We have now covered in this series a very high-level overview of the history behind the Pentecostal Movement. We have also taken a more in-depth look at distinctly Pentecostal doctrines related to Holy Ghost Baptism. But as of this time, all of this information I have thrown at you is probably mere "data". In this final part of this series on Pentecostalism, I want to provide a bit of an analysis of what has been covered. You may or may not agree with what I have to say, but at the very least I hope to at least provide some prompting for your own reflection on these things.
First and foremost, I want to emphasize that I don't think it's worthwhile to discard charismatic movements outright simply because their practices look a bit different from more traditional practices. Cardinal Yves Congar is one Catholic theologian who has reflected on this quite extensively, and writes about it in his treatise I Believe in the Holy Spirit. Specifically reflecting on the Charismatic Renewal within the Catholic Church, he describes it as an attempt to give the charisms stronger emphasis in the Church—as a re-introduction of the charisms into the ordinary life of the Church. He notes that the Renewal seems to be precisely what was called for by John XXIII, as well as by Paul VI’s statement that “the Church needs a perpetual Pentecost”. This emphasis on charisms, however, is not to the detriment of the sacraments. Rather, Congar tells us that though the prayer meetings of these charismatics are extra-sacramental, the faithful who participate them return to the sacraments with a renewed enthusiasm. There is a something about these charismatic practices which has renewed the zeal and fervor of the faithful in such a way that their approach to the sacraments has become more reverential.
Congar uses the term “charisms”, and so we ought to nail down a precise definition of what it is we mean by that. Congar defines the term as follows: “Charisms are gifts or talents which Christians owe to the grace of God. That grace aims at the realization of salvation, and Christians are called to put the charisms at the service of the Body of Christ.” He goes further to say that the charisms are “tangible manifestations of the presence of the Spirit”, and further narrows down his definition by identifying the particular charisms of tongues, prophecy, and healings. Let’s focus first on tongues.
Congar begins his discussion on the tongues by discarding the cessationist view, which asserts that the spiritual gifts, including the gift of tongues, served a very particular purpose in the life of the early Church, but are now unnecessary and thus the Holy Spirit no longer bestows these gifts on believers. Congar instead says that the gift of tongues has never ceased, and rather continues in the Church to this day. Though in beginning his investigation of how tongues are present, he makes a distinction between “glossolalia” and “xenoglossia”. He identifies glossolalia as an enthusiastic manifestation of praise, but which corresponds to no existing language, while xenoglossia is rather the speaking of a real language which is unknown to the believer. He notes that both have the support of many testimonies from believers within the Renewal, but goes further to say that the question of whether “tongues” ought to be approached as “glossolalia” or “xenoglossia” is wrongly put to begin with:
While he notes that he can offer no refutation of the testimonies of individual believers, he does move to make criticisms of the phenomenon of glossolalia. In reference to one particular testimony offered in which the believer expressed that the gift of tongues allowed for a tremendous unity to be achieved when this gift was exercised together with others who possessed it, Congar recalls the comments of Paul regarding how tongues serve only for the edification of self, as well as the Paul’s proclamation that one should never aim for a childish level of understanding, but rather “In thinking be mature”.
A further criticism is aimed directly at Pentecostalism. Congar notes a distinction between the Charismatic Renewal and contemporary Pentecostalism in their understanding of speaking in tongues. While Pentecostalism, as we learned earlier in this series, speaking in tongues is the empirical evidence which always accompanies the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, Congar notes that this understanding of tongues is, in a way, pseudo-sacramental—that Pentecostals, while rejecting the sacramental understanding of water baptism, understand the speaking of tongues as a kind of sacramental reality which is the sign of baptism in the Spirit. The Renewal, on the other hand, holds firm to traditional sacramental theology, and claims rather that the speaking in tongues is the result of extra-sacramental grace.
