What might Menno Simons have to say to William J. Seymour?
What might Menno Simons have to say to William J. Seymour and visa-versa?

I know this might seem like an odd question to some, but it is one I have been asking: Is there a place for Pentecostal-Anabaptist dialogue? I came to Christianity through Pentecostalism. While I am not part of a Pentecostal Church there is no retroactively removing all of the influence it has had on my thinking, especially as regards Pneumatology. [1]  I have talked to a handful of people who are part of the Pentecostal/Charismatic tradition, or who have recently departed from it,  who identify with much of what Pentecostalism has to say about being a Christian in the modern world, but who don’t feel comfortable with the overarching direction being taken by many particular Pentecostal/Charismatic groups. Whether this be a move toward trying to become a megachurch, or the politicizing of their pulpit, or the embrace of the health-and-wealth gospel, or even something as simple as adrenaline junky liturgy, i.e., worship gathers that have to be fast, and loud, or people think something is wrong, there is a desire to preserve what is best without being forced to accept it all. Many of these people seem interested in Anabaptism to some extent.

Pentecostal/Charismatics may want to embrace many aspects of traditional Anabaptism, even joining Anabaptist communities, while wondering if there is a willingness on the part of Anabaptists to entertain the possibility of embracing things like more freedom of expression in worship (not crazy aisle running, pew jumping worship, but maybe some songs with a guitar and drum involved, some clapping of hands, the raising of hands) or some the charismata (both in corporate worship and individual prayer). Everyone knows the differences between Pentecostals/Charismatics and Anabaptists/Mennonites, but there may be many similarities that lead the two traditions into further dialogue (kind of like Drew Hart aims to do with Anabaptism and the Black Church tradition). For example, early Pentecostalism advocated Christian non-violence. Both groups tend to be “Low Church” movements with a strong emphasis on the Priesthood of Believers. Both groups seems to be willing to address matters related to gender, race, and so forth. Recently, Michael Grenholm shared in a blog post an article written by Richard Gillingham titled Parallels between Anabaptism and Pentecostalism that may be worth reading for those interested in this question.

Anyways, I haven’t sat down and thought this out in-depth, but since I’m having conversations with Anabaptists on one hand and Pentecostals on the other hand I thought I’d write a post that at least allows for people from either group to share their thoughts with me.

What doth Anabaptism have to do with Pentecostalism and Pentecostalism with Anabaptism?


[1] Though I must say it hasn’t been Pentecostal Pneumatology that has influenced me most directly—other than Gordon D. Fee’s work—but rather other thinkers who have interacted with Pentecostalism such as James D.G. Dunn and John R. Levison.