Tag Archives: Holiness

The Lost Message of Full Consecration: Rediscovering the Early Pentecostal Worldview

P2351 prayer

Prayer service, 1953 annual convention of the Japan Assemblies of God

By Darrin J. Rodgers

I sometimes wonder whether God is much interested in big movements. I know He is intensely interested in individual souls who are wholly consecrated to Him, and wholly devoted to His cause. [1]
— Stanley Frodsham, editor of the Pentecostal Evangel

Early Pentecostal literature is overflowing with calls to full consecration — the insistence that Christians fully devote themselves to Christ and His mission. This call to full consecration — an essential part of the worldview of early Pentecostals — is now a faint echo in some quarters of the movement. Early Pentecostals offered profound insights concerning the need for a deeper spiritual life. A rediscovery of these insights — which focus on discipleship and mission — could reinvigorate the church by challenging believers to question the Western church’s accommodation of the materialism and selfishness of the surrounding culture.

Full Consecration

What is “full consecration?” The term may be unfamiliar to many readers. Stanley Horton noted, in a 1980 Pentecostal Evangel article, “In the early days of this Pentecostal movement we heard a great deal about consecration.” Horton went on to explain that the Hebrew word, kadash, which means consecration, was later replaced in popular piety by similar words, such as dedication and commitment. He noted that kadash signified a “separation to the service of God,” calling for not merely a partial dedication, but for “a total consecration and a life-style different from the [surrounding] world.”[2]

Pentecostalism emerged about 100 years ago among radical Holiness and evangelical Christians who aimed for full consecration. They were very uncomfortable with the gap between Scripture and what they saw in their own lives; between ought-ness and is-ness. They wanted to practice an authentic spirituality; a genuine Christianity, not just in confession, but in practice. Yearning for a deeper life in Christ, they were spiritually hungry and desired to be more committed Christ-followers. These ardent seekers saw in Scripture that Spirit baptism provided empowerment to live above normal human existence; this experience with God brought believers in closer communion with God and empowered them for witness.

According to Pentecostal theologian Jackie Johns, early Pentecostals embraced a worldview that, at its heart, is a “transforming experience with God.”[3] According to this understanding, the experience of being filled with the Holy Spirit enables believers to consecrate themselves to God.

Results of the Consecrated Life

Various themes arose from this worldview that emphasized full consecration:

  • Mission — Pentecostals have demonstrated a gritty determination to share Christ, in word and deed, no matter the cost. They had a vision to turn the world upside down, one person at a time. Delegates to the second general council of the Assemblies of God, held in November 1914, committed themselves to “the greatest evangelism that the world has ever seen.”[4]
  • Priesthood of all believers — Pentecostals have put into practice a radical application of this Protestant ideal, affirming that God can call anybody into the ministry — regardless of race, gender, educational or social status, age, handicap, and so on.
  • Spiritual disciplines — Believers prayed, read their Bibles, fasted, avoided worldly entanglements that would dilute their testimony, and called for a lifestyle of self-denial for the sake of lifting Christ up to the world.
  • Expectation of the miraculous — Believers practiced biblical spiritual gifts, experienced miracles, and viewed life’s struggles as spiritual warfare.
  • Racial reconciliation — Early Pentecostals at Azusa Street and elsewhere, realizing that full devotion to Christ precluded racial favoritism, committed themselves to overcoming the sin of racism.
  • A conviction that heavenly citizenship should far outweigh earthly citizenship — Most early Pentecostals critiqued extreme nationalism and war.

These themes (the above list is not exhaustive) all made sense within the worldview that called for full devotion to Jesus and no compromise with evil or distractions from the Christian’s highest calling. Pentecostals, subject to human frailty and the confusion of surrounding cultures, have not always lived up to these ideals. Still, Pentecostal identity should not be defined by the shortcomings of individual members, but by the vision for authentic Christianity that captures the imagination of its adherents.

