Pentecostalism arose as an identifiable movement in the Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles in 1906. But there had been earlier rumblings. Most notable was the experience at Charles Fox Parham’s Bible college in Topeka, Kansas, in January 1901, where first Agnes Ozman and then others in the college experienced “spirit baptism with the evidence of tongues.” In the Azusa Street mission from 1906 to 1909, under the guidance of William Seymour, thousands came to have the experience of tongues, and many others were converted to the Christian faith. Large numbers were from other parts of the United States and from foreign countries. They took their testimony back to their home churches, and in many cases the new experience broke out in these new places, so spreading the movement internationally in a few short years.
As time passed and leaders such as Frank Bartleman, William Durham, E. N. Bell, Gaston Cashwell, and A. H. Argue began to reflect and eventually to write on the new movement, the conviction settled in that tongues was both an initial evidence of Spirit baptism and a spiritual gift. All Christians would not have the gift of tongues, but all Spirit-baptized Christians would definitely speak in tongues as initial evidence. In the early days there were divergent opinions among Wesleyan Pentecostals as to the place of sanctification as an identifiable experience in light of the new perspective on Spirit baptism with tongues. Some held to a three-stage process of salvation, sanctification, and then Spirit baptism. Methodist Asbury Lowery contended that since Christ was holy and yet sought and received an anointing from the Spirit, so Christians today must also be saved, sanctified (as an identifiable second experience of grace), and only then can they be Spirit baptized for empowerment.
Eventually, though, most Pentecostals would drop sanctification as an identifiable encounter, and opt for a two-stage understanding of salvation and Spirit baptism with the evidence of tongues as the biblical model. Stanley Horton ably defends the traditional Pentecostal interpretation of tongues as initial evidence of Spirit baptism in this book. That is not, though, the end of the story. Pentecostals today are embroiled in a debate over whether Paul’s theology of Spirit baptism is the same as Luke’s. Roger Stronstad raised this question a few years ago, and William and Robert Menzies have recently offered their opinion that Luke and Paul are not in full accord.
Dennis Bennett was pastor of a large Episcopalian congregation in Los Angeles in 1960. He began to meet for Bible study with some young couples in his church. Their studies eventually brought them to a Pentecostal experience, and Dennis Bennett began to speak in tongues. Pastor Bennett informed his congregation in April 1960 and was subsequently fired from his position, though he was called to pastor a congregation in Seattle shortly thereafter. Within months many people from mainline denominations were experiencing neo-Pentecostal renewal. At first their experiences followed the pattern of traditional Pentecostalism—Spirit baptism with the evidence of tongues. Two things happened. First, most of these people did not leave their denominations but stayed, often sharing their new perspective with others in their churches. Second, over time the new “Charismatics” began to shed some of the Pentecostal trappings, including the iron-clad necessity of speaking in tongues as initial evidence. Further, as the Charismatic movement further developed, many of its leaders called into question the whole issue of Spirit baptism as subsequent to conversion. It is safe to say today that Charismatics do not have a unified set of convictions of the timing of Spirit baptism, nor on the evidence for its having occurred. Larry Hart’s essay in this volume will make clear that there are various ways to formulate this position in the current discussion.
The final approach is one that goes back, in some ways, to Augustine and his notion that Christians receive the full benefits of salvation at regeneration. This insight was not applied to the question of the timing of Spirit baptism until that issue came under dispute in the last 200 years. In response to the rise of Pentecostal and Charismatic movements, Reformed scholars have addressed this question intensely, especially in the last half-century. John Stott, Richard Gaffin, Frederick Dale Bruner, and James D. G. Dunn have written works that are considered by many Evangelicals to be standard responses to the claims of both sacramentalists and advocates of a two-stage process of salvation. Though they differ with one another in some respects (Gaffin argues that the experience of Spirit baptism is not identifiable by the recipient, while Dunn claims it is), they hold in common that Spirit baptism happens at conversion-initiation, and that Paul’s theology of Spirit baptism is the same as that of Luke. This position is represented by Walter Kaiser’s essay in the present book.
( From Perspectives On Spirit Baptism: Five Views. By Colle, Ralph, Dunning, H. Ray, Hart, Larry, Horton, Stanley M., Kaiser, Walter C., Jr., Brand, Chad )