Was blind, but now I see.

2 : 2 January 2003



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Copyright © 2001
M. S. Thirumalai


Terry Bowman

Burning Leaf


No matter how one may feel about the baptism of the Holy Spirit or the Pentecostal movement, one can not deny the impact it has had on the Church in the twentieth and twenty first centuries. The Pentecostal and Charismatic denominations are the fastest growing segment of Christendom and has been embraced by some 520 million people worldwide. Despite all it's controversy, it is clear by it's major impact and incredibly rapid growth that this movement was not birthed and sustained by mere flesh, but by the mighty power of the Holy Spirit.


One can not talk about the modern day Pentecostal movement without first looking at the beginning of it all: the day of Pentecost in the second chapter of the book of Acts. Shortly after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ, the disciples and followers of Christ, about one hundred and twenty in all, waited in the upper room praying and waiting, as Jesus had instructed them to do. We pick up the story in Acts 2:1-4 (NIV),

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

This single passage of scripture alone has been the catalyst of the modern day Pentecostal movement, which started in the early part of twentieth century.


Before we dive into the roots and birth of this movement, I would like to make some much-needed distinctions. The Pentecostal Renewal has many similarities to, but is distinctly different than the Charismatic Renewal and the Neo-Charismatic Renewal of the late twentieth century.

Though Classical Pentecostalism differs theologically from one Pentecostal denomination to the next, they all do hold on to one shared doctrine that makes them distinct, and henceforth uniquely Pentecostal.

This is the belief that speaking in tongues is the "initial evidence" of one's having received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. However, most Charismatics may or may not believe that to be the case, especially those in the Neo-Charismatic Renewal, who believe that there may or may not be an initial evidence when one is filled with the Holy Spirit. All three segments though, do agree that the gifts of the Holy Spirit as described in the New Testament are for today, and are to be practiced today.


Even though I will be dealing mainly with the modern day Pentecostal renewal (first wave) or movement, we will be also looking at the "evidences" of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit before the twentieth century as well as touching on the Charismatic renewal (second wave) of the late sixties/early seventies, as well as the Neo-Charismatic renewal (third wave) of the early eighties. At times, I may not draw sharp distinctions between the different renewal movements, for the purpose of showing that God has indeed released his Holy Spirit in a spectacular way upon the modern era Church, and as a result has caused a flood of new converts into His kingdom.


What about the period between the first century church and early twentieth century's birth of the modern day Pentecostal movement? Did the Holy Spirit simply disappear? The answer to that question is simply no, and we will take a look at several examples of the evident manifestations of the Holy Spirit throughout Church history.

Around 320 AD, during the inception of the Monastic movement, the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit started appearing. Reports of visions, healing, and deliverance from the demonic and even the dead being raised to life again were a part of the monastic lifestyle. Among many of the monastic communities, speaking-in-tongues was thought to be common. Pachomius (292-346 AD) was one such monk who had the gift of tongues. Eddie L. Hyatt writes in his book, 2000 Years of Charismatic Christianity,

On one such occasion, he had a visitor from the West who spoke Latin, a language Pachomius did not know. After three hours of earnest prayer, however, Pachomius was enabled to converse with the visitor in Latin. It was reported that on several occasions when the need arose, Pachomius was enabled to speak in a language he had not learned.

Gifts of the Spirit are reported among the likes of Hilarion, Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine, Benedict, and Gregory the Great. Benedict (480-547 AD) was reported to have the gift of prophecy and healing. A story is told how during the collapse of a monastery wall a monk was pinned under the wall and died. Benedict ordered the mangled body to be brought to his room, where he prayed over the body. Within one hour the man came back to life and was able to return to work. Even though the gifts had disappeared from the institutional church, God was keeping them alive in the monastic communities.


During the Middle Ages, countless stories have been recorded of the powerful works of the Holy Spirit being performed through willing vessels. One such vessel was Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179). She was a charismatic leader of a Benedictine convent in what is now modern day Germany. She was widely recognized for her healing ministry. Eddie L. Hyatt writes, "Contemporaries reported that 'scarcely a sick person came to her without being healed." She was known among her colleagues as having visions, and frequently speaking and singing in tongues. We read reports that Dominic (1170-1221) raised the dead, Francis of Assisi (1181-1226) performed miraculous miracles, and Vincent of Ferrier (1350-1419), St. Colette (1380-1447), Francis Xavier (1506-1552) and Jean of the Cross won many converts through their travels, because the Spirit enabled them to speak in unlearned tongues, from Arabic to Japanese. These documented accounts are too frequent and widely known to dismiss as mere fable, but these were genuine manifestations of the Holy Spirit.