The concept of full consecration is the underlying quality that gave birth within early Pentecostalism to the above themes, including speaking in tongues. Early Pentecostals viewed tongues-speech as the evidence, but not the purpose, of Spirit baptism. The purpose of this experience with God was full consecration — to draw believers closer to God and to empower them to be witnesses. The Pentecostal experience enabled believers to live with purity and power.

Early Pentecostals recognized that the consecrated life came at great cost, but yielded great spiritual riches. Daniel W. Kerr, the primary author of the AG’s Statement of Fundamental Truths, warned against “the fading glory” on some Christians’ faces, and instead called for a “deeper conversion” that is marked by desire for holiness.[5] Quoting Hebrews 12:14, Kerr stated that holiness, “without which no man shall see the Lord,” is both a “product of grace” and “a life of self-denying and suffering.”[6] Early Pentecostals insisted that the consecrated life is not inward-focused. Kerr averred that holiness “is a life of love for others, manifested in words and work.”[7]

Early Pentecostals were ahead of their time. It should be noted that they were not buying into modern political or social ideologies; their commitments arose from their devotional life. Some of their commitments — such as women in ministry, racial reconciliation, or pacifism — brought persecution 100 years ago, but the culture has shifted so that these stands are now considered respectable by many. This newfound respectability presents a challenge — it is possible to look like a Pentecostal by embracing historic Pentecostal themes that are now considered “cool,” without also seeking to be fully consecrated.

Pentecostalism without Consecration?

Living out and conveying authentic Christian spirituality from one generation to the next has often proven a difficult task. Carl Brumback, in his 1961 history of the Assemblies of God, expressed concern over the decline of the spiritual life within the Pentecostal movement. He wrote:

It must be admitted that there is a general lessening of fervor and discipline in the Assemblies of God in America. This frank admission is not a wholly new sentiment, for down through the years in the pages of the Pentecostal Evangel and other periodicals correspondents have asked, “Is Pentecost the revival it was in the beginning?” As early as five years after Azusa, they were longing for “the good old days”! Nevertheless, it is vital to any revival movement to reassess not too infrequently the state of its spiritual life.[8]

Likewise, Charisma magazine editor Lee Grady recently lamented “the lost message” of consecration. He wrote, “Today’s shallow, ‘evangelical lite’ culture focuses on self, self and more self. Christian books today are mostly about self-improvement, not self-sacrifice. We teach people to claim their ‘best life now’ — and to claim it on their terms.”[9]

Is it possible to be Pentecostal without full consecration?  D. W. Kerr, in answering this question, propounded that “when we cease to [esteem others better than ourselves] we cease to live the Christ-life. We may still have the outward form, but the power is gone.”[10] Those who identify with the Pentecostal tradition but who practice sinful or unwise activities are being inconsistent with the early Pentecostal worldview.

Need for Renewal

Self-centered spirituality seems to be the default setting for humanity. Pentecostalism arose as a renewal and reform movement within Christianity — and now the movement may itself be in need of renewal and reform.

How can Pentecostals rekindle a wholehearted passion for Christ and His mission? Stanley Frodsham suggested that Christians need to form a daily habit of reconsecration.[11] Rediscovering classic Pentecostal and Holiness devotional writings and hymns would be a good place to start. The popular Australian Assemblies of God worship band Hillsong United has done just that with its recent release, “Arms Open Wide,” which no doubt is patterned after the Holiness hymn, “Take My Life and Let it Be.”

“Take My Life and Let It Be” (lyrics below) is a prayer for full consecration. Read it, sing it, meditate upon it, and let God transform you. In doing so, you will rediscover Pentecostalism’s reason for being.

                                                Take My Life and Let It Be

Take my life, and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days; let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my hands, and let them move at the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet, and let them be swift and beautiful for Thee.
Take my voice, and let me sing always, only, for my King.
Take my lips, and let them be filled with messages from Thee.
Take my silver and my gold; not a mite would I withhold.
Make my intellect, and use every power as Thou shalt choose.
Take my will, and make it Thine; it shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart, it is Thine own; it shall be Thy royal throne.
Take my love, my Lord, I pour at Thy feet its treasure store.
Take myself, and I will be ever, only, all for Thee.

