Moving Beyond Pentecost: Embracing a More Inclusive Charismatic Theology & Life

Moving Beyond Pentecost: Embracing a More Inclusive Charismatic Theology & Life August 12, 2015

Moving Beyond Pentecost

KURT NOTE: Today we have a guest contribution by Jeff Clarke, who has been a guest before. I’m always challenged by what he writes. This post is about the wind and fire of God… some Holy Ghost stuff… Read and offer feedback if you can!


For some time, I have struggled with the narrow pneumatological focus within Classical Pentecostalism. It’s as though we have defined the work of the Spirit almost exclusively in reference to Spirit baptism (with tongues as the initial evidence). While we may also include spiritual gifts in an attempt to round out the package, our current categories fail to capture the scope and breadth of the Spirit’s activity.

It was a few years ago while doing research for a paper on developing a Pentecostal approach to the religions when I first encountered the depth of this exclusivity. My research suggested that while Pentecostals are very reluctant to hold to the possibility of the Spirit’s activity in other religions, Charismatics (those who experience a filling of the Spirit, but choose to remain within their non-Pentecostal denominations), didn’t share this reticence.

I concluded that Classical Pentecostalism, unlike the Charismatic movement, has at its center a very exclusive understanding of the work of the Spirit. They are apt to embrace a narrow definition of the Spirit’s activity that essentially reduces the work of the Spirit to Spirit baptism as ‘the’ primary act. However, by doing so, they effectively rule out the cosmic activity of the Spirit, particularly as it relates to issues in the sciences, environment, theology of religions, and the broader aspects of the Spirit’s kingdom-building work.

My point in all of this is that I’ve found the Classical Pentecostal understanding of the Spirit to be wanting. While some academics in the movement are striving to expand the theological boundaries of pneumatology, very little of what they actually teach trickles down to the congregational level. When this happens, a deep sense of suspicion arises between the academy and pew, with little to no change occurring at the grass-roots, where it’s often needed most.

So, while academic Pentecostals are exploring the implications of a cosmic pneumatology, the churches are, for the most part, carrying on with business as usual by maintaining their focus on Spirit baptism as the pinnacle of belief and practice.

As a result, I’ve decided to embrace a broader focus of the Holy Spirit and activity in the church and world. I will not ignore the Pentecostal understanding of Spirit baptism, but seek to do justice to the Charismatic focus that includes, yet moves beyond, this classical emphasis. My personal theological orientation will be intentionally inclusive and cosmic in scope, rather than exclusive and local.

In fact, there is a Spirit-inspired inclusive dynamic built into the very nature of Pentecost that welcomes all people, everywhere, to come to God through Jesus Christ and drink of the life-giving Spirit. At Pentecost, there are no boundary markers, only open invitations to participate in the ongoing kingdom work of Christ.

To conclude, I have not abandoned my Pentecostal theology and experience of the Spirit. Not at all. The Spirit continues to be the Divine Paraclete, guide, teacher, enabler and revealer of Jesus.

I welcome the Spirit’s constant activity in my life, pressing me upward and onward towards the goal of Christ-likeness. I need the Spirit, everyday and in every way. And, I feel the Spirit has taken me here, where I am learning to move beyond Pentecost and embrace a more inclusive Charismatic life and theology.

Welcome, Holy Spirit!


Jeff K. Clarke is a blogger and an award-winning author of articles and book reviews in variety of faith-based publications. He blogs regularly at  Jesus (Re)Centered – informing | impacting | inspiring. He is on Twitter and Facebook

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  • Daniel Krall

    This was a refreshing read! I have been so turned off by pentecostal circles because I don’t have the gift of speaking in tongues and I always felt less than. I have recently had this hunger and craving for the Spirit and am realizing it is the only way to live and breathe the Christian life. Its All in the power of the Spirit!! I want to hear more about what “intentionally inclusive and cosmic in scope” means and what it looks like practically for you in your life.

    • parishioner

      the holy spirit is god. he is not an “it.” let’s keep in mind that john deliberately broke the grammatical rules of Greek in order to make clear that when Jesus spoke of him (in Aramaic or whatever language john heard him speak), he always used the pronoun corresponding to “he/him.”. ( see john 13-17)

      oops. I just realized “it” refers to your recent hunger and craving. sorry. read Luke 11:13 and matt 3:11 for directions to satiety!

  • parishioner

    the point of this post is unclear to me. can you clarify, Jeff?

    pentecostal churches have more than their share of problems, but i’m not sure I’ve ever encountered one where they would deny that Jesus is drawing all men to himself, having been lifted up, or that the holy spirit is doing exactly what Jesus said he would do in john 16– convicting the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment. Etc.

    I can think of many things that should change in our local pentecostal congregation, but I can’t figure out what you have in mind. I’ve only seen clergy here of different denominations mishandle scripture when they want to talk about “the spirit’s” activity in “other religions.” there is the truth, and then there are the false religions.

    for example, when Jesus is drawing a Muslim to himself, for sure the holy spirit is at work. god does this by bringing the Muslim out of lies, and revealing himself. the Muslim must then count the cost and decide whether or not to leave behind his Muslim identity, and embrace only his culture, not islam, and Jesus as god and his lord. what god does not do is redeem Islam. I can’t tell if you’re trying to imply that. the holy spirit might underscore a Muslim’s reading/hearing in the Koran that Isa (jesus) is the judge of us all, and prompt him to turn to the forbidden injeel (NT) to try to find out just what is important to Isa, but the holy spirit always soon makes clear that the Jesus of the Koran is not the same Jesus who is the great I AM. (read testimonies of former Muslims if you doubt this.)

    the local episcopal priest here tried to say all religions are on the same path because he liked the creed that said the “holy spirit proceeds from the father” and not the son, and he equates “the father” with Allah, various Hindu deities, etc.

    can you please clarify? I am having difficulty telling where you’d come down on this. thanks.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    can we talk about the gifts of the Holy Spirit
    and how they apply to day by day encounters
    with the world that knows Jesus and doesn’t know it knows Jesus?
    I want to connect with people who have been using their gifts for years
    like I have w being yoked with the Paraclete.
    since being baptized by the Holy Spirit in
    every encounter w fellow humans
    I am sensitive and aware of his presence.
    in my little sphere of influence I try to carry a
    supernatural message to
    a world hungry for
    that’s my short list!