Category Archives: Spirituality

The Lost Message of Full Consecration: Rediscovering the Early Pentecostal Worldview

P2351 prayer

Prayer service, 1953 annual convention of the Japan Assemblies of God

By Darrin J. Rodgers

I sometimes wonder whether God is much interested in big movements. I know He is intensely interested in individual souls who are wholly consecrated to Him, and wholly devoted to His cause. [1]
— Stanley Frodsham, editor of the Pentecostal Evangel

Early Pentecostal literature is overflowing with calls to full consecration — the insistence that Christians fully devote themselves to Christ and His mission. This call to full consecration — an essential part of the worldview of early Pentecostals — is now a faint echo in some quarters of the movement. Early Pentecostals offered profound insights concerning the need for a deeper spiritual life. A rediscovery of these insights — which focus on discipleship and mission — could reinvigorate the church by challenging believers to question the Western church’s accommodation of the materialism and selfishness of the surrounding culture.

Full Consecration

What is “full consecration?” The term may be unfamiliar to many readers. Stanley Horton noted, in a 1980 Pentecostal Evangel article, “In the early days of this Pentecostal movement we heard a great deal about consecration.” Horton went on to explain that the Hebrew word, kadash, which means consecration, was later replaced in popular piety by similar words, such as dedication and commitment. He noted that kadash signified a “separation to the service of God,” calling for not merely a partial dedication, but for “a total consecration and a life-style different from the [surrounding] world.”[2]

Pentecostalism emerged about 100 years ago among radical Holiness and evangelical Christians who aimed for full consecration. They were very uncomfortable with the gap between Scripture and what they saw in their own lives; between ought-ness and is-ness. They wanted to practice an authentic spirituality; a genuine Christianity, not just in confession, but in practice. Yearning for a deeper life in Christ, they were spiritually hungry and desired to be more committed Christ-followers. These ardent seekers saw in Scripture that Spirit baptism provided empowerment to live above normal human existence; this experience with God brought believers in closer communion with God and empowered them for witness.

According to Pentecostal theologian Jackie Johns, early Pentecostals embraced a worldview that, at its heart, is a “transforming experience with God.”[3] According to this understanding, the experience of being filled with the Holy Spirit enables believers to consecrate themselves to God.

Results of the Consecrated Life

Various themes arose from this worldview that emphasized full consecration:

  • Mission — Pentecostals have demonstrated a gritty determination to share Christ, in word and deed, no matter the cost. They had a vision to turn the world upside down, one person at a time. Delegates to the second general council of the Assemblies of God, held in November 1914, committed themselves to “the greatest evangelism that the world has ever seen.”[4]
  • Priesthood of all believers — Pentecostals have put into practice a radical application of this Protestant ideal, affirming that God can call anybody into the ministry — regardless of race, gender, educational or social status, age, handicap, and so on.
  • Spiritual disciplines — Believers prayed, read their Bibles, fasted, avoided worldly entanglements that would dilute their testimony, and called for a lifestyle of self-denial for the sake of lifting Christ up to the world.
  • Expectation of the miraculous — Believers practiced biblical spiritual gifts, experienced miracles, and viewed life’s struggles as spiritual warfare.
  • Racial reconciliation — Early Pentecostals at Azusa Street and elsewhere, realizing that full devotion to Christ precluded racial favoritism, committed themselves to overcoming the sin of racism.
  • A conviction that heavenly citizenship should far outweigh earthly citizenship — Most early Pentecostals critiqued extreme nationalism and war.

These themes (the above list is not exhaustive) all made sense within the worldview that called for full devotion to Jesus and no compromise with evil or distractions from the Christian’s highest calling. Pentecostals, subject to human frailty and the confusion of surrounding cultures, have not always lived up to these ideals. Still, Pentecostal identity should not be defined by the shortcomings of individual members, but by the vision for authentic Christianity that captures the imagination of its adherents.

The concept of full consecration is the underlying quality that gave birth within early Pentecostalism to the above themes, including speaking in tongues. Early Pentecostals viewed tongues-speech as the evidence, but not the purpose, of Spirit baptism. The purpose of this experience with God was full consecration — to draw believers closer to God and to empower them to be witnesses. The Pentecostal experience enabled believers to live with purity and power.

