Chapter 9: Pentecostal Family
Consult the "Contents" pages to locate the entries in Part III, the Directory Listings Sections, that comprise this family.
The Pentecostal movement is one of the more spectacular religious phenomena of the twentieth century. Born as the century began, it now claims several million Americans and millions more overseas. As Pentecostals have taken their place in the world Christian community, they have emphasized their orthodoxy. Theologically, with the exception of the Apostolic Pentecostals discussed below, Pentecostals are situated firmly within the concilar tradition (fourth to eighth century) during which time the major consensus on the beliefs of Christian orthodoxy was reached. They also have no disagreement with the major affirmations of the Protestant Reformation concerning the authority of the Bible, salvation by faith alone, and the priesthood of believers. In fact, the statements of belief of the various Pentecostal churches reflect their heritage, be that heritage Methodist (chapter 7) or Holiness (chapter 8) or Baptist (chapter 11). The dividing line between Pentecostal churches and the mainline Protestant churches has been clear, though, from the beginning of modern Pentecostalism in 1901. What makes Pentecostals distinct?–their new form of religious experience, which is grounded in what is termed glossolalia, i.e., speaking in tongues.
The unique Pentecostal experience begins in the conscious search for the gift of speaking in tongues as a sign of having been blessed with the baptism of the Holy Spirit. That baptism may be defined as the dwelling of the Holy Spirit in the individual believer. From the initial experience of the baptism of the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues, the believer may expect to also manifest other gifts of the Holy Spirit as originally manifested in the New Testament church (I Cor. 12:4–11). Those gifts include healing, prophecy, wisdom (knowledge unattainable by natural means), and discernment of spirits (seeing nonphysical beings such as angels and demons).
SPEAKING IN TONGUES. Glossolalia, speaking in tongues, was a part of the experience of Jesus' disciples at Pentecost (Acts2) and reappeared at several important points in the growing church. In Paul's Epistle to the Corinthians, "tongues" are mentioned as one gift or "charisma" among others such as healing, working miracles, and prophecy. "Tongues" usually appear in connection with other "gifts of the Spirit" although, historically, the other gifts have often appeared without the accompanying verbal gift. The experience of "tongues," if not common, was well known in the ancient world. The phenomenon is manifest today in a number of tribal religions, as well as among Pentecostals.
What are "tongues"? To the outsider, hearing someone speak in "tongues" is like hearing gibberish. To the Pentecostal, it is speaking under the control of the Holy Spirit. Pentecostal lore is full of tales of people who have been able to speak in a foreign language at a moment of crisis, although they did not know the language. Believers regard such instances as supernatural occurrences.
Social scientists generally look to a different explanation. Linguist William Samarin would separate glossolalia from xenoglossia. Glossolalia, says Samarin, is not truly a language. It is a verbalized religious experience. Only a few vowels and consonants are used, not enough to make a language as we know it. Glossolalia is the common prayer speech heard at Pentecostal churches. Xenoglossia is the utterance of an existent foreign language by one who has no knowledge of it. A rare occurrence, it nevertheless has been noted and recorded in the literature of psychical research. Outside of Pentecostal circles, both telepathy and spirit contact have been hypothesized as the source of the xenoglossia. Possibly more important as an explanation is cryptonesia, forgotten memory. It is possible for a young person, for example, to learn much of a language from simply hearing others speak it, apart from any formal training. In later years, any conscious memory of that language can be lost to memory, but reappear in an altered state of consciousness.
LIFESTYLE AND WORSHIP. Along with the new form of religious experience centered upon speaking in tongues comes the second distinguishing mark of the Pentecostal: a lifestyle reordered around that religious experience. The Pentecostal convert lets his or her religious experience dominate daily life. The Pentecostal encourages others to have the baptism of the Holy Spirit; Pentecostals talk about that experience often; when they pray, they pray in tongues; they see healings as signs of God's immediate presence; they pay attention to other gifts of the Holy Spirit; and finally, they tend to look down on those who do not speak in tongues.
Through the first half of the twentieth century, Pentecostals were frequently and pejoratively called "holy rollers," a reference to their free, loud, participatory style of worship and their constant attention to the gifts of the Spirit, especially tongues. In contrast to the more orderly services in the Methodist, Baptist, and Presbyterian churches, Pentecostals seem to have a very free, spontaneous service that includes hymns that emphasize rhythm, extemporaneous prayers, and frequent interruption of the service with "amen's" and "tongues." Those who visit Pentecostal services for the first time are startled by the seeming lack of order. The freedom and spontaneity are limited, however. Even the most free congregation falls into a narrow pattern, repeated week after week with little variation.
It is the worship and the lifestyle keyed to religious experience–the constant search for the experience and the endless talk about it–that really separate Pentecostalism from the older Protestant denominations. Such distinctions are more felt than rationalized and are rarely articulated.
When conservative Christians such as Baptists and the Reformed discuss the doctrinal differences between themselves and the Pentecostal movement, they focus upon disagreements about the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit. Theologians out of the Reformed tradition tend to believe that the gifts of the Spirit were given to the early church and disappeared after the Apostles died. Other critics, however, observe the likeness between the religious expressions of Pentecostals and those of non-Christians, including the Spiritualist and occult movements. A few have charged the Pentecostals with a form of demon possession. By contrast, the Pentecostals insist the end of time is near, and the words of the prophet Joel (Joel 3:1) are being fulfilled:
"It shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out my Spirit on all mankind: Your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions and your old men shall dream dreams."
According to Acts 2:17, Peter referred to this passage on the original Day of Pentecost as being fulfilled in the foundation of the Christian church.
