I Want To Be Pentecostal

Derek Ouellette —  March 14, 2011

What am I doing here I wonder? I feel a little bit like that little boy who ran away from home because his family was strange and quite naïve, now finding myself sneaking across the front lawn at night so as not to be noticed, and peering through the side window at the recent and exciting family developments, a little bit missing his heritage, and wondering if he’s been missed at all.

I have become quite distant and antagonistic toward my Pentecostal heritage mostly because of the anti-intellectual “spirit” I’ve perceived there. But I’ve also been longing for the good old days of altar calls, “intense” worship, tears and surrender – the full package minus the emphasis on “tongues” and “end times”. This dry “intellectual” Christianity I feel I’ve somehow wondered into sometimes whereby we’ve somehow separated emotions from knowledge and rituals and criticisms is not my cup of tea. I want it both ways.

I want intellectual engagement, but I also want old time revivals. I desire “the move of the Spirit” (what can I say, somewhere inside is Pentecostal wanting to come up), but not at the cost of proper discernment and wisdom exercised through intellectually engaging Gods Word.

I want to be Pentecostal without having to believe that the world is only six thousand years old. I want to be Pentecostal without having to believe that tongues are the initial evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit or that tongues are for everyone. I want to be Pentecostal without having to believe in a secret rapture theory coupled with a seven year tribulation, a rebuilt temple or a single really, really bad guy named Anti-Christ. I want to be Pentecostal without having to feel like a sub-class Christian because I don’t speak in tongues. I want to be Pentecostal without worrying that someone in Church will look down on me for going to the movies, listening to a secular radio station or having gotten a tattoo after I was a Christian. I want to be Pentecostal without having to listen to a “salvation” message or a “prosperity” message or an “end times” message every Sunday morning in Church.

I want some Peter on Pentecost, but I want some Paul at Antioch too.

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Derek Ouellette

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a husband, new dad, speaker, writer, christian. see my profile here.
  • http://www.nearemmaus.com Brian LePort

    I’m with you, but I don’t think this type of Pentecostalism exists outside the occasion rouge individual here and there.

    • http://covenantoflove.net Derek Ouellette

      This stereotype is grounded in my experiences. I was raised in the Church of God Cleveland TN where the Pentecostalism I described was pervasive (including in their bible colleges and texts books). My interaction with Assemblies of God and most other pentecostal denominations as well as non-denominational pentecostal churches is similar, but I can’t speak for them with the same level of confidence.

      In any case, Pentecostalism has a brighter future around the corner! This post sets up a few up coming reviews (James Smith: Thinking in Tongues; Frank Macchia: Justified in the Spirit).

    • http://bilingualbibleblog.blogspot.com Brian Roden


      There is a Facebook group called “Pentellectuals” where some of those “rogues” hang out.

  • Tricia

    I’ve left the Pentecostal church for very similar reasons. I tried attending a charismatic Baptist church for a while, and honestly it was the same. But I think our reflections on Pentecostalism differs in the fact that the good does not outweigh the bad for me, and I in no way want to be Pentecostal.

    That being said, Mennonite Brethren isn’t doing it for me either…

    • http://covenantoflove.net Derek Ouellette

      I’d explore the Baptist option if I could find a Free Will Charismatic Baptist Church (those are some pretty heavy qualifications), most of them are a little too lopsided in regards to things having to do with Predestination.

      I’m in a Nazarene Church now. Not the freedom I’d prefer in terms of altar calls and stuff, but doctrinally it’s preferable. Plus the pastor is a awesome guy and the sermons are meaty. (P.S. if anyone from Church reads this, I’m not looking to leave!)

  • http://web.me.com/craigadams1/ Craig L. Adams

    I’m with you, brother. The early formative experiences of my faith were in the context of Holiness and Pentecostal folks — Camp Meeting, Revivals, Teen Challenge in Detroit, etc. I am eternally grateful for the emphasis on a faith that could be experienced, and a life that could be changed. I feel I have have the same values: I still value Scripture and Prayer and emotional, God-centered worship. Yes, my theological views have changed. And, I can’t go back. But, in my own mind and heart I honor the memory of those who first introduced me to the life of faith.

  • Brian Pinnegar

    Excellent blog Derek! I too have had some similar feelings. I left Church of God years ago because I was tired of some of those same things. I ended up at a Calvinist church (Campbell Baptist) and completely changed just about everything I believed. I want a middle ground now. I miss some of those pentecostal things too. Altar calls can be powerful. I have no desire to speak in tongues. but the end times is pretty interesting to me.

  • http://www.classicalchristianity.com Mike

    Derek, if you embrace the way the early church worshiped you may change your mind on this one. I hope this does not sound harsh but much of what we think to be the Spirit is simply starvation. What I mean by that is that Pentecostals, as you know, are starved by their clergy, and when they finally hear something that actually speaks to them, like a good song, they begin to break down. In reality, the song is pretty standard and not that powerful at all, but their spirit identifies with it because it is simple and it has soothing sounds to it. Once you begin to get fed the “real thing” in a more established church you will not be so desperate for that soothing toon…like Samuel got by David. In other words, you cannot have both good teaching and “good” music. The music is only good because the teaching is so bad. In fact, instruments themselves are kindred to youthfulness in Christ and where in fact not found in the early church.

