By Darrin J. Rodgers
In January 1908 — 110 years ago — the newspaper published by the Azusa Street Mission included the following encouragement to Christians to fully surrender their lives to Christ:
“This Gospel means a crucified life. We must take up our cross daily and follow Christ. The cause of so many losing the anointing of the Spirit is that they neglect to mortify and crucify self. He wants our eyes, our ears, and all our members kept holy unto Him, that we might live after the Spirit and not after the flesh. He is looking for a people today that will die out to the flesh. How can our eyes revel in the things of the world and our ears listen to worldly music if they are consecrated to the Master’s use. People say this is fanaticism, but it is the teaching of the precious word of God. We must measure up to it. He wants us to have our ears closed to the world and open to heaven.”
–The Apostolic Faith (Azusa Street), January 1908, p. 3
The Azusa Street Mission was home to the interracial Azusa Street Revival (1906-1909) in Los Angeles, a focal point of the emerging Pentecostal movement.
The Azusa Street Revival has become iconic, symbolizing Pentecostal identity. Its emphasis on the restoration of biblical spiritual gifts certainly played a significant role in the early movement. Furthermore, the revival’s egalitarian character – men and women from varied racial and social backgrounds were both leaders and participants – is very appealing to our own twenty-first century egalitarian assumptions.
However, there is a danger that modern readers will boil down historic Pentecostal identity to consist merely of spiritual gifts and egalitarianism, while failing to understand the spirituality and worldview of early Pentecostals from which they arose.
That is why the short article above is important. It illustrates the early Pentecostal worldview, which, at its core, encouraged believers to seek full consecration to Christ and His mission.
The consecrated life, as illustrated in the Azusa Street Revival, was lived out through holy living and spiritual disciplines. Early Pentecostals committed themselves to prayer, fasting, and Bible study. They demonstrated a gritty determination to share Christ, no matter the cost. Importantly, they avoided worldly entanglements that would dilute their testimony, insisting that their heavenly citizenship should far outweigh any earthly allegiances.
With each year, we become further removed from the generation that birthed the prayer movement that became Pentecostalism. Listening to the voices of early Pentecostals provides insight into the spirituality that sparked the Pentecostal movement. Perhaps these voices will inspire future generations to likewise seek to be fully consecrated to Christ and His mission.
Read the 1908 article in the original Apostolic Faith newspaper here.
Read about the lost sermons that set the stage for the Azusa Street Revival, which were recently discovered and republished.
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
3 responses to ““This Gospel Means a Crucified Life”: A Timely Message from Azusa Street from 110 Years Ago”
Is the fifth paragraph attempting to minimize egalitarianism in favor of worldview? Why not write about how egalitarianism, spiritual gifts, worldview, and spirituality are all mutually informative? Particularly in an article that’s highlighting Seymour, whose ministry was radically egalitarian!
Thank you for your comment. I do not minimize egalitarianism; rather, I make the point that egalitarianism, within the early Pentecostal context, arose from a specific worldview that emphasized full consecration to Christ and His mission. In my article, “A Call to Full Consecration,” published in the 2010 edition of AG Heritage magazine, I flesh out this argument. Read it here: http://ifphc.org/pdf//Heritage/2010.pdf
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