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A.J. Tomlinson’s Emerging Ecclesiology

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This study seeks to engage the question of how A.J. Tomlinson formulated the theological platform that influenced the ecclesiologies of various Churches of God. The cast includes R.G. Spurling and R. Frank Porter, a forgotten figure but one who, together with Spurling, organized the Holiness Church at Camp Creek in western North Carolina on May 15, 1902. I will argue that, absent the intervention of A.J. Tomlinson on June 13, 1903, the work of Spurling, Porter, and W.F. Bryant would have suffered the ill-fated demise common to hundreds of like works in Appalachia. Yet Tomlinson was more than an organizer; he was also someone who influenced the mission adopted by the early Church of God (Cleveland, TN). This article has particular relevance in the face of awakened sensitivities to Pentecostal ecclesiology in the light of the Edinburgh 1910 centenary celebrations around the world and the World Council of Churches’ working document, Nature and Mission of the Church. Here I will frame the discussion as a response to Dale Coulter’s article, “The Development of Ecclesiology in the Church of God (Cleveland, TN): A Forgotten Contribution?” in Pneuma: The Journal of the Society for Pentecostal Studies 29, no. 1 (2007): 59-85.

Affiliations: 1: IPHC Archives & Research Center P.O. Box 12609, Oklahoma City, OK 73157 USA, Email:


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