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Pentecostals believe that this was not a one-off event, but something that can and does happen every day. March Some writers suggest the number is more like million. Pentecostalism is particularly strong in the developing world where it poses a serious challenge to other, more established, denominations.

(15-1) Introduction

Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: "Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say.

It's only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke.

The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Peter was quoting this prophecy in the Old Testament Book of Joel, which he claimed was being fulfilled at Pentecost:. And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.

Most Pentecostals accept all mainstream Christian beliefs. The exception is the Oneness movement , which does not accept the Trinity. Pentecostal churches are highly diverse, which makes it difficult to provide a definitive list of Pentecostal ideas. Nonetheless, this section covers a range of ideas and customs that are common to many Pentecostal churches. Pentecostals share with Christian fundamentalists their acceptance of the status of the Bible as the inerrant word of God, but they also accept which fundamentalists do not the importance of the believer's direct experience of God through the work of the Holy Spirit.

A person is sanctified when their life is dedicated to God and they are separated from their past sinful life. When a person is sanctified, they are born again to Christ through the Holy Spirit and turn away from the bad behaviours and thoughts of their old life. The word holiness is also used by some churches for this concept. Whatever the word, it is something that is essential to living a Christian life:.

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Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. Some Pentecostals teach that believers must experience a once-for-all spiritual event which leads them to "consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus" Romans 6: The work of sanctification is carried out by the Holy Spirit. Other churches teach that believers continue to grow closer to God in a continual process of sanctification, which helps them to live a Christian life. While some Pentecostals believe that sanctification is a necessary precondition for a person to be baptised in the Spirit, others believe that baptism in the Spirit is available to anyone who sincerely gives their life to Christ.

This distinction may be lost on non-specialists and it may be simpler just to say that Pentecostals believe that human beings must have come to salvation in Christ before they can receive the baptism of the Spirit. Pentecostal churches follow scripture in practising baptism by immersion. For Pentecostals water baptism is an outward symbol of a conversion that has already occurred. It is the conversion that is essential; the water baptism is an additional element. Pentecostal churches do not baptise infants. They regard water baptism as an outward expression of an internal work of grace following an individual's choice to follow Christ.

Young children are not able to make such a choice because they do not recognise their need for salvation. Instead, infants in Pentecostal churches are dedicated to God and blessed. This remembers the Bible stories of young children being brought to Jesus to be blessed. Some Pentecostal churches believe that most children can be ready for water baptism between the ages of seven and ten, and that parents or pastors are able to determine whether a particular child is able to understand the significance of water baptism by discussing it with them.

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Baptism in the Holy Spirit is the central event of Pentecostalism. The name of the movement commemorates the first baptism in the Spirit, of Jesus' disciples on the day of Pentecost. Baptism in the Spirit is not a conversion experience; a person must already have been converted before they can receive baptism in the Spirit.

Pentecostals believe that baptism in the Spirit is an essential part of salvation. Traditionally this is a second baptism that follows conventional water baptism, although some passages of scripture reverse this sequence. Baptism in the Holy Spirit is an experience in which the believer gives control of themselves to the Holy Spirit although not in a way in which they lose their own identity and autonomy.

Through the experience they come to know Christ in a more intimate way and are energised with the power to witness and grow spiritually. Spirit baptism is believed to be an action of God's grace, but one that is available only to people who put themselves forward to receive it:. Analogous with water baptism, a person baptised in the Spirit feels themselves to have been totally immersed in the Holy Spirit. But the analogy fails at that point, because a person who is baptised in the Spirit is also completely filled with the Holy Spirit, in the same way as the disciples of Jesus on the day of Pentecost.

The proof of having been baptised in the Spirit is speaking in tongues.


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Speaking in tongues is the only consistent event associated with baptism in the Spirit in the various Biblical accounts of the phenomenon. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Being filled with the Holy Spirit is not a temporary state of affairs; a person who has been baptised in the Spirit is believed to have the Holy Spirit within them to empower and guide them for the rest of their life.

The Baptism is the entry experience introducing the believer to the beauty and power of the Spirit-filled life. The Holy Spirit will enable the believer to turn away from their old worldly life and live a new Christian life. As St Paul put it:. But as well as giving a new beginning to the believer, baptism in the Spirit gives them gifts of the Spirit which they are expected to use to bring others to faith, and generally to further Christian work. The gifts of the Spirit are supernatural abilities given to believers by God.

