The birth of Christianity as a world religion can be dated from an event that took place 50 days after Jesus' resurrection. His apostles, gathered in Jerusalem at a time when the city was filled with foreign visitors, were inspired by the Holy Spirit to preach the gospel in languages that could be understood by the visitors.
That day is celebrated every year as Pentecost, a name that now identifies those Christians who continue to speak in strange tongues. The modern Pentecostal movement, which began at a revival on Azuza Street in Los Angeles, marks its centennial this year. There are now some 10 million Pentecostal Christians in America, many of them members of traditional denominations.
The growth of the movement has been phenomenal worldwide, to the extent that one-fourth of the world's Christians are now Pentecostals. Latin America, Africa, and Asia are experiencing the greatest growth.
While Pentecostals and Charismatics are our brothers and sisters in Christ, their movement has been a mixed development for Christianity. I also see problems with it theologically and practically. Here are a couple of resources for those interested in further study:
- Erroll Hulse, "The Blessings, Main Problem and Dangers of the Charismatic Experience"
- Richard B. Gaffin, Jr., "Challenges of the Charismatic Movement to the Reformed Tradition"