Early Pentecostals recognized that the consecrated life came at great cost, but yielded great spiritual riches. Daniel W. Kerr, the primary author of the AG’s Statement of Fundamental Truths, warned against “the fading glory” on some Christians’ faces, and instead called for a “deeper conversion” that is marked by desire for holiness.[5] Quoting Hebrews 12:14, Kerr stated that holiness, “without which no man shall see the Lord,” is both a “product of grace” and “a life of self-denying and suffering.”[6] Early Pentecostals insisted that the consecrated life is not inward-focused. Kerr averred that holiness “is a life of love for others, manifested in words and work.”[7]

Early Pentecostals were ahead of their time. It should be noted that they were not buying into modern political or social ideologies; their commitments arose from their devotional life. Some of their commitments — such as women in ministry, racial reconciliation, or pacifism — brought persecution 100 years ago, but the culture has shifted so that these stands are now considered respectable by many. This newfound respectability presents a challenge — it is possible to look like a Pentecostal by embracing historic Pentecostal themes that are now considered “cool,” without also seeking to be fully consecrated.

Pentecostalism without Consecration?

Living out and conveying authentic Christian spirituality from one generation to the next has often proven a difficult task. Carl Brumback, in his 1961 history of the Assemblies of God, expressed concern over the decline of the spiritual life within the Pentecostal movement. He wrote:

It must be admitted that there is a general lessening of fervor and discipline in the Assemblies of God in America. This frank admission is not a wholly new sentiment, for down through the years in the pages of the Pentecostal Evangel and other periodicals correspondents have asked, “Is Pentecost the revival it was in the beginning?” As early as five years after Azusa, they were longing for “the good old days”! Nevertheless, it is vital to any revival movement to reassess not too infrequently the state of its spiritual life.[8]

Likewise, Charisma magazine editor Lee Grady recently lamented “the lost message” of consecration. He wrote, “Today’s shallow, ‘evangelical lite’ culture focuses on self, self and more self. Christian books today are mostly about self-improvement, not self-sacrifice. We teach people to claim their ‘best life now’ — and to claim it on their terms.”[9]

Is it possible to be Pentecostal without full consecration?  D. W. Kerr, in answering this question, propounded that “when we cease to [esteem others better than ourselves] we cease to live the Christ-life. We may still have the outward form, but the power is gone.”[10] Those who identify with the Pentecostal tradition but who practice sinful or unwise activities are being inconsistent with the early Pentecostal worldview.

Need for Renewal

Self-centered spirituality seems to be the default setting for humanity. Pentecostalism arose as a renewal and reform movement within Christianity — and now the movement may itself be in need of renewal and reform.

How can Pentecostals rekindle a wholehearted passion for Christ and His mission? Stanley Frodsham suggested that Christians need to form a daily habit of reconsecration.[11] Rediscovering classic Pentecostal and Holiness devotional writings and hymns would be a good place to start. The popular Australian Assemblies of God worship band Hillsong United has done just that with its recent release, “Arms Open Wide,” which no doubt is patterned after the Holiness hymn, “Take My Life and Let it Be.”

“Take My Life and Let It Be” (lyrics below) is a prayer for full consecration. Read it, sing it, meditate upon it, and let God transform you. In doing so, you will rediscover Pentecostalism’s reason for being.

                                                Take My Life and Let It Be

Take my life, and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days; let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my hands, and let them move at the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet, and let them be swift and beautiful for Thee.
Take my voice, and let me sing always, only, for my King.
Take my lips, and let them be filled with messages from Thee.
Take my silver and my gold; not a mite would I withhold.
Make my intellect, and use every power as Thou shalt choose.
Take my will, and make it Thine; it shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart, it is Thine own; it shall be Thy royal throne.
Take my love, my Lord, I pour at Thy feet its treasure store.
Take myself, and I will be ever, only, all for Thee.

