Thursday, August 04, 2011

Pentecostals now 25% of all Christians; increasingly focused on social concerns

“Christianity Today” has featured an article about A New Kind of Pentecostalism. Suggesting that it is “a major new social movement that is shifting Christianity's center of gravity to the developing world,” they note as well that “Pentecostalism arguably thrives amid adversities extant in places of violence, corrupt politics, and poverty. As developing-world Pentecostalism has become better known in North America, so have its social needs and demonstration of social concern.”
Pentecostalism in North America has come a long way. It has moved from a faith to and of the disenfranchised to one that is recognized if not fully accepted across the board among evangelicals. From the movement's origins among a few adherents in the Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles (1906), Pentecostalism grew to some 12 million adherents by 1970, and now incorporates some 600 million worldwide in its various expressions, a fourth of all Christendom. David Barrett's monumental World Christian Encyclopedia states that in 1900, only seven-tenths of 1 percent of Christians were Pentecostal; today, approximately 25 percent are.
And they carry a message. “In recent years, Pentecostal theologians have focused on eschatology, especially the Lukan view centered on the messianic prophecy in Isaiah 61. This passage is rife with social ministry significance and images, including, ‘The Spirit of the Lord … has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; … to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; … to comfort all who mourn’ (ESV).”

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