Tag Archives: Doctrine

E.N. Bell’s 1919 Response to Oneness Pentecostalism

BaptismThis Week in AG History —September 6, 1919

By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 06 September 2018

In 1913, a doctrinal view that later fractured the young Pentecostal movement found its roots in a camp meeting In Los Angeles. The resulting divide into Trinitarians and Oneness Pentecostals, sometimes called “The New Issue,” was addressed many times by early Assemblies of God leaders, coming down firmly on the side of the historic Christian view of the Trinity.

At a camp meeting at Arroyo Seco, California, many people began to notice the miracles that came in response to prayers, “in the name of Jesus.” Amid this focus, a man named John Scheppe claimed to have had a revelation of the power of the name of Jesus. Another minister remarked that the apostles did not mention baptizing in the “name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost” but rather “in the name of Jesus.” After the camp meeting, many began to rebaptize in “the name of Jesus” only.

Gradually, some began to consider what baptizing in “Jesus Only” implied. Some preachers began to preach that when Scripture speaks of “the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost” that it meant that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost had a name: Jesus. Eventually, this led to the understanding that there was only one person in the godhead — Jesus Christ. The teaching spread that Jesus IS the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Many Pentecostals accepted rebaptism in Jesus’ name (including E. N. Bell, the first general chairman of the Assemblies of God) without accepting a denial of the Trinity. Wanting everything that Jesus had for them they gladly were willing to undergo the waters of baptism in identifying with the power of His name. However, the confusion that resulted led to many ministerial discussions, debates, and numerous articles. At the 1915 General Council it was recommended that there be no divisions based on baptismal formulas but a resolution was passed affirming the distinctions with the Trinity. In 1916, the General Council approved a “Statement of Fundamental Truths” that clearly articulated where the Assemblies of God stood on the deity of Christ and the Trinity.

E. N. Bell, the first general chairman (later called general superintendent), in the Sept. 6, 1919, Pentecostal Evangel addressed this issue in an article entitled, “The Great Controversy and Confusion.” Some of the brothers advocating the “Jesus Only” position had reported that the newly formed Assemblies of God was opposed to baptism in the manner in which the apostles baptized in the book of Acts and that church leadership was preventing “teaching that exalts Him (Jesus) as God.”

Bell explained that the General Council of the Assemblies of God did not raise any issue over people baptizing in the name of Jesus until “there came to be attached to it certain fundamental errors” that “made only the entering wedge for other teaching not found in Acts” or “a single line in the whole New Testament.”

Bell continued to expound upon the understanding of the nature of the relationship between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit: “There is That in the Father of Jesus which makes Him the Father and not the Son; there in That in the Son of God which makes Him the Son and not the Father; and there is That in the Holy Ghost which makes Him the Holy Ghost and not the Son. Yes, the Father is the Begetter of Jesus, and Jesus is the Begotten. The Father is not the Begotten of Jesus, and Jesus is not the Begetter of the Father … God in His Word uniformly maintains these distinctions.”

The split in the young Pentecostal movement was difficult for the leaders on both sides as each sought to lift up the name of Jesus and see Him glorified in the power of the Holy Spirit through their lives and ministry. Differences in scriptural understanding led to difficult choices in supporting ministries and in fellowshipping together.

Bell ended his 1919 article with these words, “If the other brethren had never introduced other matters dishonoring to the Father and to the Son, and contrary to the Scriptures, and had held only for the matchless and glorious TRUE DEITY of the blessed Son of God, then we would be all pulling together today … if they will drop all these unscriptural issues and hold only for His true Deity, we can do it yet.”

Doctrinal divides are never easy within the body of Christ. The Assemblies of God has sought, since its beginning, to hold fast to scriptural teachings as a primary way to uphold unity within the Church of Jesus Christ.

Read E. N. Bell’s article, “The Great Controversy and Confusion,” on page 6 of the Sept. 6, 1919, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Soul Food for Hungry Saints,” by A.G. Ward

• “Sunday School Lesson from a Pentecostal Perspective”

• “Pacific Pentecostal Bible School,” by Elder D.W. Kerr

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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E. S. Williams: 1937 New Year’s Message for the Assemblies of God


This Week in AG History–January 16, 1937
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in PE News, 14 January 2015

While much has changed in the past 78 years, Ernest S. William’s New Year’s admonition to the Assemblies of God in 1937 remains strikingly relevant. Williams was the only veteran of the Azusa Street Revival to serve as general superintendent of the Assemblies of God (1929-1949). Known for his spiritual depth, he led the Fellowship during a period of significant numerical growth.

Williams took the helm of the Fellowship the same year as the Great Depression began. In 1929, the Assemblies of God reported 1,612 churches with 91,981 members. By 1937 those tallies had approximately doubled to 3,473 churches with 175,362 members.

