Pentecostal/Charismatic: What’s the difference? part 1

Since I am now a lister, listed as a pentecostal or charismatic blogger, I thought I’d take some time to share just what the differences are between the labels pentecostal and charismatic. Often these terms are used interchangeably and in most cases it is fine to do so. But if one wants to get technical.. there are some differences.

What are they?

Well there are at least two basic differences. In essence they are really two movements. Of the differences one is in reference to time (or history) and one is in reference to theology.  Please realize one can really get into the history and background of things but for now I am going to keep things pretty simple and not get too into the specific historical/theological backgrounds of the two movements. If it does interest you to learn more then you might want to consider checking out Vinson Synan’s book The Holiness-Pentecostal Tradition: Charismatic Movements in the Twentieth Century (Eerdmans, 1997). At least, this would be a good place to start.

On the first difference between the two movements, Pentecostalism is rooted in the Weslyan-Holiness movement of the mid-eighteenth to the early nineteenth century – and more specifically comes out of the 1906 Azuza Street Mission & Revival in Los Angeles, CA. Most of the churches that came out of this time can and should be considered Pentecostal. Well, there was also a movement going on in the east as well so the Church of God, Cleveland TN and the Church of God in Christ (mostly in the South) is a part of the movement as well. So, there is the Pentecostal Church of God (fairly small and mostly in the mid-west, e.g. Joplin, MO); Holiness-Pentecostal; The Assemblies of God (which came out of the Church of God in Christ – strongest in the mid-west but fairly widespread) The International Church of the Foursquare Gospel (stronger in the mid-west to west), The Open Bible Churches (which come out of the Foursquare – and stronger East of the Mississippi).

The Charismatic movement more or less began in 1960 when an Episcopalian Priest by the name of Dennis Bennett was baptized in the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues. He decided to inform his congregation of the experience. This caused a massive uproar and his staff subsequently asked him to leave. He then joined an Episcopalian Church in Burien, WA and began to spread the message of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit to mostly mainline Protestant Churches and thus began the Charismatic movement. As a result the Charismatic movement has affected every major denomination around the world. There are Charismatic Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, Episcopalian (Anglicans), Catholics, the list goes on.

So in reference to time, 1960 is basically the dividing line. If one’s church was formed prior to 1960, most likely it is Pentecostal. If one’s church was affected by the Charismatic movement past 1960, then it is a part of the Charismatic movement.

More to come…

3 responses to “Pentecostal/Charismatic: What’s the difference? part 1

  1. Brian,

    Thank you for writing this post (I’m assuming there will be more since this is part 1). I do not know much about the Pentecostal & Charismatic movements, and I look forward to reading what you have to say.

    I also have a favor to ask. I have never seen a legitimate, biblical use of speaking in tongues. Whatever I have seen on TV has had someone speaking in tongues without interpretation. However, just because I haven’t seen it done biblically doesn’t mean it does not exist.

    Could you sometime please post about: 1) what you believe speaking in tongues to be, and 2) what it actually looks like and sounds like when it occurs. I would really appreciate this. It would greatly help my understanding.

    Thanks, eric

  2. As a lapsed Catholic turned Missouri Synod Lutheran who married a former UPC pastor’s son and currently attend a Church of God of Prophecy (LOL), I find all this history very interesting! Blessings!

    Was Googling for a Book of Acts online Bible study w/a charismatic leaning and found part two of this piece. Thanks for writing it!

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