Romanticism Gone to Seed—Part II
A number of you wrote in to critique my recent newsletter "The Roots of Pentecostal Scandal: Romanticism Gone to Seed" on various grounds—including my supposed lack of salvation, my supposed hatred of Pentecostals, and my lack of solid evidence to back up the claim that the intensively "vertical" piety of Pentecostals and their holiness forebears has sometimes been indulged at the expense of "horizontal," human relationships.
Since there is no sure way that I know of to prove one's salvation, I'll move on briefly to the question of my views on Pentecostalism, before offering some more of that historical evidence many of you were looking for.
I want to be clear: I am not arguing that the vibrant, physical, emotional worship of God typical of the holiness and Pentecostal movements is intrinsically a bad thing. I do not happen to think it is. In fact, I have grown a great deal as a Christian through such worship. Holiness and Pentecostal folk really have recaptured a way of communing with God that engages human worshipers as embodied, emotional, related creatures. And this can be a very good thing.
But like any recovery of truth in the church, the holiness—and later, Pentecostal—rediscovery of direct, intensive intimacy with Christ has had its rough edges and its misguided excesses. That's the way it is with all Christian movements—we all pick up alloys and emphases from our surrounding cultures. To remind ourselves of this fact is not to categorically reject any Christian group. It is to see the church whole—in the troubling mixture of sanctity and sinfulness that marks all human attempts to live faithfully for God.
On, then, to some further historical background. Since my argument starts with Pentecostalism's ...