Are you experienced? Experience and pentecostal/charismatic hermeneutics

Just as the pentecostal and charismatic movements were born from a fusion of evangelicalism and revivalism1 with personal experience of the power of the holy spirit, so also their hermeneutics have developed in parallel with their theological forbears. Or in other words, while pentecostal and charismatic hermeneutics can be contextualised as historically evangelical, they are also more pragmatic, contemporary and experiential in their methodology and application. Furthermore while some charismatic experiences were preceded by bible study (such as Charles Parham’s Topeka, Kansas bible students’ search for a scriptural definition of the baptism in the Holy Spirit, which resulted in the experience of tongues2) others (such as the Toronto Blessing3 and even Peter’s explanation of the reported xenolalia on the day of pentecost4) represent examples of experience preceding its biblical understanding.

What separated the tongue-talking and prophesying breed of Christians that particularly came to the fore at the beginning of the 20th century from their non-Charismatic cousins was their emotional fervour and willingness – indeed desire for – an experience of God akin to that of the first century New Testament believers recorded in the biblical book of Acts. However due to the wide spectrum of pentecostal traditions and wider still distribution of Christians that consider themselves in some way charismatic (not to mention global cultural variations), tying down an all-encompassing pentecostal or charismatic theology, let alone a perfectly compatible hermeneutic, is virtually impossible.

In fact pinning down “the” definitive pentecostal hermeneutic is so elusive, according to Thomas, that he and indeed we would be better off grappling with “a” pentecostal hermeneutic instead5. Nevertheless, just as several broadly pentecostal tenets of faith can be isolated6, so too can a broadly compatible theology be defined. And in turn common hermeneutical models, beliefs and practices can be identified as well. But in an organism as varied and multifarious as pentecostal and charismatic Christianity there are always exceptions to the rule and therefore even these cannot be viewed as wholly representative.7

At this juncture it is also worth considering how we refer to the terms pentecostal and charismatic, as the usage of these varies too. For the purposes of this essay, pentecostal and charismatic hermeneutics are broadly differentiated by their respective heritages. Pentecostals on the whole evolved out of existing evangelical traditions before forging their own separate churches, which went on to follow distinct theological and hermeneutical paths. Charismatics on the other hand generally demonstrate a tendency to sometimes stay figuratively and even literally within the boundaries of their originating traditions8. For the purposes of clarity, this essay shares Donald Dayton’s view that “the charismatic movement” was subsequent and distinct from classical pentecostalism and therefore there are broad similarities in hermeneutical approach9 but there are also differences. Likewise the respective theological and hermeneutical approaches are generally developed (and to some extent constrained by) the two streams’ respective “home” organisations. Something both share is that, due to their common broadly evangelical heritage, pentecostal and charismatic hermeneutics centre on and are generally measured by canonical biblical scriptures. However as we shall see the interpretation and application of scripture with these groups can differ greatly.10

If ‘the word became flesh’11, what are we interpreting?

Now we have begun to establish some parameters, it is also important to designate the focus of our hermeneutical inquiry. Of course hermeneutics explain how we interpret a given source, but what are we interpreting in this case? It might sound like an obvious question, but upon closer inspection it isn’t as clear. However, in answering this question we find both the strongest common bond between pentecostal/charismatic hermeneutics and between these two streams in particular and the wider evangelical church in general – the central role of “the Word” of biblical scripture.

But what role does experience play? What distinguishes pentecostal and charismatic Christians from the rest of their generally12 shared protestant heritage is an openness to a broader range of interpretative source material and the clear importance of spiritual guidance in its interpretation. How then are the supernatural experiences described in the New Testament such as tongues, trances, visions and prophecy (which form a key part of pentecostal/charismatic praxis) to be interpreted in and of themselves? And what role – if any – do they play in the interpretation of the written scriptures? All this suggests that without present day charisma gifts, scripture is basically the only source material requiring interpretation and therefore hermeneutical methodology. But with them come the un-literary complications of mature use13, personal direction14, discernment15 and even prophetic hermeneutics16 that the scripture itself discusses.

