David Perry

Date of Submission



This thesis engages with the Pentecostal experience of Spirit baptism and seeks to contribute to the discussion through the application of a new methodology. The premise is that the experience itself is meaningful and important to the Pentecostal community, but the meaning inherent in the experience has not always been adequately understood. To address this, this thesis utilizes the functions of meaning, a set of categories proposed by Bernard Lonergan, as a framework to explicate the Pentecostal experience in terms of its cognitive, effective, constitutive and communicative dimensions. Concerning the cognitive function, I argue that the key assertion Pentecostals make about their experience of Spirit baptism is that it is an experience of the Holy Spirit. This assertion is then demonstrated as reasonable through phenomenological analysis, and explained in theological and Trinitarian terms as the procession of love, the Holy Spirit, poured into our hearts from the Father and the Son. Concerning the effective function of meaning, I suggest that this divine love poured into our hearts through Spirit baptism can function as a motivating force for evangelism and missions. Concerning the constitutive function, I recognize that Spirit baptism constituted the Pentecostal community for many years, but the value of the experience as an integrator within the contemporary Pentecostal context has yet to be determined. More work is needed in this area. Finally, concerning the communicative function, I propose that the relationship between Spirit baptism and speaking in tongues may be understood theologically as the communication of elemental meaning. The doctrine of Spirit baptism, however, needs to be revised in order to capture the essence and richness of the experience itself. The end result of this thesis, then, is a suggested restatement of the Pentecostal doctrine of Spirit baptism that incorporates the cognitive, effective, constitutive and communicative meanings discussed throughout.


School of Theology

Document Type


Access Rights

Open Access


264 pages

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Faculty of Theology and Philosophy