"There is Magic in Print": The Holiness-Pentecostal Press and the Origins of Southern Pentecostalism Part II

Randall J. Stephens/The University of Florida

Black and white holiness folks integrated their newspapers by featuring the work of black and white evangelists within their publications. C. P. Jones reported on white holiness activities in South Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee in his journal, Truth (Jackson Mississippi). Jones lauded the efforts of leading white southern evangelists such as J. M. Pike, N. J. Holmes, and Charlie Tillman. Simultaneously, white-operated papers like The Christian Witness and Zion's Outlook featured African-American evangelists in their pages and published editorials by leading back holiness ministers.(41) In Georgia, the white holiness leader W. A. Dodge lent his support to black holiness ministers like W. J. Adams. There is evidence that Dodge's own paper, The Way of Life, maintained a significant black readership. In the pages of The Pentecostal Herald, Adams recalled that quite a number of African-Americans in Georgia, "subscribed [to] this paper, and took it as long as he published it. Dodge, also, sold holiness books and tracts, and a few of the [African-American] preachers went to his home for these books and papers so often until we called it the 'Power House.'" Concerned with the spread of holiness among African-Americans, Dodge encouraged Adams to publish his own paper and helped name the new periodical, The Herald of Full Salvation.(42) The holiness press served as a type of liminal space where blacks and whites could interact and freely share their ideas about Christian perfection.

"Holiness people, mainline church leaders protested, disrupted congregations and communities, and stirred up theological controversy wherever they ventured."

At the apex of the Jim Crow era the Fire Baptized Holiness Church and the Church of God (Cleveland) proved exceptional with regard to interracialism. Few southerners approved of holiness views on race. In fact, some evangelists like the Fire Baptized Richard Baxter Hayes bore reproach for challenging racial norms. After asking a few African-Americans to lead in song at an 1898 revival in Carlton, Georgia, "a man who weighed over two hundred pounds" confronted Hayes, brandishing a stick and accusing Hayes of "showing Negro equality." For Hayes's breaches in racial, social, and religious etiquette his meeting tents were burned down several times, a Baptist minister punched him in the face, he was shot at, and regularly faced hostile crowds.

Like Hayes, the holiness preacher B. H. Irwin often drew protests in communities where he held meetings. The radical Irwin introduced to southerners further works of grace beyond sanctification and helped create a contentious climate in the years before Pentecostalism arrived. Conflict and social upheaval followed Irwin wherever he ministered, be it in the West or the South. The Way of Faith recounted one such instance in which "masked murderers" broke up Irwin's meeting by firing revolvers and throwing chairs at congregants. Most likely these local toughs lashed out at the preacher who night after night condemned their many vices. Irwin escaped without injury, confirming his saintliness, wrote the columnist reporting on the affair. A similar melee occurred at an African-American holiness revival in Lexington, Mississippi. In 1897, C. P. Jones and C. H. Mason, founders of what would become the Church of God in Christ, held open-air meetings after being barred from a local Baptist church. Amid one service a sniper opened fire on the congregation wounding several attendees. Mason remained optimistic. Elated, he noted that a local newspaper reported the episode. As a result, news of the holiness movement spread throughout the area.(43)

Photo of A.J. Tomlinson
A. J. Tomlinson, key founder of the Church of God (Cleveland), working diligently at his home office in Cleveland, Tennessee. Courtesy of the Hal Bernard Dixon Jr. Pentecostal Research Center, Church of God

Others seemed to court confrontation as if to prove their anointing. Soon after A. J. Tomlinson began publishing a small holiness paper in Culberson, North Carolina, he encountered strong opposition to his views.(44) In August, 1901, Tomlinson was approached by a Baptist minister enraged by what he read in Tomlinson's paper, Samson's Foxes. The minister believed Tomlinson exaggerated the spiritual and material squalor of poor southerner whites in the area. Unable to take such criticisms lightly, and equipped with an enormous ego, Tomlinson surmised that his antagonist was unknowingly fighting against God. This and a series of other confrontations, including vandals firing bullets into Tomlinson's home at night, put the holiness preacher and his family in grave danger. Recounting violent incidents like these in his paper, he reasoned, affirmed the holiness cause.

Holiness and later pentecostal churches also faced attacks for upsetting life in mill towns. In 1910, a tumultuous pentecostal tent meeting in Alabama City, Alabama kept workers up late, infuriating mill bosses and local residents. Leaders of the community stepped in to counter the revivalists' work. Owners of a nearby cotton mill continued to operate into the night in order to keep workers away from the meetings. The Gadsen Evening Journal and The Gadsen Daily News satirized the revival and reported on the religious frenzy occurring there. The preacher leading the event retaliated, hurling epithets at the Gasden editors. Town officials accused the pentecostals of disturbing the peace, and attempted to place a 9:00 p.m. curfew on the gathering. When this did not work, police arrested the revival's leaders while vigilantes burned meeting tents and chairs.(45) These struggles, vividly narrated in the local press, meant genuinely different things to holiness and pentecostal believers on one hand and secular authorities on the other. For the former it became a cosmic struggle between God's people and demonic forces. For the latter it seemed to represent order against communal breakdown and chaos. Community leaders were rightly troubled. Holiness and then pentecostal converts were empowered in such a way that they felt an overwhelming sense of religious and social superiority. Local opposition, always diabolical, only confirmed them in their spiritual pursuits.

