Rare Kathryn Kuhlman transcripts donated to FPHC

Kathryn Johanna Kuhlman (1907-1976), possibly the world’s most prominent female evangelist and faith healer (although at times she objected to these titles), was a catalyst for the emerging charismatic renewal in the 1950s and 1960s. Her life and ministry — and her impact on the broader Christian church — remain the focus of much popular and scholarly attention.

Three unique and significant notebooks focusing on Kathryn Kuhlman’s ministry during the years 1949 to 1952 have been donated to the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC).

A new convert, Gay Luchin, took shorthand notes during Kuhlman’s meetings in Pittsburgh and spent many hours transcribing her eye-witness notes, placing them in three notebooks. The donation also includes correspondence from Kuhlman to Luchin, in which she encouraged Luchin in her work to develop these accounts.

Luchin’s notebooks contain well over 1,000 carefully-recorded pages of typescripts, detailing Kuhlman’s unvarnished thoughts on theology, social issues, politics, ethics, and spirituality. This major donation, unexamined by the scholarly world, promises to throw new light upon an era of Kuhlman’s life that heretofore has been sparsely documented.

The FPHC invites you to visit Springfield to view these items for yourself. They were released , May 9, 2007 the 100th anniversary of the birth of Kathryn Kuhlman. Please call for an appointment.

Posted by Darrin Rodgers

Ministry to the Disabled


Compel Them to Come In: Reaching People with Disabilities through the Local Church, compiled and edited by Tom Leach. Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse, 2010.

Fifty-eight million Americans live with some form of disability. Yet many churches have seemingly ignored this large and diverse population. A new book, Compel Them to Come In, provides a guide to ministry to people with physical and mental disabilities. This book – an anthology of essays by Assemblies of God leaders in disability ministries – is the first of its kind to be written by Pentecostals. Its solid, ministry-tested approach means that it will be welcomed by the broader Christian community.

Compel Them to Come In seeks to introduce pastors and people in the pew to some of the issues and strategies regarding ministry to people with physical and mental disabilities. The book offers practical suggestions regarding the adaptation of specific ministries (e.g., evangelism, Sunday school, the worship service) to the needs of the disabled. It also addresses how to minister to people with specific disabilities (e.g., mild intellectual disabilities, physical disabilities, blind and visually impaired). The volume also discusses the importance of providing encouragement to caregivers, and points out that the disabled have a valuable role in ministry to the body.

The authors write from experience. Tom Leach, the editor, was born with mild cerebral palsy. His mother, instead of aborting Tom, gave birth and placed him for adoption. At age 25 while a student at Trinity Bible College (Ellendale, North Dakota), he survived a car wreck that left him paralyzed from the chest down as a C-6, 7 quadriplegic. He is now an Assemblies of God evangelist serving with Special Touch Ministry, a para-church organization that serves the needs of people with disabilities and which helped to develop this book.

Additional contributors include: Charlie Chivers, a nationally appointed Assemblies of God missionary to people with disabilities and founder of Special Touch Ministry; Larry Campbell, also a nationally appointed Assemblies of God missionary to people with disabilities; Paul Weingartner, the executive director of the Assemblies of God Center for the Blind; and Sarah Sykes, who works with the Assemblies of God Center for the Blind.

I had the privilege of meeting Tom Leach in his Ellendale home this summer. Within the course of an hour, Tom changed my views about people with disabilities. He shared his testimony and showed me Compel Them to Come In and another book he had authored. This was the first conversation I can recall having with a quadriplegic. When I previously came into contact with people who had lost use of their limbs, I generally looked away, partly because I did not want to stare and partly because I felt embarrassed. Tom burst my stereotypes and demonstrated an incredible passion for life and for Christ. He was articulate and I clung onto his words. And I still cannot grasp how Tom was able to produce two books – even with a computer adapted to his disabilities and with the assistance of his wife, Gayle, and a handful of ministry colleagues.

Tom completed this book after having spent 26 years as a quadriplegic and 18 years in ministry to people with disabilities. Tom wrestled with the problem of suffering, human weakness, and feeling unlovely and unwanted. He wrote, “People with disabilities live in a raw, harsh reality. They are painfully aware that their conditions and circumstances are often ugly and distasteful to others, and that their lifestyle and behaviors are sometimes interpreted as being weird, abnormal, and bizarre.” Tom then reminded readers that Jesus embraced “the ugly, dirt-encrusted feet of his disciples in His holy hands and washed them” (p. xvii). The book’s title was inspired by a parable of Jesus where the master ordered his servant: “Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame…Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full” (Luke 14:21, 23). The message in Compel Them to Come In, and in scripture, is unmistakable – Christ gave a mandate to the church to minister to those with disabilities. This is a message that Pentecostals – and the broader church – need to hear.

