Tag Archives: Theology

Myer Pearlman: The Story Behind One of the Foremost Assemblies of God Theologians of the 1930s and 1940s

This Week in AG History — October 27, 1934

By Glenn W. Gohr

Originally published on AG News, 28 October 2021

Myer Pearlman (1898-1943) was one of the foremost educators and writers in the early Pentecostal movement. Born into a Jewish family in Edinburgh, Scotland, he moved with his family to Birmingham, England, at age 7. He received his common-school training at the Birmingham Hebrew School and excelled in his studies. At age 14 he mastered the French language on his own and later used this knowledge to act as an interpreter for the U.S. Army during World War I.

He immigrated to the United States (New York City) in 1915 and enlisted in the Army Medical Corps when he was 19. After the war, he moved to California where one night he felt drawn inside the Glad Tidings Mission (now Glad Tidings Church) in San Francisco. The people were singing an inspirational hymn called “Honey in the Rock.” After several months of attending the church, Pearlman was converted to Christ and baptized in the Holy Spirit.

He graduated from Central Bible Institute (CBI) in Springfield, Missouri, in 1925, and was immediately asked to join the faculty. In 1927 he married Irene Graves, whose father, F. A. Graves, had composed “Honey in the Rock.”

Pearlman was a premier Assemblies of God theologian in systematic theology of his era. He wrote extensively and taught a variety of courses, but he is best known for his synthesis classes on the Old Testament and New Testament. He was fluent in Hebrew, Greek, French, Spanish, and Italian.

In addition to his teaching career, Pearlman was a prolific writer. For many years he prepared the Adult Teacher’s Quarterly and Adult Student’s Quarterly. He contributed articles to the Pentecostal Evangel, and during World War II he edited Reveille, a devotional publication for American servicemen. He also authored Seeing the Story of the Bible (1930), Why We Believe the Bible Is God’s Book (1931), The Life and Teachings of Christ (1935), Through the Bible Book by Book (1935), The Heavenly Gift (1935), the Minister’s Service Book (1941), Windows Into the Future (1941), Daniel Speaks Today (1943), and several other books. Several of Pearlman’s books are still in print and are available through the Gospel Publishing House

Pearlman also wrote the weekly Sunday School lesson for the Pentecostal Evangel from December 1932 to May 1935. A sample lesson found in the Oct. 27, 1934, issue is called “Christian Growth.” The lesson emphasizes that Christians first need to follow Christ’s example of being about His Father’s business (Luke 2:42-52) and then move forward in the plans of God for our lives and His church (2 Peter 1:5-8). In a nutshell, those two elements promote healthy Christian growth. Pearlman emphasized, “There is no standstill in the spiritual life; if we are not advancing we are retreating.”

Myer Pearlman was well-loved by his coworkers and by the faculty and students at CBI. Unfortunately, due to overwork and health issues, Pearlman passed away at the young age of 44. He is buried in Greenlawn Cemetery in Springfield, Missouri.

The 1942 CBI yearbook, The Cup, was dedicated to him, and later the school library was named after him. The yearbook praised Pearlman for “his sterling Christian character and capable ministry.” The dedication continued: “We have seen the Christ whom he serves in his godly life, and the underlying element of human understanding and humility of heart expressed in his kindly dealings with the students. His knowledge and versatility qualify him for the wide sphere of service in which he so ably participates. His ready wit and originality have given us many gems which we shall cherish, while his sparkling humor has been a source of delight to all.”

Read Myer Pearlman’s article, “Christian Growth,” on page 9 of the Oct. 27, 1934, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “How Shall I Curse Whom God Hath Not Cursed?” by Lilian Yeomans

• “Seed Thoughts,” by Alice E. Luce

• “Questions and Answers,” by E. S. Williams

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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Did French Theologian Jacques Ellul Express Interest in Becoming a Pentecostal?

Ellul

According to longtime Assemblies of God educator and missionary Dr. George R. Stotts, leading French Reformed theologian Dr. Jacques Ellul (1912-1994) inquired about becoming a member of the French Assemblies of God in the 1930s or 1940s.

When Ellul was 17 years old, he experienced what he believed to be the presence of God. The experience was overwhelming and unforgettable. This seed of faith did not develop, and he became a convinced Marxist while studying at university. In 1932, however, he converted to Christ and the trajectory of his life changed. He rejected Marxism and ended up becoming a French Reformed pastor and theologian. In Ellul’s early years, when he apparently inquired about joining the French Assemblies of God, he was sorting out his theological views. In Ellul’s later years, he adopted various theological stances which would have been at odds with most theologically conservative evangelical or Pentecostal churches.

The following is a transcription of a letter by Stotts, which he deposited at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center, recounting his interactions with Ellul.

