Archive for the ‘Charles Fox Parham’ Category

Charles Fox Parham & the Annihilation of the Wicked

1 September, 2010

Charles Fox Parham was theologically eclectic and possessed a sincere, if sometimes misguided, desire to cast tradition to the wind and rediscover an apostolic model for Christianity. Though he was intimately involved in the rediscovery of the Pentecostal experience, evidenced by speaking in other tongues, Parham’s personal tendency toward ecclesiastical eccentricity did much to remove him from the center of influence in the fledgling Pentecostal movement. One of his most controversial doctrines was the annihilation of the wicked, or the idea that the eternal punishment of sinners was simply death. Pentecostals broadly rejected this doctrine, and some boldly anathematized Parham as a heretic.

As a child, Parham was familiar with the Bible but had no strong religious influence in his life and claimed not to have heard “but one or two preachers before reaching the age of thirteen years . . . “ He was proud of this lack of spiritual training, believing that it provided him with a mind open to scriptural truth: “Thus with no preconceived ideas, with no knowledge of what creeds and doctrines meant, not having any traditional spectacles upon the eyes to see through, I scarcely knew anything about church and Sunday School. These facts are stated to show that any early Scriptures were entirely unbiased.” It certainly may account for some of his religious impressionability but hardly recommends him as theologically competent.

Parham’s ideas about the annihilation of the wicked were adopted from his wife’s grandfather, a disfellowshipped Quaker named David Baker. While working under the auspices of the Methodist Episcopal Church, young Charles Fox Parham held a revival at the Pleasant-Valley School House near Tonganoxie, Kansas and was an invited guest in the home of Mr. Baker. Through his own reading of the Bible, David Baker arrived at the conclusion that “eternal torment for the wicked” was not biblical. During the evangelist’s sojourn in Tonganoxie, the pair spent many hours studying the Scriptures, and Parham became convinced of Baker’s perspective. Thereafter, Parham also taught “the destruction of the wicked, though his teaching was rejected by many, and brought much opposition and bitter persecution.”

In the inaugural issue of his paper The Apostolic Faith, Parham propagated the doctrine in an article entitled “Questions on Immortality.” In catechetical style, Parham presented 37 questions on the topic, answered by a simple Bible verse. Following his line of reasoning, Parham teaches that 1) immortality belongs to God alone (I Tm. 1.17); 2) immortality is imparted only to the righteous (Rom. 2.7); 3) Sin brings death (Rom. 6.23); and 4) both the body and soul are destructible (Mt. 10.28). The audience is left to conclude that the sinner is damned only to death. Interestingly, Parham never uses the word “hell” in the article and does not address the many biblical references to eternal punishment.

William Joseph Seymour, who received training in the rudiments of the Pentecostal baptism under Parham in Houston, Texas, strongly denounced his mentor’s perspective in the January 1907 issue of his own paper published in Los Angeles, also named, The Apostolic Faith. Seymour appeals to the Lukan parable of Lazarus and the rich man to establish the premise that “ . . . there is no annihilation in God’s Word for the wicked, but there is a blazing and burning hell awaiting them.” Seymour says that if the destruction of the wicked were true, “then this rich man would have been burned into ashes, and there would be no more of him.” Seymour worries after those taken in the doctrinal error: “Many who have preached a no-hell Gospel will find out better when they die and come to judgment . . . May God help us to turn from sin and wickedness and not try to wrest the Scriptures, but take them just as they are written.” The entire article is a clear renunciation of the heresy of “no-hellism” and an impassioned plea to those who may have a false security about such a finite afterlife to come to repentance, paying heed to “God’s Holy Ghost preachers that are testifying to the Blood that cleanses from sin and warning of an everlasting hell.”

Ultimately, Charles Fox Parham’s errors isolated him from the greater Pentecostal movement. His meager remnant following based in Baxter Springs, Kansas continue to teach the annihilation of the wicked, but the doctrine is not espoused by any major Pentecostal body. In fact, “hellfire and brimstone” has become a cultural euphemism for pulpit-thumping Pentecostal preachers determined to spare sinners the awful torments of eternal damnation. Today, we still agree with that old-time maxim: “There is a heaven to gain, and a hell to shun” and continue our mission to see souls filled with the fires of Pentecost that they may escape the fires of Hell.

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Agnes Ozman and the Topeka Outpouring

27 April, 2010

On January 1, 1901, Agnes Nevada Ozman became the first member of the student body at Bethel Bible College in Topeka, Kansas to receive the baptism of the Holy Ghost and speak in tongues. Her experience historically marks the beginning of modern Pentecostalism and becomes a significant flashpoint from which the initial revival spread through the school, which produced the first band of Pentecostal workers, who spread their message throughout Kansas to Texas and beyond.

According to her autobiography, What God Hath Wrought, Agnes Ozman was thirty years old when she received the Holy Ghost. In many ways, her experience at Bethel was the culmination of a lifetime of spiritual seeking. As a girl, she had attended a Methodist Church with her family and appreciated “the joy, rejoicing and shouts of victory.”

At the age of 20, Agnes Ozman became very ill with La Grippe (influenza) and pneumonia. At the worst point of her illness, Ozman believes that she “traveled the way to heaven” but was sent back on the strength of her Methodist pastor’s prayers, who believed God had more in store for this young Christian woman. After much prayer, Agnes did miraculously recover. Fully convinced that God had spared her to accomplish a greater purpose in her life, Agnes centered her life on her faith. She joined the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) and participated in a Bible study group where she learned the “Bible teachings” on water baptism, the Second Coming of Christ, and divine healing.

In 1892, she joined Thomas Corwin Horton’s Bible school in St. Paul, Minnesota. Horton was a Presbyterian, who was deeply involved in the work of the YMCA. Horton was also strongly fundamentalist, and his school was permeated with his dispensational premillennialist ideas, which must have greatly inculcated Ozman.

In fall of 1894, Horton announced his intention to take up evangelism, and Ozman again began looking for another Bible school to attend. She settled on Albert B. Simpson’s Bible School in Nyack, New York. Simpson was the founder of the Christian Missionary Alliance and maintained a strong position on Wesleyan holiness, teaching students that after conversion there remained a second crisis of sanctification that removed the carnal nature and which he equated with the baptism of the Holy Ghost.

Eventually, Agnes returned to her family in Nebraska. On her way West, she stopped at John Alexander Dowie’s Chicago work and received prayer and healing from “chills and night sweats.” In Nebraska, Agnes Ozman continued the type of mission work that she had done in New York and encountered Charles Fox Parham, who was holding meetings in Kansas City. Parham, a former Methodist Episcopal minister who stressed divine healing, planned to open a Bible College in Topeka, Kansas. Ozman fleeced the Lord for her fare and received two separate donations of $5.00 from “one sister.” Certain that God was directing her to Topeka, she purchased train tickets and arrived at Bethel Bible College, along with some other Kansas City companions, in October 1900.

At Bethel, Ozman achieved the zenith of her spiritual experience, receiving the baptism of the Holy Ghost during a late-night tarrying service at the school. In a 1922 letter to Eudorus N. Bell, Ozman claims that she did not understand tongues to be the evidence of the Spirit prior to her infilling: “Before receiving the Comforter, I did not know that I would speak in tongues when I received the Holy Ghost for I did not know it was Bible. But after I received the Holy Spirit speaking in tongues it was revealed to me that I had the promise of the Father as it is written and as Jesus said.” She continues:

The next morning after receiving this mighty gift, I was accosted with questions about my experience the night before . . . I pointed out Bible references to show that I had received the Baptism as Acts 2.4 “And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance . . .

