THE ROOTS OF PENTECOSTALISM AND THE CHARISMATIC MOVEMENT
The Pentecostal/Charismatic movement owes a very great deal to the early Black Holiness Churches. Black Holiness Pentecostalism, which formed between 1885 and 1916 "...is not a denomination but rather a movement encompassing several denominations professing belief in Spirit baptism accompanied by several signs including speaking in tongues, with historic roots embracing, but not always restricted to, both a Wesleyan-Arminian and finished work of Calvary orientation. Participants believe that the baptism in the Holy Spirit is a normative post-conversion experience available to all Christians for the purpose of becoming more effective witnesses in carrying out the Great Commission" (‘Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements’, p. 77). This is rather ironical to say the least, since the true Doctrines of the Gospel of the Grace of God were never preached by this movement. These Black Holiness Churches were the breeding ground from which sprang the modern-day Pentecostal/Charismatic movement: "Perhaps more than any other twentieth-century religious movement in the West, Black Holiness-Pentecostalism is regarded by many as a highly significant catalyst and spawning ground for scores of denominations including the Charismatic Renewal, all emphasizing the centrality of the Holy Spirit. So little attention had been given to Black Holiness-Pentecostalism by historians that Lutheran theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, while visiting the U.S. from Germany, referred to its participants as the ‘step-children of modern church history’" (‘Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements’, p.77). The Movement refers interminably to the Holy Spirit and yet does not teach that which the Holy Spirit was sent to guide all God's people to: the Truth: "Howbeit when He, the Spirit of Truth, is come, He will guide you into all Truth..." (Jn. 16:13).
Very few publications, be they religious or secular and for reasons known only to them, have ever touched on the curious connection between those early Black Holiness Churches, from which Pentecostalism and Charismaticism emerged, and the Voodoo religion of those very black men and women that made up these early gatherings. The word Voodoo is derived from a West African word for God. The above mentioned Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic movements, a pro-Charismatic and Pentecostal publication, admits: "...it appears from the evidence that Black Holiness-Pentecostalism shares the legacy of black slave religion, whose historic roots are anchored deep in African and Afro-Caribbean religion" (p.77), the most prominent African and Afro-Caribbean religion being Voodoo. And this is the movement that fathered the Charismatic and Pentecostal movements of today!! Not only was the Black Holiness movement filled with false signs and lying wonders, it also promoted the satanically inspired gospel of John Wesley’s Arminian way, and had within its constitution all sorts of traditions and practices carried over from the Voodoo religion.
Several years ago a regrettably little-known, yet highly significant, article entitled, ‘Hear That Long Snake Moan’, appeared in the progressive L.A. Weekly. Written by Michael Ventura in the Spring of 1987, it shed much light on the origins and ancestry of the modern-day Pentecostal/Charismatic movements. Here are some extremely revealing excerpts from this article: "W.E.B. DuBois described black Christianist religion as a meeting of three elements: ‘The Preacher, the Music, and the Frenzy.’ It is in the frenzy that, with both black and white fundamentalists, we find African Voodoo absolutely intact, with merely the symbols changed. The object of the Voodoo ceremony is possession by the god. Possession by the Holy Ghost is as much ‘a formal goal of the religion’ in Holiness and Pentecostal churches as possession is in Voodoo. Writes Paul Oliver in his ‘Songsters and Saints’: ‘Placing himself in the hands of God, the supplicant sought possession by the Holy Spirit...Glossolalia, or uttering unintelligible syllables believed to be the language of the Holy Ghost, was evidence to many that the speaker was possessed by the Holy Spirit...and this was an essential part of the process of sanctification. People possessed of the Spirit in church might ‘fall out’ in a trance and might even require to be forcibly held down or controlled until they came around.’"