_________________________

Quotes on Full Consecration

Paul Bettex, a Pentecostal missionary who was martyred in China in 1916, proclaimed:

Full consecration is my battle-axe and watchword. You will find it in the tenth chapter of Matthew, and indeed from beginning to end of the New Testament… We have been forgetting that the Lord Himself, even before Paul taught that great doctrine of faith, heralded and proclaimed with no uncertain voice the conditions of true discipleship. These conditions are: a full, absolute, unlimited consecration.[12]

Early Pentecostal John G. Lake pointed to Christ as the Christian’s example for “absolute consecration,” even to the point of death.  He wrote:

The real purpose of becoming a Christian is not to save yourself from hell, or be saved to go to heaven. It is to become a child of God, with the character of Jesus Christ….[13]

D.W. Kerr, principal author of the AG’s Statement of Fundamental Truths, warned:

A desire to “win our friends” to the movement exposes one to the attack of the devil from the outside, and makes some fall an easy prey to the spirit of compromise, instead of enduring the reproaches of the cross … The Pentecostal movement is no exception to the rule that has characterized all the spiritual movements of the past. The desire to escape the reproach of the cross, lies at the bottom of all decline in spirituality and power, in the past history of the church.[14]

Stanley Frodsham, in a 1915 article, called upon Christians to be true to their heavenly citizenship:

When one comes into that higher kingdom and becomes a citizen of that ‘holy nation’ (1 Peter 2:9), the things that pertain to earth should forever lose their hold, even that natural love for the nation where one happened to be born, and loyalty to the new King should swallow up all other loyalties…. National pride [extreme nationalism], like every other form of pride, is abomination in the sight of God. And pride of race [racism] must be one of the all things that pass away when one becomes a new creature in Christ Jesus….[15]

________________________________

Darrin J. Rodgers, M.A., J.D., is director of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center and editor of Assemblies of God Heritage magazine. This article was originally published as: “A Call to Full Consecration,” 30 Assemblies of God Heritage (2010): 3-5.

Endnotes:

1. Stanley Frodsham, Wholly for God: A Call to Complete Consecration, Illustrated by the Story of Paul Bettex, a Truly Consecrated Soul (Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, [1934]), 20.

2. Stanley Horton, “Consecration, Commitment, Submission,” Pentecostal Evangel, February 10, 1980, 20.

3. Jackie David Johns, “Yielding to the Spirit: The Dynamics of a Pentecostal Model of Praxis,” in The Globalization of Pentecostalism: A Religion Made to Travel (Carlisle, CA: Regnum Books, 1999), 74.

4. General Council Minutes, April-November 1914 [combined], 12.

5. D. W. Kerr, Waters in the Desert (Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, [1925]), 77.

6. Ibid., 34.

7. Ibid., 33.

8. Carl Brumback, Suddenly from Heaven: A History of the Assemblies of God (Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, 1961), 349-350.

9. J. Lee Grady, “The Lost Message of Consecration,” Fire in My Bones, September 8, 2009. Online newsletter archived at: http://www.charismamag.com

10. Kerr, 130.

11. Frodsham, 61.

12. Ibid., 27.

13. John G. Lake, “The Power of Consecration to Principle,” unpublished manuscript edited by Wilford H. Reidt. FPHC.

14. Kerr, 37.

15. Stanley H. Frodsham, “Our Heavenly Citizenship,” Weekly Evangel, September 11, 1915, 3.


 

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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“America Must Choose”: A Warning from 1968 about the Christian’s Response to Social and Political Unrest

Scott Charles P14338

Charles Scott and his wife, Gertrude

This Week in AG History — March 24, 1968

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 21 March 2019

1968 was a year of social and political unrest. American race riots, the war in Vietnam, and the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy grabbed the world’s attention. Cultural uncertainty and rumblings of revolution were on everyone’s mind.

In the midst of this cultural chaos, an article in the March 24, 1968, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel encouraged readers to remain grounded in their Christian faith.

