Wesley Steelberg’s Cautionary Note on Citizenship and Faith: A Pentecostal Voice from 1941

steelbergThis Week in AG History — July 4, 1942

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 4 July 2018

It was July of 1941, months before the Japanese attack upon Pearl Harbor and the entrance of the United States into the Second World War. Conflict was raging across Europe and Asia, and competing messages of nationalism flooded the airwaves and the consciousness of Americans.

How should Assemblies of God young people in the United States view their nation in relation to both their faith and other countries?

National Youth Director Wesley Steelberg, speaking at the National Young People’s Conference on July 4, 1941, addressed this pressing issue. In a message titled “The Stars and Stripes of Calvary,” Steelberg encouraged young people to place their primary allegiance in Christ. He said, “First of all we belong to the Lord. We are citizens of heaven.”

Should Christians pledge allegiance to their nation and its symbols? According to Steelberg, adoption of national symbols is “a custom probably almost as old as humanity.” He acknowledged that Americans are proud of their flag: “We salute it, and we pledge allegiance to it. We raise it as an ensign of liberty, and we rejoice in what it represents.” In the face of the march of totalitarianism, Steelberg stated, “we hold more precious and valuable our liberty and freedom.”

However, he warned, “we have a responsibility to be more than Americans. We are called to be Christian Americans.” As Christian Americans, Steelberg encouraged every Assemblies of God young person to metaphorically wave his or her own flag, reflecting allegiance to the heavenly king. According to Steelberg, every Christian should declare, “Christ is my standard, my banner of love!”

Read Wesley Steelberg’s sermon, “The Stars and Stripes of Calvary,” which was published on pages 1, 4 and 5 in the July 4, 1942, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “A Shelter in Tribulation Days,” by Stanley H. Frodsham

• “Revival in Norway,” by Mrs. A. R. Gesswein

• “How to Help Your Pastor,” by Theodore Cuyler

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

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
Website: www.iFPHC.org

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