Ventura adds that one man named Metraux, "...observed the relationship, too, saying that ‘a pentecostal preacher describing his feelings when ‘the spirit was upon him,’ listed to me exactly the same symptoms as those which I heard from the mouths of people who had been possessed by the ‘loa’ (gods)...Undeniably the ecstasy which breaks out during the ceremonies of certain Protestant sects in the South of the United States reflects a survival, if not of the rites, then at least of religious behaviour" (p.43). Voodoo customs and traditions were kept very much alive by the black slaves who had been shipped to America in the nineteenth century. They would often drum the voodoo rhythms in the cotton fields and sing. When the slave masters discovered what they were doing, they outlawed the drumming. In place of this, the Voodoo-devoted black slaves turned to tapping out the voodoo beat using their feet through what we know today as tap-dancing. This satanic, beat driven music is continued today in Charismatic assemblies through its use of Rock ‘n’ Roll, a style of music which has indisputable links with Voodoo, as is attested by some of the world’s leading secular musicians. One of the grandfathers of rock and roll, Little Richard had this to say: "My true belief about Rock 'n' Roll--and there have been a lot of phrases attributed to me over the years--is this: I believe this kind of music is demonic. ... A lot of the beats in music today are taken from voodoo, from the voodoo drums. If you study music in rhythms, like I have, you'll see that is true...It is contagious" (Little Richard, quoted by Charles White, The Life and Times of Little Richard, p. 197). It was from this very Voodoo slave religion that a "...’black style’ of worship developed in an unstructured way....It was the slave’s adaption to Christianity without being completely divested of his native religious worship style that later proved to be significant in its impact on black religious lifestyle" (‘Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements’, p.77).
Michael Ventura makes a further comment on the disturbing similarities between the manifestations and occurrences during Voodoo ceremonies and early Black Holiness-Pentecostal gatherings: "The wild movements of the ‘horse’ mounted by the godly ‘rider’; the wild speech, including speaking in tongues which in Haiti is sometimes referred to as ‘talking with Africa’; the unpredictability of the possession, how, excited by the music, the frenzy can strike people who don’t want it and don’t believe in it (this is a common occurrence in Charismatic meetings, particularly the Toronto Blessing meetings, which began in 1994,where many who doubted and disbelieved the veracity of the phenomena occurring in those meetings suddenly found themselves rolling about on the floor in hysterical and uncontrolled laughter), you find all of these central Voodoo phenomena in most black and white fundamentalist churches (needless to say the author here is referring to those Pentecostal and Charismatic Fundamentalist churches). Maya Deren tells of first resisting and then being overpowered by a god during a ceremony she was observing..." (p. 43). Interesting to note that it has been reported by some people who have been present with those who were experimenting with drugs such as LSD, but who had not themselves partaken of it, that suddenly and without warning they, too, began to experience the effects of the drug which others had taken but which they had refused, showing that a spiritual experience was taking place. This same phenomena is reported by many who have attended charismatic meetings as mere observers. Suddenly, they too experienced being ‘slain in the spirit’ or speaking in ‘tongues’, unable to control their mouths (one woman needed to have a towel stuffed in her mouth in order to stop her ‘tongues’ speaking!), or rolling about on the floor in hysterical laughter, some people even trying to divest themselves of their clothing. A spiritual experience is taking place, but the spirit behind it all is NOT the Holy Spirit of God.
