The Origins Of American Pentecostalism

The Origins Of American Pentecostalism

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77 The Origins of American Pentecostalism Augustus Cerillo, Jr.* A Review Essay of James R. Goff, Jr., Fields White Unto Harvest: and the Missionary Origins of Pentecostalism of Arkansas Charles F. Parham (Fayetteville: The University $12.00 paper. historian Klaude Kendrick Press, 1988). 263 pp. to the As best I can remember, I first heard about Charles F. Parham and his role in the beginnings of American Pentecostalism sometime during the school year 1959-60 when listening to a lecture on Parham given by (then Dean of Evangel College) history club at Evangel, of which I was president and responsible for the program. At that time I did not realize that Marie Burgess Brown, my home church pastor, whom I had listened to preach countless times, had begun her Pentecostal ministry under this same Parham; although I recalled “Sister Brown” referring to her Wisconsin roots, Moody Bible experiences, name, nor did his name ever appear in the Institute, and early Pentecostal ever mentioning Parham’s biographical sketches in Glad “evangelist,” I did not remember her Tidings Tabernacle’s anniversary origins as I though my Northwestern booklets. In one such account reference was made to an unnamed whom I later discovered was none other than Parham. I did not think much about Parham and Pentecostal pursued my own graduate studies in history in the early 1960s, even University focused on the Gilded Age and Progressive emerged in the United States. Only in the very late Pentecostalism 1960s and Pentecostalism early 1970s, when doctoral dissertation research Era, the very time when searching for information on the Pentecostal movement. scholarly works on Pentecostalism addition to Kendrick’s pioneering to prepare lectures on the subject for Adult Sunday School classes and then for a college course, did I think seriously about the origins of my own religious tradition and the pioneers who created I quickly Pentecostal discovered the number of by historians was rather limited. In The Promised Fulfilled (1961), The Pentecostals which I believe initiated the modem American professional study of history, there was John T. Nichols’ (1971, originally, Pentecostalism, 1966), William Menzies’ Anointed to Serve: The Story of the Assemblies Synan’s The Holiness-Pentecostal of God (1971), and Vinson Movemerzt in the United States *Augustus Cerillo, Jr., is Professor of History at California State University, Long Beach. ========1========78 (1971). Interestingly, tovarying degrees Pentecostalism. described all were begun as doctoral dissertations, Parham’s field of Pentecostal catalyzed and shaped, Such developments place in the and all history of larger group and other academicians Since the mid-1970s, as readers of Pneuma no doubt are aware, the studies has almost become a boom industry, I believe, by several mutually reinforcing developments. include the sheer growth in numbers and rising social prominence of Pentecostals; the emergence of a much of University- and Seminary-trained interested creation of the Society for Pentecostal journal, Pneuma; the organization specializes in the publication growing historical consciousness and their establishment Pentecostal aids. of books on Pentecostal Blumhofer, Wayne Nienkirchen, Goff have brought to the study of the Warner, publication Pentecostal scholars in studying Pentecostalism; the Studies and publication of its of Hendrickson Publishers, which subjects; a among Pentecostal church leaders, the Mickey Crews, Charles Perhaps the culmination of this phase was the and and other scholars have emerge during the first decade causes. of Moreover, of denominational archives to preserve heritage; and the publication of numerous bibliographical Pentecostal historical scholarship, as one part of this larger field of Pentecostal studies, has matured conceptually even as it has grown quantitatively. Scholars such as Robert Anderson, Grant Wacker, Edith Mel Robeck, Gary McGee, James Tinney, Leonard Lovett, and James new questions, insights, methodologies and research of Pentecostal history, thereby enriching our understanding innumerable events, personalities and details that comprise the internal history of Pentecostalism. in the development of professional Pentecostal historiography in 1988 of the indispensable Dictionary of Pentecostal Charismatic Movements, edited by Stanley M. Burgess and Gary B. McGee. In one way or another these historians wrestled with the broader and more fundamental question of origins: how, why and where did Pentecostalism of the twentieth century? And on this issue they have given a diverse usually constructed around some combination racial and providential path(s) these historians have taken to origins, they all, either implicitly or explicitly, have had to deal with four underlying questions. First, what