“God has blessed our fellowship of Spirit-filled redeemed people with a phenomenal growth,” Williams acknowledged. However, he warned readers of “danger” that accompanied growth. With the increase in numbers, Williams cautioned, comes the temptation to rely on “human ideas and human methods, not all of which are sanctified to the glory of God.”

Christians are called to live and worship “in spirit and in truth” and “in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,” Williams wrote. Any substitute would cause the Assemblies of God to suffer “grievous loss.” He suggested that “prayerful watchfulness and entire consecration” were required to maintain this spiritual calling.

Williams encouraged believers to seek unity. He expressed his belief that the Pentecostal movement “would be a far greater service to God were it all united.” It may not be God’s will, he clarified, that this unity be expressed organizationally. In his view, believers should be united “in one spirit and Christian fellowship” and in “Christian love and worship.”

While Williams opposed divisions due to “sectarian causes,” he acknowledged that true Christian unity could only develop among believers who embraced solid doctrine and morals. “Let us therefore show Christian love and Christian fellowship to all of God’s children who love and do the truth, wherever they may be,” Williams wrote, “but let us continue an uncompromising stand against tolerance of evil wherever it is found.”

Williams concluded his New Year’s message with a missionary call. “The uttermost parts of the earth is our motto,” he propounded. “May the coming year be one of rich harvests in souls and in personal soul development.” This dual concern for deep spirituality and sharing the gospel continues to be central to Assemblies of God identity.

Read Williams’ article, “The Task That Is Before Us,” on page 4 of the January 16, 1937, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Leaving the Choice with the Lord,” by Stanley H. Frodsham

• “Power, Love and a Sound Mind,” by Donald Gee

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

– See more at: http://www.penews.org/Article/This-Week-in-AG-History-%E2%80%94-January-16,-1937/#sthash.uNUNChh6.dpuf

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

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Looking Toward the New Year


This Week in AG History–December 29, 1934
By William Molenaar

Also published in PE News, 31 December 2014

“Looking Toward the New Year,” by E. S. Williams was published in the Pentecostal Evangel on December 29, 1934. Williams wrote this article during the Great Depression, and noted how people felt uncertain in regards to the next year ahead. However, he encouraged readers saying, “It is a time for the Church, the Bride of Christ, to trim afresh her lamps, to replenish her vessels with spiritual oil, to look diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God, lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble and defile us.”

Ernest Swing Williams (1885-1981), was a participant in the Azusa Street revival in 1906, and ordained with the AG in 1914. Later he became the general superintendent between 1929 and 1949. During his tenure he brought great stability to the Assemblies of God fellowship in the United States, during which the United States faced the Great Depression and WWII.

In the beginning of his article Williams asked, “If we have injured, or wronged any, may we at the beginning of the New Year make restitution?” To begin the New Year right, Williams quoted Matthew 5:23-24, pointing out the need for reconciliation in our relationships.

Williams also mentioned the need for the teaching of sound doctrine and going back to the Bible. He noticed that “many new and strange doctrines are abroad and some of God’s children are sorely perplexed by them.” He also noted that some were seeking some new way or novel path, but he assured his readers that, “We need no new gospel, we need no strange or startling novelty.” He goes on to say that, “While we should not despise prophesying, we should regard the holy Scriptures as of greater importance than all else for building and establishing the soul.”

Looking to the future, Williams was pleased to see the Assemblies of God moving forward and reminded readers that we are pilgrims and strangers on a journey toward “the Celestial City.” Williams said we must look beyond the enemy, temptations, and all hindrances to “Jesus the author and finisher of our faith, seeing in Him our sufficiency even when our faith and our strength seem small.” Williams also casted vision for the Assemblies of God to advance evangelism at home, as well as in the foreign fields for the coming year. “This will require, not only desire, but money, strength, and purpose. No doubt each assembly can establish some new work during the year,” said Williams.

Williams’ final encouragement reads, “The World plunges madly into darkness and despair. To us has been given the light of life. May the New Year take us leagues ahead of where we have ever been before. The blessing of God be with you.”

Read the article, “Looking Toward the New Year,” on pages 1, 6, and 7 of the December 29, 1934, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Communion with God: New Year’s Message,” by an unknown author.

* “The Editor’s Notebook,” by Stanley H. Frodsham.

* “The Passing and the Permanent,” by an unknown author.

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. For current editions of the Evangel, click here.

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

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The Open Bible Council


This Week in AG History–June 24, 1916
By William Molenaar

Also published in AG-News, Mon, 23 Jun 2014 – 3:13 PM CST.

In the early days of the modern Pentecostal movement, controversies raged over the nature of tongues, sanctification, water baptism, and the Trinity. Many local churches and pastors operated independently, with little accountability, and did what was right in their own eyes. The Assemblies of God was formed in 1914 in part to bring unity, stability, and accountability to churches within the Pentecostal movement. However, the first General Council decided not to create a binding statement of faith.

