"It seems evident that pentecostalism, in all its myriad forms, has become the most rapidly expanding religion of our times for three basic reasons. In the first place, the 'language of the heart' that the movement has encouraged — both in the early speaking in tongues and in the more recent 'praying in the Spirit' — challenges the flattened language and commercial blather of consumer society. Their rejection of 'this world' meant that the early pentecostals did not accept its myth and values. In the first years at least, they eschewed the accumulation of worldly goods as a snare and a delusion, a distraction from the important considerations of life. Later on, many pentecostals would accept these very values in a surprisingly uncritical way. But in the beginning, and in many places still, the rejection of the seductions of the 'boutique culture' is an integral part of what it means to walk in the Spirit.
"Further, pentecostalism confronted chaos, normlessness, and ennui by affirming and then transforming them. By embracing ecstatic praise, visions, healing, dreams, and joyous bodily movement, pentecostal worship lured anarchy into the sacred circle and tamed it. It tapped into a raging underground sea of raw religious feeling and turbulent emotion and gave it shape and expression. In the history of religion, beginning with the Babylonian epic of Gilgamesh, the conflict between Order and Chaos is deeper than the rift between Good and Evil. The pentecostals sensed this and boldly made that struggle a part of their liturgical life.
"Finally, the pentecostal message provided despondent people with an alternative metaphor, a life vision at variance from the image of the 'good life' the culture had dangled before them. In this sense theirs was the latest in a long line of Christian utopian visions; imaginative constructions of the heavenly city on earth that trace their lineage back to the prophecies of Isaiah, the book of Revelation, Thomas More, and the earlier nineteenth-century American Christian utopians of Oneida and New Harmony. Like William Penn's, theirs was a social, indeed a political, vision that — at least at its birthplace on Azusa Street — included a dream of racial harmony as radical as Martin Luther King's. It is not a vision that subsequent pentecostals have always adhered to, but neither has it been entirely lost.
"In a number of different ways, the pentecostal movement created a religion that was singularly appropriate — both as partner and as antagonist — to the emerging twentieth-century urban world in which it was born."