Perhaps the most fierce confrontations of all were those which unfolded within the pages of southern denominational papers. Southern Baptists and Methodists could not bear holiness doctrinal hubris any more than they could tolerate their ecstatic worship practices. Holiness people, mainline church leaders protested, disrupted congregations and communities, and stirred up theological controversy wherever they ventured. In the Methodist Episcopal Church, South's official organ, the Christian Advocate, one writer blasted the religious bigotry of exclusivist holiness folk. "This sort of medievaelism," he inveighed, "is a gross anachronism, out of place in the nineteenth century." Other southern Methodists recoiled at what they considered the pious pretensions of the movement. Of course, holiness adherents did tend to describe the Spirit's leading as an intimate affair. On this account, one southern Methodist official satirized them on the front page of the Christian Advocate. It was, he scoffed, as if they had a private wire running into the heavens, "along which they receive direct instructions from God concerning all the petty and trivial details of their daily conduct." If nothing else, anti-holiness commentators could dismiss the faithful for not living up to their supposed ideals. In The Religious Herald a Virginia Baptist man described the failings of one adherent who was his neighbor. Though this sanctified sister claimed to be without sin, she did not offer any help when the layman's wife became seriously ill. She did, bemused the author, send over a newspaper that advocated her strange new beliefs.(46)

Holiness stalwarts easily shrugged off such criticisms. Holiness folk and pentecostals found deep meaning in all forms of physical and emotional suffering. Both published their many persecutions and trials in their newspapers with an air of satisfaction. Their expectancy that God would restore the New Testament Church on earth gave them a heightened sense of mission. Moreover, if the apostles were persecuted for their radical views, they reported, we are only following in their well-worn paths.

Just as uprooted holiness people longed for a return to the old-fashioned religious zeal of their youth, they also yearned for the restoration of the true Church. Social critic W. J. Cash observed that holiness churches held themselves to be "[t]he one true Church among a host of Byzantine pretenders . . ."(47) Accordingly, a pronounced primitivist streak, long the hallmark of America's new and more radical sects, was especially strong within southern holiness groups. Holiness leaders proclaimed this restorationist message repeatedly in their publications and facilitated a climate of expectancy among the movement's followers. They called for a return to "Christ and the apostles, to the days of pure primitive Christianity, [and] to the inspired word of truth."(48)

"When news of the Azusa Street revival reached the South in 1906, heralding a restoration of New Testament Christianity, it took hold of much of the holiness movement, re-forming it along pentecostal lines."

A radical holiness group in Kansas took restorationism one step further. In January, 1901, The Kansas City Times, the Kansas City Journal, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Topeka Daily Capital, the Topeka State Journal, and the Chicago Blade began reporting on an unusual revival led by holiness evangelist Charles Fox Parham. Using the Pentecost account in Acts chapter two, Parham and the students of his Topeka bible school concluded that speaking in tongues was the necessary confirmation of Holy Spirit baptism. Theological subtleties were lost on the secular press, which announced, "Parham's New Religion," "New Sect in Kansas Speaks with Strange Tongues," "A Queer Faith," and "Strange Gibberish. 'Students' Talk But No One Understands Them."(49)

Parham's own paper, Apostolic Faith, never spread the news of the Topeka revival as thoroughly as did the secular press. Despite wide reaching reports, this first wave of Pentecostalism remained regional, limited primarily to Kansas, Missouri, Texas, and Arkansas.(50) The next phase of the movement, following the revival at Azusa Street, bore Parham's imprint. However, through massive holiness-pentecostal press coverage the West coast revival became much more influential than its Midwestern precursor.(51)

When news of the Azusa Street revival reached the South in 1906, heralding a restoration of New Testament Christianity, it took hold of much of the holiness movement, re-forming it along pentecostal lines. The Apostolic Faith, published from Azusa Street beginning in September 1906, reached thousands of anxious southerners who pored over its pages in anticipation of the baptism of the Holy Ghost. The first issue ran 5,000 copies, but by May 1908 the Azusa Street mission was publishing 50,000 copies every month. This paper reported the activities of the Los Angeles revival and served as a forum for burgeoning pentecostal sects scattered around the globe.(52) Certain papers, including the Apostolic Faith, were so revered that they were thought to have curative, nearly magical powers. Some adherents believed that "when applied like a balm to the site of infirmity," these newspapers would bring relief to converts. The Apostolic Faith's power of persuasion was immense.(53)

Along with the Apostolic Faith, the southern radical holiness press proved crucial to the transmission of Azusa's pentecostal message. Leaders like Frank Bartleman eagerly promoted the Azusa message in southern holiness and pentecostal papers. Bartleman wrote glowing editorials. He provocatively recounted the miracles at Asuza in the Way of Faith, the Apostolic Faith, Word and Work (Frammingham, Massachusetts) and a number of other periodicals.(54) Soon after the revival began in April 1906, The Holiness Advocate, published in Clinton, North Carolina, featured it in its pages. The editor of The Holiness Advocate, Reverend A. B. Crumpler of the Pentecostal Holiness Church, wrote that he had sent out "scores of letters of inquiry to persons who have been in touch with the work [at Azusa] from the beginning." And he, like others, became "profoundly convinced that God is in the movement."(55) Not only did many radical holiness papers give approval to the Azusa revival, they also began to question the sufficiency of holiness doctrine and experience. The challenge prompted many holiness believers to withdraw from the movement and declare allegiance to Pentecostalism.

