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4th Generation Pentecostal on Justice

excerpts from Pentecostal Formation, by Cheryl Bridges Johns of Church of God (Tennessee), 1993

     "I bring to this task my heritage as a fourth-generation Pentecostal whose great-grandmother, after being expelled from a Methodist congregation for her tongue-speaking and shouting, organized and built a Pentecostal church. ... I was disciplined by brothers and sisters who recognized 'God's hand on my life'. They encouraged me to fulfill my ontological vocation as a subject of holy history." (p. 8)
     "For some, the growth of Pentecostalism reflects an attempt by 'the masses' to escape the harsh realities of the world and to form a 'haven' of submerged religious protest. For others, the movement represents a legitimate religious expression,  ... At issue is whether or not the movement is destined to become a 'haven' for those who wish to deny their historical existence, or if the movement can be a catalyst for personal and social transformation. " (p. 11-12)
      "Not all Pentecostals speak in tongues, but none would forbid the practice. ... Walter Hollenweger has divided Pentecostalism into three main streams: the classical Pentecostal denominations, the charismatic movements within traditional churches and the new emerging indigenous non-white churches." (p. 63)
     "With its roots firmly in black spirituality and in the holiness movement, Pentecostalism was another cry against the abandonment of the historical churches to authentic spirituality and to the cause of the masses. ... From the holiness revivals Pentecostalism inherited an emphasis upon sanctification. The church was to be a light exhibiting the inherent characteristics of the kingdom of God ... express(ing) the force of God's Spirit in the world. ... From black spirituality, Pentecostalism retained the emphasis upon an oral, ongoing liturgy, maximum participation of the body, and the freedom to include such things as visions and dreams. ... Pentecostalism had a dual prophetic role denouncing the dominant patterns of the status quo and announcing the patterns of God's kingdom. ... there exists a 'corporate memory' of its revolutionary roots." (p. 69-70)
     "Sanctification is to be the ultimate goal for the world inasmuch as the coming consummation of the Kingdom of God will result in all things being brought into a harmony of God's reign. God will one day be all in all, and for the Pentecostal believer, this holy consummation can occur in believer's lives as a sign of the age ot come. Therefore, issues of racism, sexism, oppression and violence are issues of sanctification." (p. 93) 
     "Human justice, however, must be grounded in the justice of God. Holiness, as the essential nature of God, must be allowed to define the character and nature of humanity as well. Apart from a covenantal relationship with God, 'there can be no true justice. ... Pentecostals need to recapture this social dimension, which was present during the early years of the movement. In doing so, they will gain an ability to transform not only personal evil but also social and structural evil." (p. 94)
     "Thus, for Pentecostals, it is only by the Holy spirit that a true vision of reality can be perceived. This vision sees both the spiritual and social needs of humankind. There needs to be no dichotomy between evangelism and social action inasmuch as the same Spirit inspires and unveils the need for both. ... Acts of justice and peace are, therefore, acts of the Holy Spirit." (p. 96)     

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