Agnes Ozman’s initial experience was particularly unique in the annals of early Pentecostalism. Even after a night’s sleep, Ozman was unable to speak English the following morning. According to Parham, her speaking in tongues continued for three days. Attempting to communicate with the inquisitive students, she says that she motioned for a pencil: “When I began to write, I wrote characters of other languages and joyed [sic] with the Lord talking in tongues. Some of the writing has been interpreted and is a wonderful message.” Parham believed the characters to be Chinese. In an interview with The Kansas City Times, Parham also claimed that other Spirit-filled students were now able “to write by inspiration.”

The night after commencing speaking in tongues, Ozman’s utterances were understood by a Bohemian, who heard her speaking in a service at the school’s mission in downtown Topeka. This incident confirmed to the Parham and his students that at least some of the tongue-speaking were intelligible foreign languages. Certainly, Parham believed that this was the method by which the Spirit would aid the Church in the evangelization of the earth.

When the Bethel school disbanded, Agnes Ozman continued Gospel Missions work. Later, she met and married Philemon M. LaBerge, and both were ordained ministers of the General Council of the Assemblies of God. Like so many early pioneers of Pentecostalism, she consistently demonstrated an insatiable hunger for God and a desire to be completely surrendered to the work of His Kingdom. Her experience at Bethel became a powerful precedent for the fledgling Apostolic Faith movement and encouraged many others to wade into the deeper waters of Spirit-filled revival. Despite the fact that she never received the revelation of the Mighty God in Christ, Agnes Ozman’s role as a key player in the recovery of the apostolic teaching of tongues as the Bible evidence of Holy Spirit baptism should not be forgotten. The cloven flames of Pentecost have spread from the Bethel’s turrets in Topeka to a global wildfire, and the power of the Holy Ghost, evidenced by speaking in tongues, which first ignited in the soul of a thirty-year-old pioneer of the plains, now burns in the hearts of multiplied millions.

Frank W. Sandford and the Holy Ghost and Us Society

8 April, 2010

In the summer of 1900, Charles Fox Parham, founder of the Bethel Bible School in Topeka, Kansas, the birthplace of the modern Pentecostal Movement, journeyed throughout the United States visiting various Christian utopias and Bible centers in an effort to identify a community which replicated the Apostolic experience of the New Testament Church. One stop on this spiritual odyssey was Frank Sandford’s commune in Durham, Maine called Holy Ghost and Us Society. Sandford’s work, which he founded in the 1894, emphasized missionary work, sanctification, divine healing, and eschatology, which must have resonated deeply with Charles Parham, who had left the Methodist Episcopal Church to pursue these selfsame teachings. Ultimately, Frank Sandford, like so many other utopian leaders, turned out to be a religious megalomaniac and a dogmatic despot. His Holy Ghost and Us Society was embroiled in deep controversy, and Rev. Sandford was eventually imprisoned for his radical abuse of power and people.

Frank Weston Sandford, who was born in Bowdoinham, Maine on 2 October 1862, graduated from Bates College and attended seminary at Cobb Divinity School, a Freewill Baptist institution. He was ordained and assumed the pastorate at the Baptist Church in Topsham, Maine. He also became the principal of the Topsham schools (Fogarty 88).

Despite his Baptist training, Rev. Sandford became greatly interested in the Higher Life Christian movement and eventually embraced the Holiness teaching of Dwight Moody, founder of the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, and A.B. Simpson, organizer of the Christian Missionary Alliance. Sandford became a confirmed premillennialist and adopted an impassioned vision of end-time missionary evangelism. In 1893, Sandford claims to have received a brief directive from God: “Go!” In response, he resigned his position at the Baptist Church and organized the Holy Ghost and Us Bible School. In 1894, Sandford and his associate Charles E. Holland broke ground in rural Durham, Maine for the headquarters of his commune, which Sandford claimed as ground zero for the “World’s Evangelicazation [sic] Crusade on Apostolic Principles.” (“Holy Ghosters . . .” 11).

In 1896, Sandford completed the centerpiece of the Holy Ghost and Us compound, the Temple of Truth. The magnificent buildings were constructed by students at the commune at a price of $100,000. Above the Temple flew the flags of the United States and Britain, along with a third banner representing Israel (Fogarty 88). These standards symbolized Sandford’s acceptance of the notion of British Israelism, or the belief that Anglo-Saxons are the direct descendants of the Jewish diaspora and are the rightful heirs of God’s promises. Interestingly, Charles Parham also embraced this idea and was an avowed Zionist.

At the time of Parham’s visit to Sandford’s work, the commune was in its heyday with over 600 residents. Eventually, branch missionary centers were established in New York and Jerusalem, Palestine. But as the intensity of the work increased, so did Sandford’s hubris. One detractor listed Sandford’s outrageous self-assignations as:

Apostle, prophet, overseers of the world’s evangelization, baptizer of all God’s true sheep . . . Elijah—the restorer of all things; and forerunner of the Messiah’s second advent; David, who is to rule the whole earth and prepare the throne for the Messiah; the ‘Branch’; High Priest of the Melchisedech priesthood; and first and chief of the two witnesses . . . (qtd. in Fogarty 91-92)

Conditions in the Holy Ghost and Us Society greatly deteriorated after 1900. Sandford began requiring frequent extended fasts from both food and drink, generally lasting 72 hours. Only pregnant mothers and the sick were permitted to break declared fasts after 36 hours. Even babies were denied food or drink during periods of abstinence (Fogarty 90-91).

In 1904, Sandford was indicted after the death of Leander A. Bartlett, a fourteen-year-old boy who died on 25 January 1903 of diptheria while being forced to fast. According to court records, Bartlett was also denied medical attention because of Sandford’s belief in divine healing (“State of Maine v. Frank W. Sandford”). Ultimately, Sandford was acquitted of manslaughter charges, but he was fined $100 for cruelty to his son, John, who was also forced to participate in communal fasts (Fogarty 92).

Sandford’s most serious trouble involved missionary excursions on the opulent yachts owned by the Holy Ghost and Us Society, aptly named Kingdom, a sobriquet for the Durham community, and Coronet, taken from one translation of Revelation 6:2: “ . . . and a coronet was given unto him, and he went forth conquering and to conquer.” In July 1910, the captain of the Kingdom, A.K. Perry, was arrested after a civil suit was brought against Perry and Sandford by Mrs. Florence Whittaker, wife of one of Sandford’s missionaries, who claimed that she and her four children were detained on the yacht against their will after returning to the United States from a missionary trip to Palestine. (“Special to the NYT” 7 ).

In October 1911, Sandford’s demise was sealed when the Coronet arrived in Portland, Maine after several months at sea with a starving crew and passengers. According to reports, all were reduced to a skeletal state by starvation. Six died and were buried at sea during the voyage, and Rev. Sandford was arrested for the death of one Charles Hughey. He was tried, convicted, and sentenced to ten years in the federal prison in Atlanta, Georgia. At his sentencing, the delusional Sandford reportedly smiled and said: “I am glad to be just where I am. I am still in His work, and as soon as I reach my new level I shall begin to dig in. In fact, I am even now engaged in my work” (“Sandford to Serve . . . “ 5).

Frank Weston Sandford was released from prison in 1918 and died in 1948 in relative obscurity. His missionary society waned considerably following his arrest, but the church continues today as Shiloh Church in Durham, Maine. Sandford’s vision of worldwide evangelism was never fully realized by the group he formed. But, Charles Fox Parham, who may have adapted some of Sandford’s earlier ideas in the establishment of his own Bible school in Topeka was instrumental in igniting and stoking the missionary fire that spread the Pentecostal message around the globe. Though Parham admired Sandford’s efforts, he returned to Kansas persuaded that Sandford’s work was about to be eclipsed by an even greater Apostolic restoration. On 1 January 1901, the Spirit fell at Bethel Bible College, and the Holy Ghost and Us was indeed superceded by God’s greatest end-time work—the Holy Ghost in Us!

