“I Will Pour Out Of My Spirit Upon All Flesh”

“I Will Pour Out Of My Spirit Upon All Flesh”

Click to join the conversation with over 500,000 Pentecostal believers and scholars

Click to get our FREE MOBILE APP and stay connected

| PentecostalTheology.com

PNEUMA 37 (2015) 356–374

“I Will Pour Out of My Spirit Upon All Flesh” An Historical and Theological Meditation on Pentecostal Origins

Michael McClymond

Department of Theology, Saint Louis University, St. Louis, Missouri

[email protected]


Scholars of Pentecostalism have recently debated pentecostal monogenesis (that is, a single origin) in contrast to polygenesis (or multiple origins). This essay examines con- tributions to the discussion by Allan Anderson, Michael Bergunder, Cecil Robeck, and Adam Stewart, and argues that polygenetic views find support through new evidence from pre-1900, proto- or paleo-pentecostal movements in diverse localities. Moreover, those who argue today for the importance of the Azusa Street Revival acknowledge this global complexity, and so the mono/polygenesis distinction might now be outmoded. The terminology of “Classical Pentecostalism,” in light of Bergunder’s analysis, confirms a pluralized pentecostal identity. The essay’s second, paradoxical claim is that polyge- nesis does not diminish the significance of the Azusa Street Revival but enhances it by underscoring the theme of “inclusive origins”—a theme presented here as a theo- logical interpretation of pentecostal origins that builds on Walter Hollenweger’s “black origins” and Allan Anderson’s “global origins”—and yet moves a step further.


Allan Anderson – Azusa Street Revival – Cecil Robeck – Classical Pentecostalism – Michael Bergunder – monogenesis – pentecostal origins – polygenesis

Let me begin with a quotation. “Many charismatic gifts were reported … [and] I am thankful to the Lord, who is pleased to pour out His Spirit upon poor sinners without distinction of white or black, and rich or poor.” Where and when was this said, andwhosaid it? In light of the phrase “without distinction of white or black,” many might guess that the statement is somehow connected with the Azusa Street Revival, around 1906. Yet the quotation comes, in fact, from John

© koninklijke brill nv, leiden, 2015 | doi: 10.1163/15700747-03703001


historical and theological meditation on pentecostal origins


Christian Arulappan, who said this regarding the Christian Pettah (or village) revival that took place in India during the 1860s, about a half century before the much better-known Azusa Street Revival.1

Let us consider another episode. A Christian minister has been asked to address a prestigious gathering of missionary leaders who oversee evangeliza- tion in far-flung regions of the globe. He tells them that their verbal message of salvation in Christ is not sufficient to meet the requirements of the missionary task and the challenge of the non-Christian world. There must also be a visible demonstration of God’s power—through the healing of the sick and the cast- ing out of demons. The mandate Jesus gave to his apostles—“heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers” (Matt 10:8)—did not end during the first century. Might this be a story about John Wimber or C. Peter Wagner and their contro- versial teaching during the 1980s regarding so-called “power evangelism”?2 On the contrary, this took place in 1824, when Edward Irving addressed the Lon- don Missionary Society with an address on “Missionaries after the Apostolical School.”3

To give one more example: Picture a group of laypersons from a more tradi- tional Christian church that begins to meet together in private homes, without clergy present, and where numerous people begin speaking in tongues. A num- ber of women participants deliver powerful, prophetic messages that leave a lasting impact on their hearers. Meanwhile, the male church leaders denounce these gatherings as heretical, because of the tongues-speaking that occurs and because women are claiming to be speaking under the power of the Holy Spirit. Where and when did this take place? Answer: This episode is not from the twentieth-century mainline charismatic renewal, but from Finland in 1808– 1809. In an article published in 2009, Jouko Ruohomäki provided documenta-

1 Allan Heaton Anderson, To the Ends of the Earth: Pentecostalism and the Transformation of

World Christianity(New York: Oxford University Press, 2013), 18–25.

2 James R. Coggins and Paul G. Hiebert, eds., Wonders and the Word: An Examination of Issues

Raised by John Wimber and the Vineyard Movement(Winnipeg: Kindred Press, 1989); and John

Wimber, Power Evangelism(San Francisco,ca: Harper & Row, 1986).

3 Edward Irving, “Missionaries after the Apostolical School,” inThe Collected Writings of Edward

Irving, 5 vols., ed. G. Carlyle (London: Alexander Strahan, 1864), 1:427–523. Some later evangel-

icals, such as C.H. Spurgeon and J. Hudson Taylor, who did not adopt Irving’s view regarding

charismatic gifts, did agree that missionaries should go forth without prearranged financial

provision, as Irving had argued. See Brian Stanley, “C.H. Spurgeon and the Baptist Missionary

Society, 1863–1866,”Baptist Quarterly(1980): 319–328; Gary B. McGee, “The Dilemma over the

Apostolic Nature of Mission in Modern Missions,”Encounter (Winter 2005); https://agts.edu/

encounter/articles/2005_winter/mcgee.pdf; accessed March 3, 2015.

