Spirit Baptism

The Pentecostal Experience in Theological Focus


The Pentecostal experience of Spirit baptism remains an important topic of discussion more than a century after the inception of the Pentecostal movement. In Spirit Baptism: The Pentecostal Experience in Theological Focus David Perry moves beyond traditional debates by focusing on the meaning and function of the experience within the Pentecostal community.

Grounded in the Pentecostal experience itself, he explores the meaning of the experience in terms of its cognitive, effective, constitutive and communicative function. He demonstrates the enduring value of the experience of Spirit baptism to the Pentecostal community and emphasises what is centrally important – a powerful and transformative encounter with the Holy Spirit.

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Biographical Note

David Perry, Ph.D. (2015), Australian Catholic University, is Vice President – Academic at Alphacrucis College in Sydney, Australia. As a theologian his focus is Pentecostal theology and he is a minister with Australian Christian Churches.

Table of contents



1 How Did We Get Here?
 1.1 Towards a Working Definition of Spirit Baptism
 1.2 Spirit Baptism in Pentecostal Focus
  1.2.1  Biblical Analysis
  1.2.2  Exegetical Challenges
  1.2.3  Theological Contributions
 1.3 The Need for Further Reflection

2 Experience and Meaning
 2.1 Pentecostal Philosophy and Worldview
 2.2 Experience
  2.2.1  Overcoming the Subjective/Objective Divide
  2.2.2  Experience as Pre-conceptual
  2.2.3  Experience as a Source of Doctrine
  2.2.4  The Interpreted Character of Experience
  2.2.5  Summary
 2.3 Bernard Lonergan’s Functions of Meaning
  2.3.1  Lonergan and Spirit Baptism Elsewhere
 2.4 Concluding Remarks

3 Spirit Baptism and Cognitive Meaning
 3.1 The Cognitive Function of Meaning Revisited
 3.2 What has Commonly Been Asserted about Pentecostal Spirit Baptism?
  3.2.1  Distinct From or Subsequent to Conversion
  3.2.2  The Purpose of Spirit Baptism is Enduement with Power
  3.2.3  Evidenced by Speaking in Tongues
  3.2.4  Summary
 3.3 Identifying the Core Assertions about Spirit Baptism
  3.3.1  To Name is to Give Meaning
  3.3.2  The Distinction between Judgement and Understanding
 3.4 Spirit Baptism is an Experience of the Holy Spirit
  3.4.1  Phenomenology
  3.4.2  The Question of Authority and the Chosen Sources
  3.4.3  Scripture
  3.4.4  Understanding
 3.5 Concluding Remarks

4 Spirit Baptism and Effective Meaning
 4.1 The Effective Function of Meaning Revisited
 4.2 Spirit Baptism and Eschatology
 4.3 Spirit Baptism as a Catalyst for Evangelism and Missions
 4.4 Shifting Eschatology
 4.5 Spirit Baptism and Social Action
 4.6 Changes in Effective Meaning
 4.7 The Effective Function of Spirit Baptism Today
  4.7.1  Created Participation in Passive Spiration
  4.7.2  An Outpouring of Divine Love
  4.7.3  A Broader Concept of Empowerment
 4.8 Concluding Remarks

5 Spirit Baptism and Constitutive Meaning
 5.1 The Constitutive Function of Meaning Revisited
 5.2 The Constitutive Function of Pentecostal Spirit Baptism
  5.2.1  Historically
  5.2.2  Presently
 5.3 Concrete Ecclesiology and the Challenge of Constitutive Meaning
 5.4 A Way Forward
  5.4.1  Institution and Charisma
  5.4.2  Operators and Integrators
  5.4.3  The Capacity for Spirit Baptism to Function Constitutively
 5.5 Concluding Remarks

6 Spirit Baptism and Communicative Meaning
 6.1 The Communicative Function of Meaning Revisited
 6.2 Glossolalia as a Communication of Elemental Meaning
  6.2.1  Theological Perspectives
  6.2.2  Narrative Perspectives
 6.3 The Communication of the Doctrine of Spirit Baptism
  6.3.1  Case Study: Pentecostal Spirit Baptism in Ecumenical Discussion
 6.4 A Suggested Rewording of the Doctrine
 6.5 Concluding Remarks

Appendix A: Testimonies of Pentecostal Spirit Baptism
Appendix B: AG US Conversions and Spirit Baptisms 1979–2003
Appendix C: AG US Water Baptisms and Spirit Baptisms 1979–2012
Appendix D: ACC Conversions and Spirit Baptisms 2005–2013
Appendix E: ACC Water Baptisms and Spirit Baptisms 2005–2013
Appendix F: National Church Life Survey 1991–2011



All interested in Pentecostal theology, pneumatology, or spirituality, and anyone concerned with the epistemological value of experience as a source of knowledge and doctrine.

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