Other papers rapidly became instruments of this process. Shortly after the California revival began, reports of it soon appeared in J. M. Pike's South Carolina-based The Way of Faith. This paper reprinted accounts of men and women speaking in tongues and performing miracles at Azusa. The editor convinced many holiness people that they had somehow been denied the full gospel. A North Carolina holiness preacher, Gaston Barnabas Cashwell, reasoned accordingly and wrote in to The Apostolic Faith with his testimonial:

I began to read in the Way of Faith the reports of meetings in [the] Azusa Mission, Los Angeles. I had been preaching holiness for nine years, but my soul began to hunger and thirst for the fullness of God . . . After praying and weeping before God for many days, [Jesus] put it into my heart to go to Los Angeles to seek the baptism with the Holy Ghost.(56)

Cashwell made the long journey West in November 1906. Once at Azusa, however, he recoiled at the interracial fellowship he found there. But soon he overcame his prejudice and asked Seymour and other African-American ministers in attendance to pray that he might receive the baptism. Subsequently, Cashwell spoke in tongues and felt empowered to return South as an evangelist of Pentecost.(57)

photo of Evangel Press workers
The Evangel press at Pilot Point, Texas, circa 1908. This holiness press and others like it served as models for early pentecostal publishing houses. Courtesy of The Nazarene Archives, Church of the Nazarene

After returning from Azusa, Cashwell went to Dunn, North Carolina, and rented a tobacco warehouse to hold a revival through December and January. He intended Dunn to be a virtual re-enactment of Azusa. It was: with healings, speaking in tongues, interracial fellowship, and mystical religious experiences. The southern holiness press also reported on the Dunn revival and helped encourage the uninitiated to seek their "Pentecost." Not long afterwards, Cashwell mounted a barnstorming tour of the South. He preached his new message in Memphis, Tennessee; High Point, North Carolina; Danville, Virginia; West Union, Clinton, and Lake City, South Carolina; Toccoa and Valdosta, Georgia; and Birmingham, Alabama. But perhaps Cashwell's most effective tool was his new paper, The Bridegroom's Messenger, published in Atlanta. In the October 1, 1907, inaugural issue, he forthrightly summarized its singular purpose: "we believe that . . . the South [should] have a paper in which nothing contrary to this great Pentecostal truth is allowed to enter."(58) At first Cashwell printed 4,000 monthly issues, but by September 1908 he was publishing 8,000 copies per month. Half of these were sent out for free, the other by subscription. The Bridegroom's Messenger became the mouthpiece for Pentecostalism in the Southeast. It published announcements for revivals throughout the region, and it gave considerable space for testimonies. Moreover, the paper ran features that cultivated the nascent movement's theology. Consequently, Cashwell's paper and his tireless evangelism helped guide the Church of God (Cleveland), the Fire Baptized Holiness Church, and the Pentecostal Holiness Church into the pentecostal fold.(59)

A few months after Cashwell embraced the Azusa message and began his tour of the South, Charles Harrison Mason, a leader of the Memphis-based African-American Church of God In Christ, also made the pilgrimage to Azusa. Writing to the Apostolic Faith in 1907, Mason remarked, "I had a great desire to come to Los Angeles. I had preached the Pentecost to my people and they were hungry for it." The outbreak on the West coast, Mason surmised, was prophecy fulfilled. Once at Azusa, Mason recalled that he "surrendered perfectly to [Christ] and consented to Him." Next, he began singing a song in "unknown tongues" and received what he described as an agonizing vision of Christ's crucifixion. After this experience, he felt confirmed that the Church of God in Christ must adopt the pentecostal message. Following a disagreement with the non-pentecostal wing of his denomination, Mason led his camp into the movement. Like his contemporaries, he soon began publishing his own pentecostal paper, The Whole Truth, which served to unify the otherwise loosely organized new church.

After initially reading about Azusa, Mason and Cashwell expressed a longing to receive something more than what they thought the holiness movement could provide. However, not only did the holiness movement come under suspicion for being inadequate in their eyes, so too did numerous independent sects and denominations, including Southern Methodists, Southern Baptists, and Free-Will Baptists. Editors of the southern radical holiness press seized on the tensions between established churches and newer sects and printed up accounts of religious dissatisfaction in their papers. In this manner, The Evening Light and Church of God Evangel (Cleveland, Tennessee) published a letter from a Baptist preacher to his wife. The clergyman described his heightened attraction to the ecstatic pentecostals. After explaining how devotees spoke in tongues, performed healings, and seemingly cast out devils at a revival, he exclaimed: "Compared with [the Pentecostal Revival], any meeting of Baptists is as the silence of death."(60) Similarly, G. G. Miller, a pentecostal minister, concluded that traditional churches had become ineffective or spiritually dead. In July, 1908 he wrote to The Way of Faith, describing revival services he held in Berrydale, Florida. Shortly after setting up his tent between a Methodist and a Mormon church, he denounced the Methodists and asked the local minister to "show five conversions in ten years," but the preacher could not. Triumphant, Miller reported that after two weeks of meetings, he saw "thirty-six professions [at] the altar; three reclaimed, sixteen converted, eleven sanctified and six Baptized with the Holy Ghost."(61) For these preachers and others like them who corresponded with the emerging pentecostal press, the sedate forms of conventional evangelicalism could not compete with the liberating emotionalism of the new sect.

"State denominational as well as holiness papers went on the defensive and warned readers to guard themselves against the fanaticism of 'tonguers.'"

State denominational as well as holiness papers went on the defensive and warned readers to guard themselves against the fanaticism of "tonguers." These public conflicts replicated some of the same tensions that once existed between mainline groups and the holiness movement. In some ways though the stakes were even higher now. A Methodist minister in Florida who once battled local independent holiness bands soon encountered a new nemesis, Pentecostalism. In the pages of The Florida Christian Advocate he cautioned Florida Methodists to beware of the "tongue crowd" or "fanaticism gone to seed." This new zealous sect drew many members away from his church while threatening his pastoral authority.(62) The holiness movement seemed tame by comparison. Southern Baptist also mounted an attack. An article which appeared in a 1908 issue of the Baptist Argus (Louisville, Kentucky) is characteristic of this posture. Following an investigation of tongues speech, this paper published its findings. Non-pentecostal missionaries from India, China, and Japan were cited in order to disprove the validity of the gift. One missionary described what he heard spoken by pentecostals as unintelligible, little resembling actual languages.(63) In the competitive sphere of foreign missions allegiance was critical.

