FACETS OF PENTECOSTAL SPIRITUALITY AND JUSTICE
by Anthea Butler (slightly abbreviated)
In order to provide an overview of what Spirituality and Justice means in the Pentecostals' community and context, three areas of inquiry will be discussed. These are Theological, Historical, and Praxis. The Theological section will consist of the Biblical basis for Pentecostal Spirituality and Justice, the Historical area will address the unique situation in which Pentecostalism developed, and Praxis will show how Pentecostals in various areas practice Spirituality and Justice. The intended result is to provide specific areas for dialogue, and provide some explanation of what comprises Pentecostal Spirituality and Justice.
Pentecostal TheologyThe theological underpinnings of a Pentecostal of Spirituality and Justice hinges upon the New Testament's fulfilment of the Old Testament foreshadowing of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Jesus proclamation of Luke 4: 18-19 from the Old Testament Text of Isaiah 61:1-2 exemplifies the work of the Spirit to energize spiritually and bring about justice:
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's Favor." (New Revised Standard Version)
Through the agency of the Holy Spirit, Jesus is to preach the good news to the poor. The Holy Spirits impartation is also concerned with Justice. Anointing in this case is not simply an anointing for spiritual prowess, it is for social action as well. The Poor are those who are helpless and defenseless, the economically poor, the poor in Spirit. The good news is that help is available to all. (1) There is no differentiation between what is economic poverty and poverty of spirit. Poor means poor. The encounter with the Spirit enabled Jesus to be concerned with every type of injustice - spiritual and social. The poor, prisoners, the blind, and oppressed are a cross section of the society in which Jesus lived. Gordon Fee, New Testament scholar writes:
"Our Global Mission (Pentecostals) therefore, is rooted ultimately in Jesus' application of Isaiah 53 and Isaiah 61:1-2 to himself. He himself bought in the time of the End, the 'year of the Lord's favor' in which the good news to the poor meant release for captives of all kinds. He was anointed by the Holy Spirit precisely for such a mission: and he in turn poured out the Spirit on His disciples so that they might continue the same mission. (2)This concern is also imparted to the disciples on the Day of Pentecost. The same spirit that anoints Jesus also anoints the disciples for service as well. The Pentecost narrative is the story of the transfer of the charismatic spirit from Jesus to the disciples. Having become the exclusive bearer of the Holy Spirit at His baptism, Jesus becomes the giver of the Spirit at Pentecost. By this transfer of the Spirit, the disciples become heirs and successors to the earthly charismatic ministry of Jesus. (3)
The outpouring of the Holy Spirit results not only in glossolalia, but an awareness of other's needs. Provision is made for those who have less than others. The poor are the first priority of the infilling of the Spirit. The Spirit is not only for inward blessing, it is also for outward service to those in the world.
The Eschatology of Pentecostals also affects Pentecostal motifs of Spirituality and Justice. Emphasis is placed on the imminent return of Christ, (see Joel 2:24) where the outpouring of the Spirit in the last days signals the return of Christ. Therefore, social justice is not only to seek justice, it is in preparation for the imminent return of Christ. If the Kingdom of God is at hand, then Pentecostals are representatives of that Kingdom and as such, are responsible for doing "kingdom things". The activities of God's kingdom, caring for the poor and widows, visiting those in prison, opposing injustice, are all part of preparation for Christ's return. Although Pentecostals are inclined at times to downplay the importance of service because of the imminence of Christ's return, they engage in justice issues as part of their spiritual calling by God. (5)
Pentecostalism also finds Spirituality and Justice roots in the Wesleyan/Holiness tradition in 19th century America and England. The Holiness movement emphasized the baptism with the Holy Spirit as endument for service. The "Power" was connected by preachers and writers of the Holiness tradition with Christian service and testimony. (6) The impartation of the Spirit in Holiness theology was not to speak in tongues, but to spread the gospel and provide for those who had physical as well as spiritual need. Since many who entered the Pentecostal movement had been involved with the Holiness movement as well, the Baptism of the Holy Spirit was the confirmation of their call to service. The call was not just a call to ordination, but to Christian service. The Holy Spirit, therefore is the agent for the empowerment to serve. The Spirit is interpreted as concern for people in need. The spiritual gifts of service and outreach in Romans 12:4-8 show that serving, contributing, and mercy are Spirit powered activities of the believer to benefit both believers and non believers. (7)Any definition of Spirituality and Justice for Pentecostals cannot be separated from the work of the Holy Spirit. The baptism of the Holy Spirit not only benefits spiritual life, but empowers people to effectively minister to the poor, downtrodden, and oppressed. The result of the Spirit's outpouring has affected Pentecostal historical development in Spirituality and Justice.