Furthermore the question of whether or not scripture can adequately be interpreted apart from an experiential dimension is perhaps best raised by those of the pentecostal/charismatic persuasion who fully embrace this as opposed to cessationists who – deliberately or otherwise – focus on cerebrally interpreted understandings of scripture by ruling out present day exercise of charisma gifts. Thus what we are referring to when the common evangelical term “the Word” is employed requires some degree of interpretation in and of itself – or at least the acknowledgement that fundamentalist, evangelical, charismatic and pentecostal ears are liable to attach different understandings to this apparently simple two-word phrase they share in common.

A fundamentalist reading of these words would probably mean studying or hearing preaching directly from what are referred to as the inerrant17 scriptures, interpreted without any higher criticism18. This view also virtually mandates the use of a particular kind of grammatico-historical approach.19

An evangelical may agree, but may also hold a moderated version of this belief, substituting inerrancy with inspiration20 and in so-doing allowing for an arguably more flexible hermeneutic to be applied. One very recent example of this is Andrew Perriman’s offering of a “narrative-historical” approach21 to hermeneutics. NT Wright’s adoption of a “critical realism” methodology also represents an example of the application of literary and narrative techniques – again seeking to consistently interpret scripture by a critical establishment of boundary setting context. Such approaches straddle the divide between historical and literary approaches, leaving room for higher criticism not generally afforded by the other fundamentalists. However, they are limited inasmuch as they leave little room for the “spirit” of these words to be read outside of the context attributed by the chosen methodology.

A pentecostal hermeneutic may conform to either approach to some extent, generally without much in the way of higher criticism. In reality this makes such a hermeneutic both similar to and distinct from the evangelical definition offered above. In practice this predominantly means the addition of ‘hearing’ or experiencing God outside rigid or linear understandings of scripture – either in direct relation to it or in relation to life outside the text. Both bring with them additional implications with regard to what exactly is being interpreted. Here post-modern literary techniques, with approaches such as reader-response criticism offer a way of addressing both the text and the reader simultaneously and engaging with both what the text means and what it means to the reader.

Charismatics may also find common ground with both previous definitions of “the Word”, but could also compose their own understanding based again on their particular combinations of views on inerrancy and inspiration. In addition, anecdotal experience of charismatic Anglican churches, for example, suggest a greater reliance on an evangelical foundation rather than the arguably closer allegiance with fundamentalism found in the pentecostal stream. Thus the preached element of the liturgy is widely referred to as someone “speaking”22 or “the talk23” rather than “the Word”. Switching the focus of what is being attended to has the effect of subtly modifying the degree to which the listener expects to “hear” God directly in the preached element of worship and could perhaps suggest that that listener is receiving human views or filtered interpretation of what God is saying in the scriptures.

However, at the other end of the spectrum, those in the so-called prophetic tributary of the “third wave24” neo-charismatic stream may go as far as considering human mediated contemporary prophecy as being “the Word” or may subliminally replace the definite article with “a Word”. There is some evidence that this heightened experiential emphasis unbalances understanding and behaviour resulting (in extreme cases) in practices such as in spiritual drug taking25 that require no scriptural precedent and appear eccentric compared even with the most dramatic pentecostal and charismatic examples.

The difference between all the charismatic/pentecostal views and more traditional fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals is that the latter tend to exclusively focus their hermeneutical energies on the 66 books of the bible they deem to be canonical scriptures. In so doing there is a tendency26 within these camps to focus on the written word to the exclusion of everything else27. Under this logic the terms exegesis (generally meaning interpretation of written sources) and hermeneutics (interpretation in general) are interchangeable because they literally refer to the same thing. And while the methodology employed and the theological outcomes of fundamentalist and evangelical approaches certainly differ, without the charisms they are broadly examining the same thing – the words of the printed bible.

As we have seen, these kinds of word-heavy interpretations are often paired with historical-grammatical approaches to hermeneutics, while the more spirit and therefore experience orientated pentecostal traditions lean towards more postmodern influenced literary techniques. However, the paradox here is that movements within pentecostalism can also link fundamentalist interpretations of scripture with readings that can only be obtained with the aid of hermeneutics that are best described with postmodern literary methods. What Archer and Anderson have termed “plenary relevance”28 (that is: treating the bible as an Encyclopedia of answers to the believer’s problems) is a key example of this and led to the widespread use of the so-called bible reading method widely employed by early pentecostals and many today. On the one hand this approach tends to avoid higher criticism, assuming every letter read is “the Word of God”. However the collating of scriptures from across the 66 books without necessitating particularly thorough consideration of authorial intent, history or context is somewhat postmodern, implicitly assuming the presence of a bible wide meta-narrative.

