V. Baptism in the Holy Spirit and Christian Initiation
1. Why Reflect on Baptism in the Holy Spirit?
192. It is our intention to treat this section on Baptism in the Holy Spirit as we have the other
sections of this report, that is, within the context of Christian Initiation. We are fully
aware that there are differences among us regarding the meaning, significance, and
timing of Baptism in the Holy Spirit. It is not our desire to prejudice the discussion in
one direction or the other, but because the experience known as Baptism in the Holy
Spirit is a cornerstone in Pentecostal life and spirituality and because the experience has
been so significant in the spiritual life and formation also of Catholic Charismatics, we
believe that it would be fruitful to look together at various biblical and patristic texts in
order to discern what insights they might bring to our understanding of this experience
and its place in Christian Initiation.
193. Catholics and Pentecostals both acknowledge the importance of the outpouring of the
Holy Spirit in the life of the church. We share the conviction that the Holy Spirit has
always been present in the church with grace, signs, and gifts. We affirm and embrace
charisms as an important dimension in the life of the church.
194. Both of our traditions identify two principal moments for the reception of the Spirit.
For Pentecostals these moments come in conversion and Baptism in the Holy Spirit.
For Catholics they come in the sacraments of baptism and confirmation.
195. Both Catholics and Pentecostals affirm the grace present in the Charismatic renewal.
The warm reception given to it by the leaders in the Catholic Church is a sign of
official recognition of this grace. In addition, many (though not all) Pentecostals would
join Catholics in recognizing that grace in the commitment of Catholic Charismatics to
remain loyal to their Catholic faith. The Pentecostal doctrine of Baptism in the Holy
Spirit has led to internal discussions for Catholics through the Charismatic renewal’s
reception of that experience and through the diverse theological interpretations given to
it. It is the conviction of the members of this Dialogue that the experience of the
Baptism in the Holy Spirit need not be a divisive issue among our communities. On the
contrary, it may provide a meaningful bridge to greater understanding and mutual
196. The Catholic renewal as well as the existence of this dialogue underscores the positive
significance of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements for the whole church. These
movements are one of the signs of the Spirit’s enduring presence in the church and the
world. It is for these reasons that we turn our attention to the subject of Baptism in the
2. Earlier Catholic-Pentecostal Dialogue On Baptism in the Holy Spirit
197. The subject of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit was first taken up in the initial round of
this dialogue (1972-1976). At that time Pentecostals described Baptism in the Holy
Spirit as follows: “In the Pentecostal movement ‘being baptised in the Spirit’, ‘being
filled with the Holy Spirit’, and ‘receiving the Holy Spirit’ are understood as occurring
in a decisive experience distinct from conversion whereby the Holy Spirit manifests
himself, empowers, and transforms one’s life, and enlightens one as to the whole reality
of the Christian mystery (Acts 2:4; 8:17; 10:44; 19:6)” (Final Report 1972-1976, §12).
198. While the Final Report 1972-1976 used the expression “receiving the Holy Spirit” as a
description of Baptism in the Holy Spirit, it was clear to all participants that those
Christians who have not had such an experience have received the Holy Spirit. “The
Holy Spirit dwells in all Christians (Rom 8:9), and not just in those ‘baptised in the
Holy Spirit’. The difference between a committed Christian without such a Pentecostal
experience and one with such an experience is generally not only a matter of
theological focus, but also that of expanded openness and expectancy with regard to the
Holy Spirit and his gifts. Because the Holy Spirit apportions as he wills in freedom and
sovereignty, the religious experiences of persons can differ. ‘He blows where he wills’
(Jn 3:8). Though the Holy Spirit never ceased manifesting himself throughout the entire
history of the church, the manner of the manifestations has differed according to the
times and cultures. However, in the Pentecostal Movement, the manifestation of
tongues has had, and continues to have, particular importance” (Final Report 1972-1976, §16).
199. In referring to the use of the expression Baptism in the Holy Spirit, the Final Report
1972-1976 also stated that “in the New Testament the expression ‘to baptise in the Holy
Spirit’ (Mk 1:8) is used to express, in contrast to the baptism of John (Jn 1:33), the
baptism by Jesus who gives the Spirit to the new eschatological people of God, the
church (Acts 1:5). All men are called to enter into this community through faith in
Jesus Christ who makes them disciples through baptism and sharers of his Spirit (Acts
2:38:39)” (Final Report 1972-1976, §11).
200. That Report did not arrive at a joint statement on the understanding of Baptism in the
Holy Spirit and its charismatic manifestations. Ambiguity remained in the Dialogue, for
example, about the precise relationship between Baptism in the Holy Spirit on the one
hand, and the exercise of ministry in the other, as reflected in the following passage:
“In some manner, all ministry is a demonstration of the power of the Spirit. It is not
agreed whether there is a further imparting of the Spirit with a view to charismatic
ministry, or whether Baptism in the Holy Spirit is, rather, a kind of release of a certain
aspect of the Spirit already given” (Final Report 1972-1976, §18). In order to further
the discussion on Baptism in the Holy Spirit, we offer the following observations.
B. Biblical Perspectives on Baptism in the Holy Spirit
201. All Christians believe that the sending of the Holy Spirit is essential to God’s plan of
salvation in Jesus Christ. In the Old Testament the prophets announced a day when
God’s people would receive the Spirit. Ezekiel proclaimed, “A new heart I will give
you, and a new spirit I will put within you: and I will remove from your body the heart
of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my spirit within you, and make you
follow my statutes, and be careful to observe my ordinances” (Ezek 36:26-27; cf.
11:19). In addition, Joel prophesied a “pouring out” of the Spirit upon “all flesh” – old
and young, sons and daughters, and even male and female slaves – an announcement
from which Peter draws to explain the observed prophetic phenomenon of Pentecost
(Acts 2:7-8; cf. Joel 2:28-29) .
202. In the New Testament, Jesus assures His followers that God wants to give the good gift
of the Spirit to His children (cf. Lk 11:13). Prior to His ascension, Jesus promised His
disciples that when the Spirit was sent, He would not only be with them but also in
them (cf. Jn 14:17). A number of Apostolic letters mention the fact that believers
receive the Spirit (cf. Rom 8:9, 15; Gal 3:2; Titus 3:4-7). Through this reception,
believers are born again (cf. Jn 3:5-6), assured of Divine love (cf. Rom 5:5), and
baptized into one body (cf. 1 Cor 12:13), which introduces spiritual communion with
God and one another (cf. 2 Cor 13:13; 1 Cor 1:9).
203. While one can find a foundation for understanding Baptism in the Holy Spirit in the
beginning of all four Gospels, scripture nowhere mentions the phrase “Baptism in the
Holy Spirit” in its nominal (noun) form. It uses the verbal form or it employs different
verbs altogether. When he announced the coming of the One whose way he was
preparing, John the Baptist declared to the multitudes, “I have baptised you with water;
but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit” (Mk 1:8; cf. Mt 3:11; Lk 3:16; Jn 1:33).