Sources:

Fogarty, Robert S. All Things New: American Communes and Utopian Movements, 1860-1914. Chicago: Univ of Chicago Press, 1990.

“HOLY GHOSTERS STARVING :Red Star Liner Lapland Sends a Boatload of Food to the Coronet.. ” New York Times (1857-1922) 2 October 1911 ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 – 2006), ProQuest. Web. 12 Dec. 2009.

“SANDFORD TO SERVE TEN YEARS IN PRISON :Shilch Leader Smiles as He Is Sentenced for Causing Six Deaths on Yacht Coronet. STARTS FOR ATLANTA, GA. Gets Maximum Imprisonment on One Count, Five Others Continued -Crowd Bids Him Good-Bye.. ” New York Times (1857-Current file) 19 December 1911 ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 – 2006), ProQuest. Web. 12 Dec. 2009.

Special to The New York Times.. “HOLY GHOSTER ARRESTED :Master of Sanford’s Barkentine Kingdom Under Bonds on Mrs. Whittaker’s Suit.. ” New York Times (1857-1922) 26 July 1910 ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 – 2006), ProQuest. Web. 12 Dec. 2009.

STATE OF MAINE v. FRANK W. SANDFORD. SUPREME JUDICIAL COURT OF MAINE, FRANKLIN 99 Me. 441; 59 A. 597; 1905 Me. 3 January 3, 1905, Decided.

Pentecost in Print: Papers and Tracts from Pentecostal Pioneers

12 May, 2008

Pentecostals have always been prolific, and the turn-of-the-century rediscovery of the New Testament truth of Spirit baptism, evidenced by speaking in tongues at Charles Parham’s Bethel Bible College, spawned a plethora of circulars, papers, and tracts. Parham launched The Apostolic Faith in March 1899 and used this publication to promote the activities of his school in Topeka, Kansas. While the initial publication predates the Pentecostal outpouring that took place at Bethel, the name of the periodical evidences his school’s dedication to recreating a New Testament model of Christianity. Before the baptism fell, Parham’s curriculum was mainly focused on healing and prophecy, and the facility included a Healing Home, a spiritual retreat for the physically and spiritually infirmed (Goff 46-7). When Agnes Ozman, one of the Bethel students, received the baptism of the Holy Ghost on 1 January 1901, The Apostolic Faith became the first Pentecostal publication and began promoting Spirit baptism with the evidence of speaking in other tongues.

When the famed Azusa Street revival began, William Joseph Seymour borrowed the name of Parham’s publication and began publishing The Apostolic Faith from Los Angeles in September 1906. The headline of the first issue read boldly: “Pentecost Has Come: Los Angeles Being Visited by a Revival of Bible Salvation and Pentecost as Recorded in the Book of Acts.” This periodical was seminal in promoting the Pentecostal experience. It included a broad spectrum of testimonies, conversion reports, missionary news, and theology. Tens of thousands of copies were soon in circulation, and printed reports of unprecedented revival in Los Angeles brought thousands to the true birthplace of modern Pentecostalism, the mission at 312 Azusa Street.

While the secular press wrote articles criticizing the Azusa Pentecostals as fanatics citing their long, raucous services and mixing of racial and social classes in an environment of unbridled revivalism, The Apostolic Faith provided glowing details of conversions, miracles, and the phenomenon of speaking in tongues, often accompanied by interpretation. A May 1907 article declared: “The interpretation of many of the messages in nearly every language spoken by the Holy Ghost in unknown tongues is that Jesus is coming” (Untitled).

Many missionaries visited Azusa Street filled with hunger or curiosity returning to their labor filled with the Holy Ghost. In October, the paper reported that eight Pentecostal missionaries had been dispatched from Los Angeles (Seymour 1). Hundreds of preachers, mainly from Holiness denominations, received their Pentecostal baptism at Azusa and returned to their churches declaring its truth. The paper also chronicles the Spirit baptisms of a spectrum of immigrants including: Mexicans, Chinese, Russian, Italians, and Japanese, many of whom were converted after hearing messages in tongues delivered in their native languages. Additionally, The Apostolic Faith records the conversions of Catholics, Jews, and Muslims to the Pentecostal faith. Racism and bigotry were forgotten in the presence of God, and the Spirit produced a miraculous unity amongst the early Pentecostals.

Bro. Frank Bartleman, a Los Angeles journalist and former Holiness preacher who received the baptism of the Holy Ghost, saturated California with thousands of Pentecostal tracts during the Azusa revival. Before Azusa, Bro. Bartleman and other Christians in Los Angeles, inspired by published accounts of the Welsh Revival led by Evan Roberts, were anticipating another Pentecost and praying fervently to that end. The Azusa revival filled that hunger, and Bro. Bartleman’s writing captures the deep hunger and spiritual zeal of the early Pentecostals and their singular belief in God’s soon coming. Following the San Francisco earthquake, he published a tract called “The Last Call.” In less than three weeks, Bro. Bartleman and his workers distributed over 75,000 of the pamphlets, and the revival at Azusa increased (Bartleman 50-4).

Initially, Bro. Bartleman continued writing articles about the Pentecostal outpouring in Los Angeles for Holiness publications. Gradually, proponents of the Holiness Movement distanced themselves from the Pentecostals, and Bartleman began submitting his work to other exclusively Pentecostal publications including The Way of Faith, Christian Harvester, and Apostolic Light (Bartleman 61). While little is known of these publications, they provide evidence that a growing number of Pentecostal circulars were in existence.
Pentecostal periodicals were influential and provided a rudimentary cohesiveness for the burgeoning movement. In 1914, the newsletter Word & Witness called for a general convention of members of the Church of God in Christ and “all Pentecostal or Apostolic Faith Assemblies who desire with united purpose to co-operate in love and peace to push the interests of the kingdom of God everywhere” (Bell 1). From this advertised meeting emerged the Assemblies of God, one of the earliest and largest Pentecostal organizations.

The restorationism of the early Pentecostal Movement is strongly evidenced in the published writings of early apologists, and periodicals very often included strong, doctrinal defenses. The notion of the “Finished Work of Calvary” championed by Bro. William H. Durham, the well-known pastor of Chicago’s North Avenue Mission, penetrated Pentecostalism through his paper entitled The Pentecostal Testimony (“William Durham” 255). The controversial “New Issue”, the contemporary name for Oneness theology, emerged at the Worldwide Pentecostal Camp Meeting held in Arroyo Seco, California, when Bro. R.E. McAlister, a Canadian evangelist, declared that the Matthew 28:19 formula for baptism was never used by the New Testament Church. Several brethren, including McAlister, Frank Ewart, Glenn Cook, and John Scheppe, became convinced, through prayer and study, that the proper biblical baptismal invocation was “in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ.” This idea spawned an untold number of publications and tracts dedicated to the furtherance of the revelation of the Mighty God in Christ.

A 1913 notice in Word and Witness announced the launch of The Good Report edited by Brothers Ewart and McAlister, the oldest known Oneness periodical (Notice). Bro. Ewart also edited a paper called The Present Truth. Perhaps the three most influential Oneness publications, however, were Bro. Ewart’s Meat in Due Season, Bro. D.C.O. Opperman’s The Blessed Truth, and Elder G.T. Haywood’s The Voice in the Wilderness. These papers were filled with articles about the advancement of the Jesus’ Name message, including international news of rebaptisms in the name of Jesus.

