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The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit   (See Archives)

Trends in Pentecostal Hermeneutics

Part One in a Pentecostal Hermeneutics series of guest lectures given at the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, Springfield, Missouri

By Roger Stronstad

On January 1, 1901, the Pentecostal movement was born. The world was the maternity ward for the new century; the small midwest town of Topeka, Kansas, was the maternity ward for the birth of the new movement. The 20th century was born to public celebration; the Pentecostal movement was born in the individual experiences of a member of a small private prayer meeting at Bethel Bible School. Though the Pentecostal movement began in humble obscurity, now, with little more than a decade to go before it reaches its centenary, it has grown to become a major force within Christendom.

The Classical Pentecostal Tradition: A “Pragmatic” Hermeneutic

Charles F. Parham: Origins of the “Pragmatic” Hermeneutic

As Martin Luther is the fountainhead of Lutheranism, John Calvin of Reformed Theology, and John Wesley of Methodism, so Charles F. Parham stands as the fountainhead of Pentecostalism. Parham was not the first to speak in tongues. In one sense that honor goes to Miss Agnes N. 0zman.1 In another sense, the birth of the Pentecostal movement is the climax to the growing swell of charismatic experiences among various revival and Apostolic Faith movements.2 What makes Charles F. Parham the father of Pentecostalism, Topeka, Kansas, the locus of Pentecostalism, and Agnes Ozman, the first Pentecostal, is not the uniqueness of this experience, but the new hermeneutical/biblical understanding of this experience.

Charles F. Parham bequeathed to the Pentecostal movement its definitive hermeneutics, and consequently, its definitive theology and apologetics. His contribution arose out of the problem of the interpretation of the second chapter of Acts and his conviction that Christian experience in the 20th century “should tally exactly with the Bible, [but] neither sanctification nor the anointing that abideth … tallied with the 2nd chapter of Acts.”3 Consequently he reports, “I set the students at work studying out diligently what was the Bible evidence of the baptism of the Holy Ghost that we might go before the world with something that was indisputable because it tallied absolutely with the Word.”4 He tells the results of their investigation in the following words: “Leaving the school for three days at this task, I went to Kansas City for three days services. I returned to the school on the morning preceding Watch Night service in the year 1900.

“At about 10:00 o’clock in the morning I rang the bell calling all the students into the Chapel to get their report on the matter in hand. To my astonishment they all had the same story, that while there were different things occurring when the Pentecostal blessing fell, the indisputable proof on each occasion was, that they spoke with other tongues.”5

In Parham’s report we find the essential distinctives of the Pentecostal movement, namely, (1) the conviction that contemporary experience should be identical to apostolic Christianity, (2) the separation of the baptism in the Holy Spirit from sanctification (as Holiness movements had earlier separated it from conversion/incorporation), and (3) that tongues speaking is the indisputable evidence or proof of the baptism in the Holy Spirit.

The discovery that tongues speaking was the indisputable biblical proof of the baptism in the Holy Spirit was confirmed the next day in the experience of one of the students at Bethel Bible School, Agnes Ozman. She testifies: “The spirit of prayer was upon us in the evening. It was nearly seven o’clock on this first of January that it came into my heart to ask Bro. Parham to lay his hands upon me that I might receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. It was as his hands were laid upon my head that the Holy Spirit fell upon me and I began to speak in other tongues, glorifying God. I talked several languages, and it was clearly manifest when a new dialect was spoken.”6

Agnes Ozman was the first one but not the last one to speak in tongues in the Bible school. By January 3, 1901, other students, and soon even Parham himself, had spoken in tongues. When questioned about her experience, Miss Ozman “pointed out to them the Bible references, showing [she] had received the baptism according to Acts 2:4 and 19:1–6.”7

Thus, in the weeks which bridged the Christmas season of 1900 and the New Year 1901, tongues was identified as the biblical evidence of the baptism in the Spirit and was confirmed by contemporary (20th century) experience. This identification of biblical tongues and contemporary charismatic experience was a Pragmatic hermeneutic. This Pragmatic hermeneutic passed into the infant Pentecostal movement as “oral tradition.” This tradition was subsequently “received” by church councils and codified in doctrinal statements.