larger and religious setting or context must be fully the timing, early theological shape and staying power of the Pentecostal revival? Second, how and discontinuities century holiness and evangelical revivals, movements and theological innovations be assessed, and inform an analysis of origins? set of answers sociological, ideological, whatever general interpretative explain Pentecostalism’s socio-economic, political explored to understand should the continuities nineteenth and social of Pentecostalism with ========2========79 Third, what is the relative significance for an understanding of Pentecostal beginnings of those elements of Pentecostal beliefs and practices that provided a measure of unity and cohesion to Pentecostalism, and the undeniable theological, social and organizational diversity that characterized primitive Pentecostalism? In other words, should the Pentecostal movement be viewed as a whole or in terms of its parts? Is the historian faced with a single Pentecostal movement or with Pentecostal movements, and what are the implications of these questions for a study of origins? Fourth, what were the social sources of Pentecostalism? How does knowing something about who became Pentecostal, including leaders and followers, and why help us understand why Pentecostalism arose and developed as it did? What light might this information shed on the previous three questions? Fields White Unto Harvest: Charles F. Parham and the Missionary Origins of Pentecostalism nicely illustrates the professional coming-of-age of Pentecostal scholarship. James Goff, a historian trained at the University of Arkansas where the book began as a doctoral dissertation, has given us one of the few scholarly biographies of any early Pentecostal leader and the only definitive study of Parham. It is well-written, clearly organized, and exhaustively researched both in the primary sources and pertinent secondary literature. Throughout the book and in the many content notes at the end of the volume, Goff displays a sure grasp of the many interpretive issues, including what other historians have written, surrounding Parham’s role in Pentecostalism’s beginnings. Thus this fine account of Parham’s life, thought and career is of value to scholars as well as the general reader, and, as I have found personally, is well-suited for college courses on Pentecostalism. Golfs analysis of Parham’s place in Pentecostal history combines the contributions of traditional Pentecostal historians who give primacy to the theological roots of Pentecostalism with the insights of scholars, most notably Robert Mapes Anderson (Vision of the Disinherited: The Making of American Pentecostalism, 1979), who stress the sociological sources of the Pentecostal revival. Not only was Parham the founder of the Pentecostal movement because he first formulated the new religion’s defining theological tenet, tongues as the initial evidence of Holy Spirit baptism, argues Goff, but also because he first preached a Pentecostal full gospel message, which included the themes of conversion, sanctification, Holy Spirit baptism, divine healing from all sickness and the premillennial rapture of the saints, that appealed to the social and spiritual needs of intellectually alienated, socially dislocated, physically and psychologically hurting, politically powerless and economically struggling poor and working-class people. “The ========3========80 How well throughout story of Parham’s ideological connecting mix,” writes Goff, “fell significance” (p.16). earliest converts in this theological-sociological under the ministry of Charles F. Parham” (p. 13); indeed, he was the father of “a revolution of socioreligious his book does Goff develop his view that the life and ministry “reveals the sociological and roots of Pentecostalism” (p.16)? I believe he is more successful charting Parham’s theological journey and contributions to an emerging Pentecostal movement than he is in showing precise links between Parham’s religious message and the larger social and economic forces that were transforming America around the turn of the century. To be sure, Goff writes appreciatively about the Pentecostal ethos and its spiritual benefits, in contrast to Anderson’s and makes many plausible Pentecostal beliefs and who the Pentecostals sociologically. he fails sufficiently assertion to demonstrate in some historically concrete ways just how Pentecostal religion functioned to help its adherents structure their own create humane home and work environments negative critique, functional fit between were However, lives, problems. glimpses socially appraisal of pre-1920 Religious fair, as 2) study Goff’s of the assertions about the to go beyond and just generally Moreover, might the intriguing sometimes anti-capitalistic and _ between Populism and problems suggested above. harshness, general social cope with life’s everyday Goff provides into Parham’s