PNEUMA 37 (2015) 356–374




tion for the existence of a tradition of glossolalia and prophetic utterance that began in 1756 and lasted continuously in Finland for one hundred fifty years prior to the beginnings of global Pentecostalism. This movement took place in a rural rather than urban region, it was concentrated among women rather than men, and the meetings generally took place with no clergy present. So perhaps it is not surprising if few people have heard of this movement. Ruohomäki’s essay provides copious documentation, but the literature is in Finnish—a language that few non-Finns can read.4

Examples could be multiplied. The three examples just given should be a warning to us that what we think we know about various Christian renewalist movements during the modern period is still fragmentary and incomplete. During the last fifteen to twenty years, new information has been recovered on many such pre-1900 groups. Alongside the “Classical Pentecostals,” “mainline Charismatics,” and “neo-Pentecostals,” we might also need to speak now of “proto-Pentecostals” or perhaps “paleo-Pentecostals.”5

Scholars of Pentecostalism in recent years have debated the issue of pente- costal monogenesis (that is, a single origin) in contrast to the notion of pente- costal polygenesis (or multiple origins).6 In what follows, I will first touch on historical and historiographic issues and will then present a theological reflec- tion on the possible meaning of the events we are discussing. I will argue two theses. First of all, on the historical level, I will examine some recent contri- butions to the discussion of origins by Allan Anderson, Michael Bergunder, Cecil Robeck, and Adam Stewart, and suggest that the distance or discrepancy between so-called monogenetic and polygenetic views is neither sizeable nor significant.7It is possible to acknowledge the contributions made in each point

4 Jouko Ruohomäki, “The Call of Charisma: Charismatic Phenomena during the 18th and 19th

Centuries in Finland,” Journal of the European Pentecostal Association29 (2009): 25–40. 5 In Africa, there is abundant evidence for charismatic phenomena and prophetic movements

occurring without any connection to global Pentecostalism. See Ogbu Kalu, African Pente-

costalism (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008). For nineteenth-century Australia, see

Peter Elliott, “Nineteenth-Century Australian Charismata: Edward Irving’s Legacy,”Pneuma

34 (2012): 26–36.

6 My thanks are due to those who invited me to speak at the session on pentecostal origins at

the Society for Pentecostal Theology conference on March 12, 2015, on the campus of South-

eastern University, Lakeland, Florida. I also wish to thank Dr. Estrelda Alexander of William

Seymour College for her incisive comments, and for the anonymous reviewers who com-

mented on an earlier draft of this essay.

7 Some have used the terms monocentric and polycentric. Yet, “mono”/“polygenesis” clearly

pertain to the origins—the focus here. Theoretically, one could combine polygenesis and

PNEUMA 37 (2015) 356–374


historical and theological meditation on pentecostal origins


of view and to get the pieces to fit together. My second claim, more theological in nature,maysound paradoxical. I will argue that the claim of polygenesisdoes not diminish the significance of the Azusa Street Revival but rather enhances it. Before examining the question of pentecostal origins I will briefly consider two other recent scholarly debates that are analogous and so might shed light on the pentecostal discussion.

Monogenesis and Polygenesis in the 1500s and 1700s

Scholars of Pentecostalism are not the only ones debating monogenesis ver- sus polygenesis. There are at least two other church-historical debates, and they both center on the sixteenth and the eighteenth centuries. Debates over Anabaptist origins took a new turn with an influential 1975 essay entitled “From Monogenesis to Polygenesis: The Historical Discussion of Anabaptist Origins.”8 James Stayer and his coauthors took issue with what they regarded as the constrictive outlook of historian Harold Bender. Bender identified the term Anabaptist with the Konrad Grebel circle in Zürich—the evangelical Anabap- tists who were nonviolent and moderate—while he marginalized radical and revolutionary figures such as Thomas Müntzer. Bender was engaged in what pentecostal scholar Michael Bergunder has termed “strategic essentialism”— an effort at defining an historical tradition in terms of certain essential traits to serve some sort of present-day purpose or agenda. Stayer argued that Bender was picking favorites so as to create a “usable past” for present-day Anabap- tists; Stayer and his coauthors claimed, on the other hand, that the Anabaptist movement had a plural character because of its plural origins.9

There has been a comparable debate over evangelicalism. In the Oxford History of the Protestant Dissenting Tradition (2016) I have added my two bits. In my view, the identification of origins for “evangelicalism” depends on def- initions. If “evangelicalism” is defined in terms of a reconciling community and involvement in world evangelization, then priority goes to the Moravians, who experienced their communal “Pentecost” in August 1727, established a

monocentrism(that is, if a single center came to dominate), ormonogenesisandpolycentrism

(if a single-centered origin gave way to multiple centers).

8 James M. Stayer, Werner O. Packull, and Klaus Deppermann, “From Monogenesis to Polygen-

esis: The Historical Discussion of Anabaptist Origins,”Mennonite Quarterly Review 49 (1975):


9 Ibid., 85.

PNEUMA 37 (2015) 356–374




round-the-clock prayer vigil, and soon began sending missionaries around the world. If “evangelicalism” is defined in terms of local revival in which a mes- sage of salvation by grace is preached and large numbers are converted in a brief period of time, then one would tip the hat to Jonathan Edwards and the Northampton, Massachusetts revival. This 1734–1735 awakening raised expecta- tions for revival in the British Isles. If “evangelicalism” has to do with taking the gospel to the people and preaching in the fields, then Howell Harris in Wales was its forerunner. Harris persuaded George Whitefield to preach out-of-doors, and Whitefield then enlisted John Wesley. Finally, if “evangelicalism” implies an organized, lay-oriented, and/or parachurch association, then John Wesley deserves much credit. Because evangelicalism involves a weaving together of multiple strands of thought and practice, it is difficult to assign priority to Ger- many over Britain and America, Britain over Germany and America, or America over Britain and Germany.10

In debates over the origins of Anabaptism and evangelicalism, the polyge- neticistshavegenerallyprevailedoverthemonogeneticists.Thisdoesnotmean that the polygenetic view of Pentecostalism must be correct. Yet, there are analogies that make it plausible to think that all three movements were poly- genetic. These movements all had a noninstitutionalized character, emerged in multiple locations over a generation’s time, and adapted to local contexts.

Pentecostal Origins: What are the Claims and Arguments of Today?