The common charismatic and pentecostal use of so-called “rhema29” words – the belief that God speaks to individuals through ancient scriptures into a present or future situation quite separate and distinct from its perceived original setting – is even more post-modern. While it is seldom described like this, this belief is based on the implicit application of inter-textual referencing (between the books of the bible written by different authors across centuries) and extra-textual application (between the prophetic metaphor illustrated by the identified scripture and the present day application of it) within the context of the aforementioned meta-narrative.

But here we find another paradox. Far from this being a departure from the scriptures that requires defence with “correct” interpretation as some fundamentalists and evangelicals may argue30, interpreting scriptures inside the history or context of their original writing (or indeed questions relating to the intentions of their human author) was not apparently necessary for the Apostles themselves. Instead Peter specifically appears to have adopted a pentecostal and even postmodern hermeneutic sometime before the actual day of pentecost, following the suicide of Judas as recorded in the book of Acts.

In Acts 1:24 Peter explains the divine providence of Judas’ decision to take his own life and the consequences it has on organisational hierachy of the pre-pentecost proto-church by saying:“For it is written in the Book of Psalms, “‘May his camp become desolate, and let there be no one to dwell in it’; and “‘Let another take his office’”, quoting isolated individual verses from Psalm 69:25 and Psalm 109:8 respectively. In so doing he breaks virtually every basic rule of context insisted on by fundamentalists and recommended by even charismatic bible teachers.31

Another even more marked example can be found in the Word of Faith branch of contemporary pentecostalism, which combines what are akin to fundamentalist or early pentecostal interpretations of scripture with an enhanced kind of spiritual illumination or revelation utilising a particular definition of what it means to receive a “rhema” word.32 For them a “revealed” word spoken in faith actually has the potential to physically manifest in a parallel interpretation of John 1:1.

While other charismatics occupy various points between these poles, a recent interview with reformed scholar Vern S. Poythress further highlights the distinction between conservative and more progressive views33 and demonstrates the exaltation of a particular approach as the way of interpreting scripture. It also provides an illustration of the relatively confrontational language employed and the theological zero sum philosophy34 held by this side of the debate:

“Once we stand back from the seduction of modern assumptions, it is easy to see that they are radically at odds with the Bible itself…We can also consider modern literary approaches, in distinction from approaches that focus on the history behind the Bible. Evangelicals have warmed up more to literary approaches, because these typically concentrate on the finished text of the Bible, rather than speculating about sources. By common grace, literary approaches can give us insight, because the books of the Bible are produced by God in a way that takes account of and utilizes the literary and narratival resources that God himself has already ordained within the languages that he uses.”35


Thus the distinction between terms like exegesis and hermeneutics is of little significance for those on the fundamentalist end of the spectrum as for them the life of faith almost exclusively centres around particular interpretations of scripture and their application. Indeed Poythress’ sole reference to evangelical hermeneutics is apparently oblivious of both the differences between pentecostal and charismatic hermeneutics and the rapidly growing body of academic work based on this as it lumps them all under the term evangelical. The only other explanation is that they are overlooked altogether. Apart from the obvious weakness of an approach that fails to recognise the scale and influence of global pentecostalism, the fact that this argument represents something of throwback to the liberal/modernist/fundamentalist controversy of the 1920s and an argument over the validity of different hermeneutical models threatens to make it something of an irrelevance in practice. And such an anti-pragmatic stance serves only to further the divide between cessationist fundamentalism, broader evangelicalism and charismaticism/pentecostalism.