Reviewed by Darrin Rodgers

Paperback, 237 pages, illustrated. $29.95 retail. Order from: amazon.com

Tom Leach also wrote Firestorm: State of the Union, a novel about extremists on both sides of the abortion issue who threatened to engulf the United States in a firestorm of violence. Tom has significant credibility when speaking on the value of life because of his life story. For more information or to purchase the book, go to: amazon.com

We’ve Come This Far By Faith

We’ve Come This Far by Faith: Readings on the Early Leaders of the Pentecostal Church of God, by Larry Martin. Pensacola, FL: Christian Life Books, c2009.

This is the best-documented history of the founding and early days of the Pentecostal Church of God. Based on Martin’s earlier book, In The Beginning, this work contains much new information on the church’s founders and is well documented. He covers the backdrop of the founding of this movement, tracing its roots back to Charles F. Parham at Topeka and influences from John Alexander Dowie, William Durham, William Piper, George Brinkman, John Sinclair, and many others. Several of the early leaders also had close ties with the Assemblies of God.

Originally called the Pentecostal Assemblies of the USA, the organizational meeting took place at George Brinkman’s Pentecostal Herald Mission in Chicago on December 29-30, 1919. John Sinclair was elected the first chairman, an executive committee was formed, a constitution was formulated, and Brinkman’s Pentecostal Herald was established as the official paper of the group. The denomination was reorganized as the Pentecostal Church of God in 1922.

Larry Martin has done extensive research on the origins of the movement, particularly on its early leaders. He covers the years when the denomination’s headquarters and printing operation were located in Chicago and then gives some information about when the offices moved to Ottumwa, Iowa in 1927. Beginning in 1934, the group was headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri, and those years are scheduled to be treated in a forthcoming sequel.

He then includes chapter biographies of each of the early leaders and chairmen of the Pentecostal Church of God. These notables include: George Brinkman, John Sinclair, Edward Matthews, John B. Huffman, Silas Shepard, Osborn Gilliland, Rik Field, A. D. McClure, and Alfred Worth. His information is augmented with photographs and footnotes. Photographs of some of these early leaders are published for the first time.

One chapter includes a Who’s Who of the founders of the denomination which provides brief biographical information on these additional leaders: R. E. McAlister, James A. Bell, Ida Tribbett, W. C. Thompson, Wilmer Artis, Herbert J. Wilson, Fred O. Price, Watson E. Tubbs, Thomas B. O’Reilley, and Eli DePriest.

Not only is this an important history of the beginnings of the Pentecostal Church of God, Inc., now headquartered in Joplin, Missouri, but it is noteworthy that many of these individuals had a wider influence that impacted the broader Pentecostal movement as a whole.

Reviewed by Glenn W. Gohr

Softcover, 216 pages. $11.99 plus $3.99 shipping. Order from Amazon.com or from azusastreet.org/.

In Jesus’ Name

“In Jesus’ Name”: The History and Beliefs of Oneness Pentecostals, by David A. Reed. Blandford Forum, England: Deo Publishing, 2008.

David Reed’s book, “In the Name of Jesus,” is possibly the best study on the origins of Oneness Pentecostalism – that segment of the Pentecostal movement that rejects traditional Trinitarian formulas in favor of an emphasis on the name of Jesus. Reed’s own spiritual journey (he was reared in a Oneness Pentecostal church in New Brunswick, Canada, but is now an Anglican minister and educator) provided the impetus for his study of the Oneness movement, which has become his life’s work.

Reed divides his work into three sections – 1) the Pietist and evangelical legacies within Oneness Pentecostalism, 2) the birth of Oneness Pentecostalism, and 3) the theology of Oneness Pentecostalism.

Reed opens with a spotlight on the Pietist emphasis on searching out the truths of Scripture. Pietist leader Philip Jacob Spener (1635-1705) gave priority to moral living over correct doctrine. Pietism tended to focus on spiritual process and growth, asking questions such as “Are you living yet in Jesus?” (pp. 13-14n).

The author traces the spirit of Pietism through the ministries of August Hermann Francke (1663-1727) and Nicholaus Ludwig Zinzendorf (1700-1760) with their emphasis on a heart religion that came about through repentance, conversion, weeping, practical piety and rejoicing. Zinzendorf was Christocentric, giving great value to the suffering and bleeding of Jesus. Reed states that Pietist devotion included an emphasis on the name of Jesus, which should come as no surprise. John Wesley later made his mark on the religious world with a two-fold emphasis on conversion and holiness of life.