The Azusa street revival is perhaps the best known event in Pentecostalism. The revival that began in Los Angeles, California in April of 1906 had an enormous impact in spreading the Pentecostal movement around the world. The revival centered upon the outpouring of the Holy Spirit manifesting itself in not only Spiritual uplift, but also confronting social justice issues of the times. The founder of the Azusa street mission was William J. Seymour, an African American whose parents were slaves. He began the mission with a group of working class African Americans, who received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit at a Bible study Seymour led. (8) As word of the outpouring grew, Seymour acquired property at Azusa Street, and the revival began to spread. People from all social classes were attracted to the Mission.
"We prayed that Pentecost might come to the city of Los Angeles. We wanted it to start in the First Methodist Church, but God did not start it there. I bless God that he did not start it in any church in this city, but in a barn , so that we might all come and take part in it. If it had started in a fine church, poor colored people and Spanish people would not have got it, but praise God it started here." (9)
In a time where racial segregation was the law in the United States, Seymour's leadership of the Azusa street mission exemplified the work of the Spirit to bring about equality from inequality, acceptance from rejection, and empowerment from subjugation. Seymour's theology and praxis centered in the work of the Holy Spirit called for the equality of all people. The ecumenical nature of Azusa Street Fellowship was also important for Seymour's understanding of the work of the Holy Spirit.
"This Pentecostal movement is too large to be confined in any denomination or sect. It works outside, drawing all together in one bond of Love, one church, one body of Christ." (10)
From such an auspicious beginning, those who came through the Azusa street mission left Los Angeles for the mission fields or their hometowns. As the Pentecostal movement spread, leaders in the early portion of the 20th century continued the quest to integrate Spirituality and Justice. Bishop Charles Harrison Mason, founder of the Church of God in Christ, ordained whites as well as blacks within his denomination. (11) During World War I, Mason was placed under surveillance and arrested by what is now the Federal Bureau of Investigation for simply preaching the COGIC doctrine that precluded participation in war. (12)
"We believe the shedding of human blood or taking of human life to be contrary to the teaching of our Lord and Savior, and as a body, we are averse to war in all its various forms." (13)
The United States government chose to see COGIC's doctrinal stance as seditious and contrary to the war efforts. Bishop Mason was subsequently arrested, but released and not prosecuted. Mason relates his trial with the government in his own words:
"The Holy Ghost through me was teaching men to look to God, for He is their only help. I told them not to trust in the power of the United States, England, France or Germany, but to trust in God." (14)
Other Pentecostals worked within their communities to help those who were in need. Aimee Semple McPherson, founder of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, established a commissary in Los Angeles in 1927, subsequently feeding over 1.5 million people during the Depression era. (15) The commissary was established on the basis of James 1:27: "Pure religion and undefiled before God is this, to visit the fatherless and the widow in their affliction." (16) The commissary provided food and clothing to all in need. In addition to the commissary, a dining hall was established in 1931 to serve lunches to unemployed men, women and children. (17) McPherson, whose dynamic persona and healing ministry captivated the masses and garnered censure from other ministers and skeptical press, preached the complete gospel to meet all the needs of each individual, spiritual or material. She encouraged women to pursue ministry, appointed them to offices within the denomination, and ordained women. (18) Despite her celebrated disappearance and colorful ministry, McPherson was a socially concerned, spiritually centered woman who did not distance herself from any class of people.
