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Pentecostalism

Introduction

Pentecostalism, worldwide 20th–21st-century Christian movement that emphasizes the experience of Spirit baptism, generally evidenced by speaking in tongues (glossolalia). The name derives from Pentecost, the Greek name for the Jewish Feast of Weeks, which falls on the fiftieth day after Passover. On this day the Holy Spirit descended upon the first Christians enabling them to "speak in other tongues" (see Acts 2:1–4). Besides glossolalia, Pentecostals promote other gifts of the Spirit ( charismata ), including faith healing, prophecy, and exorcism. Ecstatic experience remains the unifying element of the movement. Pentecostals in America are generally conservative evangelical in their beliefs (see fundamentalism), but no unified stance on matters of doctrine and polity exists among adherents. Pentecostal churches are also strong in Indonesia, sub-Saharan Africa, and parts of Latin America and Europe. Pentecostal churches around the world cooperate through the Pentecostal World Conference, first held in Sweden (1939). The American counterpart to the conference is the Pentecostal-Charismatic Churches of North America; it is not a policy-setting organization.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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