Category Archives: Ethics

Christians have Obligation to Oppose Statism, According to 1933 Assemblies of God Publication

Cartoon published in the Pentecostal Evangel, June 29, 1940.

Cartoon published in the Pentecostal Evangel, June 29, 1940.

By Darrin J. Rodgers

Christians have an obligation to oppose statism. An article in the May 1933 issue of the Latter Rain Evangel, a magazine published by the Stone Church (a prominent Assemblies of God congregation in Chicago), warned against fascism. The article defined fascism as “a State organization so absolute, [where] every interest is subordinated to the overriding authority of the organized State.”

This fascism, or statism, left little room for freedom of conscience. Under fascism the dictates of the State, according to the article, “overrides all considerations of religion, prejudice and inherited doctrine.” The State defined right and wrong: “All morality, as all religion, is thus lodged in purely civic virtues.”

The article noted that the Fascist and Nazi parties arose in a mere eight years in Italy and Germany due to economic distress. How did this happen? People who called themselves Christians accepted an “idolatrous nationalism” in which faith in human progress replaced the idea that truth resided in scripture and natural law.

What should Christians do when the state forces them to choose between loyalty to Christ or country? The article answered this query forthrightly: “Should such a dilemma arise, we follow Christ.”

Read the article on the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center website: “State Religions,” Latter Rain Evangel, May 1933, pp. 17-18.


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

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2007 Interview with Stanley Horton

In the featured audio below, Dr. Martin Mittelstadt and Matthew Paugh interview Stanley M. Horton (Parts 1 and 2) in, Springfield, Missouri, 2007

Part 1 (25:37):

Part 2 (19:21):

See also:
Martin William Mittelstadt and Matthew Paugh, “The Social Conscience of Stanley HortonAssemblies of God Heritage (2009): 15-19.

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The Story Behind the Foot Washing at the 1994 “Memphis Miracle”

Click here to listen to Donald Evans tell the story behind the foot washing at the Memphis Miracle

Certain segments within early Pentecostalism – most prominently the Azusa Street Revival (1906-1909) in Los Angeles, California – promoted a vision of “brotherly love” across the racial divides. However, this interracial vision was quickly eclipsed as Pentecostals set out to organize churches and did so largely along cultural and racial lines. When the Pentecostal Fellowship of North America – an umbrella organization for Pentecostal denominations – was formed in 1948, its founding members were all mostly-white denominations.

Recognizing the need to heal the racial divisions within Pentecostalism, church leaders came together in Memphis on October 18, 1994 and dissolved the Pentecostal Fellowship of North America. The next day the Pentecostal and Charismatic Churches of North America (PCCNA) was formed by both white and black denominations. The meetings surrounding this monumental act of racial reconciliation came to a climax when, on October 18, a white Assemblies of God pastor, Donald Evans, approached the platform. He tearfully explained that he felt God’s leading to wash the feet of Church of God in Christ Bishop Ithiel Clemmons, while begging forgiveness for the sins of the whites against their black brothers and sisters. A wave of weeping swept over the auditorium. Participants sensed that this was the final seal of the Holy Spirit’s approval from the heart of God over the proceedings. This event, which became known as the “Memphis Miracle,” is a significant milestone in the annals of Pentecostal history. Continue reading

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Pentecostal Origins of Earth Day

John McConnell, Jr., ca.1990

The 2010 edition of Assemblies of God Heritage magazine includes an article that will raise eyebrows — the story of John McConnell, Jr., the Pentecostal founder of Earth Day. McConnell’s parents were founding members of the Assemblies of God, and his grandfather identified with the Pentecostal movement at the Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles in 1906.

Forty years ago, McConnell established the first governmentally-recognized Earth Day on March 21, 1970. The United Nations adopted the holiday the following year and has been celebrating Earth Day on the March equinox since 1971.

This original Earth Day was quickly eclipsed in prominence, however, by a second Earth Day (celebrated on April 22). The founder of the April observance, U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson, took the name Earth Day for his Environmental Teach-In, scheduled to be held on the 100th anniversary of communist leader Vladimir Lenin’s birthday.

According to McConnell, a representative of Nelson approached him at a United Nations conference and asked McConnell to switch the original Earth Day to April 22. McConnell refused, because he believed the celebration should be on nature’s event. Furthermore, McConnell intended Earth Day to be a non-partisan event that would unite people from various backgrounds and foster peace. In contrast, Nelson’s purpose was a political protest against pollution – he viewed Earth Day as a means to force the environment on the national agenda by mass demonstration.

McConnell states that Nelson “stole” the name Earth Day and used it for his own personal political agenda. McConnell contends that the April 22 observance is too politicized, which alienates many people, including Christians and conservatives.  He maintains that the day should be celebrated on the March equinox. Significantly, he views Earth Day as an opportunity for Christians “to show the power of prayer, the validity of their charity and their practical concern for Earth’s life and people.” McConnell’s call is not for earth worship, but for responsible stewardship (which he prefers to call trusteeship) of the earth.

McConnell also spearheaded two nationally-recognized peace movements: the Star of Hope (1957) and the Minute for Peace (1963-present). He also served as a leader in Meals for Millions (1961-1963), an organization that fed starving people.

McConnell credits his Pentecostal background for his concern for peace, justice and care of earth. He wrote, “If there had been no Christian experience in my life there would be no Earth Day – or at least I would not have initiated it.”

In a 2009 interview, McConnell stated, “I definitely still believe what my father taught and preached.” His father, J. S. McConnell, was an Assemblies of God pastor and evangelist from 1914 to 1928. According to McConnell, his father emphasized the teachings of Jesus above all else.

