A quartet of young Pentecostal students, articulate spokesmen for anti-religious-establishment forces at Yale University, promise to be the talk of the campus next week as classes resume after spring vacation. The four tongues-speaking bachelors have been waging a verbal war against what they feel are efforts to stifle their freedom to evangelize privately (see story following).
The four also represent an emerging new Pentecostalism that has little in common with the Holy Roller image. Today, gymnastics in the pews and lusty gospel music are confined largely to rural congregations and tent revivals. And a new generation of Pentecostals wants to keep them there, if they have to be kept at all.
A recent article in the official journal of the largest Pentecostal denomination urges that leaders today “remain ever alert to the dangers of such worked-up excitement. The spurious conversions and fevered exhibitionism resulting from cheap psychological methods have no place in a genuinely spiritual movement.” Pentecostal historian Carl Brumback admits there is “a general lessening of fervor” now within the ranks, and some sense spiritual retreat.
In a nutshell, there is evidence of considerable change in Christendom’s “upper room,” that is, the Pentecostal movement, which has traditionally emphasized the infilling of the Holy Spirit as recorded in Acts 2. Many old fixtures are being discarded as new ones take their places. Further restructuring of the Pentecostal chamber is also being contemplated in the wake of the charismatic revival of recent years.
Extremely narrow legalism is on the way out. For years tongues-groups believed the observance of certain prohibitions to be a sign of holiness. “A few years ago you could tell a Pentecostal person anywhere, anytime,” says Wade H. Horton, general superintendent of the Church of God, “and they did not hesitate when they said that movies, carnivals, circuses, sports, entertainment and other things were worldly.”
New “styles and times have changed somewhat the position on dress in the Assemblies of God as well as in other Pentecostal organizations,” states Carl G. Conner, until recently the unofficial chief of public relations for the Assemblies of God.
Times have also changed the proscriptions on sports and entertainments. The Tremont Avenue Church of God in Greenville, South Carolina, for example, has built a church gymnasium valued at $100, 000—a thing unknown before in the movement.
In addition to these discarded fixtures, there are some notable additions in Pentecostal circles. Specifically, the appearance of new physical plants is attracting attention. The Assemblies of God General Council is now well settled in its contemporary $3,000,000 building at Springfield, Missouri. The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada has also dedicated a new $500,000 headquarters structure in metropolitan Toronto. And just recently the Church of God began a $1,500,000 addition to its international center in Cleveland, Tennessee, which will sport multi-color fountains.
Ministerial candidates are now facing tougher educational requirements. In both the Pentecostal Holiness and Assemblies of God churches, ordination now requires a bachelor’s degree or an equivalent study program by correspondence. The International Church of the Foursquare Gospel demands two years’ college training.
Furthermore, an “ecumenical” spirit has introduced itself within Pentecostalism’s ninety groups, all of which maintain separate headquarters in the United States. No Pentecostal has yet expressed a desire to participate in unions with historical churches. But clergy of the movement are becoming more involved in interdenominational efforts.
At this time, older Pentecostals are finding themselves forced into a broader religious context as tongues-speaking spreads through older denominations. Donald Gee, Assemblies of God editor for the World Pentecostal Conference quarterly Pentecost, candidly admits, “The gale that produced the earliest phases of the movement has, in many places, almost blown itself out. Pentecostal churches all over the world are tending to become spiritually static.”
Pentecostals seem to be re-evaluating their doctrine of the Holy Spirit. In the past, many taught that the Spirit did not come to dwell within a person until a post-conversion Pentecost. Tongues-speaking thus tended to become, in the eyes of observers, an overly exalted manifestation. Making the situation acute was the fact that literature has been very meager on the subject, and has lacked authentication.
Today the Pentecostal experience is being stated officially and clearly for the first time. This is resulting in a restructuring of the doctrine of the Spirit, at least as it has been promoted and understood previously. “It is true,” comments one key observer, “that a great deal of emphasis in the past has been placed on the two words, ‘with’ and ‘in.’ ” More recently, though, “it has not been the testimony of Pentecostal bodies, officials that only those have the Holy Spirit in them who were baptized with the Holy Ghost. It is recognized that all born-again believers have the Spirit.” A new Pentecostal manual, The Holy Spirit, clearly states, “The Holy Spirit dwells within every true believer in Christ.”
