The Pentecostal movement is recognized around the world as a powerful and dynamic force impacting the lives of hundreds of millions of people. It is changing the face of the Christian church. And in many nations, such as Korea, it is hard to overestimate its impact on the larger society. Yet, in spite of all of this, many still do not see Pentecostals as having much to offer theologically. It is a movement of experience, we are told, not doctrine. Through this website and its content, we seek to challenge this faulty assumption. Pentecostals have an important theological contribution to make to the larger church world and we want to make this fact know.
First and foremost, Pentecostals are calling the church to take a fresh look at Luke-Acts. Only by hearing Luke’s distinctive voice can we develop a truly holistic doctrine of the Holy Spirit. Only by reading Luke-Acts on its own terms can we understand the significance of the promised baptism in the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5). For far too long Protestant theology has highlighted Paul’s important insights into the work of the Spirit, but largely ignored Luke’s contribution. In this regard, Pentecostals are calling for a new reformation.
One of the great strengths of this fresh reading of Luke-Acts is that it highlights the missiological nature of discipleship and the church. Luke reminds us that the Holy Spirit is all about inspiring praise and witness for Jesus, and His vision knows no boundaries. Regardless of one’s race, gender, class, or region, all are called to participate in God’s great redemptive mission. And all have been promised power to fulfill this calling (Acts 1:8). Pentecostals are calling the church to recover its primitive power and its apostolic calling. The church is nothing less than a community of prophets who are called to bear bold witness for Jesus.
Another great strength of the Pentecostal approach to Luke-Acts is its simplicity. Pentecostals love stories. We identify with the stories that fill the pages of the gospels and the book of Acts, and the lessons gleaned from these stories are easily grasped and applied in our lives. For Pentecostals, Acts presents clear models that are to be emulated and guidelines that are to be followed. Our analysis of Luke-Acts, though based on modern hermeneutical methods, vindicates this simple and straightforward approach. Luke’s purpose is indeed to provide his readers with models for their mission, models for their lives and ministries as Christians. Their stories are our stories. Luke desired that his church would read his two-volume work in precisely this way.
Finally, this reading of Luke-Acts also highlights the importance and symbolic significance of experiences of the Holy Spirit that inspire speaking in tongues: they remind us of our experiential link to the apostolic church and our similar callings. Their experience is our experience; their calling is our calling. The truths that Pentecostals proclaim are not only understood, they are also experienced. Both cognitive understanding and experiences that touch the emotions are important; they inform and impact one another. As we have seen, speaking in tongues incorporates in a unique way both of these dimensions. It serves, in a sense, as a sacrament: it is an outward sign of a spiritual reality. As we read the book of Acts, we can more fully appreciate the true significance of this experience. The experience encourages us to affirm with conviction that, “[We] have received the Holy Spirit just as [they] have” (Acts 10:47; cf. Acts 19:2, 6). It also calls us to embrace our true identity in Christ as end-time prophets (Acts 2:17-18).