Third Wave of the Holy Spirit

Third Wave of the Holy Spirit

The expression Third Wave was coined by Christian theologian C. Peter Wagner around 1980 to describe what followers believe to be the recent historical work of the Holy Spirit. It is part of a larger movement known as the Neocharismatic movement. The "Third Wave" involves those Christians who have received Pentecostal-like experiences, however Third Wavers usually claim no close association with either the Pentecostal or Charismatic movements. One of the largest groups in the Third Wave are the members of the New Apostolic Reformation.

*The First "wave" occurred at the beginning of the twentieth century with the rise of the Pentecostal movement, beginning with the Azusa Street Revival.
*The Second "wave" occurred during the 1960s as the Charismatic movement spread throughout mainline Protestant denominations, as well as the Roman Catholic Church. The Word of faith movement is also an expression of this movement.
*The Third "wave" occurred during the mid 1980s and continues today, and is associated with Wagner's own ministry, as well as the Vineyard Movement. The Toronto blessing and Eternal Grace are also an expression of this movement.

Many Christians, including more conservative Pentecostals, have rejected the movement as being unbiblical, since some believe it to include expressions of the Latter Rain Movement, Manifest Sons of God teaching and Kingdom Now theology, while many within the Third Wave movement also reject these doctrines.

Many critics argue that the third wave differs from the charismatic movement only in terminology, not in either theology or practice, so to distinguish between the two is to make a distinction without a difference. For example, Dr. John MacArthur makes this argument in his book "Charismatic Chaos". Because of its similarity to the charismatic movement, many criticisms of the charismatic movement also apply to the Third Wave movement.

Although clearly a generalisation that is not true of everyone associated with each of these three waves, it is fair to speak of 3 subtly different theologies of their claims of experience of the Spirit.

Those associated with the First Wave will generally preach the "baptism with the Holy Spirit" as a separate experience to conversion which must be accompanied by speaking in tongues in order to be genuine.

Those associated with the Second Wave will still tend to speak of a second experience of the Spirit - a baptism or filling of the Spirit, although they will often more readily state that all Christians in some sense have the Spirit. They will also usually state that tongues "usually" accompanies this experience.

Those associated with the third wave will tend to identify "baptism with the Spirit" with conversion, and not refer to a second crisis-like experience of receiving the Spirit. They would prefer to emphasise the ongoing nature of the experience of the Spirit. Tongues may not be emphasised at all, and will usually not feature in public meetings. Some third wave leaders would themselves not speak in tongues.


*Wagner, C. Peter. "The Third Wave of the Holy Spirit". Ann Arbor:Vine Books, 1988.

External links

* [ A critical look at the latter rain revival Christians]
* [ Pentecostals, Charismatics, and the Third Wave]
* [ A Brief History of Pentecostalism (The Three Waves)]
* [ The Third Wave and Post Charismatics]
* [ Mark Driscoll - The charismatic with a seatbelt] includes links to sermons which propound a typical 3rd Wave position

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