_________________________

Quotes on Full Consecration

Paul Bettex, a Pentecostal missionary who was martyred in China in 1916, proclaimed:

Full consecration is my battle-axe and watchword. You will find it in the tenth chapter of Matthew, and indeed from beginning to end of the New Testament… We have been forgetting that the Lord Himself, even before Paul taught that great doctrine of faith, heralded and proclaimed with no uncertain voice the conditions of true discipleship. These conditions are: a full, absolute, unlimited consecration.[12]

Early Pentecostal John G. Lake pointed to Christ as the Christian’s example for “absolute consecration,” even to the point of death.  He wrote:

The real purpose of becoming a Christian is not to save yourself from hell, or be saved to go to heaven. It is to become a child of God, with the character of Jesus Christ….[13]

D.W. Kerr, principal author of the AG’s Statement of Fundamental Truths, warned:

A desire to “win our friends” to the movement exposes one to the attack of the devil from the outside, and makes some fall an easy prey to the spirit of compromise, instead of enduring the reproaches of the cross … The Pentecostal movement is no exception to the rule that has characterized all the spiritual movements of the past. The desire to escape the reproach of the cross, lies at the bottom of all decline in spirituality and power, in the past history of the church.[14]

Stanley Frodsham, in a 1915 article, called upon Christians to be true to their heavenly citizenship:

When one comes into that higher kingdom and becomes a citizen of that ‘holy nation’ (1 Peter 2:9), the things that pertain to earth should forever lose their hold, even that natural love for the nation where one happened to be born, and loyalty to the new King should swallow up all other loyalties…. National pride [extreme nationalism], like every other form of pride, is abomination in the sight of God. And pride of race [racism] must be one of the all things that pass away when one becomes a new creature in Christ Jesus….[15]

________________________________

Darrin J. Rodgers, M.A., J.D., is director of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center and editor of Assemblies of God Heritage magazine. This article was originally published as: “A Call to Full Consecration,” 30 Assemblies of God Heritage (2010): 3-5.

Endnotes:

1. Stanley Frodsham, Wholly for God: A Call to Complete Consecration, Illustrated by the Story of Paul Bettex, a Truly Consecrated Soul (Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, [1934]), 20.

2. Stanley Horton, “Consecration, Commitment, Submission,” Pentecostal Evangel, February 10, 1980, 20.

3. Jackie David Johns, “Yielding to the Spirit: The Dynamics of a Pentecostal Model of Praxis,” in The Globalization of Pentecostalism: A Religion Made to Travel (Carlisle, CA: Regnum Books, 1999), 74.

4. General Council Minutes, April-November 1914 [combined], 12.

5. D. W. Kerr, Waters in the Desert (Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, [1925]), 77.

6. Ibid., 34.

7. Ibid., 33.

8. Carl Brumback, Suddenly from Heaven: A History of the Assemblies of God (Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, 1961), 349-350.

9. J. Lee Grady, “The Lost Message of Consecration,” Fire in My Bones, September 8, 2009. Online newsletter archived at: http://www.charismamag.com

10. Kerr, 130.

11. Frodsham, 61.

12. Ibid., 27.

13. John G. Lake, “The Power of Consecration to Principle,” unpublished manuscript edited by Wilford H. Reidt. FPHC.

14. Kerr, 37.

15. Stanley H. Frodsham, “Our Heavenly Citizenship,” Weekly Evangel, September 11, 1915, 3.


 

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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John Wright Follette: Encouraging a Deeper Life in Christ

FolletteThis Week in AG History — March 2, 1940

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on PE-News, 01 March 2018

John Wright Follette (1883-1966) was a gifted Bible teacher and author who spoke in many conferences and retreats. His messages encouraged believers to press into God, seeking more of Him, in order to guard against sin and live a more holy or “deeper life” in the Spirit. He spoke often about the gifts of the Holy Spirit, but emphasized the importance of Christian maturity. Follette wrote: “Many in Pentecost today seem to have missed the idea or purpose of the latter rain and instead of falling into line with God for a deeper life, ripening, maturing, and drying [as grain for the harvest], they are occupied with the incidentals. These incidentals [manifestations and gifts] are all very essential but only to the end—growth.”

