Category Archives: Theology

The First General Council (Part 1)

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This Week in AG History – March 31, 2014

By William Molenaar
Originally published on AG-News, Mon, 31 Mar 2014 – 4:30 PM CST.  The article here contains editorial changes.

Delegates of the first General Council of the Assemblies of God met 100 years ago this week, April 2-12, 2014. They wanted to organize their efforts to more effectively carry out the mission of God, but there was tension regarding how this should be done. Were they going to start a church or a parachurch network?

The Council opened with three days of worship services, and the business sessions didn’t start until the sixth. A conference committee made up of representatives of each state in attendance was charged with receiving resolutions and setting an agenda for the coming business sessions.

While the conference committee met, a secret, self-appointed committee also met for fear that the conference committee would attempt to steer the General Council toward a high level of structural organization. This secret committee wrote its own resolution.

According to William Menzies, in his book Anointed to Serve, the conference committee caught wind of this secret committee and invited them to meet together for understanding. At first there was some apprehension, but since the secret committee’s resolution voiced the very values that the conference committee members were seeking, they approved of it. In the end, the same resolution was presented to the Council cosponsored by both committees. The Preamble and Resolution of Constitution approved by the 1914 General Council follows:

WHEREAS, God, our Heavenly Father, sent His only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, into the world, Who purchased and redeemed fallen man with His own Precious blood, and called out of the world and saved a people, of whom He built and established His Church (Assembly of God. Mat. 16:18), upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the Head and Chief Corner-stone (Eph. 2:20), and organized and baptized it with the Holy Spirit, with its government upon His shoulders (Isaiah 9:6-7),

WHEREAS, He gave the Holy Inspired Scriptures, (Both old and new covenants, Heb. 8:6-13) as the all-sufficient rule for faith and practice, (2 Tim. 3:16), as follows: ‘All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works,’ we therefore shall not add to nor take from it (Rev. 22:18); and

WHEREAS, He commanded that there should be no schism (division, sectarianism) in His Body, the GENERAL ASSEMBLY (Church) of the first born, which are written in heaven, Heb. 12:23; and

WHEREAS, We recognize ourselves as members of said GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF GOD, (which is God’s organism), and do not believe in identifying ourselves as, or establishing ourselves into, a sect, that is a human organization that legislates or forms laws and articles of faith and has jurisdiction over its members and creates unscriptural lines of fellowship and disfellowship and which separates itself from other members of the General Assembly (Church) of the first born, which is contrary to Christ’s prayer in St. John 17, and Paul’s teaching in Eph. 4:1-16, which we so heartily endorse:

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, FIRST, That we recognize ourselves as a GENERAL COUNCIL of Pentecostal (Spirit Baptized) saints from local Churches of God in Christ, Assemblies of God, and various Apostolic Faith Missions and Churches, and Full Gospel Pentecostal Missions, and Assemblies of like faith in the United States of America, Canada, and Foreign Lands, whose purpose is neither to legislate laws of government, nor usurp authority over said various Assemblies of God, nor deprive them of their Scriptural and local rights and privileges, but to recognize Scriptural methods and order for worship, unity, fellowship, work and business for God, and to disapprove of all unscriptural methods, doctrines and conduct, and approve of all Scriptural truth and conduct, endeavoring to keep the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, and to walk accordingly, as recorded in Eph. 4:17-32, and to consider the five purposes announced in the Convention Call in the February, 1914, issue of ‘WORD AND WITNESS;’

RESOLVED, SECOND, That we recognize all the above said Assemblies of various names, and when speaking of them refer to them by the general Scriptural name ‘Assemblies of God;’ and recommend that they all recognize themselves by the same name, that is, ‘Assembly of God’ and adopt it as soon as practicable for the purpose of being more Scriptural and also legal in transacting business, owning property, and executing missionary work in home and foreign lands, and for general convenience, unity and fellowship” (General Council Minutes, April 2-12, 1914, 4-5).

The General Council Minutes from April 2-12, 1914, records that the motion to accept the Preamble and Resolution of Constitution “was unanimously adopted amid great demonstration, the whole house rising to their feet and shouting praises to God. ‘Praise God from whom all blessing flow’ was sung. The power of God fell mightily upon the great Assembly. The Council broke up into a great praise meeting. The joy of God filled all hearts, and the multitude were moved to tears, and many wept for joy.”