radical rhetoric be suggestive of a more politically significant Pentecostal social criticism than he suggests or has yet been attempted (on this possibility see R. Laurence Moore, Outsiders and the Making of America, 1986, ch. 5). To be Fields White Unto Harvest’s deficiencies on this point are due in part to at least three different problems: 1) the limitations imposed by the genre of biography as the basis for a study of such a broad and complex social phenomenon the rise of this new religious movement; the drawing of conclusions about the rank and file members from a of leadership; and 3) the paucity of other published studies that do address the theme of Pentecostals in society. handling relationship Pentecostalism illustrates the interpretative In chapter one, “The Perils of Youth,” he sketches the first 20 years of life, from his birth in Iowa in 1873 to his entry into the ministry in Kansas in 1893, against the background of and bust, environmental and agrarian dissent associated with life on the Kansas plains in the late nineteenth century. Picking up on a theme suggested over 20 years ago (The Holiness-Pentecostal Movement pp. 52-53) Goff asserts that “religion sometimes offered a and consolation to Populists who their attempt to control life thwarted;” became a tremendous source of power for (pp. 22-23). Goff goes on to suggest that Parham “drew Parham’s Methodist economic boom uncertainty by Vinson Synan unique vehicle for self-expression discovered “psychologically, religion the powerless” even more, ========4========81 – his formative thoughts” from this insecure agrarian world; and “it was among others like him,” Goff states, that Parham’s “ministry, and the message of the Pentecostal movement, found an enthusiastic following” (p. 22). Goff seems to suggest a chronological pattern: rural dwellers and farmers turned to Populism as an answer to their economic and social problems; when the Populist party failed, at least some turned to religion in the form of the holiness movement and the new Pentecostalism. Perhaps many did. Otther than naming Joseph D. Botkin, a Parham family friend with earlier Populist political connections (see p. 182, note 10), Goff provides little direct evidence of the links between Parham, his recruits, and other Pentecostals, and Populism. More recently historian Mickey Crews found that in the Appalachian region, despite the many commonalities between Populists and Church of God folk, the Populists’ offered an alternative, competing ideology. The Church of God, he found, was “not directly related to Populism”: the character and purpose of the two movements were different, and few Church of God adherents became members of the Populist party. The Church of God was “clearly a parallel movement” (see his 7he Church of God: A Social History, 1990). Regional and other factors may explain the different connections between Populists and Pentecostals in Kansas and Appalachia. Whatever the explanation, both Goff’s and Crew’s works suggest the need for a major study that specifically focuses on the relationship between the Holiness and Pentecostal movements and Populism (and for that matter socialism, labor, and other late-nineteenth century utopian and radical social movements). Did Populists become Pentecostals, and if so, where, why and how many? Populism’s heyday, it also must be remembered, was in the 1890s, yet Pentecostalism arose and grew during the economically better and politically innovative Progressive era. Were most Pentecostals so economically disinherited, so out on the fringes of society, as suggested by historian Anderson, that they were people whose lives the concept of Progressivism fails to embrace or capture? Interestingly, as Goff makes clear, Parham himself came from a rather economically and socially secure home, studied for three years at Southwest Kansas College, was a talented speaker and obviously had leadership abilities. Although his intellectual and spiritual orientations may have put him at odds with the prevailing religious and academic orthodoxies in late-nineteenth century America, at least socially and economically the young Parham hardly fits the mold of the marginalized. My point here is simply this: how and where to locate Pentecostalism and Pentecostals within the larger Gilded Age and Progressive era settings is still, I believe, an issue that needs further scholarly exploration. The portrait of Parham that emerges from the first two chapters is that of a sickly, intelligent, restless and religiously inquisitive young ========5========82 man. Goff masterfully shows how Parham, during the decade of the nineties, drew from a variety of sources the theological building blocks upon which he would construct his historically significant Pentecostal doctrinal formulation. From his mother, to whom he was especially close–“a mama’s boy” is how Goff describes the relationship–and who died when Parham was