Spiritual Fullness (Fullness in the Spirit) among Early Bulgarian Pentecostals and Today

June 5, 2022 by  
Filed under Featured, Missions, News, Publication, Research

Bulgaria’s early Pentecostals insisted on a spiritual fullness that included: (1) salvation, (2) water baptism and (3) baptism with the Spirit.[1] As a formula of spiritual experience, it satisfied the witness of blood, water and Spirit (1 Jn. 5:8) on earth; but also corresponded with the triune God in heaven (1 Jn. 5:7), from whom the believer’s spiritual experience originated. Many conservative Pentecostals in Bulgaria today still uphold “the fullness” teaching and would not use Bibles that exclude Johannine Comma (1 John 5:7) for these three “bear record in heaven.”[2]

However, even with the already present Trinitarian experience of the believer and the enormous theological Methodist influence, it is astounding that the doctrine of sanctification was not taught as a separate work of grace among Bulgarian Protestants. Even when after Pentecostalism spread in Bulgaria, it was not included in the tri-fold formula for “spiritual fullness” of the believer. During the persecution of the Communist Regime, speaking in tongues during Communion was done as a spiritual confirmation that the person has “fullness in the Spirit” or is not a government agent sent by the police to spy on the rest of the church. Interpretation often followed to confirm the spiritual stand of the believer. Early Bulgarian Pentecostals did not distinguish between the initial evidence and the gift of speaking in tongues. Even communist propaganda author Boncho Assenov, who categorized Pentecostals as a sectarian cult, defined this fullness as fundamental for the sacramental theology of the early charismatic communities in Bulgaria.[3]

[1] Mollov, 209.

[2] Zarev, 28.

[3] Boncho Asenov, Religiite i sektite v Bŭlgariia (Sofia: Partizdat, 1968), 167, 367.

See also:

The Practice of Corporate Holiness within the Communion Service of Bulgarian Pentecostals

Sanctification and Personal Holiness among Early Bulgarian Pentecostals

Water Baptism among early Bulgarian Pentecostals

First Pentecostal Missionaries to Bulgaria (1920)

Rapid Decline of Holy Spirit Baptisms (Research Study)

June 1, 2022 by  
Filed under Featured, News, Research

This study was first published by Cup & Cross Ministries International on March 1, 2018

Information Regarding the Questionnaire and the Church of God Statistics

The survey was developed by Dr. G. D. Voorhis in 2005 with the hope that it might contribute in some small way to ascertain certain trends which appear to be developing in the Church of God (headquarters in Cleveland, Tennessee). The primary emphasis was on the baptism of the Holy Spirit, according to Acts 2:4, with the initial evidence of speaking with other tongues as the Spirit gives the utterance.

One might think that the charismatic movement of the 1960’s and 1970’s, with its effect on mainline interdenominational churches, would bring an upsurge in traditional Pentecostal churches as individuals experienced this infilling of the Spirit, but this was not so in the Church of God.  This survey, with the confounding variables it might contain, along with statistics supplied by the General Headquarters of the Church of God, proves without a reasonable doubt that the Church of God is rapidly becoming a non-Pentecostal organization.

The statistics alone, supplied by General Headquarters, show that during the period of Sept., 2003 to August, 2004, we had 266,419 conversions, but only 60,926 that were baptized with the Holy Ghost. This downward trend in Holy Ghost baptisms has been continuing since 1960 (which was as far back as we could go in computerized records), up until the present time.  In fact, the 2003-2004 statistics compute to a 23% decline in the Holy Ghost baptisms in this one year alone….

Going back to Portrait and Prospects, [Dr. J. D. Bowers, Ph.D., editor] the only survey ever authorized in the history of the Church of God (and I think one of the best things of this type ever coming from Headquarters), Mitchell W. Flora, D.Min., stated on page 35, “Also, while elements of Pentecostal spirituality may be present, the survey does not reveal the regularity of these occurrences, nor does it reveal the extent of these practices.  The real question is how many of those who attend our churches are sanctified or filled with the Spirit.

In the same writing, “Dr. John Maxwell’s assessment that our denomination is prone to the rigors of a slow death,” we again quote page 80: “Church of God ministers, with which of the following are you very satisfied?  Spiritual life: 42% of the Church of God answered ‘yes’, but 68% of other Pentecostals reported ‘yes’.”

