Pentecostal: Two Truths and a Lie, a series

Lynette Kittle

iBelieve Contributors
Published: May 01, 2022
Pentecostal: Two Truths and a Lie, a series

One of the most controversial beliefs challenged by other denominations outside the Pentecostal realm is the group’s emphasis on speaking in tongues. The founding movement believed it is the first evidence of being baptized in the Holy Spirit. 

For more on this series, click here.

Considered one the fastest growing and largest groups in Christianity, the modern Pentecostal denomination is a renewal movement birthed at the turn of the 20th Century, marked by historical revivals.

Although its start is usually attributed to the 1906 Azusa Street Revival (1906), some Church historians report it beginning even earlier at two Holiness meetings, one in Topeka, Kansas (1901) and even earlier in an 1896 Cherokee County, North Carolina gathering.

Regardless, this denomination’s beginning is based on the Pentecost event recorded in Acts 2:1-4, considering it as its biblical and spiritual beginning, where the early Christians received the baptism of the Holy Spirit:

“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like a mighty rushing wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw tongues like flames of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”

Pentecostals' Biblical Beginning

Taking place 50 days after the resurrection of Jesus, the first Pentecost is marked as the start of the Church’s outreach to spread the Gospel around the world, fulfilling a prophecy by John the Baptist who foretold of believers receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

When asked if he were the Christ, “John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire’” (Luke 3:16).

#1 Truth: Pentecostal Includes a Range of Groups

There is a wide spectrum of denominations underneath the Pentecostal heading, with denominations starting in the early 1900s often referred to as the “first wave” of the move of the Holy Spirit upon the Church, forming Pentecostal Holiness denominations referred to as Classical Pentecostals. 

First Wave

Classical Pentecostals’ foundation is based on speaking in tongues as the first evidence of being baptized with the Holy Spirit. Divine healing is also prevalent. Well-known leaders in this first wave include Smith Wigglesworth and William J. Seymour known for the Azusa Street revival.

As well, Aimee Semple McPherson founded the Foursquare Church Denominations associated with this “first wave” including the Assemblies of God (1914) and Church of God (Cleveland, TN).

Second Wave

During the 1960s, there arose the Charismatic Denominations often referred to as the “second wave.” Whereas speaking in tongues along with the other gifts of the Spirit are encouraged, many do not hold to its Pentecostal roots belief with it as the first evidence of being a Spirit-filled believer. 

Leaders associated with the “second wave” include Kathryn Kuhlman known for holding faith-healing meetings; Kenneth E. Hagin, a pioneer of Word of Faith teaching; Oral Roberts known for his divine healing tent meetings; and faith healer and deliverance minister, A.A. Allen.

Interestingly in 1967, the Catholic Church became a part of the wider Charismatic movement worldwide, when two Catholics from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania's Duquesne University attended a Protestant worship service and experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Soon the Charismatic influence spread within the Catholic Church, with Francis MacNutt, a former American Roman Catholic priest, at the forefront of its movement. 

Third Wave

More recently, churches like the Vineyard Churches have risen up, sometimes referred to as Neo-Pentecostals or “the third wave." John Wimber, who although starting out as an ordained Quaker pastor, went on to begin the Vineyard Churches where teaching “Signs and Wonders,” and ”Power Evangelism” became its trademarks

As well, leaders emerged like C. Peter Wagner, Rick Joyner, Jack Deere, Mike Bickle, Mahesh Chavda, Benny Hinn, Joel Osteen, and Joyce Meyer.

(Critics of the “third wave” assert the movement is based more on personal experiences than sound biblical doctrine.)

#2 Truth: Pentecostals Believe in Speaking in Tongues

One of the most controversial beliefs challenged by other denominations outside the Pentecostal realm is the group’s emphasis on speaking in tongues. The founding movement believed it is the first evidence of being baptized in the Holy Spirit.

There are two types of speaking in tongues generally recognized. One is seen as a personal prayer language, personally benefiting and building-up the one speaking. It’s also the one most highly criticized by those outside Pentecostal circles, considered “babbling” by some.

The second type is the speaking of a known language for the benefit of the Church, which many biblical scholars believe is the speaking in tongues that took place in the Acts 2 Pentecost.

From the very beginning, as described in Acts 2:5-6, tongues has been a controversial topic. “Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. And when this sound rang out, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language.”

The Apostle Peter had to step in to calm the crowd down (Acts 2:14-21), reciting Joel 2:28-29 to help them understand what they were hearing and seeing. “And afterward, I will pour out My Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions. Even on My menservants and maidservants, I will pour out My Spirit in those days."

Lie: All Pentecostals Adhere to Strict Modesty and Moral Guidelines

Not all Pentecostal groups stick to a strict set of rules when it comes to modesty and moral guidelines.

Women’s Modesty Issues

Through the years, there has been a focus on women’s modesty when it comes to clothing, hair, and make-up – meaning no tight, clingy clothes, slacks or shorts, keeping their hair long, and not wearing make-up or jewelry. But it’s not the majority.  

These denominational guidelines are based on Scriptures like 1 Timothy 2:9, which encourage, “I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pears or expensive clothes.”

Other supportive verses include 1 Peter 3:3-5, explaining how holy women of the past, ones who put their trust in God, adorned themselves: “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”

In the birth of the Pentecostal movement, many followed these guidelines, but in more recent years, it flip-flopped where groups have been widely criticized for wearing big hair, heavy make-up, and flashy clothes. Pentecostal high-profile ministers and celebrities such as Tammy Faye Bakker and Jan Crouch endured much public ridicule for their flamboyant hair, make-up, and wardrobe.

Abstaining from Worldly Activities

As well, although Pentecostals were known for their strict moral guidelines of not attending movie theaters or dances based on their belief these activities originate from worldly and sinful places like Hollywood and Broadway, many followers now openly participate in both. 

Abstaining from such activities came from following Scripture 1 John 2:15: “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.” 

Likewise inspired by, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own” (1 Corinthians 6:19).

As well as, 1 Thessalonians 5:22, “Reject every kind of evil.”

Although worldly entertainment was frowned on, surprisingly some of the world’s favorite celebrities have deep Pentecostal roots, such as Denzel Washington who explains, “My father was a minister for 50 years with Pentecostal Church of God in Christ.”

As well music legend Dolly Parton, whose grandpa was a Pentecostal minister, noted by her as being a great musician who played the fiddle and piano, and accredited for her early beginnings in music.

Photo Credit: ©Sparrow Stock

Lynette Kittle is married with four daughters. She enjoys writing about faith, marriage, parenting, relationships, and life. Her writing has been published by Focus on the Family, Decision, Today’s Christian Woman,,,, and more. She has a M.A. in Communication from Regent University and serves as associate producer for Soul Check TV.