By Mike Willis

Inasmuch as several periodicals have recently reported some cases of Pentecostalism in the church, each of us who preach need to begin a series of sermons grounding our members on the subject of spiritual gifts.

Most Pentecostals believe that hyper-emotionalism and ecstatic utterances are signs of the work of the Holy Spirit. Nowhere do the scriptures indicate that these actions are indicative of God’s work through the Holy Spirit.

However, the scriptures do indicate that actions similar to Pentecostalism were current in heathen religions in the first century. Paul and Silas, for instance, healed a girl having a spirit of divination while preaching in Philippi. The girl had brought her masters large profits from her “soothsaying” or “fortune-telling” prior to the time when she was miraculously healed.

The word translated “soothsaying” is manteuomene. The word is never applied to anything practiced by Christians. Rather, it is applied exclusively to heathen religious practices. In Synonyms of the New Testament (pp. 21-22), Trench said with regard to this word, “It will follow from this, that it contains a reference to the tumult of the mind, the fury, the temporary madness, under which those were, who were supposed to be possessed by the god, during the time that they delivered their oracles; this mantic fury of theirs displaying itself in the eyes rolling, the lips foaming, the hair flying, as in other tokens of a more than natural agitation.”

Although the word was never applied to Christian activities involving miraculous spiritual gifts, manteuomene would be a very accurate word to be used in describing modern Pentecostalism.

Several references in classical Greek writings such as Plato’s Phaedrus and Virgil’s Aenid are reported to contain references to ecstatic, unintelligible utterances among those practicing heathen religions (The Modern Tongues Movement, Robert G. Gromacki, pp. 6-7).

Whatever might be the source of the actions of Pentecostalism, it is more nearly described by the Greek word manteuomene than charismata (the Greek word used for spiritual gifts in I Cor. 12:4).

May 11, 1972