HEALING. If speaking in tongues makes Pentecostals controversial, so does healing. Objections to healing center not as much on the reality of healing as on the form that healing ministries have assumed. Mainline Christians are offended by the seeming overfamiliarity with God assumed in praying for God to heal, as well as the loud, demanding style of many evangelists. The critics also object to the emotional, crowd-psychology-oriented healing services that seem to manipulate those in attendance. Typical of the criticisms was the controversy that erupted in the 1970s on the former child-evangelist, Marjoe Gortner. Gortner had conducted healing services as a child, but came to the decision that what he was doing was not valid. So he invited filmmakers to follow him in a year's work of Pentecostal healing, filming what he did. The resultant movie and book were released as an exposé of Pentecostal healing. Gortner's critique appeared on the heels of critiques of healing that had emerged anew in the post-World War II healing movement that grew out of the work of William M. Branham, which produced superstar Oral Roberts and were followed by similar negative judgments leveled against Katheryn Kuhlman.
In the mid-1980s, skeptical stage magician James Randi did a survey of Pentecostal healers, among whom he found two, Peter Popoff and W. V. Grant, Jr., who were carrying on plainly fraudulent activity to create the appearance of miracles in their healing services. Using tricks well known to stage magicians, they claimed to receive information supernaturally. But in fact, the information was being transmitted to them by accomplices. In exposing the two questionable healers, Randi actually did the movement a great service. He believed that most of the healers he investigated were self-deluded, but were nevertheless sincere in what they were doing.
In spite of such criticisms, however, the Pentecostals raised an important issue for contemporary Christians: the question of healing as a sign of God's work among his people. Pentecostals join both Christian Scientists, who refrain from using medicine and doctors, and Episcopalians in raising this issue. An Episcopalian physician, Charles Cullis, held healing services at the turn of this century in his summer camp at Old Orchard, Maine. Many of the spiritual healing ministries in this country can be traced from Cullis to the Emmanuel Movement (emanating from the Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Boston early in this century) to healing evangelists such as Aimee Semple McPherson to more recent organizations such as the ecumenical Order of St. Luke the Physician, the spiritual heir of the Emmanuel Movement. Thus Pentecostal healing activity fit into a much larger interest in healing as a gift of the Spirit within Christianity.
"TONGUES" IN HISTORY. The first manifestation of "tongues" in the modern era occurred in the late seventeenth century in France. The times were a blend of persecution and miraculous events. After the revocation of the Edict of Nantes (1685), state suppression of Protestants began in southern France, among other places. In the mountainous region of Languedoc in the 1680s more than 10,000 people were victims of the stake, galley, and wheel. Partially in reaction to this persecution, strange paranormal phenomena began to occur. At Vivaris, in southern France, a man had a vision and heard a voice say, "Go and console my people." At Berne, people saw apparitions and heard voices. There arose prophets who were viewed as miraculous because, although young and untutored, they spoke fluently and with wisdom.
Among the French mountain villages was a poor unlettered girl, Isabella Vincent. The daughter of a weaver, Isabella left home after her father accepted a bribe to become a Catholic and after she witnessed a massacre of Huguenots (French Calvinists). She was a Huguenot, and she fled to her Huguenot godfather. On February 12, 1688, she had her first ecstatic experience. She entered a trance in which she spoke in tongues and prophesied. She called for repentance, especially from those who had forsaken their faith for gold. Her fame spread. People marveled at her perfect Parisian French and her ability to quote the mass verbatim and refute it. She was finally arrested, but others rose to take her place. In 1700, a movement began among the youth, and children as young as three entered ecstatic states and prophesied. Continued persecution was followed by war and eventual migration to other parts of Europe, where these people became known as the French Prophets.
A few manifestations of "tongues" were noted in the eighteenth century among the Quakers in England and the Methodists in America. In the 1830s, however, two groups emerged who spoke in tongues with some frequency: in England, the Catholic Apostolic Church, and in America, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Both accepted the experience as part of a gifted, charismatic church life. Then, after the Civil War, "tongues" began to manifest themselves within the holiness churches and thus came into historical continuity with the present-day Pentecostal movement. In 1875, the Reverend R. B. Swan, a holiness minister, was one of five people in Providence, Rhode Island, who spoke in tongues. This group grew and soon became known as the "Gift People." Jethro Walthall reported speaking in tongues as early as 1879. This evangelist from Arkansas at first accepted tongues as part of a total experience of "being carried outside of himself," but later identified it with Pentecost and became a superintendent of the Assemblies of God, discussed in this chapter. In 1890, Daniel Awrey, an evangelist from Ohio, experienced "tongues." In the 1890s, members attending the meetings of R. G. Spurling in Tennessee and North Carolina, and W. F. Bryant of Camp Creek, North Carolina, spoke in tongues. The experience was later identified with Pentecost and these two men became leaders in the Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee) also discussed in this chapter. Besides these and other isolated incidents of "tongues," in the 1890s, there appeared a new movement in the holiness church that was to be a direct precursor of Pentecostalism as it exists today–the fire baptism.
As a movement, fire baptism was an "experience" preached by some holiness ministers looking for something more than their holiness experience had given them. The first such minister was the Reverend B. H. Irwin who had derived the experience from the writings of John Fletcher, an early Methodist. Fletcher, in his works, had spoken of a "baptism of burning love," but it is doubtful if he was implying any of what Irwin was seeking. Fire baptism, a personal religious experience of being filled with and empowered by the Holy Spirit, took its name from the Holy Spirit's descent upon the Apostles in the form of tongues of flame–the first Pentecost. In 1895, the first fire-baptized congregation (the first church to seek and receive fire baptism) was organized at Olmitz, Iowa. From there fire baptism was spread by itinerant evangelists. Holiness leaders labeled this new experience, which they termed "The Fire," heresy and fanaticism. Opposition did not keep the teaching from spreading and, within three years, there were nine state associations organized and six more waiting to form, including two in Canada. Formal organization of the Fire-Baptized Holiness Association took place in 1898 at Anderson, South Carolina, and a periodical, Live Coals of Fire, was started in 1899. Later, the Fire-Baptized Holiness Association was to accept as a body the Pentecostal emphasis on speaking in tongues as a sure sign of the Spirit's presence within the believer. The early experience of tongues and the development of the Fire-Baptized Holiness Association set the nineteenth century stage for the twentieth century Pentecostal movement. Three years would be significant in its development–1901, 1906, and 1914.