As a result of this codification of Parham’s hermeneutics and theology, Pentecostal hermeneutics has existed in an analytical vacuum for the majority of its brief history. In fact, Pentecostal hermeneutics has been exposition rather than investigation and analysis. Nevertheless, this Pragmatic hermeneutic became the bulwark of Pentecostal apologetics and the pillar of classical Pentecostalism which, though it might be articulated with greater clarity, finesse, and sophistication, remained inviolate until recently.

Carl Brumback: Exemplar of the Classical Pentecostal “Pragmatic” Hermeneutic

Just as a wind-driven fire sweeps across tinder-dry prairie, so in the decades following the momentous events at Bethel Bible School the winds of the Spirit swept the flames of Pentecost upon spiritually dry hearts. The infant Pentecostal revival advanced and grew, quickly becoming more international than the table of nations of that first Christian Pentecost (Acts 2:9–11). The revival quickly spread from Kansas and Missouri to Texas, to California,8 and from there to the ends of the earth. Contrary to the expectations and wishes of most in the fledgling movement, it coalesced into various denominational structures. By mid-century it was cautiously admitted into mainstream evangelicalism.9 Through that kaleidoscope of variety which characterized Pentecostalism locally, nationally, and even internationally, one aspect stood constant—the Pragmatic hermeneutic which looked to Pentecost as the pattern for contemporary experience.

Writing about midway between the beginning of the Pentecostal movement and the present, one expositor declared: “We believe that the experiences of the one hundred and twenty in Acts 2:4—‘And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance’—is the Scriptural pattern for believers of the whole church age.”10

This affirmation was penned by Carl Brumback, whom I selected at random as an exemplar of Pentecostal hermeneutics.11 This affirmation of Pentecostal hermeneutics, however, could have been written in any decade of the Movement’s history, or by anyone within the movement.

This is because Pentecostal hermeneutics is traditional and, therefore, essentially both timeless and anonymous.

In his book, What Meaneth This?: A Pentecostal Answer to a Pentecostal Question, Brumback never tires of asserting this Pentecost as Pattern hermeneutical stance. For example, “The baptism or fillings with the Holy Spirit, as recorded in Acts,” he writes, “should likewise be the standard for believers today”; furthermore, “in apostolic days speaking with tongues was a constant accompaniment of the baptism with the Holy Ghost, and should be in these days as well”; moreover, “speaking in tongues formed the pattern for every similar baptism or charismatic enduement”; and, finally, “the tongues of Pentecost … set the pattern for future baptism in the Holy Spirit.”12

For Pentecostals, then, tongues is normative for their experience, just as it was normative in the experience of the apostolic church, as recorded in Acts. Though normative, tongues is not the purpose of the baptism. For Pentecostals, generally, and Brumback, in particular: “Jesus established the purpose of the baptism or filling with the Spirit in Luke 24:49—‘But tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.’ Again in Acts 1:8 He said, ‘But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you.’ ”13

Conceding that there are opposing views to the meaning of these promises, Brumback nevertheless insists “that the primary (we do not say the only) purpose of the baptism at and since Pentecost was and is the enduement of believers with ‘power from on high.’ ”14 This gift of power, of course, is to enable or empower the witness or service of believers.

This brief survey of Brumback’s Pentecost as Pattern hermeneutic is an example of Pentecostal hermeneutics at the midpoint of the movement’s history and a restatement of the Pragmatic hermeneutics of the students of Parham’s Bethel Bible School more than a generation earlier. As with Parham’s students there is the same conviction that the experience of both apostolic and contemporary Christianity should be identical, that the baptism is for service and not for either salvation or sanctification, and that tongues is the invariable evidence of the baptism with the Holy Spirit.

