Tag Archives: Theologians

Review: In Jesus’ Name

“In Jesus’ Name”: The History and Beliefs of Oneness Pentecostals, by David A. Reed. Blandford Forum, England: Deo Publishing, 2008.

David Reed’s book, “In the Name of Jesus,” is possibly the best study on the origins of Oneness Pentecostalism – that segment of the Pentecostal movement that rejects traditional Trinitarian formulas in favor of an emphasis on the name of Jesus. Reed’s own spiritual journey (he was reared in a Oneness Pentecostal church in New Brunswick, Canada, but is now an Anglican minister and educator) provided the impetus for his study of the Oneness movement, which has become his life’s work.

Reed divides his work into three sections – 1) the Pietist and evangelical legacies within Oneness Pentecostalism, 2) the birth of Oneness Pentecostalism, and 3) the theology of Oneness Pentecostalism.

Reed opens with a spotlight on the Pietist emphasis on searching out the truths of Scripture. Pietist leader Philip Jacob Spener (1635-1705) gave priority to moral living over correct doctrine. Pietism tended to focus on spiritual process and growth, asking questions such as “Are you living yet in Jesus?” (pp. 13-14n).

The author traces the spirit of Pietism through the ministries of August Hermann Francke (1663-1727) and Nicholaus Ludwig Zinzendorf (1700-1760) with their emphasis on a heart religion that came about through repentance, conversion, weeping, practical piety and rejoicing. Zinzendorf was Christocentric, giving great value to the suffering and bleeding of Jesus. Reed states that Pietist devotion included an emphasis on the name of Jesus, which should come as no surprise. John Wesley later made his mark on the religious world with a two-fold emphasis on conversion and holiness of life.

Puritan clerics of the seventeenth century believed nearly the same as Pietists in the matter of experiential religion. According to Reed, “Pietism was a stream of spirituality that emphasized the affective and practical aspects of faith…it contributed to the working out of the distinctive doctrine of Oneness Pentecostals” (italics mine) (p. 32).

Reed argues that Oneness Pentecostalism arose from this evangelical Pietist and Puritan heritage. Whereas Pietists narrowed Spirit-baptism to a stream of spirituality that emphasized the affective and practical aspects of faith, Oneness Pentecostals extended this Pietistic hermeneutic to “the name of Jesus.” Oneness Pentecostals claimed that there is power in the Name if you have faith in the Name (and if you are buried by baptism in His Name). Further, it appears that Oneness Pentecostalism is a child of Jewish thought—a radical monotheism stressing one God and one Name. This Oneness belief maturated in the Holiness and early Pentecostal movements.

Wherever one found devotional literature, hymnody, and continued teaching by Pietist descendants, one often encountered the name of Jesus. “The phrase ‘Jesus’ and ‘Jesus Only’ became commonplace among Keswick and Holiness writers” (p. 40), such as Hannah Whitall Smith (1832-1911).

Reed, in the second part of his book, deals with the birth of Oneness Pentecostalism, stating that it had two birthplaces: Topeka (1901) and Azusa Street (1906). “White Pentecostals, especially those in the Assemblies of God, have pinned their Pentecostal identity on Parham’s doctrine of glossolalia. Black Pentecostals, on the other hand, have identified with the Azusa Street Revival” (p. 81). He contends, however, that it is difficult to substantiate this claim. He further observes, “Oneness doctrine and practice may be more compatible in its core with an Afro-centric worldview than with that of non-Pentecostal white evangelicals” (p. 82).

Reed asserts: “The ‘Jesus Name’ or ‘Oneness’ paradigm is a radical (emphasis mine) soteriology constituted by: a non-trinitarian modalistic view of God, the name of Jesus as the revealed name of God, and the threefold pattern for full salvation set forth in Acts 2:38” (p. 113)—blood, water and Spirit [repentance, baptism in water in the name of Jesus, and the infilling of the Holy Spirit].

“For the uninformed outsider, Oneness Pentecostalism is a conundrum. Like other Pentecostal groups, it should be emphasizing the Spirit,” Reed states. “But it speaks about Jesus and denies the Trinity” (p. 338).

Reed’s book covers such topics as: Finished Work, Secret Rapture (Manchild Doctrine and Bride of Christ), Restoration Movement, New Issue, Re-baptism, Champions of the Trinitarian Cause, Old Testament Names of God and much, much more. It is a work that is based on rare and extensive research. At times, it seems that Reed tries to cover too much ground, but he is so full of information that he has to have an outlet. A pulpit is set up in every reader’s realm, from which Reed dispenses thoughts and opinions.

“The challenge of the future,” Reed concludes, “is hidden in its name and its inheritance: oneness. The earliest appeal to oneness in 1910 was that the Pentecostal movement be united. A decade later that appeal was applied sharply to racial unity. By 1930 it became a descriptor for the movement. Throughout its history, lack of oneness with full Pentecostals and other Christians has become enigmatic: for some a mark of doctrinal purity, for others, a sign of sin” (p. 363).