Although these are only a few examples of early Pentecostal attitudes toward Spirituality and Justice, the egalitarian spirit of Azusa Street did not last, at least in the United States. Most Pentecostal denominations split along racial lines. Women who were initially allowed to preach were systematically denied ordination. In the quest to erase their impoverished past, denominational leaders sought to legitimize Pentecostal beliefs by emulating mainline denominations. Pursuing respectability, some Pentecostals lost their fervor for righteousness and the Spirit. They accommodated the culture by accepting segregation, separating themselves from the poor, separating their worship, and becoming the oppressor instead of the oppressed.
Several Pentecostal denominations in the United States established the Pentecostal Fellowship of North America in 1948. Feeling the need to have their own unified group, they set out to create an organization to spawn cooperative fellowship. (19) Yet the PFNA restricted their membership to predominantly white denominations and rebuffed overtures from the Church of God in Christ and other non white denominations applying for membership. (20) The PFNA was finally dissolved in 1994 at the Racial Reconciliation conference in Memphis, Tennessee. The new organization, Pentecostal and Charismatic Churches of North America, is now open to all Pentecostal denominations in North America.
North America was not the only place where Pentecostals acted in unjust ways, hiding behind spiritual lenses. The Apostolic Faith Mission of South Africa, the church from where celebrated Ecumenist David Du Plessis belonged, was a supporter of the apartheid government of South Africa. (21) Activist Frank Chickane's struggles with the AFM led him to make this remark about the church:
"The bias within my church meant that highly spiritual people who were baptized in the Holy Spirit could see no Christian obligation to struggle against apartheid. Nor did they have any regard for social ethics. Their concern was that my analysis smacked of what is called the social gospel within evangelical circles." (22)
In describing what the Praxis of Pentecostal Spirituality and Justice consists of, the Korean term "Minjung" is helpful. Minjung means in Korean 'mass of the people' or the 'masses'. (23) These are the everyday people, the ones who suffer and work constantly, struggling on a day to day basis. When evangelists came to Korea and began to work with the Minjung, they soon realized that they were not getting through to the Koreans. Their language and perceptions of life were different from those they sought to convert. In order to communicate, they had to live and work with the Minjung, to live as they did. The Minjung began to show the missionaries by re-reading the Bible, that the Gospel is for the Minjung: the poor, weak, the lowest, the crippled, blind, and captive. The mission workers discovered the reality of the Minjung in the Bible, their place in the justice and compassion of God. (24)
Minjung, or the masses of the people is a way of thinking about how Pentecostals practise Spirituality and Justice. Although people from many different social locations and geographical locales may call themselves Pentecostal, any Pentecostal at any time could be a member of the Minjung - the downtrodden. Socio-cultural alienation, economic exploitation, and political suppression are all aspects of being a part of the Minjung. (25) Pentecostals in various locales practise Minjung Spirituality and Justice. What is important to Pentecostal Praxis is that the individual needs are first and foremost focus of Justice through Spirituality. Those needs may include, but are not limited to, food, clothing, shelter money, health concerns, job concerns, family issues, finances and others. The next layer of Spiritual Justice issues focuses on oppression of individuals and groups in the community. Examples are racism, sexism, and class schisms. Finally, political and world issues would occupy the last sphere of Pentecostal Spirituality and Justice. How these spheres work in different Pentecostal churches depend on their locale and emphasis. Two examples that are representative of Pentecostal pursuits of Spirituality and Justice come from very different Pentecostal churches in the United States.