Jacques Ellul: Something That Most People Do Not Know

The undersigned knew Professor Ellul very well. We lived in neighboring town when my wife and I lived in France. The French Assemblies of God Bible School, located in Leognan, invited Dr. Ellul as guest lecturer which gave him pleasure to accept. I have attended his French Reformed Church as well as a Bible study on the Book of Romans which he gave in his church. Additionally, my colleague, Professor Gerard Bachke, a French Assemblies of God pastor and a professor at their Bible school, was well acquainted with Professor Ellul. From time to time he invited us to his home where we had interesting discussions, some philosophical but most were religious in nature, particularly the spiritual state of the French Reformed Church.

It was during Brother Bachke and my last visit in his home that he recounted for us an interesting part of his religious past. It was either in the late 1930s or early 1940s when he approached the leadership of the French Assemblies of God. The purpose of the meeting was to inquire about his becoming a member in the Movement. His interest in the Pentecostal movement was based on what he felt was lacking in the French Reformed Church—for the most part it had become a cold and static part of a greater part of the Protestant Reformation. After a rather lengthy discussion about his interest in becoming part of the French Assemblies, he asked of the brethren to discuss his desire and then get back to him. Unfortunately, the French Assemblies’ delegation never re-contacted him. His comment to Professor Bachke and myself was “I don’t think that the brothers nor the Movement wanted me because of my education. Perhaps they do not know how to handle that.”

Professor Bachke and myself were very surprised to hear his comments about his desire to leave the French Reformed Church and to be part of the French Assemblies of God. After bidding him ‘au revoir,’ our conclusion was that he was probably right in his assessment, RE: his education and standing in French intellectual and academic circles would be too much for the French Assemblies of God. He taught for many decades at the University of Bordeaux, walking to and from class every day for he never learned to drive.

A personal comment: having talked with Professor Ellul, having heard his lectures to the Bible School students, and having heard him preach and teach the Epistle to the Romans, he never ever came across as some pedantic person; rather, he was one of the most humble men whom I have ever met.

It is important to state that in my research for my doctorate, The History of the Modern French Pentecostal Movement, I was rather surprised by what I found. Douglas Scott, the English Pentecostal evangelist who brought the Pentecostal message to France had one goal: not to start a new denomination, rather to take the Pentecostal message to the French churches, [including] the Roman Catholic church. Mr. Scot was successful in doing so. Quoting from my dissertation: “Important to the understanding the spread of Pentecostalism in France is the effect that the message [of Pentecost] had on Baptist churches in North France and on the French Reformed Church. Many of the Baptist churches, anticipating a spiritual movement, accepted Pentecostalism as that which they were seeking. In the camp of the French Reformed, Ax Bernoulli, pastor of the French Reformed Church of St. Chamond, Loire, expressed the sentiments of many Reformed ministers when he stated that our churches need revival and we hope that many of the pastors and church officials of France will stretch out a fraternal hand to our brother of the Pentecostal Movement. Scott had a close collaboration with many French Reformed pastors, and was asked on a number of occasions to address Consistories of the Reformed Church on the subject of the Holy Spirit and Pentecostalism.” [See chapter IV: Growth and Development: 1930-1939 of my thesis THE HISTORY OF THE MODERN PENTECOSTAL MOVEMENT IN FRANCE.]

One can only conjecture what might have been another chapter in the history of the French Pentecostal Movement if the delegation of French Assemblies of God pastors had only met with Jacques Ellul and to have invited him to be part of the Movement.

George R. Stotts
December 2010

____________________________

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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Congregational Holiness Church

We BelieveThe Life Story of Rev. B. F. DuncanMy Earthly PilgrimageVision Caster

We Believe [2nd ed.]. Griffin, GA: Congregational Holiness Church, 2003.

The Life Story of Rev. B. F. Duncan, 1874-1949 [rev. ed.]. Griffin, GA: Congregational Holiness Church, 2004.

My Earthly Pilgrimage, by Cullen L. Hicks. Augusta, GA: Augusta Printing Center, 2004.

Vision Caster: The Story of Hugh B. Skelton, by E. Amelia Billingsley. Cleveland, TN: Pathway Press, 2000.

The Congregational Holiness Church (CHC) (www.CHChurch.com) made its entrance onto the Pentecostal scene in 1921, resulting from a disagreement within the Pentecostal Holiness Church (PHC) over the role of medicine in divine healing. Many early Pentecostals, including PHC leaders, eschewed human remedies (such as physicians or medicine) and instead encouraged believers to seek divine healing, which they taught was provided for in Christ’s atonement. This rejection of modern medicine was not universally held in the PHC. When evangelist Watson Sorrow and Hugh Bowling disagreed with the PHC on this and other issues, they were forced to leave the PHC in 1920. They — along with a handful of other ministers and churches — organized the CHC in High Shoals, Georgia in 1921. The CHC was organized along congregational lines, differing from the PHC’s episcopal polity, in an attempt to democratize church governance.

