Tag Archives: Culture

How Should Christians Respond to Cultural Chaos? Read Myer Pearlman’s 1932 Message About Living in a Transition Period.


Myer Pearlman (1898-1943), Assemblies of God theologian

This Week in AG History — July 30, 1932

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 28 July 2016

The year was 1932. The world’s economic and political systems were groaning under the weight of an economic depression. Western culture was shifting as modern education and urbanization challenged traditional notions about family and morality.

Myer Pearlman, a prominent Assemblies of God systematic theologian, writing in a 1932 Pentecostal Evangel article, summed up the cultural moment with this phrase: “we are living in a transition period.”

The Assemblies of God’s view of the end times spoke directly to the cultural chaos of the 1930s. Like many other evangelical groups, the Assemblies of God embraced a premillennial eschatology that predicted a period of rapid social decay, followed by Christ’s return. They believed that much of the American church had abandoned the authority of Scripture. In their view, this would lead to the collapse of families, morality, and the broader culture.

Historians have described premillennialists as pessimistic. One might also describe their views as realistic. Indeed, their views seem to anticipate the current societal shifts and discord.

Pearlman’s 1932 article was titled “At the Dividing Point of Two Ages.” He described the cultural conditions present at the birth of the church two thousand years ago. These cultural conditions, in many ways, strikingly paralleled what was happening in the 1930s.

Pearlman identified the following seven characteristics of the culture during the birth of the church:

1)  It was an age in which popular culture reigned. Superficial forms of religion, art, and philosophy were widely spread among the people.

2)  It was a highly civilized and modern age. International travel and commerce were common, women became prominent in various spheres of life, and there was proliferation of cultural amusements and comforts.

3)  It was an educated age. People were literate, teaching was an honorable profession, and universities and libraries flourished.

4)  It was a cosmopolitan age. The Roman Empire provided a common language and a system of roads that allowed the exchange of goods and ideas.

5)  It was an age of religious universalism. Spiritual and political leaders tried to unite religions and rejected truth claims viewed as divisive.

6)  It was an age that, just before its crisis point, expected a king to emerge who would save and rule the world.

7)  It was an age that witnessed the first earthly coming of Christ.

Christ came into a world, Pearlman noted, that exhibited very similar characteristics to the world that existed in the 1930s. Christ first came to earth during a transition period, and Pearlman expected Christ’s second coming also to be during a transition period. He wrote, “As the Redeemer appeared at the dividing point of the ages of Law and of Grace, so He will appear at the dividing point of the ages of Grace and the Millennium.”

How should today’s church, perched on the edge of the dividing line between the two ages, respond to cultural chaos? Pearlman encouraged believers to rejoice in the hope they have in Christ. Christians should “lift up their heads in joyous expectancy when these things come to pass,” he wrote, “and to watch to keep their lamps lighted and filled with oil, and faithfully to use their talents until he comes.”

The premillennial return of Christ is one of the four cardinal doctrines of the Assemblies of God. The doctrine helps make sense of current events and points believers to the ultimate hope they have in Christ, even as storms swirl around them. The doctrine also underscores the biblical teaching that social conditions will worsen before Christ’s second coming, and that believers should not place their ultimate confidence in earthly kingdoms or leaders. These are important lessons for Christians to remember in the current transition period.

Read Myer Pearlman’s article, “At the Dividing Point of Two Ages,” on pages 8, 9, and 11 of the July 30, 1932, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Elijah, an Example,” by Ernest S. Williams

* “The Kingdom of the Son of Man,” by James S. Hutsell

* “Why Put Them Out?” by Mrs. H. F. Foster

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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Review: The Sparkling Fountain

The Sparkling Fountain

The Sparkling Fountain, by Fred T. Corum and Hazel E. Bakewell. Windsor, OH: Corum & Associates, Inc., 1989, c1983.

The Sparkling Fountain is a 278-page book with eyewitness accounts of the beginning of Pentecostalism in the Ozarks. The book was started by Fred T. Corum and his sister Hazel E. Bakewell. Then James and Kenneth Corum, sons of Fred Corum, helped to preserve this slice of history and see it through to production. First marketed in 1983, it is offered again on the 100th anniversary of Central Assembly in Springfield, Missouri.

The Azusa Street Mission story is recapped in beginning chapters, but for our purpose here the story begins in 1905 when Fred and Hazel moved to the Ozarks from Oklahoma with their parents, James and Lillie Harper Corum.

James and Lillie were never credentialed ministers but are considered the pioneers of Pentecost in Springfield — holding together a nucleus for several years until a church was set in order. I have an idea many other lay people throughout our history deserve special recognition for beginning and/or keeping local congregations together (including unfortunate splits) until a pastor assumed the leadership.

