One of the things that I find intriguing about the Christian Church is the emphasis we often place on denominational labels. Many Christians belong to different denominations. Interestingly enough, there are also those who claim to be non-denominational. I am not quite sure if this means that they don’t belong to any denomination, but it would seem a possible suggestion.
There are also some among the Christians that make disparaging remarks about those from denominations other than theirs. Sadly, also are some, who have already determined the fate of those who belong to one specific denomination. I have heard many Christians pass final judgment on Roman Catholics. These Christians insinuate that the Roman Catholics will all go to hell (whatever hell is). This ungodly pronouncement is not only playing God, but also an affront to the men and women who gave their lives to preserve the Christian faith we enjoy today.
The idea that Roman Catholics are all hell bound would infer that one of the great heroes of our faith Jerome, who translated the NT Scripture as we received it; Saint Augustine, whose theology was predominant for over 1000 years of Church history; Athanasius, the Father of the Church; Thomas Aquinas; our own Zwingli; Martin Luther- the great Reformer; Mother Teresa; and Saint Perpetua, who died in jail for failing to recant her confession in the risen Lord, who also gave birth to a child while being held in prison for her faith are all in hell right now as I write.
This post is not about denominations, or this unfortunate misconception by some among our ranks. The intent of this post is to help Christians examine what we believe and how we perceive those who might be different from us.
I have been pondering on the term Pentecostal. I am not quite sure I understand what it means. I would think that this word is employed in reference to those whose form of liturgy is boisterous, exuberant, emotionally charged, and expressive in nature. I belonged to this sect about a decade ago and performed ministry under this platform, but I am not really aware that there is such word coinage in the Scripture.
Could they be referring to the giving of the Ruach that occurred at the end of the “Passover” referred to as the Feast of Weeks (Shavuot)? The Hellenistic Jews gave it the name Pentecost because it fell on the fiftieth day after Passover (Exod 34:22; Deut 16:10). Or maybe this term is referential to the followers of a former fellow Anglican Priest, John Wesley, the brainchild of the Comeouter’s Movement, and the Holiness Movement; or maybe the more recent phenomenon in the United States that attracted many people from around the world- the famous Azusa Street Rival.
If the Pentecostal movement derives its name and form from this Jewish Feast, then I think it is a misnomer to be so named. The Torah was given to God’s people at Mount Sinai or Horeb (depending on which name you choose for the venue). God’s people was comprised of both Jews and Gentile, assuming that the multitude that followed Israel out of Egypt were made up of people from other nations. I personally hold this position.
This giving of the Torah marked the beginning of the nation of Israel. But Israel geographically does not account for all of God’s creation. As time went by, God began to speak through His messengers of a time when this Torah will not only be outwardly kept, but would also be internalized. This promise of Yahweh materialized on the Feast of Pentecost, and continues to this day.
It is the given of the Ruach (Spirit) of Yahweh, that happens when one becomes born again. It is the given of the Holy Spirit of Yahweh to empower folks like you and I that have received the good news of God’s sovereign rule into our hearts to do kingdom business. The Holy Spirit and His/Her indwelling and empowering for service activity was not a foreign concept in the Old Testament. In Gen 1:2, the Spirit is God’s presence and power within creation. The same Spirit entered the Prophets and enabled them to speak and act on God’s behalf.
We also see this at Jesus’ baptism by the Immerser, as He was equipped with the Spirit, which resulted in notable public ministry (Acts 10:38). Following Jesus’ resurrection, His helper friends were themselves filled by the same Holy Spirit (Acts 2). In the same way that the giving of the Torah at Sinai marked the beginning of the nation of Israel, the giving of the Spirit at Pentecost was also God’s fresh act of remaking the world and Jesus’ helper friends, and those of us who will later accept the good news.
This to me is what Pentecost is all about. The essence of the giving of the Spirit is to enable Jesus’ followers and Israel as a nation to live out a holiness which the Torah was incapable of producing. This same Spirit enabled them to live out a life of holiness, producing fruits in their lives, giving them gifts with which to serve God, the world, and the Church at large; and is also an earnest of future resurrection (Romans 8; Gal 4,5; 1 Corinthians 12, 13, 14). It is this indwelling Spirit of God, that works in us to produce righteousness, makes us part of God’s family comprising of both Jews and Gentiles, Roman Catholics, and non-Roman Catholics alike; making us mobile temples, and making us citizens of heaven (whatever that means).
In my next post I will discuss heaven and hell. Is heaven a place? Is Heaven God’s dimension of the created order? Does heaven reverentially stand for God? Is heaven really a place where God’s people go after they die? Fasten your seat belts as we explore these in my next post. But I need at least 10 thoughtful comments on today’s post for me to blog on heaven and hell.
I have hundreds of people who read my blog around the world, but only handful have registered to follow me. Please follow my blog by clicking on the “follow blog” icon, and please share my blog page with your friends if you like my posts. In that way you could also chat with me on other religious, ethical, and personal issues that you might have.
God’s Best wishes!