Los Angeles: The City of Angels Burn for Justice
No one can forget the arresting pictures that came from the April 1992 riots after the jury acquitted of the Los Angeles Police officers that had beaten Rodney King on tape. South Central Los Angeles burned on televisions around the world, a stark reminder of the oppression and pain that the citizens of the community, Black and Hispanic, had been made to bear at the hands of the LAPD. Scenes of looting and burning flooded our screens, while elderly people and families in the community cringed in their homes, hoping that the onslaught of violence would cease. The end result was millions of dollars of damage and over fifty lives lost. The Church on the Way, a Foursquare church in Van Nuys, responded to the call. Pastor Jack Hayford organized a food and clothing drive in partnership with West Angeles Church of God in Christ, pastored by Bishop Charles Blake. While Church on the Way is a suburban church approximately twenty minutes from South Central, West Angeles COGIC is located right in the middle of the devastated areas of South Central. With the help of the Church on the Way congregation, four semi trucks containing food and clothing were loaded and shipped to West Angeles to distribute in the community, along with over $100,000 to meet the needs of individuals of South Central. In addition, a racial reconciliation service was held six weeks afterwards, with both black and white congregations coming together to worship and heal the wounds. Later that summer, a team of Church on the Way members spent a week living and working in South Central to repair damages and repair relationships.
The House of the Lord Pentecostal ChurchAcross the United States in Brooklyn, New York, is The House of the Lord Pentecostal Church. Pastored by Rev. Herbert Daughtry, The House of the Lord is a dynamic, economically and socially stable African American congregation. (26) The church defies conventional definitions by receiving government grants, pursuing political activism, serving on various local political committees, and strongly emphasizing a holy lifestyle. The House of the Lord has been involved in the building of 500 homes in the Brooklyn area, and provides apartment housing for Aids victims though the Association for Brooklyn clergy, an alliance that Rev. Daughtry chairs. (27) Within the statement of faith, The House of the Lord Pentecostal Church commitment to spirituality and justice issues is evident.
"After the new member becomes biblically strong, Spiritually stable, and life becomes meaningful and abundant for him, his reponsibility still does not cease. In Matthew 20: 26-28, we read 'It shall not be so among you; but whoever would be first among you must be your slave; even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many.' We believe a person's spiritual growth does not cease with his having been saved and matured. There must also come the fulfilling of institutional responsibilities as well as other missions and responsibilities in life. This growth includes witnessing, ministering to, and serving others. These things can be done through the following outreach programs: Campuses, Coffee Houses, Door to Door ministry, home Bible classes, hospitals, media, Mass Evangelism, Prisons, Programs, Protest, Street evangelism, and Special service ministry." (28)
Spirituality and Justice issues are integral to the praxis in The House of the Lord Church. Protest is considered to be as important as evangelization. In December 1987, Rev. Daughtry led a blockade of the Brooklyn Bridge and New York city transit lines to call attention to acts of violence and institutionalized violence against Blacks in New York. (29) The church's involvement in political, social and spiritual issues is a wholistic environment that embodies the action of the Holy Spirit to mobilize and energize the church. This is carried out in the church services, where women and men play equal roles in the service. Spiritual gifts are manifest and evident, and issues of justice and equality preached from the pulpit. (30) The church exemplifies the example for linking Spirituality and Justice issues in Pentecostalism. The Holy Spirit not only energizes spiritual life, it directly confronts the Principles and Powers of the age. By working together as a congregation and a community, effective change is achieved.
Critique and Conclusions
The issues surrounding Pentecostal Spirituality and justice might be summed up in an anecdote form a chronicler of the Pentecostal movement, Dr. Walter Hollenweger. On a teaching trip to Fuller Seminary in 1993, a Black church in the Los Angeles area, First AME, was the intended victim of a bombing plot by two white supremacist teens. They were arrested a few days before attempting to bomb the church to create a "Race War". Dr. Hollenweger, upon visiting a Pentecostal Church the following Sunday, hoped he would hear a denunciation of this behavior from the pulpit. Instead, he heard a sermon about the evils of Pornography. Taken aback, he said the next day in class "You Pentecostals are so concerned with the sins of the flesh that you are not concerned with any other sins."