Puritan clerics of the seventeenth century believed nearly the same as Pietists in the matter of experiential religion. According to Reed, “Pietism was a stream of spirituality that emphasized the affective and practical aspects of faith…it contributed to the working out of the distinctive doctrine of Oneness Pentecostals” (italics mine) (p. 32).

Reed argues that Oneness Pentecostalism arose from this evangelical Pietist and Puritan heritage. Whereas Pietists narrowed Spirit-baptism to a stream of spirituality that emphasized the affective and practical aspects of faith, Oneness Pentecostals extended this Pietistic hermeneutic to “the name of Jesus.” Oneness Pentecostals claimed that there is power in the Name if you have faith in the Name (and if you are buried by baptism in His Name). Further, it appears that Oneness Pentecostalism is a child of Jewish thought—a radical monotheism stressing one God and one Name. This Oneness belief maturated in the Holiness and early Pentecostal movements.

Wherever one found devotional literature, hymnody, and continued teaching by Pietist descendants, one often encountered the name of Jesus. “The phrase ‘Jesus’ and ‘Jesus Only’ became commonplace among Keswick and Holiness writers” (p. 40), such as Hannah Whitall Smith (1832-1911).

Reed, in the second part of his book, deals with the birth of Oneness Pentecostalism, stating that it had two birthplaces: Topeka (1901) and Azusa Street (1906). “White Pentecostals, especially those in the Assemblies of God, have pinned their Pentecostal identity on Parham’s doctrine of glossolalia. Black Pentecostals, on the other hand, have identified with the Azusa Street Revival” (p. 81). He contends, however, that it is difficult to substantiate this claim. He further observes, “Oneness doctrine and practice may be more compatible in its core with an Afro-centric worldview than with that of non-Pentecostal white evangelicals” (p. 82).

Reed asserts: “The ‘Jesus Name’ or ‘Oneness’ paradigm is a radical (emphasis mine) soteriology constituted by: a non-trinitarian modalistic view of God, the name of Jesus as the revealed name of God, and the threefold pattern for full salvation set forth in Acts 2:38” (p. 113)—blood, water and Spirit [repentance, baptism in water in the name of Jesus, and the infilling of the Holy Spirit].

“For the uninformed outsider, Oneness Pentecostalism is a conundrum. Like other Pentecostal groups, it should be emphasizing the Spirit,” Reed states. “But it speaks about Jesus and denies the Trinity” (p. 338).

Reed’s book covers such topics as: Finished Work, Secret Rapture (Manchild Doctrine and Bride of Christ), Restoration Movement, New Issue, Re-baptism, Champions of the Trinitarian Cause, Old Testament Names of God and much, much more. It is a work that is based on rare and extensive research. At times, it seems that Reed tries to cover too much ground, but he is so full of information that he has to have an outlet. A pulpit is set up in every reader’s realm, from which Reed dispenses thoughts and opinions.

“The challenge of the future,” Reed concludes, “is hidden in its name and its inheritance: oneness. The earliest appeal to oneness in 1910 was that the Pentecostal movement be united. A decade later that appeal was applied sharply to racial unity. By 1930 it became a descriptor for the movement. Throughout its history, lack of oneness with full Pentecostals and other Christians has become enigmatic: for some a mark of doctrinal purity, for others, a sign of sin” (p. 363).

Reed emphasizes that the Oneness movement needs to receive fair and judicious treatment. However, Oneness Pentecostals may take offense at Reed’s statement that “There is within Scripture potential for developing a theology of the Name” (emphasis mine) (p. 356). He goes on to further point out particular weaknesses in Oneness theology, while fully supporting Trinitarianism.

The first part of the book leads one to believe that Reed fully supports the Oneness Pentecostal belief; however, as I perused his continuing discourse, I experienced opaque visions of Oneness Pentecostals as being inferior, and that they were not the norm.

“In Jesus’ Name” is the result of excellent research; it delves into scores of themes related to Oneness Pentecostalism; its common thread is the Name; and the reader, whether Trinitarian or Oneness, will enhance his knowledge of the Jesus’ Name doctrine.