only 12 years old, Parham received his earliest understanding of religious commitment and personal piety. From his string of illnesses and several dramatic healings came a sense that God had called him into the ministry, given him a message of divine healing for others, and the personal faith to give up all medicines, drugs and life insurance. From the holiness preachers, he accepted the doctrine of sanctification as a second work of grace. From his Quaker friend David Baker, whose granddaughter he would later marry, Parham added the doctrine of the annihilation of the wicked to his theology. From the evangelical and higher life leaders and movements he became acquainted with or had confirmed such beliefs as healing in the atonement, dispensational premilennialism, baptism in the Holy Spirit for power to serve the Lord and live a godly life; and he witnessed in their ministries the practice of praying for the sick, the establishment of Bible schools, healing homes, religious periodicals, and inner-city social works. (Here is the one place in the chapter where Goff’s description of the timing and relative impact of these evangelical influences is imprecise and thus unclear.) From radical holiness leader Benjamin Hardin Irwin, the impressionable young preacher picked up the notion of Spirit baptism as a third and distinct religious experience beyond conversion and the second work of sanctification. And at Frank Sandford’s Shiloh ministry in Maine, Parham accepted the view that consecrated believers could be empowered for world evangelization in the last days by a special Baptism in the Holy Spirit; and most significantly, at Shiloh he personally observed among the students modem tongues speaking. By 1900, it seems, Parham’s eclectic bag of beliefs reveals the evangelist very much a product of the religious milieu that characterized the Age of the Spirit in late nineteenth century America. In the person of Parham, Goff, so to speak, puts a real face on what Donald Dayton in an earlier book called the theological roots of Pentecostalism. Chapter three, “The Gospel of the Latter Rain,” is the conceptual heart of the book. Here Goff moves from describing the derivative nature of Parham’s thought, the continuity of his religious journey with nineteenth century holiness and evangelical trends, to reveal to us Parham the 27 year old theological innovator, a man who in 1900 still was uncomfortable with his times, unsatisfied in his longings for religious experience and finality of belief about Holy Spirit baptism. Goff, as historian-detective, carefully and painstakingly reconstructs how Parham, in the span of six months, from October 1900 to April ========6========83 1901, “pieced the theological puzzle of Pentecostalism together” when he linked tongues–actual existing languages or xenoglossa, he believed–as initial evidence with the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. Such “missionary tongues,” Parham taught, were given to baptized believers to expedite world evangelization in the last days before the Second Coming of Christ; additionally, tongues-speaking Christians were being recruited as Christ’s elite “Bride” to rule with Him in the millennial kingdom. “This decision, in effect, created the Pentecostal movement” (p. 164), declares Goff, who gives primacy to the theological explanation of Pentecostalism’s beginnings. “Since tongues as initial evidence defined the movement as a distinct element apart from the overall emphasis on the Holy Spirit, that doctrine provided later Pentecostals their ideological birth announcement” (p. 72). Only Parham, then, Goff logically concludes, “can chronologically be labeled founder” of the Pentecostal movement (p. 15). His book’s “dual thesis,” he writes “is that Charles Parham founded the Pentecostal movement in Topeka, Kansas, early in 1901 and that the essential character of this new faith revolved around an intense millenarian-missions emphasis” (p.15). At this point I would add that the reader of Goi?’s book will appreciate the author’s very helpful introductory essay in which he provides a brief but excellent historiographical overview and critique of the major theological, sociological and racial interpretations of the origins of Pentecostalism, and places his interpretation of the centrality of Parham’s thought and ministry for understanding the ideological and sociological roots of Pentecostalism in the context of this historiographical debate. When making his case on behalf of Parham as the theological founder of Pentecostalism, Goff explains how Parham had come to his concept of missionary tongues as early as 1899 when he received a report published in a holiness periodical indicating that a young lady named Jennie Glassey, associated with Sanford’s Shiloh community, had spoken in an African dialect after receiving a missionary call to Africa. Such missionary tongues, Parham informed his followers, duplicated