Tongues have periodically appeared in the Christian tradition, and cases have been noted in a variety of non-Christian religion. However, it is to be noted that the experience of tongues by itself is not Pentecostalism. Pentecostalism was not built around a mere outbreak of spontaneous experiences of tongues. Rather, it consists of the conscious focus upon the experience of tongues as a sign of the reception of the Holy Spirit, and of activity (primarily prayer) directed toward the reception of the gift, and subsequent to receiving it, the conscious search for other gifts of the Spirit. Thus the history of Pentecostalism ultimately leads not to incidents of tongues in history, but to a Bible school in the American Midwest in the first year of the twentieth century.
1901–Topeka, Kansas. The beginnings of the modern Pentecostal movement originated in the ministry of the Reverend Charles Parham (1873–1929). Having left the Methodist Episcopal Church, Parham eventually opened the Bethel Healing Home in 1898 in Topeka. He had been inspired by the healing ministry of John Alexander Dowie (1847–1907) of Zion, Illinois. In 1900, he began an extended tour of holiness and healing ministries from Chicago to New York to Georgia. Returning to Topeka, Parham found his work undermined and usurped. Undaunted, he purchased a building just outside of town and began the Bethel Bible College in the fall of 1900. Over the Christmas holidays, before leaving to speak in Kansas City, he assigned his students the task of investigating the "baptism of the Spirit," sometimes called the Pentecostal blessing. Upon returning, Parham got a report: "To my astonishment, they all had the same story, that while different things occurred when the Pentecostal blessing fell, the indisputable proof on each occasion was that they spoke with other tongues" (Sarah E. Parham, The Life of Charles F. Parham [Rept: Joplin, MO: Press of the Hunter Printing Co., 1969], 52).
Immediately they turned to seek a baptism with an indication given by utterance in "tongues." On January 1, 1901, the Spirit fell, first on Agnes Ozman, and a few days later on many others, and then on Parham himself.
Thus Agnes Ozman became the first person in modern times self-consciously first to seek and then to receive the experience of speaking in tongues (glossolalia) as a sign of being "baptized with the Holy Spirit." At that moment was inaugurated the Pentecostal Movement.
This small beginning, of fewer than 40 people, did not portend the growth that was to come. Parham closed the school and with his students set out to spread the message of the new Pentecost. He traveled and preached through Missouri and Kansas, and climaxed his tour with a revival in Galena, Kansas, which lasted for four months in the winter of 1903–4. In 1905, he began work in Texas for the first time. He made Houston his headquarters and in December 1905 opened a Bible school. Parham at this point let the mantle of leadership pass to William J. Seymour, who studied under Parham in Houston.
1906–Azusa Street, Los Angeles, California. The Pentecostal scene shifts to the West, to California, where in 1906 William J. Seymour (1870–1922), an African American holiness minister, arrived to preach at a small Baptist church. The church refused to hear him after his first sermon, but he was invited to preach at a member's home on Bonnie Brae Street. After three days of his preaching, the Spirit fell and "tongues" were heard on the West Coast. The meeting quickly outgrew the small home and a former Methodist church building was rented on Azusa Street. From here would develop the revival that would send the Pentecostal experience around the world.
The Pentecostal outpouring in Los Angeles did not occur in a vacuum, but was the culmination of earlier events. From the spring of 1905, Frank Bartlemen and Joseph Smale had been giving wide publicity to the 1904 Wales revival under Evans Roberts.
From Armenia, a number of Pentecostals who spoke in tongues had arrived to begin a new life in America. All quickly lent support to the Bonnie Brae phenomena.
After the initial speaking in tongues on April 9, the meeting grew and spread. Significant in this growth was the occurrence on April 18, just nine days after the initial experience, of the great San Francisco earthquake. More than 125,000 tracts relating the earthquake to the Azusa Street happenings and the "endtime" were promptly distributed. News of the revival was also widely circulated in holiness and other religious periodicals. Attracted by the excitement, people came to Los Angeles from across the country. As they received the baptism, they went home to spread the word. Pentecostal centers appeared in Illinois, New York, North Carolina, Sweden, England, India, and Chile.
Prior to the present generation, Pentecostals have had a peculiar problem in dealing forthrightly with their history. Leadership of the movement he founded was lost to Charles Parham who, like B. H. Urwin before him, was ostracized because of a personal scandal. Parham was accused of homosexuality, a particularly horrible sin in the eyes of conservative Christians. Then, the new leadership provided by Seymour was gradually rejected because of his race and by the beginning of World War I his ministry was largely limited to African peoples around the country. National leadership passed to white ministers who went to Azuza Street and returned home to found the various Pentecostal denominations.
1914–Hot Springs, Arkansas . From 1901 until 1914, the Pentecostals existed primarily within the holiness movement. The holiness movement was oriented toward an experience that ratified the believer's sanctity, the experience of the "second blessing," after which the believer would be holy forever. As the Pentecostal movement spread, many holiness churches accepted speaking in tongues as a final guarantee of holiness, a more sure sign than the "second blessing," and they called the Pentecostal "baptism of the Holy Spirit" the third experience. (The first, preceding the second blessing, was justification–the discovery of Christ as the personal savior.)
The holiness movement thus had supplied the basic problem (sanctification, life in the Spirit) that had caused concern for the "baptism of the Holy Spirit." The early Pentecostal leaders and members came from holiness churches, and holiness periodicals spread the word of the revival. Most important, the holiness churches, like the synagogues for Paul, became the first centers for Pentecostal evangelism. Out of the Holiness movement came such churches as the Pentecostal Holiness Church and the Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee). However, growth of Pentecostalism caused many holiness churches and leaders to express strong disapproval of it. Resistance varied from the relatively mild policy of the Christian and Missionary Alliance to radical rejection by the Pentecostal Nazarene Church, which even dropped the word "Pentecostal" from its title to manifest its firm opposition.