However, it has to be said that the communication of pentecostal hermeneutics has also demonstrated some antipathy towards opposing views, attributing the lack of acceptance of literary approaches to “Puritan rationalism.”36 Nevertheless recent years have brought with them a growing body of work defining and refining this broad hermeneutic. Generally they avoid a modernist versus postmodernist dichotomy and direct involvement in the fundamentalist controversy with the combination of some theological sidestepping and a balancing ecclesiological counterweight. According to Oliverio, Pentecostal scholar Amos Yong defines “experience, the Word of God and the ecclesial/theological tradition” as the three central objects of theological interpretation and therefore hermeneutics:37

“Such a claim moves him beyond the conservative Protestant methodology of developing a systematic theology from a biblical foundationalism. He legitimizes the theological exegesis of experience as he finds this, in actuality, to be inevitable in theological hermeneutics. And since he holds that language is inextricable from perception, he accounts for experience as both the medium of interpretation and one of its objects.”38

Yong is certainly not alone in this. Many others such as Archer and Thomas have suggested similarly multifaceted models. Furthermore Thomas writes that one of the earliest Pentecostal theologians to concern themselves with how scripture was used and interpreted within the tradition was Gerald T. Sheppard who highlighted that the large North American based Assemblies of God pentecostal denomination has historically used the scripture as a way of informing its religious experience via “literal, not historical (in the sense historical critical)” approaches to the Bible. Sheppard also reportedly pointed out that early Pentecostals avoided being forced to make a choice between “liberal or conservative uses of historical critical methods, but instead were interested in a ‘spiritual criticism’.”39

Furthermore, HM Ervin described the alternatives in terms of something that appears to be a development of the Barthian concept of illumination: “It is a word for which, in fact, there is no hermeneutic unless and until the divine hermeneutes (the Holy Spirit) mediates an understanding”. Or in other words, “the Word” won’t cease to be simply a collection of written words unless you allow the Holy Spirit to breathe life into it, and in so doing into you, transforming it into and experience/word combination.40 In making this conclusion scholars like Thomas, Yong and Ervin are basically opening the door to a phenomenological approach which in turn validates the use of postmodern literary methods and the role of experience. If what requires hermeneutics reaches beyond the letters of the biblical text (stretching into the realm of experience) and if experience of the transcendent itself is a requirement of scripture interpretation, we have moved far beyond the textual and its associated questions of context, historical context and authorial intent and into the inter, intra and extra-textual and the consubstantial realm of reader-response and meta-narrative.41

The experience spectrum

So if experience is indeed a key distinctive of pentecostal and charismatic hermeneutics, this provides us with the opportunity for an exercise in what we might call contextualised or practical hermeneutics. One of the reasons for the rapid growth of charismatic and pentecostal Christian faith is the theological pragmatism that is evident in the movement. Attainment of formally recognised academic qualifications and engagement with discussions like those we are grappling with here were certainly not a prerequisite for the establishment and leadership of pentecostal churches at the turn of the twentieth century and in all the places where pentecostal faith is growing fastest (such as Africa, China, South America) this remains the case.42 Therefore the interplay between the bible and experience in contemporary pentecostal and charismatic hermeneutics is better demonstrated with practical examples, which can also serve to clarify the descriptions offered so far.

Before looking at specific examples, it may help to offer a two-dimensional way of positioning the various approaches within the spectrum. If it were a mathematical equation the first plane might look something like this:

H + E = S

Where H (the historic and ecclesiological background of the particular charismatic and pentecostal expression) + E (the extent to which experience is an influencing factor in the hermeneutical process) = S ( where the charismatic or pentecostal stream examined might fit on the broader spectrum of pentecostal and charismatic hermeneutics). The result is a continuum of the role of experience in hermeneutics, linked to “home” tradition, with low experiential involvement at one end and high on the other.

In practice discussions to this end run the risk of being reduced down to a two-dimensional word versus spirit continuum, based on the pre-supposition that the pair are binary opposites. So in order to avoid this we can further refine our focus if on top of the first continuum we superimpose a second spectrum focusing on the particular hermeneutical methodologies employed, which as we have seen suffer from a similar problem. In its simplest form this would see fundamentalism and biblical foundationalism on one extreme owing into modernist historical critical approaches before the literary techniques such as reader response criticism on the other.