the apostles experience recorded in Acts 2. Gof? also debunks as flawed both Parham’s and Agnes Ozman’s later conflicting accounts of the origins of the “Topeka Pentecost,” especially Parham’s story of how the students at his recently opened (October 1900) Bethel Bible College independently concluded after studying the biblical book of Acts that tongues was the initial evidence of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. The historical evidence, Goff maintains, makes it clear that Parham himself through his Bible teaching at Bethel motivated his students to conclude that missions tongues was the New Testament evidence of Holy Spirit Baptism, which they did on January 1, 1901, not the watch night eve of December 31, 1900. ========7========84 formulated his affirming Anderson’s Parham Testament truth However, those scholars theological circular, asserting implicitly at least challenges Pentecostalism or a Pentecostal not defined and recruited on the Curiously, when believers, character of early who believed he was might in the shape it assumed, by the newly baptized GofP solution to the puzzle of precisely how and why Parham Pentecostal doctrine seems irrefutable, as does his stress on the millenarian Pentecostalism. Of course, this focus on Parham, on a mission from God, does not necessarily preclude the Lord through the Holy Spirit guiding in his re-discovery of this New of Holy Spirit baptism for humankind in a new century. who reject or place less emphasis on a definition of Pentecostalism view Goff’s reasoning about the primacy of the theological origins of Pentecostalism as what needs to be proved. But Parham’s biographer such critics to make the case that movement, would have emerged at all in the early twentieth century had Parham initial evidence doctrine. evaluating the claims of those–hearers and speakers–reporting real languages spoken Goff ventures unnecessarily onto speculative terrain. Armed only with the information that the areas in Kansas and elsewhere where claims of xenoglossa surfaced had large contingents of the foreign bom, he suggests that to whatever extent actual foreign words were included in tongues speech by Pentecostals, it must have been a form of that is, the recipients of the baptism had been exposed to and unknowingly stored them in their memory, only to have them unconsciously of the baptism experience. Such conjecture, and rather dogmatically out of character with the carefully documented and reasoned tone of much of the volume. For Goff to go out on such a speculative limb is even more surprising given that he makes no attempt to explain in social scientific or other naturalistic terms the larger phenomenon of tongues itself, whatever the nature of that matter, the claims by Pentecostal believers of being filled by God’s Holy Spirit or divinely healed of cryptomnesia; such foreign words in their past interpretations mentioned, historical narrative, seems the verbalized phrases, or for verbalized during the stress with no alternative interjected into the and five (“The Goff traces Parham and his 1906 to spread the new physical ailments. In chapters four (“The Projector co-workers’ attempts Pentecostal movement. The author deftly Parham’s bouts Latter Rain Spreads”) of Pentecost: The Promise”) from 1902 through message and build what Parham called The Apostolic Faith weaves together information about personal and family life, including the evangelist’s continuing with illness, the social and economic conditions of the towns in Kansas, Missouri and Texas in which Parham ministered, the various themes on which the talented and entertaining Parham preached, the extent of the new movement’s numerical growth and geographic ========8========Pentecost’s” impressed God’s work, Apostolic Faith 85 of ministry. preaching, prayer periodicals, short recruits among recent trends, gospel. diffusion and the general activities associated with “The Projector I could not help but be with these Pentecostal pioneer’s selfless dedication to doing whatever the costs in personal sacrifice and however difficult the circumstances, and their creative utilization of popular cultural outlets–town streets for meetings and parades, colorful for the sick, camp meetings, printed leaflets and term Bible schools–to spread the message and gain the common folk, including minorities. In contrast to women had a large part in spreading the Pentecostal More negatively, I could not help but note that Pentecostal leaders were excessively individualistic, and slowed the _ prophetic discourses, drawn crowds but hardly provided for the fledgling movement. Pentecostal reprehensible prevailing racist attitudes millenarian inclinations, strengths The focus suspicious of organization and Perhaps due to their empowerment. Pentecostalism, Many of the obviously, prone to compete with each other for power and place, all contributing to an institutional and regional