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“The New World of Realities in Which We Live”: How Speaking in Tongues Empowered Early Pentecostals

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Histories of Pentecostalism have recounted how early adherents anticipated preaching in their newfound languages until disappointing reports from missionaries trickled home. Yet, in the years from 1901 to 1908, many Pentecostals recognized the value of glossolalic utterances to include languages not only for preaching but also as a means of prayer, with the latter especially denoting their willingness to step beyond the border of rational spirituality into the realm of Christian mysticism. At the same time, they addressed the connection of Spirit baptism to love in the Spirit-filled life and struggled with questions that arose about the meaning of the gift of interpretation. This essay proposes that the early literature reveals a consistently held role for adoration and prayerful intercession that enabled the faithful to withstand the impact of other changes in meaning.

Affiliations: 1: Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, 1435 North Glenstone Ave., Springfield, Missouri 65802, USA;, Email: gmcgee@agseminary.edu

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