The online Azusa Street Revival Documentary features a global map with a point of light breaking out in Los Angeles and sending rays from Los Angeles throughout the world.11 This may be the simplest way of imagining a pente- costal monogenesis centered on Los Angeles. Yet, the best-known scholar of the Azusa Street Revival, Cecil Robeck, offers a more nuanced view than we see in the popular video. What is more, Robeck’s account has shifted somewhat. In 1993, Robeck wrote: “Without wishing to be triumphalistic, the evidence gathered in all serious quests for origins of the modern Pentecostal movement appears inevitably to point to North America.”12In 2013, Robeck expressed less


11 12

On evangelical origins, see Michael J. McClymond, “Revival,” in Timothy Larsen and Mark Noll, eds.,The Oxford History of Protestant Dissenting Traditions, Vol. 2 (Oxford,uk: Oxford University Press, 2016).

http://youtube.com/watch?v=iqROdLQQvz8; accessed 3 March 2015.

Cecil Robeck, “Pentecostal Origins from a Global Perspective,” in Harold Hunter and Peter

PNEUMA 37 (2015) 356–374


historical and theological meditation on pentecostal origins


confidence regarding the centrality of Azusa Street: “While the Azusa Street Mission may not in the end be viewed as providing the primary genesis for the worldwide Pentecostal Movement, its contribution remains unsurpassed during the first decade.”13

Robeck’s reference to “the first decade” is worth emphasizing. His claim in the second quotation is that Azusa’s dominance lasted over a decade, not over a century. In the next paragraph of the 2013 essay, Robeck wrote of “Azusa Street’s unparalleled role in the establishment of global Pentecostalism.” If we link these statements, then it seems that Robeck is asserting that Azusa Street played a prominent—and indeed unparalleled—role in the pentecostal estab- lishment over a decade’s time. But what was it that experienced its “estab- lishment” by 1916 or thereabouts? Clearly this “establishment” did not include neo-Pentecostalism or the mainline charismatic renewal. Robeck appears to be referring to networks created through the efforts of the Azusa Street “alumni,” that is, those Spirit-renewed through the meetings in Los Angeles.

In his major study on early pentecostal mission and expansion, Spreading Fires (2007), Allan Anderson noted that by 1916 western pentecostal mission- aries had settled in at least forty-two nations outside of North America and Europe.14 A number of essential facts are not in dispute between Robeck and Anderson: (a) a remarkable expansion of Pentecostalism took place between 1906 and 1916, (b) more than forty countries were affected, and (c) the Azusa Street Revival played a leading role in the establishment of these early pente- costal churches. The pre-1916 churches were all so-called “classical pentecostal” congregations, and so the global network that Robeck speaks of as being estab- lished then is not the global network of Spirit-filled or renewalist congregations as it exists today.

In defending polygenesis in his 2014 essay, Adam Stewart made concessions to the monogenetic viewpoint: “Nowhere do I claim that evidence of Pen- tecostalism’s multiple points of origination means that there were not early



Hocken, eds., All Together in One Place (Sheffield, uk; Sheffield Academic Press, 1993), 166–180, citing 170; quoted in Michael Bergunder, “The Cultural Turn,” in Allan Anderson et al., eds.,Studying Global Pentecostalism: Theories and Methods(Berkeley,ca: University of California Press, 2010), 51–73, citing 57.

Cecil Robeck, “Launching a Global Movement: The Role of Azusa Street in Launching Pentecostalism’s Growth and Expansion,” in Donald Miller et al., eds., Spirit and Power: The Growth and Global Impact of Pentecostalism(New York: Oxford University Press, 2013), 42–62, citing 47.

Allan H. Anderson, Spreading Fires: The Missionary Nature of Early Pentecostalism (Mary- knoll,ny: Orbis Books, 2007), 288.

PNEUMA 37 (2015) 356–374




centres of the movement that played especially important—and, in the case of Azusa Street, even predominant—roles in spreading the revival.”15 After demonstrating that both the Mukti revival in India and the Hebden revival in Toronto originated and developed without connection to the Azusa Street Revival, Stewart conceded that Los Angeles was “predominant … in spreading the revival.” Based on what Robeck wrote in 2013 and what Stewart argued in 2014, it is not clear that there is a major difference of views between them.

Stewart’s essay suggested that the monogenetic viewpoint in theusaderived not simply from American nationalism or church boosterism but also from the- ological presuppositions. Turn-of-the century radical evangelicals had prayed for—and had come to expect—a new Pentecost for the church. Since the orig- inal Pentecost eventbegan in one placeand thendiffused in concentric circles— as suggested by Acts 1:8, “in Jerusalem … Judea and Samaria … to the remotest parts”—would not the new Pentecost occur in a comparable way? Stewart thus offers a plausible explanation for how and why monogenetic ideas dominated early pentecostal thinking about the Los Angeles revival.16

If the monogenesis view became dominant from an early date, it was not held by all the early observers. Frank Bartleman famously declared: “The pres- ent world-wide revival was rocked in the cradle of little Wales. It was brought up in India, following; becoming full grown in Los Angeles later.”17 Bartleman here thinks and speaks as a polygeneticist. The “present … revival” is said to be “world-wide” rather than local and denoted as singular rather than plural, suggesting that it was one revival occurring in multiple locations. Moreover, the quotation suggests that the revival had been developing and maturing, like a human being passing through multiple life-stages. Bartleman mentioned Wales as the “cradle” of “world-wide revival.” While for Bartleman Los Ange- les represented the “full grown” revival, this was because the global revival had gained momentum after starting in Wales and moved on to India and Cali- fornia. Primary sources show that thrilling reports from the Welsh revival of 1904–1905 raised expectations for Christian revival in Korea, India, and Los Angeles. At least one author has attempted a Wales-centered account of global


16 17

Adam Stewart, “From Monogenesis to Polygenesis in Pentecostal Origins: A Survey of the Evidence from the Azusa Street, Hebden, and Mukti Missions,”PentecoStudies 13 (2014): 151–172, citing 160–161.