The emerging Oneness movement (also called the “New Issue”) forced the Assemblies of God to reconsider its decision to be non-creedal. Advocates of the New Issue were teaching that believers must be baptized in the name of Jesus based on the narrative of Acts, rather than using the baptismal formula of Matthew 28:19: “in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” They further rejected the doctrine of the Trinity and understood the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit not as persons of the godhead, but rather as different manifestations of the one personal God. As a result, some Oneness believers asserted that no distinctions existed between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

The young Assemblies of God was compelled to define its doctrine and to create organizational mechanisms to ensure accountability. Chairman J. W. Welch, in the June 24, 1916, editorial of theWeekly Evangel, issued a call to ministers to attend a third General Council of Assemblies of God. Welch desired unity and decried the strife and contentions among Pentecostals. He pointed out the need for “scriptural unity, order and government in the church.” Welch referred to the council as “an OPEN BIBLE council,” asking that those who attend to base their decisions squarely on the Bible.

Welch reassured readers that the meeting would not seek to create a sect or denomination. Doctrinal confusion was at hand, and he pleaded with those attending the next General Council to strive for unity and harmony, while discerning what is truth and what is error according to the Word of God. What resulted? The 1916 General Council adopted the Statement of Fundamental Truths.

Read the entire editorial by J. W. Welch on pages 3 and 7 of the June 24, 1916, issue of theWeekly Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Christians in India Are Given ‘Gift of Tongues,'” by William T. Ellis.

* “Some Good Things to Remember,” by Mrs. P. M. (Agnes Ozman) LaBerge.

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. For current editions of the Evangelclick here.

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

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The First General Council (Part 1)

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This Week in AG History — March 31, 2014

By William Molenaar
Originally published on AG-News, Mon, 31 Mar 2014 – 4:30 PM CST.  The article here contains editorial changes.

Delegates of the first General Council of the Assemblies of God met 100 years ago this week, April 2-12, 2014. They wanted to organize their efforts to more effectively carry out the mission of God, but there was tension regarding how this should be done. Were they going to start a church or a parachurch network?

The Council opened with three days of worship services, and the business sessions didn’t start until the sixth. A conference committee made up of representatives of each state in attendance was charged with receiving resolutions and setting an agenda for the coming business sessions.

While the conference committee met, a secret, self-appointed committee also met for fear that the conference committee would attempt to steer the General Council toward a high level of structural organization. This secret committee wrote its own resolution.

According to William Menzies, in his book Anointed to Serve, the conference committee caught wind of this secret committee and invited them to meet together for understanding. At first there was some apprehension, but since the secret committee’s resolution voiced the very values that the conference committee members were seeking, they approved of it. In the end, the same resolution was presented to the Council cosponsored by both committees. The Preamble and Resolution of Constitution approved by the 1914 General Council follows:

WHEREAS, God, our Heavenly Father, sent His only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, into the world, Who purchased and redeemed fallen man with His own Precious blood, and called out of the world and saved a people, of whom He built and established His Church (Assembly of God. Mat. 16:18), upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the Head and Chief Corner-stone (Eph. 2:20), and organized and baptized it with the Holy Spirit, with its government upon His shoulders (Isaiah 9:6-7),

WHEREAS, He gave the Holy Inspired Scriptures, (Both old and new covenants, Heb. 8:6-13) as the all-sufficient rule for faith and practice, (2 Tim. 3:16), as follows: ‘All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works,’ we therefore shall not add to nor take from it (Rev. 22:18); and

WHEREAS, He commanded that there should be no schism (division, sectarianism) in His Body, the GENERAL ASSEMBLY (Church) of the first born, which are written in heaven, Heb. 12:23; and

WHEREAS, We recognize ourselves as members of said GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF GOD, (which is God’s organism), and do not believe in identifying ourselves as, or establishing ourselves into, a sect, that is a human organization that legislates or forms laws and articles of faith and has jurisdiction over its members and creates unscriptural lines of fellowship and disfellowship and which separates itself from other members of the General Assembly (Church) of the first born, which is contrary to Christ’s prayer in St. John 17, and Paul’s teaching in Eph. 4:1-16, which we so heartily endorse:

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, FIRST, That we recognize ourselves as a GENERAL COUNCIL of Pentecostal (Spirit Baptized) saints from local Churches of God in Christ, Assemblies of God, and various Apostolic Faith Missions and Churches, and Full Gospel Pentecostal Missions, and Assemblies of like faith in the United States of America, Canada, and Foreign Lands, whose purpose is neither to legislate laws of government, nor usurp authority over said various Assemblies of God, nor deprive them of their Scriptural and local rights and privileges, but to recognize Scriptural methods and order for worship, unity, fellowship, work and business for God, and to disapprove of all unscriptural methods, doctrines and conduct, and approve of all Scriptural truth and conduct, endeavoring to keep the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, and to walk accordingly, as recorded in Eph. 4:17-32, and to consider the five purposes announced in the Convention Call in the February, 1914, issue of ‘WORD AND WITNESS;’

