About the 'Third Wave'

Below are two articles linked which compare Pentecostalism with Charismatic Christianity, with the second one being more brief and  describing all three 'waves' as they are now being called, including the new 'Third Wave.' Comments on the articles are spoken from myself as someone who was 'there' when it all happened, to vouch for the accuracy or inaccuracy of today's later perceptions about Pentecostalism, Charismatics, and then Third Wave.

This article:

Charismatic Movement by Paul Merritt Bassett

at: http://www.mb-soft.com/believe/text/charisma.htm

I'd say the article above is correct though from what I have lived through with Charismaticism and Pentecostalism. It is a rather long, intellectually oriented article which states there was a wide variety of beliefs especially regarding tongues amongst Charismatics than was accepted in mainline Pentecostalism, and so that was one reason the Charismatics either stayed in their original denomination, or got forced out and usually formed their own 'non-denominational churches', separate from mainline Pentecostal denominations. Don't be confused with the term, "Charismatic renewal"  -- "Renewal' at that time (the 1970's) simply was the term used then to mean that the Holy Spirit was moving across denominations to 'renew' Christians with this baptism or infilling of the Holy Spirit, as it was popularly called by the Pentecostals. It was not at all in reference to any 'manifestation'-oriented Renewal, that we have had in Toronto or Brownsville.

I recall that some of the Charismatics of the time thought that this great 'renewal' (and it was an impressive number of people who became touched by the Holy Spirit and 'baptized', even if they weren't expecting it or if they had no doctrinal understanding of it at first) was very special because it crossed denominational lines. They believed or wondered if it was going to culminate into unity of the believers all over the world and then we would have the Second Coming of Christ. However, there was no formal doctrine made out of this possibility-- it was mostly hoped for. Tragically, instead of unity within their denominations, most people who had that new touch of the Spirit, especially if it involved speaking in tongues, were shown the door by their denominations. This included many pastors or priests, no matter how solid a Christian they were or how loved they were by their congregations, previously.

Take a look at  this article here (an excerpt follows):

Pentecostals, Charismatics, and the Third Wave
                              by Michael R. Ramos

at: http://www.leaderu.com/isot/docs/3wave.html

This describes the 'first, second, third' wave in a way that C. Peter Wagner and others have been recently describing it.

Here is their brief treatment of 'Charismatic':
The Second Wave: The Charismatic Movement

Pentecostalism spread into the mainline denominations, and became known as the Charismatic renewal (or movement) It's benchmark organization was the formation of the Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship, International, in 1951. The president of FGBMFI was Demos Shakarian who was the catalyst for integrating the Pentecostal experience into both mainline Protestant as well as Catholic churches. He and Oral Roberts brought together mainline clergy and laity to interact in a non-threatening setting with white-collar Pentecostal [8]. Initially , the stereotype of Pentecostal's was that they were poor and uneducated. This changed with the integration of the two groups, and the introduction of the Pentecostal experience to Protestant denominations.

What might be understood as the beginning of the charismatic movement was the baptism in the Spirit of Dennis Bennett, rector of St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Van Nuys, California. Under the influence of a local group of charismatic laypeople, Bennett led 100 others towards receiving baptism and speaking in tongues. Though he was forced to resign his parish, his case brought national attention surfaced other Protestant Charismatics who had predated him in their experience [9].

Among Protestant Charismatics, the primary doctrinal views of mainline churches are normally maintained. Change more often occurs among non-denominationally-aligned ministries. Arminianism is strongly held in many groups, and the study of the return of Christ is a foundational principle. There is the classical belief in the Trinity, and worship services are focused on praise and blessing. Since their doctrinal centerpiece is still baptism in the Spirit, contemporary Charismatics often encourage individuals to "move up higher" spiritually and are often not satisfied until a person has spoken in tongues [10].

I would say this is pretty accurate. However, I myself, along with many other Charismatics, did not put so much emphasis on tongues meaning one 'moved up higher'. This became an unfortunate stereotype placed upon us because there were so many others who engaged in a spiritual pride and an undue emphasis on tongues-- Same thing that stunted the Pentecostals in their ability to successfully appeal to those outside of their denominations, which in my opinion is why God started working outside their denominations with spontaneous 'baptisms' of the Holy Spirit, thus making the 'Charismatic' movement recognizable as a sovereign move of God. Spiritual pride will stop a renewal or revival, every time, but not for what God is determined to do. The Charismatics who started their own churches, often started non-denominational churches because they did not want to be identified with some of the hard-line Pentecostal beliefs, and/or because they had bad experience in previous denominations they were no longer welcome in and so wanted to be cross-denominational.