One striking peculiarity of Brumback’s discussion to those who read it 40 years later is that this Pragmatic/Pentecost as Pattern hermeneutic is simply assumed to be self-evident and self-authenticating. Nowhere does he analyze or explain this hermeneutic; he simply asserts it. Nowhere does he betray any self-awareness that, in a book of Pentecostal apologetics, he needs to discuss, defend, and justify his hermeneutical base for developing “a contemporary Pentecostal answer to that ancient Pentecostal question.”

Up to the 1970s classical Pentecostals have remained confidently, if not always quietly, impervious to criticism of its pragmatic Pentecost as Pattern hermeneutic. While it remains confident, classical Pentecostalism is no longer impervious to the hermeneutical debate. In the 1970s and 80s Pentecostals have begun to address the hermeneutical issues and to articulate new hermeneutical approaches while, at the same time, being true both to their experience and their tradition. Several factors of varying importance have produced this new attitude.

First, the Movement itself has matured; it is no longer a young Movement struggling to shape its identity and to survive in a hostile world.

Second, Pentecostalism is now more widely accepted and is fully integrated into mainstream evangelicalism. As a result, it is less defensive than in earlier generations.

Third, the Neo-Pentecostal or charismatic movement has shown classical Pentecostals a variety of alternate hermeneutics, worship, and lifestyles.

Finally, Pentecostal leadership, at least in its educational institutions, is now seminary and university trained. As a result, this leadership is trained in critical methodology and skilled in scholarly dialogue. Consequently, the classical Pentecostal movement has now brought its Pragmatic hermeneutic to the intellectual marketplace, to buy and to sell. The marketplace is fraught with great danger for the unwary merchant but also promises great spiritual gains for the wise merchant.

When discussing the Pragmatic hermeneutic of classical Pentecostals, because one is discussing the exposition of a tradition, one can choose almost any exemplar from any age as representative of the Movement. When discussing the current debate, however, because one is no longer discussing a tradition, one must look at individuals and their particular contribution to the debate. The work of three Pentecostal scholars in the 1970s and 80s demands attention: Dr. Gordon D. Fee, professor of New Testament at Regent College, Vancouver, British Columbia; Dr. Howard M. Erwin, professor of Old Testament at Oral Roberts University, Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Dr. William W. Menzies, professor of Biblical Studies, Evangel College, Springfield, Missouri. In contrast to the Pragmatic hermeneutic espoused by classical Pentecostals, these scholars espouse Genre, Pneumatic, and Holistic hermeneutics, respectively.

Gordon D. Fee: A “Genre” Hermeneutic

Dr. Gordon Fee has moved to fill the analytical vacuum of classical Pentecostalism with perhaps more vigor than any other contemporary scholar. His analysis of Pentecostal hermeneutics and his proposals for new directions in hermeneutics are found in several articles, including the following: “Hermeneutics and Historical Precedent—a Major Problem in Pentecostal Hermeneutics,”15 “Acts—The Problem of Historical Precedent,”16 and “Baptism in the Holy Spirit: The Issue of Separability and Subsequence.”17 As a son of the Pentecostal movement and a scholar of international reputation, Fee’s credentials are impeccable. His primary contribution to the hermeneutical debate is to advocate a “Genre” hermeneutic as an alternative to the Pragmatic hermeneutic of classical Pentecostals.