Consequently, there is less emphasis on tongues as the touchstone of all blessing and more emphasis on power for evangelism. “The Pentecostal experience, contrary to much of the publicity, does not center around ‘speaking in tongues,’ more formally identified as glossolalia, but in the belief that the infilling of the Holy Ghost should follow conversion,” says Thomas F. Zimmerman, general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.
All of this causes others to wonder whether tongues-speaking is losing out as “the” distinctive of the movement. Donald Gee asks whether there is a chance the new emphasis may “obscure the distinctive testimony for which we believe God raised up the Pentecostal revival.” He warns, “Evangelism must be a result of spiritual gifts properly exercised, but not a substitute for them.”
Being reconsidered also are other doctrinal issues. Denominational officials are not now so sympathetic to massive healing revivals as formerly. “Mass healing campaigns have lost their novelty,” Gee asserts. Two groups have in their most recent conventions passed resolutions outlawing independent evangelistic associations among their ministry. And, to the surprise of most, the Pentecostals opened their first approved hospital June 28, 1965, in Canada.
What are the reasons for this refurbishing of the upper room? There are at least four:
1. The changes are partly the result of a more educated clergy. Trained men want to clarify and adjust those points where confusion and misunderstanding have occurred.
2. Some adjustments are also being made in an effort to continue the popular growth of this “third force.” Pentecostals are concerned because their once rapid growth, in their U. S. churches at least, has slackened. The Assemblies of God General Council in the fall of 1965 reported “a drop in membership in nineteen districts.” Only thirty-nine new licensed ministers were gained in the same two-year period.
3. The tongues revival continuing in historic churches where the gift is not tied to traditional Pentecostalist disciplines has further caused leaders to take a good look at their whole schema. In fact, Lewis J. Willis, editor of the Church of God Evangel, refers to a “slow but relentless deterioration of strict fundamentalism among some of our people.”
4. Refurbishing is also the result of the improved economic status of members and churches. Elmer T. Clark, in his book The Small Sects of America, outlines in detail the changes that take place in the evolution of a sect into an established church—the very transition now present in this movement.
Canadian immigration officials took a long hard look at a group of New York gospel singers before allowing them to cross the border for a series of March engagements in British Columbia. Six out of the eight members of the group, former drug users who call themselves “The Addicts,” were barred temporarily because they had criminal records. The ban was lifted following appeals from Pentecostal churches where the group had scheduled engagements.
Addicts leader John Gimenez, 34, said they present an act aimed at showing the horrors of drug addiction. In addition to church appearances, the Addicts were scheduled to present a four-act singing drama at the University of British Columbia.
God And Man At Yale—1966
When in 1795 the Rev. Timothy Dwight became president of Yale, he undertook a campaign to lead students into a biblical faith. His scholarly rebuttals to naturalistic philosophy eventually paid off in a revival that swept the college during the spring of 1802. This spring, Dwight’s academic crusade in behalf of orthodox Christianity was being recalled in the midst of a controversy over students’ rights to evangelize. The liberally oriented religious establishment at Yale is saying that other groups “must not contravene in their activities on campus the developing discipline and consensus of the unified group ministry.”
Thus far, no evangelistic efforts have been restricted, but four tongues-speaking Pentecostal students suggest that the machinery has been set up for severe curtailments. In the pages of the university newspaper, the four warn fellow Yale men that establishment forces “could seize from every student his right to follow the dictates of conscience as to faith and practice.”
The controversy recalls a furor on the same campus more than fifteen years ago after the now-noted political conservative William F. Buckley came out with God and Man at Yale. The book charged that some Yale professors were undermining the religious faith of students.
The latest dispute apparently was triggered by efforts to evangelize Jewish students. This drew fire from the establishment, the “Yale Religious Ministry,” composed of chaplains and other religious workers officially accredited by the university. As the controversy developed, the four Pentecostals took sharp issue with a 780-word definitive statement drawn up for the YRM by a Roman Catholic priest and a Jewish rabbi and signed by twenty YRM members. It warns against emotionalism and says unified group ministry members should share their own religious convictions with a “seriously troubled person” only if “he has no spiritual home in his community—that is, no living contact with its teaching, worship, or members.”
Calvin B. Burrows, a senior in English literature and spokesman for the Pentecostals, asserts the declaration “strikes at the very heart of what Yale stands for.” “Religion,” he contends, “is supremely that most sensitive and intuitive pursuit of man, especially unimpressed by restrictive rules, numbers, accounting procedures, inter-faith trade agreements, and the consensus of religious bureaucrats.” Burrows grew up an Episcopalian. He says he was converted while a student at Groton.
