October 5, 2006

Spirit and Power - A 10-Country Survey of Pentecostals

Glossary of Terms

Baptism in (or of) the Holy Spirit, in-filling of the Holy Spirit
The primary experience in the pentecostal and charismatic movements, in which the believer receives spiritual gifts and empowerment, often through the laying on of hands.

Charismatic
Those who practice the gifts of the Holy Spirit but are not members of historical pentecostal denominations. Most belong to Catholic, Orthodox, mainline Protestant or evangelical Protestant denominations.

Evangelicals
Members of Protestant denominations who hold traditional religious beliefs but are neither pentecostal nor fundamentalist. Evangelicals do not stress the gifts of the Holy Spirit (as pentecostals do), but they are not hostile to them (as fundamentalists are). All three groups share certain basic religious doctrines, such as the need for believers to have a conversion experience (i.e., be “born again”) and to convert non-believers. As a consequence, they all can be thought of as belonging to a broader evangelical Protestant tradition.

Fundamentalists
Protestants who believe the Bible is to be read literally and who maintain ecclesiastical separation from those who believe differently. They generally are hostile to the “gifts of the Spirit,” believing they were bestowed only during the early church period described in the New Testament.

Gifts of the Holy Spirit
Listed in 1 Corinthians 12:4-14, these gifts include speaking in tongues, healing, prophecy, spiritual discernment and the performing of miracles. Some Christians contend the Holy Spirit gave these gifts or “charisms” only during the New Testament period, but pentecostals and charismatics believe such gifts are still manifested today among believers.

Health & wealth gospel
A teaching that has emerged in recent decades in some pentecostal and charismatic circles that emphasizes biblical verses on health and wealth to make the point that God wants believers to prosper; to release intended blessings, believers must have unwavering faith and practice certain principles, such as donating one-tenth of their income (tithing) to a church. Some critics say the movement is too simplistic and overlooks biblical verses on hardship and suffering.

Holy laughter
Seemingly uncontrollable laughter believed to be a Spirit-led expression of joy.

Laying on of hands
An action intended to invoke the Holy Spirit, conferring power and blessing on the recipient. Often used during prayer for healing and for the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Mainline Protestants
Members of the once-dominant Protestant denominations. Although affirming many traditional beliefs, these churches are known for their generally progressive theology and openness to new ideas and societal changes. These denominations do not stress the gifts of the Holy Spirit but are often tolerant of such practices, and thus include charismatics in their ranks.

Pentecostals
Members of denominations that emphasize the gifts of the Holy Spirit, including the belief that speaking in tongues is necessary evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Pentecostals belong either to one of the historical denominations, such as the Assemblies of God and the Church of God in Christ, that originated in the religious revivals of the early 20th century, or to newer, largely independent churches, sometimes labeled as neo-pentecostal churches.

Prophecy
A spontaneous utterance spoken in worship settings believed to be inspired by the Holy Spirit; not necessarily a prediction of future events as the term is commonly understood. One of the spiritual gifts listed in 1 Corinthians 12.

Renewalists
An umbrella term used to refer to pentecostals and charismatics.

Speaking in tongues
Ecstatic worship or prayer using unintelligible speech that is considered a gift of the Holy Spirit; also called prayer language or glossolalia.

Spiritual discernment
A spiritual gift to recognize and differentiate the workings of the Holy Spirit and the devil.


Primary source: Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements (Regency Reference-Zondervan, 1988), edited by Stanley M. Burghess and Gary B. McGee.