When Jaya meets Joshua and his family in my novel Nearly Canaan, she’s introduced to their Pentecostal faith. It’s not like most Christianity.
Here are some points to consider.
- It’s more emotional than most churches, for one thing. Shouting, dancing, praying out loud during the service are common, along with applause, praise songs, and a rock band.
- The term comes from the Day of Pentecost in the second chapter of Acts and its events 50 days after the Resurrection of Christ.
- Pentecostalism’s principal defining trait is speaking in tongues as “Bible evidence” for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The vocal utterances are rarely in a foreign language the speaker doesn’t know, unlike the Day of Pentecost, but in a stylized babbling known as glossolalia. The proclamations are usually translated by another into the language of the congregants – typically English, though the movement is rapidly spreading worldwide.
- In Brazil, an estimated 12 percent of the populace is Pentecostal and rising.
- The movement started at the 1906 Azusa Street revival in Los Angeles, led by African-American preacher William J. Seymour, or maybe as early as 1896 with the Apostolic Faith movement or maybe 1901 in Kansas when Agnes Ozman, a Holiness Methodist, was publicly recognized for speaking in tongues. It’s had more recent incarnations, such as the Charismatic strand among Roman Catholics and Episcopalians.
- Among Pentecostal churches, theological beliefs can vary widely. But the majority interpret the Bible literally.
- Women were ordained to leadership roles from the beginning of the movement.
- Some denominations place strict limits on personal conduct and attire, even forbidding sports and movies.
- Many Pentecostals are found as active members in non-Pentecostal congregations.
- Pentecostal denominations include Assemblies of God, Foursquare Gospel, United Pentecostal, Church of God in Christ, and Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, but there’s a raft of smaller ones, too. Congregations range from small storefronts to mega-churches.