During the Reformation and shortly after, many examples of gifts and manifestations frequently surfaced. While writing about the Anabaptists' secret meetings to avoid persecution, Eddie L. Hyatt says, "It was not unusual for the Anabaptists to dance, fall under the power, and speak in tongues."

After 1520 AD, the Protestants were making inroads into Catholic territory, namely France. French Protestants, also known as the Huguenots, emerged, and, under great persecution from Louis IV, were forced to flee. As a result, many fled to the mountains of southern France. Because of the many outpourings of the Spirit in their midst, they came to be called the French Prophets. Stories began circulating of the supernatural in their midst, such as being slain in the Spirit, speaking in tongues and of course prophesying, for which they had become famous for. Even among small children the prophetic anointing would rest on at times, "children as young as three years old prophesied and delivered discourses in perfect, fluent French even though this was not their native tongue", writes Eddie L. Hyatt.


The Methodist Revival of the mid 1700s was no exception to the supernatural signs and wonders of the Holy Spirit. Healing, holy laughter, and the work of a second grace marked John Wesley's (1703-1791) own life. As a result, Wesley emphasized that Christians should seek a new birth experience. During his many revival meetings, "the Spirit confirmed the Word with healing, deliverance, and with unusual manifestations such as falling (slain in the Spirit), roaring, crying, and laughing," as described in Eddie Hyatt's book, 2000 Years of Charismatic Christianity.

The Great Awakening (1726-1750) in colonial America was also marked by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Even Jonathan Edwards who had a staunch belief that the "extraordinary gifts" had ceased with the apostolic church, was seeing bursts of crying, groaning, and people falling down under the power of the Holy Ghost. In the Second Great Awakening (1800-1840) the Spirit of God was sparking revival fires starting in the East Coast, and moving throughout the state of Kentucky down into the Southeastern states. On one such occasion at the University of Georgia, the Spirit overcame many.

They swooned away and lay for hours in the straw prepared for those 'smitten of the Lord', or they started suddenly to flee away and fell prostrate as if shot by sniper, or they took suddenly to jerking with apparently every muscle in their body until it seemed they would be torn into pieces or converted into marble, or they shouted and talked in unknown tongues.


God was moving among many of the great preachers of the 1800s such as Charles Finney (1792-1873), A.J. Gorgon (1836-1895), Dwight L. Moody (1837-1899) and R.A. Torrey (1856-1928). They all shared one thing in common, and that was their meetings and personal lives were stamped by manifestations of God's Spirit.

Many Church historians feel these men were the precursors to the modern Pentecostal movement. History seems to bear out that these men in a sense "prepared the way of the Lord" for the great Pentecostal Renewal in the early part of the 20th century. As in all other eras, the nineteenth century was marked with signs and wonders. The term Pentecostal was first coined in the great Holiness camp meetings of this era. Though tongues was not a common occurrence during this time, it did occur, as well as shouting, healings, falling (slain in the Spirit) and weeping, but the main theme of the day was repentance and holiness. It almost seems like God was purging his Church, bringing people to repentance during this Holiness movement, and getting them ready for a great outpouring of the Holy Ghost in the upcoming 20th century.


Now, we will look at the birth of the modern day Pentecostal movement. Up until now, I have gone to great length to establish the fact that the Holy Spirit was indeed present and active among the believers in the pre-twentieth century context. Even though that time period could not be classified as a movement, because of the limited pockets of the move of the Holy Spirit as a whole, it did, however, make a strong case that the gifts and manifestations of the Holy Spirit have always been God's design for his Bride and has never left the Church.

In October 1900, Charles Parham opened Bethel Bible College in Topeka, Kansas. At its start, there were only forty students. Prayer was central, and prior to the school's dedication, prayer vigils were going on 24 hours a day. During the school's dedication, one of the students had a vision of a great body of water hovering over the school that was close to overflowing. December 31, 1900 during a New Year's watch service, a student named Agnes N. Ozman asked Parham to lay hands on her to receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in other tongues. Parham later writes,

I laid my hands upon her and prayed. I had scarcely repeated three dozen sentences when the glory fell upon her, a halo seemed to surround her head and face, and she began speaking the Chinese language and was unable to speak English for three days. When she tried to write in English to tell us of her experience she wrote the Chinese, copies of which we still have in newspapers printed at that time.

