Last week I had the opportunity to be interviewed on the “Sunday Night” program of ABC Radio. Our topic was the theology of faith and experience in the Pentecostal Churches, but we covered much more than that. (You can listen to the full program here). One caller rang in to share his perspective: “From what I know of Pentecostal churches, you’re supposed to check your intellect in at the door if you’ve got one… (But you all sound fairly reasonable people…)”
The other panelists and I laughed hard… Glad we came across as being ‘reasonable’! But in some ways his comments are not surprising. Apart from the somewhat distorted image Pentecostal churches have in our Australian media, his comments reflect a bit of a tension some see between faith and reason; between rationalism and the supernatural.
The modern Pentecostal church started as a working class movement with a hunger to see First Century miracles repeated in their day. It was almost a reaction against highly educated leaders who had rationalized supernatural phenomena away reducing them to metaphors and myths. Miracle stories were seen to be important for teaching and perhaps confirmation of Jesus’ divinity back then, but certainly not to be taken seriously as a pattern of what God could and should do today.