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The following are my opening remarks at the fifth annual Nevin Lectures, February 16-17, 2018.
Sixty years ago, British Pentecostal leader Donald Henry Frere Gee wrote that the Pentecostal Movement passed Jesus’ test: “By their fruit you shall know them.”
Pentecostalism - Claim - Perfection - Achievements - Work
While Pentecostalism “makes no claim to perfection,” he wrote, its “great and solid achievements in missionary work; its fervent contribution to the cause of true Revival; and most of all its utter loyalty to the Lord Jesus Christ in His divinity and humanity, and the work of His atonement for our sins by His precious blood should still the tongues and pens of those who still publish evil of this great work of the Holy Spirit.”
Gee had reason to boast. Pentecostalism became a global movement almost instantly. Within two years of the outbreak of the Azusa Street revival in 1906, Pentecostalism had spread to fifty countries. And the fire hasn’t gone out in the century since. Pentecostal/charismatic Christianity is estimated to be the largest non-Roman Catholic expression of Christianity in today’s world. Historian Phillip Jenkins calls Pentecostalism the most successful social movement of the 20th century, still advancing after Marxism and Fascism have been reduced to rubble.
Gee - Growth - Statistics - Conversion - Rates
Gee wasn’t pointing to growth statistics or conversion rates alone. Jesus poses the question: Does Pentecostalism produce good trees? Gee thought so, and sociologist of religion David Martin agrees. In Latin America, the Spirit remakes people – men especially – in the same way that Methodism did over two centuries ago. Converted men break with the street, stop drinking, respect their wives and care for their kids. Pentecostal men are thrifty,...
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