RESOLVED, SECOND, That we recognize all the above said Assemblies of various names, and when speaking of them refer to them by the general Scriptural name ‘Assemblies of God;’ and recommend that they all recognize themselves by the same name, that is, ‘Assembly of God’ and adopt it as soon as practicable for the purpose of being more Scriptural and also legal in transacting business, owning property, and executing missionary work in home and foreign lands, and for general convenience, unity and fellowship” (General Council Minutes, April 2-12, 1914, 4-5).

The General Council Minutes from April 2-12, 1914, records that the motion to accept the Preamble and Resolution of Constitution “was unanimously adopted amid great demonstration, the whole house rising to their feet and shouting praises to God. ‘Praise God from whom all blessing flow’ was sung. The power of God fell mightily upon the great Assembly. The Council broke up into a great praise meeting. The joy of God filled all hearts, and the multitude were moved to tears, and many wept for joy.”

Did the first General Council start a church or a parachurch missional network? It appears that they tried to do both. Their values were clear; they were committed to:

1) The trinitarian full gospel,

2) The authority of Scripture,

3) The unity of the Church, and

4) The non-legislative and non-sectarian basis for their organization to prevent it from dividing the Church, since they too were part of the universal Church.

With this in mind, they resolved to organize a council of Pentecostals that would gather together for greater missional effectiveness and accountability to biblical beliefs and practices, which would cultivate unity and maturity in the faith. They also approved of the five purposes presented in the convention call in the February 1914 issue of Word and Witness, and encouraged all local assemblies to take on the name “Assembly of God.”  The same Council went on to recognize four offices of the Church: Elder, Evangelist, Exhorter, and Deacon; appoint 12 Executive Presbyters; and authorize the formation of District Councils.

Read the entire text of the April 1914 issue of Word and Witness, which recounted what happened at the first General Council.

Also featured in this issue:

* “The Finished Work” by H. M. Savage.

* “What is Most Needed, Put Them to Praying” by Mrs. S. D. Mosaley.

* “Revival News in Home Land” by various authors.

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now

The Preamble and Resolution of Constitution approved by the 1914 General Council follows:

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. For current editions of the Evangelclick here.

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

 

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1916 General Council

frodsham_P6899

This Week in AG History — October 21, 1916

By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published on AG-News, Mon, 21 Oct 2013 – 3:50 PM CST

The year was 1916. The Assemblies of God faced deep doctrinal divisions that threatened to tear apart the young fellowship. A significant minority of Assemblies of God ministers had identified with the emerging Oneness movement, which denied the doctrine of the Trinity. In the face of this turmoil, the fourth general council of the Assemblies of God, which met in St. Louis in October 1916, voted to adopt its Statement of Fundamental Truths.

Stanley H. Frodsham’s observations of the meeting were published in the October 21, 1916, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel. Frodsham (1882-1969), a young British Pentecostal pastor and writer, had a unique perspective. He was not just an observer, those in attendance elected him to serve as general secretary of the Assemblies of God.

Frodsham described how early Pentecostals initially thought they were “being led by our Joshua, out from the wilderness, over the Jordan, into the promised land.” This triumphalistic view was soon tempered by divisions within the movement. Frodsham quoted Scripture to describe the disunity: “every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). He lamented, “This new spirit has crept in and brought shipwreck and havoc in many directions.” Frodsham described at length how General Council participants discussed their doctrinal differences and, ultimately, voted to “set forth a clear statement of the things most surely believed among us.” The Statement of Fundamental Truths has provided a basis of fellowship for the Assemblies of God for 97 years.

But the adoption of the Statement of Fundamental Truths was not the most important accomplishment at the 1916 general council, according to Frodsham. While the decision to adopt the Statement was important, he believed that the meeting’s missionary spirit was its best and most memorable feature. He explained, “The mightiest factor in this great Pentecostal Revival has been the wonderful missionary spirit that has characterized it from the first.” Frodsham stated that the “paramount needs of the hour” were “A large spiritual horizon, a revelation of the need of souls, a passionate desire to see them saved, [and] intense prayer for multitudes to be pressed into the Kingdom.” This missionary spirit continues to animate the Assemblies of God to this day.

Read the article, “Notes from an Eyewitness at the General Council,” by Stanley H. Frodsham, on pages 4 and 5 of the October 21, 1916, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:
* “The Vision of the Lord,” by Arch P. Collins
* “Thirsting after God,” by Andrew Urshan
And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. For current editions of the Evangelclick here.

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

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