What many lump together as “Pentecostal” or “charismatic” Christians are not the same thing. It is important to distinguish among Pentecostals, charismatics, and neo-Pentecostals. The three groups hold in common a belief in the necessity of a vital relationship to Jesus as Lord and Savior; a belief in the power and gifts of the Spirit in the life of the church today; and a belief that there is an experience of the Holy Spirit leading to “empowerment for mission.”
But there are significant differences and beliefs that also separate Pentecostals, charismatics, and neo-Pentecostals. Classical Pentecostalism is surveyed in the main article. Exactly what is charismatic and neo-Pentecostal Christianity?
“Charismatic” is a term for describing everything from John F. Kennedy to a Christian having a New Testament experience. So while Pentecostals can be neatly defined, it is much more difficult to define charismatics. A ballpark definition may be that all charismatics believe the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit are for today. But this definition would include Pentecostals, and most classical Pentecostals balk at being identified with charismatics. There are notable differences between Pentecostals and charismatics.
Pentecostal worship tends to be closer to that of mainline churches in format and hymnody. Charismatic churches are freer in worship. Charismatics often stand for 40 minutes at a time, engaged in spirited singing, handclapping, and even dancing in the aisles.
Charismatics and Pentecostals have different approaches to speaking in tongues. In many charismatic churches, two or three years might go by without a public tongue and interpretation. ...1
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