Prior to his ascension, Jesus promised His disciples “…wait there [in Jerusalem] for the
promise of the Father. ‘This’, he said, ‘is what you have heard from me; for John
baptised with water, but you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit not many days from
now’” (Acts 1:4-5 cf. 1:8). Catholics and Pentecostals both believe that Acts 2:4 is the
obvious fulfillment of this promise, “all of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and
began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them ability”. While Christians agree
with the foregoing comments about the Holy Spirit, the interpretation of such biblical
texts becomes more complex when Scripture is explored to account for the experience
referred to as Baptism in the Holy Spirit.
204. On the Day of Pentecost, the questions that arose among those who witnessed the
pouring out of the Spirit (Acts 2:7-8, 12), led the Apostle Peter to address them. Peter
appealed to the prophet Joel (2:28-32; cf. Acts 2:16-18) as providing precedent for what
these people were seeing, a promise fulfilled before their eyes. “…This is what was
spoken through the prophet, Joel: ‘In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will
pour out my spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and
your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. Even upon my
slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall
prophesy’.” Peter tied that promise to the coming of Jesus, His death, resurrection and
ascension, and His promise of the outpouring of the Spirit. “When they heard this, they
were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what should
we do’?” Peter’s response was to call them to repentance, followed by baptism in the
name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins. But he concluded by promising
that if they did as instructed, they would “receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” “The
promise,” he pointed out, would apply not only to them and to their children, but to “all
who are far away … everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him” (Acts 2:38-39).
205. Additional biblical evidence of this promise is found in Peter’s invitation to preach at
the home of Cornelius, the Roman Centurion, who had been identified as “a devout
man who feared God” (Acts 10:2; 11:16). This phrase identified Gentiles who, while
not converting to Judaism, nevertheless worshipped the God of Israel. Here again, the
language used to describe the experience of the household of Cornelius differed from
the words that Jesus used when He promised that His followers would be baptised in
the Spirit. The text says simply that “the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word”
while “the circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded that the gift
of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on these Gentiles” (Acts 10:44-45). Indeed,
Peter noted that the experience of these Gentiles paralleled his own experience on the
Day of Pentecost, when he sought to justify Christian baptism of these Gentiles in
water (cf. Acts 10:46-48) to the Jewish Christians who were present. Later, when Paul
and Barnabas were summoned to the Jerusalem Council, Peter again appealed to the
experience of Cornelius as being parallel to that of the apostles (cf. Acts 15:8).
206. Yet again, in Acts 19:6, Paul laid hands on those he found in Ephesus who had received
the baptism of repentance preached by John the Baptist, and “the Holy Spirit came
upon them.” In three cases when the Holy Spirit came upon the individuals there were
charismatic manifestations, namely they “spoke in other tongues” (Acts 2:4), they were
heard “speaking in tongues and praising God” (Acts 10:45), or “they spoke in tongues
and prophesied” (Acts 19:6). In Acts 9:17-18, Paul received the Spirit through the
laying on of hands and was healed from his blindness. While there is no explicit
mention that he spoke in tongues, Paul later wrote, “I speak in tongues more than all of
you” (1 Cor 14:18). In Acts 8:9-19, while the text is not explicit about the presence of
any charismatic phenomena when Peter and John laid hands on the Samaritans and the
Spirit comes upon them, it seems apparent that something dramatic happened that
caused Simon, the magician, to desire the ability to bestow the Spirit through the laying
on of hands. In the Acts of the Apostles there were charismatic manifestations at the
outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
207. In summary, to be baptised with the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 1:5), to be filled with the Holy
Spirit (cf. Acts 2:4) or to receive the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 2:38) is seen as a gift of God
rooted in Jesus’ own promise of Acts 1:8 and Peter’s claim in Acts 2:38-39. It is
through the reception of this gift or grace from God that God reveals Himself in a
personal and life-transforming way to the believer. The result is that the believer is
empowered by the Holy Spirit, and becomes aware in a new and powerful way, of the
presence of the risen and glorified Christ (cf. Jn 16:14). This encounter enables the
believer to become a stronger witness for Christ (Acts 1:8) and to experience a deeper
dimension of prayer and worship (1 Cor 12-14).
C. Patristic Perspectives on Baptism in the Holy Spirit
208. The following patristic statements underscore the strong pneumatological dimension to
the early church’s understanding and practice of Christian Initiation. At the outset, it
should be asked, whether or not these patristic sources describe what today is know as
“Baptism in the Holy Spirit”. While some scholars interpret these texts in ways that
suggest that they do, others are convinced that they do not. It is not our intention to
attempt to resolve this debate. What we would like to point out, however, is that these
texts demonstrate quite clearly the keen awareness that the Fathers of the church had
regarding the decisive role of the Holy Spirit and his gifts in the transformation that
took place when a person becomes a Christian. Those who expressed this view came
from various parts of the Christian world, representing Latin, Greek, and Syriac
209. One of the earliest books written in Latin about baptism was by Tertullian (c.160-225),
who included a passage indicating that prayer and charismatic gifts accompanied the
“new birth” of one who became a Christian. He exhorts: “Therefore, blessed ones,
whom the grace of God awaits, when you ascend from that most sacred font of your
new birth, and spread your hands for the first time in the house of your mother, together
with your brethren, ask from the Father, ask from the Lord, that His own riches of grace
and distributions of charisms (peculia gratiae distributiones charismatum subiacere)
may be supplied to you. ‘Ask,’ he says, ‘and you shall receive’. Well, you have asked,
and have received; you have knocked, and it has been opened to you” (Tertullian, On
Baptism, 20 [c. 198-200]). 19
According to Tertullian, the receiving of the Holy Spirit is
among the essential fruits of baptism, along with the remission of sins, deliverance
from death, and regeneration (cf. Against Marcion 1, 28). Several other passages also
suggest that one receives the Spirit in the sacrament of baptism (On Modesty IX, 9; and On the Soul I,4).
210. About the same time, another Western author, Hippolytus (c.170-235), preserves a
prayer in his Apostolic Tradition to be pronounced over the newly baptised: “The
bishop, imposing hands on them, shall make this invocation – ‘Lord God, who has
made them worthy to obtain the remission of sins by the bath of regeneration of the
Holy Spirit, confer on them your grace so that they may serve you according to your
will’” (Apostolic Tradition 22). 20
Here the invocation indicates that the baptised have
been regenerated in the Holy Spirit and that the gift of grace is aimed at serving the will
of the Father.
211. For Origen (c.185-254), an Alexandrian who wrote in Greek, baptism and the reception
of the Holy Spirit are intimately related: baptism with water is “the principle and source
of the divine charisms” (Commentary on John 6:17). To argue that the various
charismatic gifts manifest themselves in powerful ways, Origen refers to the passage
from the Acts of the Apostles about Simon the magician, who was so impressed by
what occurred when the Spirit descended upon the newly baptised that he wanted to
buy from Peter the power to bring about the same effect (cf. Acts 8:9-24). Origen goes
on to explain the difference between the baptism of John the Baptist and that of Jesus
and his disciples (cf. Acts 19:2-7), stating that the latter is a bath of new birth and of
renewal in the Spirit. Gifts of the Spirit such as “the word of wisdom” or “the word of
knowledge,” mentioned by St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 12:8, are bestowed either through
baptism or through the grace of the Spirit (cf. On First Principles 2, 10, 7 [c.220–230]).
