The Legacy of Azusa Street
Has the global Pentecostal movement done enough to share Azusa's racial, ethnic, and gender diversity with the world?
Another of the biggest Pentecostal influences may be in church music. Pentecostals were not the first, but probably have been the most successful in introducing the popular music of the people into their worship. Further, the music they brought into the sanctuary was drawn from the particular styles of each church's region: salsa, bossa nova, Filipino flutes, cabaret tunes, and rock. Now other Christian churches have picked up on this, and guitars, electronic keyboards, and trap drums often cluster in front of Methodist or Catholic altars and pulpits.
Mainly, Pentecostals were farthest ahead of the curve in recognizing that people today are seeking a direct experience of God, the holy, or the transcendent mystery. An old Pentecostal saying sums it up: "When a man with an experience argues with a man who has an argument, the man with the experience wins." There is tendency throughout our society and many others to distrust institutions and hierarchies. Even the Roman Catholic Church, the most hierarchical of all, is now faced with widespread rebellion on the part of the laity, demanding more say in the way their church is run. The "Voice of the Faithful" movement in Boston is only one example of this groundswell.
Its lack of hierarchy and tendency to subdivide is, however, both the strength and weakness of Pentecostalism. With no bishops, no presbyteries, and certainly no Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, some of the newer Pentecostal offshoots can begin to exhibit questionable, sometimes even bizarre, qualities.
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