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The Spirit and the Bride Revisited: Pentecostalism, Renewal, and the Sense of History

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Early Pentecostalism embraced a historical narrative of restorationism that provided an apologetic for Pentecostal revivals by trumpeting the discontinuity with much of Christian tradition. As a counter to this restorationist historical narrative, I argue that early Pentecostalism transmitted a catholic spirituality, which explains not only how it fostered ecclesial renewal in other Christian traditions, but also offers a narrative of continuity with the history of Christianity. This catholic spirituality can be found in the way early Pentecostals fused together eschatological notions of the church as the bride with bridal mysticism to forge a theology of encounter that also offered an implicit renewal understanding of history. This fusion drew upon an eschatology of divine presence in which to encounter God was to live proleptically in the end. Restorationism, consequently, need not be tied to the narrative of discontinuity given in the latter rain, full gospel, and apostolic faith identity markers.

1. fn1* Dale M. Coulter (DPhil, Oxford University) is Associate Professor of Historical Theology at Regent University, Virginia Beach, VA, USA and also serves as coeditor of Pneuma, the journal of the Society for Pentecostal Studies.
2. fn21 See Edith Blumhofer, Restoring the Faith: The Assemblies of God, Pentecostalism, and American Culture (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1993), pp. 1-9; D. William Faupel, The Everlasting Gospel: The Significance of Eschatology in the Development of Pentecostal Thought (JPTSup, 10; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1996), pp. 19-43; Allan Anderson, ‘Varieties, Taxonomies, and Definitions’, in Allan Anderson et al. (eds.), Studying Global Pentecostalism: Theories and Methods (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2010), p. 22; Cecil M. Robeck, Jr, The Azusa Street Mission & Revival: The Birth of the Global Pentecostal Movement (Nashville: Nelson Reference & Electronic, 2006), pp. 119-22.
3. fn32 Blumhofer, Restoring the Faith, pp. 12-15.
4. fn43 Grant Wacker, Heaven Below: Early Pentecostals and American Culture (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001), p. 12.
5. fn54 Donald W. Dayton, Theological Roots of Pentecostalism (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1987), pp. 15-33; Faupel, The Everlasting Gospel, pp. 19-43. Dayton develops his model in terms of a common theological pattern emerging from the holiness movement to which Pentecostalism added Spirit baptism.
6. fn65 B.F. Lawrence, ‘The Apostolic Faith Restored’, in Three Early Pentecostal Tracts (New York: Garland Publishing, 1985).
7. fn76 See Walter Hollenweger, The Pentecostals (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1988), and idem, Pentecostalism: Origins and Developments Worldwide (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1997). It is Hollenweger’s work that most challenged the American narrative of early Pentecostalism. On this point, see Frank Macchia, ‘Baptized in the Spirit: Towards a Global Theology of Spirit Baptism’, in Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen (ed.), The Spirit in the World: Emerging Pentecostal Theologies in Global Contexts (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 2009), pp. 12-13.
8. fn87 See Michael Bergunder, ‘Constructing Indian Pentecostalism: On Issues of Methodology and Representation’, in Allan Anderson and Edmond Tang (eds.), Asian and Pentecostal: The Charismatic Face of Christianity in Asia (Oxford, UK: Regnum Books, 2005), p. 180, who suggests that the missionary movement of the 19th century must be viewed as a distinct historical root. Also, Gary McGee, Miracles, Missions, and American Pentecostalism (American Society of Missiology Series, 45; Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2010). McGee explores many of the links in the 19th century Protestant missionary movement. See also Keith Warrington, Pentecostal Theology: A Theology of Encounter (London: T & T Clark, 2008), who recognizes the importance of encounter for Pentecostalism and develops it although along different lines than I do. I am attempting to provide a historical narrative that affirms his theological intuitions.
9. fn98 See Walter Hollenweger, Pentecostalism: Origins and Development, pp. 144-52.
10. fn109 D. Wesley Myland, The Latter Rain Covenant and Pentecostal Power, in Three Early Pentecostal Tracts (New York: Garland Publishing, 1985), p. 103. Myland states, ‘Now you see right following this outpouring of the Holy Spirit in this “latter rain” time, is the gather of God’s people, the quickening of His people, bringing them into unity for His last work, and immediately following that, comes the tribulation’.
11. fn1110 Myland, Latter Rain, p. 109.
12. fn1211 Peter Althouse, Spirit of the Last Days: Pentecostal Eschatology in Conversation with Jürgen Moltmann ( JPTSup, 25; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2003), pp. 9-60.
13. fn1312 Wacker, Heaven Below, p. 12.
14. fn1413 There has been a host of literature discussing the problematic nature of premillennial dispensationalism for Pentecostal thought. For the literature, see Peter Althouse, Spirit of the Last Days, and Peter Althouse and Robby Waddell (eds.), Perspectives in Pentecostal Eschatologies: World Without End (Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2010).