As a general principle Fee advocates: “It should be an axiom of biblical hermeneutics that the interpreter must take into account the literary genre of the passage he is interpreting, along with the question of text, grammar, philosophy, and history.”18 So with the Acts, upon which Pentecostal theology is based: “ … it is not an epistle, nor a theological treatise. Even if one disregards its historical value, he cannot, indeed must not, disregard the fact that it is cast in the form of historical narrative.”19 The significance of fully appreciating that Acts is cast in the form of historical narrative “is that in the hermeneutics of biblical history the major task of the interpreter is to discover the author’s (I would add, the Holy Spirit’s)intent in recording that history.”20 Three principles emerge from this view with regard to the hermeneutics of historical narrative:

a. The Word of God in Acts, which may be regarded as normative for Christians, is related primarily to what any given narrative was intended to teach.

b. What is incidental to the primary intent of the narrative may indeed reflect an author’s theology, or how he understood things, but it cannot have the same didactic value as what the narrative was intended to teach has.

c. Historical precedent, to have normative value, must be related to intent. That is, if it can be shown that the purpose of a given narrative is to establish precedent, then such precedent should be regarded as normative.21

Having discussed the hermeneutical use of historical narrative in general, Fee then gives three specific principles for the use of historical precedent:

1. The use of historical precedent as an analogy by which to establish a norm is never valid in itself.

2. Although it may not have been the author’s primary purpose, historical narratives do have illustrative and sometimes “pattern” value.

3. In matters of Christian experience, and even more so in Christian practice, biblical precedents may be regarded as repeatable patterns—even if they are not to be regarded as normative.22

On the basis of his guidelines for the use of historical precedent, Fee then discusses the Pentecostal distinctives—a baptism in the Spirit distinct from and subsequent to conversion, and speaking in tongues as its initial physical evidence. Following James D. G. Dunn, Fee asserts: “For Luke (and Paul) the gift of the Holy Spirit was not some sort of adjunct to Christian experience, nor was it some kind of second and more significant part of Christian experience. It was rather the chief element in the event (or process) of Christian conversion.”23 Furthermore: “The question as to whether tongues is the initial physical evidence of the charismatic quality of life in the Spirit is a moot point.”24 In fact, “to insist that it is the only valid sign seems to place far too much weight on the historical precedent of three (perhaps four) instances in Acts.”25

“What then,” Fee asks, “may the Pentecostal say about his experience in view of the hermeneutical principles suggested in this paper?”26 To his question he gives a fivefold answer, concluding:

“Since speaking in tongues was a repeated expression of this dynamic, or charismatic, dimension of the coming of the Spirit, the contemporary Christian may expect this, too, as a part of his experience in the Spirit. If the Pentecostals may not say one must speak in tongues, he may surely say, why not speak in tongues? It does have repeated biblical precedent, it did have evidential value at Cornelius’ household (Acts 10:45,46), and—in spite of much that has been written to the contrary—it does have value both for the edification of the individual believer (1 Corinthians 14:2–5) and, with interpretation, for the edification of the church (1 Corinthians 14:5,26–28).27

Fee’s subsequent articles overlap with, repeat, clarify, and add new emphases to his discussion. They do not, however, substantially modify the Genre hermeneutic which he espoused in his first article. As one who has approached the subject from within the classical movement his discussion demands both respect and careful scrutiny. There is much that we can agree with. For example, he is correct in observing that “hermeneutics has simply not been a Pentecostal thing.”28 He correctly insists that Acts be interpreted as historical narrative, and not as a theological treatise.29 He is also correct to caution Pentecostals not to elevate an incidental element in the narrative to a position of primary theological importance. Finally, he correctly affirms that the intent of the author determines the normative value of the narrative.30

Fee is most productive when he is discussing Pentecostal hermeneutics as a New Testament scholar; that is, when he is advocating a Genre hermeneutic. His hermeneutic is most problematic when he is addressing and following the often caricature-like criticisms of Pentecostal hermeneutics that are espoused in the two benchmark monographs, A Theology of the Holy Spirit by Frederick Dale Bruner and Baptism in the Holy Spirit by James D. G. Dunn. In violation of his own caution about elevating incidental things to a primary position, he has done this on the subjects of separability and subsequence, for example.31 For Pentecostals, the primary thing is the baptism of the Holy Spirit as power for service. For Luke-Acts it is the anointing/baptism—ministry in the Holy Spirit—for Jesus (Luke) and for the disciples (Acts). This is the intent of Luke’s historical narrative for his generation of readers, and for this generation as well—not whether the baptism is distinct from and subsequent to conversion.