Unfortunately, there is truth in this statement. Our concerns for personal holiness and abstinence from "sinful" behavior prevent us from seeing the larger structural oppression of sin in the world. The sectarian nature of Pentecostals prevents individual churches and denominations from reaching out to confront the issues. In the quest to maintain holiness and purity before God, we have systematically ignored larger issues of human rights, such as torture, mass killings, rapes and other acts of violence perpetrated on non-Pentecostals. It is difficult to find a policy statement in most Pentecostal churches or denominations on issues of ethnic cleansing in Bosnia-Hertzegovina, the slaughter in Rwanda, or child prostitution in Asia. These issues may get cursory prayers in our churches, but we must become pro-active in these areas in order to accomplish what the Holy Spirit is really requiring of us.
Pentecostal praxis of Spirituality and Justice is driven at times by proselytizing motives, rather than the simplicity of provision for those in need. We need not hold out assistance in one hand and our religious agendas in the other. Our churches in North America, despite racial reconciliation conferences, remain segregated, and our denominational leaders continue to conduct business as usual. Advent into the political system is not driven by the need of the Minjung, it is driven by dreams of personal power and individual agendas other that the Kingdom of God. Ecological concerns extend to our taking out the trash daily, with no appreciation for the creation of God. Human Sexuality, especially Homosexuality, is only discussed in negative language and prohibitions rather than thoughtful appraisal and careful discernment. Aids is seen as judgment, rather than illness that needs healing. Our silence on these issues is deafening at times, and disappointing. It has largely been left to ethnic churches, Urban churches and Third World Pentecostals to address Spirituality and Justice needs of communities. (31) Despite many mainline Pentecostal denominations social programs, their resolve to dig deeper and confront the issues have been marginal.So what is the answer for us? Our Forbearers understood the times, that the days were evil. They understood that they had to continue the work, while there was still light, because the darkness was rapidly approaching. Pentecostals are at a turning point. We will either continue to be sectarian, or we will allow ecumenical conversations to help us appreciate the best parts of our interpretation of Spirituality and Justice, and improve what we are lacking. Pentecostals have a rich tradition of Spirituality and a rich tradition of social justice, but it is not consistent over time. It is situational, and subject to change. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we must continue to refine both areas equally, working toward the example of Jesus, who came that we might have life, and life more abundantly.
1. Gordon Fee, The Church's Global Mission in: Called and Empowered, editors: Murray
Dempster, Byron Klaus, and
Douglas Petersen. Massachusetts, Hendrickson Publishing, 1991, p. 12-13
2. Ibid, p. 18
4. Acts 2:4, Acts 2:44-45, New Revised Standard Version
9. The Apostolic Faith, November 1906, vol. 1, #3, p. 1, column 2
10. The Apostolic Faith, September 1906, p. 1, column 3
14. Ibid, p. 17
17. Ibid, p. 179
24. Ibid, p. 193-195
25. Ibid, p. 204-205
26. Alexander, Bobby C. Victor Turner Revisited, Ritual as
Social Change, Scholars Press, Atlanta, 1991, p.85
27. Winston, Diane, Progressions, a Lilly endowment occasional
report, The Black Church in America, Vol 4, Issue 1, Feb. 1992,
28. The House of the Lord Pentecostal Church Statement of
Faith, The concept, Section II.
29. Alexander, Victor Turner Revisited, p. 85
30. Alexander, p. 95-99
31. Alexander, p. 102
34. Blumhofer notes four aspects of this outlook which were determinative for Pentecostalism: 1) It was "...closely related to the hope
of perfection and the call for religious reform, " 2) it "...promoted assumptions of Christian unity and simplicity," 3) "...serious grappling with
eschatological issues accompanied American interest in Restorationism." and 4)
"...restorationist expectations both occasioned and supported
antidenominationalism." op. Cit. pp. 18-19. For the topic under discussion in this paper, the third issue is our focus.
