The Pentecostal Movement is not new, but neither is it old, in Christian terms: it stretches back several hundred years, but not several thousand. We won't go into all the history; that has been done by others. The early history of Pentecostalism in America includes such zany figures as John Alexander Dowie (1847-1907), the so-called "Father of Healing Revivalism in America," founder of "Zion City" in Illinois; Charles Parham of Topeka, Kansas (1873-1929), founder of the "Fire-Baptized Holiness Church" and head of a "Bible school" there;" and, of course, the flamboyant, sensual, and incredibly meretricious Aimee Semple McPherson (1890-1944), the notorious, headline-seeking founder of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. "Sister Aimee" was the first to use mass meetings, and especially the medium of radio, to increase her audience, and she was as successful as she was shamefully immoral : for a time, this slattern (three husbands and uncounted "hookups") was the most popular woman on America's radio waves, except for First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. All of these people (except for Mrs. Roosevelt) claimed to be latter-day prophets and/or apostles of God, although the true Apostolic Age ended in the First Century; all preached a "gospel" of physical healing, speaking in tongues, and claimed to be able to perform all the miracles of the original apostles, because they had been "gifted" (that's what "charismatic" means) in a special way by God. They were, probably without exception, possessed by unclean spirits, popularly known as demons.
"Sister Aimee" and an early convert
The worst offenders in this affair, although there are scores to choose from, are Kenneth Copeland, Marilyn Hickey, Joel Osteen, Creflo Dollar, Robert Tilton, Paul and Jan Crouch of the Trinity Broadcast Network, Jimmy Swaggart, and the king of the swindlers, Benny Hinn. Hinn has publicly cursed any and all critics of his ministry, once lamenting that he didn't have a "Holy Ghost machine gun" to shoot them with; a woman speaking from his pulpit once made the charming suggestion that "You Christians need a Holy Ghost enema up your rear end." (My apologies; I'm quoting Benny Hinn's lovely wife .) Do these sound like the words of Jesus, Paul, or Peter?
These people may or may not be Christians; that's up to God to decide. But they are not preaching Christianity, and in fact are damaging its reputation with Satanic empowerment and Satanic methods. I do not apologize for naming names; I apologize that I missed so many. But study the following "church service," featuring both Kenneth Hagin (the older man being led around) and Kenneth Copeland (in the tan suit and orange shirt). Does this look like the ministry of Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit, or does it look like madness and the activity of demons? Please remember: Hagin and Copeland, the men in this video, are two of the most respected men in this movement. They are not the "extreme;" they are the norm. Or, has been said of Jack Hayford, author of the song "Majesty," they are "the Pentecostal Gold Standard:"
If this is Christianity, may God deliver us from it. And if you're bound up in it, He can, and He will! But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy (James 3:17).
Benny Hinn "ministering"