This illustration draws its inspiration from self-confessed Reformed Charismatic author Adrian Warnock’s spectrum of charismatic belief43, which itself collates ideas ranging from those credited to well-known Reformed pastor John Piper to Jack Hayford, the former leader of the pentecostal International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. Its weakness is that it is in danger of invalidating the experience of those perceived to be to experience-heavy under the assumption that this will damage the authority of scripture. This is problematic for me personally because although I am evangelical verging on the fundamental in my approach to scripture this admittedly less than serious online survey contradicted itself by also scoring me very highly for my “charismatic beliefs” and even higher for my “charismatic experience.” As a result the system’s conclusion was that I am an extreme charismatic in danger of compromising the integrity of scripture, despite my relatively uncompromising views on the authority of the Bible. This anecdote illustrates a common flaw in the assumed strength of one interpretative methodology over another. So rather than making the reformed/evangelical biased hermeneutical pre-suppositions of this relatively informal measure, the experience spectrum I have suggested seeks to recognise a wider range of charismatic and pentecostal expressions while simultaneously placing them in an appropriate methodological context.

This exercise somewhat sums up this essay. While experience is clearly a key distinctive of pentecostal and charismatic hermeneutics, there is no reason why there has to be a “divorce between the Word and the Spirit”44 or why this distinctive has to be divisive. On the contrary, as our earlier example of Peter in Acts 1 demonstrates, hermeneutics we might now term postmodern actually appear to have been present in the historical context of the original text. Therefore this should be seen as just as valid as the historico-grammatical influenced approaches and others in between, resulting in a kind of symphonic hermeneutics exalting the validity of multiple perspectives in this field just as Poythress wrote regarding theology.45

Therefore the sometimes hostile response to early pre-pentecostals, pentecostals and later on charismatics reading (or indeed hearing) of the bible from some quarters, some of which continues to this day, is a misnomer. As Mark Maclean wrote, “Pentecostal hermeneutics will either be a well articulated, canonically based expression of normative Christianity, or the twentieth century Pentecostal movements will wither after the deaths of their charismatic leaders…”46 But that was 1984 and there are now hundreds of millions of pentecostals around the world. The movement clearly did not die out with its charismatic leaders so either a well articulated hermeneutic was not needed or we do in fact have one. My conclusion is that while there is a growing body of work defining and explaining pentecostal hermeneutics this is far from consciously or uniformly upheld and therefore there are few universally held distinctives. Alternatively it could be said that there is a distinct hermeneutic, but it did not need to be articulated as clearly as Maclean thought. What we do have is the experience that experience remains central to pentecostal and charismatic understandings and that this distinctive, set against whichever theological and ecclesiological background it is applied in helps us understand where differing groups fit on a spectrum of pentecostal and charismatic hermeneutics and indeed theology.


Anderson, Allan, An Introduction to Pentecostalism, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2004

Kenneth J. Archer, A Pentecostal Hermeneutic for the Twenty-first Century: Spirit, Scripture, and Community, JPTSup, 28; London T&T, Clark, 2004.

Cartledge, Mark, Charismatic Prophecy: A Definition and Description, Journal of Pentecostal Theology 5, 1994, 79 – 120

Claridge, Matthew, A conversation with Vern Poythress, Credo, 13/07/12 [Last accessed 30/07/12]

Crowder, John, The Ecstasy of God 1-4, Sons of Thunder [Last accessed 06/09/12]

Dayton, Donald, Theological Roots of Pentecostalism, Pneuma, Volume 2, Number 1, 1980 pp. 3-21

Henry, Carl., F.H., God, Revelation and Authority, vol. 4, Waco, Texas, Word Books, 1979

Hughes, Tim Holding Nothing Back, [Last accessed 13/08/12]

IBIC, Explaining Hermeneutics: A Commentary on the Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics, Oakland, California: International Council on Biblical Inerrancy, 1983

Kay, William, K., Pentecostal Education, Journal of Beliefs & Values, Vol. 25, No. 2, August 2004, 2-3

Keener, Craig S. Bible Interpretation,, 2005 [Last accessed 07/08/12]

Lyons, William John, The Fourth Wave and the Approaching Millennium: Some Problems With Charismatic Hermeneutics Anvil 15 (1998) 169-80

Maclean, M., D., (1984) Towards a Pentecostal Hermeneutic, Pneuma 6, number 2: 35-56

May, Robert J., The Role of the Holy Spirit in Biblical Hermeneutics [Last accessed 10/09/12]

Oliverio, L. William An Interpretive Review Essay on Amos Yong’s Spirit-Word-Community: Theological Hermeneutics in Trinitarian Perspective, Journal of Pentecostal Theology, 18 (2009) 308

Perriman, Andrew, Understanding the big picture of the Bible: a guide to reading the Bible well 06/09/12, Postost, [Last accessed 06/09/12]

Poythress, Vern, S., Symphonic Theology: The Validity of multiple perspectives in Theology, Phillipsburg, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company (1987, reprinted 2001).

