Pentecostal Theology

The Peculiarity of Prophetic Pentecostalism in South Africa

by Mookgo Solomon Kgatle (Author)
©2022 Monographs X, 194 Pages
Series: Religion and Society in Africa, Volume 6


This book highlights the key features of Pentecostal theology in a South African context. In analyzing each feature, it seeks to demonstrate the peculiarity of Pentecostal theology among New Prophetic Churches in South Africa. The book will be useful for both scholars and students as they explore new trends in Global Pentecostalism.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Preface
  • Chapter One: Introduction
  • Chapter Two: The Development of a Pentecostal Theology in a South African Context
  • Chapter Three: A Multi-Faceted Salvation in the New Prophetic Churches
  • Chapter Four: Sanctification and Work of Grace in the New Prophetic Churches
  • Chapter Five: Spirit Baptism in the New Prophetic Churches
  • Chapter Six: Divine Healing in the New Prophetic Churches
  • Chapter Seven: Eschatology in the New Prophetic Churches
  • Chapter Eight: Integrative Pentecostal Theology
  • Index
  • Series Index

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In my first monograph, The fourth Pentecostal wave in South Africa: A critical engagement (2019),1 I have been able to categorise the New Prophetic Churches as a distinct Pentecostal tradition in South Africa. In my second monograph, Pentecostalism and cultism in South Africa (2021),2 I have been able to highlight the cultic tendencies of some New Prophetic Churches in South Africa. In this book, I concentrate on the theology of the New Prophetic Churches in South Africa by exploring the Pentecostal theological aspects such as salvation, sanctification, Spirit baptism, divine healing and eschatology. The purpose of this book is to illustrate that these aspects of a Pentecostal theology are practised differently in the New Prophetic Churches when compared to other Pentecostal traditions. The objective of the book is to present a peculiar Pentecostal theology as practised by New Prophetic Churches in South Africa. This is possible because there has been a serious interest in the New Prophetic Churches by various scholars in recent years. I therefore see a need to actually develop the theology of the New Prophetic Churches instead of always perceiving them negatively. The theology of these churches assists in understanding the broader Pentecostal movement in South Africa and elsewhere in Africa.

In order to understand Pentecostal theology in the New Prophetic Churches, it is important to first define Pentecostal theology in broad terms. This is because New Prophetic Churches do not practise theology in isolation; they might have ←vii | viii→learnt or adopted some practices from other traditions. Hence, we need to be very careful in pointing the finger at them, because the other four fingers might be pointing back at other Pentecostal traditions. In order to define Pentecostal theology, I will first look at the vast publications that explore the meaning of Pentecostal theology from different contexts in order to apply it to my context. However, there are scholars, particularly those who are outside of the Pentecostal traditions, who question the existence of Pentecostal theology. I will therefore in the introductory chapter explain the reasons for the existence of Pentecostal theology and describe the distinction of this theology. I will also explore Pentecostal theology in an African context by looking at the main publications by leading Pentecostal scholars in Africa. However, the main challenge is that only a few of the African Pentecostal scholars have really explored theology in the Pentecostal tradition; the majority of the publications are missiological and historical. Hence, it is important to also look at the different approaches that scholars have used in the past few years to study Pentecostalism.

In South Africa, Pentecostal theology should be understood in the context of the historical development of the country over the years, leading to the present or recent years. The first period to be explored is the early years of the 20th century when John G Lake and Thomas Hezmalhach came to South Africa. This should be done in conjunction with the foundation of the main classical Pentecostal churches in South Africa, such as the Full Gospel, Assemblies of God and the Apostolic Faith Mission. The second period is the middle of the 20th century when South Africa also experienced “the apartheid era”, starting from 1948 until the release of Nelson Mandela in 1990. This period marks a unique practice of the Pentecostal theology in the main Pentecostal denominations as highlighted above. This period was marked by the Pentecostal theology of liberation in South Africa. Given the release of Nelson Mandela and the subsequent democracy in 1994, the gesture in practising Pentecostal theology in South Africa changed from liberation to reconstruction, restoration, forgiveness and reconciliation in the last years of the 20th century. The last two decades of the 21st century have also been marked by a unique Pentecostal theology that I wish to explore in detail to fulfil the purpose of this book.

The background of the historical developments of a Pentecostal theology in South Africa is done to arrive at the most plausible understanding of what informs the theology of New Prophetic Churches in South Africa. Such a theology follows the key aspects of a Pentecostal theology in general terms. The first aspect is salvation, which is widely accepted as a “holistic salvation” in Pentecostalism. This holistic salvation among Pentecostals is defined as a salvation that brings healing, prosperity and wealth. The second aspect is sanctification, where I will make a ←viii | ix→distinction between entire sanctification and progressive sanctification. The third aspect to be discussed is Spirit baptism and how this aspect has shaped theology over the years. The fourth aspect is divine healing, which is commonly practised among Pentecostals around the world. The last aspect is eschatology, wherein there are two types, that is, present and future eschatology. These will be discussed in order to strike a balance between the two. In the rest of the chapters, I will be exploring the five aspects of a Pentecostal theology in the New Prophetic Churches in South Africa and make a proposal for an integrative Pentecostal theology. I am aware that scholars discuss these aspects together most of the time, but it is important to discuss them separately in the context of New Prophetic Churches in South Africa. What I wish to do in this book is to separate these aspects for the purpose of categorisation; however, in the discussions, I will integrate them. This is because these aspects of Pentecostal salvation, sanctification, Spirit baptism, divine healing and eschatology in closely related in meaning and application.


