How to proceed

How do you evaluate Pentecostalism?

Only an understanding of the message of the Bible itself will enable Christians to evaluate Pentecostalism for themselves. However, just as any one-directional focus leaves us unaware of our blind-spots, so too a singular focus on the Bible, even in its context, without proper consideration to one's own context and the way that also inevitably influences our perceptions of the Bible's message, runs the same risk as a swimmer who fails to notice the influence of the current upon his direction: he is bound to end up along way off course.

Nobody can remove the impact our own environment and historical context has upon the way we each interpret the Bible. We comprehend the meaning of any story according to a variety of factors, including the words and phrases used, but also according to our presuppositions, such as where we think the story is heading, for example.

The point is, Christians are readers. We are readers of God's Word, but we must also be readers of ourselves. The most any diligent reader can do is be aware of our influences, and seek to critically assess their effect upon our reading, and by subjecting our ideas and presuppositions to the Scriptures themselves as we read them, undergo a process of continual review and modification of our beliefs, according to how we perceive them to bear up under the evidence regarding the meaning of Scripture, and so increasingly align ourselves with the Scriptures themselves.

For Pentecostals and those influenced by the Charismatic movement, undertanding the origin of Pentecostalism is a part of this process. It will enable you to begin to see the extent to which your reading of the Bible, and of Church history, and of your own life, has been informed by the beliefs of your own Christian culture. Understanding the origin of Pentecostalism will better enable you to distinguish within your own Christianity the way in which your understanding of the Scriptures has been determined by Pentecostalism itself rather than by their Author.