fragmentation that probably weakened new movement’s national impact. Parham’s penchant for preaching sensational sermons mixing biblical texts, speculative current events and pseudo-science may have a sturdy theological underpinning Parham’s belief, shared by other preachers, in the racial inferiority of black people was for a religious leader, even if understandable given the of American society, and contributed to the racially segregated development of Pentecostalism. few Pentecostals, it seems, fully comprehended the larger social implications of Pentecostal and weaknesses of contemporary have their genesis in the movement’s formative years. in these chapters on Parham’s Kansas, Texas and northern Illinois refreshingly places famous west coast Azusa Street revival in, what seems to me, perspective. many historical treat the Topeka beginnings and Parham’s and others’ ministries before 1906 as some sort of minor event or preface (“early raindrops” is how Leonard Lovett described it several years ago) to the revival (the heavy down pour or Latter Rain) J. Seymour’s leadership, which, it is realistic Pentecostalism Too spectacular Azusa Street in Los Angeles, under William declared, successfully catapulted ministry in Missouri, the justly more a more surveys of the rise of Pentecostalism into a national and that in the Fall of 1906 and dimensions of Parham probably underrated Seymour’s Los Angeles revival, how at that time yet, Seymour’s global movement. Goff does acknowledge the significance but also importantly proceeds to show work was very much linked–by Parham’s considerably larger theology, organization and personnel–to movement, which itself was giving birth to other missions such as the young Marie Burgess, who midwestem and new Pentecostal preachers, took the message across the nation. ========9========86 were derived from Parham, Pentecostalism. the relative significance interpretation Pentecostals gone beyond urban, Pentecostalism’s birth branches of the Pentecostal 1950s, of Parham and Seymour to as the father of of history and to flawed Parham? Gofl’s or the two combined, were The forthcoming study of Azusa disciple, Seymour that greatly altered Parham’s Pentecostal Pentecost: On the issue of the relative importance the rise of Pentecostalism, Goff is clear in his view that, at least until 1909, the Pentecostal essentials preached and practiced at Azusa Street giving him priority I have often wondered how much our understanding of Azusa Street and Parham’s midwestern work stems from Frank Bartleman’s influential but at times self-serving of the Los Angeles revival? Furthermore, have we the historical record to create out of the multi-cultural and -racial Azusa Street revival a story of and early spread that partly at least serves our present needs in a multi-cultural world? Have we white academics elevated William J. Seymour, the genuinely humble and godly black American pastor of Azusa Street to Pentecostal folk hero status to atone for the racist dimensions in white Pentecostal cover our embarrassment over the morally account moreover makes clear that neither the west coast nor mid-west revival, growing rapidly enough to greatly dent the national consciousness. whole nation was not taking notice of the Pentecostals nor were the major newspapers headlining the new movement. At least until the American Pentecostalism was a fringe Protestant tradition within American Christianity, even considered by some Christians to be a cult. Just how big was the Pentecostal explosion emanating from “The American Jerusalem-Azusa Street” (to borrow a phrase from Vinson Synan)? Hopefully Mel Robeck’s Street will clarify numerous issues associated with that great revival and its place in Pentecostal and national history. Goff provides full and judicious appraisals of Parham’s split with his in 1906, and alleged homosexual act, the two events ministry history. In the first part of chapter the Fall”) he relates the by now failed attempt in 1906 to wrest from Seymour Azusa Street revival so as to shape with his midwestern brand of Pentecostalism. Goff perceptively in dispute the two wings of the For Parham the Azusa Street crowd’s worship style was too emotional, its racial comradery disgusting, and its tongues speech glossolalia, and not xenoglossa. I think Goff is correct to place these specific differences between Parham’s and Seymour’s visions of a proper Pentecostal expression within the larger context of the different of Parham’s based ministry and Seymour’s metropolitan revival. Goff also notes how Parham’s racist attitudes seemed to have pinpoints the issues Pentecostal movement. cultural and social realities and subsequent place in . 