The ensuing skirmish that broke out between non-tongues speaking holiness people and pentecostals might resemble what Sigmund Freud called "the narcissism of minor differences." Yet, for all the similarities between the two groups, the conflict took the form of outright warfare. The success of Pentecostalism in the South often depended on the competitive drive against traditional religion. Moreover, according to Grant Wacker, the new pentecostal message compelled converts to attest that their former religious experiences were not just incomplete, but inauthentic. Such challenges were ubiquitous in pentecostal papers. This, of course, infuriated those who stayed within the holiness movement.(64) Editors of non-pentecostal holiness papers crowded their pages with vitriolic screeds against what they called "tongues people." The tongues movement was "An Open Door for Heresy," "A Confusion of the Devil," full of "BORDER LAND HOLINESS PEOPLE," and backsliders.(65)

Yet, southern pentecostals thought mainline evangelicals and holiness folk impeded spiritual freedom when they failed to accept pentecostal doctrine and practice. Bearing so close a resemblance to Pentecostalism, the holiness movement came under particular suspicion. Whereas holiness people espoused only two works of grace (salvation and sanctification), most southern pentecostals adopted a third: Holy Ghost baptism, culminating in tongues speech. They referred to their faith as the Full Gospel and in the incipient pentecostal press, new converts to the movement criticized holiness experience as incomplete.(66)

Testimonies of the three works of grace, instead of two, crowded the pages of these papers. Personal salvation histories, written and read by inductees, revealed how pentecostals imagined and constructed their religious community in line with Azusa. Typical of these was E. G. Murrah's, who entitled his testimony "Three Epochs in My Life." Writing from Atlanta to The Bridegroom's Messenger, Murrah reminisced about his salvation fifty-five years before, and his sanctification some thirty years later. Though not entirely satisfied, Murrah felt something lacking and upon contact with pentecostals he sought and received the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Murrah soon spoke in tongues and rhapsodized, "never in my life of over 55 years on the way to heaven did I feel so . . . full of glory and of God."(67)

The new sect offered to overwhelm human emotions, washing away despair through the hope of euphoric religious experience. Pentecostal experience might also serve as a great leveler. Eager southerners read that at Azusa no distinctions were made to differentiate who could receive the gifts of the Spirit. The gift of foreign tongues, for instance, required no former education or cultural experience. Indeed, as at Azusa, in the South social and cultural distinctions were purposefully confounded. At a revival in Southern Pines, North Carolina, narrated in the June 1906 issue of The Holiness Advocate, Anna Kelly described how a "sister McLaughlin" received the gift of language. In confirmation of this experience she recounted, "a highly educated doctor of Southern Pines told me he could understand what [sister McLaughlin] said except one word, and that she spoke the purest Latin." Kelly continued, God "is just as able to give languages as He is to confound them."(68)

Photo of Azusa Street Mission leadership
Leaders of the Azusa Street mission. W. J. Seymour is seated in the front row, second from right. Courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center, Assemblies of God, Springfield, Missouri

Racial and gender divisions were also not as clearly demarcated as they were in society or in mainline churches. The holiness movement set the tone for this, offering women and African-Americans opportunities unavailable elsewhere.(69) Nowhere was this perhaps more clear than in the Church of God Anderson, which struggled to maintain interracial communion and some degree of gender equality throughout its history.(70) In the earliest years, female holiness evangelists like Maria Woodworth-Etter were extremely popular among both southern whites and African-Americans. She, like others, frequently preached to racially integrated crowds in the region.(71) Writing in The Holiness Advocate, one woman maintained that when a believer received the baptism with the Holy Ghost, she would come to see that scripture did not prohibit women from preaching. For her it was clear, "God don't call all women to preach neither does He call all men to preach. But if He does call and they fail to obey—woe is pronounced upon them." At Azusa this tradition continued. The Apostolic Faith published testimonials from both men and women, African-Americans and whites. In theory and in practice the Spirit was said not to discriminate by color or sex. As such, potentially anyone could be a spiritual conduit.(72) It is doubtful, however, that Azusa's egalitarian message was received with equal enthusiasm in the southeast.(73)

The southern pentecostal press only occasionally broached the subject of race. Even periodicals edited by African-Americans, including Whole Truth and Voice in the Wilderness, showed remarkable inattention to matters of racial justice. Yet, when the press did grapple with issues of race, it must have made a strong impact upon its readers.(74) A. A. Boddy, an English participant at Azusa, commented on the astounding interracialism of the revival in his paper Confidence (Sunderland, England). Cashwell simultaneously reprinted Boddy's stunning observations in The Bridegroom's Messenger:

One of the remarkable things was that preachers of the Southern States were willing and eager to go over to those negro people at Los Angeles and have fellowship with them, and through their prayers receive the same blessing. The most wonderful thing was that, when those white preachers came back to the Southern States, they were not ashamed to say before their own congregations that they had been worshipping with negroes, and had received some of the same wonderful blessings that had been poured out on them.(75)

Black and white southern pentecostals attended tent revivals together and wrote in each others papers. But there were limits to the degree of interaction. When necessary, southern pentecostals evaded reprises for race mixing by segregating their tent meetings, or by having blacks and whites meet at separate times.(76) The extent of gender and racial equality in the South should not be exaggerated. Social equality was not pentecostals' primary concern. Moreover, the Pentecostal Revival emanating from Azusa offered a type of spiritual liberation that transcended, they thought, more immediate forms of social liberation.(77)