One of Follette’s sermons on spiritual life appeared in a 1940 article in the Pentecostal Evangel. He articulated the importance of following after God’s purposes and plans on a daily basis. “Christians many times fail (and their faith is harmed),” he said, “because they try so hard to accomplish things that God has no idea of doing.” He described the Christian life not as a series of “disjointed affairs, but instead declared there is definite purpose in the Christian walk for which each of us were created. “Were we as sincere and careful in the matter of spiritual purpose as we are about materials ends,” said Follette, “I am sure we should grow in grace and save ourselves many a ‘spiritual headache.’”

In conclusion, Follette stated, “God does not thank you or reward you for doing a thousand things (good and religious) which do not relate to His will.” Instead, he emphasized, “Seek His will — do that and you cannot but glorify Him.”

To better understand Follette and his teachings, it is important to learn his background. Follette was a descendant of French Huguenots who first settled the Catskill Mountains in the early 1600s. His ancestors helped to establish the community of New Paltz, New York. He received his college and ministerial training at the New York Normal School in New Paltz, Taylor University, and Drew Theological Seminary.

Although he was raised in the Methodist Church, after receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit, he was ordained in 1911 by the Council of Pentecostal Ministers at Elim Tabernacle in Rochester, New York. Follette affiliated with the Assemblies of God in 1935 and became a favorite speaker at many church conferences, camp meetings, summer Bible camps, and missionary retreats around the world. He also taught at Elim Bible Institute in Rochester and at Southern California Bible College (now Vanguard University).

Follette was a prolific writer. More than 100 of his articles and poetry appeared in the Pentecostal Evangel and other periodicals. Many of his writings were put into book form after his death. His works include Smoking Flax and Other Poems (1936); Broken Bread (1957); Arrows of Truth (1969); This Wonderful Venture Called Christian Living (1974), Fruit of the Land (1989), and several other books and tracts. Follette died in New Paltz, New York, at the age of 82.

Read the article, “The Spiritual Purpose in Life and Method of Attainment,” on pages 2, 3, and 7 of the March 2, 1940, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Holiness Unto the Lord,” by A. H. Argue

• “What God Says About Foolish Talking,” by Mrs. Cornelia Nuzum

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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Holiness and Heaven: J. T. Boddy’s Deathbed Message from 1931

Boddy

J. T. Boddy with his wife and daughter, Macie. Circa 1915.

This Week in AG History — February 6, 1932

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 8 February 2018 

A person’s last words often reveal what was in his or her heart.

John Thomas Boddy, former editor of the Pentecostal Evangel (1919-1921), was a poet and a deep theological thinker. He was ordained by the Free Methodist Church in 1901 and transferred his credentials to the Assemblies of God in 1917. When he passed away on Nov. 6, 1931, he left behind a message that he wanted those still alive to carefully consider.

What was Boddy’s message from his deathbed?

Boddy’s daughter, Macie Lucas, wrote that her father meditated constantly on the Word of God while ill during the last two months of his life. She recounted that he preached for hours at a time while on required bedrest, and that he sensed an urgency to share, above all else, biblical truths about the holiness of God. She received so many inquiries about his last words that she preserved them in an article in the Feb. 6, 1932, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

According to Lucas, during his last weeks, Boddy repeatedly quoted Hebrews 12:14: “Without holiness no man shall see God.” Boddy knew he was dying, so it is understandable that he was meditating on Scripture verses about heaven. But Boddy emphasized the link between heaven and holiness.

