Episcopacy in the Pentecostal Tradition
With regard to Pentecostal ecclesiology, Dale Coulter (historical theologian at Regent University’s School of Divinity) has called to task theologians who have declared that little to no significant discourse has taken place. Coulter contends that this may be the case for those bodies within the Free Church wing of Pentecostalism, but it is not the case in terms of the episcopal wing of the movement.1 His argument, I believe, points to a larger issue that he does not address. For the most part, the Pentecostal tradition has been identified as an integral member solely of the Free Church tradition both by outside observers and by Pentecostal theologians themselves. For the purposes of this essay, “Free Church” is defined as a church body that holds a congregational polity paradigm. Under this kind of structure, a local congregation is solely responsible for the selection of its pastor and leaders, as well as for teaching, interpreting, and guarding the teachings of the Christian faith. In this chapter, I argue that grouping all Pentecostal denominational expressions into this category is an inaccurate depiction of a much broader and more diverse ecclesiological expression.
KeywordsChristian Faith Teaching Authority Local Congregation Pastoral Letter State Overseer
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