Home > Uncategorized > Book discussion: The Charismatic Century, part 2

Book discussion: The Charismatic Century, part 2

As we pick up in Jack Hayford and S. David Moore’s The Charismatic Century, on page 4 we’re told that charismatics and Pentecostals are the second largest grouping of Christians in the entire world; only the Roman Catholic Church is larger.

Charismatics/Pentecostals are found on every continent and in 236 nations; are 71 percent non-white; more women than men; more kids than adults; are predominantly poor in the developing world, predominantly middle-class in the West; and are growing unabated outside the West.

The grassroots and egalitarian character of the Renewal is deeply appealing to the disenfranchised. It is here that the message of the dynamic power and presence of the Holy Spirit heralds hope for the marginalized and downtrodden. (4)

Pentecostalism is not easily defined, Hayford and Moore say, but all Pentecostals have one common denominator: “the passion they share to experience the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.” (5)

This emphasis on the Holy Spirit is what defines this charismatic century, the authors say, and that focus continues into the new millennium. (5)

At this point Hayford and Moore turn back to the past, to look at the three “waves” of the charismatic renewal:

  • Classic Pentecostals acknowledge Azusa Street as an essential part of their history and were around at the start of the “renewal”. They frequently say that speaking in tongues is evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit (though some believe it is a sign and not the only sign). They were primarily working class, some poor and on the margins of society; they were stereotyped as uneducated and given to emotionalism and excess. Yet, their leaders were sensitive, discerning and flexible and able to adjust and adapt their message according to cultural contexts (which the authors say has contributed to the leaders’ success and longevity). They were called “holy rollers” because of their meetings where people joyfully and wholeheartedly sang, clapped, shouted, danced, and celebrated in worship. They found identity and purpose in the “end times” revival. (6-7)
  • The second wave has its beginnings in the 1940s and 50s with the healing ministry of evangelist Oral Roberts (whom Hayford will later cite as the ‘seed’ of the charismatic movement) and the “latter rain” movement of the 50s and 60s. In 1960, Episcopal priest Dennis Bennett was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in tongues, and informed his congregation of the experience. The public saw “a respectable, highly educated Episcopalian acting like a Pentecostal.” Bennett opted to stay in his denomination, believing his baptism in the Holy Spirit would renew the Episcopal church.
  • Bennett’s experience marked the second wave in that emphasis was placed on renewing existing church structures (denominations, et al.), not creating new ones, and that people stayed in their denominations and “became a breath of Holy Spirit refereshing.” (7-8)
  • The third wave is characterized by Hayford and Moore and, they say, Stanley Burgess, as identified with the “huge throng of independent, indigenous churches that do not carry direct connections with Classical Pentecostalism or the Charismatic Renewal”. (8) C. Peter Wagner identifies the third wave as being Christians not part of the first two waves “who experience the Spirit’s power and presence yet prefer not to be called either Pentecostal or Charismatic.” (8) Hayford and Moore say they do not identify as Pentecostal/Charismatic, but believe they are practicing Biblical Christianity; acknowledge the place and power of the Spirit in ways many of them were unaware; accept the gifts and workings of the Spirit; and see them as normal to today’s church. (8-9)
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