Assemblies of God leader Charles Scott, in an article titled, “America Must Choose,” expressed concern that “we have permitted ourselves to become blind to the grave dangers that are gnawing at the very vitals of America.” Scott recalled that Marshall Henri Petain, who led France during the Nazi occupation, surmised that France’s downfall was rooted in the “immorality, alcoholism, and irreligion” of the French people. Scott suggested that these three evils were likewise threatening America. He went on to detail the moral decay in America, pointing out that violence, sexual immorality, and drug addiction were hurting children and undermining families.

At a time when many were drawn toward political solutions and extremes, Scott instead recognized that the nation’s woes, at their root, were spiritual. He recommended a spiritual solution to the problems enveloping the nation. He encouraged Christians to choose “to abandon these evils and to walk the path of righteousness.”

How should Christians work to spiritually rebuild America? According to Scott, Christians should dedicate themselves to worshiping God — corporately as families and churches, and also individually. He described the need to rebuild family, church, and private altars. This was a common theme over the years in Scott’s articles and sermons — he felt called to remind Christians about the importance of developing specific times and places to worship God corporately and individually.

“America must choose,” Scott wrote, how to respond to the dangers besetting the nation. While not rejecting political action, he believed that true, lasting change could only occur through spiritual renewal. “True patriots,” Scott suggested, are people who seek “to destroy corruption, intemperance, wickedness, and selfishness” in their own lives.
Others, seeing their example of humility and faith, would turn toward God, and America would then be strong and “a blessing in the earth.”

Read Charles Scott’s article, “America Must Choose!” on pages 2-3 of the March 24, 1968, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “A Warning on Worldliness,” by Larry Hurtado

• “How to Teach the Bible,” by James H. McConkey

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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Danger Signals: How to Tell if a Revival Movement is in Decline

HodgesThis Week in AG History —September 29, 1957

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 27 September 2018

“Has the 20th century Pentecostal revival reached the zenith of its spirituality and usefulness, and is it now doomed to fade as a potent force from the modern spiritual scene; or do greater glories still lie ahead?”

This question was posed by Assemblies of God missions leader Melvin Hodges in a 1957 Pentecostal Evangel article. At the time, the modern Pentecostal movement was about 50 years old. Pioneers of the movement were passing from the scene, and memories of the early revivals were fading.

Hodges noted that previous Protestant revival movements originated in “deep spirituality, holiness, and a sense of destiny.” However, they each “lost their fervor and one by one settled down to take their places in the ecclesiastical world as yet another denomination.”

He looked further back into church history, drawing parallels between the early church and Pentecostalism. “The New Testament Church,” he wrote, “gradually lost the purity and power that characterized her apostolic beginnings, and became adulterated by worldliness, greed and paganism as she increased in numbers and influence.” Would the Pentecostal church likewise stray from its biblical ideals and become corrupted by the world?

“We dare not ignore the lessons of history,” Hodges warned. He identified three characteristics of a declining revival movement: 1) a diminishing hunger for God; 2) a lack of concern for holiness; and 3) the loss of the sense of mission and destiny.

While spiritual decline over time is likely, Hodges suggested that it is not inevitable. He admonished readers to rediscover the deep spirituality common among early Pentecostals: “Let hunger for God be reawakened in our hearts. May a walk in holiness, worthy of our vocation, be our goal, and let us consecrate ourselves anew to the fulfilling of our world destiny in the plan of God.”

If Pentecostals draw close to God and commit themselves to His mission, according to Hodges, they “can face the future with confident expectancy that the future holds still greater revelations of the glory of God.”

Read the entire article, “Danger Signals” by Melvin Hodges, on pages 4 and 5 of the Sept. 29, 1957, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Taking Christ to the People,” by R. J. Carlson

• “The Silence of the Trinity,” by P. T. Walker

• “The Living Dead,” by Oswald J. Smith

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: http://www.iFPHC.org

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Arthur F. Berg: How a Powerful Revival Among Children Produced a Future Pastor and Missionary

Berg Arthur F

Arthur and Anna Berg, with daughter, Agnes, circa 1930

This Week in AG History — June 9, 1968

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 07 June 2018

Arthur F. Berg (1896-1983), a pioneer Assemblies of God missionary and pastor, recognized the importance of taking seriously the spiritual lives of children. He learned this from his own experience. At age 14, Arthur surrendered his life to Christ and was baptized in the Holy Spirit during a Minneapolis revival sparked by visiting Pentecostal leader William Durham. Interestingly, it was primarily young people who responded to the gospel — countless children were saved, 25 were baptized in the Holy Spirit, and 30 followed the Lord in water baptism.