The CHC has grown from 12 churches in 1921 to over 5,200 churches in 12 states and 19 countries in 2007. The CHC’s growth reflects the growing importance of the emerging Pentecostal movement in non-Western contexts. Like the Assemblies of God, fewer than five percent of CHC churches and members are located in the United States. The CHC claims 25,000 adherents in 225 churches in the U.S. and almost one million adherents in about 5,000 churches outside the U.S. (primarily in Central and South America). Continue reading

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Review: Prosperity Gospel in Norway

Det guddommeliggjorte menneske og den menneskeliggjorte GudDen nye reformasjonen

Det guddommeliggjorte menneske og den menneskeliggjorte Gud (The Deification of Humanity and the Humanization of Deity), by Kjell Olav Sannes. Oslo, Norway: REFLEKS-Publishing, 2005.

Den nye reformasjonen (The New Reformation), by Lars Olav Gjøra. Oslo, Norway: REFLEKS-Publishing, 2006.

While positive confession theology (also known by the monikers “prosperity gospel” or “word-faith”) originated in America, it has made significant inroads into many segments of the worldwide Christian church. Numerous American authors have attempted theological and historical assessments of this phenomenon. Now, two new books by Norwegian scholars offer critiques of the theologies and personalities involved in the prosperity gospel movement in their own context.

Kjell Olav Sannes, a professor at the Norwegian Lutheran School of Theology in Oslo, Norway, presents and discusses the views of Kenneth E. Hagin in his book, Det guddommeliggjorte menneske og den menneskeliggjorte Gud. Sannes offers a critical theological analysis of the interrelationship between humanity and God in the writings of Kenneth E. Hagin. The title, which in English translates as “The Deification of Humanity and the Humanization of Deity,” reflects the theological issue at hand. The volume’s central thesis is that Hagin “deifies” humanity and “humanizes” God. This confusion of identities, the author avers, leads to two errors: (1) humanity, in particular the “born again believer,” is given status, authority and possibilities which, according to scripture, are reserved for God; and (2) God is viewed as limited in His power and authority in a way that reflects humanity’s own limitations. Hagin’s God looks a lot like Hagin. Ironically, something similar happened when the Jesus Seminar, a group of liberal scholars, determined that Jesus was essentially a twentieth-century western liberal. Continue reading

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Rare Kathryn Kuhlman transcripts donated to FPHC

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Produced by iFPHC

Kathryn Johanna Kuhlman (1907-1976), possibly the world’s most prominent female evangelist and faith healer (although at times she objected to these titles), was a catalyst for the emerging charismatic renewal in the 1950s and 1960s. Her life and ministry — and her impact on the broader Christian church — remain the focus of much popular and scholarly attention.

Three unique and significant notebooks focusing on Kathryn Kuhlman’s ministry during the years 1949 to 1952 have been donated to the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC).

A new convert, Gay Luchin, took shorthand notes during Kuhlman’s meetings in Pittsburgh and spent many hours transcribing her eye-witness notes, placing them in three notebooks. The donation also includes correspondence from Kuhlman to Luchin, in which she encouraged Luchin in her work to develop these accounts.

Luchin’s notebooks contain well over 1,000 carefully-recorded pages of typescripts, detailing Kuhlman’s unvarnished thoughts on theology, social issues, politics, ethics, and spirituality. This major donation, unexamined by the scholarly world, promises to throw new light upon an era of Kuhlman’s life that heretofore has been sparsely documented.

The FPHC invites you to visit Springfield to view these items for yourself. They are being released today, May 9th, the 100th anniversary of the birth of Kathryn Kuhlman. Please call for an appointment.

Posted by Darrin Rodgers

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Review: PAON View of Divorce and Remarriage


Divorce Decree

The Pentecostal Assemblies of Newfoundland View of Divorce and Remarriage, by Rick Walston and Clarence Buckle. St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada: Good Tidings Press, 2006.

Rick Walston and Clarence Buckle have collaborated to present a view of divorce and remarriage that will serve as a guiding document for the Pentecostal Assemblies of Newfoundland. It is part of a teaching resource for churches. Dr. Walston is president of Columbia Evangelical Seminary, a distance-learning school. Pastor Clarence Buckle is the General Secretary of the PAON.

The book is a tightly written document consisting of eight chapters. The arguments are concise and to the point. The first two chapters introduce and define the issues of marriage and divorce. Chapters three and four summarize the material on divorce from the writings of Paul and the Gospels. Chapters five and six deal with the restrictions and exceptions as related to the remarriage issue. Chapter seven is a discussion of how the matter of divorce and remarriage impacts ministry and membership in the denomination’s assemblies.