15. fn1514 Steve Land, Pentecostal Spirituality: A Passion for the Kingdom (JPTSup, 1; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1993), pp. 182-219; Frank Macchia, Spirituality and Social Liberation: The Message of the Blumhardts in the Light of Wuerttemberg Pietism (PWS, 4; Metuchen: Scarecrow Press, 1993); idem, Baptized in the Spirit (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2006), pp. 38-49; Amos Yong, In the Days of Caesar: Pentecostalism and Political Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans), pp. 316-58.
16. fn1615 Donald Dayton, Theological Roots of Pentecostalism, p. 28.
17. fn1716 Robeck, Azusa Street Mission and Revival, pp. 110-11.
18. fn1817 See James Goff, Fields White Unto Harvest: Charles F. Parham and the Missionary Origins of Pentecostalism (Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1988), pp. 45-47, 55, 58-60. Parham lists ‘baptism of fire’, Apostolic Faith 1 (March 22, 1899), p. 8.
19. fn1918 See Frank W. Sandford, ‘Editorial’, Tongues of Fire 3.1-2 (January 1, 1897), pp. 1-2, 10-11; ‘The Everlasting Gospel Mission’, Tongues of Fire 3.5 (March 1, 1897), pp. 41-42, which mentions that Brother Leger’s wife felt led to ‘speak on the necessity of our receiving the gifts of the Spirit’. Also, Frank W. Sandford, ‘Immovable Christianity’, Tongues of Fire 3.6 (March 15, 1897), pp. 49-51.
20. fn2019 Frank W. Sandford, ‘Tarry Until’, Tongues of Fire 3.5 (March 1, 1897), pp. 37-38. Sandford published letters about Rev. W.S. Black, Mrs. Black, and Miss Glassey ‘who had been so marvelously blessed with the gifts of tongues, and were about to start for Africa’ (p. 37). See also ‘Going on Still’, Tongues of Fire 3.7 (April 1, 1897), pp. 54-55, which includes a report from Jennie Glassey. And, see W.N. Gleason, ‘The Apostle Paul’, Tongues of Fire 3.8 (April 15, 1897), pp. 66-68, in which Gleason lists the ‘gift of tongues’ as the first sign of Paul’s ministry and then mentions Glassey who had gone to Africa. See also McGee, Miracles, Missions, & American Pentecostalism, pp. 69-73, in which McGee traces out the Glassey story.
21. fn2120 Frank W. Sandford, ‘Shiloh’, Tongues of Fire 3.15 (August 1, 1897), p. 129. See also ‘Letter from Reginald Young’, Tongues of Fire 3.14 (July 15, 1897), p. 113. Young notes that he had hoped to receive the gift of tongues when he arrived in Brazil but was disappointed.
22. fn2221 Charles Parham, A Voice Crying in the Wilderness (New York: Garland Publishing, 1985), pp. 30-31. Two statements of Parham suggest that he connected the gift of tongues to Spirit baptism. First, Parham states that the personal work of the Holy Spirit is a ‘gift not a grace’ like justification and sanctification. Secondly, he quotes 1 Cor. 14.21 about judgment coming through foreign tongues. Finally, several newspaper reports Sarah Parham preserves from Kansas City indicate that Parham arrived there in 1901 proclaiming that his students were ‘endowed with the Apostolic “Gift of Tongues”’ and ‘when asked to explain the gift of tongues, a student said, “When the gift came from God, we could speak different languages”’ (Sarah Parham, Life of Charles Parham, Founder of the Apostolic Faith Movement [New York: Garland Publishing, 1985], pp. 72-73).
23. fn2322 Sarah Parham, Life of Charles H. Parham, p. 60.
24. fn2423 Ethel E. Goss, The Winds of God: The Story of the Early Pentecostal Movement (1901-1914) in the Life of Howard A. Goss (Hazelwood, MO: Word Aflame Press, 1994), p. 101.
25. fn2524 J. Hudson Ballard, ‘Spiritual Gifts With Special Reference to the Gift of Tongues’, Living Truths 7.1 (January 1907), pp. 23-31; Joseph Smale, ‘The Gift of Tongues’, Living Truths 7.1 (January 1907), pp. 32-43.
26. fn2625 See The Apostolic Faith 1.1 (September 1906), 1.4; ‘Tennessee Evangelist Witnesses’, The Apostolic Faith 1.6 (February-March 1907), 7.1-2.
27. fn2726 See Robeck, Azusa Street Mission and Revival, p. 153.
28. fn2827 ‘The Enduement of Power’, The Apostolic Faith 1.4 (December 1906), 2.1.
29. fn2928 The number of references to bridal imagery increase with the January issue. Seymour’s articles dealing with bridal themes are ‘Behold the Bridegroom Cometh’, The Apostolic Faith 1.5 (January 1907), 2.1-2; ‘Rebecca: Type of the Bride of Christ’, The Apostolic Faith 1.6 (February-March 1907), 2.3-4; ‘The Holy Ghost and the Bride’, The Apostolic Faith 2.13 (May 1908), 4.4.
30. fn3029 ‘The Heavenly Anthem’, The Apostolic Faith 1.5 (January 1907), 3.4.