Critics sometimes accuse early Pentecostals of promoting “works righteousness” in their emphasis on holiness. But Boddy explained that people cannot be holy by their own efforts. “God desires to impart His holiness to us,” he noted. This imparted holiness prepares the believer for heaven. He said: “There is no evil in heaven. There is no mixture in heaven. If you expect to go to heaven you must have a measure (the essence) of heaven in you here.”

Lucas recounted that, as Boddy was sharing about holiness, “his face would be radiant with the glory of God and he would burst forth in praises. Often he wept in the presence of God as he contemplated the glories of heaven.”

What does a life of holiness look like? Boddy echoed John Welsey, who taught that holiness meant loving God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength, and fleeing from sin.

Boddy was a prince of preachers, and in his final opportunity to share what was on his heart, Boddy encouraged people toward holiness and heaven.

Read about Boddy’s last words in the article, “A Revelation of Heaven,” by Macie M. Lucas, on page 6 of the Feb. 6, 1932, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Standing True to Scriptural Principles,” by Robert McClay

* “What the Pentecostal People Believe and Teach,” by R. E. McAlister

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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The Azusa Street Revival: What Frank Bartleman’s Eyewitness Account Reveals about the Worldview of Early Pentecostals

Azusa collageThis Week in AG History —March 11, 1916

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 9 March 2017

It was an unlikely location for an event that would change the face of Christianity. In the summer of 1906, revival erupted in the newly formed congregation meeting at the small, run-down Apostolic Faith Mission at 312 Azusa Street in Los Angeles. Critics attacked the congregation because its mild-mannered black Holiness preacher, William J. Seymour, preached racial reconciliation and the restoration of biblical spiritual gifts. The Azusa Street Revival, as it became known, soon became a local sensation, then attracted thousands of curiosity seekers and pilgrims from around the world.

The spiritual intensity of the revival was red hot for more than three years, making Azusa Street one of the most significant Pentecostal centers in the early twentieth century. Just over 110 years later, the Pentecostal movement, broadly construed, now claims over a half billion adherents, the second largest grouping within Christianity after the Catholic Church.

Frank Bartleman, one of the participants at Azusa Street, wrote down his account of the revival and the precipitating events. In 1916, Bartleman wrote an article with his recollections of the revival that was published in the Weekly Evangel (the predecessor to the Pentecostal Evangel). He later wrote a book, How Pentecost Came to Los Angeles (1925), which became a widely-read portrayal of the Azusa Street Revival. Bartleman’s eyewitness account captured fascinating details about the revival, which give insight into the spirituality and worldview of early Pentecostals.

Bartleman noted that the Azusa Street Revival did not occur in a vacuum. The immediate catalyst for the revival happened in the summer of 1905, when Joseph Smale, pastor of First Baptist Church of Los Angeles, returned from a visit to Wales. He had attended meetings during the great Welsh Revival, during which entire towns experienced an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Smale witnessed countless people repent of sin and turn toward God, and he prayed for God to do a similar work in Los Angeles.

Smale opened up his church for daily intercessory prayer meetings. Spiritually hungry people came from across Los Angeles and cried out to God for revival – praying specifically for a new “Pentecost.” Bartleman was among those who gathered at Smale’s church. He experienced a burden for “soul travail” – he sensed that God was calling him to win lost souls to Christ.

The prayer meetings attracted large numbers of people. However, some Baptist leaders opposed the spontaneous character of the prayer. They forced Smale to resign as pastor. He formed a new congregation, The New Testament Church of Los Angeles, which became a hub for people who committed themselves to pray for revival.

In the fall of 1905, Smale preached a series of sermons titled “The Pentecostal Blessing.” He encouraged believers to seek a restoration of the spiritual blessings described in the New Testament. Under Smale’s ministry, countless people developed a great hunger for God and engaged in deep prayer and Bible study.