Howard M. Ervin: A “Pneumatic” Hermeneutic

As we have observed, Gordon D. Fee espouses a Genre hermeneutic for Pentecostals. In his essay, “Hermeneutics: A Pentecostal Option,”32 Howard M. Ervin proposes a different approach to Pentecostal hermeneutics; namely, a “Pneumatic” hermeneutic. Fee is a native son in the Pentecostal movement. Ervin is not a native son but is, as it were, a resident alien in the Movement. It was as the pastor of 17 years at Emmanuel Baptist Church, Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey, that he attended a Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International meeting in Miami, Florida. In a prayer meeting there both David DuPlessis and Dennis Bennett prayed for him and he received his personal Pentecost, speaking in tongues as the Spirit gave utterance.33 Fee’s preoccupations are predictably those of a native son; that is, historical precedent, separability, and subsequence. In contrast, Ervin’s concerns are those of a naturalized son; that is, the epistemology of the Word and experience.

Ervin launches his discussion, “Hermeneutics: A Pentecostal Option,” with the observation: “Fundamental to the study of hermeneutics, as to any academic discipline, is the question of epistemology.”34 For Western Man two ways of knowledge are axiomatic: sensory experience and reason. Not only for Orthodoxy, but also for Pietism and Neo-orthodoxy the result is a perennial dichotomy between faith and reason. He sums up the consequences of this epistemological problem in these words: “The consequence for hermeneutics has been in some quarters a destructive rationalism (Neo-orthodoxy), in others a dogmatic intransigence (Orthodoxy), and yet in others a non-rational mysticism (Pietism).”35

In the face of this epistemological deadlock, “What is needed,” he writes, “is an epistemology firmly rooted in the biblical faith with a phenomenology that meets the criteria of empirically verifiable sensory experience (healing, miracles, etc.) and does not violate the coherence of rational categories.”36 For Ervin, a pneumatic epistemology not only meets these criteria but it also provides a resolution of (a) the dichotomy between faith and reason that existentialism seeks to bridge, though at the expense of the pneumatic; (b) the antidote to a destructive rationalism that often accompanies a critical-historical exegesis; and (c) a rational accountability for the mysticism by a piety grounded in sola fide.37

The ground for a Pneumatic hermeneutic lies in the nature of Scripture as the absolute, ultimate, and transcendent Word of God. This word “is fundamentally an ontological reality (the incarnation).”38 A precondition for understanding that Word “is man’s ontological recreation by the Holy Spirit (the new birth).”39 However, while the new birth bridges the distance between the creator and the creature it does not erase it. Therefore: “this distance renders the word ambiguous until the Holy Spirit, who ‘searches … even the depths of God’ (1 Corinthians 230, NASB), interprets it to the hearer.”40 Thus: “It is a word for which, in fact, there is no hermeneutic unless and until the divine hermeneutes (the Holy Spirit) mediates an understanding.”41

The Pentecostal movement, Ervin observes, has contributed to this Pneumatic hermeneutic. He writes: “The contribution to hermeneutics of the present charismatic, or Pentecostal, renewal of the Church is its insistence upon the experiential immediacy of the Holy Spirit. There are direct contacts with non-material reality that informs a Pentecostal epistemology, hence its herrneneutics.”42

Furthermore: “Pentecostal experience with the Holy Spirit gives existential awareness of the miracles in the Biblical world view. These events are no longer mythological (the view of Neo-orthodoxy), but objectively real. Contemporary experience of divine healing, prophecy, miracles, tongues, and exorcism are empirical evidence of the impingement of a sphere of non-material reality upon our time-space existence with which one can and does have immediate contact. Awareness of and interaction with the presence of this spiritual continuum is axiomatic in a Pentecostal epistemology that affects decisively its hermeneutic.”43

Though his essay is entitled, “Hermeneutics: A Pentecostal Option,” Ervin contributes little to the subject of Pentecostal hermeneutics. Apart from a few paragraphs at the end of his essay, he writes primarily about epistemology and not about hermeneutics. It is unfortunate that he failed to explore his Pneumatic hermeneutic in greater depth, for the pneumatic, or vertical, dimension is a vital dimension in Pentecostal hermeneutics. After all, it is the Spirit, who is both nontemporal and immanent, who establishes both the existential and presuppositional continuum between the word written in the past and that same word in the present.

