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The Pentecostal movement within Protestant Christianity was founded around 1901 by Charles Fox Parham[?], a minister of Methodist background in Topeka, Kansas. The commonly accepted origin dates from when Agnes Ozman received the gift of tounges at Charles Parham's Bethal Bible College in Topeka in 1901. Parham formulated the doctrine that tongues was the "Bible evidence" of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit[?].

Parham left Topeka and begin a revival ministry which led to the link to the Asuza street revival through William J. Seymour whom he taught in Houston.

The expansion of the movement started with the Asuza Street Revival[?], beginning April 9, 1906 at the Los Angeles home of a Mr. and Mrs. Edward Lee when Mr Lee experienced what he felt to be an infilling of the Holy Spirit during a prayer session. The attending pastor, William J. Seymour, also claimed that he was overcome with the Holy Spirit on April 12, 1906. On April 18, 1906, the Los Angeles Times[?] ran a front page story on the movement. By the third week in April, 1906, the small but growing congregation had rented an abandoned AME[?] church at 312 Asuza Street[?] and organized as the Apostolic Faith Mission.

The first decade of Pentecostalism was marked by interracial assemblies,"...Whites and blacks mix in a religious frenzy,..." according to a local newspaper account. This lasted until 1924, when the church split along racial lines. In 1994, Pentecostals returned to their roots of racial reconciliation and proposed formal unification of the major white and black branches of the Pentecostal Church, in a meeting subsequently known as the Memphis Miracle[?]. This unification occurred in 1998, again in Memphis, Tennessee.

The largest Pentecostal denominations in the United States today are the Church of God in Christ, International Church of the Foursquare Gospel[?] and the Assemblies of God[?].

The size of Pentecostalism in the U.S. is likely more than 9 million, counting all unaffiliated congregations, although exact numbers are hard to come by, in part because some tenets of Pentecostalism are held by members of non-Pentecostal denominations in what has been called the charismatic movement.

Worldwide, estimates range from 100 to approximately 400 million. Pentecostalism is sometimes referred to as the "third force of Christianity."

Theologically, most Pentecostal denominations are aligned with Evangelicalism in that they emphasize the reliability of the Bible and the need for conversion to faith in Jesus Christ.

The distinguishing characteristic of Pentecostalism is in its emphasis on the work of the Holy Spirit. Speaking in tongues, also known as glossolalia, is seen as evidence that a person has received one of many blessings or spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit. Most major Pentacostal churches also accept the corollary that those who don't speak in tongues have not received the blessing of the Holy Spirit. However, critics charge that this doctrine does not mesh well with Paul's criticism of the early Corinthian church for their obsession with speaking in tongues (see 1 Corinthians, chapters 12-14 in the New Testament). The idea that one is saved unless one speaks in tongues is rejected by most major Pentecostal denominations.

Pentecostals often seek what they view as various other manifestations of the Holy Spirit, which they identify as miraculous healings and the gift of prophecy. In some varieties of Pentecostalism, these manifestations may include activities such as the handling of poisonous snakes or being "slain in the Spirit" (fainting when touched by a worship leader). One branch of the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement, known as the Toronto Blessing Movement[?], which is accepted by revivalist Benny Hinn and the Vineyard church[?], holds prayer meetings in which attendees have been heard to make animal noises or give long, uninterpretted speeches or routines in tongues.

Some Pentecostals accept "Oneness theology", which denies the traditional doctrine of the Trinity. The largest Oneness Pentecostal denomination in the United States is the United Pentecostal Church. Oneness Pentecostals, sometimes known as "Jesus only" or "apostolic" Pentecostals for their belief that the original apostles baptized converts in the name of Jesus only, believe that God has revealed Himself in three different roles rather than believing that God exists in three distinct persons sharing one substance. See Sabellianism.

See also: Christianity -- Religious pluralism -- Fundamentalism


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