Growing hostility, factionalism within the movement, and the need for coordination of activities led in December 1913 to a call for a 1914 meeting at the Grand Opera House, Hot Springs, Arkansas, of all who desired fuller cooperation. Out of this meeting grew the Assemblies of God. More important, from this organization came the impetus for the eventual organization of additional independent churches. Pentecostal denominationalism had begun in earnest.
With time, three Pentecostal churches took a special place in the American Pentecostal movement: the Assemblies of God, the Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee), and the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostolic Faith. Many other Pentecostal churches are offshoots of these three or are modeled on them and deviate from them on only a few points.
For practical purposes, a parenthetical subtitle is given to some churches in this encyclopedia. Thus the Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee) calls itself simply the Church of God, but its headquarters are in Cleveland, Tennessee, so that is added to its title to distinguish it from the more than a hundred other denominations who call themselves the Church of God.
As various Pentecostal churches came into existence, they adopted different forms of church government. Some are congregational, some connectional. The congregational churches share four characteristics: the local churches operate autonomously, they choose their own ministers, they own their property themselves, and they allow their regional and national church bodies to have only advisory authority over the local churches. In connectional churches, the regional and national church bodies have varying levels of power to legislate on doctrinal and organizational matters. Some Pentecostal churches with a connectional polity are close to a presbyterial system; some are close to an episcopal system with bishops (and superintendents).
CONTEMPORARY DEVELOPMENTS. Two very noticeable trends were evident in Pentecostalism in the last half of the twentieth century. First, among the second and third generation Pentecostal denominations, a marked tendency to lessen the overtly emotional, loud, and spontaneous lifestyle has been quite noticeable, particularly in urban centers. Symbolic is the regular use of printed weekly church bulletins that specify an order of worship for the Sunday morning service.
Also these same Pentecostal bodies have pursued the development of ecumenical structures both among themselves and with non-Pentecostal churches. Ecumenical efforts within Pentecostalism began with the World Conference of Pentecostals held at Zurich, Switzerland, in May 1947. This conference inspired the formation of the Pentecostal Fellowship of North America (PFNA), constituted at Des Moines, Iowa, October 26–28, 1948. This body had among its members all the larger trinitarian Pentecostal denominations (17 Canadian and United States bodies representing more than one million members in 1970). The PFNA was a predominantly white organization and following meeting at which the problems of racism within the Pentecostal movement was brought to the fore, the member churches disbanded the organization. They then joined with several predominantly black groups to found the Pentecostal/Charismatic Fellowship of North America.
Meetings of Pentecostals around the world continued (Paris, 1949; London, 1952; Stockholm, 1955; Toronto, 1958; Jerusalem, 1961; Helsinki, 1964; Rio de Janeiro, 1967; and Dallas, 1970). Along with these conferences were attempts, increasingly successful, to engage the older ecumenical bodies in dialogue. Emerging as the central figure in the effort was David J. DuPlessis (1905–1987), a South African Assemblies of God minister. Du-Plessis was a key organizer of the early world Pentecostal conferences, worked on the staff of the Second Assembly of the World Council of Churches in Evanston, Illinois, in 1954, and generally served as Pentecostalism's roving ambassador to non-Pentecostal Christians. The world conferences eventually led at the beginning of the new century to the formation of a more permanent global Pentecostal organization, the World Pentecostal Fellowship.
The second trend within Pentecostalism has been the regular outbreaks of international Pentecostal revivals that have been seen both as recapitulating the revival at Azusa Street in the face of a movement that many feel has lost much of the Pentecostal spirit and signaling the hoped for culmination of this age. The first such revival in the years following World War II began in 1948 in Western Canada and was known as the Latter Rain revival. It was followed by the healing revival in the 1960s led by William M. Branham. In the late 1960s the charismatic movement brought pentecostalism into the Roman Catholic Church and all of the major Protestant denominations. Each of these revivals became the source of doctrinal and behavioral disagreements and each soon led to the formation of new Pentecostal denominations. Most recently, a new wave of revivalism, some have termed it the "Third Wave," has swept the charismatic churches which are entering their second generation, and it in turn has created further new denominations.
SUBFAMILIES. Doctrinal, racial, and linguistic differences have led Pentecostals to divide into seven subfamilies. Additional small groups may be discerned, such as the snake handlers, but the far-reaching divisions have resulted in only seven subfamilies. In general, Pentecostals fall into three doctrinal groups, all of which are split along racial lines. After a period of racial harmony in the first generation whites either withdrew or pushed black members out of interracial denominations and only a few groups, such as the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, are able to hold a significant minority membership across racial lines. Until the 1980s, for example, Africans were still largely excluded from the Pentecostal ecumenical bodies. Differences over the doctrines of holiness and the Trinity divided Pentecostals into three main groupings, while race further divided them into six.
In the meantime, Pentecostalism was carried by some Spanish-speaking people who attended the revival at Azusa Street to Mexico and then to South America. There it developed a life of its own and numerous indigenous Pentecostal denominations have arisen. As immigration from Latin American began to increase in the last half of the twentieth century, members of these groups established branches of primarily Puerto Rican and Mexican churches in Spanish-speaking neighborhoods in the cities of the United States. These have been integrated into the move to acknowledge Hispanic peoples' rights in the country and have emerged in such strength as to now constitute a separate subfamily of Pentecostal churches.
The earliest doctrinal disagreement occurred between those Pentecostals who came out of the holiness movement, primarily former Methodists, and those who came directly into the Pentecostal experience, primarily former Baptists. The holiness people saw the Pentecostal experience (receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues) as a third experience following justification and sanctification. The Baptists insisted that any believer was capable of receiving the Pentecostal experience, without the intermediate "second blessing" assuring sanctification, the key experience of the holiness movement. Many Pentecostals split over the issue of two experiences (justification and the baptism of the Holy Spirit) or three experiences (justification, sanctification, and the baptism of the Holy Spirit).
