Pentecostal Christians: What Do They Believe?

Members of The Bay Ridge Christian Center Pentecostal Church pray during a two-hour English language church service on April 10, 2005 in Brooklyn, New York city.

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Pentecostals include Protestant Christians who believe that the manifestations of the Holy Spirit are alive, available, and experienced by modern-day Christians. Pentecostal Christians may also be described as "Charismatics."

The History of the Pentecostal Church

The manifestations or gifts of the Holy Spirit were seen in the first century Christian believers (Acts 2:4; 1 Corinthians 12:4-10; 1 Corinthians 12:28) and include signs and wonders such as the message of wisdom, the message of knowledge, faith, gifts of healing, miraculous powers, discerning of spirits, tongues and interpretation of tongues.

The term Pentecostal, therefore, comes from the New Testament experiences of the early Christian believers on the Day of Pentecost. On this day, the Holy Spirit was poured out on the disciples and tongues of fire rested on their heads. Acts 2:1-4 describes the event:

When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.Pentecostals believe in the baptism in the Holy Spirit as evidenced by speaking in tongues. The power to exercise the gifts of the spirit, they claim, comes initially when a believer is baptized in the Holy Spirit, a distinct experience from conversion and water baptism.

Pentecostal worship is characterized by emotional, lively expressions of worship with great spontaneity. Some examples of Pentecostal denominations and faith groups are Assemblies of God, Church of God, Full-Gospel churches, and Pentecostal Oneness churches.

History of Pentecostalism in America

Charles Fox Parham is a prominent figure in the history of the Pentecostal movement. He is the founder of the first Pentecostal church known as the Apostolic Faith Church. During the late 19th and early 20th century, he led a Bible School in Topeka, Kansas, where the baptism in the Holy Spirit was emphasized as a key factor in one's walk of faith.

Over the Christmas holiday of 1900, Parham asked his students to study the Bible to discover the biblical evidence for the baptism in the Holy Spirit. A series of revival prayer meetings began on January 1, 1901, where many students and Parham himself experienced a Holy Spirit baptism accompanied by speaking in tongues. They concluded that the baptism in the Holy Spirit is expressed and evidenced by speaking in tongues. From this experience, the Assemblies of God denomination--the largest Pentecostal body in America today--can trace its belief that speaking in tongues is the biblical evidence for the baptism in the Holy Spirit.

A spiritual revival quickly began spreading to Missouri and Texas, and eventually to California and beyond. Holiness groups in the United States where reporting Spirit baptisms. One group, the Azusa Street Revival in downtown Los Angeles, held services three times a day. Attendees from around the world reported miraculous healings and speaking in tongues.

These early 20th-century revival groups shared a strong belief that the return of Jesus Christ was imminent. And while the Azusa Street Revival faded away by 1909, it served to reinforce the growth of the Pentecostal movement.

By the 1950s Pentecostalism was spreading into mainline denominations as the "charismatic renewal," and by the mid-1960s had swept into the Catholic Church. Today, Pentecostals are a global force with the distinction of being the fastest-growing major religious movement with eight of the world’s largest congregations, including the largest, Paul Cho’s 500,000-member Yoido Full Gospel Church in Seoul, Korea.

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Your Citation
Fairchild, Mary. "Pentecostal Christians: What Do They Believe?" Learn Religions, Aug. 28, 2020, Fairchild, Mary. (2020, August 28). Pentecostal Christians: What Do They Believe? Retrieved from Fairchild, Mary. "Pentecostal Christians: What Do They Believe?" Learn Religions. (accessed March 12, 2022).

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