Yale Chaplain William Sloane Coffin contends that the YRM document is an internal paper for the exclusive guidance of agencies that subscribe. Coffin concedes, however, that he looks with disfavor on evangelistic efforts such as those carried on by the Pentecostals. He has also accused Campus Crusade for Christ, another evangelical group, of using “devious methods” in the past.
Boyd Meets Byrd
Washington’s National Cathedral, as crowded as on Christmas Eve, had a brush with profanity last month as pop prayer writer Malcolm Boyd teamed with eminent jazz guitarist Charlie Byrd.
The listeners, an unchurchly-looking throng of young people, sat solemnly as Boyd read from his new book of modern-language prayers, Are You Running With Me, Jesus? His choppy, flat, nasal readings echoed through the high arches with eerie effect.
Much more promising were the imaginative improvisations of Byrd, acknowledged master in his field. He is a Unitarian.
Boyd, an ad man turned Episcopal priest, is an innovator and gadfly within his denomination. Some of his published chats with Jesus are vigorous, meaningful, and theologically apt. Sample: “It takes away my guilt when I blame your murder on the Jews, Jesus. Why should I feel guilty about it? I wasn’t there.…”
Others, sprinkled with “damns” and “hells,” are strange examples for a clergyman to offer for youth. One social protest prayer begins, “Blacks and whites make me angry, Lord. Why does it make any difference to some of us? For Christ’s sake, why does it, Lord?” The motif was picked up a few minutes later by a listener in the pews: “Jesus! These seats are hard!”
Clubs Succeed Classroom Devotions
A group known as Youth Club Program, Inc., is promoting church support of weekday religious instruction for public school students. The Supreme Court ban on classroom prayer and Bible reading has served as stimulus for the program, now in twenty-one states.
Activities vary from club to club, but most put priority on Bible study and discussion of Christian mission and stewardship. Clubs have sprung up in crime-ridden inner-city areas as well as in affluent suburbs. Training centers for club leaders are being established and special textbooks printed. A twelve-grade Bible-study curriculum has been developed.
The Youth Club Program had its start in the Pittsburgh area under the leadership of Dr. Dale K. Milligan, pastor of Beulah Presbyterian Church in suburban Churchill Borough.
One Slant On Peace
Peace is one of those things everybody is for. The trouble comes when you try to decide the who, how, and where of it. A set of answers came last month from a National Inter-Religious Conference on Peace, convened in Washington.
Whether by fate or masterful design, the conference mobilized religious voices opposed to current American foreign policy, while adding just enough ecclesiastical window dressing to make the conference seem authoritative.
After three days of parliamentary niceties, hard work, and some excellent scholarship, the 400 participants agreed that peace could be promoted if America recognized Red China as the government of the mainland, agreed to admit her to the United Nations, urge Nationalist Chinese withdrawal from Quemoy and Matsu, end all trade on non-strategic items with Red China, stop immediately all bombing in North and South Viet Nam, call a Viet Nam ceasefire (beginning on Good Friday), and recognize the National Liberation Front as a party to Viet Nam negotiations.
The list was similar to that in recent statements from the National and World Councils of Churches; but the conference was, in a sense, broader, since it included Roman Catholics, Jews, Ethical Culturists, Mormons, and Unitarians.
But those who came expecting a representative discussion of American foreign policy were disappointed. The persons invited to participate represented a particular peace line, with few voices in tune with the current Lyndon Johnson consensus and none to the right of that. Even so, Vice President Humphrey showed up late one night to say hello, and President Johnson sent over a note that said we must “isolate and control the deadliest of microbes—man’s capacity for hatred, his penchant for violence.”
The conference statements included no such dark note. Thoughtful assessments of international problems seemed blunted by the use of such euphemisms as Red China’s “involvement” with India on their border and her “reordering” of Tibetan society (the latter was changed to “communization”), and avoidance of nettlesome facts on Asia.
The co-chairmen of the event were Bishop John J. Wright (Pittsburgh Roman Catholic), the Rev. Dana McLean Greely (president, Unitarian Universalist Association), Bishop John Wesley Lord (Washington, D. C., Methodist), Archbishop Iakovos (Greek Orthodox primate), and Presiding Bishop John E. Hines (Episcopal). The latter two men issued general statements on peace but did not participate in the conference.