The Corums soon became active in a Baptist church where Mr. Corum served as Sunday school superintendent. But in the fall of 1906 they heard about the Pentecostal outpouring and became interested. Then in May 1907 they were introduced to this new experience which would dramatically put their lives on a new course. Continue reading


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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: BackRoom@paon.nf.ca), or Religious Book & Bible House, 10 Hardy Avenue, P.O. Box 558, Grand Falls-Windsor, Newfoundland, Canada A2A 2J9 (email: rbbh@bookandbiblehouse.com).

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Top Pentecostal history books in libraries

Next to Assemblies of God Heritage magazine the Bible, what is your favorite reading material? Do you have a top ten list of your all-time favorite books?

We thought it would be interesting to see which Pentecostal history books are most popular in libraries. So, we logged onto FirstSearch (aka WorldCat or OCLC, which is available at your local library) and searched for books with the following terms in their subject headings. The top ten books for each term, in terms of the numbers of libraries holding each book, are below.

Pentecostal history
1. Heaven Below : Early Pentecostals and American Culture / Grant Wacker (Harvard University Press, 2001) 878 libraries
2. Reinventing American Protestantism : Christianity in the New Millennium / Donald E. Miller (University of California Press, 1997) 847 libraries Continue reading

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Review: Autobiography of Fred Smolchuck, Ukrainian-American Assemblies of God Pioneer


Who Else … But God!, by Fred Smolchuck. Springfield, MO: The Author, 2006.

Almost eighty years ago, Fred Smolchuck felt God’s call to the ministry. Following that call led him around the world, and he became a leader within Slavic Pentecostalism, both in the United States and in eastern Europe. Smolchuck’s strong voice and mind, his smoldering passion for souls, and his leadership gifts continue to make their mark on the Pentecostal landscape.

Smolchuck, the son of Ukrainian immigrants to America, was a founding member of the Ukrainian Branch of the Assemblies of God (USA), he served as a pastor and district official in Michigan, and he authored sixteen books. Most of his books, published in the Ukrainian and Russian languages, offer practical advice and theological training to believers in eastern Europe and to immigrants in North America. His 1992 book, From Azusa Street to the U.S.S.R.: A Brief History of Pentecost Among Slavic Immigrants, 1900-1991, provides a valuable overview of the people, places, and themes in Slavic-American Pentecostal history. Now, in Who Else … But God!, he has told his own story, which is inextricably intertwined with the emergence of the Slavic churches in the Assemblies of God. His story is significant, as he traces not only his family’s spiritual pilgrimage, but the development of Pentecostalism among the Slavic peoples in the U.S. from the 1920s until the present. Importantly, Smolchuck has served as a bridge between an earlier generation of Slavic Pentecostals and the more recent waves of Slavic Pentecostal immigrants to North America.

Relatively little has been written about the ethnic aspects of the growth of the Assemblies of God in the United States. Historians, church leaders, and people in the pew are indebted to Smolchuck for enriching their understanding of Pentecostalism’s development among the Slavs. Who Else … But God! confirms that one man, working within the fabric of the Christian community, can make a difference that affects eternity. This volume is a valuable contribution to the literature on Pentecostal history. It belongs in every college and seminary library with a focus on Pentecostal or Slavic-American history.

Reviewed by Darrin Rodgers.

Paperback, 366 pages, illustrated. The book is out-of-print, but used copies are available on amazon.com and abebooks.com.

[This review was originally posted February 22, 2007. Smolchuck passed away on February 23, 2008.]

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Review: Off-Road Disciplines

Spiritual Adventures of Missional Leaders

Off-Road Disciplines: Spiritual Adventures of Missional Leaders, by Earl Creps. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2006.

Church statistics tell us that overall, but with some exceptions, western churches are declining in membership. Certainly one factor for this decline is that much of western Christianity has lost part of its identity as a missional community, a community which prophetically partners with the Holy Spirit in His mission. As a result, church leaders are seeking the heart of God for both vision and empowerment for continuing in Jesus’ ministry of reconciliation in the contexts in which they are called. Slowly but surely, the community of Christ is recognizing its missional weakness when it comes to both the lifestyles of the individual followers of Christ, and the structure of the community itself.

Reacting to these shortcomings, the emerging church movement has arisen to fill the missional gaps by applying a relevant, contextualized gospel to those whom the traditional or even “contemporary” churches would not ordinarily reach. Off-Road Disciplines is a timely book that speaks to both the emerging church movement, and the traditional or denominational churches. Continue reading

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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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