After their description of the Charismatics in the article above, the article then goes on the 'Third Wave' which includes Wagner and Wimber. I am genuinely puzzled why Wimber and his equation with 'signs and wonders' being connected with evangelism (Power Evangelism) is billed as so unique here. John Wimber was on the West coast, and I have always lived on the East. During two decades there in various places, neither I nor anyone I knew never even HEARD about the man, and yet we 'Charismatics' and Pentecostals had plenty of signs and wonders and healings, plenty of ministers who taught and practiced that the Holy Spirit signs and wonders are for today, and plenty who equated it with evangelism. On the other hand, I also know of people who were previously not familiar with Charismatic teachings and who felt genuinely helped or impressed by John Wimber--especially people who prior to his influence did not believe in miraculous healing. However, this still did not qualify the Wimber phenomenon as a "movement" of God similar to Charismatics or Pentecostalism, in my opinion.  These first two 'waves' (Pentecostalism and Charismatics) genuinely began as pandenominational and spread 'across borders'. Wimber occurances, however, were generated by Vineyard people only, and were generally "spread" by the planting of Vineyard Association churches. By the time the Vineyard churches got to the East coast, I found these churches uniquely obsessed in their focus on one man and on their own denomination, which they would call a nondenomination (in spite of the hierarchial set up and denominational practices, including finally, the open excommunicated of Toronto Airport Vineyard, now known as Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship (TACF).
This is not an isolated observation, but is shared by many now both on the East and West coast.

When I did finally read John Wimber's his book, Power Evangelism, I found it to be essentially nothing new for Charismatic as far as 'doctrinal', yet a great deal of emphasis on particular models and methods for praying for healing that Wimber found to be successful in his ministry. I found that Wimber proposed a whole lot of formulas, that he spoke alot like a manager or CEO of a business corporation with his graphs and charts, and that he borrowed from a great many other people he was influenced by. In conclusion, I would disagree that this part of the 'Third Wave' through John Wimber was unique in signs and wonders or in the belief that the Holy Spirit empowers us so that we can reach the lost.  It was unique as compared to the Charismatic and Pentecostal movements mostly because of these extra props that Wimber used, and his focus on church growth, which is something that I have noted Wagner to study and focus on also. Because of these factors, I would say there is a vast and important difference between the previous Pentecostalism and the Charismatic renewal of the 1960's and 1970's, and John Wimber/C. Peter Wagner followers of later decades.

As we moved from the 1990's to today's decade, what emerged was an acceptance of the strange and controversial 'manifestations' that began to occur spontaneously in both the Vineyard churches in California and later, Toronto Airport Vineyard, which was eventually ejected from the Vineyard Association.  After printing out and reading the many documents and commentaries at the time of Wimber's ejection of Toronto Vineyard as a Vineyard church, as well as many personal reports, my understanding was that Wimber initially accepted the strange manifestations as a move of God, and then later questioned some of them. These manifestations did occur in Vineyard churches too, and I am a direct witness of their doctrinal defenses in favor of these manifestations in various U.S.A. Vineyard churches as all being from God and not from the devil.  However, It was also clear that Wimber grew tired of the controversy they generated, both within and outside his organization, including public newspaper reports, and he simply no longer wanted to deal with it. As mentioned before, Toronto Vineyard is now renamed Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship (TACF) after their ejection.

In any case, these are some of my main direct observations of the similarities and differences between these "waves," I would say that, given the Scriptural difficulties generated by some who claim to be of the Spirit, the controversy even amongst those who believe in the gifts of the Spirit regarding some practices and teachings should be expected. 

Teri Lee Earl
SEE ALSO, a web-published 'book' about the Renewal, called, "A Little Leaven,"
by Teri Lee Earl, and About Apostolic Reformation for more on C. Peter Wagner's subgroup.

© Copyright 2000 by Teri Lee Earl All Rights Reserved

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