Bishop G.T. Haywood was one of the most prolific and profound Oneness apologists. He wrote: “Much of the early Pentecostal movement was promoted and introduced to various islands, countries, and continents of the world through tracts and periodicals that we published.” His paper, The Voice in the Wilderness, became the official organ of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World in 1918, and Haywood retained editorial responsibility for the publication after he was elevated to presiding bishop in 1925 (Tyson 16). He also wrote a prodigious number of tracts and booklets, including his masterpieces: “The Finest of Wheat” and “The Victim of the Flaming Sword.” His incomparable ability to articulate biblical truth with theological proofs, historical context, and eschatological importance makes him one of the most beloved twentieth century Pentecostal authors.

While Oneness brethren promulgated truth in their periodicals, their detractors were also busy campaigning against the spread of their message. In 1915, J. Roswell Flower, General Secretary of the Assemblies of God, lamented the penetration of the “New Issue” literature in the Assemblies of God’s Weekly Evangel :

Another letter, this very week, tells of the unsettled conditions in an eastern State where the Los Angeles [Oneness] literature has been scattered broadcast [sic] among the Pentecostal Assemblies, and where unstable souls, who know not the Word of God, are being swept off their feet. And that is not all, the new teaching has been carried to the foreign fields, and already hearts that are sore and distressed are writing us stating the awful results and after-effects of this teaching . . .

He further warns: “These workers are scattering over the country, and methinks they drive like Jehu. They are liable to drop in your assembly any day, and the day after, your assembly is possibly on the verge of dissolution” (Flower 1). Clearly, Trinitarians were worried about the wildfires of doctrinal truth ignited worldwide by Oneness Pentecostal publishers and preachers, and the “New Issue” battle was largely fought on front pages of their respective periodicals.

Ultimately, the Pentecostal press was a key component in reshaping the face of twentieth century Christianity. With the ink of inspiration, great Apostolic believers penned, printed, and published the full gospel message; and while thousands of evangelists, missionaries, and Christian workers canvassed the globe with New Testament truth, they were often preceded by or armed with Pentecostal literature. From the writings of our Pentecostal pioneers, we can create a composite picture of the passion and zeal that fueled the fires of revival that made Pentecostalism the fastest growing religion on earth (McClung 1). The yellowed records of our past must inspire us, and their voices urge us on toward increased worldwide evangelism as we carry the blessed truth of the Apostolic faith to a new generation of believers. Founded on our strong Pentecostal heritage of the written word and empowered with modern tools of mass communication, we can publish “The Whole Gospel to the Whole World.”

Sources:

Bartleman, Frank. From Plow to Pulpit: from Maine to California. Los Angeles: 1924.
Bell, E.N. General Convention of Pentecostal Saints and Churches of God in Christ, Hot Springs, Arkansas, April 2 to 12, 1914. Word & Witness 9.12 (1913): 1.

Flower, J. Roswell. Editorial Comment on Issue. Weekly Evangel, 99 (15 July 1915): 1.

Goff, James. Fields White unto Harvest : Charles F. Parham and the Missionary Origins of Pentecostalism. Fayetteville, AR: University of Arkansas Press, 1988.

McClung, Grant. Pentecostals: the Sequel. Christianity Today. 50.4 (2006): 1-8.

Notice. Word & Witness 9.6 (1913): 8.

Seymour, William J. The Pentecostal Baptism Restored: the Promised Latter Rain Now Being Poured Out on God’s Humble People. The Apostolic Faith. 1.2 (October 1906): 1.

Tyson, James. Before I Sleep. Indianapolis: Pentecostal Publications, 1976.

Untitled. The Apostolic Faith 1.8 (May 1907): 3.

“William Durham.” Dictionary of Charismatic and Pentecostal Movements. Eds. Stanley M. Burgess and Gary B. McGee. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1988.

Unto to You and to Your Children: a Historical Survey of Speaking in Tongues

8 January, 2008

The theological centerpiece of the modern Pentecostal movement is the belief that speaking in tongues, or glossolalia, is evidential of the baptism of the Holy Ghost and replicates the experience of the Apostolic Church on the Day of Pentecost as recorded in Acts 2. While the New Testament is replete with examples of the miracle of speaking in unknown tongues, history includes infrequent accounts of the phenomenon.

Irenaeus, a 2nd century bishop in Gaul, makes clear references to the practice:

When the Apostle says “We speak wisdom among the perfect,” by the “perfect” he means those who had received the Spirit of God, and in all tongues speak through the Spirit of God, as he himself also spake. As also we now hear many brethren in the Church having prophetic gifts, and speaking in all sorts of languages through the Spirit . . . (qtd. Cutten 33)

Irenaeus also went to Rome to defend the Montanist sectarians against excommunication in 177. Montanus spoke in tongues at his baptism and promoted the prophetic gifts and glossolalic utterances of two prophetesses, Prisca and Maximilla (Latourette 128).

Origen (185-254 A.D), a Greek apologist, records the comments of Celsus, an ancient pagan philosopher who opposed Christianity. Celsus describes Christian prophets who utter prophecies to which “are added strange, fanatical, and quite unintelligible words, of which no rational person can find the meaning” (Origen vii. 9).

By the time of Chrysostom (345-407 AD), speaking in tongues seems to have completely disappeared from the nascent Catholic Church. Writing of Paul’s treatment on tongues to the Corinthians, he concludes: “The whole passage is exceedingly obscure; and the obscurity is occasioned by our ignorance of the facts and the cessation of happenings which were common in those days but unexampled in our own” (qtd. in Cutten, 37).

There are numerous descriptions of tongues or similar glossolalic “miracles” throughout the Middle Ages, but they lack apostolic authenticity and are primarily the stuff of ecclesiastical hagiography. In his La Mystique Divine, Naturelle, et Diabolique, Joseph Gorres offers a lengthy catalog of Catholic saints who were apparently gifted with “tongues.” Among these were St. Pachomius (292-348), St. Hildegard (1098-1179), St. Vincent Ferrier (1357-1419) and St. Francis Xavier (1506-1552). It is, in fact, possible that many of the Catholic examples are demonic, as various saints preached to the heathen to bring them into popery. In one case, Jeanne of the Cross ecstatically spoke Arabic to “two Mohammadeans” who demanded baptism. Later, she instructed them “in tongues” concerning the tenets of the Catholic faith (Gorres 451). Undoubtedly, the true Holy Spirit of God would not inspire utterances in any language that would bring the hearers into the bondage of false doctrine, and such outlandish tales can only be considered fiction or lying signs and wonders.

Outside the Roman communion, tongues and other ecstatic speech were attributed to a number of religious sects. Between 1688 and 1701, the Huguenots of Southern France under heavy persecution from Louis XIV began to experience glossalia amongst children, who would prophesy and preach in various languages (Cutten 51). The Jansenists experienced tongues in France in 1731; and during Protestant revivals in Norway and Sweden from 1841-1843, young people experienced what became known as “sermon sickness” in which they uttered unintelligible words and sang hymns in other languages (Cutten 67).

Mormons regularly “spoke in tongues”, and both Joseph Smith and Brigham Young claimed the experience (Bugress & McGee 339). Again, it seems unlikely that Mormonism, which is so theologically antichrist, could produce a manifestation that is authentically Christian.

Perhaps the most complete and convincing documentation of speaking in tongues comes from the Irvingite revivals in England during the 19th Century. Edward Irving was a Presbyterian minister who gained a great and wealthy following in England, opening a church in Regent Square. In October 1831, a lady named Miss Hall began speaking in tongues (Allen 75). Irving had, in fact, encountered the manifestation at a church in Rhu, Scotland where his friend, John Macleod Campbell, served as pastor (Brown). But, Irving, like modern Pentecostals, hailed speaking in tongues as evidential of Spirit baptism: “We shall ere long have lifted up amongst us the full manifestation of the Holy Ghost, which is already present in the speaking with tongues . . . ” (Irving 109).

