Tag Archives: Holiness Movement

What can Pentecostals learn from John Wesley, the founder of Methodism?

Wesley_1400This Week in AG History — June 3, 1944

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 04 June 2020

What can Pentecostals learn from John Wesley (1703-1791), the founder of Methodism?

Wesley, an Anglican priest in England, helped to lay the foundation for large segments of the evangelical and Pentecostal movements. Despite living in a nation that identified as Christian, he recognized that most people did not have saving faith. He pioneered new evangelism and discipleship methods, which upset some of the religious leaders of his day. He appointed itinerant, unordained evangelists who traveled and preached the gospel. He also encouraged the formation of small groups of Christians for the purpose of discipleship, accountability, and Bible study.

Wesley encouraged each person to experience God’s love. However, he insisted that if a person was truly saved, an experience with God must yield a transformed life. True Christians, he taught, would live holy lives. When the Holy Spirit transformed a person’s desires, this inner holiness would naturally be manifested in outward holiness.

In many ways, early Pentecostals identified themselves in the tradition of Wesley. The June 6, 1944, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel published an article that shared the “secret” of “Wesley’s power.” Three reasons existed, according to the article, which caused Wesley’s ministry to be so powerful.

First, Wesley believed that the Bible was “the very Word of God.” The Bible was the standard for everything, and he prayerfully consulted it for guidance.

Second, Wesley “preached with a living sense of divine authority.” He believed his sermons were given “by direct communication of the Spirit,” based on the Bible, and “applied logically, earnestly, passionately to the hearts of men.”

Third, Wesley “lived and preached in the presence and power of the Holy Ghost.” His deep spirituality was formed by living daily in the presence of God and by developing daily habits of “prayer and song, fellowship and meditation, study and preaching.”

Wesley taught that changed hearts should ultimately change society. He and his followers (known as Methodists) became leaders in social issues of his day, including the abolition of slavery and prison reform.

In the present era of social and family disintegration, Wesley’s admonitions point Christians back toward holiness and deep spirituality. He understood that humanity’s woes flow from the human heart, and he encouraged people to change society one heart at a time.

Read the entire article by Samuel Chadwick, “Wesley’s Secret of Power,” on page 4 of the June 3, 1944, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Direct Answers to Prayer,” by Frederick M. Bellsmith

• “Following Jesus,” by H. A. Baker

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: Holiness and Pentecostalism in the American South

The Fire Spreads

The Fire Spreads: Holiness and Pentecostalism in the American South, by Randall J. Stephens. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008.

Pentecostalism as Regional and Trans-Regional Religion

In 1906, a holiness preacher named G. B. Cashwell attended an interracial revival on Azusa Street in Los Angeles. Convinced of William J. Seymour’s message of sanctification, the young and energetic southern preacher returned to his home in North Carolina and introduced black and white men and women to their own experience of “Pentecost” and “gifts of tongues.” Though exceptional for its high level of attendance and publicity, Cashwell’s popular revival, historian Randall J. Stephens quickly points out, was no accident, for the simple reason that the “roots of pentecostalism and holiness” had already reached deep into the fertile religious soil of southern culture during the nineteenth century (p. 7). The Fire Spreads tells the story of the process by which Wesleyan doctrines of holiness filtered through the Mason-Dixon Line and made it possible for many southerners to reject mainline Protestant denominationalism and embrace “the ecstatic new movement” of pentecostalism (p. 11). Issues of race, class, gender, and politics come into focus as Stephens eloquently, entertainingly, and engagingly situates the development of pentecostalism within the regional context of the American South from the nineteenth century to the present.

Stephens begins The Fire Spreads with an admission that the American South was not the birthplace of holiness and pentecostalism, despite the fact that today over fifty different pentecostal groups base their headquarters in the region. The basic purpose of the book, therefore, is to explain how an upstart evangelical sect imported from the North could become one of the most influential and pervasive forms of Protestantism in the contemporary South. In his introduction, Stephens carefully describes the basic tenets of holiness and early pentecostalism, which included conversion and salvation, entire sanctification, gifts of the Holy Spirit, and premillennialism. He also stresses the “conflict, dissent, and antagonism [that] marked both early movements,” due in large part to their association with perfectionist revivals in the North, interracial revivals in the West, and the first holiness adherents in the South, who Stephens describes as “anonymous zealots on the cultural fringes of society” (pp. 7, 4).

Chapter 1, “Angels from the North,” describes how the “intersectional and interdenominational” contours of the Second Great Awakening generated opposition to a prevalent strain of Calvinism in the South that “maintained a pessimism about humankind that seriously inhibited perfectionism” (pp. 18, 25). This sort of hyper-Calvinism, according to Stephens, existed largely because of the commitment of white southerners to slavery and a rigid code of honor. Not surprisingly, Continue reading

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Review: Lithuanian Pentecostal History

Lithuanian Pentecostal History

Lietuvos Sekmininkų Bažnyčia: Istorine Apybraiza (The Pentecostal Church of Lithuania: Historical Sketch), edited by Rimantas Kupstys, et al. Vilnius, Lithuania: Apyausris, 2002.

Lietuvos Sekmininkų Bažnyčia: Istorine Apybraiza, published in 2002 upon the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Pentecostal church in Lithuania, provides a detailed grassroots account in the Lithuanian language of the development of Pentecostalism across the Baltic nation. The volume was assembled by an editorial committee headed by Rimantas Kupstys, Bishop of the Union of Pentecostal Churches of Lithuania.

The publisher notes the volume is not an exhaustive scientific study. However, this historical sketch is a valuable written account of a national history that, until now, was largely available only in scattered documents or in oral form. The work was based on archival materials, memories of eyewitnesses, published articles, and government documents.

Lietuvos Sekmininkų Bažnyčia begins by tracing Pentecostalism’s roots in the trans-Atlantic revivals of the 18th and 19th centuries, resulting in a significant evangelical and Holiness movement in England and America. The traditional version of Pentecostal origins is retold, identifying Charles Parham and the Azusa Street revival as central to the emerging movement. Thomas Ball Barratt, the Methodist minister from Oslo who received the Pentecostal message while visiting New York in 1906, is commended for, upon his return to Norway, helping to nurture Pentecostal leaders across Europe. Continue reading

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Review: Azusa East


The Life and Time of G. B. Cashwell

Azusa East: The Life and Times of G. B. Cashwell, by Doug Beacham. Franklin Springs, GA: LSR Publications, 2006.

“It has long been acknowledged that G. B. Cashwell played a significant role in the spread of the Azusa Street revival across the United States. Coming as he did to Dunn, North Carolina, fresh from the revival in Los Angeles, Cashwell’s message had a powerful impact upon a number of Holiness pastors and congregations. Until now, however, the story of G. B. Cashwell has been largely elusive. We are all in debt to Doug Beacham’s new account of this man and the role he played in taking the revival east. Beacham has unearthed previously unknown sources, which he has skillfully and carefully used to weave the story of Cashwell with color and vitality. Where he lacks the evidence that would clinch his account, he has employed his imagination in ways that are fully consistent with the known facts. I am pleased to recommend this volume to you for study. It goes far in helping us to understand a number of the early developments that took place in the churches that are heirs to Azusa East.” — Cecil M. Robeck, Jr., Fuller Theological Seminary Continue reading

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