William W. Menzies: A “Holistic” Hermeneutic

Dr. William W. Menzies is a third Pentecostal scholar who is contributing significantly to the discussion of Pentecostal hermeneutics. His current thinking on the subject is summarized in the recent article, “The Methodology of Pentecostal Theology: An Essay in Hermeneutics.”44 In contrast to Gordon Fee, who focuses upon the genre of biblical literature, and Ervin, who focuses upon epistemology, Menzies focuses upon theology. As Menzies understands it, “the current charismatic theological issue” today is the connection between such phenomena as tongues and the baptism in the Spirit.45 For Menzies, the heart of this theological battle today is the bedrock issue of hermeneutics or methodology.46 Whereas Fee proposes a Genre hermeneutic and Ervin proposes a Pneumatic hermeneutic, Menzies proposes a Holistic hermeneutic for interpreting the biblical foundation for Pentecostal theology.

Menzies’ Holistic hermeneutic has three levels: (1) the inductive level, (2) the deductive level, and (3) the verification level. The inductive level is the scientific exegesis of Scripture. He sees three kinds of inductive listening: (a) declarative, i.e., those texts “whose transparency renders their meaning relatively unambiguous,” (b) implicational, for some important truths, such as the doctrine of the Trinity, “are implied in Scripture, rather than stated in categorical declarations of an overt kind,” and (c) the descriptive, which is the real battleground.

In this battleground, “The book of Acts is the burning issue in the entire debate.”47 This is Fee’s issue of genre and, as Menzies observes, is the real crux in the debate. If it can be demonstrated that Luke did not intend to teach theology by what he described, then “there is no genuine basis for a Pentecostal theology at all.”48 This realization constrains Menzies to reject Fee’s guidelines for historical precedent and normativeness, and he concludes, contra Fee, that the biblical data implies normativeness, rather than mere repeatability.49

In Menzies’ Holistic hermeneutic the Deductive Level complements the Inductive Level. If the Inductive Level is exegesis, then the Deductive Level is that of biblical theology. It integrates “disparate and sometimes disconnected passages into a meaningful whole.”50 It proceeds on “the principle of the analogy of faith.”51

Finally, Menzies’ Holistic hermeneutic includes the Verification Level. This is the level of contemporary experience. Menzies believes, “If a biblical truth is to be promulgated, then it ought to be demonstratable in life.”52 In other words, though experience does not establish theology, it does verify or demonstrate theological truth. Thus, on the Day of Pentecost, “the apostles, led of the Spirit, instructed the disciples in the connection between revelation and experience. ‘This is that,’ announced Peter (Acts 2:16).”53

Menzies’ Holistic three-level hermeneutic — inductive, deductive, and verification — has much to commend it. For example, it integrates the analytical, the synthetic, and the existential processes. Moreover, it integrates the exegetical, the theological, and the applicational dimensions of biblical interpretation. Applying this holistic hermeneutic to the Book of Acts Menzies finds he can reaffirm four aspects of Pentecostal hermeneutics and theology, namely: (1) Pentecost as pattern, (2) the theological normativeness of this pattern, (3) subsequence, and (4) the sign of tongues.

