Pentecostal Beliefs of Dancing in the Spirit

by Lindsey Landis
Pentecostal worshipers are encouraged to make spontaneous physical manifestations.

Pentecostal worshipers are encouraged to make spontaneous physical manifestations.

The Pentecostal Church has its foundation in the story of Pentecost -- when the holy spirit entered the bodies of the apostles. Acts 2:2-4 states: "Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them." Modern Pentecostals believe that they can be entered by the holy spirit, which manifests itself by spontaneous dancing, collapsing and speaking in tongues.

Dancing in the Spirit

Dancing in the spirit refers to spontaneous dancing that occurs during a Pentecostal worship service. The worshiper is overtaken by the power of the holy spirit and begins to move uncontrollably. The dance is unchoreographed. The dancer closes his or her eyes, yet does not bump into any other person or object thanks to the guidance of the spirit. Worshipers are encouraged to keep their attention on God and ignore the physical manifestations of other worshipers during the service.

Rejection of Choreography

The Old Testament book 2 Samuels 6:14 states, "And David danced before the Lord with all his might." Pentecostals believe that this was not an example of dancing in the spirit. Dancing was an integral part of worship during the early years of Christianity. However, David's joyous expression of his faith is used as a basis for choreographed, liturgical dancing in many other churches, but is rejected by the Pentecostals, who believe that dancing in the spirit should rise up spontaneously out of the soul and not be planned.

Speaking in Tongues

In addition to dancing in the spirit, Pentecostals may also speak in tongues when they are possessed by the holy spirit. The apostles received the ability to speak in many languages at Pentecost, so that they might go out and spread the word of God. However, the "tongues" of Pentecostals may sound like high-pitched yelps and trills and do not resemble any known language.

Slain in the Spirit

Another manifestation of the holy spirit is known as being "slain." Worshipers fall backward into the arms of other worshipers or prostrate on the ground when they feel overwhelmed by God's power. However, Pentecostals are warned against "courtesy falls" and are encouraged only to collapse when they are truly consumed by the spirit.

About the Author

Lindsey Landis has more than seven years of combined writing, editing and marketing experience in the book publishing and media industries. She holds a journalism bachelor's degree from Indiana University and studied art history at the Universita di Bologna in Italy. Landis currently works at the Chicago Reader and manages her own author development services company.

Photo Credits

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