While holiness and pentecostal writers occasionally addressed racial and gender inequalities in their papers, they showed extreme inattention if not hostility to politics and social issues. One looks in vain for references to labor, voting rights, economic distress, or lynching in their publications. They were obsessed with exposing duplicitous Methodist and Baptist ministers and denouncing pleasures of the flesh, but said nothing about Robber Barons or the unfair treatment of workers. There are few exceptions. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries certain holiness periodicals like The Pentecostal Herald and The Battle Axe (Danville, Virginia) championed the prohibitionist cause. Their zeal for prohibition was just as equally matched by fervent anti-tobacco crusading. Such specific moral interests seldom worked their way into larger political concerns. A poem entitled "FOR WHOM WILL YOU VOTE" printed in an 1894 issue of The Revivalist well illustrates holiness and pentecostal attitudes toward politics. "I am one of God's electioneering agents," the poet declared. "[I]n this contest men, women, and children can vote. Then vote for Jesus! Vote for Jesus!! Vote for Jesus!!!"(78)

When initiates rhapsodized about the revival, they seldom referred to the fact that it brought some form of gender, racial, or political equality. Instead, they recounted its spiritually transformative possibilities. And reading of the signs and spiritual wonders at Azusa, southern converts to Pentecostalism craved similar experiences. The sect's newspapers advertised what converts needed. Simultaneously they met those needs and provided believers with a new vocabulary of expression.(79) Most of those who sought "their Pentecost" were not disappointed. In his published testimony, Reverend R. F. Wellons recounted the gravity of his salvation and sanctification experiences, yet he commented that when he read of the California revival, he "began to hunger and thirst after more of the real water of life." Similarly, Berta Maxwell of Fayetteville, North Carolina wrote that after she read of Azusa she "became hungry for a deeper death to self and a fuller something."(80) Because of the extensive press coverage of Azusa, some knew more clearly what they sought after and were able to voice their needs accordingly. M. H. Alexander, writing to The Bridegroom's Messenger from Pasley, North Carolina, epitomized this pattern:

In the Fall of 1906 I began to read how the power was falling in California and people were speaking in tongues and the sick were being healed . . . My heart began to leap within me; I realized that this was what I needed; so I began to see how clear the word of God taught it [and] I began to ask the dear Lord to give me this wonderful blessing.(81)

Such testimonies attest to the degree that newspaper accounts formed the lived religious experience of southern pentecostals.

In the pentecostal press, those who received Holy Ghost baptism described being bodily possessed by the Spirit of God. In this sense, their ecstacy became all the more dramatic because of its divine origin. As Ann Taves suggests, these individuals fervently believed that they were not the agent or cause of their experience. When they sang in tongues, prophesied, or performed miracles it was through the direct working of God. With this new revelation in full view, pentecostals perceived themselves as at the center of God's restored order.(82)

In part, the more radical sects in the South favorably received Pentecostalism because of the movement's sharpened restorationist vision. The pentecostal press generated this phenomenon, often reporting, "Many are being saved, sanctified, filled with the Holy Ghost, and speaking in tongues" and that "Pentecost is the same today as it was 1900 years ago." The restorationist trope filled accounts of revivals in Florida, Tennessee, Georgia, the Carolinas, and Alabama. In their published testimonies, converts occupied an anachronistic space, proclaiming freedom from nineteen hundred years of church history and dogma. Writing from Birmingham, Alabama, Reverend M. M. Pinson claimed, "Those who get the baptism of the Spirit in my meeting speak and sing in other tongues . . . as on the day of Pentecost, and at the house of Cornelius. It surely works as of old, for Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever."(83)

Certainly by 1906, radical holiness people were well attuned to the restorationist message, but newspaper accounts of the younger movement piqued their interest in new ways. Accordingly, for those wanting assurance that their experience was in fact a restoration of the apostolic faith, the pentecostal press seemed to offer the most literal rendition as well as a faith free from the taint of the past. Pentecostalism, mused B. F. Lawrence, was unencumbered by the burden of history, "it leaps the intervening years crying, 'Back to Pentecost.'"(84) Most of all, their conviction that they were re-enacting the book of Acts, attested to by the signs and wonders narrated in their papers, gave them confidence in Pentecostalism's credibility and purpose.

Without the network of newspapers that enabled southern pentecostals to imagine their community in accord with the Azusa revival, it is doubtful that the movement would have been as successful in the South as it was. The reportage of the Azusa revival allowed discreet individuals in the region to reconstruct their religious experience along pentecostal lines. Once in attendance at revivals, southern converts began to have firsthand experience with what they had only read and heard about before. In turn, numbers of converts from southern revivals reported of their experiences in pentecostal papers, bringing the message full-circle and back into print. So, whereas radical holiness sects set in motion the doctrines and religious practices that would feed southern Pentecostalism—theological perfectionism, intense religious experience, counter-culturalism, and restorationism—it was the burgeoning holiness and pentecostal press that served as the major instrument of transition.

Return to "There is Magic in Print", Part I


40. The Revivalist, June 1897, p. 6. W. B. Godbey, "Question Drawer," God's Revivalist, 31 January 1901, p. 12. A caveat: holiness and pentecostal groups' equality of fellowship seldom generated institutional equality. Donald G. Matthews, "'Christianizing the South'—Sketching a Synthesis," in New Directions in American Religious History, ed. Harry S. Stout and D. G. Hart (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997), 103.

41. "Spreading Among the White Baptists: The Holiness Work in South Carolina," Truth, 3 December 1903, p. 10. Zion's Outlook, 10 October 1901, p. 12. See articles written by African-American Methodists Irving Lowery and L. P. Cushman from 1885 to 1887 in The Christian Witness and Advocate of Bible Holiness.

42. "Rev. W. A. Dodge's Work Among the Colored People," The Pentecostal Herald, 24 February 1904, p. 4. Turley, A Wheel within a Wheel, 170. For a discussion of other black periodicals, see Daniels, "The Cultural Renewal of Slave Religion," 247-48.

