This Week in AG History —October 24, 1931
By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 25 October 2018
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 with the evidence of speaking 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 20th century. While Price did not join a denomination, he regularly preached at Assemblies of God churches and district and national events. Price went from skeptic to believer because he witnessed the reality of God’s healing power.
Dr. Charles S. Price preached a message, “Meet for the Master’s Use,” at the 1931 General Council of the Assemblies of God. Read his sermon on pages 2, 3, and 16 of the Oct. 24, 1931, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.
Also featured in this issue:
• “Inspiration and Revelation,” by E. S. Williams
• “How We Built a Church,” by Martha E. Thorkildson
And many more!
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.
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