Thomas, John Christopher, What is the Spirit Saying to the Church – The Testimony of a Pentecostal in New Testament Studies in Spawn, in Kevin L., and Wright, Archie T. (eds) Spirit and Scripture: Exploring a Pneumatic Hermeneutic, London, T&T Clark International (2012)

Thomas, John Christopher, Where the Spirit leads: The development of Pentecostal Hermeneutics, Journal of Beliefs and Values, (2009) 30:3, 289 – 302

Torrey, R, A., The Fundamental Doctrines of the Christian Faith, New York, George H. Doran Company (1918)

Warnock, A, How Charismatic are YOU? A Spectrum of belief and practice 1 December 2011 [Last accessed 22/05/2012]

Wright, James Profiles of Divine Healing: Third Wave Theology Compared With Classical Pentecostal Theology, Asian Journal of Pentecostal Studies, 5:2 (2002), 271-287

1 Donald Dayton, Theological Roots of Pentecostalism, Pneuma, Volume 2, Number 1, 1980 pp. 3-21

2Allan Anderson, An Introduction to Pentecostalism, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2004 pp. 34

3William John Lyons, The Fourth Wave and the Approaching Millennium: Some Problems With Charismatic Hermeneutics Anvil 15 (1998) 169-80

4Acts 2:16, The Holy Bible, New International Version. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1986
Bradley Noel, Pentecostal and Postmodern Hermeneutics: Comparisons and Contemporary Impact, PhD Thesis, University of South Africa, 2009, 261

5John Christopher Thomas, What is the Spirit Saying to the Church – The Testimony of a Pentecostal in New Testament Studies in Spawn, Kevin L. and Wright, Archie T. Spirit and Scripture: Exploring a Pneumatic Hermeneutic, London T&T Clark International (2012), pp. 115

6Dayton, Theological Roots, 4

7Just as there are numerous theological differences and exceptions between the various pentecostal and charismatic traditions so too we must be prepared for a similar variety when it comes to hermeneutical methodology.

8The charismatic British House Church movement is an example of an exception to this inasmuch as it originated neither as a classically pentecostal movement nor a result of renewal in mainstream denominations.
See Mark Cartledge, Charismatic Prophecy: A Definition and Description, Journal of Pentecostal Theology 5, 1994, 80

9Ibid. Although it can be argued that pentecostalism itself is part of a broader charismatic traditional that can be identified throughout the history of Christianity

10Owing to the vast range of Christian traditions in existence and the wide variety of approaches adopted by these, this essay generally focuses on how pentecostal and charismatic hermeneutics differs from wider evangelicalism and protestant fundamentalism as opposed to comparing and contrasting with the other global traditions such as the more ecclesiologically influenced the Roman Catholic (where the church traditions and hierarchy have an important role to play) and the more iconographic Orthodox churches (that are less likely to exclusively consider scripture within the bounds of terms such as narrative, literal and reader).

11John 1:1

12Often, but not exclusively. Well known charismatic Catholics such as Francis MacNutt share much of their theology and praxis in common with charismatics from a variety of different backgrounds.

131 Corinthians 13

14Acts 16:9-10; Acts 21:10-11

151 John 4:1

16Acts 11:5 as well as revelation of the particular application of new covenant beliefs such as the end of Old Testament food laws (Acts 5:11) and the Pauline revelation of “Christ in You, the hope of glory” (Col 1:27).

17R. A. Torrey, The Fundamental Doctrines of the Christian Faith, New York, George H. Doran Company (1918)

18WE DENY the legitimacy of allowing any method of biblical criticism to question the truth or integrity of the writer’s expressed meaning.” Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics (1982), Article XVI in Explaining Hermeneutics: A Commentary on the Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics, Oakland, California: International Council on Biblical Inerrancy, 1983

19Article XVIII, Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy

20Evangelical Alliance, Basis of Faith, London,Evangelical Alliance [Last accessed 05/09/12]

21Andrew Perriman, Understanding the big picture of the Bible: a guide to reading the Bible well 06/09/12, [Last accessed 06/09/12]

22As in public speaking or oratory rather than prophesying preaching or even teaching.