No sooner had these two positions become evident than another serious theological issue arose. A group of ministers began to preach a "Jesus only" doctrine that amounted to a monotheism of the second person of the Trinity. This denial of the Trinity, by what are generally termed "Apostolic" Pentecostals, reaches back to the centuries-old consensus of Christianity and resulted in the most serious family split, and the "Jesus only" people generally do not participate in the family ecumenical structures. African Americans have formed especially large denominations of the "Jesus only" type.
This discussion of Pentecostal subfamilies would be incomplete without a mention of neo-Pentecostalism. That is the movement of the 1960s and 1970s to form Pentecostal fellowships within the mainline Christian denominations. Neo-Pentecostalism also goes by the name of charismatic renewal. Its leaders were never a part of the older Pentecostal bodies, and formed charismatic fellowships within the Roman Catholic, Lutheran, United Methodist, Presbyterian, and Episcopal churches.
Since the 1970s these fellowships have served two functions. First, they have kept many Pentecostals within their mainline Christian churches, making unnecessary their move to the older Pentecostal churches. At the same time, however, they became the borning ground of new denominations, separate from both the older Pentecostal churches and the mainline Christian churches could form. These new charismatic denominations largely follow the doctrinal lead of the Assemblies of God and differ from it primarily by their unwillingness to own the name "Pentecostal," which is still a derogatory term in some circles, as opposed to "Charismatic."
THE APOSTOLIC, ONENESS, OR "JESUS ONLY" MOVEMENT. In 1913 at the Los Angeles Pentecostal camp meeting, the fledgling Pentecostal movement, barely beginning its second decade of existence, came face to face with a new issue. R. E. McAlister, a popular preacher, speaking before a baptismal service, shared his thoughts that, in the apostolic church, baptism was not done with a Trinitarian formula but in the name of Jesus Christ. While raising much opposition, McAlister's message found favor with a few such as Frank J. Ewart (1876–1947) and John C. Scheppe. Scheppe's emotional acceptance of the "new" idea had a powerful impact on the camp. Ewart afterwards joined McAlister in a revival meeting in Los Angeles and began to note results whenever he called upon the name of Jesus.
The movement spread under the leadership of Ewart and evangelist Glenn A. Cook. They were able to bring in such key leaders as Garfield Thomas Haywood of Indianapolis, E. N. Bell (1866–1923), and H. A. Goss, all prominent leaders in the Assemblies of God. Ewart soon became editor of Meat in Due Season, the first oneness periodical.
The advocacy of oneness ideas, mostly by churches that in 1914 came together to form the Assemblies of God, culminated in a discussion and decision in 1916 at the Assemblies of God General Council meeting in St. Louis. A strong Trinitarian stance was placed within the Statement of Beliefs. One hundred and sixty-six ministers were expelled by that act and many Assemblies were lost; the era of formation of "oneness" churches began.
The oneness Pentecostals deny the traditional Christian doctrine of the Trinity in favor of an affirmation of the "oneness" of God. Jesus is identified with God the Father (Isaiah 9:6, John 10:30) and God the creator (John 1:1) as the bodily presence of God. The Holy Spirit is not considered a third person within the Trinity but the spirit and power of God and Christ. Salvation is by repentance, and water baptism is considered an essential part of salvation. Baptism is by immersion in the name of Jesus only (Acts 2:38). Oneness people avoid the common trinitarian formula taken from Matthew 28:19.
Apart from the Trinitarian and baptismal questions, oneness people are typical Pentecostals. The oneness message has had particular appeal among African Americans, and the largest bodies are primarily black in membership. Of the several Apostolic Churches, the United Pentecostal Church is the largest predominantly white church.
AFRICAN AMERICAN PENTECOSTAL CHURCHES. There has been vigorous discussion in both popular and scholarly literature of the tie-in between black religion and Pentecostalism. Much of this discussion has been plainly derogatory and borders on racism. Pentecostalism, distinguished by its emotionalism and escapism, has been seen as an example of "primitive" religious forms. Fortunately, the growth of neo-Pentecostalism has led to a complete reevaluation of the authenticity of the Pentecostal forms as basic religious expressions. With the new appreciation comes the opportunity to see, with new perspective, the key role that African Americans played in the early development of Pentecostalism, and more importantly, the manner in which they have taken the form far beyond its development by their white brothers and sisters.
Modern Pentecostalism began in the short-lived Topeka Bible School founded by Charles Parham. Among those students who received the baptism of the Holy Spirit was an African American woman, Sister Lucy Farrow. It was Sister Farrow who took Pentecostalism to Houston and opened the door for Parham to begin his Bible school there. Among his pupils was one W. J. Seymour, a black minister with the Church of God (Anderson, Indiana).
After Seymour received Parham's message, he traveled to Los Angeles where in 1906 he gathered a group of black believers into meetings that were eventually held at the Azusa Street Mission. As the gifts of the Spirit became manifest, whites began to attend the meetings and receive the baptism from Seymour who led the services.
Racism was overcome for only a short time; almost immediately white leaders began to develop their own movements. Although most Pentecostal churches remained integrated for one or two decades, eventually almost all of the groups split along racial lines. There is little doubt that the early splintering among Pentecostals throughout the country was because the black leadership at Azusa was unacceptable to whites.
The preaching of "Jesus only" by Garfield Thomas Haywood (1880–1931), a black minister in Indianapolis, forced the Assemblies of God to deal with the "oneness" doctrine that denied the Trinity. Haywood's congregation became a nucleus for the first "oneness" denomination, the Pentecostal Assemblies of the world.
Pentecostalism swept through the black community and created some large, if relatively hidden, denominations. They compiled impressive figures for foreign mission work in Africa and the West Indies, where Pentecostalism has become a significant element in the larger Christian community. The Church of God in Christ now claims upwards of six million members worldwide, and is one of the five largest denominations in America.
