September 25, 2020

A Rant on The Baptism

A Rant of mine from the BHT. About the Pentecostal/Charismatic view of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.

The iMonk rants on the Baptism in/with/of/by the HS. (I was a bit cranky.)

The innovation of the Baptism in/with/by/of the HS (BHS from now on) as a separate experience from salvation is one of the great mistakes brought upon evangelicals by the Pentecostal community. It’s a mess, and it’s made a bigger mess. Having lived through the whole charismatic thing in the 70’s, I have a lot of bitter memories of what this all turned out to really be: an enormous con job. A con that’s still going on. People who trust in Christ being told they still need something else to REALLY be spiritual. Oop. Ack.

Let’s start with the exegesis. Acts 1:8 says that the Gospel will move out in Luke’s story in three concentric circles: Jerusalem, Samaria, and the World in general. So Acts shows us a separate Pentecostal experience for Jews (in Acts 2), Samaritans (in Acts 8) and Romans ( Acts 10). The Apostles witness each one so they will see what GOD is doing. (Note that there is no Pentecostal experience for the Ethiopian eunuch, because no apostle is present.)

From this, Pentecostals created an experience that divided the body of Christ into two halves. Those with, and without, “the baptism,” and the accompanying evidence of “tongues.” The fact that P/C tongues always turned out to be that “special prayer language” and not the actual languages of Acts 2, etc., didn’t really matter. Especially when the Pentecostal revivals of the early twentieth century decided to appropriate the whole Acts 2 experience as proof the ends times really where here, and they were riding the wave of restoring the end-times church and all those end-times miracles. (Don’t you p/cs get tired of always being told you are a special last time, end times, special bride generation?)

With a new way to create second class Christians in hand, and flush with the knowledge that all those un-spiritually baptized protestants at your local deadwood Baptist church were actually only half full of God, Pentecostalism proceeded to take over evangelicalism in most of the world. With experience now outdistancing scripture in every corner, it became easy to read every reference to spirit baptism as another reference to laying on hands and speaking in tongues. (I heard one Pentecostal preacher say that “lama lama” was Jesus praying in tongues. Yeehaw!)

Of course, the fact that scripture clearly taught that ALL Christians are spiritually baptized never slowed down this train. I Cor 12:13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body- Jews or Greeks, slaves or free- and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

Today, P/SCs have backed way off all this malarkey, and whole denominations- The Vineyard, for instance- appropriate Pentecostal views on everything except the separate experience of the BHS. Still, the damage is done, the work of the HS is now forever seen as some sort oGnosticic goose bump evidenced by acting like you are being zapped, and millions of evangelicals believe barking and rolling around drunk are likely evidences of the HS. I can’t talk to my P/C friends about much of anything because they are into an entirely different religion. We can’t even PRAY together because they spend all their time praying to the devil and various demons.

One P/C preacher I befriended eventually preached a sermon in MY chapel pulpit saying that I was blocking the work of the HS for not speaking in tongues. It really made him angry when I said I spoke in tongues for a year, but had to finally admit I was just making noise. Yes, under pressure from P/Cs who promised me the pow-wah, yours truly babbled on in shambala-shingy style from 1973-74. Right after I received the BHS “by faith.” Uh -huh.

Hey Pentecostals…listen. The rest of us have to say we are wrong all the time. It’s your turn. You are WRONG about the BHS. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Read Gordon Fee and I’ll be happy. When we are regenerated we are baptized in/with/by/to/for/whatever the HS and into Christ. Hence we are Christians. Quit dangling some spiritual experience and some non-existent gift out there like a carrot to those who really want to believe they are just a prayer away from being a super hero.

The work of the HS is ordinary. The extraordinary part is the fullness of God is ours in Christ and we are joined to him. All God’s promises- including the promise of the HS- are ours in him.The work of the HS is started before we ever ask for it. Yes, we are commanded to pray to be filled with the HS, just like we are commanded to drink of the water that is Jesus. But this isn’t a bonus. It’s another way of talking about faith.

Acts 2. One hundred twenty have the “Pentecostal experience.” Then Peter preaches. And says what?

38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”

And 3,000 believed and apparently received the gift of the HS. Without Pentecostal whiz bang. Whaddayaknow?

Tell ya what. When I start seeing the fruit of the Spirit in my life, somewhere close to Jesus, then I’ll run right over and be baptized in the HS so I’m really ready to rock.


  1. Gabriel says

    I’m with you- which I’m sure means a lot :)- up to the point that you speak of tongues as a “non-existent” gift. I still believe God does what he wants and gives whatever gifts He chooses. Paul did say that he spoke in tongues and wished all the Corinthians did too, although he admonished them that is was the least of the gifts.

    Obviously your experience was a sour one, but not all those who claim a gift are faking or bending to group pressure, regardless of how TBN sadly impresses us.

    I thought you made wonderful points. HS baptism, is too often not understood as the birth of grace into the Body that it is, and tongues, and other gifts, are often faked, abused, and used for a pitiful dividing line. But I couldn’t say “not there”.

  2. I am with you, in that I have also felt pressure to ‘fake’ tongues among people who thought that that was the sign of who was a “Real” Christian and who was not. The Spirit gives different gifts to different people for different purposes, and none are any ‘better’ than the other. He also touches us all in different ways-some of us get quiet and reverent, some ecstatic, some cry, some just get a feeling of peace. All very individual and all legitimate…I do not understand why some people want to think that everyone has to be exactly alike for it to be ‘evidence’ that God is working.

  3. Hey, it was only last week that a potentially wonderful brother in Christ harrassed me with the “do you speak in tongues?” all important question!

    I seem to be a magnet for this . . .

    just to tell u wot my response was – i spend less time trying to cultivate the “gifts of the spirit”, when im so occupied with the “fruit of the spirit”! Im still working on the love, joy, peace, self control and all that!

    Judge em by their fruits!

    Rev Tommy