43. Crews, The Church of God, 17-18, 93-107. W. M. Hayes, Memoirs of Richard Baxter Hayes (Greer, South Carolina: n.p., 1945), 35, 28, 29, 33, 36, 44-45, 24. "A Murderous Assault on Evangelist B. H. Irwin," The Way of Faith, 12 August 1896, p. 1. David Douglas Daniels, "The Cultural Renewal of Slave Religion: Charles Price Jones and the Emergence of the Holiness Movement in Mississippi" (Ph.D. diss., New York: Union Theological Seminary, 1992), 251-52.

44. By 1902 Samson's Foxes obtained 620 subscribers. Trammel, "Publishing the Gospel," 1. Tomlinson, "Journal of Happenings" 18 August 1901, 11 December 1901.

45. See selections from The Gadsen Evening Journal and The Gadsen Daily News, in Dorothy Womack Oden, The History of the Alabama City Church of God (Montgomery: Herff Jones, Inc., 1988), 9-13. Newby, Plain Folk in the New South, 406. At other times, Pentecostals provoked hostility for their opposition to local churches and secret societies. Kurt O Berends, "Social Variables and Community Response," in Pentecostal Currents in Mainstream Protestantism, eds. Edith L. Blumhofer, Russell P. Splitter, and Grant A. Wacker (Urbana, Illinois and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1999), 68-69. For their uproarious street meetings, Salvation Army adherents were also lambasted by the secular press, which accused them of "encouraging civil and sexual disorder." Taiz, Hallelujah Lads and Lasses, 70. However, the holiness-pentecostal challenge to mainstream culture was undoubtedly apolitical. Consequently some scholars have been quick to criticize or dismiss the movement. In the 1940s, Liston Pope's study of labor unrest in Gaston County, North Carolina, indicted church leaders for not standing "in opposition to the prevailing economic arrangements or to the drastic methods employed for their preservation." Pope, Millhands and Preachers: A Study of Gastonia (New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 1942), 330. Robert Mapes Anderson concludes that Pentecostalism represented a dysfunctional and maladjusted reaction to social pressures. Because of pentecostals' negative appraisal of society and their pessimistic outlook for the future, they were an apolitical, "conservative bulwark of the status quo." As such, they channeled their social protest "into the harmless backwaters of religious ideology." Anderson, Vision of the Disinherited, 239. Similarly, R. Laurence Moore argues that the otherworldliness of pentecostals cut short social protests by diffusing class hostilities. Moore, Religious Outsiders and the Making of Americans (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1986), 140-142. These appraisals misconstrue pentecostals as mere ciphers, when in fact, as Clifford Geertz suggests, religious groups "do not merely interpret social and psychological processes in cosmic terms—in which case they would be philosophical, not religious—but they shape them." Clifford Geertz, The Interpretation of Cultures: Selected Essays (New York: Basic Books, 1973), 124, 93, 119. For an assessment of the positive role of faith in Pentecostalism, see Wacker, "The Functions of Faith in Primitive Pentecostalism," Harvard Theological Review 77, no. 3 (1984): 355, 356, 363.

46. "Our Attitude toward Exclusivists," Christian Advocate, 8 August 1889, p. 8. "The Leading of the Spirit," Christian Advocate, 2 July 1896, p. 1. The Religious Herald, 22 August 1907, p. 1.

47. W. J. Cash, The Mind of the South (New York: Vintage Books, 1941), 297.

48. For an analysis of these earlier forms of restorationism, see Hatch, The Democratization of American Christianity, 71. Herbert M. Riggle quoted in Steven Ware, "Restorationism in the Holiness Movement, Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries," Wesleyan Theological Journal 34, no. 1 (Spring 1999): 200.

49. Through the gift of foreign tongues, pentecostals hoped to fulfill the "great commission" and evangelize the world in their generation (Acts 1:8; Matthew 28:20). On the millenarian-missions aspect, see James R. Goff, Jr. Fields White Unto Harvest: Charles F. Parham and the Missionary Origins of Pentecostalism (Fayetville and London: The University of Arkansas Press, 1988), 15, 164 and Synan, The Holiness-Pentecostal Tradition, 92. To their disappointment, many first generation pentecostals entered the mission field and discovered that they did not have the gift of foreign tongues. Subsequently, the gift was interpreted as unknown, or unintelligible tongues (glossolalia). Anderson, Vision of the Disinherited, 16-19, 90-92. Goff, Fields White Unto Harvest, 154. Although the manifestation of spiritual gifts and exercises in America were at least as old as the First Great Awakening, the revival Parham inaugurated was unparalleled. Whereas, in earlier revivals signs like speaking in tongues and healing were occasional, often dissipating with a revival's termination, pentecostals normalized and rationalized these experiences as necessary to a total Christian experience.

50. Kansas City Times, 27 January 1901. St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 25 January 1901. Topeka Daily Capital, 6 January 1901, p. 2. Topeka State Journal, 7 January 1901, p. 4. Goff, Fields White Unto Harvest, 79-83. Sarah E. Parham, The Life of Charles F. Parham: Founder of the Apostolic Faith Movement (New York and London: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1985), 59-66.

51. Anderson, Vision of the Disinherited, 69. Douglas J. Nelson contends that Azusa featured throngs "from every race nationality and class . . . Never before in history had any such group surged into the church of a black pastor." Douglas J. Nelson, "For Such a Time as This: The Story of William J. Seymour and the Azusa Street Revival" (Ph.D. diss., Birmingham, England: University of Birmingham, 1981), 196, 194, 196-199, 201, 204.

