Original Research

Spirit baptism and the doctrine of initial evidence in African Pentecostal Christianity: A critical analysis

Mookgo S. Kgatle
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 76, No 1 | a5796 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v76i1.5796 | © 2020 Mookgo S. Kgatle | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 17 August 2019 | Published: 09 March 2020

About the author(s)

Mookgo S. Kgatle, Department of Christian Spirituality, Church History and Missiology, Faculty of Human Sciences, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

Pentecostalism is known for the belief in Spirit baptism that is accompanied by the doctrine of initial evidence, that is, speaking in tongues. The practice of the doctrine of initial evidence has become a unique feature of Pentecostalism for many years since its beginning. Similarly, Spirit baptism and the doctrine of initial evidence are practised in African Pentecostal Christianity, especially in classical Pentecostal churches and charismatic movements. However, there are challenges with this doctrine: speaking in tongues is perceived as the only evidence, and there is an emphasis on gifts than fruit of the Holy Spirit and a great emphasis on public spiritual experiences than personal encounters with God. In re-imagining the doctrine of initial evidence in African Pentecostal Christianity, speaking in tongues should not be emphasised or practised as the only evidence of Spirit baptism because there are other evidences that demonstrate the baptism in the Holy Spirit. The emphasis should be on prayer than the speaking of tongues. In addition, priority should be given to the fruit of the Spirit and on a personal encounter with God. Finally, speaking in tongues should be accompanied by interpretation in a public service because the public cannot understand the language.

Keywords

speaking in tongues; Spirit baptism; African Pentecostal Christianity; Holy Spirit; initial evidence

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