    Tears themselves are relative to where you are in your walk with Christ. I get those tears now at totally different times than I did when I was a Charasmatic. Fating, meditating, partaking in communion, etc. can be way more powerful than any modern device.

    • http://covenantoflove.net Derek Ouellette

      Mike, the ancient Hebrews worshiped heavily with instruments. So I wouldn’t call this approach a “modern devise”.

  • http://bilingualbibleblog.blogspot.com Brian Roden


    Granted, anti-intellectualism has been an issue in the past, but I find that changing. There are still pockets, of course, but the Bible colleges and institutes are requiring more academic credentials from their instructors, the AG Theological Seminary now has several doctoral programs, and the attitude that said “If you get an advanced education you’ll lose your faith” is not as prevalent as it used to be. The current general superintendent of the A/G, George O. Wood, has a doctorate from Fuller, and a law degree. And the general secretary, James Bradford, has a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering! Definitely not anti-intellectual.

    One of the things I appreciate about my home church, First A/G in North Little Rock, Arkansas, is that I am not expected to check my brain at the door. We have times of moving, experiential worship, but also in-depth discussions of Scripture. We believe in and pray in tongues, but the worship service is done decently and in order (no animal sounds, for sure!).

    I think you might enjoy the book “Full Gospel, Fractured Minds?” by Rick Nañez, an A/G missionary. He deals with what it means to be a thinking Pentecostal. I have an extra copy I’d be willing to send you if you send me you mailing address. You can read a little about it here: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2006/marchweb-only/113-42.0.html

    • http://covenantoflove.net Derek Ouellette

      True Brian. I think, for example of the book I just reviewed by James Smith (Thinking in Tongues) and the book I am soon going to read, Justified in the Spirit by Frank Macchia.

      Thanks for the link.

  • http://http://mustardseedfod.yolasite.com MARIE

    Sorry, when you want something from God you can’t expect to meet him half way and receive 100%. You have to come to him 100%, it is your salvation not Pentecostal, Baptist or any other Denomination. It’s your personal relationship with him. You can not add on or take away from the word of God. Come to him with a clean and willing heart and he will accept you and do the work in you. He can give you every desire in life, however he will always provide your needs. Just let him in, only God can fix what’s missing in your life. Remember, God can do anything but fail. Give him a life, he is true to his promises. Don’t get caught up in any denomination, it’s Christ that gives us salvation. The question is, do you have a relationship with Christ? If not, ask for his forgiveness with sincerity, acknowledge that he died to save your soul and he will be just to accept you as his child.

    God Bless, Marie

    • http://covenantoflove.net Derek Ouellette

      Marie, if you followed this blog at all you’d realize how unnecessary that question is. But thanks for judging and proving the point of this post.

  • Lester

    This is quite interesting to me since I was raised pentecostal and am a pastor in a non denominational but pentecostal church. I do agree that there have been and still are some unintellectual teaching in the church and I have come to the conclusion that, “if we keep them dumb then we can fleece them” I may be wrong. But this blog is an indictment on us. I don’t agree that the music is so good because the message is so bad. That I think is just an opinion based on maybe a denomination that does not enjoy good music, I think the message is bad because some minister do not take the time to study the word of God, weather it is that they do not have the time or resources to study they are doing an injustice to the people they serve.
    I have been in some Baptist circles and other pentecostal clergy and they are educated men and women who are feeding the people with the word. No matter how you may feel about a denomination or a people group remember that we are brothers and sisters and need to care for each other. Be careful of your criticism and how that may affect someone and one more thing some of these great men and women who were leaders in the churches were unlearned farmers and fisher men who the bible said turned the world upside down and because of their efforts you are the result. And yes I am pro education the more we know the more we can impart. Bless you.

    • http://covenantoflove.net Derek Ouellette

      Lester, please don’t confuse this Blog with those who comment on it. As you should have been able to discern from reading the post, I do not share Mikes opinion that good music equals bad teaching.

  • Lester

    I’m sorry Derek I was not addressing that to you I thought everyone else was reading this. My mistake please forgive me.

    • http://covenantoflove.net Derek Ouellette

      No problem Lester, I appreciate your comment. When you said “But this blog is an indictment on us” I wanted to make clear that this was not my intention, as I hope to have shown in my recent review of Thinking in Tongues by Pentecostal James Smith.

      Be blessed!

  • Lester

    Thank you Derrick, the indictment is that we need to see ourselves and make the adjustment to know more to enhance or knowledge and understanding of the word of God since we are teaching a more intellectual audience. Basically its time for the church to grow and become more relevant. Chuck Colson’s book “How shall we now live” talks about us needing to read and understand science and other subjects so we can speak to creationism versus evolution rather than just dismiss it as foolishness. We need to continue to educate ourselves continually is my point. Hence the term indictment. I hope that clears it up a bit.

  • Lester

    Sorry the book “How now shall we live.”

    • http://covenantoflove.net Derek Ouellette

      I read that book years ago. It was excellent.