When William Seymour came to Los Angeles in the spring of 1906 and began encouraging believers to seek biblical spiritual gifts, he found fertile ground for his message. People from varied backgrounds and from numerous churches – including Smale’s church – crowded into the Azusa Street Mission to experience the modern-day Pentecost for which they had been praying.

Bartleman offered some cautionary advice regarding the history surrounding Azusa Street. “It would be a great mistake,” he wrote, “to attempt to attribute the Pentecostal beginning in Los Angeles to any one man.” Bartleman stressed that the early Pentecostal revival was a sovereign move of God that had developed over time. He wrote, “Pentecost did not drop down suddenly out of heaven. God was with us in large measure for a long time before the final outpouring.”

Still, Bartleman reserved a special place in Pentecostal history for the Azusa Street Mission. He observed that the Pentecostal revival began “in earnest” under Seymour’s leadership at the humble, run-down location on Azusa Street.

Bartleman noted multiple ironies regarding the revival. The Azusa Street Mission, he wrote, took place in a dilapidated building and was led by “a quiet colored man, very unassuming.” Yet the revival attracted people from across the racial divides and news of the outpouring quickly spread across the world. Bartleman also noted that Seymour initially preached about the gift of speaking in tongues without having had the experience himself. Seymour did not receive the gift until several weeks into the Azusa Street Revival. Finally, Bartleman observed that many respectable Christian leaders looked down upon the revival because of its humble origins and interracial character. However, many of these critics ended up losing their own church members to the Azusa Street Revival.

The Azusa Street Revival has become iconic, symbolizing Pentecostal identity. Its emphasis on the restoration of biblical spiritual gifts certainly played a significant role in the early movement. Furthermore, the revival’s egalitarian character – men and women from varied racial and social backgrounds were both leaders and participants – is very appealing to our own twenty-first century egalitarian assumptions.

However, there is a danger that modern readers will boil down historic Pentecostal identity to consist merely of spiritual gifts and egalitarianism, while failing to understand the spirituality and worldview of early Pentecostals. The early Pentecostal worldview, at its core, encouraged believers to seek full consecration to Christ and His mission. The consecrated life, as illustrated in the Azusa Street Revival, was lived out through holy living and spiritual disciplines. Early Pentecostals committed themselves to prayer, fasting, and Bible study. They demonstrated a gritty determination to share Christ, no matter the cost. Importantly, they avoided worldly entanglements that would dilute their testimony, insisting that their heavenly citizenship should far outweigh any earthly allegiances.

With each year, we become further removed from the generation that birthed the prayer movement that became Pentecostalism. Testimonies from the iconic Azusa Street Revival provide insight into the spirituality that sparked the Pentecostal movement. Perhaps these testimonies will inspire future generations to likewise seek to be fully consecrated to Christ and His mission.

Read Frank Bartleman’s article, “The Pentecostal or ‘Latter Rain’ Outpouring in Los Angeles,” on pages 4, 5 and 8 of the March 11, 1916, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “The Five Judgments,” by S. A. Jamieson

* “A Great Opportunity in the Mexican Work,” by H. C. Ball

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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How should Christians respond to political and cultural crises? This AG evangelist’s admonition from 1959 is timely today!

ml-davidson

Martin Luther Davidson, 1953.

This Week in AG History — October 18, 1959

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on PE-News, 13 October 2016

How should Christians respond to political and cultural crises? Assemblies of God evangelist Martin Luther Davidson, in a sermon at the 1959 General Council, encouraged listeners to learn from the example of the first-century church. The early church, he noted, endured significant persecution in a society rocked by political turmoil and moral decay. In the midst of this social upheaval, the church established its identity and experienced remarkable growth.

How was the early church able to overcome adversity? Davidson identified three characteristics of early Christians that he suggested “was the secret of their victory.”

