The primary question that members within this modern day movement frequently ask, “What is Pentecost?” As valid as this question may be, many do not have the biblical passages to support what it is that they believe as a common people; instead, members within this social movement reason to believe some very interesting things. Though the question continues unanswered, members within the society constantly speculate Pentecost to be the outpouring of the latter rain otherwise referred to as “The Baptism of the Holy Spirit.” Unfortunately, many do not know the biblical meaning of Pentecost (a Greek term used by Jews living in the Grecian Diaspora to refer to the Jewish Holiday of Shavuot) nor the means by which first century believers of Messiah Yeshua partook of such feast. Whenever a member within this society attempts to look up the biblical origins of Pentecost and try to express its true biblical meaning, said individual tends to be ostracized from the rest of community and is said to have the spirit of the antichrist.
So, what is the history that members within this community express to believe? Members within this social movement wish to believe that they are a member of an organization with a long standing history. Many reason to believe that their history dates back to the early apostles who’ve waited for Messiah’s promise to take place: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8, NLT). Because these members have the ability to partake in glossolalia, many confuse glossolalia as being Messiah baptizing them with the Holy Spirit: “[…] the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in other tongues […]” (Acts 19:6, NLT). As a result of their mishandling of Scriptures, members within this social movement tend to perceive Pentecost to be a moment in history where first century believers received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, an empowerment to preach the gospel to all the nations of the earth.
1 On the day of Pentecost all the believers were meeting together in one place. 2 Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. 3 Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. 4 And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability.
Acts 2:1-4, NLT
What else do members of this social movement claim to believe? Members of this social movement want to believe that there has always been a handful of that has always had these gifts of the spirit that transcended down the many generations: “[…] do you remember G-d’s reply? He said, ‘No, I have 7,000 others who have never bowed down to Baal!’” It is speculated that once it was safe for these spirit-filled individuals to come out and worship as it was originally intended by first century believers, the movement grew taking hold of millions of people around the world today.
Unlike the alleged history that members within this social movement cling unto, historical evidence exists where both Messiah is NOT the founder of this movement and the true origins of glossolalia as it is practiced today.
Contrary to what the Pentecostals believe, Charles Fox Parham fathered the Modern Pentecostal Movement into what it is today. According to Vinson Synan, Ph.D., Formerly Director of the Holy Spirit Research Center; now Dean, the College of Divinity Regent University, he expressed how this early social movement came into existence: “Beginning in 1901 with only a handful of students in a Bible School in Topeka, Kansas, the number of Pentecostals increased steadily throughout the world during the Twentieth Century until by 1993 they had become the largest family of Protestants in the world” (Synan 2015). He even admits giving his readers the name of the first person to ever speak in glossolalia, an individual who has no ties to the first century believers like most members within this social movement pretend to imagine.
The first "Pentecostals" in the modern sense appeared on the scene in 1901 in the city of Topeka, Kansas in a Bible school conducted by Charles Fox Parham, a holiness teacher and former Methodist pastor. In spite of controversy over the origins and timing of Parham's emphasis on glossolalia, all historians agree that the movement began during the first days of 1901 just as the world entered the Twentieth Century. The first person to be baptized in the Holy Spirit accompanied by speaking in tongues was Agnes Ozman, one of Parham's Bible School students, who spoke in tongues on the very first day of the new century, January 1, 1901. According to J. Roswell Flower, the founding Secretary of the Assemblies of God, Ozman's experience was the "touch felt round the world," an event which "made the Pentecostal Movement of the Twentieth Century.”
As a result of this Topeka Pentecost, Parham formulated the doctrine that tongues was the "Bible evidence" of the baptism in the Holy Spirit. He also taught that tongues was a supernatural impartation of human languages (xenoglossolalia) for the purpose of world evangelization. Henceforth, he taught, missionaries need not study foreign languages since they would be able to preach in miraculous tongues all over the world. Armed with this new theology, Parham founded a church movement which he called the "Apostolic Faith" and began a whirlwind revival tour of the American middle west to promote his exciting new experience.
If the first century believers did not speak in glossolalia as it is practiced in the churches today, then who did? Sister Agnes N. Ozman is accredited with being the first person to speak in glossolalia. The Apostolic Archives International asserts, “Evangelist Agnes Ozman was assured a place in Pentecostal history when she became the first to speak in tongues at Charles Parham's Bethel Bible College in Topeka, Kansas. Despite conflicting accounts about her expectations and sequence of events her experience is usually credited with establishing the validity of Parham's assertion that tongues speech evidenced Spirit baptism” (Apostolic Archives International 2015).
Ozman herself testifies how she was the first to receive the baptism of the Holy Ghost.
"[...] It was nearly seven o'clock on this first of January that it came into my heart to ask Brother Parham to lay his hands upon me that I might receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. It was as his hands were laid upon my head that the Holy Spirit fell upon me and I began to speak in tongues, glorifying God. I talked several languages, and ir was clearly manifest when a new dialect was spoken. I had the added joy and glory my heart longed for and a depth of the presence of the Lord within that I had never known before. it was as if rivers of living waters were preceeding from my innermost being.
The following morning I was accosted with questions about my experience of the night before. As i tried to answer i was so full of glory that i pointed out to them the Bible references, showing that i had received the baptism according acts 2:4 and 19:1-6. I was the first one to speak in tongues in the bible school and it seemed to me that the rest were wanting to speak in tongues too. But i told them not to seek for tongues but to seek for the Holy Ghost. I did not know at that time that anyone else would speak in tongues. I did not expect the Holy Spirit to manifest Himself to others as He did to me."
Sister Agnes Ozman later remarried and became a founding member of The Assemblies of God Movement.
It’s important to realize that members of the modern Pentecostal Movement skewed sister Agnes Ozman’s personal account and claims. Most modern day charismatics have forgotten the identity of the first person to speak in glossolalia; in return, members within this organization tend to misrepresent the biblical account from the true historical account that the Modern Pentecostals claim to have truly happened. Ozman’s experience was nothing more than a challenge that Parham himself encouraged his Bible students to investigate. This experience has no true connection with the biblical events that once took place in Jerusalem during the Jewish Holiday of Shavuot and should be held in question by members of the international body of Messiah. It just goes to show that though some people can be genuine about what it is that they believe, they can be genuinely wrong about what they believe and how they present their information.
1. "Agnes Ozman - My Personal Testimony - 1901." Agnes Ozman - My Personal Testimony - 1901. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 May 2015.
2. "Ozman LaBerge, Agnes." Ozman LaBerge, Agnes. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 May 2015.
3. Synan, Vinson, Ph.D. "Request Information." The Origins of the Pentecostal Movement. Regent University, n.d. Web. 22 May 2015.
© 2015 by Nehr HaOlam Publications.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scriptures were taken from the New Living Translation of the Bible.
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