35. The terms were taken from Joel 2.
37. While this story functions to demonstrate the concern of later Pentecostals to be orthodox and biblical in their doctrine, it is interesting
to note that Parham himself was not overly concerned with doctrine. When some of his teachings were challenged because of "doctrinal
innovations" he replied, "Truly spiritual people do not quibble over tenets and points of doctrine; it is a sign of waning spirituality to do so."
(Quoted in Blumhofer, p. 87.)
41. Charles Greenaway, missionary and minister in the Assemblies of God, quoted frequently by Richard B.
Foth, former president of
Bethany Bible College.
2. Ibid, p. 18Stronstad, Roger, The Charismatic Theology of St. Luke, Massachusetts, Hendrickson, 1985, p. 2-5
4. Acts 2:4, Acts 2:44-45, New Revised Standard VersionDempster, Murray, Christian Social Concern in Pentecostal Perspective: Reformulating Pentecostal Eschatology in Journal of Pentecostal Theology, Cleveland, Sheffield Academic Press, Issue two, 1993, p. 52-53 Dayton, Donald, Theological Roots of Pentecostalism, Massachusetts, Hendrikson, 1987, p. 102-103 Snell, Jeffery T., Beyond the Individual and into the World: A call to Participation into the Larger Purposes of the Spirit on the Basis of Pentecostal Theology, Pneuma, the Journal of the Society for Pentecostal Studies, Vol 14, #1 Spring 1992, p. 45-46 Nelson, Douglas J., For Such a Time as this: The story of William J. Seymour and the Azusa Street revival, a Search for Pentecostal Charismatic Roots, unpublished dissertation, University of Birmingham, England, May 1981
9. The Apostolic Faith, November 1906, vol. 1, #3, p. 1, column 2
10. The Apostolic Faith, September 1906, p. 1, column 3Robeck, Cecil M., Historical Roots of Racial Unity and Division in American Pentecostalism, paper presented at Pentecostal Fellowship of North American Racial Reconciliation conference, October 1994 Kornweibel Jr. Theodore, Bishop C.H. Mason and the Church of God in Christ during World War I: The perils of conscientious objection, in Southern Studies, Winter, 1987 p. 261-281 Pleas, Charles, A Period of History in the Church of God in Christ, Memphis, 1956, COGIC Publishing, p. 91
14. Ibid, p. 17McPherson, Aimee Semple in The Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements, Stanley M. Burgess and Gary B. McGee, editors, Michigan, Regency Zondervan, 1988, p. 569-571 McPherson, Aimee, quoted in The Bridal Call, cited by Townsend, Gregg, in The Material Dream of Aimee Semple McPherson: A Lesson in Pentecostal Spirituality, Pneuma, volume 14, #2, Fall 1992, p. 173
17. Ibid, p. 179Blumhofer, Edith, Aimee Semple McPherson: Everybody's Sister, Michigan, Eerdmans, 1993, p. 269 Pentecostal Fellowship of North America, Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movement, p. 703 Butler, Anthea, Walls of Division: Racism's Role in Pentecostal History, in Society for Pentecostal Studies Papers, 1994, Annual meeting, p. 16-17. Horn, J. Nico, South African Pentecostals and Apartheid, in Pentecost, Mission and Ecumenism, Festschrift in honor of Walter J. Hollenweger, Jan. Jongeneel, ed. 1992, Frankfurt am Main, p. 157-167 Chickane, Frank, No Life of My own, Orbis books, New York, 1988, p. 41 Yoo, Boo Woong, , Korean Pentecostalism, its History and Theology, Peter Lang, New York, 1988, p. 198
24. Ibid, p. 193-195
25. Ibid, p. 204-205
26. Alexander, Bobby C. Victor Turner Revisited, Ritual as Social Change, Scholars Press, Atlanta, 1991, p.85
27. Winston, Diane, Progressions, a Lilly endowment occasional report, The Black Church in America, Vol 4, Issue 1, Feb. 1992, p. 4