First, early Christians overcame adversity because they were consecrated to Christ and His mission. They despised sin, they surrendered themselves to suffer for the sake of righteousness, and they stood firm in the faith. According to Davidson, “Those Early Church saints were strongly marked by a holy indifference to external adversaries.” Early Christians endured the most severe forms of persecution. “They scorned the violence of fire, the edge of the sword, trials of cruel mockings and scourgings,” he noted. Davidson prayed that God would give twentieth-century Christians the “steadfastness of faith” that characterized first-century Christians.

Second, early Christians overcame adversity because of their sincere “holiness of character.” Davidson defined holiness as the condition of a person’s character. He noted that holiness could not be achieved by wearing or doing certain things; holiness could only come from the sanctifying, indwelling presence of God. Davidson expressed concern that this biblical view of holiness was being replaced in some Pentecostal circles by either “legalistic ritualism” (emphasizing external actions over the condition of the heart) or “liberalism” (presuming that conduct has no relationship to the condition of the heart). Davidson admonished Pentecostals to retain the historic view of holiness, asserting that “anything less will fail is in these critical days.”

Third, early Christians overcame adversity because they were “unwavering in holy faith.” Unlike modern conceptions of faith as mere “positive thinking,” Davidson carefully described the principles of biblical faith. True Christian faith, according to Davidson, is grounded in the Bible, it trusts in the person of God as revealed in Jesus Christ, and it provokes the believer to action.

Davidson encouraged Pentecostals to learn from early Christians, who “became intoxicated on the Spirit so much” that outsiders concluded they must be drunk with wine because they had no fear of man. “If the Church is to advance in these perilous days of universal crises,” Davidson concluded, “it must be filled with Spirit-intoxicated men” who demonstrate consecration, holiness, and unwavering faith.

Read Martin Luther Davidson’s article, “Forward in the Face of Crises!” on pages 3-4 of the Oct. 18, 1959, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Praying in the Holy Ghost,” by Normand J. Thompson

• “Deaf Students Prepare for the Ministry,” by Maxine Strobridge

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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The Evolution of Holiness in the Church of God in Christ: Summit to be Held at Mason Temple, September 8, 2016

Lexington11

Bishop Charles H. Mason was incarcerated in 1918 in the jail cell in the Holmes County Courthouse, Lexington, Mississippi. He was falsely accused of treason by those opposed to his Holiness message. The jail cell is now a pilgrimage site, open to the public and decorated with hand-painted murals depicting his incarceration.

The Church of God in Christ originated in 1897 in Lexington, Mississippi, among African-American Baptists who had been influenced by the Holiness movement. Over the years, these origins in Lexington and in the Holiness movement have become obscured. Today, the Church of God in Christ is at a crossroads. Will the church founded by Bishop Charles Harrison Mason retain and build upon its heritage of holiness, or will it evolve and become something different?

These questions about the history and future of the Church of God in Christ will be considered at the Holiness Evolution Summit, a first-of-its-kind event to be held at Mason Temple in Memphis on September 8, 2016 (the 152nd anniversary of Mason’s birth).

Mother Mary P. Patterson, organizer of the Holiness Evolution Summit, has spent the past 10 years raising awareness of Lexington’s role in Church of God in Christ history. Through her company, the Pentecostal Heritage Connection, she has organized tour groups of Lexington, and she has built relationships with community leaders, church leaders, and academics. Her efforts culminated on October 16, 2015, with the unveiling of an official State Historical Marker on the grounds of the Holmes County Courthouse in Lexington, honoring the founding of the Church of God in Christ.

The fact that Mason had been imprisoned 97 years earlier in a jail cell in the Holmes County Courthouse basement underscores the significant societal shifts that have occurred. Mason had been persecuted on account of his race and religion, but he is now honored. Indeed, African-Americans have made much progress in American society over the past 100 years. But much work remains to be done.