Reed emphasizes that the Oneness movement needs to receive fair and judicious treatment. However, Oneness Pentecostals may take offense at Reed’s statement that “There is within Scripture potential for developing a theology of the Name” (emphasis mine) (p. 356). He goes on to further point out particular weaknesses in Oneness theology, while fully supporting Trinitarianism.

The first part of the book leads one to believe that Reed fully supports the Oneness Pentecostal belief; however, as I perused his continuing discourse, I experienced opaque visions of Oneness Pentecostals as being inferior, and that they were not the norm.

“In Jesus’ Name” is the result of excellent research; it delves into scores of themes related to Oneness Pentecostalism; its common thread is the Name; and the reader, whether Trinitarian or Oneness, will enhance his knowledge of the Jesus’ Name doctrine.

Reviewed by Patricia P. Pickard, Independent scholar, Bangor, Maine

Softcover, 394 pages. $39.95 retail. Order from: amazon.com

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Dr. Stanley Horton Endowment announced


horton_stanleyTo honor Dr. Stanley M. Horton’s remarkable service to AGTS, to the Assemblies of God, and to the greater Pentecostal community over the past seven decades, the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary has initiated the Dr. Stanley M. Horton Scholarly Resources Endowment Fund, in conjunction with the Pillars of the Faith initiative.

You are invited to help AGTS reach its goal of $25,000 for this endowment. For those who contribute $125 or more, AGTS will send a complimentary copy of Dr. Horton’s forthcoming biography, Stanley M. Horton: Shaper of Pentecostal Theology, by Lois E. Olena with Raymond L. Gannon.

Interest from this endowment will be used to purchase scholarly resources for the Cordas C. Burnett Library at AGTS — specifically biblical-theological and biblical language resources, as these areas have been so important to Dr. Horton over the years.

Please go to this link at the AGTS website for more information, to contribute to the endowment, and to reserve your copy of Dr. Stanley Horton’s biography. (The book releases in April and will be shipped in May to those who contribute $125 or more to the Dr. Stanley M. Horton Scholarly Resources Endowment.) For a $250 gift, AGTS will send you a copy signed by Dr. Horton. Contributions can also be made by mailing or calling the AGTS Development Office, 1435 N. Glenstone Ave., Springfield, MO 65802; ph. 1-800-467-2487×1012.

In conjunction with the release of Dr. Horton’s biography, the 2009 issue of Assemblies of God Heritage will include an article by Lois E. Olena called “Stanley M. Horton: A Pentecostal Journey,” which outlines his rich Pentecostal heritage and the unfolding of his life to become Pentecostalism’s “premier theologian.” A related article slated for the 2009 issue is “The Social Conscience of Stanley Horton” by Martin William Mittelstadt and Matthew Paugh.

Posted by Glenn Gohr

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Gary McGee is Rejoicing with the Angels


mcgeeDr. Gary B. McGee, longtime Assemblies of God educator, slipped from this life into the arms of his loving Savior shortly before noon today, December 10, 2008. McGee was hospitalized on November 13 with complications due to a bacterial infection and a weakened immune system from a long fight with cancer. McGee was released from the hospital yesterday and passed away at home with his family present.

Few Assemblies of God educators have attained the breadth of influence achieved by McGee. His extensive college and seminary teaching experience spanned five decades (1967-2008). He was a prolific author, and he helped to build bridges through his leadership in numerous professional and interchurch organizations. He was Distinguished Professor of Church History and Pentecostal Studies at the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, where he taught since 1984. He previously taught at Central Bible College (1970-1984) and Open Bible College (1967-1970).

McGee authored seven books, edited and contributed to three books, and he wrote chapters in fifteen books, 41 journal articles (since 1993), and 129 articles in twelve dictionaries. He was a frequent contributor to denominational publications, including Today’s Pentecostal Evangel, Assemblies of God Heritage, Advance, Enrichment, and Paraclete. He is probably best known for his two-volume history of Assemblies of God World Missions, This Gospel Shall Be Preached (GPH, 1986, 1989), for his biographical approach to Assemblies of God history, People of the Spirit (GPH, 2004), and for coediting the award-winning Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements (Zondervan, 1988). He completed his last book, Miracles, Missions, and American Pentecostalism (Orbis Books, forthcoming 2010), just weeks before his death.

McGee traveled extensively and also taught at Asia Centre for Evangelism and Missions, Singapore; Continental Theological Seminary, Brussels, Belgium; Evangelical Theological Seminary, Osijek, Croatia; Kiev Bible Institute, Kiev, Ukraine; Romanian Bible Institute, Bucharest, Romania; and Southern Asia Bible College, Bangalore, India.

McGee emerged as one of the most highly-respected and loved educators in the Assemblies of God, as well as one of the most articulate voices concerning the history of Pentecostal missions. In the academic community, McGee was best known for his publications on the history of early Pentecostalism and missiology. His family and friends knew him as a man of sterling character, good humor, humility, spiritual sensitivity, and personal warmth. According to fellow historian Grant Wacker, McGee “was always ready for a joke as well as a prayer.”