52. Bartleman, Azusa Street, 213. Bartleman noted that as many as 50 letters a day came to the Azusa mission from the U. S. and abroad. Pentecostal leaders well knew how instrumental the press would be in propagating the revival. Several years after Azusa, A. J. Tomlinson continued to believe that newspapers would spread the revival far and wide: "thousands will believe and say good by [sic] to old forms and creeds, and will be stanch [sic] followers of Christ. (Acts 9:35)." A. J. Tomlinson, The Last Great Conflict (Cleveland, Tennessee: Press of Walter E. Rodgers, 1913), 118.

53. Occasionally believers "proved so respectful-or fearful-of the supernatural power embedded in their periodicals that persons who had not received Holy Spirit baptism were not allowed to touch them." Wacker, Heaven Below, 94.

54. Throughout his ministry, Bartleman authored more than 550 articles, 100 tracts, and 6 books. C. M. Robeck, Jr., "Bartleman, Frank," in Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements, eds. Stanley M. Burgess and Gary B. McGee (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1988), 50-51.

55. The Holiness Advocate, 15 May 1907(?), p. 4. Ironically, Crumpler later rejected the pentecostal faction and eventually returned to the Methodist Episcopal Church, South.

56. The Apostolic Faith, 6 December 1907, p. 3.

57. Synan, The Holiness-Pentecostal Tradition, 113-114.

58. McElhany, "The South Aflame," 30-31. The phenomenon of racial equality inspired Bartleman to note that "The 'color line' was washed away in the blood" at Azusa. Bartleman, Azusa Street, 54. The Apostolic Faith, 7 January 1907, p. 1. Synan, Old Time Power, 98-101. The Bridegroom's Messenger, 1 October 1907, p. 1.

59. The Bridegroom's Messenger, 15 September 1908, p. 1.

60. The Evening Light and Church of God Evangel, 1 July 1910, p. 2.

61. The Way of Faith, 23 July 1908, p. 13.

62. Rev. E. J. Hardee, "Wauchula Letter," The Florida Christian Advocate, 20 August(?) 1907, p. 3. In Georgia, Wesleyan Methodists faced very similar if not more devastating circumstances. See the myriad of articles condemning the new movement in their denominational publication, The Wesleyan Methodist, between 1907 and 1910.

63. Baptist Argus, 23 January 1908.

64. Sigmund Freud, Civilization and its Discontents, trans. James Strachey (New York: W. W. Norton and Company, Inc., 1962), 61-62. From this vantage the newly converted pentecostal Reverend H. H. Goff saw "the holiness people as I never saw them before. They are the foolish virgins without the oil." Florence Goff, Fifty Years on the Battlefield for God (Falcon, North Carolina: n.p., n.d.), 51. Gaston Barnabas Cashwell, like many pentecostals during these early years, could "not see how any honest man or women can claim to have the pentecostal baptism and not have the pentecostal evidence [speaking in tongues]." The Apostolic Evangel (Royston, Georgia), 3 April 1907, p. 3. The anti-pentecostal offensive from the holiness camp was particularly brutal. Renown holiness evangelist W. B. Godbey wrote extensively against tongues and accused pentecostals of worshiping the devil. Godbey, "Spiritualism, Devil-Worship and the Tongues Movement" (Cincinnati: God's Revivalist Press, n. d.). Some criticisms, like those of Parham's, were racially based. Alma White, leader of the Pillar of Fire Holiness Church, made truculent denunciations of Azusa for its interracial character. See Wacker, "Travail of a Broken Family: Evangelical Responses to Pentecostalism in America, 1906-1916," 526, 505-528. Pentecostals, Charles Edwin Jones points out, believed that speaking in tongues was the initial evidence of Holy Spirit baptism. This thoroughly offended holiness adherents who did not possess "the gift," resulting in discord. Jones, "Tongues-speaking and the Wesleyan-holiness Quest for Assurance of Sanctification," Wesleyan Theological Journal 22, no. 2 (Fall 1987): 117-124. Contemporary outside observers of Pentecostalism knew of this progression from more established churches to unencumbered sects. Hence, newspaper reporter Grover C. Loud observed that the religion born of the Holiness Revival demanded "an even stronger revival for its own perpetuation." Grover C. Loud, Evangelized America (Freeport and New York: Books for Libraries Press, 1971), 280. This "freedom of the Spirit" motif, as Samuel Hill points out, had long permeated southern religious history. If spiritual freedom was imperiled, evangelicals frequently believed the act of leaving mainline churches was justified. Baptists in eighteenth century Virginia and O'Kellyites, Stoneites, Campbellites, and antimission Baptists in the early nineteenth-century all made the exodus, at least in part, in the interests of practicing according to their own beliefs. Hill, One Name but Several Faces: Variety in Popular Christian Denominations in Southern History (Athens and London: The University of Georgia Press, 1996), 80, 81.

65. Winfred R. Cox, "An Open Door for Heresy," God's Revivalist and Bible Advocate, 23 May 1907, p. 10. Oswald Chambers, "Third Work of Grace-A Confusion of the Devil," God's Revivalist and Bible Advocate, 14 February 1907, p. 1. "BORDER LAND HOLINESS PEOPLE," Nazarene Messenger (Los Angeles), 15 April 1909, p. 12. Amanda Coulson, "The Tongues People As I Saw Them," The Pentecostal Advocate (Peniel, Texas), 18 May 1911, p. 7.

66. Although some radical holiness sectarians had spoken of a third work of grace before the advent of Pentecostalism, Parham and Seymour were the first to define and disseminate the notion of tongues speech as evidence of Spirit baptism. Synan, The Holiness-Pentecostal Tradition, 89, 105.

67. The Bridegroom's Messenger, 1 October 1907, p. 2.

68. Blumhofer, Restoring the Faith, 71-72. The Holiness Advocate, 15 May 1907(?), p. 8. Wacker, Heaven Below, 48.

69. For a discussion of the role of women leaders in the nineteenth-century holiness movement, see Lucille Sider Dayton and Donald W. Dayton, "'Your Daughters Shall Prophesy': Feminism in the Holiness Movement," Methodist History 14 (January 1976): 67-92.