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Chapter One


1.1 Pentecostal Theology on the Rise

Pentecostal theology is on the rise. However, this theological growth is, at times, not parallel with the growth of Pentecostalism as theologians struggle to catch up with the rapid growth of the movement. In South Africa, Pentecostal theology should be studied and understood in three dispensations in church history. The first period spans from the early developments of the Pentecostal movement in the early years of the 20th century with the foundation of larger Pentecostal churches such as the Apostolic Faith Mission, Full Gospel and the Assemblies of God. The second dispensation is the middle of the 20th century. The third period is the latter years of the 20th century. In reality, the third period has seen the rising of Pentecostal scholars in various disciplines, such as church history, systematic theology, practical theology, missiology and biblical studies.1 In addition, there are scholars from other disciplines such as anthropology and development studies with a keen interest in doing Pentecostal theology, on the one hand, and Pentecostals scholars interacting with other disciplines, on the other. Furthermore, Pentecostal scholarship has grown in terms of the master's and doctoral graduates in various universities in South Africa and elsewhere in the world. I have three doctoral students engaged in Pentecostal theology.←1 | 2→

Previously, it was only white, male Pentecostal theologians who studied Pentecostalism during apartheid for obvious reasons. However, in recent years, there has been a growing interest in the study of Pentecostalism by both male and female black scholars. Six big universities in South Africa have a representation of a Pentecostal scholar. I represent Pentecostalism at the University of South Africa with Victor Molobi and Madipoane Masenya; Marius Nel, Jacob Igba and Thabang Mofokeng at the North-West University; Kelebogile Resane at the University of Free State; Maria Frahm-Arp and Elina Hankela at the University of Johannesburg; Azonseh Ukah at the University of Cape Town and Peter White and Nadine Bowers at Stellenbosch University. In most of these universities, there are also post-doctoral and research fellows taking up research in Pentecostal scholarship. These Pentecostal theologians have risen in making great contributions to the development of Pentecostal theology in an African context. Some of these Pentecostal theologians are also having a great impact at international level as keynote speakers and research fellows in conferences and universities, respectively. There could be many more as the list above is not informed by formal research but a representation of scholars that I interact with on a regular basis. In addition, we should also take note of Pentecostal scholars who teach and conduct research at a seminary level in seminaries, such as the Auckland Park Theological Seminary (ATS), South African Theological Seminary (SATS) and others. A group of Pentecostal scholars listed above came together and founded the Southern African Society of Pentecostal Studies (SASPS) Africa, with the purpose of fostering cooperation in biblical, theological and historical studies supportive of the Pentecostal movements’ message and mission in Africa.

1.2 The Distinction of Pentecostal Theology

However, even with the growth of Pentecostalism and the rise of Pentecostal scholarship, a question is still asked on the distinctiveness of Pentecostal theology. This is asked in comparison for example with Roman orthodoxy and reformation theologies. A volume edited by Matthew Clark and Henry Lederle attempted to answer the exact question: What is distinctive about Pentecostal theology?2 Clark and Lederle quoted Donald Dayton, who identified five aspects that make Pentecostal theology unique, that is, salvation, sanctification, Spirit baptism, divine healing and the second coming.3 It must be noted that of the five, Spirit baptism is widely accepted as the most distinct feature of the Pentecostal theology.4 William Menzies and Robert Menzies agree that it is Spirit baptism which has been the one aspect to distinguish Pentecostal theology from other theologies and make way for its ←2 | 3→“Spirit-filled theology.”5 The same Spirit among Pentecostals helps the believer to have a concrete knowledge of the invisible God.6 However, there is growing literature arguing against the concept of speaking in tongues as the initial evidence of Spirit baptism.7 This contention shall be explored in detail in Chapter Three.

It must also be noted that Pentecostals do not speak of salvation as only referring to repentance and conversion or simply the “salvation of the souls” but what Dayton calls a “multifaceted salvation”.8 Hence, some scholars see the concepts of healing, deliverance and prosperity as part of this manifold salvation.9 It is this approach to salvation that has given way to a prosperity theology among Pentecostals. Vondey states: “This broad and holistic understanding of salvation can be seen most acutely in prosperity theology, which expects material and physical prosperity to result from faith.”10 In addition, it is this approach that causes many Pentecostals to speak of a full gospel that encompasses various aspects of salvation as highlighted above.11 Therefore, Pentecostals are distinct as they see salvation and the atonement of Christ as having the ability to solve the problems that people encounter in their daily lives. Salvation in the Pentecostal tradition is not only spiritual but also touches on the emotional and mental aspects of a human being. Consequently, they proclaim “a holistic salvation that encompasses all of life in this existence”.12


X, 194
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2022 (August)
Pentecostalism Theology Prophecy New Prophetic Churches Soteriology Sanctification eschatology divine healing Spirit Baptism Pentecostal Theology The peculiarity of Prophetic Pentecostalism in South Africa
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Oxford, Wien, 2022. X, 194 pp.

Biographical notes

Mookgo Solomon Kgatle (Author)

Mookgo Solomon Kgatle is Professor of Missiology at the University of South Africa (UNISA). Kgatle is a National Research Foundation (NRF) Y-Rated researcher (2019-2024) in African Pentecostalism. Kgatle has published several peer-reviewed articles in various high-impact journals and books in the same field.


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