Like early Pentecostals, early Anabaptist Christians got into trouble for believing that believers could be filled with the Holy Spirit, though they didn’t boast about it. But just as most Anabaptists today find themselves far from their roots, so do most Pentecostals.
Richard Gillingham, a British Anabaptist Christian with a Pentecostal background, brings up very interesting historical parallels between the two traditions in his article, A Pentecostal drawn to Anabaptism.
In Historical and Theological Origins of Assemblies of God Pacifism, Paul Alexander notes that in 1914, American’s leading Pentecostal denomination officially resolved that its members “cannot conscientiously participate in war.”
Some of the heirs of the Anabaptist movement, such as the Mennonite Central Committee, are outstanding influences for social justice. In Spirit Empowered Peacemaking: Toward A Pentecostal Peace Fellowship, Frank Bartleman, an early leader at Azusa Street, is quoted as writing in the context of American involvement in World War I, “We have stolen the land from the North American Indians. . . . Our wrong to the black people was avenged in blood. What will the next be?” William Seymour and other leaders of the first Pentecostal meetings at Azusa Street connected speaking in tongues with social justice. Bartleman marveled, “The color line is washed away in the blood.”
Not typical 21st century Pentecostal writing. Which may be why 21st century unchurched Americans don’t consider Pentecostals to be very relevant in their world.