The authors are seeking to help people steer a course between the conflicting views on marriage and divorce prevalent in our culture and to determine the biblical principles and scriptural basis for effective pastoral care as it relates to this matter. They have accomplished their task admirably. I expect the book to be well received.

Reviewed by Dr. Garry E. Milley, Lead Pastor, Park Avenue Pentecostal Church, Mount Pearl, Newfoundland, Canada

Paperback, 84 pages. $6.99 retail, plus tax and postage. Order from: Religious Book & Bible House, 57 Thorburn Road, P.O. Box 8895, Station “A,” St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada A1B 3T2 (email: BackRoom@paon.nf.ca), or Religious Book & Bible House, 10 Hardy Avenue, P.O. Box 558, Grand Falls-Windsor, Newfoundland, Canada A2A 2J9 (email: rbbh@bookandbiblehouse.com).

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Review: Off-Road Disciplines

Spiritual Adventures of Missional Leaders

Off-Road Disciplines: Spiritual Adventures of Missional Leaders, by Earl Creps. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2006.

Church statistics tell us that overall, but with some exceptions, western churches are declining in membership. Certainly one factor for this decline is that much of western Christianity has lost part of its identity as a missional community, a community which prophetically partners with the Holy Spirit in His mission. As a result, church leaders are seeking the heart of God for both vision and empowerment for continuing in Jesus’ ministry of reconciliation in the contexts in which they are called. Slowly but surely, the community of Christ is recognizing its missional weakness when it comes to both the lifestyles of the individual followers of Christ, and the structure of the community itself.

Reacting to these shortcomings, the emerging church movement has arisen to fill the missional gaps by applying a relevant, contextualized gospel to those whom the traditional or even “contemporary” churches would not ordinarily reach. Off-Road Disciplines is a timely book that speaks to both the emerging church movement, and the traditional or denominational churches. Continue reading

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Review: The Essential J. Philip Hogan


The Essential J. Philip Hogan

The Essential J. Philip Hogan, edited by Byron D. Klaus and Douglas P. Petersen. Springfield, MO: Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, 2006.

Few missions leaders during the latter half of the twentieth century made a greater impact on the worldwide spread of Pentecostalism than did J. Philip Hogan. Indeed, European Pentecostal leader Peter Kuzmic has deemed Hogan to be “a Churchill in the arena of the post-World War II history of missions” (Wilson, Strategy of the Spirit, p. x). The extent of Hogan’s contributions to Pentecostalism — and by extension, to the broader Christian movement — is only now beginning to be recognized by the scholarly community. Under his leadership as Director of the Division of Foreign Missions (1960-1989), the Assemblies of God grew to be one of the world’s largest associations of national indigenous churches. It is precisely this success that now causes scholars and church leaders to take another look at J. Philip Hogan and to ask how it all happened. Continue reading

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Review: The Suffering Body


The Suffering Body

The Suffering Body: Responding to the Persecution of Christians, edited by Harold D. Hunter and Cecil M. Robeck, Jr. Waynesboro, GA ; Milton Keynes, UK : Paternoster Press, 2006.

“Suffering with Christ was not only the experience of the early churches but is that of many churches today. This volume presents up-to-date, global reflections on the different ways in which Christians suffer: from class discrimination to government persecution; from inter-religious conflict to tensions between different Christian groups. With a special focus on Pentecostal/Charismatic Christianity, but also bringing perspectives from other Christian traditions into the discussion, this book provides both theological and practical insight.” — Samuel Kobia, General Secretary of the World Council of Churches

“An important and timely publication, the more so because it is edited by leading Pentecostal academics from the USA, where the role of suffering in Christian experience is often ignored and sometimes denied. A comprehensive theological, historical, and socio-political analysis of the role of suffering internationally, this is an important corrective to ‘health and wealth’ gospels and ideologies of power.” — Allan Anderson, Professor of Global Pentecostal Studies, University of Birmingham Continue reading

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Cyberjournal for Pentecostal-Charismatic Research

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The January 2007 issue of the Cyberjournal for Pentecostal-Charismatic Research contains the following interesting articles:

  • “The Chinese Expression of Pentecostalism” by Rev. Dr. Timothy Yeung
  • “Post-1960s Pentecostalism and the Promise of a Future For Pentecostal Holiness Women Preachers” by Kristen Welch
  • “Contemporary Pentecostal Leadership: The Apostolic Faith Mission of South Africa as Case Study” by Dr. Mathew Clark
  • “The Spirit and Theological Interpretation: A Pentecostal Strategy” by Dr. Kenneth J. Archer
  • “The Prosperity Gospel in Nigeria: A Re-Examination of the Concept, Its Impact, and an Evaluation” by Dr. George O. Folarin

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Posted by Darrin Rodgers

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