Brian LePort asked if there is a center or core aspect of Pentecostal Theology. In the comments too he asked what might be the difference between a pentecostal and say an Charismatic Anglican? The following is how I responded:
Brian – if I may offer a suggestion here I would say the difference is one with respect to time and theology – time in that typically Pentecostals are those who are a part of groups that started prior to 1960, which is when the Charismatic movement began when Anglican pastor Dennis Bennett started preaching about his experience of Spirit Baptism – theology in that Pentecostals typically assert the initial physical evidence of the Baptism of with the Holy Spirit is speaking in tongues such that they would assert: no tongues no baptism, whereas with Charismatics, they do not always take such a strong stand and suggest tongues is merely “an” evidence of Spirit Baptism.
So with time again, while both P’s and C’s related to the Azusa Street Revival in 1906, Charismatics also have their roots in Bennett’s 1960 sermon. It might seem nitpicky but really one is only Pentecostal if one is part of a group that was birthed out of the 1906 revival and agree that tongues are the “initial physical evidence of Spirit Baptism.
I wrote a couple of posts on my blog about this a couple of years ago: https://sunestauromai.wordpress.com/2007/12/08/whats-the-difference-part-1/ and https://sunestauromai.wordpress.com/2007/12/10/whats-the-difference-part-2/
They aren’t perfect but I think they get at the basic issue.
So back to the original question I would suggest the heart or the core of Pentecostal and Charismatic theology is the experience of the Holy Spirit and that that is the single unifying factor for all P’s and C’s world-wide.
Speaking in tongues is not the center because it is merely a sign or a work of the Spirit – and is just that – a sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit which the AG describes as “the initial physical evidence” of Spirit Baptism – rather the ongoing evidence is the life lived in, and empowered by, the Holy Spirit.
if you haven’t already you really should read Vinson Synan’s work The Holiness-Pentecostal Tradition: Charismatic Movements in the Twentieth Century
(Eerdmans, 1997) – along with Keith Warrington’s Pentecostal Theology: A Theology of Encounter (T&T Clark, 2008).
I hope this helps
So to reiterate – I see the core of Pentecostal theology as that of experience or encounter with the Holy Spirit.