The Anointing or Theological Training? A Pentecostal Dilemma -- By: Robert Brodie

Journal: Conspectus
Volume: CONSPECTUS 11:1 (Mar 2011)
Article: The Anointing or Theological Training? A Pentecostal Dilemma
Author: Robert Brodie

The Anointing or Theological Training? A Pentecostal Dilemma

Robert Brodie1


The aim of this article is to propose a solution to a dilemma that was characteristic of the Pentecostal movement from its inception, one that is still current, not only in some sections of the movement, but even in modern Evangelicalism. This dilemma is, should prospective ministers seek the empowerment of the Spirit for service in preference to theological education, or, should they pursue theological training as a principal means towards effective service? The article investigates the classical Pentecostal attitude to theological education, before examining later modifications to the original Pentecostal view. The classical position is then evaluated before a conclusion is drawn, namely, the anointing and theological training should not be regarded as contradictory, but rather, as complementary imperatives.

1. Introduction

The question as to whether Pentecostals, particularly those called to the pastoral or evangelistic ministry, need formal theological training, or whether the ‘anointing’ of the Spirit is sufficient, is one that was settled in some countries many years ago. However, in other countries, including South Africa, the issue is still a live one in certain Pentecostal

and evangelical Christian communities. This article attempts to (a) describe the classical Pentecostal position with regard to theological education, as opposed to the anointing, (b) investigate how that position changed over time, and (c) critique the classical Pentecostal stance vis-a-vis theological education. The article will conclude with a suggested solution to the dilemma.

2. Theological Education: the Classical Pentecostal Attitude

Donald Gee, the well-known Pentecostal Bible teacher and former chairman of the Assemblies of God of Great Britain, observed that many early Pentecostals were characterised by their lack of education (1961:51). Allan Anderson pointed out that in view of the tension that exists between academic integrity and spirituality, the history of Pentecostahsm has been characterised by a tenuous relationship with theological education (2004:244). Prominent Pentecostal leaders such as the British evangelist and former miner, Stephen Jeffreys, had no theological training (Gee 1941:101). In early British Pentecostahsm, personal consecration was generally considered to be all that was required for both discipleship and leadership (Gee 1941:99). The hostility of the early Pentecostals to theological education is illustrated by Gee’s perception that the ministry of his day was frequently characterized b...

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