Stewart, “Monogenesis to Polygenesis,” 168–170.

Frank Bartleman, Azusa Street (South Plainfield,nj: Bridge, 1980, 19. Originally published asHowPentecostCametoLosAngeles[Los Angeles: F. Bartleman, 1925]); cited in Anderson, To the Ends of the Earth, 32.

PNEUMA 37 (2015) 356–374


historical and theological meditation on pentecostal origins


Christian revivals in the early 1900s.18Yet, the arguments against a Los Angeles- based monogenesis would apply also to a Wales-centered monogenesis. Each revival had a local coloring or flavoring, and none of them was exactly like any of the others.

If one of these revivals helped to spark revivals elsewhere, then the shift- ing character of the revivals weighs against the notion of a simple transfer- ence to new locations. The revivals in Korea and India stressed repentance and confession of sins, the Welsh revival highlighted communal singing, and in Chile many people had visionary experiences.19 The revival in Los Angeles emphasized glossolalia. While it is possible to find many of the same phenom- ena in diverse locations, there was nonetheless a different blend of elements and so a different ethos from place to place. By analogy, we might conceive the international revivals in epidemiological terms, like a spreading virus— for Pentecostals no doubt a “good infection” rather than bad. Yet this virus “mutated” over time, and the symptoms associated with “infection” changed accordingly.

Pentecostal Origins in India and in Latin America

In Robeck’s reckoning, a distinguishing trait of Azusa Street was the large- scale sending of missionaries—an impressive feature indeed. Another diffu- sive center, almost concurrently, was the Mukti Mission in Pune, India. Allan Anderson’s research shows that Mukti was not merely a local revival but also a mission-sending center. The Mukti revival lasted for a year and a half and resulted in 1,100 baptisms and the sending out of about seven hundred younger women into surrounding regions of India. As many as one hundred evange- lists went out daily, sometimes remaining away from Mukti for a month at a time. Pandita Ramabai formed a “Bible school” of two hundred young women and “Praying Bands” tasked with the responsibility to evangelize. The “Praying Bands” spread the revival into regions of India surrounding Pune, and remark- able healings were reported.20




Noel Gibbard, On the Wings of the Dove: The International Effects of the 1904–1905 Revival (Bridgend, Wales: Brytirion Press, 2002).

Willis Collins Hoover, History of the Pentecostal Revival in Chile, trans. Mario G. Hoover (Santiago, Chile: Imprenta Eben-Ezer, 2000).

Allan Anderson, “The Emergence of a Multidimensional Global Missionary Movement: Trends, Patterns, and Expressions,” in Donald Miller et al., eds., Spirit and Power: The

PNEUMA 37 (2015) 356–374




Why have the missionary efforts at the Mukti Mission not become better known? An obvious reason, as Anderson notes, is that “women played a more prominent role in the Indian revival than in the American one.”21 If truth be told, women’s service in ministry has never, at any period of church history, received as much attention as men’s. In that sense, the neglect of the Mukti Mission story in favor of the Los Angeles story follows a recurrent but regret- table pattern in Christian historiography. And there could be another factor. While Indians and Americans both missionized, Americans in 1906 had access to resources to travel farther and to engage cultures in far-flung regions. Know- ing what we now do about the Mukti Mission, it would be unfair to perpetuate the idea that American missionaries mattered while Indian missionaries did not. Throughout Africa and Asia, many congregations over the last two cen- turies were established not by white, western missionaries but by innumerable catechists and village evangelists whose names are now lost to us. God knows. So it is appropriate therefore to acknowledge that the Mukti Mission was a dif- fusive center in early Pentecostalism, as was the Azusa Street Mission.

In Latin America and Central America, the early spread of Pentecostalism followed a complex pattern largely independent of the Azusa Street Mission. Néstor Medina notes that “Latina/o and Latin American expressions of Pen- tecostalism are not all offshoots of the revival at Azusa Street in 1906. It is important that we go beyond us centered views of the birth and dissemina- tion of Pentecostalism in order to undercut notions of Manifest Destiny left over even in some expressions ofusLatina/o Pentecostalism.”22In 1907, Gabriel García was among the first pentecostal pioneers in Mexico and went to the small village of Tecupeto. Pentecostalism came to San Salvador through the efforts of the Canadian missionary Frederick Mebius, who became pentecostal in 1911 and disaffiliated from the Central American Mission, under which he had served since 1904.23The first active Pentecostals in Guatemala in 1916 were




Growth and Global Impact of Pentecostalism (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013), 25–41.

Allan Anderson, “Emergence,” 31. Anderson adds that “Ramabai was a woman who resisted patriarchal oppression in India and western domination in Christianity and was attracted to what a biographer calls ‘the gender-egalitarian impulse of Christianity’” (ibid.; citing Meera Kosambi, ed. and trans., Pandita Ramabai through Her Own Words: Selected Works [New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2000], 18).

Néstor Medina, “Latina/o Pentcostalism, a dónde vamos?” unpublished essay presented at the Society for Pentecostal Theology meeting, March 13, 2015. Thanks are due to Dr. Medina for supplying a copy.