28. The House of the Lord Pentecostal Church Statement of Faith, The concept, Section II.
29. Alexander, Victor Turner Revisited, p. 85
30. Alexander, p. 95-99
31. Alexander, p. 102Donald Dayton, The Theological Roots of Pentecostalism. (Peabody, MA: Hendrikson Publishers, 1987) argues that theologically, Pentecostalism has close ties with 19th century Wesleyan Holiness movement. Edith L. Blumhofer, The Assemblies of God: A Chapter in the Story of American Pentecostalism, (Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, 1989) pp. 50ff., notes the role of revivalism of D.L. Moody and others who tended to be Congregationalists, Baptists and Presbyterians as a formative influence on Pentecostalism in this period.
34. Blumhofer notes four aspects of this outlook which were determinative for Pentecostalism: 1) It was "...closely related to the hope of perfection and the call for religious reform, " 2) it "...promoted assumptions of Christian unity and simplicity," 3) "...serious grappling with eschatological issues accompanied American interest in Restorationism." and 4) "...restorationist expectations both occasioned and supported antidenominationalism." op. Cit. pp. 18-19. For the topic under discussion in this paper, the third issue is our focus.
35. The terms were taken from Joel 2.Not all Pentecostals are so negative. While there is not time to pursue it, one would expect that those Pentecostals in Wesley's lineage might be more open to social concerns if post-millenialism is the "social correlate" of the doctrine of sanctification. Even here, though, premillenial eschatology had found a place in Wesleyan thought by the mid 1890's (Dayton, op. cit. P. 165). This negativity may also reflect the social location of Pentecostalism as sectarian, outside and over against the mainstream society.
37. While this story functions to demonstrate the concern of later Pentecostals to be orthodox and biblical in their doctrine, it is interesting to note that Parham himself was not overly concerned with doctrine. When some of his teachings were challenged because of "doctrinal innovations" he replied, "Truly spiritual people do not quibble over tenets and points of doctrine; it is a sign of waning spirituality to do so." (Quoted in Blumhofer, p. 87.)Ralph M. Riggs' book The Spirit Himself. (Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, 1949) reflect this concern. The following comments are illustrative: Before the bar of public opinion, the Pentecostal people have been arraigned by their fellow religionists of modern days. Like Paul they answer, "After the most straitest sect of our religion we have lived (Acts 26:5). Are they Christians? So are we. Are they Protestants? So are we. Are they sincere, devout, and in the worship of the Lord Jesus Christ...? We (we speak foolishly) are more so. cf. 2 Cor. 11:22,23." To those who are believers but not Pentecostal, he concludes his introduction: "We commend to their consideration the study of the Holy Spirit which follows. We ask only that they search the Scriptures to see if these things be so." (pp. xii-xiv) William W. Menzies, Anointed to Serve. (Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, 1971) p. 40. Note the previous citation of Ralph Riggs's book published late in that decade. Menzies' use of the term "evangelical" needs to be understood in the American context rather than European. Evangelical means "Protestant" in Europe; in America it means something like "conservative" as contrasted with "liberal". Institutionally this tends to be reflected in the distinction between the National Association of Evangelicals and the National Council of Churches. ..."The testimony of the Spirit is more excellent than all reason. For as God alone is a fit witness of himself in his Word, so also the Word will not find acceptance in men's hearts before it is sealed by the inward testimony of the Spirit. The same Spirit, therefore, who has spoken through the mouths of the prophets must penetrate into our hearts to persuade us that they faithfully proclaimed what they had been divinely commanded." Calvin, John Institutes of the Christian Religion. (John T. McNeill, ed. And Ford Lewis Battles, trans.) (Library of Christian Classics, vol. XX Philadelphia, PA: Westminster Press, 1960), p. 79
41. Charles Greenaway, missionary and minister in the Assemblies of God, quoted frequently by Richard B. Foth, former president of Bethany Bible College.