In 2004, the Institute pioneered conversations on an international level with trinitarian Pentecostals, which continued for six years with meetings in Strasbourg, Pasadena, Thousand Oaks, Zürich, and Tampere. In 2010 the Institute, together with the David Du Plessis Center for Christian Spirituality in Pasadena and the European Pentecostal Charismatic Research Association in Zürich, published the world’s tiniest ecumenical document (the booklet measures 5.5” by 4.25”), Lutherans and Pentecostals in Dialogue. Conceived as a handbook to future dialogue, the document briefly describes the group’s dialogue process, states its recommended goals, explores common ground and differences under the rubric of “how we encounter Christ” (in proclamation, sacraments/ordinances, and charisms), and concludes with three long articles detailing Lutheran history for Pentecostal readers, Pentecostal history for Lutheran readers, and Lutheran reactions to Pentecostal and charismatic movements.

The Council of the Lutheran World Federation approved a five-year international dialogue with Classical Pentecostals, which will begin in the fall of 2016 with its first meeting in Asia. Planned topics of discussion include healing, the Holy Spirit, and prosperity, organized around Luke 4:18-21.

Prof. Sarah Hinlicky Wilson of the Institute has written a Guide to Pentecostal Movements for Lutherans. It is intended especially to help Lutheran leaders around the world gain a better grasp of the varieties of Pentecostalism, its history, and its theology, with both appreciative and critical commentary from a Lutheran perspective. Due to the large numbers of Charismatics within the Lutheran family, this is a very urgent ecumenical topic to address. Those who wish to purchase copies of the book for use in classroom or church settings can find them available at Wipf and Stock.

Those who are interested in pursuing this dialogue will find below links to helpful documents to study.

When a Lutheran Pietist pastor Jonathan Paul brought the Pentecostal movement to Germany after a visit with Pentecostals in Norway, the response against him was extremely negative. An official statement of rejection was authored by a number of other Lutheran Pietist pastors in 1909, the Berliner Erklärung. Paul and his associates responded in the same year with the Mülheimer Erklärung, defending their Pentecostal distinctives. It was not until 2009 that German Pentecostals and Lutheran Pietists were able to come together and release a new statement, Gemeinsame Erklärung des Evangelischen Gnadauer Gemeinschaftsverbandes und des Mülheimer Verbandes Freikirchlich-Evangelischer Gemeinden zur „Berliner Erklärung“ von 1909, overturning the sharp condemnations of the Berliner Erklärung. (All three of these statements are in German.)

Many other established Lutheran churches throughout the world reacted strongly, if not always quite as negatively, as in Germany in 1909. Many of the statements relevant especially to Charismatic renewal within the Lutheran churches have been collected in Presence, Power, Praise: Documents on the Charismatic Renewal, ed. Kilian McDonnell (Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 1980). From the American Lutheran Church (a predecessor to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, which was formed in 1988) are the statements Anointing and Healing, Report on Glossolalia, Statement with Regard to Speaking in Tongues, Christian Faith and the Ministry of Healing, and Guidelines. From the Lutheran Church in America (another predecessor to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) is the Charismatic Movement in the Lutheran Church in America. From the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod are the following: The Charismatic Movement and Lutheran TheologyPolicy Statement Regarding the Neo-Pentecostal Movement, and The Lutheran Church and the Charismatic Movement. A joint statement on Charismatic practice was authored by members of several American Lutheran churches entitled Report of the Lutheran Council in the United States. When the Charismatic movement came to Germany in the 1950s and 1960s, a more tolerant attitude was adopted than previously, as can be seen in The Mühlheim Theses on Community and Charism and The Charismatic Movement in the German Democratic Republic. An extended dialogue between Lutherans and the Charismatics within their own church community can be found in the study on Baptism: A Dialogue with the Charismatic Movement in the Evangelical Church of the Lutheran Confession in Brazil.

In certain cases, Lutheran Charismatics have sought to defend their positions and sometimes were accepted by the wider Lutheran church body to which they belonged. The most significant of these, also found in the aforementioned Presence, Power, Praise collection, is The Work of the Holy Spirit, drafted by the Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus, which is the Lutheran church in Ethiopia, in 1974. In the United States, Theodore Jungkuntz composed A Lutheran Charismatic Catechism to explain Charismatic distinctives in Lutheran terms. In Madagascar, revivals have played an extremely significant role in the growth of the Lutheran church but with greater attention to healing and exorcism than speaking in tongues. More detail can be found in articles by Colette Ranarivony, “The Renewal Movement in the Malagasy Lutheran Church,” from the LWF Consultation on Renewal Movements in Lutheran Churches North and South, and Lotera Fabien, “Healing Ministry in Ankaramalaza,” in Africa Theological Journal 35/1 (2015).

The Australian Lutheran Church has produced a study on Authority and “Power” in the Church to address especially questions of power as arise in the church, which are sometimes provoked by the example of strong Pentecostal or Neocharismatic leaders with a high degree of control in their congregations.

While regional dialogues remain relatively rare between Lutherans and Pentecostals, an excellent example of just such a dialogue can be found in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland’s Dialogues with the Evangelical Free Church of Finland and the Finnish Pentecostal Movement.

It is quite a common mistake to associate the Pentecostal movement with the prosperity gospel, but they are distinct movements with different origins. While some Pentecostals, Charismatics, and Neocharismatics preach prosperity, so do leaders in many other churches, including the historic churches. The world’s largest Classical Pentecostal denomination, the Assemblies of God, issued a statement in 1980 condemning prosperity gospel, The Believer and Positive Confession. Another critical response to prosperity is the Lausanne Theology Working Group’s Statement on the Prosperity Gospel from 2009.

Another common mistake is to suppose that Pentecostals are not interested in larger social and structural questions but focus only on individual holiness. A Relevant Pentecostal Witness takes up this challenge in the context of Apartheid in South Africa.