Everett A. Wilson, “Sanguine Saints: Pentecostalism in El Salvador,” Church History 52

PNEUMA 37 (2015) 356–374


historical and theological meditation on pentecostal origins


the independent Christian workers Charles Furman and Thomas Pullin. From 1921 Furman served the Primitive Methodist Church, and in 1932 he began to introduce pentecostal practices. When Furman resigned, the churches he had led voted to leave with him and to affiliate with the Church of God—Cleveland, Tennessee. From the beginning, this movement encouraged indigenous leader- ship.In1934,JohnFranklinof thePentecostalAssembliesofCanadaestablished a mission in Jutiapa. Converts to Guatemalan Pentecostalism generally came not from Catholicism but from other Protestant churches.24The roots of Cuban Pentecostalism are likewise Canadian rather than usa-based and go back to 1930.25

Moving southward to consider Brazil and Argentina, Paul Ayres Mattos notes that the roots of Pentecostalism “have more to do with William Durham than with William Seymour.”26 It was not Seymour’s Azusa Street Mission in Los Angeles that served as the diffusive center for southern Latin Amer- ica, but rather William Durham’s North Avenue Mission in Chicago, Illinois. Durham was a mentor to Luigi (Louis) Francescon, who preached the pen- tecostal message to Italians in North America, Argentina, Brazil, and Italy. Moreover, Durham also guided Daniel Berg, who, in 1910, with fellow Swedish- American Gunnar Vingren, established Pentecostalism in Belém in northern Brazil. Also worth mentioning is Durham’s influence in the life of Aimee Sem- ple McPherson, founder of the International Church of the Foursquare Gos- pel.27 So Chicago ranks with Los Angeles and Pune, India as another diffusive center, with special importance for Brazil and Argentina.

One of the unexpected links is between India and Chile. Paulo Ayres Mattos notes that Chilean Pentecostalism in its origins is wholly independent of North America and could be seen as a fruit of the Mukti Mission revival. The origins





(1983): 189. See Ronald Wilfredo Luna, “Transforming Espacios Culturales into Cultural Spaces: How the Salvadoran Community is Establishing Evangelical Protestant Churches,” PhD diss., University of Maryland, College Parkmd, 2008.

Virginia Garrard-Burnett,Living in the New Jerusalem: Protestantism in Guatemala(Austin, tx: University of Texas Press, 1998), 37–38.

Juana Berges Curbelo,Pentecostalismo en Cuba: ¿Alienación o compromisosocial? (Mexico: Publicaciones para el Estudio Científico de las Religiones, 2008).

I am quoting remarks made by Dr. Paulo Ayres Mattos, of the Methodist University of São Paulo, at the Society for Pentecostal Theology conference on March 12, 2015, Southeastern University, Lakeland, Florida.

Aimee Semple McPherson was also linked to the Hebden Mission in Toronto via her first husband, Robert Semple, who died on the mission field shortly after they had arrived as Hebden missionaries.

PNEUMA 37 (2015) 356–374




of the Chilean movement lie in the friendship of American missionary Minnie Abrams, serving in Pune, India, with her American friend in Valparaiso, Chile, Willis Hoover. Abrams and Hoover had met as students at the Chicago Training School for Home and Foreign Missions (another Chicago connection, during the 1880s). Much as news of the Welsh revival of 1904–1905 raised hopes for spiritual awakening among those who were already seeking it in Los Angeles, so the news of the India revival of 1905 reached Hoover by way of Abrams, and a revival happened in Chile by emulation of the prior revival in India.

The Culturalist and Discursive Turn: The Contribution of Michael Bergunder

Michael Bergunder employs a cultural studies perspective that treats “Pen- tecostalism” as a discursive practice. Some might regard the cultural studies perspective as arcane and Bergunder as iconoclastic for suggesting that pen- tecostal origins do not matter very much. Yet, his reflections can enrich the discussion of origins by providing heuristic tools to analyze changes in our language regarding Pentecostalism.28 Bergunder deflects attention from the question “When and where did Pentecostalism begin?” to one that concerns sociolinguistic practice: “Where and when did people begin speaking about something that they called ‘Pentecostalism’?” The follow-up questions would be: “Who called it that?” “When did they call it that?” “Was their use of the term accepted or contested by other people?” Bergunder proposes that one begin with the prevalent terminology of the present time—what he calls the synchronic perspective—and then move backward in time—for thediachronic perspective—and look for a time when there was some rupture or break in linguistic practice. “Pentecostal origins” may be dated to the time of this rup- ture.

Now if we return to the beginning of the twentieth century, where discussion on pentecostal origins is mostly focused, we see interesting things happening with regard to the term pentecostal. The church body incorporated as “Pente- costal Church of the Nazarene” by 1919 dropped “Pentecostal” from its denom- inational name. Why? The answer seems obvious. When the denomination organized itself in 1907–1908, the wordpentecostalhad a relatively broad mean-


These reflections are based on Michael Bergunder’s essay “The Cultural Turn,” in Allan Anderson et al., eds., Studying Global Pentecostalism: Theories and Methods (Berkeley, ca: University of California Press, 2010), 51–73.

PNEUMA 37 (2015) 356–374


historical and theological meditation on pentecostal origins


ing, associated with an openness to the Holy Spirit. By 1919, though, the word had become fixed in a new way, so that the Nazarenes no longer felt that the term accurately described them.29 Here we have a classic instance of Bergun- der’s discursive rupture.

What happens when we apply Bergunder’s discursive analysis, starting from the present and moving into the past, as he has proposed? The results are intriguing. One finds a rupture in linguistic or discursive practice that has gen- erally gone unnoticed and that occurred between fifteen and twenty years ago. I refer to the self-renaming of members of older pentecostal churches no longer as simply “pentecostal” but now as “classical pentecostal.” The intro- duction and widespread use of the adjective classical may be as significant in its own way as the decision by the Church of the Nazarene to drop the word pentecostal from its name.30 By adding the adjective, those within this family of churches have defined and distinguished themselves. With regard to mainline Charismatics and neo-Pentecostals, “classicals” feel both affinity and difference. The word pentecostal is thus not a fixed term but a floating signi- fier. While the term Catholic charismatic is a preferred term today, books and articles appearing around 1970s often used the term Catholic pentecostal. Like “classical pentecostal,” this is another adjectivized identifier, yet in this case the use of the term did not last long and soon gave way to the term preferred now.