DELIVERANCE (HEALING) MOVEMENT. Almost from the beginning, healing has been a major emphasis of the Pentecostal movement. It represents the culmination of a healing movement begun in evangelical churches by Charles Cullis (1833–1892), an Episcopal physician in Boston who held healing services at the turn of the twentieth century at his summer camp at Old Orchard, Maine. Albert Benjamin Simpson (1843–1919) was healed at this camp and later made healing part of his four-fold gospel that presented Christ as savior, sanctifier, healer, and coming king. In the early years of the twentieth century F. F. Bosworth, Paul Rader (1879–1938), John G. Lake (1870–1935), and Smith Wigglesworth were popular healing evangelists and, of course, Aimee Semple McPherson (1890–1940) became the most popular of all. The years between the wars saw the emergence of numerous independent healing evangelists, popular targets of exposé writers.
After the Second World War a group consciousness developed among some of the Pentecostal evangelists. In 1946 the Reverend William Marrion Branham (1909–1965), then a Baptist minister, claimed a visit by an angel and was told to start a healing ministry. That visit was the beginning of a remarkable "supernatural" ministry of healings, prophecies, and other paranormal phenomena. Branham began to tour the country in revival meetings. In 1947, Gordon Lindsay (1906–1973) began The Voice of Healing Magazine. Gradually, without giving up their independence, other evangelists became associated with Branham and their activities included in The Voice of Healing. In the years since Branham's death in 1965, deliverance ministers have emerged as a significant force within Pentecostalism.
In many cases, the deliverance evangelists have remained independent and travel at the request of churches or groups such as the Full Gospel Businessman's Fellowship. Others led large evangelistic missionary organizations. Evelyn Wyatt, T. L. Osborn, and Morris Cerullo (b. 1931) head such organizations. Others became heads of church-forming bodies (both in the United States and abroad) that constitute new primary religious groups. These included W. V. Grant, William Branham, Gordon Lindsay, Katheryn Kuhlman (1907–1976), and A. A. Allen (1911–1970). For most of the above, evangelistic endeavors among members of Pentecostal and mainline Christian churches were the primary activity, with their deliverance churches forming relatively small bases of operation.
As the first generation of healing evangelists has departed, it has left the healing ministry as a major theme in Pentecostalism, though few evangelists have emerged who are primarily known as healing ministers, Orlando, Florida-based Benny Hinn (b. 1952) being the most prominent.
SNAKE HANDLING. One group of Pentecostals are sharply distinguished from the rest by their peculiar practice of "preaching the signs." In the Gospel of Mark 16: 17–18, Jesus promised his followers that certain signs would follow them: speaking in tongues, the ability to heal the sick, and the casting out of demons. Most Pentecostals accept these three. Those who "preach the signs," however, go beyond these to accept Jesus' further promise that they may take up venomous serpents and drink poisons without experiencing any harm. This promise has led to the practice popularly called snake handling. The original group that practiced the signs, that is, that handled snakes and drank poison (usually strychnine) in worship services, arose soon after the Pentecostal movement spread to the Appalachian Mountain region.
In 1909 George Went Hensley, a preacher with the Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee) in rural Grasshopper Valley, became convinced that the references in Mark 16: 17–19 to taking up poisonous snakes and drinking poison were, in fact, commands. He captured a rattlesnake and brought it to an open air revival meeting for participants to handle as a test of their faith. In 1914 Ambrose J. Tomlinson, head of the Church of God, asked Hensley to demonstrate snake handling to the church's annual assembly, and, with his tacit approval, the practice soon spread throughout the mountainous and rural South.
Those who engage in snake handling are Pentecostals who accept the basic theology by which people seek and receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, evidenced by speaking in tongues. Snake handlers also accept the rigid ethical code of most holiness and Pentecostal bodies: dress is plain; the Bible is consulted on all questions in an attempt to discern worldly behavior; the kiss of peace is prominent. The snake handlers, however, go beyond the Pentecostals in their belief that holding venomous reptiles and drinking poison are signs of an individual's faith and possession of the Holy Spirit. The handling of snakes and drinking of poison are done while in an ecstatic state, referred to by members as "being in the Spirit."
The first and crucial test of the practice of snake handling was the near-fatal bite received by Garland Defries, which led to much unfavorable publicity and caused many snake handlers, who thought themselves immune to bites, to reevaluate the practice. Snake handling came under considerable attack within the Church of God, whose leaders denounced it as fanaticism. In 1928 the church formally forbade its continuation, thus forcing the snake handlers into separate congregations and small churches, primarily in rural areas.
A second test of snake handling came in 1945 when Lewis Ford, a member of the Dolly Pond Church of God with Signs Following (Dolly Pond, Tennessee), was fatally bitten. His death brought the first widespread public attention to the dangers of snake handling and led the State of Tennessee to legislate against it. Despite this legislation the practice continues in clandestine meetings in Tennessee and throughout the South.
Periodically, a person will be bitten and die at a snake handling meeting. Such rare occurrences usually become the subject of media attention with accompanying outcries against the practice. However, given their infrequency, these deaths have usually led to little more than a few ephemeral attempts to regulate the behavior of church members. The churches soon resume their normal routine. In 1975, some meaningful action was taken following the death of two church members from drinking poison. The Tennessee Supreme Court moved to strengthen that state's prohibitions on both snake handling and the ingestion of poison at religious services.
Snake handlers were back in the news in 1991 when Glenn Summerford, a snakehandling preacher in Alabama, went on trial for forcing his wife Darlene to thrust her hand in a box of rattlesnakes. She survived but Summerford was arrested and convicted of attempted murder. Over the twentieth century, in spite of the regular participation of poisonous snakes in religious services through the eastern half of the United States and the regular ingestion of poison in seemingly lethal doses, relatively few have died–less than 100.
THE LATTER RAIN MOVEMENT. During the mid-twentieth century, one new movement has deeply affected the development of Pentecostalism. Beginning in a small Bible college in western Canada in 1948, the Latter Rain Movement found enough initial support among leaders in the two largest Pentecostal groups in the United States and Canada respectively, the Assemblies of God and the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada, that each moved quickly to suppress its influence among their ministers and churches.
