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Aimee Semple McPherson and Her Seriously Exciting Gospel

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Aimee Semple McPherson (1890-1944)—charismatic revivalist and founder of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel—was better known for her spell-binding performances and personal escapades than for her ideas. But, in fact, she was as serious about theology as she was about putting on a good show. McPherson's 'deeper teachings', as she called them, didn't reach the masses because they could not be easily packaged for the tabloid newspapers, radio, or stage. Had McPherson's many detractors read her written works, which are examined in this paper, they would have found a theology that was serious yet lively, complex, comprehensive, and morally demanding. Weaving together elements of nineteenth-century American revivalism, a mix of Arminian and Calvinist doctrine, and her own mystical interpretations of scripture, Aimee Semple McPherson created a distinctive theology for the new Pentecostal movement.

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