To the question “When and where did ‘Pentecostalism’ begin?” one might get behind the question by asking, “Which particular ‘Pentecostalism’ are you asking about?” Bergunder makes another basic point, which is that “Pente- costalism”fromitsoutsetwasalwaysconceivedofandspokenofasanetworkof churches. Churches somehow separated or un-networked were never regarded in the full sense as “pentecostal.” In scholarly literature, there have been ongo-



Stan Ingersol, “Church of the Nazarene,” in Michael J. McClymond, ed., Encyclopedia of Religious Revivals in America, 2 vols. (Westport,ct: Greenwood Press, 2007).

Cecil M. Robeck, in an excellent 2011 essay, “The Current Status of Global Pentecostalism: A Brief Overview” (available online at https://globalchristianforum.org/papers/html; accessed April 13, 2015), noted that the phrase Classical Pentecostalism seems to have originated with Catholic Charismatic scholar Kilian McDonnell, who in 1976 “wanted some way to identify those Pentecostals with whom [the Roman Catholic Church] had begun to engage in dialogue” (2; citing Kilian McDonnell, Charismatic Renewal and the Churches [New York: The Seabury Press, 1976], 2). Following a Bergundian approach, however, it matters less who introduced a given term and more that a term has stuck and become a common self-designation. I am indebted to Peter Althouse to alerting me to Robeck’s 2011 essay.

PNEUMA 37 (2015) 356–374




ing terminological debates about the African Initiated Churches (aics) and whether these should be considered as one ecclesial family under the “pente- costal” umbrella or as being “pentecostal” at all. A similar and seemingly unan- swerable question concerns the unregistered churches in China that mostly originated since the 1960s, practice spiritual gifts, and yet have no significant genealogical connection to pentecostal churches outside China. Bergunder is correct: observers are not sure whether to call these Chinese churches “pen- tecostal.” Apparently Spirit baptism, glossolalia, divine healing, and prophecy by themselves are not enough. Congregations that practice these spiritual gifts have to benetworkedwith others acknowledged as “pentecostal” to be regarded as “pentecostal.”31

Strikingly, Bergunder comments that the global network of churches that today are often just called “pentecostal” originated no earlier than the 1970s and 1980s. So he claims that the quest for origins ought to take us back not to the first decade of the twentieth century but rather to the 1970s and 1980s. If it seems wildly plausible to claim that “Pentecostalism” in some sense is only thirty-five to forty-five years old, then let us remember the point above regarding“ClassicalPentecostalism.”Inaddingtheadjectiveclassical,members of older pentecostal churches might implicitly be agreeing with Bergunder. From a discursive standpoint, there must be a reason why the adjectiveclassical got added, and the timing of this change in linguistic practice tends to confirm Bergunder’s claim of a global “Pentecostalism” thirty-five to forty-five years old.32

Do “pentecostal origins” really matter? Bergunder questions whether they do. He links the debate over origins to Walter Hollenweger and Allan Anderson



This idea regarding a connection between churches is reminiscent of second-century Catholic debates. As global Pentecostalism enters its second century, “charismatic suc- cession” becomes an issue like the earlier “apostolic succession.”

Robeck, in “Current Status” (2011), supports the idea of a pluralization of Pentecostalism dating to the late 1970s or early 1980s: “For at least the past 35 years, it has not been possible to speak of this movement as though it could be represented by the singular noun, Pentecostalism, with a singular definition. It has become necessary to think of a plurality of Pentecostalisms or to think of it as a Movement described with a singular noun to which a series of adjectives must be added” (1). To be sure, Pentecostals viewed themselves in global terms as early as the 1940s and 1950s, as shown in Donald Gee, Upon All Flesh: A Pentecostal World Tour (Springfield, mo: Gospel Publishing House, 1947), and Leonhard Steiner, Mit folgenden Zeichen: eine Darstellung der Pfinstbewegung(Basel: Verlag Mission für das Volle Evangelium, 1954). Yet, a heightened awareness of worldwide dimensions emerged during the 1970s and 1980s.

PNEUMA 37 (2015) 356–374


historical and theological meditation on pentecostal origins


and to what he calls “strategic essentialism”—that is, an effort to identify and promote what is regarded as important in a religious tradition. Debates over the definition or meaning of a religious tradition often lead back to issues of origins. This has been the case with regard to Anabaptist and evangelical origins, as noted above, and of course Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians have for an entire millennium been debating the events of the church’s first centuries. Walter Hollenweger’s proposal of “black origins” for Pentecostalism during the 1970s has had wide repercussions for the academic study of Pentecostalism. Prior to Hollenweger, most scholars pointed to Charles Parham as Pentecostal- ism’s distinctive founder, to glossolalia as Pentecostalism’s distinctive practice, and to “initial evidence” as Pentecostalism’s distinctive doctrine. Yet, as Hol- lenweger’s arguments began to prevail, attention shifted from Charles Parham, and, correspondingly, William Seymour emerged as the most widely acknowl- edged early leader of Pentecostalism.33 What is more, Seymour’s notion of a racially and social inclusive, Spirit-filled community began to be seen as an innovative pentecostal teaching that was just as important as glossolalia. Many have quoted Frank Bartleman: “The color line was washed away in the blood [i.e., the blood of Christ, or Jesus’ atoning death].”34

Since the early 2000s, Allan Anderson has moved a step beyond Hollenweger. In Anderson’s writings we find not simply “black origins” but “global origins,” as Anderson has offered new evidence for charismatic or Spirit-centered move- ments occurring all around the world in the decades before and after the year 1900. The opening quotation in this essay—from John Christian Arulappan— comes out of Anderson’s research into this hitherto little-known figure. During the last decade or so, there has been a surge of new studies all pointing in the direction of “global origins.” This trend seems destined to increase in the years ahead as new information continues to come to light.