70. Cheryl J. Sanders writes that blacks make up twenty percent of current C. O. G. Anderson membership. Equally astonishing, the first black congregation in the denomination was founded and pastored by a women, Jane Williams, in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1886. Sanders, Saints in Exile, 22, 33.

71. For more on Woodworth-Etter, see Wayne E. Warner, The Women Evangelist: The Life and Times of Charismatic Evangelist Maria B. Woodworth-Etter (Metuchen, New Jersey and London: The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 1986).

72. The Holiness Advocate, 1 March 1906, p. 5. On gender equality at Azusa, see Nelson, "For Such a Time as This," 197-98, 204. This stands in sharp contrast to the prevailing view of southern Methodists at this time. Representative of southern mainline opinion, one MEC, S leader noted, "If Christ had intended that women should preach, it seems likely that he would have chosen some of them to be apostles." Christian Advocate, 30 May, 1895, p. 3.

73. Joe Creech argues that the C. O. G. (Cleveland), even after it became pentecostal, was antagonistic to "racial mingling, and women had little place in the C. O. G. hierarchy." Creech, "Visions of Glory," 415. Additionally, David G. Roebuck posits that the C. O. G. limited the roles of women ministers because "the original premise upon which they ministered—that Spirit-baptism in these 'last days' equips women for ministry—failed to impute authority to women." Roebuck, "Limiting Liberty," 4. Wacker, too, observes that "other priorities eclipsed self-conscious gender concerns of any sort—traditional, progressive, or otherwise." Heaven Below, 176.

74. Wacker, Heaven Below, 234.

75. Quote from A. A. Boddy, "The Southern States," Confidence, September 1912, p. 209. The Bridegroom's Messenger, 1 September 1912, p. 1.

76. Pinson, "Sketch of the Life of Mack M. Pinson," 9, 13.

77. For instance, Edith Blumhofer notes that for every story of women being affirmed in leadership there is also one of frustration and suppression. Edith L. Blumhofer, "Women in American Pentecostalism," Pneuma 17, no. 1 (Spring 1995): 19. The pentecostal press occasionally sent mixed signals, elevating women to leadership status while denigrating them to a subservient role. In the same issue of The Church of God Evangel J. A. Giddens advocated women's right to preach, while E. B. Culpepper cautioned women: "you will have all you can do without running [your] husband's [business] or [the] business of the church . . ." The Church of God Evangel, 6 May 1916, p. 4. On this ambiguous legacy Cheryl Townsend Gilkes, drawing on oral tradition, remarks that although the major black pentecostal bodies denied women ordination, women nonetheless assumed powerful roles as exhorters, church mothers, missionaries, teachers, and deaconesses. Cheryl Townsend Gilkes, "'Together and in Harness': Women's Traditions in the Sanctified Church," Signs 10, no. 4 (Summer 1985): 683.

78. The Revivalist, May 1894, p. 4. See also "Don't Get Excited Over Politics," The Pentecostal Herald, 20 September 1899, p. 9. On this point, Samuel Hill's analysis of southern Baptists and Methodists is particularly appropriate. Even more than other conservative Evangelicals, holiness and pentecostal adherents considered the conversion and Spirit baptism of individuals to be virtually the sole task of the church. The "Great Commission" took priority. All other interests, be they political, social, or cultural were either peripheral or antithetical to these primary goals. Hill, Southern Churches in Crisis (New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1967), 73, 77-81.

79. This process bears striking resemblance to that taking place in early twentieth century advertising culture. Roland Marchand and T. J. Jackson Lears describe how advertisements held the power to realize consumers dreams, linking them to a larger culture, and giving them solace in the modern world. As Marchand indicates, advertisements "contributed to the shaping of a 'community discourse,' an integrative common language shared by an otherwise diverse audience." Lears, No Place of Grace: Antimodernism and the Transformation of American Culture, 1880-1920 (New York: Pantheon Books, 1981). Lears, "From Salvation to Self-Realization: Advertising and the Therapeutic Roots of the Consumer Culture, 1880-1930," in The Culture of Consumption: Critical Essays in American History, 1880-1980, ed. Richard Wightman Fox and T. J. Jackson Lears (New York : Pantheon Books, 1983), 3-38. Marchand, Advertising the American Dream: Making Way for Modernity, 1920-1940 (Berkeley, Los Angeles, and London: University of California Press, 1985), xx.

80. The Holiness Advocate, 1 June 1907, p. 8. Ibid., p. 6.

81. The Bridegroom's Messenger, 15 April 1908, p. 3. The Cane Ridge Revival in Kentucky, which occurred more than one hundred years before Azusa, owed its success to similar modes of transmission. Historian Paul Conkin observes that ministers who participated in the ecstatic outdoor meetings spread the word through the pulpits of numerous southern congregations. Ministers retold the story of the revival to their audiences. As a result, "an almost immediate irruption of physical exercises roughly similar to those" being described occurred among the preachers' listeners. Paul K. Conkin, Cane Ridge: America's Pentecost (Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 1990), 69-70.

82. Ann Taves, Fits Trances and Visions: Experiencing Religion and Explaining Experience from Wesley to James (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1999), 9, 332, 333, 334.

83. The Bridegroom's Messenger, 1 October 1907, p. 2. Ibid., 1 December 1907, p. 1.

84. B. F. Lawrence, "The Apostolic Faith Restored," in Three Early Pentecostal Tracts, ed. Donald Dayton (New York and London: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1985), 12.


© 1998-2003 by The Journal of Southern Religion. All rights reserved. ISSN 1094-5234

contents main page masthead advertisers e-mail