John Alan Turner

Writer, Theologian, Consultant, Speaker, Teacher

Pentecostal Confusion

Jesus says, "Wait! Don't do anything now. Just go to Jerusalem and wait for the gift my Father promised. In a few days you'll be baptized with the Holy Spirit." And then he leaves.

They must have wondered, "How will we know when the gift arrives? Will it be delivered UPS? Will we feel anything? Will we get wet? What in the world does this mean?"

Jesus didn't give them many details. Maybe he did -- he did spend 40 days after his resurrection talking to them about the kingdom of God and probably some about the Holy Spirit, too. Still, the details are probably a little fuzzy for them.

Turns out they didn't have to wait very long -- just about 10 days.

Problem is: when this gift showed up, he did all sorts of confusing things. A sound like rushing wind. Tongues of fire settled on top of people. Folks speaking other languages. The whole Day of Pentecost was a swirling mass of confusing signs that probably have deep, hidden meaning.

If only Rob Bell had been there; he could have explained it all to them!

What are we to make of these things? I'm not content to say that the Book of Acts is only history (only a description of the events that took place) and no theology (no prescription for us). How can we explain the meaning of the wind, the fire and the languages?