The anonymous reviewer has noted that “black origins” is only one aspect of Hollenweger’s position, which involved multiple antecedents. In Pentecostalism: Origins and Develop- ment Worldwide(Peabody,ma: Hendrickson, 1997), Hollenweger began with an extensive account of “The Black Oral Root” (18–80), but went on to discuss “The Catholic Root” (144– 181), “The Evangelical Root” (182–203), “The Critical Root” (204–333), and “The Ecumenical Root” (334–388). As the reviewer commented, these diverse strands of theology and prac- tice might add further support for the polycentric rather than monocentric model. Bartleman,How Pentecost Came to Los Angeles; cited in Anderson,To the Ends of the Earth, 45.

PNEUMA 37 (2015) 356–374




Pentecostal Origins: What Might be the Theological Meaning?

For a purely historical researcher, questions of pentecostal origins might not matter. Yet, such is not likely to be the case with one who thinks of herself or himself as a pentecostal and who actively participates in the community. In reflecting theologically on origins, I would suggest that those who are Pente- costals (in a broader sense) might need to shift from thinking simply of “black origins,” or even of “global origins,” and instead embrace a notion of what we might call “inclusive origins.” What I am proposing does not contradict Hollen- weger or Anderson. Yet, I believe that it is helpful to make explicit the implicit theology of the “black origins” and “global origins” hypotheses. The message might be summed up in the word inclusion, perhaps with the added word empowerment. Putting them together, we might speak ofempowering inclusion.

In his excellent new book on Latino Pentecostalism, Gastòn Espinosa em- phasizes that William Seymour did not simply popularize Charles Parham’s message but “crafted his own message.” Espinosa sums up the message in this way:

[Seymour] taught that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit was ushering in a new age that made everyone level at the foot of the cross, regardless of race, class, and education. The Spirit … poured out spiritual gifts so that people could cross race, class, and nationality lines, spread the love of Christ to all nations, and usher in the Second Coming … Seymour’s central message was not tongues or eschatology, but rather that … a regenerate person had to demonstrate their faith through brotherly love and the fruit of the Spirit manifest in how they treated their fellow man, irrespective of race or class.35

This interpretation of Seymour finds support in the evidence of Seymour’s life and actions, and it fits with the statement in the Apostolic Faith newsletter indicating that the “evidence” for “baptism in the Holy Spirit” was “divine love.”

Tellingly, Seymour in later life had second thoughts about appeals to tongues-speaking as evidence of Spirit baptism, and ultimately he concluded that tongues-speaking could not be considered an evidence of Spirit baptism unless accompanied by a manifestation of brotherly love and the fruit of the Spirit. Seymour commented: “Wherever the doctrine of the Baptism of the Holy


Gaston Espinosa, Latino Pentecostals in America: Faith and Politics in Action (Cambridge, ma: Harvard University Press, 2014), 24, 32.

PNEUMA 37 (2015) 356–374


historical and theological meditation on pentecostal origins


Spirit will only be known as the evidence of speaking in tongues, that will be an open door for witches and spiritualists, and free lovism … because all kinds of spirits can come in.”36Seymour came to believe thatexternal manifestations, including that of tongues, were never self-interpreting. On the contrary, a pro- cess of spiritual discernment was needed in each case to see if any particular spiritual manifestation was from God or else not from God.

What made Seymour truly great, in my view, and what magnifies the impor- tance of the Azusa Street Revival, is that Seymour in his own thinking, preach- ing, and writing made fully explicit what was implicit in the event of the Spirit’s coming in power. In effect Seymour went back to the very beginning, to those very first words of explanation in the very first Christian sermon ever given: “This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel … I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh” (Acts 2:16–17,av). Unlike many of his contemporaries, Sey- mour did not simply look at the external manifestations occurring in his midst. Instead Seymour grasped the underlying meaning of the manifestations, and so he was decades ahead of other observers in perceiving how God’s purpose of creating a socially inclusive community was coming to pass in racially and eth- nically divided America. Some witnesses viewed the early pentecostal revival as an end-times event, pointing to Jesus’ speedy return. Some interpreted the revival as a mission movement, a prelude to global evangelization. Without denying either of these interpretations, Seymour—perhaps more than anyone else at this time—perceived the movement as a reflection of God’s heart of unity and God’s desire to break down every social barrier. “I will pour forth of my Spirit upon all flesh,” as Peter preached in Acts 2, mentioning in this text the daughters and the sons, the young and the old, and naming specifically the bondslaves who would not be passed over.

Consider again for a moment some of the lesser-known cases of modern charismatic or Spirit movements that we have already mentioned. What might these cases all have in common with one another?

– Women from rural Finland who spoke in tongues and shared prophetic

messages with one another—despite the opposition and denunciation of

male clergy and bishops.37



Espinosa, Latino Pentecostals, 55–56, citing William Seymour. The emphasis on Chris- tian love and holy practice as marks of genuine spiritual experience brought Seymour’s thinking in line with that of Jonathan Edwards. See Michael J. McClymond and Gerald R. McDermott, The Theology of Jonathan Edwards (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012), esp. 311–320, 424–447.

Ruohomäki, “The Call of Charisma,” 25–40.