Well under half of our ministers are paying the price of prayer, fasting, and devotion to the Word of God to feel satisfied with their spiritual life. We are outdone by other Pentecostals by 26%.  Another quote we should mention is on page 88:  “Innovative pastors and others desiring to change to achieve greater effectiveness exhibit a tendency to disconnect ministry development and practice from their Pentecostal identity and faith”….

Based on this, and on the statistics from the Church of God General Headquarters in Cleveland, Tennessee, as well as the computations that were done from the surveys by Gary Anderson (an engineer in computer and mathematics, as well as a member of Central Church of God), who put in countless hours perfecting the statistics as much as possible from the data available, I must concede that the Church of God, based in Cleveland, Tennessee, is rapidly becoming a non-Pentecostal organization.  All that can change this trend is a miracle of God such as the Cane Ridge Camp Meeting or the Azusa Street Mission.  We need a last-day revival, accompanied by a great outpouring such as happened at Pentecost in the book of Acts.

If I read my Bible correctly, this is not promised universally; however, this does not keep churches from paying the price in prayer and consecration to experience local revivals and enjoy great Pentecostal experiences, in spite of the last days before the coming of our Lord to rapture His church and send His judgments on this wicked, sinful earth. “Even so, come Lord Jesus.”

Within Holy Ghost Baptisms:

Within 44 years, Holy Ghost baptisms grew by 54.22%, with an average annual growth rate of 0.98950%, less than 1%. The ratio between church members and NEW HOLY GHOST BAPTISMS DROPPED 17.6% to 6.1% currently. Currently, only 6% of our members have the Holy Ghost baptism.          (Dr. G. D. Voorhis, Experiences in Pentecost: 33 A.D. – 2005 A.D., p.311-16)

I myself have preached the Pentecostal Way of Salvation since age 16. I will soon be 50 years old with over 30 years invested in ministry with the Church of God. You have probably invested even more. I didn’t respond to the Heavenly Call to put all this work into the Kingdom, only to find out 30 years later that 90% of our church folk don’t even know who the Holy Spirit is. We simply cannot claim, as a movement and as a church, that we are Pentecostal if most of our members have never experienced His Baptism with tongues and fire.

For this reason, I am re-committing myself and ministry to revival and restoration of the Pentecostal Message through praying, fasting and preaching:

  • salvation of the sinner’s soul and entire sanctification through the Blood of Jesus
  • baptism with the Holy Spirit and fire with initial evidence of speaking in tongues
  • supernatural gifts and ministries of the Holy Spirit
  • healings, deliverance and signs following
  • pre-Millennial return of Christ and pre-Tribulation Rapture of His Church to glory.

As I was considering how to end this already long letter, I came across the following statement one of my students made in a final paper:

“I hope this is a section where I am allowed to be real. Here I would like to answer the question, ‘How will the study of the Book of Acts change the way that you think or live as a Christian?’ I write this with tears in my eyes because I don’t know how to be filled with the Spirit in such a way as Steven or Paul. I’m sitting at my desk wondering how I can become so filled with the Spirit that I am not only willing to die for my faith, but that I can do so with the peace that Stephen had?”

Please consider the URGENCY of this generation!

  • Call us and let us reason and plan what we can do together to change this rapid decline.
  • Revival will not come without preaching!
  • Revival of Pentecost will not come without preaching the Message of Pentecost.

For the Kingdom,
Rev. Dony K. Donev, D. Min.

Doing Missions in the Spirit in 2018

April 20, 2018 by  
Filed under Featured, Missions, News, Publication

Mission Test Series:

MissionSHIFT Series:

M3 MissionsSeries:

Read also:

The Sinking of Cross-cultural Bridges and the Collapse of the “Western Theological Corpus”

AJ Tomlinson preaches at Tellico mountains: People laugh, cry and fall in the Spirit in 1907

May 10, 2017 by  
Filed under Featured, News, Research

AJ Tomlinson preaches at Tellico mountains: People laugh, cry and fall in the Spirit in 1907

Nov. 19.[1907] Just came home last night from the Tellico mountains, where I have been for a week holding meetings. Some good work done, the Spirit was present every service, at one service in a special manner. While I was preaching some laughed, about all cried, and one fell off his seat and just bellowed out in good fashion. Everyone present touched. I think every one in the house came to the altar. I was very calm, but surely the signs of God’s presence were manifest. I preached ten sermons on this trip. I am in quite a financial strait just now, but I believe God will help me out some way.

