The ‘Pentecostal’ Beginnings and Ecumenical Horizon of Early English Baptists

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Christopher L. Schelin


As their collective identity coalesced through the seventeenth century, early English
Baptists grounded their vision of a reformed church not only on right understanding
of Scripture but also faithful dependence on the Holy Spirit. Consequently, they
experimented with and contested a range of practices that would be recognised as
‘Pentecostal’ in the present day. These practices included the laying on of hands for
receiving the Holy Spirit, direct inspiration of the elements of worship such as songs
of praise, and divine healing of illness. These characteristics express points of
ecumenical convergence with the later Pentecostal and charismatic movements that
belie bounded theological demarcations. This article1 rehearses those initial Baptist
convictions about being a Spirit-empowered people, identifies the parallels with
Pentecostalism, and argues that a retrieval of this history should lay the groundwork
for as-yet unrealised ecumenical dialogue.

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Author Biography

Christopher L. Schelin

Revd Dr Christopher L. Schelin is the Dean of Students at Starr King School for the
Ministry in Oakland, California, and a Senior Research Fellow at IBTS Centre,