Pentecostals vs. Charismatics: What’s the Difference?

Although many people know that “Pentecostal” and “charismatic” are often associated with certain churches and individuals in modern Christianity, they aren’t quite sure how they compare. While the terms may have similar meanings, they have significant differences.

The charismatic movement and Pentecostalism agree on baptism in the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues. They also agree on the practice of miracle gifts. They are different because Pentecostals belong to their churches and denominations, while charismatics belong only to historical denominations.

When did charismatic movements and Pentecostalism begin? Who was the founder and influencer of each tradition? What are their views about God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit? How does this compare to the beliefs of the Bible, God Christ, Christ, the Holy Spirit, and baptism in the Holy Spirit? Continue reading to find the answers to these and other questions. What do the terms “Pentecostal,” “charismatic”, and “charismatic?” actually mean? Check out the following.

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Comparison of Pentecostalism and Charismatic Movement

Both the charismatic and Pentecostal movements can trace their history back to the Holy Spirit’s work through the book of Acts and other New Testament writings.

When were modern Pentecostalism and charismatic movements founded? Most historians attribute the modern expressions of each tradition to at least the 20th Century.

Pentecostalism’s origins are often linked to the Azusa Street Revolt in 1906 in Los Angeles, California. The 1950s were the most common period when the charismatic movement was founded.

What is the main difference between Pentecostalism, charismatic movements, and Pentecostalism? The main difference between the traditions isn’t theology but the place where the adherents worship.

Pentecostals worship in churches and denominations that are fundamentally committed to Pentecostal doctrines and practices.

Charismatics believe in and practice Pentecostal expressions in historical Protestant denominations such as Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Baptist churches.

Overview Of Pentecostal vs. Charismatic History

OVERVIEWPentecostalismThe Charismatic Movement
FoundedAccording to historians, the Azusa Street Revival was established in Los Angeles, California, in 1906 as the source of the modern Pentecostal movement.In the 1950s, people began to report the increasing number of Pentecostal expressions within historic denominations. This was in California.
Meaning ofThe word “pentecostal” derives its name from “Pentecost,” which describes the powerful and unique outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the early church as described in Acts 2.The New Testament Greek word charismata mean “gifts and grace” and the term “charismatic.”
FounderPentecostalism does not have one founder. The establishment of the modern movement was made possible by all of the early influences (see below).One founder is not enough to start a charismatic movement like Martin Luther is to Lutheranism, John Wesley to Methodism.
Branch of ChristianityPentecostalism is a Protestant faith. Many of its ideas are rooted in Martin Luther of Germany, Ulrich Zwingli from Switzerland, and John Calvin, the Protestant Reformation.The charismatic movement is Protestant in its belief in Scripture, the Atonement for Christ, salvation, the Trinity, and the Second Coming.
Early Influencer(s)William J. Seymour (1870-1922), Agnes Ozman (1870-1937), Charles Parham (1973-1939).Dennis Bennett (1917-1991), Episcopal priest. David Wilkerson (1931-1911), although he was not a member of the Assemblies of God, profoundly impacted Christians in historic denominations.
Significative writing other than the BiblePentecostalism does not have any literature that is distinctive to its tradition, which is important to the establishment or definition of the movement. It values the classic works of Protestantism.Wilkerson’s The Cross and the Switchblade, the works J. Rodman Williams (1918–2008); the works by Wayne Grudem
OrganizationPentecostalism was not a particular denomination. It is a belief system that some denominations have. The Assemblies of God is the largest Pentecostal denomination.Charismatics are part of historic traditions such as Lutheranism and, Baptist, Presbyterianism.
DivisionsPentecostals are often at odds over the doctrine of perfectionism. For example, the Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee) disagrees with the Assemblies of God about perfectionism.Also, perfectionism is a source of contention. Many details can be debated about their unique doctrines, including whether speaking in tongues is spiritual or a foreign language.
Theological, social, and worldviewTheologically, churches and denominations of the Pentecostal faith tend to be conservative in their approach to social issues and theology.Although Charismatics are conservative, mainline Protestant denominations have taken a liberal and progressive stance on many social issues over the past few decades.

What are the beliefs of Charismatics and Pentecostals about communion and baptism? Check out the following.

Overview Of Pentecostal vs. Charismatic Theological Differences

BELIEFSPentecostalismThe Charismatic Movement
GodOrthodox Pentecostals believe in the Trinitarian faith and are devout Trinitarians. They believe in one God and that the Father (Jesus Christ) and Son (Jesus Christ) are all fully God.Charismatics are strong Trinitarians. The Holy Spirit, Father, and Son are all fully divine.
The BiblePentecostals believe that God inspired biblical writers. To describe the text’s nature, many conservatives use the term “inerrancy”.Charismatics, like other Protestants or Pentecostals, believe that the Bible is the only authority to establish doctrine and determine Christian practice.
View the AtonementPentecostals believe that Jesus is the second person of the Trinity; they hold to “penal-substitutionary atonement,” which means Jesus’ death paid the price for sin, and on the cross, he took the place of sinners.The belief system of Charismatics is the same as that of Pentecostals regarding the person and work of Jesus Christ.
SalvationMost Pentecostals are Arminian. Arminians are the largest segment of Pentecostal believers, such as the Assemblies for God.Charismatic Christians can be Arminian or Reformed, Calvinist, Lutheran or Baptist, or any other type of Christian.
SanctificationSome Pentecostals reject perfectionism, while others support it.Because of historical denominations’ rejection, charismatics are less likely to accept the doctrine that perfectionism is true.
Water BaptismPentecostals practice “Believer’s Baptism”, as opposed to infant baptism. For salvation, baptism is not necessary.Charismatics can practice infant baptism or Believer’s Baptism. For salvation, baptism is not necessary.
CommunionPentecostals believe that the cup and bread are memorials to Christ’s death. They don’t believe Christ exists in the elements.Charismatics can believe in consubstantiation, the spiritual presence view, or memorial views. They will hold the view of their denomination.
EschatologyPentecostalism, which is premillennial, interprets the 1,000 years in Revelation 20.1-6.  as happening after the rapture and seven years of tribulation; the millennium is observed.Many charismatic Christians see Eschatology as a source of tension. Premillennialism is an important doctrine in Pentecostalism. However, charismatic Christians often worship in other denominations, including those who believe in Amillennialism.

Similarities Between Pentecostals And Charismatics

BeliefsPentecostalismThe Charismatic Movement
Holy Spirit BaptismPentecostals believe that baptism in Holy Spirit happens sometime after conversion.The majority of Charismatics believe the same. However, there is some controversy about whether baptism in Holy Spirit occurs at conversion or afterward.
Talking in tonguesAnother belief central to Pentecostals is that speaking in tongues is evidence of being baptized by the Holy Spirit.Charismatics should speak in tongues. The charismatic movement agrees with Pentecostalism that the gift’s purpose is to empower ministry and build up believers in their spiritual life.
Spiritual giftsPentecostals believe that the current-day use is of miraculous gifts such as healing, words and knowledge, and speaking in tongues.Charismatics affirm the existence of miracle gifts in our time, and Christians should expect and seek them.


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I was a pastor in the Foursquare denomination for many years. I also was more aligned with charismatic beliefs and practice.

One thing that has happened over the years as charismatics have been ostracized from their original mainline denominations is that they have either migrated to denominations like Calvary Chapel and the Association of Vineyard Churches or have joined non-denominational churches with similar beliefs.

In the end, Pentecostals and Charismatics are what are called continuationists. They believe in the present-day work of the Holy Spirit in all His fullness. Although they are not the same, they are as close as kissin’ cousins.

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