At the conclusion of this survey on trends in Pentecostal hermeneutics, and as the Pentecostal movement approaches its 10th decade, and ultimately its centenary, we remind ourselves that the pragmatic hermeneutic of our founding fathers has served the Movement well in its preaching and teaching directed toward those who stood within the Movement. It is no longer adequate for apologetics directed to those outside classical Pentecostalism, whether they are charismatic or noncharismatic. For this reason the decades-long era of the analytical vacuum of the Pragmatic hermeneutics of classical Pentecostalism has now been forever and irreversibly ended.

Fee, Ervin, and Menzies have drawn attention to important components in an overall Pentecostal hermeneutic. Thus, as Fee reminds us, the distinctive genre of Luke-Acts as historical narrative must be factored into the hermeneutical equation. Moreover, as Ervin reminds us, the experience of the pneumatic establishes a continuum between the contemporary Pentecostal and the ancient biblical world. Finally, as Menzies reminds us, both theology and hermeneutics are a complex process properly combining inductive, deductive, and verification levels. Fee, Ervin, and Menzies have proved to be seminal strategists in the development of the new Pentecostal hermeneutic, but each has a partial, or fragmentary, focus. Though Menzies comes the closest, we yet await the formation of a fully developed Pentecostal hermeneutic.

The June 1976 issue of His magazine carried a review of Michael Green’s recently published book, I Believe in the Holy Spirit. The review concludes with the statement: “Even non-charismatics like Green, sensitive and open as they are to the renewal, seem unable to grant that the Pentecostals may understand Acts better than they do.”54 This conclusion is not the claim of some dogmatic Pentecostal. Neither is it the hyperbole of some ignorant sympathizer. Rather, it is the carefully considered evaluation of the widely respected Baptist theologian and apologist, Dr. Clark H. Pinnock.

Several years later he reaffirmed his conclusion that Pentecostals understand Acts better than non-Pentecostals. He writes: “We cannot consider Pentecostalism to be a kind of aberration born of experimental excesses but a 20th century revival of New Testament theology and religion. It has not only restored joy and power to the church but a clearer reading of the Bible as well.”55

Here lies the great anomaly of the Pentecostal movement. True, it understands Acts better than noncharismatics, and it has restored a clearer reading of the Bible to 20th century Christianity. But almost 90 years after the Movement began it has not yet fully articulated the hermeneutical basis of its understanding of Acts. This is the hermeneutical agenda which still confronts contemporary Pentecostalism.

—Roger Stronstad, an ordained minister of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada, is Academic Dean at Western Pentecostal Bible College, Clayburn, British Columbia.

Endnote

1. Mrs. Charles F. Parham, The Life of Charles F. Parham Founder of the Apostolic Faith Movement (Joplin, Mo.: Hunter Printing Company, 1930), 52,53,65–68.

2. J. Philip Newell, “Scottish Intimations of Modern Pentecostalism: A.J. Scott and the 1830 Clydeside Charismatics,” Pneuma, Vol. 4, No. 2 (1982): 1–18, Newell begins his article with the following report: “On 28 March 1830, Mary Campbell, a young devout Scotts woman from Clydeside, during an act of communal prayer in her own home, spoke in ‘an unknown tongue.’ Mary and those with her believed this to be a resurgence of the Apostolic gift of tongues.” On the history of the Catholic Apostolic church of the same period see Larry Christensen, “Pentecostalism’s Forgotten Forerunner,” in Aspects of Pentecostal-Charismatic Origins, edited by Vinson Synan (Plainfield, N.J.: Logos International, 15–37. Compare Harold Hunter, “Spirit-Baptism and the 1896 Revival in Cherokee County, North Carolina,” Pneuma, Vol. 5, No. 2 (1983): 1–17, Donald W. Dayton, “From ‘Christian Perfection’ to the ‘Baptism of the Holy Ghost,’ ” Melvin E. Dieter, “Wesleyan Holiness Aspects of Pentecostal Origins: As Mediated Through the 19th-Century Holiness Revival,” and William W. Menzies, “The Non-Wesleyan Origins of Pentecostal Movement,” in Synan, Aspects, 40–98.