212. In the Latin tradition, Hilary of Poitiers (c. 314-367) also points out some of the
charismatic gifts that new Christians receive from the Holy Spirit: “We who have been
reborn through the sacrament of baptism experience intense joy when we feel within us
the first stirrings of the Holy Spirit, […] when we begin to have insight into the
mysteries of faith, to prophesy and to speak with wisdom, become steadfast in hope and
receive the gifts of healing and domination over demons” (Tract on the Psalms 64:15). 21
Hilary uses the imagery of water and intoxication to describe the Spirit’s
powerful effect on believers: “We become inebriated when we receive the Holy Spirit,
who is called a river. The prophet prays that the Lord will inebriate us, so that out of us
various streams of grace might flow” (Tract on the Psalms 64:15). 22
states that, after they have been filled with the power of divine gifts, Christians may
sow the seed of the Gospel on good soil, producing fruit of thirty, sixty and a
hundredfold (cf. Mt 13:8 and 23). In another place, Hilary turns to the theme of
experience and affirms: “Among us there is no one who, from time to time, does not
feel the gift of the grace of the Spirit” (Tract on the Psalms 118 12,4). He insists that
the charisms are “profitable gifts” (On the Trinity 8:30), exhorting his readers: “Let us,
therefore, make use of this great benefit” (On the Trinity 2:35).
213. The instructions preserved from Cyril of Jerusalem (c. 315-386), which he delivered to
those preparing to enter the church during the rites celebrated at Easter, evoke what it
was like to become a Christian many centuries ago. Pronounced in the very church built
over the places of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection, Cyril recalls the charismatic
gifts about which Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 (cf. Catechetical Lectures 16:12)
and relates the Holy Spirit to those gifts, which would soon be poured out upon the
newly initiated: “Great indeed, and all-powerful in gifts, and wonderful, is the Holy
Spirit” (Catechetical Lectures 16:22). According to Cyril, the grace given to the
apostles “was not partial but [the Spirit’s] power was in full perfection; for just as one
who plunges into the waters and is baptised is encompassed on all sides by the waters,
so were they also baptised completely by the Holy Spirit” (Catechetical Lectures 17:14).
214. Basil of Caesarea (c.330-379) affirms that the Holy Spirit is the unifying principle
holding together the body of the church which is blessed with such a diversity of
charisms: “Again, the Spirit is conceived of, in relation to the distribution of gifts, as a
whole in parts. For we are all ‘members one of another, having gifts differing according
to the grace that is given us’.” This unity in the Holy Spirit is related to baptism: “And
as parts in the whole so are we individually in the Spirit, because we all ‘were baptized
in one body into one spirit’” (On the Holy Spirit, 26:61). Basil adds that the power of
the Spirit breaks into action according to the needs of particular situations: “For as art is
potentially in the artist, but only in operation when he is working in accordance with it,
so also the Spirit is ever present with those that are worthy, but works, as need requires,
in prophecies, or in healings, or in some other actual carrying into effect of His
215. John Chrysostom (354-407), a famous preacher in the city of Antioch and later bishop
of Constantinople, commented upon the verse in which John the Baptist says of the one
coming after him that “He will baptise you in the Holy Spirit” (Mt 3:11), giving the
following list of the graces received by those who became Christians: “remission of
sins, removing of punishment, righteousness, sanctification, redemption, adoption,
brotherhood, a partaking of the inheritance and an abundant supply of the Holy Spirit”
(On Matthew 11). In contrast to Basil of Caesarea, however, who, as we just noted,
affirmed that the charisms continue to be distributed and exercised in the Christian
community, John Chrysostom finds the discussion of them in 1 Corinthians 12
“obscure” because of “our ignorance of the facts referred to and by their cessation,
being such as then used to occur but now no longer take place” (On 1 Corinthians 29).
In another commentary concerning Romans 8:26 (“but the Spirit himself intercedes for
us with sighs too deep for words”), he writes: “This statement is not clear, owing to the
cessation of many of the wonders which then used to take place” (On Romans 14).
Chrysostom goes on to suggest that some of the gifts referred to in the Scripture were
given because of the special needs of the early community, while others continue today
in an institutionalized form.
216. One of the patristic testimonies, a prominent figure from the Syriac tradition,
Philoxenus (c. 440-528) gives us a somewhat contrasting position. He writes, “Now
again, the Holy Spirit is given by baptism to those who are baptized and they really
receive the Spirit, like the first believers. However in none of them, does it manifest its
work visibly. Even though the Spirit is in them, it remains hidden there. Unless one
leaves the world to enter into the way of the rules of the spiritual life, observing all the
commandments Jesus has given, walking with wisdom and perseverance in the narrow
way of the Gospel, the work of the Spirit received in baptism does not reveal itself”
(Letter to Patricius 120). 23
Obviously Philoxenus made a strong connection between
baptism and reception of the Holy Spirit. Here the visible manifestation of the activity
of the Holy Spirit is revealed in that spiritual path followed by those who “leave the
world” to follow “the narrow way of the Gospel,” an apparent reference to the vocation
of monks and nuns which is so highly prized in this early period, first developing in the
East but later also appearing in the West. That being noted, still Philoxenus clearly
holds to a hidden presence of the Spirit at work in all who have been baptized. This
hidden presence can break out into visible manifestation long after the actual initiation
of the believer into the Christian community.
217. Every one of the statements included in this brief sample of patristic texts
unambiguously witnesses to the active presence of the Holy Spirit in the transformation
by which a person became a Christian, often in ways which suggest the bestowal of
powerful graces and charismatic gifts. Such graces and gifts include: prayer with
outstretched hands, receiving the inheritance and deliverance from death (Tertullian);
regeneration by the Holy Spirit and receiving grace (Hippolytus); cleansing, power and
gifts of wisdom and knowledge (Origen); joy, prophecy and spiritual inebriation
(Hilary); spiritual power in its fullness (Cyril of Jerusalem); diversity of charisms and
healing (Basil); sanctification (Gregory of Nazianzen); forgiveness, remission of sin,
holiness, adoption as a child of God and abundant outpouring of the Spirit (John
Chrysostom) and hidden effectiveness with subsequent manifestations (Philoxenus).
Both of our communities rejoice that we can report this evidence about the power of the
Holy Spirit at work in Christians from the early centuries of church history.