110 Years ago, William J. Seymour was baptized with the Holy Spirit

April 10, 2016 by  
Filed under Featured, News, Research


After starting a fast on April 6, 1906 in Los Angeles, the small group experienced what would become the first baptism with the Holy Spirit at the Azusa Street Revival. Several more followed shortly. William J. Seymour himself was baptized 110 years ago on April 12, 1906.

On the seventh, which was Good Friday, Seymour and his followers leased an abandoned church property at 312 Azusa Street and begin cleaning it up. Easter was on April 15, 1906 when they held their very first Pentecostal service at Azusa Street. The rest is history…

The Work of the Spirit in Rhode Island (1874-75)

August 30, 2015 by  
Filed under Featured, News

From B.F. Lawrence, “A History of the Present Latter Rain Outpouring of the Holy Spirit Known as the Apostolic or Pentecostal Movement,” The Weekly Evangel, 22 January 1916

From B.F. Lawrence, “A History of the Present Latter Rain Outpouring of the Holy Spirit Known as the Apostolic or Pentecostal Movement,” The Weekly Evangel, 22 January 1916.

Doing Missions in the Spirit

September 10, 2014 by  
Filed under Events, Featured, News

Authentic Fire

June 5, 2014 by  
Filed under Featured, News

AuthenticFire[1]Michael Brown’s Authentic Fire, reviewed by John King

Dr. Michael Brown in his work Authentic Fire confronts the misinformation of Pastor John MacArthur’s outspoken zeal against all things charismatic in his book, Strange Fire. While Dr. Brown admits that on some points Dr. MacArthur is right on, his language is radically abusive in tone. And some of Pastor MacArthur’s comments are simply untrue. Brown carefully separates the message from the messenger in addressing charismatic abuse before proceeding to the good stuff: how to burn with authentic fire.

Michael Brown’s Authentic Fire, reviewed by Daniel Snape

Authentic Fire is Dr. Michael Brown’s response to John MacArthur’s book Strange Fire. MacArthur’s Strange Fire launches a scathing attack on the Christian Charismatic Movement and so it comes as no surprise that champions of the charismatic community should launch a defense to MacArthur’s assertions. Dr. Brown leads the charge with a book just shy of 420 pages that seeks to address MacArthur’s main contentions.

Michael Brown’s Authentic Fire, reviewed by Loren Sandford

In my review of John MacArthur’s Strange Fire, I pointed out what I considered to be inexcusable intellectual dishonesty regarding the Charismatic Movement and its contributions to worldwide Christianity. Blanket statements were made with little documentation or knowledge of those within the movement who have made strong intellectual, scholarly and corrective statements. MacArthur singled out rare abuses and presented them as if they characterized the entire movement.

Michael Brown’s Authentic Fire, reviewed by William De Arteaga

Authentic Fire, by Dr. Michael L. Brown, is a masterful answer to the intemperate and angry attack on Charismatic movement and Pentecostalism by John MacArthur in his work, Strange Fire. In the public launch to Strange Fire, MacArthur made clear his utter disdain for the Charismatic Movement in particular.

Highlights from Michael Brown on the Spirit

On Saturday afternoon, May 3rd, 2014, Dr. Michael Brown, spoke at Christian Assembly in Somerville, Massachusetts. He spoke to pastors and ministry leaders about the charismatic work of the Holy Spirit, drawing heavily from his recent book Authentic Fire. This seminar was sponsored by the New England District (www.ifcane.org) of the International Fellowship of Christian Assemblies.

R. T. Kendall: Holy Fire, reviewed by Craig S. Keener

In his nine-page foreword, Jack Hayford rightly titles this “a landmark book.” He also rightly highlights Kendall’s work as irenic (pp. xxi-xxii), offering a notable contrast to some works today. I did not intend my review to prove as long as Pastor Hayford’s foreword, but if readers find my review too long I should mention that its most salient features appear toward the beginning.