31. fn3130 W.J. Seymour, ‘Rebecca: Type of the Bride of Christ’, The Apostolic Faith 1.6 (February-March 1907), 2.3-4.
32. fn3231 See. W.B. Godbey and Seth Rees, The Return of Jesus, in Six Tracts (New York: Garland Publishing, 2005), pp. 26-39.
33. fn3332 W.J. Seymour, ‘The Holy Ghost and the Bride’, The Apostolic Faith 2.13 (May 1908), 4.4.
34. fn3433 As cited in Doug Beacham, Azusa East: The Life and Times of G.B. Cashwell (Franklin Springs, GA: LSR Publications, 2006), pp. 102-4.
35. fn3534 G.B. Cashwell, ‘Pentecostal Evidence’, The Apostolic Evangel 1.4 (April 3, 1907), p. 3.
36. fn3635 ‘G.B. Cashwell’s Letter’, The Holiness Advocate 7.4 (June 1, 1907), p. 5.
37. fn3736 G.F. Taylor, The Spirit and the Bride, in Three Early Pentecostal Tracts (New York: Garland Publishing, 1985).
38. fn3837 George Watson, Coals of Fire: Being Expositions of Scripture on the Doctrine, Experience, and Practice of Christian Holiness (Cincinnati: God’s Revivalist Office, 1886).
39. fn3938 Taylor, The Spirit and the Bride, p. 121.
40. fn4039 See George Watson, Coals of Fire, pp. 94-111, 128. Taylor nowhere explicitly mentions spiritual senses, but his understanding of the Spirit’s operations seems deeply informed by Watson. Cf. T, Spirit and Bride, pp. 15-18.
41. fn4140 On the historical links see Heather Curtis, ‘The Global Character of Nineteenth-Century Divine Healing’, in Candy Gunther Brown (ed.), Global Pentecostal and Charismatic Healing (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), pp. 29-48.
42. fn4241 Confidence 1 (April 1908), p. 13.
43. fn4342 A.M. Watt, ‘Out of His Treasure’, Supplement to Confidence 3 (June 30, 1908), p. 3.
44. fn4443 A.A. Boddy, ‘“Tongues” as a Seal of Pentecost’, Confidence 1 (April 1908), p. 18.
45. fn4544 A.A. Boddy, ‘The Gift of Tongues’, Confidence 2 (May 1908), p. 4.
46. fn4645 Giles Constable, The Reformation of the Twelfth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), pp. 1-43.
47. fn4746 Bernard of Clairvaux, On Loving God: With An Analytical Commentary by Emero Stiegman (Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian Publications, 1995). For Latin text, see Liber de diligendo deo, Jean LeClercq et al. (eds.), Sancti Bernardi opera (Rome: Editiones Cisterciensis, 1963), pp. 119-54.
48. fn4847 Bernard describes love (amor) as a natural affection (affectio naturalis) (On Loving God 8.23 [p. 25]; Sancti Bernardi Opera, vol. 3, 138.6).
49. fn4948 Les douze patriarches (Benjamin minor), critical text and translation by J. Châtillon and M. Duchet-Suchaux, introduction, notes, and index by J. Longère ( Sources Chrétiennes, 419; Paris: Les Editions du Cerf, 1997); Grover Zinn, Richard of St. Victor: The Twelve Patriarchs, the Mystical Ark and Book Three of the Trinity (New York: Paulist Press, 1979).
50. fn5049 Richard of St. Victor, De arca mystica 5.1-3; Zinn, Richard of St. Victor, pp. 308-14.
51. fn5150 Catherine of Genoa: Purgation and Purgatory, The Spiritual Dialogue (trans. and notes by S. Hughes; New Jersey: Paulist Press, 1979), p. 71.
52. fn5251 For the rule of the Genoese Oratory, see John C. Olin (ed.), The Catholic Reformation: Savonarola to Ignatius Loyola (New York: Fordham University Press, 1992), pp. 16-26.
53. fn5352 Heiko A. Oberman, ‘Simul Gemitus et Raptus: Luther and Mysticism’, in The Dawn of the Reformation: Essays in Late Medieval and Early Reformation Thought (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1992), pp. 126-54. The essay was originally published in Steven E. Ozment (ed.), Reformation in Medieval Perspective (Chicago, IL: Quadrangle Books, 1971), pp. 219-51.
54. fn5453 See Martin Luther, D. Martin Luthers Werke: Kritische Gesamtausgaber [Schriften] (Weimar: Böhlhaus, 1883-), vol. 4:205. pp. 23-36.
55. fn5554 See also Steven Ozment, Homo Spiritualis: A Comparative Study of the Anthropology of Johannes Tauler, Jean Gerson, and Martin Luther (1509-1516) in the Context of Their Theological Thought (Leiden: Brill, 1969), pp. 197-208.
56. fn5655 See Andreas Bodenstein, ‘The Meaning of the Term Gelassen’, in The Essential Carlstadt ed. and trans. Edward J. Furcha (Harrisonburg, VA: Herald Press, 1995), pp. 133-68.

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