During these meetings, various students spoke some twenty-one known languages. Everything from Swedish to Japanese, none of these students had learned these foreign tongues, and native speakers confirmed them all. Charles Parham was the formulator of the Pentecostal theology, and out of this little Bible school came the doctrine that speaking in tongues was the initial evidence of being filled with the Holy Spirit. This outpouring spread to a couple of other cities including Houston, Texas and eventually Los Angeles.

Within a couple of years of the Topeka outpouring, revivals sprang up in England around 1904, these became known as the Welsh Revivals. This particular revival was well sustained and long lasting. Such experiences as shouting, laughing, dancing, falling down, bursts of tears and speaking in tongues were common place as this revival spread throughout England. God indeed was up to something big. Something was on the horizon, and it was about to break loose in Los Angeles.


Reports were coming in from Topeka, Houston, and the Welsh Revivals. And many folks in Los Angels' white mainline holiness churches were earnestly praying for their own outpouring. Little did they know that their prayers would be answered. But to their surprise, it was answered first to the African-American population of Los Angeles.

William Joseph Seymoure was a meek mannered African-American man who came from Houston, Texas. He accepted an invitation from a local Pastor to come to Los Angeles and take over a local mission. Even though William Seymoure had not yet himself received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, "For his first Sunday morning sermon, Seymoure chose the text Acts 2:4, and boldly preached that unless a person spoke in tongues they had not experienced the true baptism of the Holy Spirit." (Vinson Synan, a Pentecostal Historian at Regent University.)

After being forced to resign from that congregation, Seymoure began preaching at a local house. It was at this house on at 214 Bonnie Brae Street on April 9, 1906 that Pentecost had first fallen in Los Angeles, when several spoke in tongues. Soon the crowds were becoming too large as people flocked to the house meetings. A search for a larger location had begun. An abandoned two-story building that had once been the home of an African Methodist Episcopal Church located on Azusa Street in a ghetto area of the city was found. Revival had finally come and it now had a permanent location to birth the Pentecostal Renewal or what is now called the First Wave.

The revival was getting much coverage from the local media, though most of it negative, it was serving the purpose of free advertising. Soon the meetings were becoming interdenominational and interracial as both black and white were being filled with same Holy Spirit. Eyewitnesses reported seeing a glow coming from the building from blocks away. Birthed by the Holy Spirit, the Lord was starting one of the greatest movements the world has ever seen. This was it; the beginnings of the modern Pentecostal movement had finally been sparked.


Soon this Los Angeles outpouring was spreading across the country. In Zion City, Illinois, revival also broke out where noted Pentecostal leaders such as John G. Lake, Marie Burgess Brown, and F.F. Bosworth emerged from. Reports were coming in of incredible encounters with the Holy Ghost from Europe, India, Africa, and South America. This revival fire was becoming infectious. Soon, this new explosion was thrusting workers into the harvest worldwide. Many new missionaries were being sent out to preach the Gospel and the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues. This was now quickly becoming a worldwide movement.


Because the mainline denominations treated these happenings with scorn, many new denominations were being formed to foster this new theology and announce the works of the Holy Spirit. The most well known of these was the Assemblies of God in 1914.

As denominations were being established to handle this movement, splits also followed. Eventually two factions arose among Pentecostal denominations. They were the Holiness Pentecostal churches and the Finished Work Pentecostal churches.

The main difference was the disagreement over the second blessing theology that came out of the Wesleyan movement. Many Pentecostals disagreed with the "legalism" they saw in their Pentecostal brothers that came out of the Holiness churches. They also felt that there was no need for a second blessing experience in order to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. They felt that conversion was followed by a continued growth, and that baptism in the Holy Ghost could be attained at the point of conversion. William Durham (1873-1912) was the original pioneer that constructed this new theology and eventually started the Assemblies of God denomination in 1912.

The most notable Holiness Pentecostal denominations are Wesleyan Pentecostal Church, the Church of God in Christ, and the Church of God denomination. As far as the Finished Work Pentecostal churches, the most recognized are the Foursquare Gospel Church, the Pentecostal Church of God, and the Assemblies of God. The Assemblies of God has become the largest Pentecostal denomination in the world, and currently the fastest growing Evangelical church worldwide. In the year 2000, the Assemblies of God claim to have some 2 million U.S. members and 44 million adherents in 150 countries.