For the rest of his life, Berg would share his testimony about this 1911 revival, which spiritually shaped him. The Pentecostal Evangel published his story in 1968.

Berg was born in an era when children were expected to be seen and not heard, and many traditional church services offered little to inspire or attract young people. However, early Pentecostal services — featuring testimonies, lively sermons, and peppy gospel songs — were often very accessible to young people. Countless people — both young and old — surrendered their lives to Christ in early Pentecostal services, which were known for their clear presentation of the gospel, coupled with the power of the Holy Spirit.

So it was with Berg. He was raised in a Christian home, but it was not until he experienced the Holy Spirit’s permeating presence during the Pentecostal revival that Berg finally committed his life to Christ. He described the revival as “glorious,” and that “hearts were melted together in the love of God.” The presence of God was so strong in those meetings that young people who normally did not want to attend church did not want to leave the revival services.

“The convicting power and pull of the Holy Spirit was so strong, so irresistible,” Berg recalled, “that I found myself at the altar weeping and praying my way through to a definite experience of old-fashioned salvation.” He went on to experience the baptism in the Holy Spirit and, he wrote, “exuberant glory flooded my soul.”

The revival led Berg to consecrate his life to Christian ministry. He married his childhood sweetheart, Anna, who shared a similar calling. He was ordained by the Assemblies of God in 1919, they served as missionaries in Belgian Congo from 1922 to 1926, and for the next 33 years they pastored congregations in Sisseton and Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He was also instrumental in starting the World Missions Plan, a program that encouraged Assemblies of God churches to systematically give money to home and world missions.

When William Durham went to Minneapolis in 1911, he was on a mission to talk with Pentecostal pastors regarding disagreements over the doctrine of sanctification. While the impact Durham made on adults on that trip is unknown, the revival services he led left a lasting mark on several dozen young people. One of them, Arthur Berg, became a noted pioneer Assemblies of God pastor and missionary.

Read the article, “How a Boy Received the Baptism,” on pages 24-25 of the June 9, 1968, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Who is My Neighbor?” by Everett Stenhouse

• “Children Need to be Nurtured,” by Jerry Stroup

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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John Wright Follette: Encouraging a Deeper Life in Christ

FolletteThis Week in AG History — March 2, 1940

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on PE-News, 01 March 2018

John Wright Follette (1883-1966) was a gifted Bible teacher and author who spoke in many conferences and retreats. His messages encouraged believers to press into God, seeking more of Him, in order to guard against sin and live a more holy or “deeper life” in the Spirit. He spoke often about the gifts of the Holy Spirit, but emphasized the importance of Christian maturity. Follette wrote: “Many in Pentecost today seem to have missed the idea or purpose of the latter rain and instead of falling into line with God for a deeper life, ripening, maturing, and drying [as grain for the harvest], they are occupied with the incidentals. These incidentals [manifestations and gifts] are all very essential but only to the end—growth.”

One of Follette’s sermons on spiritual life appeared in a 1940 article in the Pentecostal Evangel. He articulated the importance of following after God’s purposes and plans on a daily basis. “Christians many times fail (and their faith is harmed),” he said, “because they try so hard to accomplish things that God has no idea of doing.” He described the Christian life not as a series of “disjointed affairs, but instead declared there is definite purpose in the Christian walk for which each of us were created. “Were we as sincere and careful in the matter of spiritual purpose as we are about materials ends,” said Follette, “I am sure we should grow in grace and save ourselves many a ‘spiritual headache.’”

In conclusion, Follette stated, “God does not thank you or reward you for doing a thousand things (good and religious) which do not relate to His will.” Instead, he emphasized, “Seek His will — do that and you cannot but glorify Him.”

