Oklahoma’s Pentecostal History: Lamont

A  tiny town of 500 in north-central Oklahoma was at one time responsible for the Pentecostal revival’s spread across many parts of Western Oklahoma from 1907-1908. That tiny town was Lamont, Oklahoma. This video tells the story of Lamont and the revival of 1907-1908 that impacted the Pentecostal Movement in Oklahoma.

Lamont was the location  for the Fire-Baptized Holiness Association of Benjamin Harden Irwin in Oklahoma at the turn of the 20th century. Irwin was a holiness revivalist that taught there were three experiences: salvation, sanctification, and a fire baptism in the Holy Spirit. in 1902, the FBHA disbanded and the Lamont church was left without a group to associate with.  In 1907, Glenn A Cook left the Azusa Street Mission in Los Angeles to come to Lamont to hold meetings. There he found a group of Holiness believers (likely FBHA believers) who were hungry for the Pentecostal experience. Cook stayed two weeks with great success.  After Cook left, several other early Pentecostal leaders also came including J.H. King and G.B. Cashwell.  During the next two years, believers from all over Oklahoma came to Lamont to experience the power of the Holy Spirit. The revival moved elsewhere by 1910, but the little town of Lamont certainly made a big impact.

Here is Cook’s report from the January 1908 issue of the Apostolic Faith Newspaper.

An Open Letter to Samson and Luck, The African Slaves Owned by My Isgrigg Ancestors

Dear Samson and Luck,

You are part of my Isgrigg family that I didn’t know existed until just recently. Nearly two decades ago, my father began a journey of writing the story of our Isgrigg ancestors who came to America in 1740.  The story he discovered was that at the age of 16, our ancestor, William Isgrig, was arrested in London England for stealing from a silversmith he worked for and was sentenced to seven years of indentured servitude in the Colonies. He came to Baltimore, Maryland, aboard a convict slave ship and was sold at a slave auction.  I can’t know what that would have been like to be a young man being a sold as a piece of property for the profit of a land owner in a land far away. I have no idea how he was treated, but it couldn’t have been easy. But his story has a happy ending. He was set free after his seven year sentence and by 1747 he was a free man. Over the next ten years he worked odd jobs until May 17th, 1771, he leased a large 135 acre estate. His story is a remarkable one.  It is a story I have shared freely with people. I was proud of that history, at least until I re-read the story and realized what happened next.

According to our history, in 1771 William purchased several “white convict slaves” and two African slaves to help him work his land.  That is where you enter my story and my family. My ancestor, William Isgrig, bought you as slaves, perhaps for as little as $300 each. The shame of admitting these words is too much to bear. My great (x8) grandfather was a slave owner.  I had read that story before, but for some reason I didn’t remember this sad reality. The man who came to America as a slave became a slave owner. What is remarkable is that my father even uncovered your names: an African male named Samson and a African female named Luck.

Dear Samson and Luck, I cannot possibly express how sorry I am for this. My ancestor, who knew himself the torture of being sold as property, turned around and purchased human beings—you Samson and Luck—to be his property for his own financial benefit. Shame on us.  You worked our land. You cooked our meals. You took care of our livestock. You had no choice. You belonged to us. On the backs of both of you, my ancestor grew in wealth and established himself as a respected man and Revolutionary colonist. He even took up arms to fight for freedom for his new country, but cared little for the freedom of the enslaved human beings in his own household.

What is worse is his son, John Isgrig, carried on the tradition and owned his own slaves to work his own 200 acre farm in 1790 in Pennsylvania. John eventually moved to Clinton County, Indiana, our home county which my father’s family has called home for generations. Our story from there is the American dream, from convict to successful middle class American family. But it was built on a foundation of exploitation. Shame on us.

Like anyone who is forced to confront this ugly reality, I wanted to qualify it by hoping my ancestors were good to you. But there is no way to know this. I have to face the reality that they could have been cruel just as easily as “good slave owners.” Even so, I won’t justify these actions by saying “it was just the way it was” or by pretending that a nice slave owner makes it ok.  It is not OK. My family line sinned against God and against the image of God in you as valuable human beings. My family gained an advantage in this new world, this land of freedom, by exploiting you for our own personal gain. They were Christians, Methodists by profession, but did not see the indignity of what they did. My ancestors prospered, in return you and your descendants continued to be enslaved.

