NRM: Intro. To Christianity, Methodist Holiness and Pentecostal Movements
I. Introduction to Christianity:
A. Using the structure of the Nicene Creed, be able to identify the main tenants in Christianity such as: the Trinity, God as creator, Jesus as God incarnate, Jesus’ life and death, belief in the foundation of the church, baptism, and resurrection
B. I use this creed to show the power of creeds and doctrine in the construction of Christian traditions and also to emphasize the arguments among early Christians which led to a particular kind of Christianity dominating the western world.
The Nicene Creed
We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.
I. Chapter Name: “Symbol and Sign in Methodist Holiness and Pentecostal Spirituality”:
(This is a summary of a chapter found in Timothy Miller’s book, America’s Alternative Religions… the chapter itself was written by Charles Edwin Jones).
A. What church did Methodism start within? The Church of England (Anglican Church)
B. Who started the Methodist movement? John Wesley (an Anglican priest) gathered students together at Oxford (1729-1735 c.e.), not with the intention to make a new denomination but rather so students could focus on what he termed entire sanctification (aka Christian Perfectionism)
focus on: 1. lively preaching, 2. intenerate preaching, 3. focus on spiritual rebirth,
4. free will, 5. perfectionism, 6. Bible studies and Christian living
C. The Methodist Holiness movement focused on not just initial sanctification (forgiveness of sins) but also on what?
ENTIRE SANTIFICATION/ CHRISTIAN PERFECTIONISM: where by a Christian, through the grace of God , could strive for perfectionism and maybe before death reach the state where the taint of original sin was washed away.
D. What was the event called the Pentecost by Christians
Book of Acts ch. 2: 1-4 (in the New Testament) (NIV 2010)
1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues[a] as the Spirit enabled them.
VIDEO: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/watch/ (start at roughly 1 hour to 1 hour 5 minutes)
Anglican Church Methodism (Wesley brothers)
2 movements have roots in Methodism but stood outside the Methodist structure: Holiness movement (Wesley and Palmer) and the Pentecostal movement
1. present activity of Holy Spirit
2. looking for Jesus’ return
3. postconversion experiences of purity and power (bapt.of the Holy Spirit)
E. Who was Phoebe Palmer and in what ways did she alter the ideas around entire sanctification? Palmer simplified and popularized John Wesley’s doctrine of entire sanctification modifying it 6 different ways:
1. entire sanctification (baptism of the Holy Spirit)
2. Holiness with Power
3. Instantaneous elements of sanctification
4. entire sanctification (not goal but beginning of Christian life)
5. “altar theology” (place oneself on the altar as a sacrifice to God)
6. no evidence needed other than the Biblical text to be assured of entire sanctification
F. Phoebe Palmer emphasized the role of women (ability to prophecy)
G. The Pentecostal movement views what activities as evidence of the Holy Spirit? prophecy, laying on of hands, and glossolalia (speaking in tongues), Services are often very loud and jubilant
VIDEO: Atlanta West Pentecostal Church 10:15 am Praise Break
H. What 2 locations are most often associated with the start of the Pentecostal movement?
1. Charles F. Parham’s Bible College in Topeka Kansas (student spoke in tongues in 1900)
2. Azusa Street Apostolic Mission in LA- mission led by a student of Parham’s, William Seymour, an African American evangelical minister (started in 1906)
J. Pentecostal focus on the “end times” and modern prophecy and signs
K. Various kinds of “signs” found in Pentecostal movements:
1. Glossolalia: speaking in tongues
VIDEO: Bill Maher’s film Religious, Speaking in Tongues clip
(how might this clip show a very limited perspective on glossolalia?)
2. Laying on of Hands
3. In some small churches in Appalachia: Snake Handling: (often called signs churches)
Biblical references: the Gospel of Mark and the Gospel of Luke
VIDEO: Snake handlers of Appalachia
 This part of the creed is often noted as an easy way to identify Gnostic Christians… since some Gnostic Christians believed that Jesus’ god was not the same as the Jewish creator god. This also emphasizes the monotheistic nature of the Christian religion.
 Many early Christians debated about the nature of the relationship between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. One group of Christians set themselves apart, and ended up on the losing side of history in the Western Church, by declaring that God the Father was inherently superior over God the Son.
 Early Christian communities argued over Jesus’ nature. So Christians believed in docetism (from the root ‘to seem’) and described Jesus as only ‘seeming’ to have a human (fleshy) body. Supposedly Gnostics would not have supported a creed which emphasized Jesus’ manifestation in the flesh, believing the material world to be inferior to the spiritual world.
 The scriptures included not only the sacred texts which the early Christians will authorize but also the Hebrew Bible/TaNaKh/ Jewish Sciptures. This is significant because presumably some Gnostic Christians did not support including Jewish scripture into the Christian Bible. Obviously, this opinion was not shared by the successful church authorities of the day, due to the fact that Jewish scripture remains a vital component of the Christian Bible.