Did the first General Council start a church or a parachurch missional network? It appears that they tried to do both. Their values were clear; they were committed to:

1) The trinitarian full gospel,

2) The authority of Scripture,

3) The unity of the Church, and

4) The non-legislative and non-sectarian basis for their organization to prevent it from dividing the Church, since they too were part of the universal Church.

With this in mind, they resolved to organize a council of Pentecostals that would gather together for greater missional effectiveness and accountability to biblical beliefs and practices, which would cultivate unity and maturity in the faith. They also approved of the five purposes presented in the convention call in the February 1914 issue of Word and Witness, and encouraged all local assemblies to take on the name “Assembly of God.”  The same Council went on to recognize four offices of the Church: Elder, Evangelist, Exhorter, and Deacon; appoint 12 Executive Presbyters; and authorize the formation of District Councils.

Read the entire text of the April 1914 issue of Word and Witness, which recounted what happened at the first General Council.

Also featured in this issue:

* “The Finished Work” by H. M. Savage.

* “What is Most Needed, Put Them to Praying” by Mrs. S. D. Mosaley.

* “Revival News in Home Land” by various authors.

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now

The Preamble and Resolution of Constitution approved by the 1914 General Council follows:

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. For current editions of the Evangelclick here.

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA

Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: Archives@ag.org

 

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Donald Gee on Eternal Security

This Week in AG History — March 3, 1945

By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published on AG-News, Mon, 03 Mar 2014 – 4:49 PM CST

The Assemblies of God took a stance against “extreme so-called Eternal Security teaching” in the 1918 General Council. This stance, it should be noted, was against “extreme eternal security” and not against “eternal security.” This position was largely a response to the teaching, popular in some circles, that a person who has expressed faith in Christ is guaranteed to go to heaven and cannot be lost. This issue was a practical, pastoral concern because some people used the teaching to justify sinful lifestyles.

British Assemblies of God theologian Donald Gee, in a 1945 Pentecostal Evangel article, addressed the biblical concerns with “extreme eternal security” teaching. He wrote that the “handiest definition” of the doctrine is “once saved, always saved.” Gee acknowledged that extremes existed on both sides of the debate and called for a biblical approach that acknowledged both the security of the believer and the possibility of apostasy.

Read the entire article by Donald Gee, “Extreme Eternal Security Teaching,” on pages 2 and 3 of the March 3, 1945, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Pentecost in Cairo and Jerusalem,” by Vera Swarztrauber

* “The White Rose,” by Anne Hazelton

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. For current editions of the Evangelclick here.

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA

Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free:  877.840.5200
Email: Archives@ag.org

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From Skeptic to Evangelist: Dr. Charles S. Price


This Week in AG History — February 25, 1933

By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published on AG-News, Mon, 24 Feb 2014 – 3:10 PM CST

Dr. Charles S. Price (1887-1947), pastor of the theologically liberal First Congregational Church in Lodi, California, ventured into a Pentecostal revival service in 1921. His purpose was to expose the evangelist, Aimee Semple McPherson, as a fraud. He was so confident that he would achieve this mission that he even placed an advertisement in the local newspaper, promoting the title of his next sermon — “Divine Healing Bubble Explodes.”

Some of Price’s church members had attended the revival services in San Jose and reported large numbers of conversions and miracles. He scoffed and replied, “I can explain it all. It is metaphysical, psychological, nothing tangible.” Price arrived at the revival with a pen and paper, ready to take notes. He had difficulty finding a seat, as the revival tent was packed with 6,000 people, but finally was seated in the section reserved for people with infirmities who desired healing.

He was shocked to discover that the revival was being sponsored by Dr. William Keeney Towner, pastor of the prestigious First Baptist Church in Oakland. Price and Towner had been friends when Price had served as a pastor in Oakland. Towner came over to Price and told him, “Charlie, this is real. This little woman is right. This is the real gospel. I have been baptized with the Holy Ghost. It’s genuine, I tell you. It is what you need.”

