sexta-feira, 22 de maio de 2015

RETHINKING PENTECOST



…a crowd came together in bewilderment,
because each one heard
their own language being spoken
Acts 2:6 (read 2:1-11) - NIV
 
Pentecost has always captivated the imagination of the Church. In spite of the fact that the event is mentioned only once in the Bible, the Day of Pentecost has won a prominent place in the Christian calendar. It also became the central point of the great "revivals" of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, culminating in the Pentecostal and charismatic movements of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Certainly, Lucas never imagined that his modest narration of the Day of Pentecost would later serve to convey concepts contrary to its central message.

The central message of the Day of Pentecost is that all peoples are equal before God and that God speaks to everyone in his or her own language. It was a phenomenon that broke all national and linguistic barriers, because there were people there from “from every nation under heaven” who spoke many different languages, but everyone heard in his or her own language. Together they received the same message about the pouring out of the Spirit on all people.

But it was not long before misrepresentations and distortions started to appear. With the passage of time a language that everyone could understand morphed into an unintelligible jabbering called “speaking in tongues” that only a spiritual elite spoke and understood and which needed translators to interpret it to weaker believers. What was meant to be unifying became divisive. What was to be a solution for breaking down barriers between diverse cultures and languages became problem that separated people who spoke the same language. Paul was forced to spend large parts of his letters to counter divisions created by the pentecostalism deviations of his time. Pentecostalism continues to afflict the Church today.

Luke's Pentecost is an invitation to rethink our attitude and practice. The essence of Pentecost is to break down barriers of all types that separate people. We need to work on our own internal barriers. If our religion gives us motive for separating ourselves from the others because they are different from us in their religious orientation, we must rethink our faith. God may be speaking to them in a language that we cannot understand. When we run down someone else's religion we may be rejecting the other languages that God uses to speak to people who are different from us. The purpose of Pentecost is to recognize that God speaks to each one in his or her own language.

 

ACTS 2:1-11 – NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION (NIV)

THE HOLY SPIRIT COMES AT PENTECOST

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!”

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