Pentecostalism Is An Anti-Intellectual Plague To Biblical Missions Work
During my Biola University days I had to read chapters of a book by Timothy C. Tennet, a modern missiologist and pragmatist. The book is titled Theology in the Context of World Christianity and calls for a contextualization of the gospel and the use of pragmatism for his idea of evangelism. I believe this author is in serious error. One chapter I had to read was chapter 7 which was all about Pentecostalism being an acceptable form of Christianity as well as praising the movement. The following is my reaction…
Four observations I made when reading chapter 7 of Tennet’s book were the following claims he made: (1) Pentecostalism is a movement that was started by people who were uneducated without an emphasis on theology. (2) Pentecostals are bigger than the Roman Catholic Church and have influenced many different sects, and denominations of Christianity. (3) Pentecostals have a missionary zeal which is a positive attitude to have for Christianity, and (4) Pentecostalism has caused many Latin Americans to leave the Catholic Church and become evangelical.
Three questions I have are (1) why is it okay for a Christian movement to be based on anti-intellectualism and allowed to be considered valid by the Church? Does that not seem strange to most people? (2) Why did Tennant briefly mention the bad things about the Pentecostal movement and push them aside if they are not a big deal when in fact Pentecostals are the ones who have caused many, many problems within the Church? They have brought greed, false miracles, false signs, and even worse: false doctrines and false prophecies out in the open which makes a mockery of true Christianity! (3) Do Pentecostals decide to change their theology whenever they want in order to make it better sounding in the future? And if a theological system does change from its historical claims of belief does it keep the system valid? Pentecostals first claimed that the 2nd baptism of the Spirit had to occur for a person to be saved and proclaimed that that was the true anointing of the Spirit. Now days in Pentecostal theology they have decided that the 2nd baptism of the Spirit does not have to happen to be saved. They have changed their theology to fit their experiences over time and Tennet claims this is an acceptable thing.
Two reflections I have about Tennet’s claims are that first, if a belief system is based on an anti-intellectual idea or lack of theology it could not possibly be a true anointing of the Holy Spirit. I think Pentecostalism is based on a false revival and people have been duped into believing it is real because of the ecstatic emotional states people go into. Emotions manipulate people. Also just because a lot of people become Pentecostal all over the world does not make that form of religion true or even Christian. That is a logical fallacy called “appealing to a majority.” This shows Tennet does not use logic when explaining missionary work, or biblical theology. Another reflection I have is that Pentecostalism is guilty of so many false claims, and corruption that people seem to ignore. I wonder why Tennet feels Christians should ignore it or make it sound light hearted. It is serious when someone claims something was done in the name of the Lord, but it was actually a fabrication from a person’s mind. This is a dangerous belief and none of the miracles in my experience have ever been proven. I do not agree with the author Tennet’s view on Pentecostalism.
A startling statement I found was on page 174 which says, “In the early ‘sunrise’ of a new movement, there is little time for formal theological or missiological reflection.” I think that this statement is dangerous because it is saying that whenever something “new” in religion happens it does not need to have theological backup because people can just worry about figuring it out later. I think that if people are in tune with God and the Bible any event that would occur would be easy to line up with Scripture at the moment and not have to be made up later. We should always test any experience that happens within the church and always line it up with Scripture.
Biblical, especially Reformed missionaries, should be aware of the Pentecostal movement and realize that they are a strong missionary force that has been, and is, converting people from all over the world into their sect of Christianity based on unbiblical beliefs. Most foreign people in Asia and Latin America are Pentecostal or charismatic within their denominations. This is especially true with Korean missionaries and places like the Philippines which is being invaded with thousands of Pentecostal Korean missionaries promoting serious error. Africa has been bombarded with the “health, wealth, and prosperity” heresy and all of its charlatans who claim false healings and miracles. With the conversion of people groups by the Pentecostal movement, many times sadly, people are converted into these major problems which were only briefly mentioned by Tennent. He seems to have a biased attitude that is afraid to emphasize the errors of the movement. Christians should be aware of these false doctrines and understand the kinds of competition missionaries and evangelists have to deal with within Christian, evangelical circles. Also, ecumenicism which was mentioned by Tennet is not something good because it relaxes theological boundaries and that is something that should never be wavered in the search for absolute Truth.
Keep in mind that I do not that believe every single Pentecostal is not a Christian. I think there are many who are; even if they have a weak experience in theology. There are Pentecostals who are real Christians, but the movement itself is not Christian and has been mightily used by Satan to cause more confusion within the Body of Christ.
Tennet is just another typical modern missiologist with an M. Div. degree from a typical modern Evangelical seminary that has relaxed it’s biblical standards and has been saturated with liberalism. He also got his B.A. from none other than Oral Roberts University (Oral Roberts being one of the biggest “word of faith” heretics of our time) a Pentecostal university which explains why he is so soft on the major errors and unbiblical actions of Pentecostalism. He is also an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church (a liberal universalist sect of Christianity). The Pentecostal movement has thrived within evangelicalism and is only reinforced by liberal Christian academics who make the calls of when the “next big movement of God” is occurring every so often when new ideas are formed outside of the Bible’s wisdom.