At the time, McPherson was an Assemblies of God evangelist. She later formed her own denomination, the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. While Price expected McPherson’s sermon to be rife with fanaticism, he was surprised to discover that her message was thoroughly biblical and compelling. Hundreds responded to an invitation to go to the altar and accept Christ. He returned that evening and, although still skeptical, was seated on the platform with the other ministers. He quickly became a believer, however, once he began witnessing numerous healings, including a blind person regaining sight and a lame person being able to walk.

When McPherson invited people to raise their hands if they wanted to accept Christ, Price raised his hand. A fellow minister leaned over and whispered, “Charlie, don’t you know she is calling for sinners?” Price responded, “I know who she is calling for.” He quickly went down to the altar, recommitted himself to Christ, and later would state that he left that tent “a new man.”

Price continued to go back to the nightly revival meetings. He felt conviction about his pride and ambition and lack of integrity. After four nights praying at the altar, Price was baptized in the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues. Price shared his experience with his congregation, and soon 500 of his church members also were baptized in the Holy Spirit. The once-liberal congregation became a center for revival in the community and began holding evangelistic street meetings in nearby towns. Price ultimately became one of the best-known Pentecostal evangelists of the twentieth century. He went from skeptic to believer because he witnessed the reality of God’s healing power.

Read an article by Charles S. Price, “Why I Believe in Divine Healing,” on pages 2, 3 and 7 of the February 25, 1933, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “As They Went,” by Lilian B. Yeomans

* “Healed of Tuberculosis,” by Clarence W. Hougland

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. For current editions of the Evangel, click here.

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA

Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free:  877.840.5200
Email: Archives@ag.org

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D. W. Kerr on the Bible

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This Week in AG History — December 16, 1916

By William Molenaar
Originally published on AG-News, Mon, 16 Dec 2013 – 5:21 PM CST

In 1916, the fourth General Council of the Assemblies of God approved the Statement of Fundamental Truths. Later that year, the Pentecostal Evangel published a series of articles by D. W. Kerr, who was the primary author of the statement. The first installment in the series, published in the December 16, 1916, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, pertained to the nature of the Bible itself. Kerr stated, “The Bible is the written word of God. Holy men, whom God had made ready, spake and wrote as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”

Pentecostals and other orthodox Christians believe that the Bible is the Word of God — the infallible and authoritative rule for faith and conduct. Authentic Pentecostal spirituality is guided by biblical teaching. There was a common saying amongst Pentecostals: “If we have the Word without the Spirit, we dry up. If we have the Spirit without the Word, we blow up. If we have both the Word and the Spirit, we grow up.”

When faced with the Oneness controversy (which denied Trinitarian understanding of the godhead), the Assemblies of God adopted the Statement of Fundamental Truths, which affirmed the doctrine of the Trinity as being biblically grounded.

Nevertheless, Kerr admitted, “The Bible has in it many things very plain and simple and easy to understand. But there are some things of which the written word of God speaks, which are, and always will be too deep and high for us to understand.”

Kerr continued, “The Bible does not tell us how there can be a Father, a Son, and a Holy Ghost, who always was, is now and ever shall be, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. The Bible tells us that these things are facts without beginning and without end; but it does not tell us how these facts can be.”

Also featured in this issue:

* ” ‘I Fell in Love with the Nazarene.’ The Birth of a Wonderful Sacred Song,” by Sarah Haggard Payne.

* “The Pearl Divers. A Parable of Missionary Work,” by Alice E. Luce.

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. For current editions of the Evangelclick here.

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center 1445 North Boonville Avenue Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA

Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400 Toll Free:  877.840.5200 Email: Archives@ag.org

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1916 General Council

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This Week in AG History — October 21, 1916

By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published on AG-News, Mon, 21 Oct 2013 – 3:50 PM CST

The year was 1916. The Assemblies of God faced deep doctrinal divisions that threatened to tear apart the young fellowship. A significant minority of Assemblies of God ministers had identified with the emerging Oneness movement, which denied the doctrine of the Trinity. In the face of this turmoil, the fourth general council of the Assemblies of God, which met in St. Louis in October 1916, voted to adopt its Statement of Fundamental Truths.

Stanley H. Frodsham’s observations of the meeting were published in the October 21, 1916, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel. Frodsham (1882-1969), a young British Pentecostal pastor and writer, had a unique perspective. He was not just an observer, those in attendance elected him to serve as general secretary of the Assemblies of God.