3. Parham, Life, 52.

4. Ibid.

5. Ibid.

6. Ibid., 66.

7. Ibid.

8. See chapter 3, “The Revival Spreads to Los Angeles (1901–1906,” in William W. Menzies, Anointed to Serve (Springfield, Mo.: 1971), 41–59.

9. See chapter 9, “Cooperation: From Isolation to Evangelical Identification,” in Menzies Anointed, 177–227.

10. Carl Brumback, “What Meaneth This?” A Pentecostal Answer to a Pentecostal Question (Springfield, Mo.: Gospel Publishing House, 1947), 192.

11. For example, compare the following two expositions of Pentecostal theology from the same publisher as Brumback’s, “What meaneth This?”: Frank Lindblad, The Spirit Which Is From God (Springfield, Mo.: 1928), and L. Thomas Holdcroft, The Holy Spirit: A Pentecostal Interpretation (Springfield, Mo.: Gospel Publishing House, 1979).

12. Brumback, “What Meaneth This?”, 186,187,200.

13. Ibid., 197.

14. Ibid.

15. Gordon D. Fee, “Hermeneutics and historical Precedent—A Major Problem in Pentecostal Hermeneutics,” in Perspectives on the New Pentecostalism, edited by Russell P. Spittler (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1976), 118–132

16. Gordon D. Fee, “Acts—The Problem of Historical Precedent,” in How to Read the Bible For All Its Worth: A Guide to Understanding the Bible, by Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1982), 87–102.

17. Gordon D. Fee, “Baptism in the Holy Spirit: The Issue of Separability and Subsequence”: Pneuma, Vol. 7, No. 2 (1985): 87–99.

18. Fee, “Hermeneutics,” 124.

19. Ibid., 125.

20. Ibid.

21. Ibid., 126.

22. Ibid., 128,129.

23. Ibid., 130.

24. Ibid.

25. Ibid., 131.

26. Ibid.

27. Ibid., 132.

28. Ibid., 121.

29. Ibid., 125.

30. Ibid.

31. Fee, “Baptism,” 87–99. In “Suggested Areas for Further Research in Pentecostal Studies,” Pneuma, Vol. 5, No. 2 (1983) Russell P. Spittler remarks: “Subsequence … is a non-issue. The early Pentecostals did not intend to frame a new ordo salutis, an algorithm for piety. Rather they were saying that it’s possible for tired Christians to be renewed” (p. 43).

32. Howard M. Ervin, “Hermeneutics: A Pentecostal Option,” Pneuma, Vol. 3, No. 2 (1981): 11–25. Reprinted with slight alterations under the same title in Essays on Apostolic Themes: Studies in Honor of: Howard M. Ervin, edited by Paul Elbert (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Publishers, 1985), 23–35.

33. Charles Farah, Jr. and Steve Durasoff, “Biographical and Bibliographical Sketch,” in Essays, edited by Elbert, xi.

34. Ervin, “Hermeneutics,” 11.

35. Ibid., 12.

36. Ibid.

37. Ibid.

38. Ibid., 17.

39. Ibid.

40. Ibid.

41. Ibid., compare pp. 18,22,23.

42. Ibid., 23.

43. Ibid.

44. William W. Menzies, “The Methodology of Pentecostal Theology: An Essay on Hermeneutics,” in Essays, edited by Elbert, 1–14.

45. Menzies, “Methodology,” 4.

46. Ibid.

47. Ibid., 5,6.

48. Ibid., 6.

49. Ibid., 8–10.

50. Ibid., 10.

51. Ibid., 11.

52. Ibid., 13.

53. Ibid.

54. Clark H. Pinnock, review of Michael Green, “I believe in the Holy Spirit” in His, June, 1976: 21.

55. Clark H. Pinnock, “Foreward,” to The Charismatic Theology of St. Luke, by Roger Stronstad (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Publishers, 1987), viii.

 

 

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