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Pentecostal Beginnings

Discussion in 'Christian Apologetics Forum' started by Willie T, Oct 23, 2018.

  1. Willie T

    Willie T Well-Known Member

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    I mentioned earlier that I was really enjoying a new book. Here is its introduction to "Part III." I just loved the degree of detail.

    The twentieth century witnessed many events in the history of Protestantism — some inspirational, some deeply disturbing, and others merely significant. One of those events was the inexorable rise of the economic, military, and cultural power of the United States of America, which has had incalculable consequences for Protestantism.1 The phenomenon now described as “globalization” was well under way by the middle of the century, with the result that Protestant ideas originating in the United States have been “subject to constant reappropriation, repackaging, and dissemination into the transnational realm.” 2

    This can be seen at every level of Protestant identity — including ecumenism, theology, missionary activity, the forging of new models of ministry, and spirituality. In my own specialty — the discipline of “systematic theology” — the intellectual lead has passed decisively from its 1900 epicenter in Germany to the United States. Christian theology was dominated from 1900 to about 1970 by German-language writers, including Karl Barth, Emil Brunner, Adolf von Harnack, Jürgen Moltmann, and Wolfhart Pannenberg. Yet since about 1980, the intellectual lead has passed to America.

    Yet one development that played a critical role in the global shaping of twentieth-century Protestantism is too easily overlooked — as, indeed, it was at the time. With hindsight, it is possible to see that a series of seemingly unimportant events in the early 1900s pointed the way to the changing of the Protestant world in the twentieth century. As might be expected, the most famous of these took place in the United States — not in any great city or university, but in a town in the rural state of Kansas that was still recovering from the economic depression of the 1890s, and in a run-down, near-derelict church in San Francisco where the congregation sat on planks to pray.

    Late in the evening on the first day of the twentieth century — January 1, 1901 — an event took place at Bethel Bible College in Topeka, Kansas. The institution had been founded in the holiness tradition the previous October by Charles Fox Parham (1873–1929), a former pastor in the Methodist Episcopal church. Topeka had already attracted wide attention through the novels of its Congregationalist pastor Charles Sheldon, author of In His Steps. As an exercise, Parham asked his students to investigate the New Testament evidence for the continued activity of the Holy Spirit in the Christian life.

    It was seen as an empty, pointless question by many. The theological wisdom of the day took the form of “cessationism,” which was widely taught by Protestant theological heavyweights. In this view, the active gifts of the Holy Spirit, such as “speaking in tongues,” belonged to the age of the New Testament and were no longer available or operational.3 The New Testament was thus read from within a somewhat rationalist framework, reflecting the ideas of the Enlightenment, which had already determined that such spiritual phenomena were things of the past. Parham was not so sure. Within his own holiness tradition, reports were circulating of what seemed to be charismatic phenomena. He asked his students for their views.

    Their response — perhaps too easily dismissed as naïve and simplistic — was that a straightforward reading of the biblical texts suggested that this charismatic gifting was still a possibility and that it could be identified by speaking in other tongues. Impressed by the clarity of this response, Parham joined his students for a prayer vigil that began on December 31, 1900, in the hope that the gift might be renewed. At eleven o’clock the following evening, when the new century was less than a day old, one of Parham’s students, Agnes Ozman, had such an experience. A few days later others, including Parham himself, followed suit.

    Parham and his students began to tell others about this apparent recovery of the gift of tongues. One of those who heard Parham speak in 1905 was the African American preacher William J. Seymour (1870–1922), who was forced by the southern segregationist policies of that period to listen to Parham’s lectures through a half-opened door. Sadly, Parham — noted for his white supremacist views — did nothing to break down this racial wall of separation. Inspired, Seymour went on to open the Apostolic Faith Mission in a dilapidated church, then used only for storage, at 312 Azusa Street in Los Angeles in April 1906.

    Over the next two years, a major revival broke out at Azusa Street, characterized by speaking in tongues. The movement began to be characterized by the term “Pentecostalism,” which came from “the Day of Pentecost” — the occasion, according to the New Testament, when the phenomenon was first experienced by the early Christian disciples (Acts 2:1–4). Significantly, at a time of ruthless racial segregation in American culture brought about by the notorious Jim Crow segregation laws, the Azusa Street mission pointedly ignored racial issues.4 A black man was leading a diverse ministry team comprising white people, black people, and Hispanics. As historian of Pentecostalism Frank Bartlemann put it, alluding to a great revivalist theological theme, “the color line was washed away with the blood.”

    Through events like this, not limited to the United States, a new Protestant movement was born in the first decade of the twentieth century. One hundred years after its birth, it is estimated that at least half a billion people are Pentecostals — the largest Christian group of any kind other than Catholicism. Its emergence and consolidation has transformed Protestantism and raised the possibility that the twenty-first century will be shaped decisively and permanently by this new, dynamic, populist form of Christianity. It forms the backdrop against which the story of Protestantism in the twentieth century must be told — and on which its future may well depend.

    Yet we must begin our account of the remarkable reconfiguration of Protestantism in the twentieth century by considering its development in the nation that stamped its presence and influence on that era — the United States of America.
     