D. Contemporary Reflections on Baptism in the Holy Spirit
1. A Catholic Perspective
a. Some Doctrinal Observations
218. It must be recognized that there is no official Catholic doctrine on Baptism in the Holy
Spirit. Its reception in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal has sparked an intense
theological investigation of the matter but this can only be understood in the light of
Catholic teaching on the reception of the Holy Spirit. The Catechism of the Catholic
Church makes reference to the baptism that Christ will bring that distinguishes it from
the baptism for repentance administered by John the Baptist. Referring to John
3:5—“Jesus answered, ‘Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of
God without being born of water and the Spirit.’ ”—the Catechism describes the
baptism that Christ institutes as a “baptism in water and the Spirit [that] will be a new
birth.” (CCC 720). Certainly this does not directly implicate what Catholic
Charismatics have meant by being ‘baptized in the Spirit.’ Within a Catholic context it
means that the charismatic ‘Baptism in the Holy Spirit’ cannot be considered as an
additional sacrament, or that it communicates sacramental grace that those who have
not received it would not possess. For example, Catholics cannot affirm that those who
have been baptized and confirmed would be lacking in the grace of those two
sacraments if they did not also receive the charismatic ‘Baptism in the Holy Spirit.’
219. The Holy Spirit is invoked and imparted in the celebration of every sacrament.
Although the work of the Holy Spirit is not limited to the grace received in the
sacraments—the sovereign distribution of graces, gifts, and charismata are affirmed in
Catholic theology—the initial reception of the Holy Spirit is mediated through the
sacraments of initiation (baptism, confirmation, and eucharist). At the same time
Catholics identify the action of the Holy Spirit in a way that parallels the Pentecostal
understanding of conversion, where the Holy Spirit is given and regeneration takes
place, and of Baptism in the Holy Spirit, where empowerment is given.
220. The Holy Spirit acts in baptism through regeneration, a “birth into the new life in
Christ” (CCC 1277), “enabling [the baptized]…to believe in God, to hope in him…”
(CCC 1266). They are incorporated into the church and in being anointed with sacred
chrism (perfumed oil consecrated by the bishop and used within the baptismal rite) they
receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and are “incorporated into Christ who is anointed
priest, prophet, and king” (CCC 1241).
221. It is in the sacrament of confirmation that the “special strength of the Holy Spirit” is
imparted (CCC 1285). Indeed, “the effect of confirmation is the full outpouring of the
Holy Spirit as once granted to the apostles on the day of Pentecost” (CCC 1302).
Through confirmation grace received in baptism is increased and deepened, resulting in
a deeper sense of being a child of God (divine filiation by which we cry “Abba!
Father!”), a more firm union with Christ, an increase of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, a
more perfect bond with the church, and special strength to witness to Christ including
bearing the shame of the cross (cf. CCC 1303).
222. In confirmation, Jesus Christ marks “a Christian with the seal of his Spirit by clothing
him with power from on high so that he may be his witness” (CCC 1304). In the
Catholic tradition, both baptism and confirmation imprint an “indelible spiritual mark”
or “character” on the soul. Therefore it is through these two sacraments that Catholics
are given new life, and the grace and power of the Holy Spirit, to grow in holiness and
engage in mission with all the gifts and charisms that the Spirit imparts.
b. The Birth of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal
223. The Catholic Charismatic Renewal came into being as one among several different
manifestations of the Holy Spirit in the life of the church. Already, on the eve of the
20th century, Pope Leo XIII, taking up proposals made to him, wrote an Apostolic
Exhortation (1895) and an Encyclical Letter (1897) in which he called for devotion to
the Holy Spirit and recommended the nine days before Pentecost as a Novena of Prayer
for the Holy Spirit: “for the renewal of the church, reunification of Christianity,
renewal of society, and for a renewal of the face of the earth”. On 1 January 1901, Pope
Leo XIII prayed the hymn to the Holy Spirit in the name of the whole church.
224. Over the course of the 20th century, the decisive influences in the growth of the
Charismatic Renewal in the Catholic Church included liturgical renewal, a renewed
emphasis on the biblical and patristic sources, new concern for Christian unity, shared
responsibility of all the faithful for the church’s mission to the world, new theological
and pastoral reflection on the working of the Holy Spirit, and a fresh appreciation of the
church’s charismatic treasures (cf. Charismatic Community Renewal in the Catholic
Church in the Federal Republic of Germany: The Spirit Gives Life, A Theological
Guide, pp. 10-11).
225. In this context of the new awareness of the work of the Holy Spirit, the witness of
classical Pentecostals and their teaching on Baptism in the Holy Spirit contributed to
the beginning of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in 1967 in the United States. The
early leaders of the renewal prayed for the experience of Baptism in the Holy Spirit and
received it with many also speaking in tongues. Subsequently they reflected
theologically on both their own experience and the Pentecostal doctrine of Baptism in
the Holy Spirit and submitted their renewal movement to the guidance of the church’s
226. Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II, along with many individual bishops and Episcopal
conferences, acknowledged the signs of grace present in the Renewal, at times
expressing caution about certain practices that required spiritual discernment, and
teaching that might not be consistent with that of the Catholic Church. Consequently
the classical Pentecostal doctrine of Baptism in the Holy Spirit was not embraced as a
whole without qualification. Since its beginning, the Charismatic Renewal has been
warmly welcomed by the church’s leaders and more recently has received formal
ecclesial recognition from Rome. 24
c. Two Schools of Theological Interpretation
227. Two major schools of theological interpretation emerged among Catholic charismatics
concerning Baptism in the Holy Spirit. Some exchanged that term for others such as
‘release of the Spirit’ or “’renewal in the Spirit’ in order to maintain a clear distinction
between this aspect of the renewal and the sacrament of baptism.
228. The Malines Document (1974), an important Catholic statement on the Charismatic
Movement, underlined the importance of experience: “When the Spirit given at
initiation emerges into consciousness, there is frequently a perception of concrete
presence” (III G 4). It established a fundamental relation between Christian Initiation
and receiving the Holy Spirit: “The decisive coming of the Spirit by virtue of which
one becomes a Christian is related to the celebration of Christian Initiation (baptism,
confirmation, and eucharist). Christian Initiation is the effective sign of the Spirit’s
bestowal” (III F I). It pointed to the insights of early Christian communities with
respect to the reception of the Holy Spirit: “There is evidence that in many of the early
Christian communities, persons not only asked for and received the Spirit during the
celebration of initiation, but they expected that the Spirit would demonstrate his power
by the transformation he would effect in their lives” (III F 1).
229. The document went on to indicate the view of early Christian communities in regard to
charisms: “Further, the early Christian Churches expected that the power of the Spirit
would come to visibility along the full spectrum of his charisms in the community,
which included, but by no means was limited to, such charisms as helping,
administration, prophecy, and tongues (1 Cor 12:28; cf. Rom 12:6-8)” (III F I).
230. For the Malines text, therefore, Baptism in the Holy Spirit is integral to Christian
Initiation. It is to be understood as part of the fullness of Christian Initiation, as one
expression of the total reality of initiation. Baptism in the Holy Spirit belongs to the
church at a fundamental level.
