Thursday, May 10, 2007


On The Pentecostalisation of NSW Baptists

Paul Grabill
pastor of State College Assembly of God recently commented on David Roger's blog (David is an IMB missionary in Spain) with these words:

As an Assemblies of God pastor and district(state)/national church official, I think you might find what I am about to share helpful.

I particularly appreciate your sharing Bart Barber's assessment that the primary IMB concern is "to protect Baptist missions from Pentecostal/Charismatic encroachment around the world."

I can understand that. That has, to some degree, been happening for a few decades. I vividly remember C. Peter Wagner's stories of his own experiences in Fuller D. Min. classes, sneaking over the mountains in Bolivia to visit the pentecostals.

As for what is happening today, let me share a couple observations:

1. On the one hand, the global body of Christ is being pentecostalized (Philip Jenkins has documented this well). The last holdouts are in the Global North/Western world, both liberals on the left (the leaders of the Anglican orthodox rebels are mostly charismatic) and fundamentalists on the right. Both of those groups have been deeply impacted by the anti-miraculous and secularizing elements of the Enlightenment. I'll stop there with that.

2. On the other hand, in the Global North/Western world, in the last century, it seems to me that the non-charismatic evangelical camp has impacted the pentecostal camp much more so than the reverse. You and your readers might find that shocking, but I would submit that Rick Warren and Bill Hybels have more influence in the Assemblies of God than does our General Superintendent, Thomas Trask, and definitely more than someone like Benny Hinn. I have to chuckle trying to imagine a reverse scenario--imagine if A/G missionary candidates would be disqualified if they had a copy of "The Purpose Driven Church" in their library.:) I know it's not a totally accurate analogy, but consider this--while the official A/G doctrine says that all should speak in tongues, less than 40% of A/G adults do. Many, if not most, of our young pastors have never led someone into the experience of Spirit Baptism as we teach it. Charles Stanley may well be the most popular TV preacher in our circles, and when people leave our congregations, they seem to often wind up in SBC or equivalent congregations. I submit that the SBC has impacted the US A/G more than we have impacted you, but conversely, in the Global South the impact of pentecostals has superceded that of non-charismatic evangelicals.

So, there are two worlds here--the Global North/Western World and the Global South. The Global North has the money and is still trying to call the shots, but the Global South (according to Phil Jenkins) will overwhelm us in every way (particularly in pneumatology and ecclesiology within another decade or two).

The Global South tsunami is coming. No Global North denomination will be the same. The Africans telling the Archbishop of Canterbury where to get off is just the start.

Stay tuned. The "mission field" has come of age and we will soon be listening/receiving from them as much as we have been speaking/giving to them in the past.

Has this not already happened within the churches of the Baptist Union of NSW?
Have we not lost our distinctives as Baptists?
There is now very little difference between many AOG churches and Baptist churches in Australia, with many extremes becoming "more normative" as the pentecostalisation of Baptists continues.
Sadly, many of our older Baptist pastors, upon retirement, find it vry difficult to find a Baptist church to attend where theycan feel at all comfortable.
What is your opinion?

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