American Pentecostal historians have often focused on the movement’s origins in various Anglo segments of evangelicalism. Vinson Synan is known for tracing Pentecostal roots to the Wesleyan/Methodist/Holiness movements. Edith Blumhofer offered a helpful corrective by noting that many early Pentecostals, including those in the Assemblies of God, also drew from the Higher Life/Keswick movements.
Many people may be surprised to learn that Pentecostalism also has roots in Pietism, a movement arising within German and Scandinavian Lutheranism. Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center Director Darrin Rodgers recently sat down with television producer Tim Frakes and shared how many early Pentecostals identified themselves within the broader tradition of Pietism.
Part of that interview is accessible here (click below):
Tim Franks, the former Public Media Director for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, recently recorded a television special with Rick Steves on Martin Luther and the Reformation. Frakes is now working on a series about Pietism.
Pietism arose among German Lutherans in the 17th century and quickly spread to Scandinavia. The movement emphasized that the Christian faith should not be merely a matter of the intellect, but also an affair of the heart and lived out in daily life. Pietists emphasized the importance of personal Bible readings and a personal relationship with God.
Rodgers was raised in a Norwegian immigrant community in North Dakota and wrote a history of Pentecostalism in the state, in which he documented Pentecostal origins in Scandinavian pietism in the Dakotas and Minnesota. He documented the emergence of revivals featuring salvation, healing, and biblical spiritual gifts (including speaking in tongues) in the 1890s and early 1900s among Swedish and Norwegian immigrants. The earliest Pentecostal historians, Rodgers noted, identified these Scandinavian revivals as in continuity with the Pentecostal movement.
Dr. John H. Armstrong, pastor of Lutheran Church of the Master (Carol Stream, IL), encouraged readers of his blog to watch the interview with Rodgers. He commented, “It strikes me that honest historical research, which is not built on anti-Pentecostalism, cannot help but draw the conclusions that Dr. Rodgers makes in this helpful video.”
For more information regarding Pietism and its relationship to Pentecostalism, check out the following links:
- Darrin Rodgers wrote an article about the relationship of Scandinavian revivals in Minnesota and the Dakotas to the emerging Pentecostal movement, “Rediscovering Pentecostalism’s Diverse Roots,” published in 2006 in Refleks (a Norwegian journal focusing on Pentecostal studies).
- Darrin Rodgers interviews Lowell Nystrom, October 12 , 2011, in Springfield, Missouri. Nystrom is a descendant of early Scandinavian Pentecostals near Fosston, Minnesota, who practiced tongues speech and healing before the Azusa Street revival.
- “Hans Nielsen Hauge: The Persecuted Lay Preacher Who Saved Christianity in Norway,” by Darrin Rodgers
- “Carl M. Hanson: Scandinavian Harbinger of Pentecost,” by Darrin Rodgers