Now Patterson is bringing this conversation about Church of God in Christ history to Memphis. According to Patterson, the Holiness Evolution Summit aims to uncover forgotten aspects of Church of God in Christ origins, and to also provoke discussion about the implications of this heritage. For instance: What does holiness look like in the 21st century? Would Bishop Mason have anything to say about current challenges in society and church? And what does Lexington teach about religious liberty?

Participants include black and white scholars and church leaders from Church of God in Christ and Assemblies of God backgrounds. The four speakers at the 2015 dedication of the State Historical Marker will also be featured at the Holiness Evolution Summit:

The Holiness Evolution Summit will include formal presentations and ample time for audience participation with questions and answers. Bishop Craig S. Baymon (pastor of Holy Temple Cathedral of Deliverance COGIC, Memphis, Tennessee) will deliver the invocation. Mother Julia Scott Ward (the wife of Bishop Lee Ward, retired pastor of Greater Harvest COGIC, Memphis, Tennessee) will offer the scripture reading. Moderating the event will be Darrin Rodgers, director of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center, Springfield, Missouri.

The public is invited to attend the Holiness Evolution Summit, which will occur on September 8, 2016, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., in the U.E. Miller Conference Room of Mason Temple Church of God in Christ, 930 Mason Street, Memphis, Tennessee. Seating is limited. Registration is $40 and includes lunch. Registration may be purchased online or at the door. For additional information, contact the Pentecostal Heritage Connection at (901) 398-7716.

 

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Hattie Hammond: Calling Christians to a Deeper Walk with God

Hattie HammondThis Week in AG History — August 18, 1928

By Glenn Gohr
Originally published on PE-News, 18 August 2016

Hattie Hammond (1907-1994) was one of the premier preachers of the early Pentecostal-holiness movement. How did she gain that reputation? It was by preaching a simple gospel message of wholeheartedly serving God.

Born and raised in Williamsport, Maryland, she was saved and baptized in the Holy Spirit in a tent meeting at age 15, conducted by John Ashcroft, the grandfather of former Attorney General John Ashcroft. Even at that young age, she boldly began witnessing to her teachers and classmates, which was the beginning of her lifelong calling as an evangelist.

She was ordained by the Assemblies of God in 1927, and soon had invitations to speak in large churches in Cleveland, Ohio; Detroit, Michigan; Los Angeles and Oakland, California; Philadelphia; New York City; Washington, DC; and other places.

She also became a popular camp meeting speaker and Bible teacher. Her simple messages prompted abandonment of worldliness and inspired walking into a “deeper life” of consecration and holiness to God.

In a sermon called “Drawing Nigh to God,” published in the August 18, 1928, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, she encourages people to develop a strong, devotional life: “As we enter into the presence of the Lord we should realize we are in the presence of a great, almighty, eternal God.” She also promotes  waiting on the Lord: “We should not rush into His presence with haste, nor come as though we were coming into the presence of an earthly friend. We should take time to realize that He is God and beside Him there is none else.”

In this sermon she also talks about the need for God, salvation, spending time with God in prayer, and the importance of the baptism in the Holy Spirit.

She says, “The first thing necessary is that we become still, and know that the great I AM is God. Be still and know that it is God for whom we are waiting, that we are sitting in the presence of God, and that it is His great name upon which we are calling.” She concludes by saying, “We need the Holy Spirit to keep us true to the Cross, and to Jesus our Lover Lord, to be real overcomers.”

By the 1930s, Hattie Hammond had become one of the most powerful speakers in the Pentecostal movement. There are reports of remarkable miracles and healings which took place in her ministry.

She ministered all over the U.S. in colleges, conventions, Bible schools, churches of all denominations, and in more than 30 countries of the world.

Read Hattie Hammond’s article, “Drawing Nigh to God,” on pages 6-7 of the August 18, 1928, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Elijah’s God Still Lives Today,” by Leonard G. Bolton

• “The Marks of Holy Ghost Converts,” by Stephen Jeffreys

• “Pentecost in Bulgaria,” by Martha Nikoloff

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of 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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