The False Doctrine Behind John MacArthur’s Strange Fire, by Eddie Hyatt

In his latest book, Strange Fire, John MacArthur viciously labels the Pentecostal-Charismatic movement as “a false church as dangerous as any cult or heresy that has ever assaulted Christianity.” As I have read and reread his polemic, one thing that becomes clear is that MacArthur’s entire theological outlook is guided and determined by his commitment to the Calvinistic doctrine of cessationism, i.e., the belief that the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit were withdrawn from the church after the death of the original apostles of Christ. This, however, is a false doctrine that cannot be substantiated by either Scripture or church history.

Rites in the Spirit

September 20, 2013 by  
Filed under Featured, Missions, News

9781841270173[1]Rites in the Spirit approaches Pentecostal practices and experiences with an approach often not seen by Pentecostals. Through identifying Pentecostal distinctiveness with rites terminology, the book proves that they have astonishing effect on the believers’ formation. In the light of Albrecht’s work this paper will reflect on: (1) ritual time, space and identity, (2) fundamental structure and modes, (3) positive consequences and (4) characteristic qualities and formational role of Pentecostal practices and experiences.

Ritual Time, Space and Identity
Albrecht explains that Pentecostal experience of spirituality has effect on time as spirituality is affected by the experience itself. He further proposes three time cycles as a characteristic: (1) weekly/annual events, (2) lifetime and (3) the time of the worship service. The worship time itself contains three distinct elements: (1) the worship, (2) the message and (3) the alter service. On the same page, the author writes that in the process of the Pentecostal service momentary/spontaneous encounters with God are often present as a part of the worship.

While time forms the Pentecostal field for ritual, space provides the physical boundaries. Albrecht identifies several space related issues and their prominence for Pentecostal worship. He states that the worship space reveals the attitude of the Pentecostal congregation. He speaks of the sanctuary as a “ritual place” where the Pentecostal services are performed. In this setting, there is space for the congregation and its dynamics (congregational space) and for the leadership (platform). Finally, Albrecht properly notices that there is also an “alter space” where the congregation and leadership come together.

In the time and space of Pentecostal worship, different people assume different roles or identities. Five are pointed out by the text: (1) worshiper, (2) prophet, (3) minister, (4) learner and (5) disciple. (pp. 136-43). The Pentecostal congregation has a main role in the worship service, as the believer’s worship is viewed as a direct offering to God. The mystical element in a Pentecostal worship service is a result of the desire to experience God directly and intimately. The personal experience with God opens the worship to supernatural intervention and the ministry of the Spirit. The very presence of spiritual gifts challenges the individual believer to become a leader, while this spiritual mode is both recognized and evaluated by the congregation.

The goal of these aspects of Pentecostal worship is a personal encounter with God and spiritual transformation of the believer. In this context, the ritual time, space and identity are expressed in Pentecostal worship through preaching, prophetic uttering, healing, miracles, etc. These elements express awareness of a given individual/corporate problem/situation as spontaneous manifestations of supernatural power and leadership challenge not only the traditional leadership forms, but effect social structures as well.

Fundamental Structure and Modes
Albrecht explores the structures and modes of the Pentecostal worship. By structures he understands the elements of the service. He places several of these in the following paradigm: (1) worship and praise, (2) pastoral message and (3) altar/response as transitions occur between them. These structures reveal the role of each believer in the corporate worship. They also reflect on the needs that each individual brings in the corporate setting of the Pentecostal worship.

The modes on the other hand, deal with the emotional aspect of the service. They can be: celebrative, contemplative, officious, penitent, estates, etc. These are the ways through which the believers respond to the structure of the service. In a way, the modes are each believer’s personal expression in the unified corporate setting of the worship service.

The structure and the modes:
(1) reveal the roles of each believer in the process of the service
(2) express human concerns; these are micro rites, like singing and music, through which an expression of the believer’s humanity is given
(3) express social structure; expresses the group’s social life and role in society
(4) reveal theological relations – express theological convictions and beliefs
(5) express relationship to God as a personal experience
(6) express relationship as community – how the body comes together and how the believer acts as a part of the body
(7) accent on relationship to the worlds as a mission approach and an evangelistic attempt

Positive Consequences
(1) Liminality – has to deal with a tripartite structure that marks a significant change in status. The liminal is the moment between the before and after of the event, and is, as it were, outside of the security of these more stable definitions.
(2) Community – deals with relationships between people under liminal conditions.
(3) Reflexivity – a self-conscious examination of the individual believer in the corporate context of Pentecostal worship
(4) Transformation – deals with both the changes taking place in the believer as well as the changes in the congregation as a whole.

