Vinson Synan writes,

“Added to [the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements] is the newest category that some called the “third wave” of the Holy Spirit. It originated at Fuller Theological Seminary in 1981 under the classroom ministry of John Wimber, founder of the Association of Vineyard Churches. This “wave” was comprised of mainline evangelicals who experienced signs and wonders but who disdained labels such as “Pentecostal” or “charismatic.” The Vineyard was the most visible movement of this category. By 2000 the third wavers, also called “neo-charismatics,” were credited with some 295 million members worldwide.” (The Century of the Holy Spirit: 100 Years of Pentecostal and Charismatic Renewal, 1901-2001, 9, emphasis mine)

There are two quick ways of defining the word “disdain”:

  1. to look upon or treat with contempt; despise; scorn.
  2. to think unworthy of notice, response, etc.; consider beneath oneself.

I really don’t think Synan is helpful when he suggests that those within the Third Wave category “disdain” the label of Pentecostal or Charismatic. In reality, the concern is first biblical / theological and the second is practical. Those of us in the Third Wave do not generally identify with those terms because (1) we do not believe that Spirit baptism occurs subsequent to salvation, (2) we do not believe that speaking in tongues is the initial and physical evidence of Spirit baptism, (3) we have concerns about the practical application of these two previous issues. Yet we would still strongly agree with Pentecostal / Charismatics with Continuationism and have many, many, many similarities.

I’m thankful for those who went before us as Continuationists… be it the charismatic mainline folks, the early Pentecostals, the sprinkles throughout church history, and the apostles. There is no disdain for those categories! Just some difference of opinion on important areas of distinction! But no disdain!

What do you think? If you are Pentecostal, do you feel disdain from Third Wavers? If you are a Third Waver, do you despise our Continuationist fore-bearers?

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