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Azusa and Other Myths: The Long and Winding Road from Experience to Stated Belief and Back Again

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Those must have been marvelous days, when signs and wonders were accompanying the early days of the Pentecostal revival at the beginning of this century. The more Pentecostals search the roots of their movement, the more evidence is found that a charismatic spirituality lies at the heart of the Pentecostal phenomenon that has brought an impulse of renewal to twentieth-century Christianity. I believe that Pentecostals need to learn to appreciate their past metaphorically in order to recover and incorporate that early charismatic spirituality into today's Christian experience. Spiritual thirst today will not be quenched by mere deductive propositions and statements of doctrine. In order to illustrate my point, I invite you first to look at the concept of "initial evidence" as it has been discussed in the recent book edited by Gary B. McGee.1 In a second step, I will illustrate the difficulties arising from a conceptualization, or should I say objectivization, of such a phenomenon. Then, I will suggest reasons and provide tools that encourage believers of today to find their way back to the roots and the early spirituality of Pentecostalism, without, at the same time, rejecting some of the information and interpretive understandings that Pentecostals have gathered from a critical, analytical approach. It is a journey from the marvelous memories of early Pentecostalism, to hypothetic-deductive procedures, and back to a mythic consciousness of God's Spirit working among God's people today.

Affiliations: 1: European Pentecostal Theological Association


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