The movement began as a revival at Sharon Orphanage and Schools in North Battleford, Saskatchewan, among students assembled by former Pentecostal Assemblies ministers George Hawtin and P. G. Hunt and Four-Square Gospel minister Herrick Holt. The revival was accompanied by a visible manifestation of the gifts of the Spirit, especially healing. As word of the events were spread, visitors came to North Battleford and invitations were issued for the leaders to come to different parts of the continent.
As it developed, the movement was characterized by an emphasis upon the gifts of healing and prophecy, the practice of the laying-on-of-hands to impart gifts to different people, and allegiance to the five-fold ministry of Ephesians 4:11. As the movement spread, it was accused of fanaticism and the leadership of the Assemblies of God moved against it. In 1949 the general council passed a six-part resolution, denouncing the movement because, among other practices, (1) it relied too heavily upon present-day apostles and prophets (i.e., a self-appointed charismatic leadership); (2) it practiced the confessing and pronouncing of forgiveness by one member upon another; (3) it advocated the practice of bestowing spiritual gifts by the laying-on-of-hands; and (4) it distorted Scripture so as to arrive at conclusions not generally accepted by members of the Assemblies.
Though neither experienced any major wholesale defections, both the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada and the Assemblies of God began to lose pastors and their churches. Possibly the most prominent defection was Stanley Frodsham (1882–1969), longtime editor of the Pentecostal Evangel, who withdrew from the Assemblies of God after its 1949 resolution. Within a short time the movement was firmly entrenched in Vancouver, British Columbia; Portland, Oregon; Detroit, Michigan; Memphis, Tennessee; Los Angeles, California; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, from which it decimated across the United States. During the 1950s, especially as the healing revival led by William Marrion Branham and Oral Roberts grew, the Latter Rain spread.
Many of the early centers grew into large congregations, and a few emerged as seeds for new denominations (or more precisely, congregational associations). Some of these were distinguished by the peculiar teachings and emphases of the founder/leader. Such groups as the Church of the Living Word, the Body of Christ Movement, and the International Evangelical Church and Missionary Association are prominent examples.
Through the last decades of the twentieth century, Pentecostalism was one of the growing communities within American Christians, and the Latter Rain groups were among the most noticeable growing segments of the movement. Shut out of the larger Pentecostal bodies, Latter Rain congregations grew quietly under the leadership of "apostles," leaders who emerged out of their demonstrated ability at the founding and nurturance of new congregations. They found a champion in Dr. C. Peter Wagner, a professor at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, who saw in the movement a new wave of Pentecostal revivalism. Through the 1990s he led in founding several "apostolic" organizations that led to the 1999 founding of the International Coalition of Apostles, an ecumenical fellowship of apostles and the churches they lead. Wagner emerged as the Coalition's first Presiding Apostle.
Study of the twentieth century Pentecostal tradition is focused by the Society for Pentecostal Studies, PO Box 23395, Lexington, KY 405233395 (http://www.sps-usa.org/), which publishes the semi-annual journal Pneuma. Significant archives are found at Oral Roberts University, Tulsa, OK 74105; the Pentecostal Research Center of the Church of God, P. O. Box 3448, Cleveland, TN 37320; and the Assemblies of God Archives, 1445 Boonville Ave., Springfield, MO 65892. The Assemblies of God Archives publishes the quarterly Assemblies of God Heritage.
Burgess, Stanley M., and Gary B. McGee, eds. Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements. Grand Rapids, MI: Regency Reference Library, 1988.
Cox, Harvey. Fire from Heaven: The Rise of Pentecostalism Spirituality and the Reshaping of Religion in the Twenty-first Century. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1995.
Dempster, M. W., B. D. Klaus, and D. Petersen, eds. The Globalization of Pentecostalism: A Religion made to Travel. Oxford: Regnum, 1999.
Frapel, D. William. The Everlasting Gospel: the Significance of Eschatology in the Development of Pentecostal Thought. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1996.
Hollenweger, Walter J. Pentecostalism: Origins and Developments Worldwide. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1997.
Hunter, Harold D. Spirit Baptism, A Pentecostal Alternative. Washington, DC: University Press of America, 1983.
Kelsey, Morton T. Tongue Speaking. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1968.
Kydd, Ronald A. N. Charismatic Gifts in the Early Church. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1984.
Poewe, Karla O., ed. Charismatic Christianity as a Global Culture. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1994.
Roebling, Karl. Pentecostals Around the World. Hicksville, NY: Exposition Press, 1978.
Sherrill, John L. They Speak with Other Tongues. Westwood, NJ: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1965.
Synan, Vinson. ed. The Century of the Holy Spirit: 100 Years of Pentecostal and Charismatic Renewal. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2001.
——. The Twentieth Century Pentecostal Explosion. Altemonte Springs, FL: Creation House, 1987.
Faupel, David W. The American Pentecostal Movement, A Bibliographical Essay. Wilmore, KY: B. L. Fisher Library, Asbury Theological Seminary, 1972.
A Guide to the Study of the Pentecostal Movement. 2 Vols. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1983.
Jones, Charles Edwin. Black Holiness; A Guide to the Study of Black Participation in Wesleyan Perfectionist and Glossolalic Pentecostal Movements. Metuchen, NJ: American Theological Library Association/Scarecrow Press, 1987.
——. The Charismatic Movement: A Guide to the Study of Neo-Pentecostalism with Emphasis on Anglo-American Sources. Philadelphia: Scarecrow Press, 1995.
Martin, Ira J. Glossolalia, The Gift of Tongues, A Bibliography. Cleveland, TN: Pathway Press, 1970.
Bartleman, Frank. How Pentecost Came to Los Angeles. Los Angeles: Privately Printed, 1928.
Blumhofer, Edith L., Russell P. Spittler, and Grant A. Wacker, eds. Pentecostal Currents in America. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1999. 273 pp.
