Pentecost [fr. Gk. pentekoste, lit. fiftieth day] 1: Shavuot 2: a Christian feast on the seventh Sunday after Easter commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit on the apostles
Pentecostal 1: of, relating to, or suggesting Pentecost 2: of, relating to, or constituting any of various Christian religious bodies that emphasize revivalistic worship, baptism, glossolalia [speaking in tongues], faith healing, and premillennial teaching
Pentateuch [fr. Gk. Pentateuchos, fr. penta- + teuchos, tool, vessel, book]: the first five books of Jewish and Christian Scriptures
In the early years of the twentieth century, God did an amazing thing. He poured out His Spirit in a mighty and marvelous way. All over the world, in Wales, in America, in India, in Africa, in Asia, all over the world, the Holy Spirit moved mightily. Great multitudes of people were awakened, converted, and filled with the Holy Spirit. Out of this world-wide revival emerged the Pentecostal Movement.
The history of the Pentecostal Movement has been documented in books such as Vinson Synan's The Holiness-Pentecostal Tradition: Charismatic Movements in the Twentieth Century (Eerdman's 1997), Walter Hollenweger's Pentecostalism: Origins and Developments Worldwide (Hendrickson, 1997), and The Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements (Zondervan, 1988).
Christian History magazine called Pentecostalism "The most explosive Christian movement of the twentieth century" (Vol XVII, No. 2). Now that we are well into the early years of this new century, what will be the most explosive movement of the twenty-first century? I have reason to suspect and hope that the Messianic Movement will be the most explosive movement of this century. Let me tell you why.
I recently heard a Messianic brother remark that he used to call himself a Pentecostal, but now he calls himself a Pentateuchal. Most Messianic readers will understand this remark, but some readers may need an explanation to appreciate the humor in this statement. Messianic people have a great interest in studying the Torah, the five books of Moses. Another name for the Torah is the Pentateuch. Christians who are into the Pentecostal experience of being filled with the Spirit call themselves Pentecostals, so this brother who is now into studying the Pentateuch calls himself a Pentateuchal.
Some people might think that Pentecostalism and Pentateuchalism (practicing Torah) are two totally different approaches to practicing the faith, that they have very little or nothing to do with each other. However, the Pentecostal Movement and the Messianic Movement (or, if you prefer, the Pentateuchal Movement) actually have some things in common. Furthermore, they need each other. If they are allowed to coexist, they will complement and balance one another.
One obvious thing that Pentecostalism and Pentateuchalism have in common is their etymology. The Pent- prefix shows that the words are derived from the Greek words for fifty and five (50-day count to Pentecost and five books of Torah). This may seem insignificant, but it is interesting that according to Jewish tradition, the Pentateuch (Torah) was given on the Day of Pentecost. According to Acts, the Holy Spirit was likewise given on the Day of Pentecost. The fact that the Torah and the Spirit were both given on the same date suggests that there is a connection, that the Law and the Spirit are meant to operate together, and to complement one another, not contradict and oppose one another as some Christians seem to think.
Another similarity of the Pentecostal Movement and the Messianic Movement is the grassroots origin of both movements. The origins of other movements and denominations in Christian history can be traced to the individuals who founded them. The founder of the Lutheran Church was Luther; the founder of Calvinism was Calvin; the founder of Wesleyan Methodist Churches was Wesley; the founder of the Salvation Army was William Booth; the founder of the Seventh Day Adventist Church was Ellen G. White; the founder of the Worldwide Church of God was Herbert W. Armstrong, etc., etc. But one thing that is unique about the Pentecostal Movement is that there is no single individual who can be pointed to as the founder of the Pentecostal Movement. The Pentecostal Movement was born of the Holy Spirit, not man. The same thing can be said of the Messianic Movement. There is no single individual who can be pointed to as the founder of the Messianic Movement. The Messianic Movement is a movement born of the Holy Spirit, not man. Various individuals can be named as early pioneers of the Pentecostal Movement and of the Messianic Movement, but no single individual can be named as the founder of either movement. This should tell us that both movements are moves of God's Spirit.
"But Daniel, what about the extremism and fanaticism that both of these movements have spawned? The circus antics of the charismaniacs and the flaky teachings of Messianic madmen suggest that these movements are not of God."
My answer to that objection is that the extremism and fanaticism are not spawned by the Pentecostal Movement or by the Messianic Movement. Extremism and fanaticism are spawned either from the fleshly wishful thinking of people with overactive imaginations, or by the moving of unholy spirits.
During times of revival, demonic spirits move upon unstable people for the purpose of disrupting and discrediting the true work of God that is taking place. Look at what happened when Yeshua and the Apostles did the work of God. There were all sorts of bizarre, demonic manifestations. Satan attacks most fiercely in those places where God is at work.
Manifestations of extremism and fanaticism are actually further confirmation that these movements are of God. A counterfeiter counterfeits only that which is real. No counterfeiter prints $30 bills. If the Pentecostal Movement and the Messianic Movement are not of God, Satan has no reason to counterfeit them or to discredit them.
An antidote to the extremism and fanaticism that exist in these two movements is to let the two movements coexist. The Messianic Movement's strong emphasis on the study of Scripture will help expose the unscriptural foolishness that often takes place in Pentecostal and charismatic circles. The Pentecostal Movement's strong emphasis on every individual personally experiencing the baptism of the Holy Spirit will help bring some liveliness into Messianic meetings, which are often very dull and dry.
Yeshua said the Father seeks worshippers who will worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4). Pentecostals worship God in spirit, but many of them have very little understanding of the truth of the Scriptures. Messianics worship God in truth, but many of them have very little personal experience with the moving of the Spirit. As a result, we have two lopsided movements, one that emphasizes spirit but minimalizes truth, and another that emphasizes truth but minimizes spirit.
Yeshua said, "Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God" (Matt. 22:29). Pentecostals often err because they know not the Scriptures; Messianics often err because they know not the power of God. If Pentecostals get hold of Torah truth and Messianics get hold of the power of the Holy Spirit, and the two movements unite, watch out! When that happens, we will see the most explosive movement of the twenty-first century.
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Image: Praying Prophet by Daniel Botkin. This painting is from Daniel's Prophet Portraits Gallery on his art website, DanielBotkin.com