231. This approach has two advantages: First, Baptism in the Holy Spirit is placed within a
sacramental context; as part of Christian Initiation, it can be understood as a
fundamental category of Christian life. Second, linking Baptism in the Holy Spirit with
initiation relates the sacraments of initiation to the fullness of Christian life, which is
based on spiritual experience and the openness to receive more gifts through the Holy
Spirit. In this sense, Baptism in the Holy Spirit is “integral” and “normative”. But
another question is raised as a result of taking this position. Is the specific character of
Baptism in the Holy Spirit sufficiently recognised as a particular form of spiritual
232. Another interpretation, one of those expounded in The Spirit Gives Life, a paper
approved by the German Bishops’ Conference in 1987, indicated that: “A Christian
does not possess God’s Spirit in a static manner. Rather, the person lives in the
continuous ‘sending forth’ of the Spirit by the love of God. That is why we can always
go on praying, ‘Send forth your Spirit’. A new kind of experience of the Spirit can
therefore be understood as a new ‘outpouring’ of the Spirit by God.” In this sense,
“alongside the continuous indwelling of the Spirit through baptism and confirmation –
occasional renewals, or new sendings forth of the Spirit [occur] by which a Christian ‘is
enabled to perform some action of grace or is placed in a new state of grace’” (Thomas
Aquinas, Summa Theologiae I.q 43 a.6). In this sense, experiences of the Spirit can be
explained as a new receiving of the Holy Spirit without denying reference to the
sacraments of baptism, confirmation and eucharist.
233. The advantage of this approach is that it clearly emphasizes the particularity of God’s
guidance and his gifts. This approach has sacramental aspects, since all spiritual life has
its roots in the sacraments. The individual sacraments give shape to the church, which
Catholics consider to be “the universal sacrament of salvation” (LG 48). In this context,
the sacraments of initiation certainly are of fundamental significance. But God’s
bestowal of grace and of charismatic gifts need not be restricted only to the sacraments.
As the New Testament points out, “the wind [Spirit] blows where it chooses” (Jn 3:7-8), distributing freely a variety of gifts for the building up of the body of Christ (cf. 1
Cor 12:4-13; Eph 4:11-17).
234. Both positions agree on the essentials of a dedicated Christian life and what here can be
said to be “integral” and “normative”, and on the fundamental meaning of the
sacraments, especially those of Christian Initiation. Both agree on the importance of
being open to the Holy Spirit and his gifts, “whether extraordinary or simple and
humble”. Both agree on the importance of openness to the charismatic dimension of the
church, to the transformative and life changing power of the Holy Spirit and to the
fullness of Christian life. Both agree on the importance of spiritual experience and, at
the same time, that Christian life, as often had been said, is in no way “a progress from
peak experience to peak experience” or is “dominated by unusual experiences” but that,
on the contrary, “life is lived mostly in the valleys. Often in the desert”. 25
In that sense
both agree that Baptism in the Holy Spirit is part of ecclesial life. Thus, the two
different approaches or positions do not appear to be irreconcilable. However, they
clearly disagree on the understanding of Baptism in the Holy Spirit, especially
concerning whether this term should be used to specify a particular spiritual experience
in the Pentecostal Movement and in the Charismatic Renewal, or whether this should
be understood as normative for Christian initiation.
235. Both interpretations attempt to be faithful to Catholic tradition and both complement
the charismatic experience with the church’s theological and spiritual traditions. They
both emphasize that the charismatic dimension is integral to the building up of the
church and to the fullness of Christian life. Charisms, free gifts of the Holy Spirit,
“whatever their character – sometimes it is extraordinary, such as the gift of miracles or
of tongues – ... are oriented toward sanctifying grace, and are intended for the common
good of the Church. They are at the service of charity which builds up the Church”
236. Catholics are grateful for the enrichment of their spiritual experience by their historic
interaction with classical Pentecostals, their experience and doctrine. In the meantime,
Catholics, while witnessing to the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit throughout the
history of the church, continue to pray for a ‘New Pentecost’ following the lead of Pope
John XXIII and the Second Vatican Council,. They also renew faith in the Holy Spirit
as traditionally expressed in the beautiful Pentecost Sequence hymn Veni Sancte
Spiritus (Come Holy Spirit) and the Litany of the Holy Spirit.
237. We believe that it is fitting in this dialogue to conclude this section on Catholic
understanding of Baptism in the Holy Spirit with the prayers lifted up to God on the
morning before Pentecost and the evening of Pentecost in the Liturgy of the Hours.
Respectively they are: “We have been baptized in the Holy Spirit. With all who are
baptized, let us give glory to the Lord, and ask him: Lord Jesus, give us your Spirit to
make us holy.” “You [God the Father] desire the unity of all Christians through one
Baptism in the Holy Spirit, make all who believe one in heart and soul. Send your Holy
Spirit into the Church.”
2. A Pentecostal Perspective
238. Classical Pentecostals first attracted public attention on January 1, 1901 when a young
woman named Agnes Ozman spoke in tongues under the ministry of Charles Fox
Parham. Several years later the three-year revival (1906-1909) at the Apostolic Faith
Mission, 312 Azusa Street, in Los Angeles, led by the African-American, William
Joseph Seymour, became the center of the Pentecostal Movement. From “Azusa Street”
the message of salvation, holiness, and power was rapidly dispersed around the world
by a host of evangelists and missionaries where it took root and developed. It is for this
reason that so many Pentecostal and Charismatic believers look to the “Azusa Street”
mission as the fountainhead of Pentecostalism.
239. Through the years Pentecostalism has taken many forms. It includes the classical
Pentecostal denominations and many independent or non-denominational Pentecostal
and charismatic fellowships. While many will choose the name “Pentecostal” to
describe themselves, others would use different terms such as “Charismatic,” “Third
Wave,” “New Apostolic,” “African Indigenous”, or “Word of Faith.” In addition, many
within the historic churches have called themselves Pentecostal, Neo-Pentecostal, or
charismatic, acknowledging the fact that they are in some way related to Classical
Pentecostalism both historically and theologically. In the course of these developments
some groups do not identify with the Pentecostal doctrine of the Baptism in the Holy
Spirit but they have maintained many elements of the Pentecostal experience, e.g.,
being filled with the Spirit, empowerment, signs, wonders, spiritual gifts and
charismatic praise. All together, those who in some way share a Pentecostal identity
have been estimated to number nearly 600,000,000. 26
240. Baptism in the Holy Spirit has been a central feature of the Pentecostal Movement.
Classical Pentecostals hold to a distinctive doctrine of Baptism in the Holy Spirit.
Pentecostals believe that in this Baptism in the Holy Spirit, the Christian encounters the
Holy Spirit in such a way that one is empowered to become the compelling witness that
Jesus proclaimed in Acts 1:8. Pentecostals also believe that without such an encounter
with the Holy Spirit, the life and witness of the Christian is greatly impoverished.
241. Several streams of American religious life which gained momentum in the nineteenth
century clearly influenced the emergence of Pentecostalism. The revivalist stream took
root in colonial America with the Great Awakening in the eighteenth century and
continued along the expanding frontier of the new Republic of the United States.
Through evangelistic preaching including the use of camp meetings many were brought
to Christian conversion through the drama of crisis experiences and the expectation that
God was at work in the assembled community in the power of his Word and Spirit.
Powerful experiences of the religious affections were not uncommon in these circles.