It was, however, not until Charles Parham and the students at Bethel Bible School in Topeka, Kansas claimed to replicate the Pentecostal experience in Acts 2 by receiving the Holy Ghost with speaking in tongues that the practice became the central tenet of a theological movement. Purportedly, Parham set his students on a “Berean” search for the Bible evidence of Spirit baptism, and they “all had the same story, that while there were different things which occurred when the Pentecostal blessing fell, that the indisputable proof on each occasion was, that they spake with other tongues” (Parham 52). Modern Classical Pentecostalists, universally trace their “initial evidence” perspective on glossolalia to Parham and believe that the outpouring in Topeka marks an important watershed in the restoration of Apostolic truth.

Today, the Pentecostal experience along with its correct soteriological centrality has been fully realized by the contemporary Apostolic Pentecostal Church. Speaking in tongues is no longer an infrequent, undocumented, or abnormal experience but a powerfully recognized source of spiritual renewal for over 400 million Pentecostals worldwide (Gonzales 1). Considering the historical and ancient eminence of the Roman Church and the oppression of those who opposed catholic dogma, it is not surprising that we lack clear documentation of the manifestation of the Holy Ghost, for surely His divine work was alien to the apostate. While history does not offer us a recorded continuum of tongue speaking from the time of Apostles until now, it is certain that the gift of the Spirit was bestowed throughout generations upon those who sought the Lord with sincerity and with careful attention to the enduring promise of God’s Word: “For the promise is unto you and to your children and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call” (Acts 2:39).

Sources:

Allen, David. “Regent Square Revisited: Edward Irving, Precursor of the Pentecostal Movement.” Evangel. Autumn 2004, 22 (3), pp. 75-80.

Brown, Stewart J. “Irving, Edward (1792-1834″‘, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/14473, accessed 31 Dec 2007].

Cutten, George Barton. Speaking with Tongues, Historically and Psychologically Considered. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1927.

Gonzales, David. “A Sliver of a Storefront, a Faith on the Rise.” New York Times. 14 Jan 2007, p. 1.

Gorres, Joseph von. La Mystique Divine, Naturelle, et Diabolique. Paris: Poussilque-Rousand, 1861.

Irving, Edward. The Day of Pentecost, or the Baptism of the Holy Ghost. London: Baldwin and Craddock, 1831.

Latourette, Kenneth Scott. A History of Christianity, Volume I Beginnings to 1500. San
Francisco: Harper, 1975.

Origen. Chadwick, Henry trans. Contra Celsum. Cambridge: University Press, 1980.

Parham, Sarah E. The Life of Charles F. Parham, Founder of the Apostolic Faith Movement. New York: Garland Publishing Co., 1985.

Pentecostal Zionism: Charles Fox Parham and the Lost Tribes of Israel

7 December, 2007

Pentecostals are historically apocalyptic. When the Holy Ghost baptism evidenced by speaking in tongues was rediscovered in the early Twentieth Century, converts to the theology were convinced of its centrality to worldwide evangelism and the final harvest of souls before the imminent return of Jesus Christ. Bro. Charles Parham, founder of the Bethel Bible School in Topeka, Kansas and self-proclaimed “Projector” of the Apostolic Faith propagated the Pentecostal message and formulated an elaborate eschatological perspective on the identity of the Church, the Bride, and the reformation of the nation of Israel. In 1902, he published Kol Kare Bomidbar or A Voice Crying in the Wilderness, which articulates many of his theological ideas, most of which do not survive in modern Pentecostalism. However, an examination of Bro. Parham’s theories indicates a strong support amongst early Pentecostals for the creation of a Jewish state and the reinstitution of Temple worship, which Parham believed would usher in the consummation of all things.

Bro. Parham was a Zionist! He repudiated the establishment of various utopian “Zions” by Christian sects, most certainly referring to Dowie’s Zion City, Illinois, and argued that all prophecies concerning Zion apply only to Jerusalem. He praises the work of the Zionist movement under Dr. Herzel of Vienna, Austria and declares: ” . . . probably no one but a Jew can understand the great love and affection that we bear Jerusalem. It amounts to a consuming passion. We long for her ancient glory, we pray for its restoration!” (Parham 101). He further laments the unavoidable deception of the “Jewish brethren” who will accept the imposter Antichrist (Parham 103).Bro. Parham’s passionate affinity for Judaism is more perfectly understood, however, when examining his conviction that Anglo-Saxons are blood descendants of Abraham. He outlines the complex migration of the Jewish diaspora and claims that Hindus, Japanese, high German, Danes, Scandinavians, and Anglo-Saxons are all “lost tribes.” He claims that archaeological and folkloric evidence of their passage through various nations does exist, identifying them as the Isuki warriors recorded on Babylonian monuments and asserting that Greek historians wrote of monotheistic peoples who received their laws from Ike Moxes (Moses). The Danes, according to the theory, are the modern descendants of Dan. He also cites etymological evolution, arguing that Saxons (a corruption of “Isaac’s Sons”) have been variously known as Isuki, Sacae, Sunae, Sacea, Suncea, and Saxons through history (Parham 106).

 

 

 

The concept of British Israelism, the contemporary name for the identification of Anglo-Saxons as members of the lost tribes of Israel, is the root of many extreme, racist cults today. White supremacists have used the idea to foster anti-Semitic hate campaigns. Conversely, Parham’s conviction about the genetic relationship of modern Caucasians to the ancient Hebrews establishes a deep reverence for the Jews. The construct also involves both Christian Aryans and Jews in a complicit end-time drama that will culminate in the peaceful millennium of messianic monarchy. Parham quotes a friend, an unnamed Jewish rabbi, whom he claims also accepts the premise of British Israelism. When asked whether Jews must become Christians or Christians must become Jews, the rabbi responds:

But when He, the desire of all nations shall come (Hag. 2:7.) [sic] the Jew in Him will behold their longed for Messiah, while the Christian in ecstasy, behold their Savior, and together He will unite them in the Messiah’s Sabbatic Kingdom of one thousand years. (Parham 104)

Bro. Parham also believed that through the ancient mingling of Israelites with various races and tribes in the Mediterranean there were people of all races that were true, blood descendants of Abraham. He concludes that Bride of Christ will be comprised of these descendants: “In the Body and Bride of Christ there seemingly will be people from all races in whose veins flow the blood of Abraham.” Furthermore, he believes that the Bride will be sealed with the Holy Ghost baptism which is “the only promised deliverance from the plagues and wraths [sic] of the last days” (Parham 86). It follows, then, that Parham believed that the gift of the Holy Spirit was given expressly to those who were genetically Abraham’s seed. In several early evangelistic campaigns, Parham even dressed in Palestinian costume, visually demonstrating his connection to Semitic culture (Blumhofer 89).

In his book, Bro. Parham gives the genealogical account, formulated by Rev. F.R.A. Glover, chaplain to the British consulate at Cologne, of Queen Victoria’s primogenitures, tracing her ancestry to the original grandsire, Adam (Parham 97-9). The unique history of this lineage connects the Irish, Scottish, and English Kings to Tea Tephi, a Hebrew princess who is said to have arrived in Ireland, more specifically Tara (Torah) with the Prophet Jeremiah (Glover 60; 75-7). Parham also accepts the legendary history of the stone of Scone, which some believe was brought to Ireland by Jeremiah, used for centuries in the coronation seat of Irish, Scottish, and English monarchs (Parham 94). He believes that the Anglo-Saxon royal houses are the prophetic Davidic line of rulers and the fulfillment of God’s promise to King David that his descendants will not be without a throne.

