Professor stresses common themes among faiths, sects
Published: Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 17:11
University of Michigan Latina/o studies professor David Ramirez shared the history of Methodism, Pentecostalism and the role of the Holy Spirit at the 2012 Craven Wilson Evangelism Lecture. Hosted by Perkins School of Theology, the lecture “Methodist and Pentecostal Histories from Below” was held in Prothro Hall on Monday, Oct. 8.
Ramirez grew up in an extended Pentecostal family that included two Pentecostal preachers, but after interdenominational experiences in graduate school he transferred to the Methodist Church. Ramirez’s experiences with both denominations made him uniquely qualified to speak on the history of the two Christian movements. He used songs and music to look at Hispanic Pentecostalism.
“What we sing shows what we believe more than any other data point,” he said.
UTD graduate student Esmeralda Sanchez, who also grew up in a Hispanic Pentecostal church said she was “expecting a more general perspective of the role of the Holy Spirit in evangelism.”
Hearing about the historic relationship between the Methodist church and the Pentecostal church through music surprised her. Sanchez remembered her father singing a number of songs Ramirez listed.
Ramirez’s connection between the word and song also pleased SMU Perkins graduate alumna Jeanette Cobbins, who now works at First United Methodist Church in Dallas.
“It expresses the condition of one’s soul as faith is expressed and the soul expresses what is happening in the community where people are,” Cobbins said.
Ramirez used a tree metaphor to describe Methodism and Pentecostalism. Both have common roots, separate branches and the common “shade” of a brooding Spirit. According to Ramirez, the Pentecostal movement has its roots in Methodism. He said Methodists today need a warm Pentecostal heart, while Pentecostals need some of the sobriety of modern Methodism.
Ramirez also talked about the growth of Pentecostalism, which arrived in Chile in 1909, three years after it began in Los Angeles. Pentecostalism has since spread in Latin America. Ramirez estimated that today one in three Latin Americans consider themselves either Pentecostals or charismatic.
He concluded with an encounter he had with an undocumented Guatemalan at a New Year’s Eve church event in Mexico. The encounter showed him that “Jesus is not just our personal redeemer, but also the redeemer of the world.”
The Craven Wilson Evangelism Lectures bring leaders from across the church in the field of evangelism to Perkins and the Dallas area.