Within this stream many sought a deeper life of holiness in their desire to be free from
the domination of sin and to witness for Christ through an empowered life. By the mid-nineteenth century this took form in the Wesleyan-Holiness movement that taught a
second experience of grace subsequent to conversion. Whereas in conversion one was
saved through forgiveness and justification and regenerated into new life in Christ, the
second work of grace, identified as “entire sanctification” freed one from the power of
sin by the eradication of one’s sinful nature. Being filled with divine love one was
therefore enabled to grow in Christian perfection. Many began to identify this
experience as a “Baptism in/with the Holy Spirit.”
242. The Holiness movement also included a non-Wesleyan wing which was influenced by
the Keswick Movement from England. Its adherents sought holiness as the “Higher
Christian Life” but believed that sanctification was an ongoing process that began in
conversion and continued throughout one’s Christian life. Many in that movement too,
however, believed in a subsequent experience, that is, a baptism with the Holy Spirit
that empowered them for witness and mission and was the basis for the “overcoming
life” they desired.
243. Developments in church and society also influenced the early Pentecostal Movement.
Many evangelical and holiness Protestants became disenchanted with the state of the
church as it was represented both in the proliferation of denominations with their
competing claims for supremacy, and in the basic optimism exuded by many in the
historic Protestant churches that came to be identified with the Social Gospel. Their
experience of the church in their day led these Christians, including many of the
forebears of Pentecostalism, to conclude that the clerical life was overly
professionalized, church structures had become too rigid, ecclesial practice had become
routinized, moral laxity was being tolerated, syncretism was compromising historic
doctrinal positions, and biblical truth was being undermined by the new “higher
criticism.” Darwinism became ascendant not only in science but in society at large.
From their perspective all of this had led to a decline of genuine Christian spirituality.
As a result, many came to believe that the historic churches around them did not reflect
the vision of the church that was outlined in the Bible.
244. Restorationist currents in the understanding of the church were widely present at the
birth of Pentecostalism. Already influential in some sectors of Protestantism it
typically envisioned the history of the church as a process of decline and restoration. In
the opinion of some, as early as the post-apostolic period, the church began to depart
from the spiritual authenticity of the primitive Christian community of the New
Testament. Compounded by the growth of Christianity into the very structures of
ancient society and its legal recognition by the emperor Constantine, the subsequent
emergence of Christian society, culture and empire, in other words, European
Christendom, was viewed from the perspective of spiritual compromise rather than
growth and development. Sometimes the vision of what the church should be was
presented as a return to the simplicity and purity of the New Testament community.
245. Convinced that the church had declined and biblical Christianity had been lost, early
Pentecostals adopted a schema of restoration and renewal in light of the judgment and
restoration motif in Joel 1:4 and 2:25. Many anticipated that the restoration of the
church would come only through Divine intervention manifested in a fresh outpouring
of the Holy Spirit (Joel 2:23, 28-32; cf. Acts 2:16-21). When an outpouring of the Holy
Spirit came with the Azusa Street Revival, they concluded that the promised “last days”
restoration was being fulfilled. The title of the earliest history published by Pentecostals
expresses their vision of what they believed was taking place: The Apostolic Faith
246. Restorationism involved an eschatological vision of the People of God which held
profound implications for Christian mission. Pentecostals came to believe that this
restoration would include the charisms of 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 that many
denominations had declared were no longer necessary or available. Some contended
that the “gift of tongues” would be restored to further the missionary enterprise
resulting in a global revival. Pentecostals believed that their very existence was an
247. In spite of their Restorationist convictions, and their emphasis upon getting “back to the
Bible,” many early Pentecostals called attention to the ongoing role that the Holy Spirit
had played among those whom in their judgment were remnants of the true church. In
distributing the works of the Pre-Nicene Fathers they were acknowledging their
contribution to the life the church. They drew attention to earlier Christian prophetic,
monastic and millenarian movements as forerunners to their own Movement. 27
produced selective litanies that included such persons as Martin Luther, John Wesley,
Edward Irving, William Booth and others they believed had contributed elements of
restoration already in place – justification, sanctification, social concern and tongues.
Their continuity with the historic church is best demonstrated with a review of the
pedigree of The Doctrines and Discipline of the Azusa Street Apostolic Faith Mission.
In 1563, through an act of Parliament, the Anglican Church adopted the “Thirty-Nine
Articles of Religion.” John Wesley, always an Anglican priest, incorporated nearly
verbatim, twenty-five of the “Thirty-Nine Articles” to form the backbone of the Doctrines and Discipline that came to be used in the Methodist Episcopal Church.
William J. Seymour drew heavily from Wesley’s version when he authored the “Azusa
a. Pentecostals and the Reception of the Holy Spirit
248. The earliest Pentecostals were typically not new converts, but rather already well
established Christians. Many of them stood within the Anglican – Methodist –
Wesleyan-Holiness tradition and taught the doctrine of entire sanctification. Others
adhered to the Keswick Movement and their call to the “overcoming life”. Regardless
of their starting points, they all claimed that they had placed their faith in Jesus Christ.
They had been converted and justified. They had received the Holy Spirit at the time of
their Christian conversion, and pointed to Romans 8:9b, “Anyone who does not have
the Spirit of Christ, does not belong to him,” to support their claim. They all took holy
living seriously, often producing catalogues of things to avoid, intended to help the
believer to live a holy life aided by the Holy Spirit.
249. While Pentecostals believed that they received the Holy Spirit at conversion, sometimes
the language they employed was vague and confusing. They might ask a fellow
Christian if he or she had received the Holy Spirit in much the same way that Paul
asked the Ephesians in Acts 19:2. Their question, however, was not about the initial
reception of the Holy Spirit at the time of Christian conversion; it was a question about
whether or not this Christian had received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. Those who
did not understand the question within the context of Pentecostalism were often
convinced that these early Pentecostals held to an erroneous position that even
confessing Christians were without the Spirit.
250. Other Pentecostals, especially Oneness Pentecostals, contributed to the confusion
because they linked salvation and Baptism in the Holy Spirit together theologically.
One cannot participate in “full salvation” apart from a confession of faith, baptism in
water and the coming of the Spirit being evidenced by speaking in other tongues. Thus,
the elements of faith, repentance, water baptism by immersion in the name of the Lord
Jesus Christ, reception of the Holy Spirit and Baptism in the Holy Spirit with the initial
evidence of speaking in other tongues all came together in such a way as to offer some
support for those who advocated baptismal regeneration. They believed that the words
of Jesus to Nicodemus that “no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born
of water and Spirit” (John 3:5), united what most other Pentecostals viewed as distinct
actions of God in justification and Baptism in the Holy Spirit.
b. The Relationship of Baptism in the Holy Spirit to Sanctification
251. The two holiness streams, associated respectively with Wesley and the Keswick
Convention, influenced early Pentecostal developments and led to the first division in
the movement. The teaching of the Azusa Street Mission was clearly Wesleyan in
inspiration. First, the new believer was justified as an act of God’s free grace, and upon
a confession of personal faith in Jesus Christ the new believer was baptized in water.