Bro. Parham was not successful in interpolating British Israelism and its theological corollaries into core Pentecostal persuasion. His ideas were probably related to the anomaly of the idea’s fashionable nineteenth-century popularity, which was in many ways a product of British and American economic and social hubris. However, his strong personal belief in the ubiquity of Abraham’s seed and the common inheritance of God’s people, internationally dispersed and prophetically destined for blessing and ultimate salvation may have been seminal in preventing Pentecostals from developing the anti-Semitic attitudes that were common at the turn of the century. While Parham’s concepts of British Israelism may be foreign to modern Apostolics, the dearness of Jerusalem and the prophetic centrality of a restored Jewish nation continue to dominate the modern Pentecostal view of God’s purpose and soon-coming divine finale!

Sources:

Blumhofer, Edith L. The Assemblies of God: a Chapter in the Story of American Pentecostalism, Volume 1-to 1941. Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, 1989.

Glover, F.R.A. England the Remnant of Judah and the Israel of Ephraim: the Two Families under One Head, a Hebrew Episode in British History. London: Rivingtons, 1880.

Parham, Charles Fox. Kol Kare Bomidbar, A Voice Crying in the Wilderness. Baxter Springs, KS: Apostolic Faith Bible College, 1929.

 

Humble and Holy: the Ministry of W.J. Seymour

8 August, 2007

The Azusa Street revival is perhaps the most famed event in modern Christian history. Nearly every Pentecostal and Charismatic sect traces its roots to the ramshackle Los Angeles stable and livery converted into a house of worship by a small group of newly-filled Pentecostals. The humble work, which birthed global Pentecostalism, was directed by an equally humble man, William Joseph Seymour. His remarkable life of ministry was an undeniable catalyst in the development and spread of the Apostolic Faith, and his unassuming personality and Christian character made him an ideal servant of God to advance the Pentecostal Movement.

William Seymour was born to freed slaves in Louisiana and was baptized at the Church of the Assumption in Franklin, Louisiana on 4 September 1870 (Martin 53-54). While the family had a long Catholic heritage, Seymour’s childhood was not particularly religious, and he was 25 years old when he joined the Simpson Chapel Methodist Episcopal Church at Eleventh and Missouri Streets in Indianapolis, Indiana. Here Seymour began his spiritual odyssey toward Pentecost. In Indianapolis, he associated with the Evening Light Saints, an egalitarian Holiness group that formed the Church of God headquartered in Anderson, Indiana. The Church of God was irrevocably committed to inter-racial fellowship, a principle of unity that would play a key role in Seymour’s ministry in Los Angeles. Some historians suppose the Seymour moved to Cincinnati for a time where he was influenced by the Wesleyan Holiness teachings of Martin Wells Knapp (Sanders 50-51; Martin 79-80).

In 1903, Seymour journeyed to Houston, Texas to search for relatives that left Louisiana after Emancipation (Sanders 55). It was there that Seymour began attending the Holiness Church pastor by Lucy Farrow. In 1905, Farrow traveled to Kansas where she encountered the teachings of Charles Fox Parham and received the baptism of the Holy Ghost in one of Parham’s meetings. Seymour was reluctant to embrace Farrow’s newfound experience but was eventually persuaded and joined himself to Parham’s Apostolic Faith ministry when Parham moved operations to Houston later in 1905 (Martin 89-91).

William Seymour demonstrated a passionate hunger to learn more about the Pentecostal experience. Jim Crow was fully enforced in Texas, and Seymour willingly listened outside of the classrooms at Parham’s school, absorbing the theology of the Apostolic Faith (From Tragedy . . . ). Parham’s own racial views were complex, but he was committed to evangelizing blacks in the Houston area with the Pentecostal message and believed that Seymour would be a powerful influence on other African Americans to join the revival (Goff 108).

In February 1906, William Seymour received an invitation to assume the pastorate of a small Holiness work in Los Angeles. Even though he had not received the baptism of the Holy Ghost himself, Seymour felt led of God to answer the call and arrived on the 22nd of February in the bustling metropolis (Martin 139). The interim leader of the group, Julia Hutchins, did not accept Seymour’s ideas on speaking in tongues and locked the mission on Sante Fe Street against him. Sympathetic members of the congregation, Mr. & Mrs. Richard Asbury, took Seymour into their home, and prayer meetings ensued. On 9 April 1906, “Brother Lee” became the first to receive the baptism of the Holy Ghost, and scores were filled thereafter, including William Seymour (Sanders 84-86).
The burgeoning group moved to Azusa Street and began round-the-clock services. In September, Seymour began publishing The Apostolic Faith, a monthly periodical that spread the news of the Pentecostal outpouring in Los Angeles, and thousands arrived to receive their own Pentecost. Despite much criticism from the religious and secular press, Seymour proved a capable and humble leader. A truly spiritual man, William Seymour was afraid to grieve the Spirit and allowed the saints to freely operate under the anointing, believing God would deal with excesses.

His humility has become legendary and is probably best revealed in those who wrote about him. Bro. Frank Ewart describes the pastor with his face hidden in stacked shoe boxes in deep prayer (175). Seymour lifted no offerings and did not schedule himself or others to preach, allowing God to move in true sovereignty (Sanders 97). Bro. William Durham, who led a Pentecostal mission in Chicago wrote:

He is the meekest man I ever met. He walks and talks with God. His power is in his weakness. He seems to maintain a helpless dependence on God and is as simple-hearted as a little child, and at the same time is so filled with God that you feel the love and power every time you get near him. (“A Chicago Evangelist’s Pentecost”)

Another account by A.S. Worrell reads:

The writer has not a single doubt that Brother Seymour has more power with God, and more power from God, than all his critics in and out of the city. His strength is in his conscious weakness, and lowliness before God; and so long as he maintains this attitude, the power of God will, no doubt, continue to flow through him. (“Work Increases”)

Despite his lack of formal training, Seymour was a powerful preacher and exhorter. C.H. Mason, first presiding Bishop of the Church of God in Christ, received his Pentecost at Azusa in 1907 and remarked: “I also thank God for Elder Seymore [sic] who came and preached a wonderful sermon. His words were sweet and powerful . . .” (Mason 26). He longed for revival and not fame, declaring:

The first thing in every assembly is to see that He, the Holy Ghost, is installed as the chairman. The reason why we have so many dired up missions and churches today, is because they have not the Holy Ghost as the chairman. They have some man in His place . . . Jesus Christ, is the archbishop of these [Apostolic] assemblies, and He must be recognized. (“The Holy Spirit Bishop of the Church”).

Seymour died on 28 September 1922. His last words, aptly spoken, were, “I love my Jesus so.” The mission that had been a hotbed of revival had declined in its latter years, and Seymour’s ministry had become peripheral when he did not accept the revelations of the Finished Work of Calvary or the revelation of the Mighty God in Christ. Despite their theological differences, Bishop G.T. Haywood wrote: “Though he did not agree with the brethren in many things yet he was loved and respected” (“Death of W.J. Seymour”). Ultimately, Seymour served as an important catalyst in the fledgling Pentecostal Movement. He never assumed or coveted a position of ecclesiastical authority and has only recently been recognized in scholarship for his monumental contributions to the Apostolic Faith, but surely the great Azusa revival can only have been possible under such surrendered, servant leadership, a powerful ministry model for today’s Church.

Sources:

Durham, William. “A Chicago Evangelist’s Pentecost.” The Apostolic Faith 1(6) Feb-
Mar 1907, p. 4.

Ewart, Frank. The Phenomenon of Pentecost. Hazelwood, MO: Word Aflame Press,
1975.

From Tragedy to Triumph, the William Joseph Seymour Story. Dir. Tim Storey and
Leon Isaac Kennedy. 1992. VHS. CTL Productions, 1992.