Frodsham described how early Pentecostals initially thought they were “being led by our Joshua, out from the wilderness, over the Jordan, into the promised land.” This triumphalistic view was soon tempered by divisions within the movement. Frodsham quoted Scripture to describe the disunity: “every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). He lamented, “This new spirit has crept in and brought shipwreck and havoc in many directions.” Frodsham described at length how General Council participants discussed their doctrinal differences and, ultimately, voted to “set forth a clear statement of the things most surely believed among us.” The Statement of Fundamental Truths has provided a basis of fellowship for the Assemblies of God for 97 years.

But the adoption of the Statement of Fundamental Truths was not the most important accomplishment at the 1916 general council, according to Frodsham. While the decision to adopt the Statement was important, he believed that the meeting’s missionary spirit was its best and most memorable feature. He explained, “The mightiest factor in this great Pentecostal Revival has been the wonderful missionary spirit that has characterized it from the first.” Frodsham stated that the “paramount needs of the hour” were “A large spiritual horizon, a revelation of the need of souls, a passionate desire to see them saved, [and] intense prayer for multitudes to be pressed into the Kingdom.” This missionary spirit continues to animate the Assemblies of God to this day.

Read the article, “Notes from an Eyewitness at the General Council,” by Stanley H. Frodsham, on pages 4 and 5 of the October 21, 1916, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:
* “The Vision of the Lord,” by Arch P. Collins
* “Thirsting after God,” by Andrew Urshan
And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. For current editions of the Evangelclick here.

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA

Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free:  877.840.5200
Email: Archives@ag.org

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J. Philip Hogan on Agnosticism

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“The reason that this new generation is full of agnosticism and has revolted against the structured church is because they have never seen the real Church; they know nothing about its present or future ministry and its real greatness.”
–J. Philip Hogan, Executive Director, Assemblies of God Division of Foreign Missions (1959-1989)

Source: Pentecostal Evangel, October 12, 1969

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The Fundamentalist-Modernist Controversy

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This Week in AG History — September 17, 1927

By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published on AG-News, Mon, 16 Sep 2013 – 4:24 PM CST

Stanley H. Frodsham, in a September 17, 1927, Pentecostal Evangel article, weighed in on the Fundamentalist-Modernist Controversy that was dividing mainline Protestant churches in the 1920s and 1930s.

The Fundamentalist-Modernist Controversy referred to the debate sparked by theological liberals who sought to undermine traditional views on doctrine, ethics, and the authority of Scripture. Frodsham viewed this debate as evidence of a great “falling away” from the Christian faith.

Frodsham quoted extensively from an article by a liberal Protestant minister who praised efforts by theologians to reject “antiquated hokus-pokus” and “hallowed tradition” in their search for “truth and freedom.” The liberal minister approvingly noted that theologians were working to supplant “superstitious reverence” for the Bible.

What resulted from this spread of theological liberalism? The liberal minister admitted that these beliefs were responsible for the decline of mainline churches. He wrote, “Protestantism as an organized religious force shows signs of rapid disintegration.”

Frodsham warned that Pentecostal churches could easily become “contaminated with germs of faithlessness.” He wrote, “Church history gives us the story of declension after declension…We need to pray that we do not become lukewarm.” Frodsham admonished Pentecostals to avoid the mistakes of the mainline churches by continuing to offer “pure religion” and “spiritual food.”

Pentecostals, according to Frodsham, are “a people who stand for the absolute verbal inspiration of the Bible, and who accept that Book as the all-sufficient rule for faith and practice. When ungodly critics are denying all the miracles recorded in His Word, God is once more confirming His Word with signs following as at the beginning, witnessing to the truth of the Scriptures with both signs and wonders, and divers miracles and gifts of the Holy Ghost.”

Most mainline Protestant denominations experienced divisions in the 1920s and 1930s over the Fundamentalist-Modernist Controversy. Many conservatives who left mainline denominations helped to form what became the fundamentalist and evangelical movements. In the early 1940s, the Assemblies of God solidified its relationship with the broader evangelical movement and became a founding member of the National Association of Evangelicals.