PNEUMA 37 (2015) 356–374




– An Indian Christian who, though discouraged by white western missionaries

from doing so, experienced the gift of speaking in tongues and then com-

mented on how he was “thankful to the Lord, who is pleased to pour out His

Spirit upon poor sinners without distinction of white or black, and rich or


– The most popular preacher in London, who insisted on allowing rural Scot-

tish women to speak in tongues in the midst of his fashionable congregation,

because he did not want to quench the Spirit’s work—and then lost his

church position.39

Is the pattern now becoming obvious? Let me add a few other cases not mentioned earlier, so that the point becomes even clearer:

– The very first manifestation of the Holy Spirit at the Azusa Street Mission

occurred not among white or black Christians, but rather among the impov-

erished Mexican laborers who prepared the building for worship on April 13,


– The first reported healing at the Azusa Street Mission, once again, happened

among those who arguably were the most marginalized social group of all in

this particular setting—the Mexicans. A Mexican man with a club foot was

said to be healed.40

– To consider also the early evangelical revivals—some of the first reported

Protestant spiritual awakenings took place among persecuted Scottish

Christians who were forced to worship out of doors because of church and

state opposition from the 1590s through the 1630s.41

– This Scottish practice of outdoor revival preaching and reception of

the Lord’s Supper became known as the “Holy Fair,” and this served as

38 39



Anderson,To the Ends of the Earth, 18–25.

Arnold Dallimore, The Life of Edward Irving: Fore-Runner of the Charismatic Movement (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1983).

Gaston Espinosa discusses the Mexican laborer who experienced the Holy Spirit on April 13, 1906—a day before the Azusa Street Mission opened its doors—and the Mexican man healed in “‘The Holy Ghost Is Here on Earth’: The Latino Contributions to the Azusa Street Revival,”Enrichment, Spring 2006, 118–125. On the seeming marginalization of Latinos at Azusa Street, see Espinosa, “Holy Ghost,” 122–123, with 125n25, and Espinosa, Latino Pentecostals, 51–53.

Richard Owen Roberts, ed., Scotland Saw His Glory: A History of Revivals in Scotland (Wheaton, Illinois,usa, 1995).

PNEUMA 37 (2015) 356–374


historical and theological meditation on pentecostal origins


the starting point for the great Cane Ridge Revival in Kentucky in 1802–


– The roots of the Evangelical Awakening in England, according to the eru-

dite, multilingual British historian W.R. Ward, lay not in the activities of

Wesley’s “Holy Club” at Oxford University, but can be traced back genealog-

ically to—of all things!—a gathering of persecuted Protestant children in

German-speaking Silesia just after the year 1700.43

– Turned out of their homes and their churchbuildings bythe Catholic author-

ities, and exposed to the elements, a group of younger people began what

became known as the “Children’s Revival” when they refused to stop praying

and worshiping God. Eventually these children persuaded the adults to join

with them, and the spiritual impact of this revival, according to Professor

Ward, may be forward in time to the early phases of the Evangelical Revival

in England.

– A group of mostly black Christians gathered in a former church building,

which at this time was dilapidated and being used as a horse stable, to seek

God’s presence and to follow up their initial experiences of baptism in the

Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues. In an age of horrific racial injustice

and oppression of black Americans, the Azusa Street Mission welcomed all

comers—regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, or religious background. – Those Spirit-baptized in Los Angeles formed an inclusive community in

Christ that has served as a challenge and a model for Christians all around

the world. Decades later, when many Christian churches and denominations

have imposed new racial, ethnic, and gender barriers in their churches, the

Azusa Street experience continues to inspire an aspiration for deep and

lasting change.

Earlier in this essay, I proposed the paradoxical thesis that the claim of pen- tecostal polygenesis does not diminish the significance of the Azusa Street Revival but rather enhances it. Now I think we are in a position to see why this is so. The message of Acts 2—which was Seymour’s message—can be encap- sulated in the divine promise: “I will pour forth of my Spirit upon all flesh.” It should be clear that “all flesh” includes not only that mixed multitude of peo- ple that came together in Los Angeles in 1906 but also the mixed multitude



Leigh Eric Schmidt, Holy Fairs: Scotland and the Making of American Revivalism (Grand Rapids,mi: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2001).

W.R. Ward, The Protestant Evangelical Awakening (Cambridge, uk: Cambridge University Press, 1992).

PNEUMA 37 (2015) 356–374




that gathered in the other places mentioned thus far—Britain, Germany, Fin- land, India, Brazil, Chile, and so forth—as well as in many other localities not mentioned and the cases that we perhaps do not yet know about.The inclusive message of Azusa Street, far from being challenged or subverted by global devel- opmentsinmultiplelocations,isconfirmedandstrengthenedbythem. This is why I think it might be better for us to think and speak of “inclusive origins” rather than simply of “black origins”—the story that transpired in Los Angeles—or of “global origins”—a phrase that suggests a multiplicity of locations but with- out highlighting the common theological meaning that we discover in these multiple locations.

In concluding, let me suggest that today’s Pentecostals should be wary about trying to explain the movements and activities, the whys and wherefores, of God’s Spirit in the cities, nations, peoples, and places of the world. “The wind blows where it wishes” (Jn 3:8). Whenever one of us puts our finger at a spot on the globe and says, “This is the center of what God is doing today,” or “This was the epicenter of what God was doing,” then the chances are that we will get it wrong. To the Christian believer, something that should become clear from many historical episodes is that God seeks to create inclusive community, and that this divine purpose was already announced on the original Day of Pentecost: “I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh” (Acts 2:17). Spiritual discernment will always be a challenge if we seek to grasp what God might be saying and doing in the early twenty-first century. Yet I think we will not go too far astray if we keep our primary focus on God’s intention to come in power on behalf of the poor, the weak, and the marginalized and, beginning with them, to establish a community that includes everyone else as well.

PNEUMA 37 (2015) 356–374


Be first to comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.