To better understand Follette and his teachings, it is important to learn his background. Follette was a descendant of French Huguenots who first settled the Catskill Mountains in the early 1600s. His ancestors helped to establish the community of New Paltz, New York. He received his college and ministerial training at the New York Normal School in New Paltz, Taylor University, and Drew Theological Seminary.

Although he was raised in the Methodist Church, after receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit, he was ordained in 1911 by the Council of Pentecostal Ministers at Elim Tabernacle in Rochester, New York. Follette affiliated with the Assemblies of God in 1935 and became a favorite speaker at many church conferences, camp meetings, summer Bible camps, and missionary retreats around the world. He also taught at Elim Bible Institute in Rochester and at Southern California Bible College (now Vanguard University).

Follette was a prolific writer. More than 100 of his articles and poetry appeared in the Pentecostal Evangel and other periodicals. Many of his writings were put into book form after his death. His works include Smoking Flax and Other Poems (1936); Broken Bread (1957); Arrows of Truth (1969); This Wonderful Venture Called Christian Living (1974), Fruit of the Land (1989), and several other books and tracts. Follette died in New Paltz, New York, at the age of 82.

Read the article, “The Spiritual Purpose in Life and Method of Attainment,” on pages 2, 3, and 7 of the March 2, 1940, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Holiness Unto the Lord,” by A. H. Argue

• “What God Says About Foolish Talking,” by Mrs. Cornelia Nuzum

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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Holiness and Heaven: J. T. Boddy’s Deathbed Message from 1931

Boddy

J. T. Boddy with his wife and daughter, Macie. Circa 1915.

This Week in AG History — February 6, 1932

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 8 February 2018 

A person’s last words often reveal what was in his or her heart.

John Thomas Boddy, former editor of the Pentecostal Evangel (1919-1921), was a poet and a deep theological thinker. He was ordained by the Free Methodist Church in 1901 and transferred his credentials to the Assemblies of God in 1917. When he passed away on Nov. 6, 1931, he left behind a message that he wanted those still alive to carefully consider.

What was Boddy’s message from his deathbed?

Boddy’s daughter, Macie Lucas, wrote that her father meditated constantly on the Word of God while ill during the last two months of his life. She recounted that he preached for hours at a time while on required bedrest, and that he sensed an urgency to share, above all else, biblical truths about the holiness of God. She received so many inquiries about his last words that she preserved them in an article in the Feb. 6, 1932, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

According to Lucas, during his last weeks, Boddy repeatedly quoted Hebrews 12:14: “Without holiness no man shall see God.” Boddy knew he was dying, so it is understandable that he was meditating on Scripture verses about heaven. But Boddy emphasized the link between heaven and holiness.

Critics sometimes accuse early Pentecostals of promoting “works righteousness” in their emphasis on holiness. But Boddy explained that people cannot be holy by their own efforts. “God desires to impart His holiness to us,” he noted. This imparted holiness prepares the believer for heaven. He said: “There is no evil in heaven. There is no mixture in heaven. If you expect to go to heaven you must have a measure (the essence) of heaven in you here.”

Lucas recounted that, as Boddy was sharing about holiness, “his face would be radiant with the glory of God and he would burst forth in praises. Often he wept in the presence of God as he contemplated the glories of heaven.”

What does a life of holiness look like? Boddy echoed John Welsey, who taught that holiness meant loving God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength, and fleeing from sin.

Boddy was a prince of preachers, and in his final opportunity to share what was on his heart, Boddy encouraged people toward holiness and heaven.

Read about Boddy’s last words in the article, “A Revelation of Heaven,” by Macie M. Lucas, on page 6 of the Feb. 6, 1932, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Standing True to Scriptural Principles,” by Robert McClay

* “What the Pentecostal People Believe and Teach,” by R. E. McAlister

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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Briggs Dingman: How an Evangelical Pastor Overcame Prejudice Against Pentecostals

Dingman Briggs

This Week in AG History — January 24, 1948

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 25 January 2018 

Briggs P. Dingman (1900-1968) was a renaissance man – he served as a minister, musician, author, linguist, and educator. He spent the first half of his ministry in Methodist, Presbyterian, and Baptist churches and as an officer in the Salvation Army. Much to his own surprise, however, he spent the latter half of his ministry in Pentecostal churches and schools.