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  2. bbyrd009

    bbyrd009 Groper

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    why did this never make it into my new posts, i gotta wonder
     
  3. Willie T

    Willie T Well-Known Member

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    I'm sorry. I had accidentally left my communication controls set on "Inter Admin Only." I will correct that. :D
     
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  4. bbyrd009

    bbyrd009 Groper

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    not sure if that would affect a thread showing up in new posts or not? Plus yours is hardly the only example, i've seen like 5 "new" week-old threads today lol
     
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  5. Willie T

    Willie T Well-Known Member

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    Actually, the real reason is probably because the computer figured no one would find it interesting except me.
     
  6. bbyrd009

    bbyrd009 Groper

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    lol
    possibly the most telling part right here. This is interesting bc the ptb also chose the most fundamental/backward of the Muslim religions to elevate in Saudi Arabia, Wahhabism, and i'm seeing many parallels
     
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  7. Frank Lee

    Frank Lee Well-Known Member

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    Hurrah for Ezekiel chapter 34! God yet arises from his throne and wades into the scattered sheep to save those scattered by dead pastors and denominations. Such was I. Alone and hopeless with no shepherd to find me. So Jesus came and gathered the remnant.

    If men did their duty to God he wouldn't have to still do it himself.
     
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  8. CoreIssue

    CoreIssue Active Member

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    I've tried posting entire article but it exceeds the forum limit.

    Roll over Azusa

    Azusa St. and modern Pentecostalism


    The 100 year celebration of what?

    There is no question, Azusa street meetings had spiritualist mediums, hypnotists, and others who were interested in the occult. It was known that Parham who taught Seymour rejected several of the central tenets of the Christian faith.
     
  9. Willie T

    Willie T Well-Known Member

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    The rapid rise of Pentecostalism has not been without controversy. But, claiming a membership of spiritualist mediums, hypnotists, and others who were interested in the occult, is a bit of a stretch. The movement is unquestionably a form of Protestantism, not occult worship: it emerged historically from the American holiness tradition, and it emphasizes the place of the Bible in Christian life and tradition. Like all Protestant groups, Pentecostalism affirms the authority of the Bible with a specific and distinctive way of interpreting the text that attaches particular importance to the role of the Holy Spirit in interpreting the Bible and in guiding and empowering the individual. Pentecostalism regularly affirms a commitment to the acceptance of the real and present work of the Holy Spirit through gifts and signs as imparted to believers for service and witness.

    This commitment has given rise to a tension that is often characterized as “word versus spirit.” Classical Protestantism holds that God’s will and purposes are revealed only through the written text of the Bible; Pentecostalism recognizes the role of “words of knowledge” to individual believers, which may be important for the community as a whole. For traditional Protestants, this approach seems to devalue the place of the Bible in the Christian life; for Pentecostals, the older approaches limit God’s capacity to reveal himself to individuals through his Spirit.
     
  10. CoreIssue

    CoreIssue Active Member

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    Actually, if it is not a stretch, but known fact that I first read about several decades ago.

    Charles Fox Parham biography, birth date, birth place and pictures
    The meetings began to be filled with fringe figures such as spiritualist mediums, hypnotists, and others who had a deep interest in the occult. Newspapers reported hearing "weird babbling" emanating from the structure. Soon the mission attracted the curious, who had no desire to be saved but merely wanted to witness the events.

    Read up on occult practices. Vary Pentecostal.

    In the early years Mormons practiced such as tongues.
     
  11. Willie T

    Willie T Well-Known Member

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    You even just said it yourself: "Soon the mission attracted the curious, who had no desire to be saved but merely wanted to witness the events." THAT is not "membership." I first went to a midnight Catholic service in the Army to see the weird things I heard that would be going on there.

    You gotta get a grip on your livid, and vivid imagination. I don't dig Pentecostalism either, but I won't fall for just anything I read about them. My wife and I tried to see if we could handle their thinking... at three different churches, for about a year, total, so we have an accurate idea that they don't do any occult stuff there.

    Frankly, they are far too fundamentalistic for me.
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2018
  12. CoreIssue

    CoreIssue Active Member

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    My focus was on those into the occult that joined.

    Fundamentalist? I don't use those labels anymore because they're so misused.
     
  13. Willie T

    Willie T Well-Known Member

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    Who in the occult is ever going to join a group so deeply involved in following the Bible?
     
  14. CoreIssue

    CoreIssue Active Member

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    I agree, but that does not include Pentecostals.
     
  15. Willie T

    Willie T Well-Known Member

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    For a bit of clarification, those early Mormons thought their glossolalia was an expression of the pure Adamic language..... NOT an "unknown tongue" that the Bible speaks about.
     
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  16. CoreIssue

    CoreIssue Active Member

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    I never said unknown.

    Still occult.
     
  17. Willie T

    Willie T Well-Known Member

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    You really have never been associated with a Pentecostal church, have you?
     
  18. CoreIssue

    CoreIssue Active Member

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    Yes I have and studied their doctrines.
     
  19. Willie T

    Willie T Well-Known Member

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    S U R E you have. :rolleyes: LOL
     
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  20. brakelite

    brakelite Well-Known Member

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    After ten years struggling in AOG churches, I inevitable came to the conclusion that while very friendly and obviously mission minded, the teachings were shallow and faith was predicated on signs and wonders... Not in the goodness and grace of a loving Father and Saviour. Not that they weren't Christians, but we're somewhat limited in their focus and their priorities were skewed in favour of demonstration and emotion.
    Not altogether in agreement with the claim that Pentecostalism began as a 20th century phenomenon. As a modern movement and half pie denomination perhaps... But as a manifestation of spiritual gifts in the church, no.
     
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