Tag Archives: E. N. Bell

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

Leave a comment

Filed under History, Theology

Eudorus Neander Bell: Pentecostal Statesman


This Week in AG History–June 30, 1923
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in AG-News, Tue, 01 Jul 2014 – 1:17 PM CST.

Eudorus Neander Bell’s name was not the only thing about him that stood out. Better known as E. N. Bell (1866-1923), he served as first chairman (this title was later changed to general superintendent) of the Assemblies of God. He and his twin, Endorus, learned to work hard at a young age. Their father died when the boys were two years old, and they had to help provide for the family.

A sincere and studious Christian, E. N. Bell felt a call to the ministry at a young age. However, his family’s poverty meant that this calling would be postponed. He dropped out of high school and instead worked to put bread on his family’s table. At times, the only bread he could afford was stale and had to be dipped in water to be edible. Finally, at age 30, he achieved a longtime dream and graduated from high school.

Bell proved to be an adept student. He earned a bachelor of arts degree from Stetson University, attended Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville from 1900 to 1902, and received a bachelor of divinity degree from the University of Chicago Divinity School (then a Baptist school) the following year.

He pastored Baptist churches for about 17 years. Despite success in the ministry, Bell was hungry for more of God. After he heard about the emerging Pentecostal movement in 1907, he took a leave of absence from his church in Fort Worth, Texas, and traveled to William Durham’s North Avenue Mission in Chicago to wait upon the Lord. He prayed expectantly for 11 months, until he received the baptism in the Holy Spirit on July 18, 1908.

Bell described his Spirit baptism in a testimony published five months after the experience: “God baptized me in His Spirit. Wave after wave fell on me from heaven, striking me in the forehead like electric currents and passing over and through my whole being…. [The Spirit] began to speak through me in a tongue I never heard before and continued for 2 hours…. After 3 months of testing, I can say before God, the experience is as fresh and sweet as ever.”

Bell traveled back to the South, uncertain what his next steps should be. He ministered across the South, seeking God’s will for his life. Then, in 1909, God answered two prayers. At age 44, Bell finally married. He also became pastor of a Pentecostal congregation in Malvern, Arkansas. He began publishing a monthly periodical, Word and Witness, which became a prominent voice within the young Pentecostal movement.

In 1913, Bell published the “call” to Hot Springs. Those who attended the April 1914 meeting in Hot Springs organized the Assemblies of God and elected Bell to serve as its first chairman. Bell, a Pentecostal statesman with a pastoral heart, proved a wise choice. He helped to lay the theological and organizational foundation for the young fellowship

J. Roswell Flower wrote that Bell was the “sweetest, safest and sanest man” he had ever met in the Pentecostal movement. According to Flower, Bell was “a big-hearted man” and took time to pray with the sick and tend to other pastoral duties, despite the numerous pressures of his office. He slept little, traveled much, and wrote constantly. He did all this “without murmur or complaint.” Flower noted that Bell looked much older than his 56 years. “He grew old in the service,” Flower wrote. “He had purposed in his heart that he would give all that was in him for the faithful performance of the work that had been allotted to him.”

Bell’s health broke, so he stepped down as chairman in November 1914. He returned to the pastorate but remained active as an executive presbyter and editor of the Weekly Evangel andWord and Witness. He was elected as chairman again in 1919 once he had recovered. He intended to leave office in 1924 and to pour himself into budding ministers by teaching at the newly-formed Central Bible Institute.

Bell’s work ethic took a toll on his health. He literally worked himself to death, dying in office on June 15, 1923. Tributes to the fallen leader were published on six pages of the June 30, 1923, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Early Pentecostals taught that those who truly had Christian love would lay down their lives for one another (1 John 3:16). So perhaps it should not be surprising that the first chairman of the Assemblies of God did just that.

Read tributes to E. N. Bell on pages 1 through 6 of the June 30, 1923, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Many Members, One Body,” by Zelma Argue

* “On the Top of the World,” by Victor G. Plymire

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

1 Comment

Filed under Church, Spirituality