Category Archives: Spirituality

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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“This Gospel Means a Crucified Life”: A Timely Message from Azusa Street from 110 Years Ago

seymour-p5606

William Seymour, pastor of the Azusa Street Mission

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
Email: archives@ag.org
Website: www.iFPHC.org

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Three Temptations for Pentecostals: Donald Gee’s Warning from 1929

Gee2This Week in AG History — October 26, 1929

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on PE-News, 14 September 2017

In 1929, noted British theologian and church leader Donald Gee warned Assemblies of God leaders that they faced three temptations that could imperil the young Pentecostal movement. Speaking at the biennial General Council of the Assemblies of God held in Wichita, Kansas, Gee observed that those who are filled with the Holy Spirit “get the personal attention of the devil.” He listed three major ways Satan tempts Pentecostal individuals, churches, and movements, drawn from the temptations of Christ (Matthew 4:1-11).

According to Gee, Satan’s first temptation to Christ and to the Pentecostal believer is to use the power of God for selfish satisfaction. Satan tempted Christ to use His spiritual power to feed His own hunger. Gee declared, “Our Lord did not turn those stones into bread to feed himself; but not long after I find Him feeding five thousand” with miraculous bread supplied by the power of God. “I have not been baptized in the Holy Ghost that I may delight myself in a Pentecostal picnic … I have been called to the hungry multitudes.” The devil still tempts those with access to the power of God to selfishly enjoy that privilege without a thought to the purpose of the power — the feeding of a hungry world.

The second temptation given to both Christ and the Pentecostal church is to be caught up in fanaticism. The devil tempted Christ to show the power of God through a wild display of throwing himself off the pinnacle of the Temple, forcing God to do a miraculous work to prove himself. Gee reminded his listeners, “The devil quoted Scripture! And the temptation to fanaticism is most deadly when it has a superficial appearance of being scriptural.”

The cure for such fanaticism, in Gee’s estimation, is knowing the full counsel of the Word of God. He pointed to Jesus’ statement to Satan, “It is written again.” Gee advised, “Do not run off on two or three Scriptures, but be balanced on the whole Word of God. When the devil says, ‘There’s a fine text; you go and do something silly on that,’ you say, ‘It is written again,’” and bring the balance of other Scriptures to bear on the situation.

Gee illustrated this point with a story of a young man who was out of work. He was given the opportunity to drive a truck for a bakery. The young man said, “I must go and pray about it first.” He got his Bible, shut his eyes and opened the Bible, and came to the Scripture, “Man shall not live by bread alone.” He then interpreted this to be a divine revelation that “God does not want me to drive a bakery truck.” Gee said, “That was fanaticism based on one Scripture.” If he had remembered to say, “It is written again. If any man will not work neither shall he eat, all would have been well.”

He counseled the ministers present to combat fanaticism by keeping a balance of following the Spirit while avoiding fleshly excesses. “When you are up against fanaticism in your assembly and have people who do mad, wild things do not quench the Spirit by shutting down entirely” the Spirit’s gifts; instead “give them teaching!”

The third temptation of Christ and of the Pentecostal movement is the temptation to forsake the pure worship of God in exchange for popularity. Gee reminded Pentecostals that the devil said to Jesus, “If you will fall down and worship me … adopt my methods … I will give you the crowds.” Gee lamented, “I have been in Pentecostal churches which made me think of a theater or a sacred concert. We do not want the crowds at any price!” Gee preached to the General Council, “Do not think that I am afraid of the crowds. I want them. If we go on the lines of ‘Not by might, or by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts’ we will get the crowds. The crowds are as hungry as ever for salvation … Feed them the Word!”

Gee ended his sermon by reminding Assemblies of God ministers that they were part of the provision to safeguard from these temptations. Using the ministry gifts described in Ephesians 4:11, Gee taught that apostles and evangelists remind believers that the power of God is not given to selfishly provide “Pentecostal picnics” but to feed a hungry world. Teachers and pastors are given to provide teaching and guidance to keep the church from falling into fanaticism. Prophets provide the clarion call to the Pentecostal movement that the Church must stay true to godly worship and not stray into crowd-pleasing gimmicks that distract from the truth of God’s Word. Gee, in an encouragement to ministers, noted “that the Spirit of the living Christ is with us, battling against the same tempter, but also leading us on to the same victory.”