Read the article by Stanley H. Frodsham, “From the Pentecostal Viewpoint,” on pages 2 and 3 of the September 17, 1927, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Soul Winning Methods” by Charles E. Robinson

* “What Hinders Your Healing?” by Carrie Judd Montgomery

And many more!

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. For current editions of the Evangelclick here.

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA

Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free:  877.840.5200
Email: Archives@ag.org

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What is the Ideal Church?

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This Week in AG History — September 9, 1933

By William Molenaar
Originally published on AG-News, Mon, 09 Sep 2013 – 3:12 PM CST

What does the ideal church service look like? What role do spiritual gifts play in your church?

Donald Gee, pastor, educator, ecumenist, and twice elected Chairman of the British Assemblies of God, was known as the “Apostle of Balance.” He authored the classic text on spiritual gifts, Concerning the Spiritual Gifts, which was published in 1928.

In the September 9, 1933, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, Gee described what the ideal church service would look like. Like most early Pentecostals, he believed in the restoration of New Testament practice, concerning conducting Christian meetings. According to Gee, “The Assemblies of God believe that all worship and ministry should be based primarily upon the exercise of the varied gifts of the Spirit (1 Cor. 12:8-10) placed within the Church.” However, Gee admitted that this ideal is “difficult to attain to in perfection.”

Gee decried two types of Pentecostal churches. The first kind of church Gee takes aim at is the church in which “the revival spirit wanes.” He points out that in these churches “there is an immediate temptation to still produce an apparent abundance of ‘life’ in the meetings by all sorts of artificial and carnal methods; such as novel programs, special music, spectacular sermons, etc. Some of these things may not be wrong under circumstances, and as the handmaid of the truly spiritual; but when they become the substitute for the true life and liberty of the operations of the Spirit of God, and when they even hinder and choke the manifestation of the Spirit — then the ideal is lost indeed.”

Gee says “An alternative that is almost worse” is a church which attempts to “maintain all the outward forms of spiritual liberty in worship, and exercise of spiritual gifts in ministry, without the anointing of the Spirit.” Here, the local church may have an open atmosphere and some semblance of Pentecost, but it merely wastes of time “with long dry prayers, stale testimonies, and unprofitable and undigested preaching.”

In fact, Gee states, “Even the heavily programed meeting is probably preferable to the deadness of an assembly that boasts an outward form of liberty in its outward form of services, but lacks the power and life of the Spirit at its heart.”

In contrast, Gee proclaims that “The achievement of the Assemblies of God ideal in worship and ministry absolutely demands a continuance of genuine Pentecostal power resting upon everything and everybody in the assembly. This is only maintained by ceaseless prayer and watchfulness, and full consecration to walk in the way of the Cross.”

Read the article by Donald Gee, “Our ‘Ideal’ in the Conduct of Meetings,” on page 2 of the September 9, 1933, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Behold He Cometh!” by E. S. Williams

* “Then and Now,” by G. Herbert Schmidt

And many more

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. For current editions of the Evangel, click here.

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA

Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free:  877.840.5200
Email: Archives@ag.org

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Pentecostal Organization?

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This Week in AG History – August 12, 1951

By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published on AG-News, Mon, 12 Aug 2013 – 3:48 PM CST

“Why a General Council? Is there any real need for some form of organization in a movement inspired by the Holy Ghost?” J. Roswell Flower posed this question in the August 12, 1951, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Flower, himself an early Pentecostal pioneer and one of the founders of the Assemblies of God, was well-qualified to address this question. He noted that many early Pentecostals rejected “organization of any kind.” Flower recalled one pioneer who, when arguing against the creation of church structures, asserted that “All we need to do is walk in the Spirit.”

Flower noted that, during this early phase of Pentecostal history from 1907 to 1914, “men and women sold out for God, left their occupations, and devoted themselves to the propagation of the Full Gospel message.” However, disagreements over doctrine and a lack of accountability on morals and finances created challenges within the young movement.

The Assemblies of God was formed in 1914 by ministers who desired accountability on doctrine and ethics and who also recognized the value of cooperation in areas such as publishing, ministerial education, and missions.