On January 1, 1901, there appeared on the scene a woman named Agnes Ozman who, whilst enrolled at the Bethel Bible College of Pentecostalism co-founder Charles F. Parham, in Topeka, Kansas, claimed to have received the gift of tongues just as it was given on the day of Pentecost. What ensued was what would later become known as the Azusa St. meetings, which began in 1907 and were attended by people from all over the world, much like the infamous ‘Toronto Blessing’ meetings of the 1990's to which people foolishly flocked. Even now many, if not most, Charismatics believe that the series of meetings at Azusa St., which were held three times a day, seven days a week and went on for years, was a second Pentecost, but as the following quotes from the very founders of Pentecostalism no less and other eye-witnesses will show, these venerated meetings were far from godly and in accordance with biblical order or precedent. The following is an eye-witness account of what occurred at Azusa St. one evening: "When I visited the Azusa St. Mission, the first person to attract my attention was a woman with a thin, white silk waist on, who stood shaking from head to foot...There were several rows of chairs in front of her that were filled with seekers. The coloured leader, Seymour, was preaching; but I could not keep my eyes off the woman who continued to shake until a man in front of her slid down out of his chair and became unconscious. I then lost sight of the woman. The man who fell in a vision was pale and thin, and under high nerve pressure, and continued in the same position on the floor until after a number of seekers had gathered around the altar. Then he arose, staggered to them and began to shake his hand in front of their faces and wave his arms over their heads and moan. He was still apparently in a half-conscious state. Then he put his hands on the heads of the women and began to shake their hair. Some of them lost control of themselves and went under a hypnotic spell. He rubbed a man’s jaw until the victim tumbled over on the floor and lay for half an hour, then suddenly began to jabber. Those who had received their ‘Pentecost’ cried out, ‘He has the baptism, he has the baptism!’" I challenge anyone to find a biblical precedent for any of this that was Holy Spirit-inspired, and not a display of demonic-inspired lunacy! Only the lost, naive, gullible and ignorant as they are, could possibly be deceived by such madness into thinking that they were in the presence, and under the influence, of the Holy Spirit of God.
The eye-witness account continues: "A young colored woman, doing her best to get the gibberish, went through all kinds of contortions in her efforts to get her tongue to work. While work among the seekers at the altar was going on, a colored woman had her arms around a white man’s neck, praying for him. A man of maturer years leaped out of his chair and began to stutter. He did not utter a distinct syllable, but as fast as tongue would work, he said, ‘tut-tut-tut-tut-tut.’ This was evidence he had his ‘baptism’. The woman who had on the silk waist appeared again, this time singing a far away tune that sounded very unnatural and repulsive....When the altar call was made, a woman walked up to the front and kissed a man...kissing between the sexes is a common occurrence in the tongues meetings." (‘Demons and Tongues’, pp. 71-73, A. White).
Another witness to these meetings, where disorder and confusion reigned, had this to report: "Our missionaries have been stationed at Los Angeles (where the Azusa St. meetings were held), during the whole history of the Tongues movement, and have watched it closely from the very first outbreak in Seymour’s meetings; and truly, conditions have been such that it would be impossible to publish the things that have occurred there. The familiarity between sexes in the public meetings has been shocking, to say the least. Hell has reaped an awful harvest and infidelity has become more strongly rooted on the Pacific coast than ever before." (‘Demons and Tongues’, p. 82).
The ‘Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements’, reporting on William J. Seymour, co-founder of Pentecostalism and pastor of the Azusa St. Mission, said, "Seymour moved away from a theology of tongues as the initial physical evidence of baptism in the Spirit. In point of fact, Seymour ultimately repudiated the "initial evidence" teaching (speaking in tongues) as providing "an open door for witches and spiritualists and free-lovism". (p.36). Strange, those who spoke in tongues in the Bible did not have any trouble with witches or the like at their meetings. "Azusa was typically described by the press as a ‘colored’ congregation that met in a ‘tumble-down shack’ and made the night ‘hideous’ through the ‘howlings of the worshippers’..." (p.36). Seymour’s co-founder, Charles Parham, concluded the following: "Never were God’s servants surrounded with more deceptive counterfeits of real divine experience than in this day and age...the magician’s work is so well nigh perfect, that it often is indeed hard to distinguish the true and the false...I have witnessed great dangers in the work here in Los Angeles, and in pointing them out I shall not refer to individuals, but to the work itself as a whole, so that we all may see the error of our way and get back to God." (‘The Life Of Charles Parham’, pp. 166-167). And this from the LEADERS of events that are held in as high regard today, by those who have perpetuated such ungodly events, as those holy, God-Authored events which occurred on the day of Pentecost. Now it is one thing to shrug off the critiques of those exposing the Pentecostal or Charismatic movements, but to ignore, or choose to remain ignorant of, the very warnings of the leaders who co-founded Pentecostalism and to choose to continue the traditions and practices, which these leaders themselves condemned, is unbridled foolishness!
