Posted by: Apostolic Oneness Pentecostals | May 8, 2009

Day 8: Modern Day Pentecostal Movement (1900 to Present)

william_j__seymourToday’s Pentecostal movement traces its community’s growth to a prayer meeting at Bethel Bible College in Topeka, Kansas on January 1, 1901. Here, many came to the conclusion that speaking in tongues was the biblical sign of the Holy Spirit’s baptism. Charles Parham, the founder of this school, would later move to Houston, Texas. In spite of segregation in Houston, William J. Seymour, a (literally) one-eyed African-American preacher, was allowed to attend Parham’s Bible classes there. Seymour traveled to Los Angeles, where his preaching sparked the Azusa Street Revival in 1906. Despite the work of various Wesleyan groups such as Parham’s and D. L. Moody’s revivals, the beginning of the widespread Pentecostal movement in the United States is generally considered to have begun with Seymour’s Azusa Street Revival.

The Azuza revival was the first Pentecostal revival to receive significant attention, and many people from around the world became drawn to it. The Los Angeles Press gave close attention to Seymour’s revival, which helped fuel its growth. A number of new, smaller, groups started up, inspired by the events of this revival. International visitors and Pentecostal missionaries would eventually bring these teachings to other nations, so that practically all classic Pentecostal denominations today trace their historical roots to the Azusa Street Revival.

Early Pentecostals were fueled by their understanding that all of God’s people would prophesy in the last days before Christ’s second coming. They looked to the biblical passages concerning Pentecost in the second chapter of Acts, in which Peter cited the prophecy contained in Joel 2, “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.”(NIV) Thus, as the experience of speaking in tongues spread among the men and women of Azusa Street, a sense of immediacy took hold, as they began to look toward the Second Coming of Christ. Early Pentecostals saw themselves as outsiders from mainstream society, dedicated solely to preparing the way for Christ’s return.

Pentecostalism, like any major movement, has given birth to a large number of organizations with political, social and theological differences. The early movement was countercultural: African-Americans and women were important leaders in the Azusa Revival, and helped spread the Pentecostal message far beyond Los Angeles. As the Azusa Revival began to wane, however, doctrinal differences began to surface as pressure from social, cultural and political developments from the time began to affect the church. As a result, major divisions, isolationism, sectarianism and even the increase of extremism were apparent.

Some Christian leaders who were not a part of the early Pentecostal movement remained highly respected by Pentecostal leaders. Albert Benjamin Simpson became closely involved with the growing Pentecostal revival. It was common for Pentecostal pastors and missionaries to receive their training at the Missionary Training Institute that Simpson founded. Because of this, Simpson and the Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA), which Simpson also founded, had a great influence on Pentecostalism–in particular the Assemblies of God and the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. This influence included evangelistic emphasis, C&MA doctrine, Simpson’s hymns and books, and the use of the term “Gospel Tabernacle”, which evolved into Pentecostal churches being known as “Full Gospel Tabernacles”. Charles Price Jones, an African-American Holiness leader and founder of the Church of Christ, is another example. His hymns are widely sung at National Conventions of the Church of God in Christ and many other Pentecostal churches.

African-Americans played an important role in the early Pentecostal movement. The first decade of Pentecostalism was marked by interracial assemblies, “…Whites and blacks mix in a religious frenzy,” noted a local newspaper account, at a time when government facilities were racially separate and Jim Crow laws were about to be codified. While the interracial assemblies that characterized Azusa Street would continue for a number of years even in the segregated South, the enthusiasm and support for such assemblies eventually waned. After a while, interracial assemblies were nearly non-existent in most Pentecostal churches. However, this trend is starting to be reversed in many Pentecostal churches today.

Tune in tomorrow for a lesson on the roles of women in modern day Pentecost.

(research can be attributed to Wikipedia)


Responses

  1. I’m looking for information about a revival in Manheim, Pennsylvania, that occured in the 1800’s, I believe, called The Holiness. It later moved to Landisville Camp Meeting which is still there now. Looking to uncover a well. Someone told me there was a book called A Modern Day Pentecost that gave the history of it, but I haven’t been able to find. Do you have any information?


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