A NEW STATEMENT FOR A NEW DAY
In 1906 in a Bible School in Topeka Kansas U.S.A. there was an outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the students and in a prayer meeting they began to speak in tongues like the Disciples did in the Upper Room as we read in Acts 2:4. Many people are also aware of the ministry in Asuza Street in L.A. also in 1906.
The students at Topeka were I assume mainly the product of the Holiness Movement of the day which believed that like the early Church there was a subsequent experience available to the believer after their Salvation, this was a truth that was recognised and promoted by men like John & Charles Wesley in the 18th & 19th century and had a major impact on the church in that day. The difference with what happened in Topeka and Asuza Street was that people began to speak in other tongues.
Sadly, because of the strongly held belief by many Theologians that the Gifts of the Holy Spirit ceased to operate after the death of the last Apostle, many church leaders felt what happened in Topeka was “of the devil” or simply a pyschosomatic experience and was not genuine, so when this experience began to happen all around the world, tens of thousands of Christians were expelled from their local churches. So there arose all over the world the birthing of Pentecostal churches.
As a young man kneeling by my bedside praying one night I had the awesome experience of being able to pray in other tongues, this was a transformative experience that changed the whole direction of my life.
I had hardly ever heard of Pentecostal churches in Melbourne, but discovered one in the early 60’s the movement was still in its infancy (in many ways) when I became part of that church, now the Pentecostal movement has more people attending Sunday services in Australia than any other denomination.
I graduated from their official College, and spent over 20 years in Pastoral Ministry before the Lord led me back to my Alma Mater, where I served as a Senior Lecturer and subsequently Vice Principal for 11 years. That College is now preparing to be recognised as a Christian University.
I have had the privilege of seeing and being part of this movement almost from its infancy here in Australia, to the place where now it has quality world standard Theologians to promote, teach and train students in Biblical truth.
Like all denominations the Pentecostal movement has their Doctrinal Statement which overall is typically Evangelical and Arminian and Pre-Millennial in its statement. The largest Pentecostal denomination now known as Australian Christian Churches (formally known as Assemblies of God), and still very much part of that international movement has decided it is time to write and re-state its doctrinal position, for these reasons:
To be more credal on form
to be more precise in language
To be more coherent in structure
To reflect the orthodoxy of historic Christianity
To reflect the Pentecostal ethos of the A.C.C. movement.
I personally believe it is EXCELLENT DOCUMENT, expressing very clearly our Pentecostal/Theological position.
There is one interesting change, traditionally, internationally Pentecostals have been almost exclusively Pre-Millennial in their Eschatological (end times) position), this is not in the statement, but simply saying we believe in the IMINENT return of the Lord Jesus Christ, this is how the early Church was challenged to live, not to argue about a Great Tribulation, or a literal 1000 year reign on Christ on the earth when He returns. As a younger Minister I would argue strongly about a pre-tribulation Rapture, and a literal Millennial reign, I simply don’t know any more, but take seriously John’s words in 1 John 3:2-3 KJV Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope (of Christ’s soon return) in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.
I am sure the evil one loves it when Christians argue and even say un Christlike things about other believers because they don’t agree with the other person, yes doctrine is important, but it is more important be to Christ-centred, amen.
So, I have seen the Pentecostal Movement come to maturity, my simple prayer is that as a Movement, it will continue to recognise The Person and Power of the Holy Spirit and continue to build the Church “according to the pattern” of the Word and have an “eye on the Cloud” and when it (The Holy Spirit) moves the movement will follow it.