For six decades Pentecostalism was considered to be outside and on the fringes of respectable Christianity. Pentecostals were looked down upon from mainline denominations as uneducated, noisy, and even heretical. But, while most mainline Protestants and Catholics were becoming more educated in their respective theologies and fine-tuning their latest apologetic techniques, the Pentecostals were busy planting churches in every community in America and flooding the mission field with missionaries.

But now their time had come, The Charismatic Renewal, or what is known as The Second Wave was entering mainline churches. It started in the 1960s and peaked in the seventies. The Anglican, Lutheran, and the Presbyterian were the first to experience it. The Pentecostal experience was showing up in small pockets and bringing much needed renewal to these mainline churches. In the book, The Century of the Holy Spirit, Vinson Synan tells the story of a Lutheran Pastor who was baptized in the Holy Spirit.

An interesting testimony came from Erwin Prange, a pastor who was baptized in the Holy Spirit in the sanctuary of his church on a morning in 1963 just before leading a confirmation class. As he prayed, a voice seemed to say, 'The gift is already yours; just reach out and take it.' Then, stretching out his hands toward the altar, 'I opened my mouth, and strange babbling sounds rushed forth.

It was during this Second Wave that many of the mainline denominations that were experiencing renewal, readapted the Pentecostal theology regarding the belief that speaking in tongues was the initial evidence, taking a much softer stance toward the filling of the Holy Spirit. The renewal spread even farther into major Protestant denominations, including The Methodist, Baptist, Mennonite, and the United Church of Christ. And this renewal did not stop there: it found its way into the Eastern Orthodox churches, and even the Roman Catholic Church.


The Catholic Charismatic Renewal began on a Saturday night, February 18, 1967, when a group of Roman Catholic students from Duquesne University, just outside of Pittsburgh, was meeting at a retreat house. God was leading these young students to an encounter with the Holy Spirit. As they were in the chapel, the power, and tangible presence of the Holy Spirit fell upon them. Many started laughing and crying, and some started falling on the floor, and all spoke in tongues. The worshipping and praying continued until the next morning. A new day had dawned in the Catholic Church. History was made in that small gathering of about twenty-five Roman Catholic College students. Soon the Charismatic Catholic Renewal, as it is now called, began to pop up through out the Catholic Church. This new experience for Catholics in the Holy Spirit spread quickly to small groups of students at Duquesne University, and then to Michigan State and Note Dame. Most of the Catholics early in the renewal were young dedicated Catholics, who had no plans to leave their Church.

Vinson Synan says,

They were young men and women deeply committed to the Catholic faith, already excited by the vision of the Second Vatican Council for the renewal of the Catholic Church. They therefore understood immediately that their new charismatic experience was for the sake of the whole church, and they saw the new movement as an answer to prayer of the Pope John XXIII for a new Pentecost.

The same Charismatic elements that emerged into the mainline Protestant denominations were becoming a trademark in the Charismatic circles of Roman Catholicism. Manifestations such as prophecy, tongues, healings, and exuberant praise became part of their small gatherings. But there were also "some significant differences in the forms taken in the style and tempo of celebration", writes Vinson Synan. The Charismatic Catholic movement reached a pinnacle in 1973 at the National Catholic Charismatic Conference, at Note Dame drawing more than thirty thousand Catholics. The official reaction from the Church for the most part has been remarkably positive from both the Vatican and the Catholic hierarchy.


The third and final wave of the twentieth century, otherwise known as the Neo-Charismatic Renewal originated in 1981 at Fuller Theological Seminary under the classroom teaching and ministry of John Wimber. This wave was characterized by the same signs and wonders of the previous two waves, but was comprised of mainly mainline Evangelicals who distanced themselves from Pentecostal or Charismatic labels. Out of this Neo-Charismatic Renewal, the Vineyard denomination was formed, which is well known for its emphasis on prophecy and modern day worship.

In the three movements, each one increased in greater numbers, with the Third Wave being the largest comprising an estimated 295 million people.