One of, if not the most, disturbing aspect of these meetings at Azusa St., which many today ignorantly and blasphemously hold to as equal to the events of the day of Pentecost as recorded in the Scriptures, may be seen in the following accounts: "...spiritualists and mediums from the numerous occult societies of Los Angeles began to attend and contribute their seances and trances to the service. Disturbed by these developments, Seymour wrote to Parham (his spiritual father) for advice on how to handle ‘the spirits’ and begged him to come to Los Angeles and take over supervision of the revival." (‘The Holiness Pentecostal Movement in the United States’, p.110). "W.J. Seymour was still writing urgent letters appealing for help, as spiritualistic manifestations, hypnotic forces and fleshly contortions as known in the colored Camp meetings in the South, had broken loose in the meetings." (‘The Life Of Charles Parham’, p.156). Does any of this sound even remotely like a description of meetings between true Christians in the Bible? Of course not! Unlike the Azusa St. meetings, which not only attracted spiritualists and mediums and the like, but saw them actually take an active and not insignificant part in the meetings, we see that the outpouring of God’s one and only Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost resulted in the following, as is recorded for us in Acts 5:12,13: "And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s Porch. And of the rest durst no man join himself to them: but the people magnified them." No medium or witch dared to approach the Holy Spirit who was resident in the apostles who were performing genuine miracles by the power of the Holy Spirit. Rather than be a place to avoid, the meetings at Azusa Street were, in reality, a Mecca for spiritualists, witches and mediums alike! Merely because these facts are little known and rarely reported does not alter the fact that they are all documented and verifiable, historical FACT!!
The final comments from the pen of Azusa Street founder, Charles F. Parham, should resound in the minds of every charismatic today as they begin to see, and come to terms with, the corrupt foundation upon which their movement is based: "Let me speak plainly with regard to the work as I have found it here. I found hypnotic influences, familiar spirit influences, spiritualistic influences, mesmeric influences and all kinds of spells and spasms, falling in trances etc. All of these things are foreign to and unknown in the movement (the Apostolic Faith movement) outside of Los Angeles, except in the places visited by the workers sent out from this city." (‘The Life Of Charles Parham’, p. 168). Parham added: "After preaching two or three times, I was informed by two of the elders, one who was a hypnotist (I had seen him lay his hands on many who came through chattering, jabbering, speaking no language at all) that I was not wanted in this place" (‘The Life Of Charles Parham’, p. 163). I doubt whether there are very many Charismatics at all who are aware of the controversy and very un-Christian occurrences, not the least of which was the absence of the preaching of the Gospel of God, which characterized the infamous Azusa St. meetings.
The Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements informs us that: "There is now historical evidence to suggest that the Azusa St. revival was no more than confirmation of a phenomenon that had already begun among Black Holiness-Pentecostals" (p.80).
"Many former charismatics, including pastors, have renounced what they had at first believed were true gifts of the Holy Spirit. It is seldom realized that there are many former charismatics and pentecostals who have reassessed the whole issue in terms of Scripture, experience and history and have turned their back on the claims of a modern-day revival of biblical gifts. A former Pentecostal pastor of 25 years, G.E. Gardner, declared, "I have heard hundreds of messages in tongues, and interpretations. Not one has ever added anything of value to the meeting" (‘The Corinthian Catastrophe’, p.53). Gardner adds that the seeking of these modern charismatic experiences is ‘never harmless’ (‘The Corinthian Catastrophe’, p.55).
One of the most moving testimonies in this regard comes from a man who spent over 20 years in the pentecostal atmosphere of the Apostolic Faith Mission, Full Gospel Church and Assemblies of God, attending and assisting major campaigns by various leaders. He wrote: "I laid hands on the sick. I rebuked death. I prophesied. I spoke in tongues. I interpreted. I would say now, in all sincerity, that I saw and experienced nothing which would lead me to believe that Pentecostalism offers ANYTHING along the lines of the New Testament Church’s experience" (‘Reformation Today’, Oct/Nov. 1973, K. Haarnhof, p.20). The above quoted Pentecostal minister acknowledges that there are many sincere people in the Charismatic and Pentecostal movements, but his conclusions and his exposure of the ‘faulty doctrinal basis, manipulative indoctrination’ and ‘charged atmosphere’ remain firm. Sincerity can never be the evidence that substantiates what one is zealous for as being of God. And a zeal without right knowledge can never be of, or lead to, the true God (see Rom. 10:1-4). No one is saved because of zeal alone, or by sincerity alone, but only if one has been given the gift of the love of the truth that is revealed by God in His mighty Gospel (2 Thess. 2:9-14).