These gifts demonstrate the power of God and are used for particular purposes such as healing the sick, and generally helping the believer in their Christian ministry. St Paul listed the gifts of the spirit as love, prophecy, healing, wise speech, faith, miraculous powers and ecstatic speech. In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.

Speaking in tongues means speaking miraculously in a language unknown to the speaker, "as the Spirit gives utterance". It first happened to the disciples on the day of Pentecost. Speaking in tongues can be either evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, or a demonstration of the gift of tongues. Theological texts also use the word glossolalia to refer to speaking in tongues. This word is sometimes restricted to ecstatic speech in non-existent languages.

They do, of course, have rituals and ceremonies like communion and water baptism that other churches treat as sacraments, but Pentecostals refer to these as ceremonies or ordinances. Ordinances, like sacraments are visible representations of invisible realities. Some Pentecostal churches practise foot-washing as an ordinance of humility in their services. In doing so they follow the instructions of Jesus, who washed the feet of his disciples at the Last Supper.

Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.


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I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

Prayer cloths are small cloths like handkerchiefs that are used in healing. The practice is based on this passage of scripture:. God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.

The healer prays over the cloth which is given to the sick person, who may bring it close to the afflicted part of their body. The famous American Evangelist, Oral Roberts, had a "ministry of prayer cloths" in which he sent anointed cloths to anyone who asked for prayer. Each cloth carried this message:. I prayed over this cloth for God to deliver you--use as a point of contact Acts Oral Roberts, Tulsa 2, Oklahoma. It is not necessary to wear the cloth unless you feel you should. It can be used more than once or for more than one person.

If you wish to request more, I will be glad to send them to you. The important thing is to use the cloth as a point of contact for the release of your faith in God, so that when you pray and put the cloth on your body, you will believe the Lord will heal you at that moment. I have prayed over this cloth in the name of Jesus of Nazareth and asked Him to heal you when you apply it to your body. Prayer cloths were particularly popular in the first part of the twentieth century, but they are still used today.

Prayer cloths are also used by Mormons and Seventh Day Adventists. Latter rain is a term referring to the new outpouring of the Holy Spirit on today's Pentecostals. The events of Pentecost are known as the former rain. The idea of latter rain comes from this Old Testament text, which precedes Joel's prophecy that God will pour out his Spirit on all people:. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before. The early Pentecostals were keen to connect their own experience of the Spirit with that of the disciples, so they interpreted Peter's quoting of Joel's prophecy in Acts 2: as a further prophecy that God would pour out his Spirit again at a later time.

They interpreted the pouring out of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost as the early autumn rain, and the second pouring out of the Spirit, that they were experiencing, as the later spring rains; the Latter Rain. The idea of latter rain is found throughout Pentecostalism, but the Latter Rain Movement, founded in , teaches that the second coming of Jesus is due to happen soon and that latter rain is evidence for this. They justify this using scripture.

Some Pentecostal churches engage in the dangerous practice of handling poisonous snakes during services; teaching that doing so successfully was a gift of the Spirit. They base this practice on Mark ; "they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all". Although this practice has been given sensational publicity in the media, it was always extremely rare, restricted to small sects, and largely disapproved of by the larger Pentecostal denominations.

Pentecostalism began among poor and disadvantaged people in the USA at the start of the Twentieth century. Although the movement is a modern one its foundation is usually taken to be the American Azusa Street revival in the first decade of the 20th century , its roots go back to the 18th century Wesleyan Holiness tradition, the 19th century Holiness movement and the late-Victorian Keswick Higher Life movement. The Wesleyan Holiness movement was a reaction against the formality and ritualism of the traditional Christian churches of the time. It taught that Christians needed to be transformed by a personal experience of the truth of Christ which they could only get through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Members of this Methodist tradition experienced baptism in the Holy Spirit which was given that name in by John Fletcher. Baptism in the Spirit was an important feature of all the Holiness churches. The difference between these earlier traditions and the Pentecostal movement was, on the surface, speaking in tongues as a physical sign of baptism in the Spirit. The theological conflict underlying this was that members of the Holiness tradition believed that the Pentecost story did not need to be interpreted absolutely literally in modern times, while the early Pentecostals were committed to seeing baptism in the Spirit as an absolute re-enactment of the day of Pentecost.

