Conversely, Pentecostals and many charismatics employ Lukan biblical theology as the correct methodology for understanding Spirit-baptism. According to their exegetical findings, the Day of Pentecost was an empowering event that is theologically separate from and subsequent to conversion. Moreover, "pattern of Pentecost" exists for subsequent events in Acts as well as for all believers throughout the church age. However, some consider the exegetical abilities of Pentecostals as one of their greatest weaknesses.1
In an attempt to investigate the role of baptism in the book of Acts, this paper will explore the prospect of Acts 2:37-39 serving as a paradigm for understanding Luke's account of Spirit-baptism. This text has several features that make it worthy of consideration. First, this text has a close proximity to the events of Pentecost, for it is situated at the conclusion of Peter's sermon. Second, the response given to those who inquired comes from a leading apostle who had just been "filled with the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:4). Third, it is the only didactic passage in Acts that contains the element of repentance, water baptism, and the gift of the Spirit. These three features are also found in subsequent corporate texts of Act (8:4-24; 10:1-11:18; and 19:1-17). Thus, in the narrative of text of Acts, in which the corporate passages that record Spirit-baptism are non-normative, including the sequence of repentance, water baptism, and the giving of the Spirit, Acts 2:37-39 appears to be the most normative text available.
"Though the Pentecostal movement began in humble obscurity,.. it has grown to become a major force within Christendom."2 Pentecostalism is not only recognized as the most powerful revival movement of the twentieth century,3 in the estimation of some it has surpassed the classification of "a mere passing movement" and can legitimately be called a major Christian tradition, second in size only to the Roman Catholic Church.4 Statistics reveal that "Pentecostalism is therefore fast becoming the dominant expression of Christianity and one of the most extraordinary religious phenomena in the world of any time."5 Pentecostals credit this phenomenal growth to their understanding of Sprit-baptism which, along with signs and wonders, is their spiritual heartbeat.6
The Pentecostal movement eventually led to the beginning of the new-Pentecostal movement, which is commonly referred to as the charismatic movement or charismatic renewal. Though the charismatic movement is comprised of both mainland Protestants and Roman Catholics, the beginning of these parts of the movement is separated by about seven years. It resembles Pentecostalism in that dual emphases on the baptism in the Spirit and the miraculous lie at the heart of the movement. However, the charismatic movement differs from Pentecostalism, not only in its understanding of Spirit-baptism, but also in that several competing interpretations of this doctrine are simultaneously held within the movement.7
The growing influence of Pentecostalism during the last half of the