Though the Renewal seems to be more in line with traditional Catholic thought on this, Congar aims his next criticism at the Renewal in particular. He says that the Renewal identifies prayer in tongues as the inexpressible groanings, described by Paul as the prayer of the Spirit. Congar counters this view by saying that the prayer which Paul speaks about here is not an audible prayer, but rather a prayer of the Holy Spirit Himself—this prayer belongs not the believer, but to the Holy Spirit who indwells in us. However, he makes a conciliatory statement here where he says that the speaking in tongues, as understood by charismatics, can be in accord with the Catholic faith so long as it is truly a gift from God. This qualification of his criticism is of central importance to his next criticism, which comes from a more practical approach.
Congar notes that glossolalia is not a phenomenon which is unique to Christianity; glossolalia has been observed and reported in various pagan and non-Christian cultures for centuries, and still exists in these contexts. However, following Blaise Pascal, Congar notes that even though glossolalia occurs outside the Christian world, this “does not necessarily mean that they do not come from the Spirit or that they do not bear witness to His presence for our consolation and joy where there is life in the Spirit.” Though this phenomenon does exist apart from Christian contexts, Congar wants to say that it is certainly possible that these pagans and non-Christians are truly receiving the grace of the Holy Spirit in an extraordinary manner.
In immediately reflection on what we have now heard both from Pentecostalism and from Congar with respect to tongues, we notice a similarity between the two. First and foremost, with respect to tongues, Congar’s distinction between “glossolalia” and “xenoglossia” seems to be, on the face of it, the same distinction that Dr. Horton was making between angelic and human languages. Though Horton takes a firm position on the subject, noting that the gift of tongues must always be a human language, he is not in accord with official Pentecostal doctrine on this matter (as we have learned that, at least for the Assemblies of God, the possibility of non-human languages remains open). Congar allows for both types of tongues to be possible, provided they truly are gifts from God, which is precisely the position taken by Pentecostalism.
Later on in his work, Congar tackles the Pentecostal understanding of tongues in more detail. We recall that Pentecostals hold that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is always evidenced by speaking in tongues, which seems to be in accord with the event at Pentecost. Congar points out that, other than Pentecost, there are only two passages in Acts which points specifically to speaking in tongues: the case of Cornelius, and the case of Paul at Ephesus. He calls these events “mini-Pentecosts”, and uses a passage from M.A. Chevallier to point out how these events by no means provide proof that the gift of the Spirit is always accompanied by speaking in tongues:
Thus Congar explicitly rejects the Pentecostal view that the “gift of breath” is always evidenced by the speaking in tongues. Rather he indicates that the speaking in tongues is, particularly in how it is covered by Luke, an extraordinary grace which only occasionally accompanies the gift of breath. Thus the Pentecostal view of tongues as evidence, at least according to Congar, stands as wholly inconsistent with Scripture itself, while Congar never rejects the many purposes of tongues with his applied caveat “so long as it is truly a gift from God”. Thus is seems we must at least reject part of the doctrine of Holy Ghost Baptism as held by Pentecostalism. Tongues is not always the evidence of the gift of breath described in Scripture, and neither does the gift of breath always result in the bestowing of the charisms. The gift of breath can and might result in these things, but they are by no means necessitated. But we ought to take a look more closely at Holy Ghost Baptism on its own, rather than at the charisms it results in.
Holy Ghost Baptism
In beginning his reflection on Baptism of the Holy Spirit, Congar recalls the Pentecostal distinction between the spiritual rebirth and Spirit Baptism. Earlier, we discovered that the Pentecostal understanding of the means of the spiritual rebirth is found in the conversion of the believer—that it is at the moment of conversion that one has undergone the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, and thus the Holy Spirit dwells within him. A further result of this conversion is that the believer becomes a member of the Body of Christ—the believer becomes a Christian.