Goff, James R. Fields White unto Harvest: Charles F. Parham and the Missionary
Origins of Pentecostalism.
Fayetteville, AR: Univ. of Ark. Press, 1988.

Haywood, G.T. “Death of W.J. Seymour.” The Voice in the Wilderness 2(13), p. 7.

Martin, Larry. The Life and Ministry of William J. Seymour: and a history of the Azusa
Street Revival.
Joplin, MO: Christian Life Books, 1999.

Mason, Charles H. The History and Life Work of Elder C.H. Mason, Chief Apostle and
His Co-Laborers.
Memphis: Church of God in Christ, 1924.

Sanders, Rufus G.W. William Joseph Seymour: black father of the twentieth century
Pentecostal/Charismatic movement.
Sandusky, OH: Alexandria Publications, 2001.

Seymour, William J. “The Holy Spirit Bishop of the Church.” The Apostolic Faith 1(9)
Jun-Sep 1907, p. 3.

Worrell, A.S. “Work Increasing.” The Apostolic Faith 1(6) Feb-Mar 1907, p. 5.

Howard Goss: Pentecostal Pioneer and Founding Father

5 April, 2007

In 1883, Howard A. Goss was born to a poor Missouri homesteader. Life was difficult for the Gosses, and a young Howard struggled to continue his education while working as a miner to make ends meet at home. The family was not religious, and Howard had no knowledge of the Bible. His brother, John, was an avowed atheist and encouraged Howard to adopt the same attitude.

In 1902, Bro. Charles Fox Parham, founder of the Bethel Bible School in Topeka, Kansas, where the Holy Ghost first fell on January 1, 1901, began tent meetings in Galena, Kansas. Howard began attending the curious meetings after hearing reports from classmates of divine miracles, deliverance, and speaking in tongues. Several townspeople were filled with the baptism of the Spirit, and many lost their ability to speak in English for several consecutive days. This evidence was a strong factor in Howard Goss’ decision to join the Pentecostals:

I feel that I owe my conversion to Christianity to hearing people speak in other tongues. The 14th Chapter of I Corinthians tells us that tongues are a sign to the “unbelievers.” Today, I still thank God that I heard and saw His own sign from heaven. (Goss 37)

During the winter, Howard was baptized in Jesus’ Name in the icy Spring River. Even before the Oneness revelation, Bro. Parham had begun exclusively baptizing converts with the singular invocation of the Name of Jesus rather than the trinitarian titles (Parham 4-5).

Bro. Goss devoted himself wholeheartedly to the Christian life. He gave up a voracious interest in athletics, renounced membership in two lodges, and read only the Bible for two full years. He finished high school while continuing work in the mines, but he faithfully attended services at the Third Street Mission, the permanent Pentecostal work that grew out of the Galena tent revivals.

While he felt drawn to do a greater work for the Lord, he believed himself inadequate and resisted the call. After being kicked in the face by a horse and being warned by the Lord: “This is your last chance”, Bro. Goss yielded himself to God’s will and joined a band of Pentecostal workers bound for Texas (Goss 58-59). In Texas, Bro. Goss was trained in preaching and general evangelistic work. In Houston, the Apostolic workers would do whatever was necessary to draw crowds. They often dressed in Palestinian costumes and marched in the streets, carrying banners reading “Apostolic Faith Movement” (Goss 69).

Remarkably, Bro. Goss still had not received the baptism of the Holy Ghost. He earnestly sought to be filled, however; on April 16, 1906 during a train ride from Orchard to Angleton, Texas, a prayer meeting broke out amongst the band of travelling saints. Bro. Goss was overcome by the Spirit and finally began speaking in other tongues. Similar baptisms took place in other coaches, and the workers left the train in a Pentecostal stupor, which drew intrigued crowds to the nightly meetings.

Through this early training and powerful anointing, Bro. Goss became instrumental in organizing the Pentecostal Movement. In 1910, he received credentials from C.H. Mason’s Church of God in Christ. But, there was growing dissatisfaction with the arrangement, and plans were made to form another Pentecostal organization.

On December 20, 1913, a call was issued in The Word and Witness for a convention of Pentecostal saints desiring greater unity. Signed by Bro. Goss along with M.M. Pinson, A.P Collins, D.C.O. Opperman, and E.N. Bell, this general invitation resulted in the formation of the Assemblies of God in 1914 (Tyson 155). Bro. Goss was an appointed member of the executive board and served in that organization until 1916, when he resigned his position with the expulsion of the Oneness faction of believers.

In 1916, he became treasure of the tenuous General Assembly of Apostolic Assemblies, the first Oneness body to organize after the schism. When the body merged with the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World in 1918, Bro. Goss retained the office of treasurer (Tyson 191). In 1924, Bro. Goss became the Pentecostal Ministerial Alliance, which reorganized in 1932 as the Pentecostal Church, Inc. Bro. Goss was the superintendent of this group.

In 1945, the Pentecostal Church, Inc. merged with the Pentecostal Assemblies of Jesus Christ to form the United Pentecostal Church, and Bro. Howard Goss was named General Superintendent of the newly-organized body, a fitting position for a man with such rich pioneering experience in the Pentecostal Movement.

Bro. Richard Martin, Bishop Emeritus of River of Life in Muncie, Indiana, vividly recalls Bro. Goss as a kind and portly man, who traveled alone by rail preaching the Gospel. According to Bro. Martin, Bro. Goss held strong convictions and even refused to drink soda from a bottle in order to “shun the very appearance of evil”, a common maxim among early Pentecostals that summed up their rejection of carnality.

The legacy of Bro. Goss is enduring. His strong influence in the fledgling Pentecostal Movement was instrumental in restoring and propagating full Apostolic truth, and he consistently played a central role in guiding the saints of God into a greater unity of fellowship and service to Jesus Christ. The United Pentecostal Church International is the product of unshakeable leaders like Bro. Goss, whose commitment to the message of Pentecost continues to inspire a new generation of Apostolic believers to “earnestly contend for the faith.”

Sources:
 
Goss, Ethel E. The Winds of God. Hazelwood, MO: Word Aflame Press, 1958.

Parham, Charles Fox. “Baptism.” The Apostolic Faith. October 1912, pp. 4-5.

Tyson, James L. The Early Pentecostal Revival. Hazelwood, MO: Word Aflame Press, 1992.

Healing and Health: Early Apostolic Accounts of Divine Miracles

5 March, 2007

Divine healing has always been a central component of Pentecostalism. The revelation of Christ as Healer was strongly realized in earlier ministries, many associated with the Holiness Movement. A.B. Simpson, founder of the Christian Missionary Alliance, was healed of heart disease and began preaching divine healing as a core component of the Gospel (Simpson 158). John Alexander Dowie’s Zion, Illinois disallowed doctors and drugs, and his influential publication Leaves of Healing was filled with teaching and testimony about God’s healing power. Mariah Woodworth-Etter’s crusades focused on the healing power of the Name of Jesus and drew thousands of believers nationwide. Even before the students at Charles Parham’s Bethel Bible School articulated the “initial evidence” theology that marked the rebirth of New Testament Pentecostalism, they were involved in Parham’s “healing home”, a faith-healing endeavor connected to the school that offered short-term residence to those seeking a divine cure for their ailments. A banner reading “Health” is carried by one of Parham’s workers in an early photo taken at Bryan Hall in Houston, Texas. It is not surprising, then, that divine healing was a core belief and practice in the earliest iterations of Pentecostal revival.

Divine healing was practiced at the Azusa Street Mission and promoted in The Apostolic Faith. In the first issue of the periodical, William Joseph Seymour, who led the mission and edited the paper, published a lengthy and passionate theology of healing as a byproduct of Christ’s atonement:

Sickness and disease are destroyed through the precious atonement of Jesus. O how we ought to honor the stripes of Jesus, for “with his stripes we are healed.” . . . He [Jesus Christ] was manifested to destroy the works of the devil. Every sickness is of the devil. (“The Precious Atonment” 2).

