Synod Sends Pentecostalism Report Back

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After receiving not one but two reports from the study committee looking at Third Wave Pentecostalism, Synod 2007 decided not to adopt either of them. It instead sent the majority report back to an expanded study committee.

Delegates decided that the report, mandated by Synod 2004, did not provide “sufficient biblical study and theological reflection on key aspects of the Third Wave movement.”

“We think it’s worth taking the church’s time, and the energy of the people who started this work, to do a more thorough and complete job of putting together better recommendations and pastoral direction,” said elder Bruce Hekman, Classis Holland.

Synod asked specifically for guidelines for pastors and others in the church who encounter manifestations of the Spirit associated with the Third Wave.

“I guess we erred too much on the side of pragmatism, and we should have gone more in-depth,” said one of the majority report’s authors, Rev. Amanda Benckhuysen.

The Third Wave of Pentecostalism follows on the original Pentecostal revival of the early 1900s, and the second or charismatic movement of the 1960s and 1970s. The majority report identified key elements of the Third Wave and expressed both affirmations of its claims and cautions against its excesses.

“Gratefully accept all the ways in which this movement manifests the work of the Spirit,” the report counseled, including acknowledging the gift of prophecy today, thinking of prayer as a two-way dialogue, accepting from God physical and emotional healing in response to prayer, and acknowledging both the demonic impact on human life and Jesus Christ’s liberating authority.

The report also cautioned against making dramatic emotional experiences the center of the Christian life, minimizing the positive aspects of suffering, or accepting prophecy that fosters dissension.

Synod, however, urged that the report become a more useful pastoral tool.

“We are heartened that the advisory committee expressed basic sympathy for the thrust of the majority report,” said Al Wolters, chair of the study committee. “We expect the final outcome will be an improved report that will serve the church more effectively.”

The committee will submit its new report to Synod 2009.

About the Author

Dan Postma is an occasional reporter for The Banner.
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