Characteristics Qualities and Formational Role
The characteristic qualities within Pentecostal worship have a formational role for the individual believer through:
(1) offering leadership toward the experience of God
(2) creating a community atmosphere in which spirituality, leadership, ministry and mission of the Christian community are clearly envisioned
(3) motivating the believer to both allow and implement formation in the context of the community
(4) practicing spirituality in the context of the Christian community and as a mission to the world

Spirit Filled Life Bible Review

September 10, 2013 by  
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Several months ago, our team undertook the task of comparing and reviewing a growing number of Study Bibles appearing on the book market recently in what we called a 21st century Revival of Study Bibles. This article is part of our Study Bibles review series as outlined here: https://cupandcross.com/bible-revival/

Spirit Filled Life Bible Review
Dony K. Donev, D.Min.

The Spirit Filled Life Bible is another great example of a Pentecostal study Bible from the 90s, which sets the stage for this century’s study bibles revival. It was edited by Jack Hayford who later served as president and chancellor of King’s University (formerly The King’s College and Seminary). The text provides Bible commentary from a conservative Pentecostal perspective and study notes are a bit more detailed than the Fire Bible.

For example, the first Old Testament control passage we use in our study from Number 6 is well documented and discussed almost verse by verse. Under the title of “Priestly Blessing,” the Spirit Filled Life Bible makes the case for: (1) wave offering as part of worship (v.20), (2) personal blessing through the singular “you” in the original Hebrew (v.22), (3) a definition of blessing (v. 24) and much more on the final phrases in the blessing: “make His face shine upon you” and “lift up His countenance upon you.”

Jeremiah 18 also has several historical commentaries in the Spirit Filled Life Bible as part of Jeremiah’s laments described in a note in ch. 11. The point here is being made that the responsibility for the law in the Old Testament was given to the priest.

The doctrine of the Rapture is commented in Revelation ch.4 in both the footnotes and a special block note within the text. The first one gives three views of the Last Days (dispensational, futurist and historic/preterist), while the second correlates with the elements of John’s vision. The Dispensational interpretation is offered in continuity with the interpretation of the 7 Churches of Asia-Minor. Two other block notes with markings “Word Wealth” and “Kingdom Dynamics” are placed in 1 Thess. 5 explaining the origin of the word “Rapture.” The significant for Pentecostals phrase “in the Spirit” is explained as “a state of heightened spiritual sensitivity.”

The Tribulation is also clearly explained as post-Rapture event with a classic interpretation of the prophecy given in the text of Daniel 8. The 24 elders are viewed as “evidence of the church’s exemption from the Great Tribulation” as they “are already glorified, enthroned and crowned,” which without a doubt proceeds from pre-Millennial doctrinal interpretation.

The doctrine of the Trinity is preserved as per the Biblical Truths of the Foursquare Church, namely: “Trinity of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.” Thou the word “Trinity” itself is absent from the detailed word Concordance at the end of the Spirit Filled Life Bible, perhaps because it is not present in the actual Biblical text, it is persistently present in the commentaries. This is true even in the largely disputed (from a manuscript point of view) 1 John 5:5-6 which is explained as Trinitarian in the comments.

Similarly to the Fire Bible, the Holy Ghost baptism is explained in the forward to Acts along with a page full with notes on speaking in tongues in Acts ch. 2. Additionally, there is a chart with a six-fold involvement of the Holy Spirit in human history: in the beginning, the Old Testament and Old Testament prophecy, in salvation, the New Testament and in the written word. The Spiritual Gifts in 1 Corinthians 12 are discussed one by one. There’s also a very nice write-up at the end by Paul Walker of the Church of God who further explains “Holy Spirit Gifts and Power.”

The commentary notes at the end contain a self-guide by Pat Robertson, named “Spiritual Answers to Hard Questions.” Power over demons is explained along with the process of exorcisms, without explicit statements about the influence of demons over born-again Christians. The following subject on the Kingdom of God is also dealt with without any explicit reference to Kingdom Now Theology, although explicitly lengthier and detailed in comparison to the rest of the subjects. The final note deserves special attention and should be hereby quoted in place of an epilogue: “Lack of forgiveness blocs access to the kingdom (of God) and its marvelous power. (See also Mt. 6:5-15; Mark 11:22-26).”

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