I have no idea what happened to you. But I want you to know I am sorry. I am asking you to please forgive me, forgive my family for owning you as property. I repent before God for what my family did. I cannot undo what the Isgrigg’s did to you. But I know your name now, Samson and Luck. You were precious human beings, created by God, created to be free. But evil men brought you to the Colonies and sold you to a white man named Isgrig, who as a slave himself should have known better, but chose prosperity over humanity, to my ever living shame.  I know that now. The world now knows your name. And we will not forget it.

Your brother,

Daniel Isgrigg, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, grandson of your slave master.

A Short Clip of My Graduation

Here is a short clip of when I was recognized for the completion of my PhD from the Centre for Pentecostal Theology at Bangor University (Wales, UK) at the Pentecostal Theological Seminary Commencement held on May 21, 2019. I was the only PhD graduate that day so my program director, Dr. John Christopher Thomas, was able to say a few words about my thesis. It was  great moment.

Write On

For Christmas, Amonda bought me this shirt. It has a simple phrase: “Write On.”  This shirt was such a blessing to me because it has ably characterized this season of my life. My dissertation was finished nearly a year before I submitted it. In the mean time, I found it refreshing to write about other things I was interested in that I couldn’t do when I was focusing on my dissertation. This was when I wrote my first two Spiritus articles on Oral Roberts.  I found a way to channel the energy and rhythms of my life I had developed to work on some new areas of research and writing.

For many PhD students, the relief of completing the thesis is too great to jump back into writing other things. They simply stop writing. I certainly understand that temptation. It is an exhausting journey. But this wasn’t the case for me. The fact is, God called me to write. I always have.  When I finished my MA thesis in 2007, I was also writing my other book I published.  Its just who I am.

But I also recognize that I am very fortunate that my job is such that I am surrounded by materials and conversations that keep ideas fresh in my mind. While I don’t right during my work hours, I am constantly exposed to areas that need to be explored. When I get home at night, I can’t help but dig into these ideas and write about them. This has led me a a remarkable number of publications that are slated for this year. Here are some of the exciting writing projects I have been working on.

  1. I have been assigned to be a special issue editor for the fall Healing Special Issue of Spiritus: ORU Journal of theology. I not only assisted the contributors with their pieces, but I also will write the editorial in which I will focus on the legacy of Oral Roberts to expand the definition of healing to be multidisciplinary.  Oral’s vision was that healing would extend to “every person’s world.” With this outlook, healing could take many forms: medicine, music, evangelism, and other fields and professions. This issue will focus on that legacy.
  2. Also In the Healing issue, I have written an article Oral Roberts and his legacy of racial reconciliation situated in the backdrop of Tulsa, a city that has a tragic history of racial division. I am so excited about this article. I believe that it will showcase the radical vision Oral had for racial inclusion with details about his work that few are aware of, even within the university. This will be my 4th article on Oral Roberts as I continue to strive to become the foremost scholar today on Oral Roberts and ORU.
  3. I was asked by the editors of Brill’s Encyclopedia of Global Pentecostalism to contribute two entries. One is on Alice Luce, a pioneer in the Assemblies of God missions who founded Latin American Bible Institute. She is a remarkable woman who was a missionary strategist and  founder of Latin American ministry in the US. The second was on A.A. Allen, the famous healing evangelist who was an Assemblies of God minister. Allen was a flamboyant evangelist who had amazing miracles take place in his ministry. He was also controversial. The HSRC has a wonderful collection of Allen resources and it was a delight to research and write about his life.
  4. A few years back, my friend and fellow AG scholar, Rick Wadholm, talked about working on an edited volume together. After several ideas, we began to think about compiling some studies on the emerging discipline in Pentecostal studies of Reception History.  Things really came together when it was announced that the theme for the 2019 SPS conference was Reception History.  The SPS program chair and noted AG New Testament scholar, Martin Middelstadt, joined our editorial team to help us assemble some of the studies presented at the conference into a volume to be published with CPT Press. I am just thrilled to be working with these great friends and scholars on this ground breaking volume.
  5. In the Reception History volume, I will publish the SPS paper I wrote on the reception history of “tarrying” for the baptism in the Holy Spirit from testimonies in the Azusa Street Mission paper, The Apostolic Faith. This paper was well received at the conference and I believe gives insights into the dynamics,  methods and struggles for people being baptized in the Holy Spirit at the beginning of the Pentecostal Movement.
  6. I was also approached about contributing a chapter to an upcoming edited volume that is a primer on Pentecostal Theology edited by David Bradnick called Voices of the Spirit. It is a survey of various leading scholarly voices in the Pentecostal and Charismatic movement. I was asked to write a profile of Dr. Peter Althouse, one of the most notable theologians of the Pentecostal tradition. Althouse was a very important scholar in my dissertation because of his publications on Pentecostal eschatology.  No one has done more to bring to light the importance and issues surround Pentecostal eschatology. It was a real joy to bring his important contributions to light.
  7. In my role as director of the HSRC, I was asked to submit an article on the HSRC resources pertaining to Canadian Pentecostalism in the Canadian Journal of Pentecostal-Charismatic Christianity. This too was a joy because it was wonderful for me to become more familiar with my own collection in the HSRC as well as the history of Canadian Pentecostalism.  This should come out later this year.