Parham's Bethel Bible School in Topeka, Kansas, spoke in tongues actually, the story is that she spoke in "Chinese", and did not speak English again for several days. On January 3, Parham and a dozen other students also spoke in tongues. In Seymour preached that God would "send a new Pentecost" if people prayed for one, and was rewarded when he and his congregation began speaking in tongues.

This event, greatly helped by apocalyptic thoughts prompted by the San Francisco Earthquake which happened soon after, sparked a powerful religious revival driven by the three doctrines of salvation, sanctification and baptism in the Spirit, and in which the gifts of the Spirit were seen on a large scale. Over 13, people are said to have spoken in tongues in the first year. At first the Pentecostal ideas flourished in individual church groups across North America, and it was not until that the first Pentecostal denomination, the Church of God in Christ, was founded.

It became the headquarters of a network of Pentecostal churches which became known as the Apostolic Faith Church. Pentecostal worship is less formal and more emotionally expressive than that of other Christian traditions. Participants worship with body, heart and soul, as well as with their minds. Much Pentecostal worship is designed to bring about an experience of God's presence, and to this end the atmosphere, worship-leading and music encourage openness to the presence of the Holy Spirit.

The gifts of the spirit are often demonstrated during church services, sometimes quite dramatically. In Pentecostal churches there is a great deal of active congregational involvement: the worshippers may dance and clap. Cities adopted their own patron deities and performed their own rituals. While this fusion of Roman and Greek deities influenced Rome in many ways, their religion remained practical. Even though there were four colleges for priests, there was no priestly class; it would always remain a public office. This practice would even extend to the imperial palace.

From the time of Emperor Augustus the emperor would assume the title of pontifex maximus or chief priest. Other than the pontifexes there were augures , individuals who read the entrails of animals and the flight of birds to interpret omens, or in other words, the will of the gods. Elaborate rituals were performed to bring Roman victory in battle , and no declaration of war or major event was undertaken without the clear approval of the gods.

Dating from the time of the Etruscans, a diviner or haruspices , was always consulted, and it was considered dangerous to ignore the omens. As the empire expanded across the Balkans, Asia Minor and into Egypt , Roman religion absorbed many of the gods and cults of conquered nations, but the primary influence would always remain Greece. With only a few exceptions, most of the Roman gods had their Greek counterparts. This Roman mythology would have a significant influence on the empire - politically and socially - as well as on the future of western civilization. One needs only to look at the names of the days and months Tuesday, Saturday, January and June , the languages of European nations, and the names of the planets Mars, Jupiter, Saturn , and Pluto to realize this influence.

However, when looking at the religion of Rome, one must examine the impact of the most important gods. He was the king of the gods; the sky god the great protector - controlling the weather and forces of nature, using thunderbolts to give warning to the people of Rome. Originally linked with farming as Jupiter Elicius , his role changed as the city grew, eventually obtaining his own temple on Capitoline Hill. His supremacy would be temporarily set aside during the reign of Emperor Elagabalus who attempted to replace the religion of Rome with that of the Syrian god Elagabal.

Besides being the supreme goddess with a temple on Esquiline Hill, she was the goddess of light and moon, embodying all of the virtues of Roman matron hood - as Juno Lucina she became the goddess of childbirth and fertility. She was the goddess of commerce, industry, and education. Later, she would be identified as a war goddess as well as the goddess of doctors, musicians and craftsmen. Although no longer one of the Capitoline triad, Mars remained an important god to Rome - similar to Ares , the Greek god of war.

Roman commanders would make sacrifices to him before and after battles and Tuesday Martes is named for him. Apollo had no Roman equal and he was simply the Greek god of poetry, medicine , music , and science. He was originally brought to the city by the Etruscans to ward off the plague and was rewarded with a temple on Palatine Hill.

She was seen as a protector of women in childbirth with a temple at Ephesus in Asia Minor. Another god brought to the Rome by the Etruscans was Saturn, an agricultural god equal to the Greek Cronus and who had been expelled from heaven by Jupiter. A festival in his honor, the Saturnalia , was held yearly between the 17th and 23rd of December. His temple, at the foot of Capitoline Hill, housed the public treasury and decrees of the Senate.