Davis, Clars. Azusa Street Till Now: Eyewitness Accounts of the Move of God. Tulsa, OK: Harrison House, 1989.
Davis, George T. B. When the Fire Fell. Philadelphia: The Million Testaments Campaign, 1945.
Dayton, Donald. "From Christian Perfection to the Baptism of the Holy Ghost": A Study in the Origin of Pentecostalism. Chicago: The Author, 1973.
Ewart, Frank J. The Phenomenon of Pentecost. Hazelwood, MO: World Aflame Press, 1975.
Frodsham, Stanley H. With Signs Following. Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, 1946.
Gaver, Jessyca Russel. Pentecostalism. New York: Award Books, 1971.
Hollenweger, Walter J. The Pentecostals: The Charismatic Movement in the Church. Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1972.
Kendrick, Klaude. The Promise Fulfilled. Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, 1961.
McClug, L. Grant, Jr. Azusa Street and Beyond. South Plainfield NJ; Bridge Publishing, 1986.
Nichols, Thomas R. Azusa Street Outpouring. Hanford, CT: Great Commission International, 1979.
Riss, Richard Michael. The Latter Rain Movement of 1948 and the Mid-twentieth Century Evangelical Awakening. Vancouver, BC: Regent College, 1979.
Strachey, Ray. Group Movements of the Past. London: Faber & Faber Ltd., 1934.
Valdez, A. C., and James F. Scheer. Fire on Azusa Street. Costa Mesa, CA: Gift Publications, 1980.
Wallace, Mary H. Profiles of Pentecostal Preachers. Hazelwood, MO: World Aflame Press, 1983.
Wagner, Wayne, ed. Touched by the Fire. Plainfield, NJ: Logos International, 1978.
Whittaker, Colin C. Pentecostal Pioneers. Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, 1983.
Glossolalia and the Spiritual Gifts
Goodman, Felicitas D. Speaking in Tongues, A Cross-Cultural Study of Glossolalia. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1972.
Kildahl, John P. The Psychology of Speaking in Tongues. New York: Harper & Row, 1972.
Samarin, William. Tongues of Men and Angels. New York: Macmillan Company, 1972.
Sneck, William Joseph. Charismatic Spiritual Gifts. Washington, DC: University Press of America, 1981.
Apostolic or Oneness Pentecostals
Clanton, Arthur J. United We Stand. Hazelwood, MO: The Pentecostal Publishing House, 1970.
Foster, Fred J. Their Story: Twentieth Century Pentecostals. Hazelwood, NJ: World Aflame Press, 1981.
Richardson, James C., Jr. With Water and Spirit. Martinsville, VA: The Author, n.d.
Symposium on Oneness Pentecostalism, 1988 and 1990. Hazelwood, MO: World Aflame Press, 1990.
Hollenweger, Walter J. Black Pentecostal Concept. Special issue of Concept 30 (1970).
MacRobert, Iain. The Black Roots and White Racism of Early Pentecostalism in the USA. Basingstoke, UK: Macmillan, 1988.
Nelson, Douglas J. For Such a Time as This: The Story of Bishop William J. Seymour and the Azusa Street Revival. Birmingham, England: University of Birmingham, Ph.D. Dissertation, 1981.
Tinney, James S. "William J. Seymour: Father of Modern Day Pentecostalism." In Black Apostles. Ed. Randall K. Burkett and Richard Newman. Boston: 1978.
Harrell, David Edwin, Jr. All Things Are Possible. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1975.
Melton, J. Gordon. A Reader's Guide to the Church's Ministry of Healing. Independence, MO: The Academy of Religion and Psychical Research, 1977.
Carden, Karen W., and Robert W. Pelton. The Persecuted Prophets. New York: A. S. Barns & Co., 1976.
Covington, Dennis. Salvation on Sand Mountain: Snake Handling and Redemption in Southern Appalachia. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1994.
Holliday, Robert K. Tests of Faith. Oak Hill, WV: The Fayette Tribune, 1968.
Kimbrough, David L. Taking Up Serpents: Snake Handlers of Eastern Kentucky. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina, 1995. 232 pp.
La Barre, Weston. They Shall Take Up Serpents. New York: Schocken, 1969.
Bradfield, Cecil David. Neo-Pentecostalism, A Sociological Assessment. Washington, DC: University Press of America, 1979.
A Charismatic Reader. New York: Evangelical Book Club, 1974.
Culpepper, Robert H. Evaluating the Charismatic Movement. Valley Forge, PA: Judson Press, 1977.
O'Connor, Edward D. The Pentecostal Movement in the Catholic Church. Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press, 1971.
Quebedeaux, Richard. The New Charismatics. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1976.
Shakarian, Demos. The Happiest People in the World. Old Tappen, NJ: Chosen Books, 1975.
Synan, Vinson. In the Latter Days. Ann Arbor, MI: Servant Books, 1984.
Non-Pentecostal Evaluations of Pentecostalism
Bauman, Louis S. The Tongues Movement. Winona Lake, IN: Brethren Missionary Herald Co., 1963.
Charismatic Countdown. Washington, DC: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1974.
Dollar, George W. The New Testament and New Pentecostalsim. Minneapolis: Central Baptist Theological Seminary, 1978.
Gustafson, Robert R. Authors of Confusion. Tampa, FL: Grace Publishing Co., 1971.
Kinghorn, Kenneth Cain. Gifts of the Spirit. Nashville, TN: Abingdon, 1976.
Noorbergen, Rene. Charisma of the Spirit. Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1973.
Robinson, Wayne A. I Once Spoke in Tongues. Old Tappen, NJ: Spire Books, 1975.
Stolee, H. J. Pentecostalism. Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1936.
The Latter Rain Movement
Hoekstra, Raymond G. The Latter Rain. Portland, OR: Wings of Healing, 1950.
Riss, Richard Michael. The Latter Rain Movement of 1948 and the Mid-Twentieth Century Evangelical Awakening. Vancouver, BC: Regent College M.A. Thesis, 1979.