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Pentecostalism v. Fundamentalism
How do Pentecostal and fundamentalist Christianity differ? Find out here.


Pentecostalism Fundamentalism
Definition Pentecostalism is a Christian religious movement emphasizing the "gifts of the Holy Spirit," traditionally first bestowed on the day of Pentecost. Fundamentalism is a Protestant view that affirms the absolute authority of the Bible, holds that Jesus died and was bodily resurrected as a sacrifice for humanity's sins, denies the theory of evolution, and holds that alternate religious views within Christianity or in other religions are false.
Numbers There are about 6 million white adults in Pentecostal denominations in the U.S. A broader definition, including all black Pentecostalists, charismatics, and certain other Protestants, brings the U.S. Pentecostal population to about 24 million. Pentecostalists are the fastest growing religious group in the world.
There are between 1 and 16 million fundamentalists in the U.S. Worldwide numbers are not available.
Not to Be Confused With. The charismatic movement: Often called neo-Pentecostalism, the charismatic movement emerged in the 1960s when Episcopal priest Dennis Bennett spoke in tongues. Charismatics have many of the same characteristics as Pentecostals, but they maintain their affiliations to specific, traditional denominations, including Catholicism, mainline Protestantism, and non-Pentecostal evangelicalism. Evanglicalism: Though some evangelicals consider themselves fundamentalists, and vice versa, they are not identical. Evangelicalism is an umbrella term that includes Pentecostal, charismatic, Anabaptist, and many conservative mainline Protestant groups. Evangelicals are conservative in Christian theology and often conservative in politics. Many evangelicals have distanced themselves from the anti-modern fundamentalist stance.
History Pentecostalism grew out of the Holiness movement in the mid-1800s. On Jan. 1, 1900, a Methodist named Agnes Ozman suddenly began speaking fluently in foreign languages; this moment is considered the beginning of Pentecostalism. The movement became more widespread a few years later with the beginning of the Azusa Street Revival. The Revival, led by African-American pastor William J. Seymour, lasted from 1906 to 1909 and brought together black and white Christians in prayer. By 1922, interracial prayer was almost nonexistent. Distinct white Pentecostal and black Pentecostal organizations remain today.
Fundamentalism grew out of an early 20th century movement centered on a series of pamphlets published between 1910 and 1915. "The Fundamentals: A Testimony to the Truth" emphasized the literal truth of the Bible. After the historic "Scopes Monkey" trial, fundamentalism became a more vocal, conservative, reactionary movement. People began calling themselves fundamentalists to distinguish themselves from liberal Christians.
Style of Worship
  • Emotional, musical, revival style
  • Speaking in tongues (glossolalia)
  • "Slayings in the spirit," baptism by fire, and holy laughter
  • Formal, structured worship
  • Emphasis on Bible study and preaching
  • Prayers for forgiveness of sin
  • Major Groups
  • Assemblies of God
  • United Pentecostal Church International
  • Pentecostal World Conference
  • Association of Vineyard Churches
  • Church of God in Christ
  • Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship
  • General Association of Regular Baptists
  • Southern Baptist Convention
  • Bob Jones University
  • Moody Bible Institute
  • Famous Authors & Preachers Benny Hinn, Jack Hayford, Jimmy Swaggart, T.D. Jakes, Jim Bakker, and Pat Robertson Bob Jones, Hal Lindsey, John Walvoord, and Jerry Falwell
    Gender Issues Pentecostalists have a history of gender inclusivity and most allow female evangelists and ministers. Most Pentecostal groups, however, do not permit female senior pastors. Fundamentalists espouse a strong belief in traditional family structures, with the man at the head of the household. They believe in God-ordained differences between the sexes and do not allow female church leaders.
    Politics Political affiliations tend to split along income lines, with lower incomes trending Democratic, and middle incomes voting Republican. Most Pentecostalists are highly critical of pop culture. Black Pentecostals tend to vote Democratic. The fundamentalist movement helped produce the Christian religious right in the 1970s and 1980s. Fundamentalists increased their foothold in American politics when Jerry Falwell formed the Moral Majority in 1980. In recent years, fundamentalists have become increasingly Republican.
  • Racial reconciliation is becoming a top priority for many Pentecostal groups.
  • John Ashcroft, former U.S. Attorney General, is the first Pentecostal to have attained such high political office (he is a former governor and senator of Missouri).
  • Continued importance of the Scopes trial in fundamentalist history and politics: A recent battle over the teaching of evolution in public schools was waged in Dover, Pennsylvania.
  • Jerry Falwell has succeeded in pushing the fundamentalist agenda to the forefront of American politics.
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