As can be clearly and immediately observed by the discerning believer in whom God’s Word of Truth and Spirit of Truth reside, these meetings at Azusa St., which initiated the first wave of modern-day charismania upon the world, were far from God-ordained. The meetings were clearly a satanic counterfeit of the wonderful events that occurred on the one and only birthday of the Christian Church: the day of Pentecost as described in the book of Acts. The Azusa St. meetings were not only a hive of satanic activity resulting in ungodly experiences and a spiritual free-for-all, but importantly, these experiences, which millions of people are seeking even today, also gave credibility to false gospels and the acceptance of such in the minds and hearts of their deceived recipients. God’s Gospel was never preached at Azusa Street and the Holy Spirit, therefore, never performed any work there. For why would the Spirit of Truth provide signs and wonders where the true and only Gospel of God was not preached. Nevertheless, the facts and the Scriptures were thrown to the wind as, from this unsightly and unscriptural mess, the Pentecostal movement grew and grew and later became popularly referred to, in the mid-1960's, as the Charismatic movement.
One New Testament scholar has made the following observation: "Too long (those who consider themselves) Christians have assumed that the noncharismatic must produce incontestable biblical evidence that the miraculous sign gifts did cease. However, noncharismatics have no burden to prove this, since it has already been proved by history. It is an irrefutable fact admitted by many Pentecostals. Therefore the charismatics must prove biblically that the sign gifts will start up again during the Church Age and that today’s phenomena are this reoccurrence. In other words, they must prove that their experiences are the reoccurrence of gifts that have not occurred for almost 1900 years." (‘The Cessation Of The Sign Gifts’, p. 374). While this is a very good point, it would be a rather futile exercise seeing that the Gospel has never once been preached by these charismatic groups, who place so much emphasis on their signs and wonders rather than on the Person and Work of Jesus Christ. The signs and wonders are really only the tip of the iceberg. What the even greater evil in all this Pentecostal and Charismatic chaos is, is the fact that amid all the excitement and smiling faces and the ecstatic experiences, the Doctrines of the Gospel of the of the Grace of God are not being preached and therefore no one is being saved. People have simply been hoodwinked, by all the activity and ecstatic hullabaloo occurring within Pentecostalism and Charismaticism, into believing that because all is being done in the name of Jesus, these movements are sanctioned by God Himself and all involved are Christians. NOTHING COULD BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH! If there is no Gospel, that is, God’s Gospel, then it is not a Christian gathering and any phenomena present is anything but Christian. The Scriptures state clearly in 2 John 9 that "Whosoever transgresseth and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, HATH NOT GOD..." If individuals who hold not to God’s Gospel have not God, what makes anyone think that a gathering of such people is attended, ordered and supported, by God? The math is quite simple: NO GOSPEL - NO GOD!!
In light of all the evidence presented, we can only conclude that though there are many sincere people in the Charismatic movement, the movement itself cannot be of God, for all the ‘gifts’, all the ‘signs’, all the ‘wonders’ it lays claim to are just as flawed and riddled with imperfection as those that are common to every like cult that has preceded it. This movement is nothing new, just the largest of its kind. There is no true Gospel accompanying any of these lying signs and wonders, so how can God be the one behind them? What would be the point of all these signs and wonders if the people experiencing them are not being taught the truth and being saved? I suggest that, rather than dismissing this article in anger and frustration, the charismatic have courage enough to read the book, 'The Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit', from which this article is taken and learn more startling facts about the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements they so zealously seek to defend and be a part of.
REPENT AND BELIEVE THE GOSPEL