Gary McGee’s family came into the Pentecostal movement after his maternal grandmother accepted Christ in an Aimee Semple McPherson evangelistic campaign in Canton, Ohio, in 1921. The family became faithful members of Bethel Temple Assembly of God in Canton. McGee was born on April 22, 1945, the second oldest of five children.

Upon his graduation from Central Bible College in 1967, he began teaching at Open Bible College (Des Moines, Iowa). He received his ordination from the Iowa District Council in 1969. He returned to Springfield, Missouri, in 1970, where he would become a fixture for the rest of his life. He began teaching at his alma mater, Central Bible College, and in 1971 completed the Master of Religious Studies at Concordia Theological Seminary (St. Louis, Missouri). McGee completed his M.A. in Religious Studies at Missouri State University (Springfield, Missouri) in 1976, and his Ph.D. in Church History at St. Louis University in 1984. Upon completion of his doctorate, McGee began teaching at the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary. He was named Distinguished Professor of Church History and Pentecostal Studies in 2006. In March 2008, the Society for Pentecostal Studies conferred on him the Lifetime Achievement Award.

McGee demonstrated how a holy man – a man of God – can die well. During the last ten years of his life he suffered from cancer and arthritis, but McGee did not complain. Instead, he joyfully focused on other peoples’ needs and labored to complete the tasks he believed the Lord had given to him. Former student Jennifer Strickland Hall wrote, “Watching the grace and beauty you have displayed in the midst of your suffering over the years has taught me more than any book on the subject.” And McGee did, by the way, write a book on the subject: How Sweet the Sound: God’s Grace for Suffering Christians (GPH, 1994). Just before his final hospitalization, he finished the manuscript for his last book. In the past two weeks, McGee tied up loose ends, said goodbyes, and did not show despair, but faith in his great God. This has been a difficult, but beautiful, time.

McGee leaves behind a wife, Alice; two daughters, Angela Brim and Catherine McGee; and two grandchildren, Bailey and Marshall Brim, all of Springfield, Missouri. Other survivors include his mother, Velma L. Davis; two brothers; two sisters; and a host of other relatives.

Visit the AGTS website for more information about McGee’s funeral. Readers are encouraged to send messages to the McGee family, either by posting them on the AGTS website or by mail: Alice McGee, 1920 E. Sayer Circle, Springfield, MO 65803

By Darrin J. Rodgers

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Review: Life and thought of Howard Ervin

Pilgrimage into Pentecost

Pilgrimage into Pentecost: The Pneumatological Legacy of Howard M. Ervin, by Daniel D. Isgrigg. Tulsa, OK: Word & Spirit Press, 2008.

In Pilgrimage into Pentecost, Daniel D. Isgrigg provides serious students of Pentecostalism two useful services. First, he gives the reader an interesting and detailed accounting of the life of Howard M. Ervin; and second, he outlines the main contours of Ervin’s theology of the Holy Spirit.

The study follows the journey of Baptist preacher/theologian Ervin from his early day as an agnostic through his encounter with God. It traces Ervin’s early pastoral days, and follows him on to his embracing of the Pentecostal message and experience. Isgrigg follows the long tenure of Ervin as a theology faculty member at Oral Roberts University into his current life of retirement. Pilgrimage then points out Ervin’s strong exegetical and theological defense of the classical Pentecostal message of Baptism in the Holy Spirit, as well as his loyalty to his American Baptist roots. The work shows how Ervin engaged in a spirited defense of his theology against a variety of critics and how the unity of the Spirit among Christians was foremost in Ervin’s desires. Isgrigg makes a strong case for the ecumenical ministry of Ervin over the years.

Pilgrimage into Pentecost highlights several key features of Ervin’s theology: Ervin argues persuasively for the “birthday of the Church” being in John 20, not Acts 2. He anchors his belief in evidential tongues for Spirit baptism in the models provided in the Book of Acts; and he departs from most Pentecostal scholars in his advocacy of “one Baptism; one filling.” In each of these issues, the author documents Ervin’s line of argumentation copiously.

It was more than 40 years ago, when I was a young student of Petecostalism, that I first encountered the writings of Howard M. Ervin. His persuasive apologetic for classical Pentecostal theology, even though he was a Charismatic Baptist, powerfully encouraged me. I have noted with pleasure the long years of faithful ministry and writing of Ervin, one who has not altered his views from his early days. He has been a strong advocate against those who would weaken the belief that God has wanted to empower His people for evangelism and missions with the empowerment of the Spirit in a crisis experience of Spirit baptism, accompanied by the sign of speaking in tongues.

In Pilgrimage to Pentecost, Daniel Isgrigg provides Pentecostals and Charismatics — and all interested in this burgeoning international movement of the Spirit — with a well-deserved study of the life and thought of one of its pioneers. Through this work, many can be grateful for the pioneering scholarly ministry of Dr. Ervin and understand his distinctive contribution.

Review by William W. Menzies (from Foreword)

Hardcover, 158 pages. $21.99 retail. Order from: amazon.com

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