Second, the young convert was encouraged to pursue the sanctification of the Holy
Spirit (John 17: 15, 17; 1 Thess. 5:23; Hebrews 12:14). This second “work of grace”
(now no longer called baptism with the Holy Spirit) was then followed by further
encouragement to seek a Baptism in the Holy Spirit to empower all sanctified
Christians for ministry according to what was believed to be the scriptural pattern. This
meant, once again, waiting before God, but this time it was in anticipation that God
would pour forth the Holy Spirit in fullness upon the candidate. This “baptism” or
“pouring out of the Spirit” or “immersion in the Spirit” by Christ would be
accompanied by the “Bible evidence,” the same evidence that they understood to be
present in the biblical account of Acts 2, the ability to speak in other tongues.
252. Whether one took the classical Wesleyan-Holiness position in which sanctification was
a second work of grace, or adhered to the more classical Protestant position on
sanctification influenced in Pentecostal circles by the Keswick Movement, in which
one entered into a positional and progressive form of sanctification when one was
placed “in Christ,” advocates agreed that personal sanctification and lives of holiness
were serious matters. Almost all of them further agreed that when one received Baptism
in the Holy Spirit, one received the “Bible evidence” of that encounter. Their
differences over their understandings of sanctification initially led to temporary breaks
in communion between some groups that took variant views on these two subjects.
Condemnations often ran high as individuals chose sides. In recent years, these breaks
have been overcome to such an extent that adherents of both perspectives recognize the
water baptism of one another, they participate in the Lord’s supper together, and in
most cases, they enjoy the mutual recognition of ministry.
253. With the exception of Oneness Pentecostals, most Pentecostals taught that Baptism in
the Holy Spirit was subsequent to conversion—in the case of Wesleyan-Holiness
Pentecostals subsequent to conversion and entire sanctification. While Pentecostals
generally expect this to be the sequence of events that leads one into the fullness of
Pentecostal life, they also accept the fact that people are sometimes baptized in the
Spirit at the same time they are converted if the appropriate evidence of Baptism in the
Holy Spirit is present. If it is not received at that time, Pentecostals contend that
Baptism in the Holy Spirit is so critical to the fullness of Christian life that it should be
c. Receiving Baptism in the Holy Spirit
254. It should be reiterated that Pentecostals do not normally equate Baptism in the Holy
Spirit with the reception of the Holy Spirit at conversion. Pentecostals believe that at
conversion the Holy Spirit baptizes the believer into Christ (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:13; Romans 6:3) and subsequently Christ baptizes the believer in the Holy Spirit (cf. Luke
24:49; Acts 1:8; 2:4). Both are part of the initial experiences of someone who has
become a Christian (cf. Ephesians 1:13-14; Titus 3:4-6). To become a Christian in all
its fullness implies among other things, coming to faith, undergoing baptism in water,
and in openness and expectation, receiving Baptism in the Holy Spirit with the
attendant evidence. Thus, Pentecostals contend that a person will receive this Baptism
in the Holy Spirit when she or he believes the Gospel of Jesus Christ (cf. Acts 10:44-46), comes to God in childlike faith, and in an attitude of love and trust (cf. Luke 11:11-13), which suggests that the candidate is open to God’s work in his or her life.
255. In response to the preaching of the Word, candidates for Baptism in the Holy Spirit
often participate in what may be described as a “liturgical act,” though Pentecostals
would not normally use that language. They are invited to pray around the altar in the
local congregation, sometimes for extended periods of time. Generally this invitation is
given at the close of the service. One or more individuals, often the pastor, elders, or
other mature Christian leaders may lay hands upon the candidate. For some, this act is
viewed instrumentally, that is, as the point of impartation of Baptism in the Holy Spirit.
For others this act of “laying on of hands” provides a sense of solidarity between the
candidate and those who were praying with him or her. In some Pentecostal churches,
the “laying on of hands” has become more formalized. While at times Baptism in the
Holy Spirit may come at the moment hands have been laid on the candidate (Acts 8:17;
19:6), Pentecostals do not presume that Baptism in the Holy Spirit comes either
necessarily or only though the act of “laying on of hands”. Indeed, many Pentecostals
testify that they received this baptism alone, in their homes, in their kitchens, and even
without asking for it. Thus, most Pentecostals believe that Baptism in the Holy Spirit
does not require another person to give, impart, or transmit it.
d. Evidence of Baptism in the Holy Spirit
256. The expectation that all who receive baptism in the Holy Spirit would be able to give
some evidence of that fact other than a personal testimony, is deeply ingrained within
Pentecostal theology. The purpose of this “Bible evidence” was understood to be both
missionary and evangelistic. The Holy Spirit, in an instant of time, could grant a
missionary call, point in the direction of a field of service, and equip one with the
language necessary to fulfill that call, in short, the recipient would be empowered to
engage in missionary evangelism, just as the 120 on the Day of Pentecost were
empowered to “go into all the world” (Mk 16:15). From Parham’s perspective, this is
what the outpouring of the Spirit in Acts 2:4 meant, and it was now necessary to be
restored because of the imminent return of Jesus Christ.
257. Not all Pentecostals have agreed with this notion of the evidential aspect of the
doctrine. Even from the beginning, some debated whether it was a human language, a
manifestation of ecstatic speech, or even an angelic tongue (cf. 1 Corinthians 13:1).
While most classical Pentecostal denominations continue to hold one or another of
these positions, some of the earliest Pentecostal groups, most notably those that
emerged in Chile around 1910, and a number of other Pentecostal denominations came
to believe that one could provide evidence of his or her Baptism in the Holy Spirit by
demonstrating that he or she had received one of several different manifestations. These
would include “speaking in other tongues, dancing [in the Spirit], having visions,
prophesying, or engaging in any manifestations that are consistent with the Word of
God (Scripture).” 28
258. In recent years, a smaller percentage of believers within Pentecostal denominations in
the United States are receiving the Baptism in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of
speaking in tongues than did in earlier years. This has raised profound pastoral and
theological questions within these groups. The discussion of these matters continues in
the Pentecostal community.
e. The Relationship between Baptism in the Holy Spirit and the Charism of Speaking in Tongues
259. The Apostle, Paul, raised a related question when he asked “Do all speak in tongues
(me pantes glossais lalousin)?” in 1 Corinthians 12:30. The Apostle’s question clearly
anticipated a negative response as was signaled by his use of the Greek negative, “me”.