With this first conference as background, the next step is a global conference, with leaders from all the great world religions, to meet next year. The conference also urged the National Council of Churches, National Catholic Welfare Conference, and Synagogue Council of America, plus “other national religious bodies” (National Association of Evangelicals was mentioned by name) to set up a more official conference on “Religion and Peace.”
The Pope On Mixed Marriages
Pope Paul’s long-awaited Matrimoni Sacramentum, which affects the faith of an untold number of children to be born of mixed religious marriages, reopens a major ecumenical controversy. The 1500-word document was released March 18, days before the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury was to discuss marriage and other issues with the pope in Rome.
The key section apparently does not change the requirement that children of mixed marriages be baptized and educated as Catholics, but it removes responsibility from the non-Catholic for such training. If the non-Catholic is unable to promise before marriage he won’t interfere with Catholic upbringing, the case is referred to the Vatican.
Catholics who marry non-Catholics before non-Catholic clergymen will no longer be excommunicated (this is retroactive), and non-Catholic clergymen can now participate in mixed marriage ceremonies after the priest conducts the vows.
Birth Control Panel
It became official March 7: The Pope has himself a new blue-ribbon advisory commission on birth control headed by strongly conservative Alfredo Cardinal Ottaviani (see Mar. 18 issue, page 44). The commission, as initially drawn up, was composed of sixteen high-ranking prelates, mostly cardinals.
According to well-informed sources, the commission is said to be fairly well balanced with, as one spokesman put it, “a preponderance of moderates.”
Contrary to earlier reports, however, the commission membership does not yet include the liberal Paul-Emile Cardinal Leger of Montreal. Vatican sources indicated at first that Leger would be Ottaviani’s deputy.
The commission is expected to process the findings of a previous papal commission set up in 1964 to study the Roman Catholic Church’s traditional teaching on artificial birth control.
Ghana: Coincidental Coup
Baptists in Ghana climaxed an evangelistic crusade only a few hours before a coup overthrew Prime Minister Kwame Nkrumah on February 24. Two weeks of meetings in Accra, Kumasi, and Tamale resulted in 2,631 decisions for Christ. The evangelists included four Americans: Howard Jones and Ralph Bell of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Dr. Conrad Willard of Miami’s Central Baptist Church, and the Rev. Joseph Underwood of the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board.
Breach In Process
The Church of South India, long hailed as the most successful product of Christian ecumenism, is undergoing its first major schism. Some 269 churches embracing more than 80,000 members are reported to have severed their official ties with the church in a protest over theological liberalism, ritual, ecumenism, and caste discrimination. A new denomination is being formed that will seek affiliation with the International Council of Christian Churches.
Dr. Carl McIntire, ICCC president who visited the dissident Indian churchmen in January, said that the CSI’s Travancore and Cochin Diocese, which has Anglican roots, withdrew from all affiliation with the Church of South India on February 6 and voted to affiliate with the ICCC. He said that the new church will be inaugurated at a convocation on May 5, at which time also a bishop will be consecrated and deacons ordained.
Meanwhile, CSI leaders are trying to patch things up, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Arthur Michael Ramsay has sent an emissary from London to hear grievances and to try to negotiate a settlement. Ramsay has also written the leader of the dissidents, the Rev. V. J. Stephen, promising that complaints which Stephen voiced a year ago will be seriously considered by a special CSI synod commission.
McIntire is planning to attend the May 5 convocation along with James Parker Dees, a former priest of the U. S. Episcopal Church who claims apostolic succession. Dees, of Statesville, North Carolina, resigned the Episcopal priesthood more than two years ago in protest of trends in the denomination (he holds theological and social views similar to those of McIntire). He was subsequently consecrated bishop of a newly organized Anglican Orthodox Church by prelates from two small sects—one Ukrainian Orthodox and the other Old Catholic.
The Indian dissidents are in a famine-stricken area, and the ICCC is appealing for funds in their behalf (see story, page 52).
The total Christian population in India is about twelve million. The Church of South India claims a community of more than a million, about a third of whom are full members.
The Church of South India was formed in 1947 of churches founded by the Church Missionary Society (Anglican) as well as those of Congregational, Presbyterian, and Methodist missionary efforts in South India.
The dissidents who charge CSI leaders with theological and ecclesiastical deviations are primarily converts from the outcasts and untouchable classes of Hinduism.
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.