Why Should Anyone Want to be a Pentecostal?

Why Should Anyone Want to be a Pentecostal?

By Simeon Young

Peggy Noonan’s article titled, Why The World Comes Here, (Reader’s Digest, July 1991) states that immigration to America is at an all-time high since the 1920s. Noonan believes that “immigration is affirmation, proof that we are still what we used to be, a haven for the bold and striving disposessed.”

I was fascinated by the two reasons that Noonan gave for why millions immigrate to the United States. The reasons she cited are also good reasons for wanting to be Pentecostal.

Pentecost is Not Nothing

First, Noonan says “they didn’t come here to join nothing, they came to join something … us at our best.”

When I say that Pentecost is not nothing, my English is grammatically secure and my theology scripturally sound. “Not nothing” is a double negative which states a powerful positive. Pentecost is something. A Pentecostal is somebody.

Peter wrote to Pentecostals, “Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light: which in time past were not a people, but now are the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy” (I Peter 2:9, 10).

What is Pentecost? Pentecost is more than a holiday on the Jewish calendar. Pentecost is more than another way of saying “fifty.” Pentecost is more than a religious denomination. Pentecost is “that which was spoken by the prophet Joel.” Pentecost is something because Pentecost is scriptural.

What does Pentecost have to offer? A good feeling? Yes! Tongues’? Indeed! Fellowship’? Oh yes! But there is more to Pentecost than a feeling or tongues or fellowship. Pentecost offers power. “Ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you…” (Acts 1:8).

Pentecost also offers a relationship. Pentecost is more than a frothy experience that evaporates in ten minutes. Pentecost is “Christ in you.” Pentecost is more than a feel-good experience. Authentic Pentecost is a be-good and do-good experience because of the indwelling Presence of Christ.

Pentecost is not nothing and Pentecostals are not nobodies.

Pentecost Has Style

Second, Noonan says, “There’s what might simply be called the American style.” She says that “For a lot of immigrants America has a special quality.”

“Style” means “manner or method of acting or performing especially as sanctioned by some standard. A characteristic or distinctive manner.”

I am bold to suggest that Pentecost has style. The way we act and worship and dress and talk and live is sanctioned by standards. There is a special quality, a distinctiveness, a unique character to Pentecost.

Peter said, “Ye are a … peculiar people.” Paul said, “Jesus gave Himself for us that He might purify unto Himself a peculiar people” (Titus 2:9).

Noonan says, “Once you’re here, you have to become Americanized.” She believes that “we need to communicate to these newcomers the moral and philosophical underpinnings of what they’ve joined, the things that keep us together.” She also believes that we must not reject our own culture and adds, “Today’s immigrants have joined a country that is less sure of its right to impose its language.”

We Pentecostals must communicate to the immigrants to this holy nation the spiritual and scriptural underpinnings of what they have come to. The newcomers to Pentecost must become pentecostalized. We cannot afford to be unsure of our right to impose our language … our character … our distinctiveness … our style … our standards.

The fact is, we are a tongue talking church. The fact is. we believe in the doctrination of separation from the world. The fact is, we are a Pentecostal church.

A year or so ago, a self-styled, stand-up comedienne by the name of Roseanne Barr trashed America’s national anthem. With her rendition she announced to the world that being an American is a sick and tacky joke. A few weeks later, when Whitney Houston sang our national anthem to a wild, standing ovation she reaffirmed the American style.

It’s time we celebrate the Pentecostal style, not change it.