It also led Pentecostals to differentiate between the tongues received at the time of
Baptism in the Holy Spirit and the charism or gift of tongues about which Paul wrote. 29
Thus, in many Pentecostal churches, the distinction is made between “evidential
tongues” and the “gift of tongues”. They may be “the same in essence, but different in
their purpose.” Some contend that the “evidential tongues” constitute a continuing
“prayer language,” giving it a “devotional” quality, which may be undertaken privately
and does not need interpretation while the “gift of tongues” is intended for public usage
and, thus, requires interpretation (1 Corinthians 14:5, 13-17, 27-28). Another way to
express this would be to say that phenomenologically these manifestations appear to be
the same thing, but the purposes they serve, the ways they are exercised, and the way
that they are discerned by the believing community are quite different. These are
important discussions that have not yet been completely resolved in the Pentecostal
3. Convergences and Challenges
260. The most fundamental convergence concerning the theme treated in the present section,
about which we can rejoice, is the common conviction within both our communities
that Baptism in the Holy Spirit is a powerful action of grace bestowed by God upon
believers within the church. This dialogue, which began in 1972, is the oldest and most
continuous bilateral dialogue in which Pentecostals and Catholics engaged one
another. It owes its origins in no small part to the climate of openness and trust created
between us as a result of the beginnings of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in the late
1960’s. That this Renewal spread widely to a significant percentage of the Catholic
population, now numbering in excess of 120,000,000, and was discerned by Catholic
bishops and popes to be a welcome work of the Holy Spirit, allowed Pentecostals to see
Catholics in a new and more positive light. Catholics too were opened to recognize the
genuine and authentic work of God in their Pentecostal brothers and sisters. During the
last century, the lifting up of Baptism in the Holy Spirit as part of the reality of Christ’s
community has been a gift to the church. The present section represents a sustained
effort by Catholics and Pentecostals to explore Scripture and the patristic literature in a
common search for greater illumination about Baptism in the Holy Spirit. This is
already a step that is of no little significance, especially considering the fact that our
two communities together make up such a large portion of the worldwide Christian
family. The fact that we conclude this report in the hundredth anniversary of the
beginning of the Azusa Street Mission, one of the commonly acknowledged
foundational events which led to the birth of various classical Pentecostal churches, is
261. At the same time, one striking conclusion to emerge from our common consideration of
biblical and patristic material in the hope of illuminating the phenomenon of Baptism in
the Holy Spirit is the uncovering of substantial diversity, not simply between our two
communities but within each community. One example of this plurality of opinion
concerns whether or not all of the patristic passages we have considered may be
credibly identified as expressive of Baptism in the Holy Spirit. But this is also evident
in our contemporary reflection on this issue. Here one finds that the substantial
theological discussion of Baptism in the Holy Spirit which emerged after the beginning
of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal has not by any means arrived at a consensus
regarding whether it should be considered fundamentally in relation to the celebration
of the sacraments or whether it should be considered as an “extra-sacramental”
outpouring of the Holy Spirit. For their part, the extensive number of denominational
and independent Pentecostal churches and movements often are distinguished on the
basis of differences related to their understanding of the nature and role of Baptism in
the Holy Spirit. Even from their very beginnings, differences among Pentecostals can
be verified regarding the relation of Baptism in the Holy Spirit to conversion, salvation
(Oneness Pentecostals) or sanctification, or regarding the necessity of various kinds of
evidence, such as speaking in tongues, to attest that one has truly received this baptism.
Our common consideration of this material could not, nor did it aim at, trying to discern
whether this diversity is compatible with a fundamental unity in faith concerning
Baptism in the Holy Spirit, much less to identify whether such diversities may be
incompatible divergences, either within our respective communities or between us.
While the experience of Baptism in the Holy Spirit seems to have a certain degree of
similarity among its recipients, the understanding of it and its place within the series of
events by which one becomes a Christian are matters of substantial difference of
262. Nevertheless, there is much that we can say together about the Holy Spirit’s role when
one becomes a Christian. We have acknowledged together the importance of the
outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the life of the church. We share the conviction that the
Holy Spirit has always been present in the church with grace, signs and gifts. We affirm
together and embrace the presence and exercise of charisms as an important dimension
in the life of the church.
- For patristic passages that speak of the role of the Holy Spirit in a way that might possibly reflect Baptism in the Holy Spirit our dialogue team is especially indebted to the work of Kilian McDonnell OSB. He was responsible for the section devoted to the Fathers of the church in a book co-authored with George T. Montague and entitled Christian Initiation and Baptism in the Holy Spirit: Evidence from the First Eight Centuries, Second Revised Edition, Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1994. McDonnell summarized some of his findings during the first meeting of the present phase of our dialogue, held at Bolton, Ontario, on June 23-30, 1998, in his paper “The Experience of Christian Initiation and Baptism in the Holy Spirit in the Early Church.”
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- Slight alterations to the English translation found in our usual source, The Ante-Nicene Fathers, have been made in light of McDonnell’s discussion of the Latin words which appear in the above quotation.
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- Our English translation is based upon the critical edition found in Hippolyte de Rome, La tradition apostolique, “Sources Chrétiennes 11,” B. Botte, editor, Paris: Cerf, 1946, p. 52.
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- Our English translations of this work are based upon the critical edition: S. Hilarii Episcopi Pictaviensis, Tractatus super Psalmos, “CSEL 22,” Pragae / Vindobonae: F. Tempsky, 1891, page 246.
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- Here Hilary is commenting on the following passages: Psalm 46:5 (“There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High”); John 4:14 (“The water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life”) and John 7:38-39 (“‘He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.’ Now this he said about the Spirit, which those who believed in him were to receive; for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified”). For a testimony to the powerful transformation worked in the believer by the Holy Spirit see: Gregory of Nazianzus, Fifth Theological Discourse, 28 (380).
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- Our English translation is based upon “La lettre à Patricius,” Édition critique du texte syriaque et traduction française par René Lavenant, in Patrologia orientalis, vol. 30, fasc. 5, Paris: Firmin-Didot et Cie, 1963, pp. 861 and 863.
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- With a Decree of 14 September 1993, the Pontifical Council for Laity gave formal recognition to the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services (ICCRS), as a body for the promotion of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal and approved their Statutes.
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- Cf. Kilian McDonnell and George T. Montague, Christian Initiation and Baptism in the Holy Spirit. Evidence from the First Eight Centuries, Collegeville, Minnesota 1994, p. 360.
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- David B. Barrett, Todd M. Johnson, and Peter F. Crossing, “Global Table A. 50 Shared Goals: status of global mission, AD 1900 to AD 2025, International Bulletin of Missionary Research 30:1 (2006), 28. We are aware of the limitations that such estimates pose. For a helpful critique in this regard, see, Allan Anderson, An Introduction to Pentecostalism: Global Charismatic Christianity (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 10-14.
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- The official organ of the Assemblies of God, The Weekly Evangel, which later became The Pentecostal Evangel, carried advertisements for the complete set of the writings of the Ante-Nicene Fathers as early as March 4, 1916. See, “Ante-Nicene Fathers,” The Weekly Evangel 129 (March 4, 1916), 9. These volumes were advertised frequently in many subsequent issues of the Evangel. Similarly, A. J. Tomlinson repeatedly lifted up the role of the Fathers in his publication, The Faithful Standard.
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- Cf. C. Alvarez, P. Correa, M. Poblete, P. Guell, Historia de la Iglesia Pentecostal de Chile (Santiago, Chile: Ediciones Rehue Ltda, n.d.), 54, which includes the affirmation from the Declaración de Fe de la Iglesia Pentecostal de Chile. It reads: [Seccion 11] Que: el hablar en otras lenguas, danzar, tener visiones, profetizar o culaquier manifestación conforme a la palabra de Dios, son una evidencia del bautismo en el Espiritu Santo.”
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- The sentence might better be rendered, “Not all speak in tongues, do they?” or “All do not speak in tongues, do they?” In such a case, it is clear that the anticipated response is, “No”.
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