Have you ever questioned whether Jesus is God or was he just a Prophet? Have you ever wondered if the Father, God, and the Holy Spirit are one being or 3 different entities? Spirituality and faith can be hard to commit to; the way to God isn’t always a flat-out straight road. It is often bumpy, full of doubts, and many happy returns. That’s why we need nurturing and welcoming communities to help guide us through life and solidify our faith. In this article, we’ll be talking about the Apostolic Church, one of the earliest Christian churches to ever embrace people into God’s divine arms.
If you want to know about the Apostolic Church and its loving community, then keep reading. We guarantee that you will be astounded by the rich history of this doctrine.
What Constitutes the Apostolic Doctrine?
No need to get perplexed over the names, we will thoroughly explain things to you from A to Z. A doctrine is simply the teaching and the word “apostle” means “one who is sent”. The apostolic doctrine is the teachings that come from the 12 apostles or disciples chosen by Christ to spread his teachings around the world. Now it makes more sense, right? Then, you must be wondering “How about the Apostolic Church?”
In simple words, it’s a church that closely follows the teachings of the apostles we just mentioned. Nevertheless, baptism- the religious right of immersing one’s forehead with holy water as a symbol for purification- is essential for salvation.
Understanding the Apostolic Faith
Let’s ease our way through with the basics. What is the apostolic faith? It is a Christian denomination in which various groups of people would define as “apostolic”. All of the apostolic churches follow and practice the teachings of the first church, some of which uphold the pentecostal doctrine and some do not. In case you’re not familiar with pentecostalism, it is a Christian movement that stresses the personal connection with God through baptism with the Holy Spirit.
We can say there are two large apostolic groups; one is the Apostolic church, also referred to as the Apostolic Faith Church, and the New Apostolic Church International. The former stems from the 1904-1905 Welsh revival, whereas the latter goes back to the British revivals of the 1830s. Now, let’s delve into more details about the formation and doctrines of both churches.
The Apostolic Church
Emerging from the Welsh revival of 1904-1905, starting from the United Kingdom to the world at large, the Apostolic Church came to life. The Church embraces approximately 6 million beloved members worldwide under its supportive fellowship. Its doctrine is akin to this of evangelical churches; unity of the Godhead and distinguishing between the members of the Trinity is their core belief.
Amongst the teachings of the Apostolic Church are the conviction of sins, repentance, restitution, and confession of salvation. Unlike evangelical churches, the Apostolic Church believes that the ministry of apostles and prophets mustn’t stop in the Church Age. The Church is also different when it comes to the teachings of speaking in tongues as a sign for having the Holy Spirit.
The New Apostolic Church International
This Church embraces around 11 dear members worldwide. Due to the revival in the 1830s in Great Britain, many people turned to prayers. Soon after in 1832, the Catholic Apostolic Church was formed and the apostles were ordained.
However, a disagreement, historically known as the “Hamburg Schism”, arose due to different individual interpretations over the Holy Scripture and calling new apostles. The Hamburg Schism led to the formation of the New Apostolic Church in 1863. On the other side of the globe, German immigrants founded the first New Apostolic Church in 1872 in Chicago in the United States of America.
The doctrine of the New Apostolic Church also has aspects of resemblance with evangelical churches, such as the virgin birth, sinless life, atoning the death of Christ, repentance, and confession for the blessing of forgiveness.
The dissimilarities, however, lie in the belief that the baptism water is the essence of rebirth in the New Apostolic Church. Moreover, when the believer is bestowed the Holy Spirit by the authority of the apostle, they become a child of God as the body of Christ encompasses them.
Pentecostalism is a movement, rather than a church per se. Despite being a modern movement that took form in the Azusa Street Revival in 1906, the roots date back to the Wesleyan Holiness movement in the 18th century. We can briefly elaborate on the differences between the two movements in two points.
The first is speaking in tongues, while the second and more complicated difference is the theological argument on the interpretation of the bible. While the Holiness movement believes that literalism is unnecessary in modern times, the pentecostalism movement strictly follows biblical literalism.
The Pentecostalism movement takes its name from the day of Pentecost. When the day of the Pentecost arrived, as described in the Acts of the Apostles, the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles and other disciples of Jesus Christ while they were in Jerusalem celebrating the Feast of Wee.
With the coming of the Holy Spirit, all believers were baptized and given the power to be Christ’s witness and consequently, the Church Age began. What was also remarkable on the day of Pentecost is the miraculous signs which followed the coming of the Holy Spirit baptism. The gifts of divine healing as well as speaking in tongues are of the signs that prove evidence of the Holy Spirit.
Apostolic And Pentecostal – What’s The Difference?
Let’s connect the dots. As we’ve mentioned, some of the Apostolic Churches are of pentecostal roots. In 1916, Apostolic Pentecostals stemmed from the main Pentecostal movement, owing to the famous conflict over the essence of the Trinity.
In brief, the Apostolic pentecostal faction believes that the Trinity – the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – are the same person, namely Jesus Christ. They are merely the same titles for Jesus, rather than three distinct beings. Adversely, other Pentecostals do not have the same belief. Henceforth, the followers of Apostolic Pentecostals are baptized in the name of Jesus only, unlike other denominations who are baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Another evident difference is that the faith of the Apostolic Pentecostals stems from their beliefs about baptism. On the other hand, the faith of Non-Pentecostal Apostolics is derived from the apostles of Jesus who were called out to spread the Christian faith.
