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Pentecostal Antitraditionalism and the Pursuit of Holiness

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The Neglected Role of Tradition in Pentecostal Theological Reflection

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This paper introduces the Wesleyan Quadrilateral and summarizes how each of the sources (Scripture, tradition, experience and reason) were used in the thought of John Wesley. Next, an overview is given of the developments in the radical wing of the Holiness movement during the late nineteenth century that led to many Pentecostals valuing only three of the four sources: Scripture (through the Bible Reading Method), reason (through pragmatism and Common Sense Realism), and experience (through an emphasis on encountering God through supernatural manifestations of the Holy Spirit). In particular, the role of tradition in the Wesleyan-Holiness movement is compared and contrasted with early Pentecostal responses to church tradition as a viable source for theological reflection and decision-making. The issues of women in ministry, pacifism and oneness in early Pentecostalism are examined in order to demonstrate how Pentecostals either grounded their decisions in tradition or broke with tradition in the task of theological discernment. Finally, some proposals are made concerning how Pentecostals might learn from Wesley in order to reincorporate tradition as a Spirit-empowered resource for theological reflection.

Affiliations: 1: New Hope Christian College, 2155 Bailey Hill Road, Eugene, or, 97405 USA,


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