The word “Pentecostal” conjures up all sorts of unsettling images for many of us: weird preachers who wear white suits and drive luxury cars, “staged” healing and deliverance services, people “falling out” in the spirit, or, worse, handling snakes. And then a sneaking suspicion that there is a whole lot of avarice and immorality going on behind the scenes.
Think Robert Duvall in The Apostle.
But what if we could reclaim that word pentecostal?
What if we in Methodism could wear it proudly as a banner?
Because Mr. Wesley himself was one of the great teachers on the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Christian.
He says this in his sermon “On The Holy Spirit”:
The Holy Spirit has enabled men to speak with tongues, and to prophesy; but the light that most necessarily attends it is a light to discern the fallacies of flesh and blood, to reject the irreligious maxims of the world, and to practice those degrees of trust in God and love to men, whose foundation is not so much in the present appearances of things, as in some that are yet to come.
And this in the same sermon:
But I think the true notion of the Spirit is, that it is some portion of, as well as preparation for, a life in God, which we are to enjoy hereafter. The gift of the Holy Spirit looks full to the resurrection; for then is the life of God completed in us.
And Wesley’s focus on holiness is a focus on the Holy Spirit: if salvation is what Christ does for us by faith, then sanctification is what the Spirt does in us by that same faith.
So the heart and soul of Wesley’s preaching and teaching — our heritage as Methodists! — is deeply, profoundly pentecostal. Minus all the 20th and 21st Century baggage the term carries with it.
So when Good Shepherd does messages series like Without Limit or Without Limit 2.0 in which we talk openly about praying in tongues, divine healing, and expressive worship, we’re not trying to break the mold of Methodist churches.
We’re trying to fit back into it.