Another Roman goddess was Venus, who was born, according to myth, from the foam of the sea, equal to the Greek Aphrodite. According to Homer , she was the mother of Aenaes the hero of the Trojan War. Of course, the planet Venus is named for her. Next was Vulcan, also expelled from heaven by Jupiter, who was a lame caused by his expulsion , ugly blacksmith and the god of fire.

Lastly, there was Janus who had no Greek equal. He was the two-faced guardian of doorways and public gates. One cannot forget the Vestal Virgins who had no Greek counterpart. They were the guardians of the public hearth at the Atrium Vesta. They were girls chosen only from the patrician class at the tender age of six, beginning their service to the goddess Vesta at the age of ten and for the next thirty years they would serve her. Some chose to remain in service to Vesta after serving their thirty years since, at the age of forty, they were considered too old to marry. Breaking the vow of chastity would result in death - only twenty would break the vow in over one thousand years.

Emperor Elagabalus attempted to marry a vestal virgin but was convinced otherwise. Besides the worship of these gods there were several cults - Bacchus, Cybele , Isis , Sarapis, Sibyl, and most of all the Imperial Cult. Some were readily accepted by Roman society while others were feared by those in power.

Bacchus was a Roman deity associated with both the Greek god Dionysus and the early Roman god Liber Patri, also a wine god. Bacchus is best remembered for his intoxicating festivals held on March 17, a day when a Roman male youth would supposedly become a man. As his cult spread, the Roman Senate realized its dangerous potential and ordered its suppression in BCE and afterwards, the cult went underground. All of her priests were eunuchs, and many of her male followers would have themselves castrated.

Next is Isis, the ancient goddess of Egypt who is best remembered in Egyptian mythology as the wife of Osiris and the mother of Horus. After becoming Hellenized, she became the protector of sailors and fishermen. Arriving in Rome from Alexandria , Sarpis was a healing god and the sick would travel to her temple to be cured.

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She offered the Etruscan King Tarquin the nine Sibylline Books which were books of prophecy, but the price was considered too high, so he refused. After she had burned six of the books, he reconsidered and bought the remaining three; these three books were consulted by the Roman Senate in times of emergencies but they were lost during the barbarian invasions of the fifth century CE. Lastly, there was the Imperial Cult. The idea of deification of the emperor came during the time of Emperor Augustus. Upon his death, the Roman Senate rewarded him with deification which was an honor that would be bestowed upon many of his successors.

Often, an emperor would request his predecessor to be deified. Of course there were a few exceptions, notably, Tiberius , Caligula , Nero and Domitian , who were considered too abhorrent to receive the honor. Caligula and Nero believed themselves living gods while Domitian thought himself the reincarnation of Hercules. Judaism and Christianity, while posing separate threats to the empire, had one thing in common - they both refused to participate in the worship of the Roman gods and make sacrifices at their temples.

Although the Jews had firmly established themselves in the empire, they were often the target of the emperors, often blamed for any ills that befell the empire. Although Christianity was initially seen as a sect of Judaism, Emperor Nero grew more suspicious as this small sect began to grow, especially after the Great Fire of Rome; he even blamed them for the fire. They returned the favor, calling him the anti-Christ. As time passed, Christianity continued to spread across the empire, appealing to women and slaves as well as intellectuals and the illiterate. Persecutions increased where Christian churches were burned and all of this continued under the reign of Diocletian emperor in the east , ending in the Great Persecution.

Later, in CE he held the Council of Nicaea, reconciling the differences between the various Christian sects.


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He rebuilt the churches destroyed by Diocletian, and according to some sources, converted to Christianity on his deathbed his mother was a Christian. After his death Christianity would continue to grow and eventually overshadow and replace the traditional Roman religion and Rome would even become the new center of Christianity. However, in the end, Christianity would still receive blame for the ills of the empire.

In his eyes it absorbed the energy of the people making them unable to suffer through the adversities that plagued the empire. Editorial Review This Article has been reviewed for accuracy, reliability and adherence to academic standards prior to publication. We're a small non-profit organisation run by a handful of volunteers.

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