McConnell’s story offers an intriguing example to Pentecostals from their own history of how one can love Jesus and care for creation; these two attitudes are not mutually exclusive.

To read the entire article about John McConnell in the 2010 edition of Assemblies of God Heritage, click here.

To watch an interview of McConnell discussing his Pentecostal background, click here.

Posted by Darrin J. Rodgers


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A House No Longer Divided

Dr. Stanley Horton extemporaneously addressing participants at A House No Longer Divided, Timmons Temple COGIC, Monday, April 13. Horton was explaining that his father was pastor of a multiracial church in Arroyo Seco, Los Angeles, in 1926-1927. Members – half were black, half were white – would eat dinner together after every Sunday service. (Photo courtesy of Ken Horn)

Dr. Stanley Horton extemporaneously addressing participants at A House No Longer Divided, Timmons Temple COGIC, Monday, April 13. Horton was explaining that his father was pastor of a multiracial church in Arroyo Seco, Los Angeles, in 1926-1927. Members – half were black, half were white – would eat dinner together after every Sunday service. (Photo courtesy of Ken Horn)

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center Co-sponsors Demonstration of Unity, Marking Unlikely Dual Anniversary of Springfield Lynching and Azusa Street Revival

On April 13-15, 2009, people from various ethnic, social, and denominational backgrounds gathered in Springfield, Missouri, to celebrate their unity in Christ. This demonstration of unity, dubbed “A House No Longer Divided,” was sparked by the unlikely dual anniversary of two events — the horrific Springfield Lynchings and the beginning of the multiethnic Azusa Street Revival, which has become a worldwide symbol for racial reconciliation. The meetings were held each evening from 7-9 pm at Timmons Temple Church of God in Christ (April 13-14) and at the William J. Seymour Chapel at the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary (April 15).

On April 14, 1906, three African-American men were lynched by a mob on the Springfield town square. The lynching of Horace Duncan, Fred Coker and Will Allen led to the flight of possibly hundreds of blacks to less hostile areas. The ethnic makeup of the community, to this day, reflects that horrific event. The African-American community in Springfield remembers the event much like Jews remember the Holocaust.

That same day, on April 14, 1906, William J. Seymour began holding services at the run-down mission at 312 Azusa Street in Los Angeles. The interracial Azusa Street revival, which emerged from meetings in a home on Bonnie Brae Street, became a focal point for the emerging Pentecostal movement. Azusa participant Frank Bartleman famously exulted that “the color line was washed away in the blood.” A little more than one year later, Rachel Sizelove, a Free Methodist-turned-Pentecostal evangelist, brought the movement to Springfield from Azusa Street and started what became Central Assembly of God.

“A House No Longer Divided” featured special speakers, preaching, and music. Timmons Temple Pastor T.J. Appleby emceed the services, and speakers included both seasoned and young ministers. Organist Beverly Daniels and the Timmons Temple gospel choir led participants in worship each evening. Half of each evening was devoted to gospel music, which was interspersed between speakers (each was given either 10 or 30 minutes to speak).

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Review: PAON View of Divorce and Remarriage

Divorce Decree

The Pentecostal Assemblies of Newfoundland View of Divorce and Remarriage, by Rick Walston and Clarence Buckle. St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada: Good Tidings Press, 2006.

Rick Walston and Clarence Buckle have collaborated to present a view of divorce and remarriage that will serve as a guiding document for the Pentecostal Assemblies of Newfoundland. It is part of a teaching resource for churches. Dr. Walston is president of Columbia Evangelical Seminary, a distance-learning school. Pastor Clarence Buckle is the General Secretary of the PAON.

The book is a tightly written document consisting of eight chapters. The arguments are concise and to the point. The first two chapters introduce and define the issues of marriage and divorce. Chapters three and four summarize the material on divorce from the writings of Paul and the Gospels. Chapters five and six deal with the restrictions and exceptions as related to the remarriage issue. Chapter seven is a discussion of how the matter of divorce and remarriage impacts ministry and membership in the denomination’s assemblies.

The authors are seeking to help people steer a course between the conflicting views on marriage and divorce prevalent in our culture and to determine the biblical principles and scriptural basis for effective pastoral care as it relates to this matter. They have accomplished their task admirably. I expect the book to be well received.

Reviewed by Dr. Garry E. Milley, Lead Pastor, Park Avenue Pentecostal Church, Mount Pearl, Newfoundland, Canada

Paperback, 84 pages. $6.99 retail, plus tax and postage. Order from: Religious Book & Bible House, 57 Thorburn Road, P.O. Box 8895, Station “A,” St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada A1B 3T2 (email:, or Religious Book & Bible House, 10 Hardy Avenue, P.O. Box 558, Grand Falls-Windsor, Newfoundland, Canada A2A 2J9 (email:

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Review: Elements of a Christian Worldview

Elements of a Christian Worldview

Elements of a Christian Worldview, edited by Michael D. Palmer and Stanley M. Horton. Springfield, MO: Logion Press, 1998.

Christianity is about holistic transformation of both individuals and communities. This involves a radical reordering of both our thoughts and our lives. In Elements of a Christian Worldview, a number of Christian scholars provoke their readers to engage this process of transformation by exploring the integration of the Christian faith with topics such as worldviews, the role of the Bible, historical Christianity, natural science, human nature, work, leisure, ethics, music, literature, entertainment, and politics. Russell Spittler, Provost and Professor of New Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary, in the forward writes, “These wise words will help reflective followers of Jesus know what to avoid in the world, what to shun. But they will aid also in the expansion of appreciation for all that is good in human culture, the collected reflections of God’s highest creatures who, however tarnished and alone among all living beings, embody the image of God.” Continue reading

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