Read the full article, “The Temptations of Pentecost,” on page 2 of the Oct. 26, 1929, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel here.

Also featured in this issue:

“One Thing Thou Lackest,” by Anna L. Dryer

“Daily Fellowship with God,” by Andrew Murray

“In the Whitened Harvest Fields,” reports from nationwide revival meetings

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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The Prosperity Gospel and Worldliness: A Warning from an Early Pentecostal Leader

GAston

W. T. Gaston, circa 1927

This Week in AG History — August 16, 1953

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 17 August 2017

Will the Pentecostal movement follow “the path of gradual surrender to carnal forces” like most Christian renewal movements before it? This question, posed by former General Superintendent W. T. Gaston (1925-1929) in the Aug. 16, 1953, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, remains strikingly relevant.

Gaston wrote that history’s “tragic lesson” is that a church’s solid foundation does not prevent corruption from “fleshly elements within.” He offered this warning at a time when certain media-savvy Pentecostal healing evangelists had been exposed for their ungodly lifestyles, but who continued to promote themselves and their unbiblical message that God guarantees financial prosperity to believers.

Gaston suggested, “If we are to have a future that is better or even comparable and worthy of our past, we will need to learn over again some of the lessons of yesterday.” One of the important lessons to rediscover, he wrote, was the importance of promoting “pure, undefiled” religion.

He recalled that many early 20th century Pentecostal pioneers were bi-vocational ministers, that often met in homes or rented buildings, and that most were not very impressive by the standards of the surrounding culture. However, they did not need worldly goods and accolades in order for the Holy Spirit to accomplish great things through their lives and ministries.

Gaston wrote that he witnessed an “utter disregard for poverty or wealth or station in life” in the early Pentecostal movement. Yet “those rugged pioneers,” he noted, “had something that made them attractive and convincing.” The contrast between the attitudes of the world and the early Pentecostals was striking. According to Gaston, early believers were “completely satisfied without the world’s glittering tinsel, and content to be the objects of its scornful hatred.”

Believers must carefully guard their hearts, Gaston warned, or face a dissipation of this consecration and sacrificial spirit. He noted, as an example, that some ministers in the 1950s seemed to “project themselves and their projects instead of promoting the common cause and sharing equally in the honors and sufferings of the common brotherhood.”

Gaston identified a love of money as a danger to the Pentecostal movement and an impediment to the gospel. We “must draw the line against all comers with a money complex,” he asserted, in order “to retain its good sense and religious balance.” He lamented that certain high-profile evangelists promised God’s blessings to those who would give money to their ministries. He wrote, “Ministers of the gospel who lay up treasure on earth while they preach that people should lay theirs up in heaven are neither consistent nor worthy.” Gaston suspected that the “selfless, lowly Jesus” would “refuse to go along” with such ministers.

Furthermore, Gaston was troubled by sensationalism promoted by some of the big-name preachers in his day. “Full-orbed religion throbs with sensation,” he wrote. However, he warned against “unbridled sensationalism,” which could easily bring “disillusionment and disintegration” to those who have not developed a strong faith. Gaston concluded with “a simple appeal for consistency and reality in our religious approach,” praying that the Pentecostal movement would “purge itself of practices or propaganda patterns which are not compatible with the spirit and letter of the New Testament.”

Gaston’s article offers several important lessons to 21st century Pentecostals. First, Pentecostals should carefully guard their hearts. History demonstrates that selfishness and worldliness tend to creep into the church, and that even Christian renewal movements can drift from their founding ideals. Second, early Pentecostalism grew amidst widespread scorn and persecution as believers joyfully embodied consecrated, holy living. Third, Pentecostals can avoid the dangers of extremism and sensationalism by being solidly grounded in Scripture and biblical values.

Read W. T. Gaston’s article, “Guarding our Priceless Heritage,” in the Aug. 16, 1953, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Eternity-Proof,” by Arne Vick

* “Sunday Schools around the World”

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

Leave a comment

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