According to Flower, whether Pentecostals should organize is an “old question” that has arisen numerous times. However, he believed that history had vindicated the value of organization and pointed to the success of Assemblies of God missions efforts around the world. He wrote:

“Through the co-operation of united churches, the message of the latter rain has been spread to the ends of the earth. The missionary cause has been promoted until now there are literally hundreds of thousands of saved and Holy Ghost baptized believers with some in almost every country on earth. It is too late to accept the adage that organization is of the devil when we have a concrete example of what a simple, co-operative organization can do and has done.”

Read the entire article by J. Roswell Flower, “Why a General Council?” on pages 6, 7, and 14 of the August 12, 1951, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “You Have One Problem – Solve It!” by U. S. Grant

* “Wait, Examine the Facts,” by Stanley M. Horton

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now:

“Pentecostal Evangel” archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. For current editions of the Evangelclick here.

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA

Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free:  877.840.5200
Email: Archives@ag.org

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Are We Living in a Transition Period?


Image: Myer Pearlman

This Week in AG History — July 30, 1932

By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published on AG-News, Mon, 29 Jul 2013 – 4:21 PM CST

The year was 1932. The world’s economic and political systems were groaning under the weight of an economic depression. Western culture was shifting as modern education and urbanization challenged traditional notions about family and morality. The Assemblies of God’s view of the end times spoke directly to this cultural chaos.

The Assemblies of God, like many other evangelical groups, embraced a premillennial eschatology that predicted a period of rapid social decay, followed by Christ’s return. They believed that much of the American church had abandoned the authority of Scripture. In their view, this would lead to the collapse of families, morality, and the broader culture. Historians have described premillennialists as pessimistic. One might also describe their views as realism.

Myer Pearlman, a prominent Assemblies of God systematic theologian, described these rapid societal changes in a 1932 Pentecostal Evangel article titled “At the Dividing Point of Two Ages.” Pearlman, himself a Jewish believer in Christ, drew heavily upon Jewish scholarship in his voluminous writings. In his article, Pearlman quoted Dr. Judah L. Magnes, the chancellor of Hebrew University in Palestine: “There was never a time when civilization was so near ending as the present…It is indeed a momentous time, a time of revolution, comparable perhaps to that period of late Judaism and early Christianity, when men were awaiting the end, and yet were planning new life and new doctrine.”

Pearlman summed up the cultural moment with this phrase: “we are living in a transition period.”

Magnes identified a parallel between the birth of the church two thousand years ago and contemporary world events. In his article, Pearlman built upon this parallel, identifying characteristics of the culture when the church was birthed and comparing these characteristics to the current era.

Pearlman identified seven general characteristics of the culture 2,000 years ago:

1)  It was an age in which popular culture reigned. Superficial forms of religion, art, and philosophy were widely spread among the people.

2)  It was a highly civilized and modern age. International travel and commerce were common, women became prominent in various spheres of life, and there was proliferation of cultural amusements and comforts.

3)  It was an educated age. People were literate, teaching was an honorable profession, and universities and libraries flourished.

4)  It was a cosmopolitan age. The Roman Empire provided a common language and a system of roads that allowed exchange goods and ideas.

5)  It was an age of religious universalism. Religious and political leaders tried to unite religions and rejected truth claims viewed as divisive.

6)  It was an age that, just before its crisis point, expected a king to emerge who would save and rule the world.

7)  It was an age that witnessed the first earthly coming of Christ.

Christ came into a world, Pearlman noted, that exhibited very similar characteristics to the world that existed in the twentieth century. He wrote, “As the Redeemer appeared at the dividing point of the ages of Law and of Grace, so He will appear at the dividing point of the ages of Grace and the Millennium.” How should the church, perched on the edge of the dividing line between the two ages, respond to this eschatological hope? Pearlman encouraged believers to “lift up their head sin joyous expectancy when these things come to pass, and to watch to keep their lamps lighted and filled with oil, and faithfully to use their talents until he comes.”

Read the entire article, “At the Dividing Point of Two Ages,” on pages 8, 9, and 11 of the July 30, 1932, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Elijah, an Example,” by Ernest S. Williams

* “The Kingdom of the Son of Man,” by James S. Hutsell

* “Why Put Them Out?” by Mrs. H. F. Foster

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now:

“Pentecostal Evangel” archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. For current editions of the Evangelclick here.

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
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Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
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