Reviewed by Patricia P. Pickard, Independent scholar, Bangor, Maine

Softcover, 394 pages. $39.95 retail. Order from: amazon.com

Church of God in Christ tour with Mother Patterson

TOUR OF COGIC HOLY SITES (LEXINGTON AND MEMPHIS)
Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Mother Mary P. Patterson (widow of Presiding Bishop J.O. Patterson Sr., 1968-1989) has agreed to lead a tour of Church of God in Christ holy sites in Lexington (MS) and Memphis (TN). The tour will occur on Wednesday, March 9, 2011, the day before the beginning of the Society for Pentecostal Studies (SPS) annual meeting.

Guests will see St. Paul Church Of God In Christ (the birthplace of the COGIC), Asia Baptist Church, Saints Industrial and Literary School, the jail cell where Bishop C.H. Mason was imprisoned in 1918 for allegedly preaching against the war, and other sites in Lexington, in addition to Mason Temple in Memphis.

Three scholars will accompany the tour and provide historical commentary: Dr. Elton Weaver (COGIC historian and Assistant Professor of History, Le Moyne-Owen College); Dr. Anjulet Tucker (Assistant Professor of Sociology and Religion, Boston University); and Dr. Percy Washington (pastor of Sweet Canaan COGIC, Lexington, MS).

The March 9, 2011 tour on Luxury Motor Coach will depart from and return to the Marriott Memphis Downtown (the official SPS hotel). Departure: 8:30 am. Return: 4 pm. Cost: $65 (lunch included). SPS members should make reservations through the SPS website prior to Feb. 1. Starting Feb. 1, any remaining seats will be offered to the general public. If insufficient guests register by Feb. 15, the tour may be cancelled and all fees will be refunded. For additional information, contact Darrin Rodgers at drodgers@ag.org or toll free at 877-840-5200.

This is a rare opportunity!

Tickets for the tour may be purchased on the SPS website: http://www.sps-usa.org/meetings/registration.htm. Non-SPS members may purchase tickets on the SPS website starting on February 1.

Pentecostal Origins of Earth Day

The 2010 edition of Assemblies of God Heritage magazine includes an article that will raise eyebrows — the story of John McConnell, Jr., the Pentecostal founder of Earth Day. McConnell’s parents were founding members of the Assemblies of God, and his grandfather identified with the Pentecostal movement at the Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles in 1906.

Forty years ago, McConnell established the first governmentally-recognized Earth Day on March 21, 1970. The United Nations adopted the holiday the following year and has been celebrating Earth Day on the March equinox since 1971.

This original Earth Day was quickly eclipsed in prominence, however, by a second Earth Day (celebrated on April 22). The founder of the April observance, U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson, took the name Earth Day for his Environmental Teach-In, scheduled to be held on the 100th anniversary of communist leader Vladimir Lenin’s birthday.

According to McConnell, a representative of Nelson approached him at a United Nations conference and asked McConnell to switch the original Earth Day to April 22. McConnell refused, because he believed the celebration should be on nature’s event. Furthermore, McConnell intended Earth Day to be a non-partisan event that would unite people from various backgrounds and foster peace. In contrast, Nelson’s purpose was a political protest against pollution – he viewed Earth Day as a means to force the environment on the national agenda by mass demonstration.

McConnell states that Nelson “stole” the name Earth Day and used it for his own personal political agenda. McConnell contends that the April 22 observance is too politicized, which alienates many people, including Christians and conservatives.  He maintains that the day should be celebrated on the March equinox. Significantly, he views Earth Day as an opportunity for Christians “to show the power of prayer, the validity of their charity and their practical concern for Earth’s life and people.” McConnell’s call is not for earth worship, but for responsible stewardship (which he prefers to call trusteeship) of the earth.

McConnell also spearheaded two nationally-recognized peace movements: the Star of Hope (1957) and the Minute for Peace (1963-present). He also served as a leader in Meals for Millions (1961-1963), an organization that fed starving people.

McConnell credits his Pentecostal background for his concern for peace, justice and care of earth. He wrote, “If there had been no Christian experience in my life there would be no Earth Day – or at least I would not have initiated it.”

In a 2009 interview, McConnell stated, “I definitely still believe what my father taught and preached.” His father, J. S. McConnell, was an Assemblies of God pastor and evangelist from 1914 to 1928. According to McConnell, his father emphasized the teachings of Jesus above all else.

McConnell’s story offers an intriguing example to Pentecostals from their own history of how one can love Jesus and care for creation; these two attitudes are not mutually exclusive.

To read the entire article about John McConnell in the 2010 edition of Assemblies of God Heritage, click here.

To watch an interview of McConnell discussing his Pentecostal background, click here.

To read the article on McConnell published by Charisma magazine, click here.

Posted by Darrin J. Rodgers