Pentecostalism: the fastest expanding religious movement in the world...ever

This is from an excellent and short article over at the inexhaustible IBMR:

By the end of the twentieth century, Pentecostal and charismatic Christianity in all its diversity had expanded into almost every country on earth. It had become an extremely significant movement within global Christianity affecting Catholics, Anglicans, Protestants, evangelicals, and especially the independent churches in China, India, Africa, and Latin America. It is probably the fastest expanding religious movement in the world ever, certainly the fastest within Christianity.

Anderson, Allan. 'Spreading Fires: The Globalization of Pentecostalism in the Twentieth Century' in IBMR, Vol. 31:1, Jan. 2007, p. 9.


Lucian said…
That's true. Along with Islam (at a tie, it seems), they're the two fastest-growing religions in the world ... not Orthodoxy or Catholicism, or whatever.
Abu Daoud said…
How is Pentecostalism doing there in Romania? Would be curious to hear about it. I can stumble through Romanian texts because of my knowledge of Spanish and Latin, btw.
Don said…
My church (the Church of God) has about 300,000 members in Romania, a strength that survived through Communism. We even have chaplaincy ministries there; the head of those is a member of the Romanian senate. It's a very strong presence.

One thing that's overlooked related to that is that Pentecostal churches are growing amongst the Gypsies, traditionally a hard group to reach. Although much of that is in places like Romania and Bulgaria, there are thriving Pentecostal Gypsy churches even in a place like France.
Lucian said…
Romania lost about 5 milion people due to immigration (the population declined from 23 to 17 million).

The number of Pentecostals seems to be about 1.5% of the total population, and that of Protestants 5.5%, according to the 2002 census.
Lucian said…
I can stumble through Romanian texts because of my knowledge of Spanish and Latin, btw.

Stiam ca esti un impiedicat si jumatate, da' nici chiar asa.. >:) Vezi numa' sa nu te mai tat impiedici atata, ca s-asa vad ca esti mai tat timpu' numa' prin spitale.. asa ca ai tu numa' grija pa unde calci.. >:)
Brett said…
So my question is, is this the wheat or the tares being sown?
FrGregACCA said…
Brett: I consider myself to be "post charismatic," and I have watched both Pentecostalism and neo-Pentecostalism (charismatic renewal) for 35 years. I would have to say, in answer to your question, both. Two examples, one positive, one negative: the negative example is the growth of the so-called "prosperity gospel," which is an offshot of classical Pentecostalism. The positive example is the emergence of the forces which are creating the Anglican Church in North America. This would not have happened, I don't think, apart from the influence of charismatic renewal in the Episcopal Church. Okay, a third example: charismatic renewal has also played a role in the return to Tradition and the reform of the reform that one is seeing in the Roman Catholic Church.
Sherry W said…
I think we need to be aware that most of those who are now "charismatic" or "Pentecostal" in their theology are not formal members of Pentecostal churches as such.

They are part of independent/apostolic networks for whom charismatic assumptions are bedrock or part of traditional denoms like the Anglicans or are Hispanic Catholics from Latin America (where charismatic assumptions are held by the majority).

I wrote at some length about this in an 11 part piece I posted last year about the rise of independent Christianity. This is the section that would be most relevant for this discussion:
Don said…
Sherry W, that's a great article, one that I plan to reference from my own blog in the hopes it will be picked up by my colleagues in the Church of God.

I also noted that you're in Colorado Springs. My wife and I just got back from there, it's a great place, although it turned very cold at the end of our visit!
Abu Daoud said…
Sherry, I'm not sure about the figure but I heard that about 5,000 Catholics per day in Latin American join some sort of Pentecostal or charismatic church. Does that sound right to you?
Anonymous said…

I've never heard that particular figure. I think it is important to realize that while there was a huge shift in the 70's and 80's among Latin Catholics, that seems to have slowed down and stabilized now.

For instance, evangelicals speculated alot about the possibility of Guatemala becoming the first majority Protestant nation by 2000 but today, the Protestant population seems to have stabilized at about 30%.

That's a huge change in one generation but not a majority. But certainly enough to challenge Latin Catholics and keep them on their toes -which is good. We are at our best when challenged and like most people, slump into apathy and hubris when we are safely dominant.

I also have been told that many of the Catholics who entered evangelicalism later leave it for nothing. That leaving the Catholic church is the first step toward secular non-belief for many.

Sherry W.
Don said…
I'm not sure that "stabilised" is quite what Guatemala's Protestant population has done. From here:

"The 2006 Forum survey of adults 18 years and older was based on a national probability sample of Guatemala's population of approximately 12 million.2 In the survey, 48% identified themselves as Catholic and 34% as Protestant. These findings are generally in line with the trend toward greater Protestant and lesser Catholic affiliation reflected in the Guatemalan Demographic and Health Surveys. In the Forum survey, 15% said they were unaffiliated."

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