Although the denominations sometimes overlap since there various similarities and differences between them, every pentecostal apostolic church is built on support, and the love of God and one another. Apostles are a family before anything else and they are all united by spirituality.
Interesting Facts About the Apostolic Pentecostal Denomination
1. Pentecostal Church Empowers Women
Modern Pentecostalism championed women to take an effective part in the church. Admittedly, women were given the chance to undertake preacher, missionaries, and pastor roles as well. During his Apostolic Faith Movement starting from1900, Charles Fox Parham effectively contributed to training women for ministry.
Also, he appointed women to serve as pastors alongside commissioning women to establish church planting. Moreover, Pastor Seymour, who lead the Azusa Street Revival movement, welcomed both men and women into the Azusa Street pulpit and sent them out to serve as missionaries and preachers. Consequently, Mrs. Florence Crawford was able to establish her very own denomination the Apostolic Faith Church in Portland, Oregon.
Another inspiring example of pioneering women in the Pentecostalism movement is Mrs. Emma Cotton. Mrs. Cotton- an African American woman was able to establish more than 8 congregations in Los Angeles, the San Joaquin Valley, and Oakland. Sadly, this isn’t the case nowadays, as the challenge grows stronger against women every day. Today, women struggle to be ordained as bishops, pastors, and ministers.
Flexibility in terms of appointing women in leadership roles had witnessed an appalling setback at the hands of young men. However, some Pentecostal denominations remain sturdy against the resistance wave of figures like Mark Driscoll and John Piper.
2. Pentecostal Pioneers
Pentecostalism witnessed many inspiring pioneers who strenuously strived to found the pillars of this Christian doctrine. Paul the Apostle fronts the list for his massive efforts in planting the very first seed of Pentacostical Churches across the Greek, Roman, and Gentile world.
George Jeffreys also thrived in spreading the word of God, as he raised and led the Elim Alliance movement. Additionally, he held conventions with over 10 thousand attendees in the United Kingdom alongside baptizing 400 people in one service at the end of evangelistic campaigns.
Not only there were male pioneering figures who spared no effort to instill Pentecostalism and make it flourish across the globe, but there were also marvelous female figures in the scene. Undertaking the role of the Principal, Mrs. Eleanor Crisp ran the first Pentecostal Bible School for women until her last breath. She also often ministered beside inspiring figures, such as Boddy, Polhill, Wigglesworth, and others.
3. Pentecostal Festives
The holy day of Pentecost has been long celebrated amongst Christians all over the world. Given the belief and history of the doctrine we have mentioned, the day is dedicated to the commemoration of the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles of Jesus Christ and his followers.
The festival is known by a variety of names, all denoting its significance and timing. Let’s start with the first commonly used name- the Feast of Harvest. Having completed the grain harvest in the spring and the arduous work necessary all year, the Feast of Harvest is a symbol for the first fruits gathered through hard labor.
The day of Pentecost is also known as Whitsunday, as it is celebrated on the Seventh Sunday after Easter. Another name for the day of Pentecost is the Feast of Weeks, whose background meaning comes from the seven weeks plus one day calculated to determine the date of celebration.
The name “Shavuot” in Hebrew, which is a synonym for Feast of Weeks, is commonly used among the Jews. As they celebrate the joyous day, Jewish people reminisce over one of the most gracious events in Christianity- God’s revealing of the law at Mount Sinai.
The sacred day of Pentecost can also be referred to with the word “pentekoste,” derived from the Greek language, meaning “fiftieth”. This is because it is, again, celebrated on a Sunday that comes 50 days after Easter.
The ceremonial acts and observances include prayers, vigils, fasting, novenas, retreats, and Holy communion. Some of the most popular prayers are “God of power”, “may the boldness of your Spirit transform us”, “may the gentleness of your Spirit lead us”, “may the gifts of your Spirit”, “be our goal and our strength”, and finally “now and always. Amen”.
4. Pentecostal and Proud Celebrities
Did you know that some of the worldwide famous celebs are Pentecostal too? Exciting, right?! Michelle Williams, Megan Fox, and Vera Farmiga are amongst those celebrities who grew up going to Pentecostal Church. Denzel Washington’s father was a Pentecostal preacher, which had a significant impact on his upbringing and his strong faith in God.
5. Pentecostals Are Here To Stay
Pentecostalism is considered to be one of the most rapidly-growing denominations of Christianity around the world. With approximately 1 million people in the United Kingdom and more than 20 million in the just the United States of America. Furthermore, there is over 250 million Pentecostal Christian, constituting 10% of Christians around the world.
In short, the history of the Apostolic Church and how it crystalized into different spiritual entities is prodigious. The origins of each denomination and the immense efforts made by their followers are admirable. Alas, it is difficult to elaborate on the different derivatives of the doctrine, for it is rich with countless historical events. We hope that this article, in addition to the 5 interesting pieces of trivia we laid out, was able to simplify the basis of the Apostolic Church and the Pentecostalism movement for you.