6 (“The Projector of familiar story of Parham’s the leadership of the its cultural expression in accord between largely Kansas-Missouri-Texas Los Angeles centered ========10========87 hardened and become more regressive after his disastrous encounter with Seymour and the Azusa Street mission. Goff is less convincing when he suggests that had Parham succeeded in getting control of the Azusa Street revival in October 1906, it would have greatly “altered the future of the Pentecostal movement” (p. 133). Nationwide the Pentecostal movement rather quickly fragmented along leadership, doctrinal, cultural, racial and at times ethnic lines. Early on most baptized believers in fact did not claim to speak in real languages, and worship styles among the growing Pentecostal missions and churches varied greatly. Thus it is hard to imagine what Parham might have done in Los Angeles that would have significantly altered this history. Here is where viewing Pentecostalism as a diffuse group of movements, however connected by a doctrinal commitment or single religious experience, might prove insightful. In the second part of chapter 6 Goff sensitively discusses the rumors of homosexuality against Parham that circulated in late 1906 and 1907, and the felony charge of sodomy brought against the evangelist in San Antonio, Texas, which, in fact, was eventually dismissed without a formal indictment. After thoroughly examining the extant evidence in the case, Goff concludes about Parham: “There is neither enough hard evidence to condemn him nor enough doubt to sufficiently explain the preponderance of rumor which circulated. during his lifetime.” Guilty or not, and despite some continued success as a Pentecostal preacher and leader of a small group of faithful Apostolic Faith followers and churches until his death in January, 1929 (all detailed in chapter 7, “Perseverance and Obscurity”), Pentecostalism’s founder, the subject of the “first genuine scandal in Pentecostal history” (p.136)–and certainly not the last–became an embarrassment to most of his peers, better ignored and forgotten than lauded for his pioneering role. Such historical revisionism, as Goff notes, fit well the Pentecostal claim that their religious movement, a product of God’s endtime pouring out of His Spirit–the Latter Rain–indeed had no need of a human founder, and certainly not one flawed as was Parham. Despite the attempts of early Pentecostals, in historian Grant Wacker’s words, to sanitize their own history, Charles F. Parham’s legacy, as Goff reiterates in his conclusion, cannot be denied. Parham’s formulation of the initial evidence doctrine “created the Pentecostal movement”; and tongues served Pentecostals as their “identifying badge” within the larger Christian world. Additionally, he “infused the movement with a zeal for missions” which accounts for Pentecostalism’s spectacular growth throughout the world. And the essence of Parham’s message, with its appeal to working people’s social and religious needs, “mirrors the complex origins of Pentecostal growth.” These enormous accomplishments notwithstanding, Goff admits that Parham’s direct institutional legacy is meager. Other ========11========88 Pentecostal leaders–some who rejected the sexually soiled founder, some who did not share all of his beliefs, and some who never knew him–were more instrumental in translating Parham’s initial evidence doctrine into a Pentecostal movement and culture. Here denominational histories can take us further in understanding the institutionalization of early Pentecostalism. What is needed, in my judgment, are studies that focus on the nuts and bolts of how and why supposedly powerless and largely working class people in countless communities across the nation engaged in Pentecostal movement building and cultural formation. Around what issues did they form local fellowships? What was the specific role of doctrine, as compared to other religious and/or social needs, in the creation of local fellowships? Did Pentecostal leaders use the rhetoric of social criticism and forms of mass culture to mobilize followers and resources to create Pentecostal communities and a national movement(s)? How should we even define “movement” in early Pentecostalism? Gofi:’s biography tells us much about how one man formulated the initial evidence doctrine; what it can not tell us–given Parham’s ideological and personal limitations–is how the movement he had such a central role in starting slowly became a group of denominations, churches, ministries and subculture in American life. Scholars will quarrel with Goff’s emphases or interpretations of Parham’s ideas, ministerial activities and their impact, and as indicated throughout this essay, with the author’s handling of broader interpretative issues related to the origins and meaning of Pentecostalism. But I believe the main story of Parham’s life and career will not need re-telling for a long while. Therein lies Gofl’s signal achievement and contribution to Pentecostal history. No one working in the field of Pentecostal history can ignore this excellent book. ========12========

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