.
In this same issue, Tom Bisset analyzes what the broadcasting business means to the church. Already it has transformed the image of evangelicals in our nation. Its potential for the future is startling. ...1
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