23Tim Hughes, Holding Nothing Back, [Last accessed 13/08/12]

24James Wright, Profiles of Divine Healing: Third Wave Theology Compared With Classical Pentecostal Theology, Asian Journal of Pentecostal Studies, 5:2 (2002), 271
Lyons, William John, The Fourth Wave, 170

25John Crowder, Ectasy of God 1-4, Sons of Thunder, [Last accessed 07/09/12]

26There are numerous examples demonstrating this, but this particularly recent exchange between Vern Poythress and Matthew Claridge serves as a reminder that this influence is both contemporary and continuing. Matthew Claridge, A conversation with Vern Poythress, Credo, 13/07/12 [Last accessed 30/07/12]


27Robert J., May, The Role of the Holy Spirit in Biblical Hermeneutics, [Last accessed 10/09/12]

28Kenneth J. Archer, Early Pentecostal Biblical Interpretation, Journal Pentecostal Theology, 18 (2001), 68;
Anderson, An introduction, pp.225

29R. T. Kendall, Word + Spirit = Power, Ministry Today, March/April (2004),, [Last accessed 10/09/12]
In fact Kendall’s definition in this article “Rhema is a biblical word–used 70 times in the New Testament–sometimes indicating what is prophetic, personal and immediate” is somewhat removed from the term’s widespread usage in pentecostal circles, perhaps revealing an unintended bias towards Kendall’s deeply Reformed background along with its in inherent emphasis on “exegesis” or “expository word.”

30Thomas Smail, Andrew Walker and Nigel Wright, ‘Revelation Knowledge’ and Knowledge of Revelation: The Faith Movement and the Question of Heresy, Journal of Pentecostal Theology, 5 (1994), 64

31Craig S. Keener, Bible Interpretation,, 2005 [Last accessed 07/08/12], which relies heavily on
Craig S. Keener, Bible Background Commentary: New Testament, Downers Grove, Illinois, InterVarsity, 1993 and
Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart How to Read the Bible for All its Worth , Zondervan, (2003)

32Anderson, An Introduction, pp. 221;
Smail, Walker and Wright, ‘Revelation Knowledge’, 64

33Claridge, A conversation with Vern Poythress

34When the apparent correctness of one point of view renders opposing positions or differing interpretations null and void.


36Terry Cross, A Proposal to Break the Ice: What can Pentecostal Theology Offer Evangelical Theology?, JPT 10.2 (2002), PP. 44-73, cited in Cartledge, M.,Text-Community-Spirit: The Challenges Posed by Pentecostal Theological Method to Evangelical Theology, pp. 132 inKevin L. Spawn and Archie T. Wright (Eds) Spirit in Scripture: Exploring a Pneumatic Hermeneutic

37L. William Oliverio, An Interpretive Review Essay on Amos Yong’s Spirit-Word-Community: Theological Hermeneutics in Trinitarian Perspective, Journal of Pentecostal Theology, 18 (2009)308


39John Chistopher Thomas, ‘Where the Spirit leads’ – the development of Pentecostal hermeneutics, Journal of Beliefs and Values, 30:3, (2009), 289 – 303

40Howard M. Ervin, Hermeneutics: a Pentecostal Option, Pneuma 2:2 (Fall 1981):4, 12

41Nevertheless while for pentecostals and charismatics the role of experience is a key part of both interacting with scripture and living the Christian life, it does not generally come without the dual anchors of scripture and community.

42William K. Kay, Pentecostal Education, Journal of Beliefs & Values, Vol. 25, No. 2, August 2004, 2-3

43Adrian Warnock, How Charismatic are YOU? A Spectrum of belief and practice 1 December 2011 [Last accessed 22/05/2012]

44Kendall, Word + Spirit

45Vern S., Poythress, Symphonic Theology: The Validity of multiple perspectives in Theology, Phillipsburg, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company (1987, reprinted 2001).

46M. D. Maclean, (1984) Towards a Pentecostal Hermeneutic, Pneuma 6, number 2: 35-56

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