Dingman, who shared his testimony in the January 24, 1948, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, had a broadly-informed worldview. He attended Dickinson College, Moody Bible Institute, and Xenia Theological Seminary (a Presbyterian school). He was studious, had a working knowledge of at least five languages, and authored a novel, By Ways Appointed (Moody Press, 1935). Dingman considered himself to be “open-minded” on theological matters. Yet early in his ministry he reflexively rejected Pentecostal claims without first examining them.

It is easy to dismiss people and beliefs, Dingman came to realize, based on a caricature. He had little actual experience with Pentecostals. He had encountered some Pentecostals whom he deemed to be “ultrademonstrative,” and he had read that others handled snakes. He assumed Pentecostals to be deluded or even demon-possessed.

Dingman’s views of Pentecostals began to change when he came into contact with a young Assemblies of God minister. They became friends, and Dingman grew to admire his spiritual life. He felt “forced to admit” that the Assemblies of God preacher and his wife had a closer walk with the Lord than he did.

When Dingman took a different pastorate, he became friends with another Pentecostal minister who was overflowing with joy and spiritual depth. Dingman began developing an internal confliction when it came to Pentecostals – he admired their spirituality but pitied them for believing a “delusion.”

An Assemblies of God pastor who befriended Dingman wisely appealed to Dingman’s desire to be open-minded. He encouraged Dingman to read Assemblies of God literature and to judge for himself whether Pentecostal beliefs were biblical. One of the first books he read was by Robert Chandler Dalton – a Baptist chaplain who had been baptized in the Holy Spirit and who transferred his ordination to the Assemblies of God. Dingman was stunned. Dingman had been a longtime friend of Dalton.

Dingman voraciously read book after book about Pentecostal beliefs. He came to two conclusions: 1) anti-Pentecostal books were written by people who apparently had very limited knowledge of actual Pentecostal teachings; and 2) Scripture teaches that the baptism of the Holy Spirit often follows conversion. His preconceived anti-Pentecostal prejudices shattered, Dingman determined that he would seek a deeper relationship with God, even if it meant identifying with the Pentecostals.

Shortly afterward, Dingman was baptized in the Holy Spirit. He recounted, “there was no hysterical outburst or extreme manifestation” – his soul was simply flooded by a “real visitation of the Holy Spirit.”

How would Dingman’s former ministry colleagues react? Dingman anticipated criticism: “Doubtless many of my former pastor and laymen friends feel that now I am deluded, but I feel that I may be permitted to exclaim, “Oh, sweet delusion!”

Dingman explained how the baptism in the Holy Spirit brought him into a deeper relationship with God, wondering how spiritual depth could be called a “delusion.”

He wrote: “If having a continuous spirit of praise to my heavenly Father is delusion, then may it continue! If having a walk with God that was never before so rich, is delusion, then may I grovel in this ignorance until He comes! If having His daily blessings poured out upon my life in measure never before so copious is delusion, then this experience is an anomaly if there ever was one. No, far from suffering from a delusion, I have found the light, and what a light it is!”

Dingman cast his lot with the Pentecostals and never looked back. He transferred his ordination to the Assemblies of God in 1945. He went on to serve as a professor at two Assemblies of God schools: Northeastern Bible Institute (Framingham, Massachusetts) and Southwestern Bible Institute (now Southwestern Assemblies of God University, Waxahachie, Texas). He also taught at Elim Bible Institute (Lima, New York).

Briggs Dingman’s testimony illustrates the prejudice that often existed against early Pentecostals. Despite this prejudice, however, the Pentecostal movement became one of the largest revival and renewal movements in Christian history. Countless people, including seasoned ministers like Dingman, found spiritual depth and renewal within Pentecostalism.

Read Dingman’s article, “Is Pentecost a Delusion?” on pages 3 and 7 of the Jan. 24, 1948, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “A Precious Friend, or an Offence – Which is Christ to You?” by Lee Krupnick

* “The Revival in Ireland in 1859”

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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