Thomas Ball Barratt will for ever be the progressive apostle of Europe's Pentecostalism.
In 1906 the reknown methodist minister from Kristiania (now Oslo), Norway, Thomas Ball Barratt, had an encounter with the Holy Spirit which led to him speaking in tongues and receiving a touch of the holy and powerful God. Barratt was never to be the same.
Word spread all over Norway and beyond, and thousands were for ever transformed. The move of the Holy Spirit was characterized by salvations, healings, deliverances, prophecies etc.
In 1910 the first Pentecostal church was founded in Skien, Norway, and in 1916 Barratt himself founded the Filadelfia church in Oslo which became known as the hub of European Pentecostalism.
The Pentecostal movement grew within a few years to be the largest Christian movement outside of the State church, and it grew to Sweden, Finland and most European countries, and even into Africa, Asia and Latin America.
When T.B.Barratt died in 1940, he left befind a great church and a strong movement.
But what else did he leave behind?
In my opinion, Barratt left behind some powerful teachings and concepts that show how progressive he truly was.
1) Barratt had a powerful encounter with the Holy Spirit. His theology of this “baptism in the Spirit” was never truly embraced by his own movement. Barratt taught that the Holy Spirit baptism is a lifechanging encounter, beyond salvation, that not only leads to tongues and gifts of the Spirit, but even to another level of holiness and relationship with Christ. I believe Barratt was right, and we need today to restudy the Word along these lines. Several of Barratt’s books dealt with this.
2) Barratt had a strong revelation in 1930 regarding the local church. He saw that the Pentecostal movement was about to become a denomination, and the Lord showed him that this is not in line with the New Testament ways. So he made risky decisions to demount the organization that had developed in Norway, especially around foreign missions, and said that from now on the missionaries would be envoys from their local churches, not from a denomination. The missions organization was dissolved, amid much controversy. By doing this, Barratt is very much in line with the fluidness and flexibility of the New Testament churches, which by the way has been adopted by the powerful worldwide apostolic movement of the past 10-15 years. (Cfr Peter Wagner: “The New Apostolic Churches” 2001).
3) Barratt wrote a book in Norwegian in 1933 on “The Position of Women in the Church”. His views were strongly challenged within his own movement and church. But Barratt believed wholeheartedly that in Christ there is no difference between man and woman. Barratt even elected women elders in his own church, and he taught that there were women apostles in the days of the New Testamant.
4) Barratt wrote a book in Norwegian in 1938 called “Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage”. This was so controversial even in his own movement, that his own eldership and publishing house refused to publish it! Actually, it wasn’t published until 1991, 51 years after Barratt’s death. In this book Barratt teaches strongly on the sanctity of lifelong, monogamous marriage. But he also teaches that divorce and remarriage is legitimate for “the innocent party” on grounds of adultery and imposed, forced divorced.
Thomas Ball Barratt will for ever be the progressive apostle of Europe’s Pentecostalism.
I’m proud to be one of his many followers.