  • brad d

    Again, I’m the oddball. Repeatedly I.find scripture.showing what you know is irrelevant, (caveats to that), but maturity and knowledge ones from.application.
    Ephesians claims that through works led by.the church, you.gain unity and knowledge of Christ, until you.ate.matured to the full extent of the.fullness Christ was. Paul Claims in gal 5 that theology isn’t important, but faith working through love. Theory.word.Agapao requires a demonstration, or a work, to.even BE.Agapao.

    An illustration would be how much film, and how many books do you need to go through before you can throw a ball as good with your off hand as you do with your dominant hand? Until you apply it, the knowledge is worthless.

    What I see in the western church is a desire to be a theologian to get to heaven. People feel you must know the.right things or you won’t make it. So we argue those things, which is dissension and of the flesh. God is.crammed in a box. I believe if He.showed up.today, and set the church to.task as He did.gideon, the church would tell Him he’s got it wrong, let “us” show you how.

    I gather this opinion.from hours of “intellectual” endeavors is.the irony here. :l if you don’t get up and go out and love someone.God isn’t going to be able to.teach you how to.do.it his.way. and that is.the.command in Matthew 5:48 if you grab the context and not get lost in the word “perfect” there.

    So there needs to be.those that.are.theologians, but most of us are made and saved to.do different works and we should be engaged.

    (not asking for a ring here, Derek)

  • http://hrugnir.wordpress.com Peter Berntsson

    Good post. I haven’t been to a North American Pentecostal church, but I understand the sort of attitude you’re talking about.

    I am thankful for the pioneering steps that the Pentecostals took in the early 1900’s, and what the Charismatic Movement has since then brought into “older” denominations. Personally, I grew up within, and am still part of a (minority) part of the Lutheran (former State) Church of Sweden. That means traditional liturgy, long sermons and Charismatic worship, with different emphasis depending on where you go.

    Sometimes I want to be Eastern Orthodox and get into hardcore liturgy. Sometimes I want to be a crazy charismaniac and just escape the Western shackles of proper behaviour. And I’m a Swede, trust me, that’s not something I could actually DO quickly if I wanted to 😉

    But no, I don’t think Charismatic Spirituality and Intellectual reasoning stand against each other at all. I wish all parts of the Church would loosen up and take part in the various blessings bestowed on the Body of Christ:

    Eucharist and Sacraments
    Elaborate Liturgies
    In-depth study of the Word
    Commitment to living a life of self-sacrificial love and giving
    Art and music that engages people without distracting them
    Serious attention to the emotional care and well-being of members
    Freedom in Spirit
    Full usage of all the natural and “supernatural” Gifts of the Spirit

  • KimB

    We seem to be in the same boat. For several years, I worked for the Presbyterian congregation in which I grew up, and worshiped with an AG congregation. I love both groups of people equally, and appreciate both worship styles. Consequently, I end up bouncing back and forth between the churches. I was actively involved with both groups until the pentecostal minister started “preaching against” the same groups of people my other church was encouraging me to accept. That created too much inner conflict, and I had to quit going to the Penecostal church.

    The two groups do seem to approach God and the scriptures from 180 degrees apart. The Presbyterian approach seems to be, by-and large an intellectual understanding, and the Pentecostal approach seems to appeal to those more comfortable with emotional understanding. But I think as humans, most of us are both – we reason intellectually and emotionally. There-in lies the conflict, though I don’t exactly know what to do about it.

    A friend suggested that I check out the Evangelical Presbyterian Church – and the one here in town does a pretty good job of incorporating both parts of the human psyche. I also have plans to check out the contemporary service at a local UMC congregation.

    I don’t know that *A* solution exists, but I expect there is much to learn about myself and Christianity in general via the search.

  • http://bramboniusinenglish.wordpress.com brambonius

    Maybe this book could be interesting?


  • Timotei

    The only way to be like you want is to became a baptist!

  • http://www.biblestudyhour.net Alvin Mitchell

    The long and the short, in terms of a solution to your dilemma, is just to absent yourself from the Pentecostals altogether. You won’t miss a thing! On the other hand, you can forget about service to God, where there is no thorough and often (accurate!) discussion of all aspects of the “endtimes”, including superbaddies like the anti-Christ. These topics are not something Pentecostals or any other modern religious group made up. They are, indeed, very much the word of God, and topics into which the Father and Son wish (demand!) that we both delve, and, take delight in discussing. These are things they want us to know and to spread, far and wide. These are not secondary, non-essential or optional issues. They are as much “primary” as is the gospel itself. Moreover, given that the “Spirit of prophecy” is Jesus Christ, they reveal a highly significant aspect of the Son as does the gospel. As for all those “rituals” we have all experienced in what ever denomination we have been associated with, that stuff has a “show of piety”, but, in the finale, has nothing to do with service to God, in any sense that He demands.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chiefer Krzysiek Troszczyński

    So I guess you would like a kind of Vineyard Movement style. Evangelical sober with pentacostal fervent, see here http://goo.gl/bB88j
    Oh, by the way, I’m not one of them but appreciate much.