Sunday, March 18, 2012


I have been writing all this stuff about other religions. Maybe those who are not familiar with my religious background would like to know about Pentecostalism and evangelical Christianity as I have experienced it and perceived it during my life. This could give a good context to the vocabulary I use and the point of view I have and the standard I compare other faiths to because it is what I know.



I would like to begin by giving a brief and incomplete history of Pentecostalism as it relates to me. Pentecostalism came to Finland in 1910 and sometime after that it found my grandfather on my father’s side and my grandmother from the same side. According to my father my grandfather lost his inheritance due to his conversion. He was set to inherit the family farm as the eldest but his father gave it to his younger brother instead who, according to my father, drank it away. My grandmother got saved when she was a teenager, shortly after her own mother (my great grandmother) did. Back them people were baptized often in the river running through the towns or in a lake for all the world to see.

My mother was the first in her family to convert to Pentecostalism. She was already grown and was witnessed (an evangelical term for sharing your beliefs for the purpose of proselytizing) to by one of her patients, she was a dentist. She does remember going to revival meetings with her aunts. Were these meeting Pentecostal or some other denomination? I don’t know and those are the details that don’t matter. The thing about evangelical Christianity, at least here in Finland, is that we are all on the same side. Whether Baptist, Pentecostal, Vapaakirkko (free church? nice folk, don’t know their English name), some independent Lutheran churches or any other group who believes in salvation by faith, only by faith and personal decision to follow Christ is on the same side pretty much. I will leave it at that because nothing is black and white.

Finland vs. America

The next thing I should perhaps mention is how I see Finnish Pentecostalism different from American Pentecostalism and evangelical Christianity, mostly Assemblies of God because that is what I experienced. What you, dear reader, must realize is that religion and religious perception is very culturally tied. The pro-death penalty, patriotism and God is on our side in war is an American thing. It comes from American culture and NOT FROM CHRISTIANITY. However, as America exports other aspects of its culture it exports its own brand of Christian Culture and its culture centered theology. As I look around, with the internet and fast communication, the face of Finnish Christianity changes to be more and more American. It used to be that all Finnish Pentecostal men went to weaponless service when drafted, like my father, but this no longer is universally the case and many more are going into regular service. Prosperity theology is starting to permeate the Finnish Pentecostal church as well, just like those translated worship songs that make me cringe. Also we don’t, or did not used to have Pentecostal churches, they were called (the best I can translate now) fellowships and the building was the fellowship hall. Also, no pastors (pastori), pastors were Lutheran; we had preachers (saarnaajat).


So, what is the Evangelical/Pentecostal core theology? We are all saved [from Hell] by accepting the sacrifice and forgiveness of sins Jesus gave on the cross when he died for all of us. Baptism is a recommended follow up step as it is a public show of what you believe to the congregation. It is not 100% necessary but many would doubt the sincerity of your faith if you did not do it. It used to be more of a big deal before like during my grandparents day as the fellowships did not have baptismal pools but had to baptize in a natural body of water for the whole town to see in public and it was a show to the whole world of the conversion. We do not practice child baptism as it is not something that can save you from Hell and children cannot go to Hell anyway. We do not believe in a purgatory or anything in between. There is an uncrossable chasm between Heaven and Hell.

Evangelicals/Pentecostals also believe in communion. In America grape juice is used and it is passed around (or served at a table up front that the congregation lines up to receive) in little cups on trays, much more sanitary than the common chalice used by many denominations. Also little pieces of bread are passed as well (or gotten at the table). In Finland this is the case as well. We use vine, but grape juice and gluten free bread is also available, at least at my church. Unlike in Catholicism these implements are never transformed into the literal blood and body of Christ but are symbolic remembrances of His sacrifice. It is not required for salvation. It is seen as an act of obedience and a following the example Christ gave us

Complete communion set

Pentecostals are distinguished by our belief if the gifts of the spirit, something mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12. Some other Evangelical denominations believe them to have stopped like the Baptists but I am not commenting on their views just pointing out that we are diverging from other Evangelicals here. The showiest gifts that are most often associated with the Pentecostals are the gifts to do with tongues. It is the belief that one can pray in an indistinguishable heavenly language when under the influence of the Holy Spirit. This is based on Acts 2 {}.

First of all there is a belief in the baptism of the holy spirit/ghost. This is the event during which the holy spirit of God enters the believer’s body, usually as a result of much prayer in a spiritually charged environment like a revival conference or the altar call or Benny Hinn crusade. Sometimes this happens without seemingly involving the person requesting this just by entering a spiritually charged environment. This indwelling of the Holy Ghost is often characterized by weeping, shaking falling down and, most noticeable of all, speaking in tongues, or rather praying in tongues. Speaking in tongues is a prophetic action when there is a translation of prophetic nature that follows. Some people say that a baptism in the Holy Spirit has to be accompanied by tongues, others do not. Some (Italian Pentecostals) actually do not believe you have gotten saved until you experience this baptism.

This is a reasonably good example of what speaking in tongues sounds like. He does not start doing it until well over halfway through. The singing in tongues is a completely new thing for me.

Well, that is all I can think of to cover in this crash course of Pentecostalism. If you have anything to add or to ask please don’t hesitate to comment. This is not a complete answer by any means and neither is it authoritative.

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