Pentecostal Presbyterians

February 4, 2014


“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. … All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability” (Acts 2:1, 4; NRSV).

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42; NRSV).

Holy humor often pokes fun at Presbyterians’ predilection to deliberate, discuss and debate as we convene and collaborate in our committees. The oft-told joke of a lightbulb that needs to be replaced and the respective response of different Christians: a Congregationalist who seeks to bask in the experience of the light; a Pentecostal who is illuminated by the light and proceeds to speak in heavenly language the oracles of God; and a Presbyterian who invites another Presbyterian to study the light.

The triune God is about sacred community: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are the ultimate community of love, glory, honor, and power. The triune God covenanted with persons, tribes, and nations. Jesus Christ belonged to a community, gathered a band of followers, appeared to the community of His disciples in the Upper Room. The Holy Spirit descends upon a community gathering, and there, with the richness of the languages and cultures, the prophecies of God are proclaimed. Whereupon the Apostle Peter provided interpretation, recounting the narrative of the crucified and risen Christ, we find the early disciples gathered in the name of Jesus Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit, reflecting upon and enacting the apostles’ doctrine, fellowshipping with one another, rejoicing in God, breaking bread, and praying.

This pattern of gathering together in worship and fellowship, with all the richness of diversity we have in the community of the one holy catholic apostolic Church, and then being sent in the name of Jesus Christ with the power of the Holy Spirit to communities, neighborhoods, and the world to proclaim the Good News, and then to re-gather again … there lies the nature and purpose of the Church.

Yet, even with all of our acknowledgment and agreement that diversity enriches and expresses the one holy catholic apostolic Church, we aren’t so consistent in our dignifying of those differences; in fact, our embrace of and due regard for racial diversity, the gifted-ness of women, and how we engage other religious expressions with dignity, humility, and love but with uncompromising anchoring in the conviction that the Gospel of Jesus Christ saves, redeems, and transforms—these, we find too difficult to seriously consider, shy away from, or set them aside altogether.

Next month, I invite you and the church at-large to consider being Pentecostal Presbyterians for six days at two events:

March 12–14, the third and final Moderator’s Conversation on Unity with Difference (#UnityDiff) will be held at Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington, as seven presenters will help us to ponder, “Race, Gender, and Religious Identities: Dignifying Difference in Community.” Join the community conversation in person, or by live Web stream and Twitter. More information will be available at:

March 17–19, the third and final Moderator’s Colloquium on Ecclesiology (#ModCE) will be held at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, as seven presenters will help us consider, “Worship-Witness: The Nature and Purpose of the Church.” Join the community conversation in person, or by live Web stream and Twitter. More information will be available at:

In these community conversations, as with whenever we gather with one another in worship, prayer, breaking of bread, mission work, and governance … may we be Pentecostal Presbyterians: a community filled with and empowered by the Holy Spirit, continually proclaiming the oracles of God, harnessing the richness of the diverse gifts that the Lord has given to us—His covenant community.

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