The Pentecostal/Charismatic movement continues strong to this day, and has impacted the entire world. Out of this movement, for better or worse, has spawned several streams. Out of its ranks rose the Latter Rain Movement, the modern day Prophetic Movement, the Faith and Prosperity Movement, healing crusades, deliverance ministries, Televangelists, mega-churches, and countless books and conferences. But it has no doubt impacted Christian and secular society, as we know it today. With the good there is bound to come the bad, and with the real there is bound to come the fake. These things are unavoidable in a fallen world. But that does in no way mean that this is not a genuine move of God. As the old saying goes, "Don't throw the baby out with the bath water!" These great waves of the Spirit have incredibly expanded God's kingdom, and equipped the Church to "do ministry" within and outside its walls.

Whether it is Reinhard Bonnke conducting Enormous African crusades that lead millions to the Lord, and baptized in the Spirit, or recent revivals in Toronto and Brownsville that had much of the Church questioning their authenticity, whether it is a Super-mega church like Yoido Full Gospel Church in Seoul, Korea with some 730,000 members, or the International House of Prayer in Kansas City that has live worship and intercession going non-stop 24 hours per day, 365 days per year, the Holy Spirit has come and will lead His church into the twenty-first century and beyond. The Holy Spirit continues to move and empower believers to draw them closer to Jesus and advance His kingdom. The same Holy Spirit that was poured out on the day of Pentecost over two-thousand years ago has never left His Church, and will continue to be with us performing signs and wonders and all kinds of manifestations, gifting the Bride till that glorious day when Jesus Christ returns.


As the writer of Hebrews remarks in the beginning of the twelfth chapter, "we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses." We too can stake claim to that promise. Our heritage is rich in men and women who have gone before us to pave the way for the modern day Pentecostal and Charismatic movement. People that came to the forefront in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries like: William Seymoure, William Durham, John G. Lake, Smith Wigglesworth, Aimee Semple McPherson, Kathryn Kuhlman, Gorgon Linsay, Paul Cain, John Wimber, David Wilkerson, Jack Hayford and Reinhard Bonnke. And more recently, Cindy Jacobs, Mike Bickle, Ted Haggard and Peter Wagner. Let us never forget that these are just mere men and women that God chose to raise up as jars of clay that the Holy Spirit could ooze out of. They were men and women who had the courage to go against the grain, who were criticized, and considered by some, to be fools. But, they were willing to fear God rather than man.

Let us never forget that these are just mere men and women that God chose to raise up as jars of clay that the Holy Spirit could ooze out of. They were men and women who had the courage to go against the grain, who were criticized, and considered by some to be fools. But, they were willing to fear God rather than man.



The Holy Spirit is not predictable, and as Christians, we should not box him into our own preconceived notions of how He should move. Jesus tells us in John's Gospel that the Holy Spirit is unpredictable and He moves as He sees fit. John 3:8 (NIV), "The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going."

Who are we to tell the Holy Spirit how He should manifest Himself? Let us not become like the Pharisees on the day of Pentecost critical of those who appeared drunk with wine. Mike Bickle says in his book, Growing in the Prophetic,

True Christianity is a dynamic relationship with a living God, and it cannot be reduced to formulas and dry orthodoxy. We are called to embrace the mystery of God and not to lust after neatly tying up every doctrinal or philosophical loose end that we encounter. Our hunger for a personal relationship with God Himself should overpower this drive within us to perfectly comprehend every fact.

God will sometimes offend the mind to reveal the heart. As believers we are called to test the spirits and use discernment, but so many times our critical judgments of how the Holy Spirit is moving is nothing more than an offended mind that wants things to only happen the way we feel most comfortable with. Let us become a people who are so hungry for God, that we are willing to risk the one thing that we cherish the most, our reputations. Remember in 1 Corinthians 1:27, "God chooses the foolish things of this world to shame the wise."(NIV) Let that be a lesson to us all, so that when the Holy Spirit comes we give Him full liberty to do as He please, even if we look foolish in the process.


Mike Bickle. Growing In the Prophetic. Creation House, 1996.

Richard Foster. Steams of Living Water. Harper, San Francisco. 1998

Eddie L. Hyatt. 2000 Years of Charismatic Christianity. Charisma House, 1996.

Charles Johnson. The Frontier Camp Meetings. S.M.U., Dallas, TX. 1955.

Vinson Synan. The Century of the Holy Spirit. Thomas Nelson, 2001.

The New International Bible. Zondervan.


Terry Bowman