Congar takes a contrary position, and draws on many Scriptural passages to emphasize that the revealed faith teaches that the believer becomes a member of the Church through water-baptism, not through conversion. Congar further explicitly rejects the Pentecostal view of the spiritual rebirth and indwelling, going on to show that this indwelling of the Spirit does not occur at conversion, but rather also occurs at water-baptism. He notes that the emphasis in the early Church in accepting new members was on the action of the Church itself—that water-baptism stood as a highly public and visible act. The early Church Fathers, St. Irenaeus in particular, spoke of the waters of baptism being “sanctified by the Spirit and about receiving the Spirit through the baptism by water, because it was by the Spirit that one became a Christian” (emphasis mine). Thus, for Congar, the Pentecostal understanding of the spiritual rebirth and indwelling of the Spirit is wholly inconsistent with the historic faith. He takes some time to reflect more closely on the key Scriptural texts used by Pentecostals in favor of this baptism.
Congar begins with the text of John 3:5: “Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God”. There are two principles of the spiritual rebirth identified in this verse: the Spirit, and the water. Congar notes that we cannot separate the two—they are distinct only by way of notion, but not by way of reality. “But baptism of Spirit and baptism of water are not two distinctly separate realities.” Thus in order for one to become a subject of the kingdom of God, one must undergo water-baptism.
Moving on to the texts written by Luke, Congar first draws our attention to the Samaritans in Acts 8:5-25, who were baptized by Philip in water, and yet had not received the Spirit. It was only after they were visited by Peter and John, who laid hands on them, that the Samaritans received the Spirit and began to speak in tongues. Congar here notes that the texts are uncertain—it is not clear how exactly the Samaritans were able to be baptized without receiving the Spirit. But is equally clear that we cannot, from this passage alone, conclude that the baptism of water is not regenerative. Congar describes it simply as “The Samaritans would seem to have been a special case.” What we do know is that it is impossible for one to be a Christian without having received the Spirit, and that the Samaritans clearly became Christians through some manner of healing provided by Peter and John.
Congar clearly affirms that the regeneration of the believer and the means of joining into the Body of Christ happens at water-baptism, not at some prior or even subsequent event (even though the Samaritans seems to have done so in an extraordinary manner):
Thus we see from all the foregoing that we can firmly reject the Pentecostal understanding of “Baptism of the Holy Spirit”. This regenerative and unitive act occurs at water-baptism—at an event which involves more than just the individual, and rather requires a communal action in the ritual of baptism.
There is one small point of agreement we can find, and that is that there can be an event in the life of the believer, subsequent to the new birth, which Pentecostals call the "Baptism in the Holy Spirit". But that this event is always evidenced by tongues, or always results in the bestowing of charisms, is not a conclusion we can draw from Scripture. I would also note that neither myself nor Congar challenges the Pentecostal understanding of the charisms themselves. Certainly the charisms do exist, as Scripture makes clear, and Congar even goes so far as to be sympathetic to the Pentecostal openness to "glossolalia" rather than a strict "xenoglossia" understanding of tongues, a point which I am also sympathetic to. But I find no reason to think that tongues, or any other charism for that matter, is necessitated by what Pentecostals call the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. Certainly a charism could be bestowed at that time, and certainly tongues could be the one bestowed, but I can't find any way to draw that conclusion from either Scripture or the long-standing witness of the Church.
This concludes my three part series on Pentecostalism. I hope you enjoyed it, or at least found it thought-provoking! And even if you didn't, I appreciate you taking the time to slog through it! If you have any immediate thoughts or reactions, please leave a comment below!
 Congar, Yves. I Believe in the Holy Spirit. Vol II. New York: Seabury Press, 1983. 151
 Ibid, 152
 Ibid, 161
 Ibid, 162
 Ibid, 173
 Ibid, 174
 Ibid, 174-175
 1 Cor. 14:4
 1 Cor. 14:20; Congar, 175
 Rom. 8:26
 Congar, 175
 Ibid, 176
 Acts 10:46
 Acts 19:6; Congar, 195
 Congar, 195
 Ibid, 189; We recall here the distinction between “Baptism of the Holy Spirit” and “Baptism in the Holy Spirit” made by the General Presbytery of the Assemblies of God.
 Ibid, 190
 Ibid, 192
 Ibid, 193
 Ibid, 194