Seymour recognizes human disease a curse of the Fall and calls healing a component of “full salvation” (The Precious Atonement 2).

Reports of healing in The Apostolic Faith were nearly as common as reports of Holy Ghost baptism. God’s healing power operated at Azusa Street, and healings were front-page news in the first issue: “Many have laid aside their glasses and had their eye sight [sic] restored. The deaf have had their hearing restored. A man was healed of asthma of twenty years standing. Many have been healed of heart trouble and lung trouble” (“The Old-Time Pentecost” 1).

Testimonies of healing at Azusa and around the globe filled column after column as God confirmed the Gospel miraculously delivering the diseased and afflicted. Even a century later, the accounts of miracles build faith:

–“A sister was healed of consumption when she had but part of a lung left” (Sept 1906)

–“Sister Lemon of Whittier [California], who had been a sufferer for eighteen years and could receive no help from physicians and had been bed-ridden for fourteen years of that time has been marvelously healed by the Lord through the laying on of hands and the prayer of faith. She has been walking to meetings.” (Nov 1906)

–“A young man saved from the morphine habit has no more desire for the stuff and gave up his instruments.” (Nov 1906)

–“In Denver, Colorado, in Bro. Fink’s home, a woman was brought in that was hurt in falling from a wagon. She had been a cripple for thirty-two years and unable to walk. Her toes were drawn up under her feet and could not be straightened. She was unsaved. The next morning, as she was sitting in the front room alone, a little six year old girl, who has received the baptism and speaks with tongues, walked in and put her hand on the woman and said, “Jesus wants to heal you, the Spirit has sent me to put my hands on you.” Instantly, those toes on the woman’s feet straightened and she arose and walked.” (Dec 1906)

–“A baby that accidentally took poison that it found in a bottle in a closet was healed in answer to prayer. The mother held to God in agonizing prayer, ‘Lord, save my baby.’ The little thing was cold, but the Lord healed it completely” (Jan 1907)

–“Miss Eula Wilson, a girl of fifteen in Wichita, Kans., had been given up to die by the doctors. She seemed to die and was laid out for burial. Hours afterward she suddenly raised up and said, ‘O Mamma I have been in heaven and Jesus has healed me and told me to eat, drink, and walk.’ She was completely healed and has not been sick at all since.” (Sept 1907)

–[Khassia Hills, India] “. . . Then follows account of the healing of a poor heathen woman of a most loathsome skin disease, because of which the heathen had thrust her form the village to die in the jungle. While on the roadside she stood listening to the preaching of the gospel and suddenly exclaimed, ‘God has given me medicine. He will heal me with this medicine,’ and began rubbing her body with her hands when she exclaimed, ‘I am well!’ It was so. The heathen around saw and were filled with awe.” (May 1908)

It is difficult in today’s world of advanced medical technology and simple surgical solutions to recapture the unwavering faith in Jesus Christ that produced miracles of this magnitude! Modern miracles are often unrealized because we turn first to doctors and drugs for relief from sickness and suffering rather than relying on Christ the Healer. The stripes of Jesus still heal and, like our Pentecostal predecessors, we must only believe in order to receive health and wholeness from Heaven!

Sources:

“The Old-Time Pentecost.” The Apostolic Faith 1:1 (September 1906), p. 1.

“The Precious Atonement.” The Apostolic Faith 1:1 (September 1906), p. 2.

Simpson, A.B. “Divine Healing” Word, Work, and the World 7 (September 1886), p. 158. 

The Sanctified Church: the Holiness Movement & Pentecostalism

3 August, 2006

American Pentecostalism is deeply rooted in the Holiness Movement that swept the United States during the 1860s and 1870s.  The Holiness Movement evolved out of the theological ideas of John Wesley, whose sweeping spiritual reformation in England, developed into a full-blown revival in America.  Wesley’s belief that converted Christians need not commit sin, known as Christian Perfectionism, was refined into a doctrine of “Entire Sanctification” after his death.  American Wesleyans believed that salvation was followed by a “Second Blessing” of sanctification in which the desire for sin was uprooted and replaced by purity and piety.  Many within the Holiness Movement held that the “Second Work of Grace” constituted the Pentecostal baptism.  The movement was fueled by fervent commitment to prayer, the literal interpretation of Scripture and a broad vision of evangelism and social transformation through the power of the Spirit of God.  Holiness camp meetings were often emotional with zealous preaching and pre-Pentecostal manifestations of the Spirit, which included shouting, dancing, running and shaking.  While many Methodists embraced the tenets, over 100 denominations emerged from the Holiness Movement.  In 1867, the National Camp Meeting Association for the Promotion of Holiness was organized in Vineland, New Jersey, followed by innumerable State and regional fellowships who promoted their message of salvation and sanctification through printed tracts, camp meetings and missions work (Mapes 29).  With its core of restorationist zeal and the belief in a palpable experience with God, the movement spread city to city and had a popular appeal on the American frontier.Charles Fox Parham, the young Holiness evangelist who founded Bethel Bible School in Topeka, Kansas, where the Holy Ghost first fell on January 1, 1901, had emerged from the Methodist Episcopal Church.  As a Methodist, he believed in the doctrine of the “Second Blessing”, but he became increasingly convinced that sanctification was not the Pentecostal baptism.  He visited Christian communes and healing homes around the nation and was persuaded that there remained an experience beyond sanctification that would restore New Testament power to the Church.  To this end, he commissioned a study at the Bethel Bible College of the biblical model and evidence of the Holy Ghost baptism.  By some accounts, the student body unanimously concluded that speaking in tongues was the consistent manifestation accompanying Spirit baptism in the Book of Acts.  Earnest prayer meetings ensued, and on New Year’s Day 1901, Agnes Ozman, a young pupil from Wisconsin, received the baptism speaking fluently in other tongues, an experience that soon replicated throughout the school.

Despite early evangelistic efforts and some attention in the Topeka press, Parham and his small band of Pentecostals did not meet with immediate success in spreading their message. In 1905, Parham relocated his ministry headquarters to Houston, Texas, and there encountered greater reception of the Pentecostal message as large crowds began attending services and receiving their Pentecost.  Parham’s message did not conflict with the Holiness teaching of salvation and sanctification, but offered believers a “Third Blessing”, a spiritual empowerment for service.  The triplet cliché from the period is still sometimes heard in Pentecostal circles:  “I’m saved, sanctified and filled with the Holy Ghost!”  While some Holiness teachers opposed Parham’s new doctrine, many adherents were swept up in the current of revival, looking for a renewal of the fervor that had begun to wane in the movement with the crisis of the Social Gospel in the latter part of the nineteenth century.

In 1910, William Durham, who had received the Holy Ghost at Azusa Street, championed the doctrine of the “Finished Work at Calvary”, which collapsed sanctification into the salvation experience.  Many Pentecostals became convinced of Durham’s doctrine, and Pentecostalism can still be divided into Wesleyan and non-Wesleyan camps.  Despite the controversy over the role, validity and distinction of sanctification, the Holiness Movement provided a strong, spiritual infrastructure upon which Pentecostal doctrine could be easily superimposed, and modern Pentecostals owe a great debt to the Holiness predecessors whose focus on prayer, personal piety and the power of the Spirit created the atmosphere that birthed the fiery Pentecostal revival that continues to burn brightly a century later.

Works Cited:

Anderson, Robert Mapes.  Vision of the Disinherited:  the Making of American Pentecostalism. New York:  Oxford University Press.  1979, p. 29.