The Difference Between Pentecostal & Apostolic

A Pentecostal minister preaches from the Bible.
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Pentecostalism is a Christian movement that began in the early part of the 20th century. The core doctrine that distinguishes Pentecostals is their belief in the restoration of baptism in the Holy Spirit with the initial physical evidence of speaking in tongues. The Apostolic movement is an offshoot of the Pentecostal movement that began in 1913 when doctrinal disputes, which initially arose at a camp meeting revival service, split the fledgling movement.

1 Water Baptism

The initial issue that caused the schism among Pentecostals had to do with the proper method of water baptism. Apostolic Pentecostals claim that baptism is only valid if it is performed "in the name of Jesus" as opposed to "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost." Their basis for this claim is that all the baptisms recorded in the Book of Acts use "in the name of Jesus." Most other Pentecostals use the traditional formula, "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost," found in Jesus' last instructions to the Apostles before His resurrection.

2 Nature of the Godhead

The differences in doctrine between most Pentecostals and the offshoot Apostolic Pentecostals further developed to include the very nature of God. Most Pentecostals believe in the doctrine of the Trinity, in which there is one God who is eternally existent in three forms, the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. While they acknowledge this to be a mystery, they maintain that God is one in essence, manifested in three forms.

Apostolic Pentecostals deny the historic doctrine of the Trinity. In their view, God is one in every sense of the word. They further believe that there is no difference whatsoever between the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, believing that each is simply a manifestation of Jesus. For this reason, Apostolic Pentecostals are often referred to as Oneness Pentecostals.

3 Salvation

While all Pentecostals believe in baptism in the Holy Spirit with the initial physical evidence of speaking in tongues, most Pentecostals believe this experience to be separate from salvation. Trinitarian Pentecostals believe that salvation occurs when you accept Jesus Christ as savior, basing this belief on John 3:16 and similar passages of Scripture. Although all Pentecostals also believe water baptism is important, most Trinitarian Pentecostals do not believe water baptism is required in order to be saved.

Apostolic Pentecostals teach that in order to be saved, you must repent of your sins, be baptized by immersion in water in Jesus' name, and be baptized in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues. They refer to Acts 2:38 as the bedrock of this belief.

4 Holiness Standards

Apostolic Pentecostals tend to adhere to stringent standards in their manner of dress. These standards typically include insisting that women wear dresses or long skirts. Apostolic women are often forbidden to cut their hair or wear makeup. Apostolic men must keep their hair cut short. Most Apostolic Pentecostals eschew all jewelry other than simple wedding bands and wristwatches.

Most Trinitarian Pentecostals encourage modesty in dress, but they are generally not rigid in enforcing dress codes. In some Pentecostal churches, congregants dress casually. Issues like wearing makeup and jewelry or how congregants cut their hair are generally left to personal conviction.

Dell Markey is a full-time journalist. When he isn't writing business spotlights for local community papers, he writes and has owned and operated a small business.