As you can see, I have been very busy. But I have loved every project. Some have asked how I have time and energy to do all of this. The answer is simple: Write On.  Although its not every day, it is not unusual for me to spend a couple hours a night several times a week working on research and writing (not binge watching Netflix certainly helps!). This was the pattern I developed when I was working on my dissertation. I just kept the same pace and have stayed curious about what is out there that needs explored. But beyond that, I love to do it. This is what I am called to do and I am thankful for the opportunities that I have been given to do it. I hope I can keep up this pace. I feel like I can because I found the secret.  “Write On!”

The Spirit of The Millennium – Perspectives on Assemblies of God Eschatology

Recently I was asked to teach a series of classes at my church based on my dissertation on the development of Assemblies of God eschatology. This was the first opportunity for me to present some of the findings of my research.  I did a week for each of the four AG eschatological statements in the Statement of Fundamental Truths: The blessed hope, the millennium, the final judgment, the new heavens and new earth. For one of the weeks I had to be out of town and recorded the lecture for the class.  Here is the video I shared on the development of the doctrine of Millennium. In it, I discuss the role of the millennium in AG visions of the future. I talk about how AG believers were committed to the premillennial coming of Christ in response to other postmillennial and amillennial views. I also discuss the role that Israel plays in AG visions of the future, noting the dynamics of the AG responses to developments in Israel through the twentieth century.

Link to Power Point slides: Spirit of the Last Days 3 Spirit of Justice

A Pilgrimage to Hot Springs

Returning home from vacation this week, I was able to make a pilgrimage to the site in Hot Springs Arkansas where the Assemblies of God began in 1914. I had wanted to go there for years, but never had the opportunity until we were driving back from Florida. This was finally my chance to see the place that I had so often studied in my research.

On April 2nd, 1914, three hundred Pentecostal ministers and laypeople gathered in Hot Springs, Arkansas for what would become the first General Council of the Assemblies of God. The stated purpose of this council was five fold: unity in message through biblical doctrine, unity in ministry through cooperation, unity in missions through organization, unity in legal matters through ministerial credentials, and unity in ministerial training. What resulted was a new Pentecostal group that today numbers 3.2 million adherents in over 13,000 churches across the US and 63 million world wide.

Why Hot Springs?

E.N. Bell

To understand why the AG started in Hot Springs, you have to go back a few years before 1914. In 1910, William Durham had differentiated himself from the holiness Pentecostals with his non-holiness “finished work” view of sanctification.  AG founder, E.N. Bell was baptized in the Spirit under Durham in Chicago in 1910. Bell would quickly become a recognized leader in the Parham’s Apostolic Faith movement and became the editor his Apostolic Faith in the South.

At some point in 1910, Bell made his way to Malvern Arkansas, a small town just down the railroad line from Hot Springs. Howard Goss also started a Pentecostal work in  Hot Springs, a bustling little town known for its healing waters. The town had  large hotels, sanitariums,  bath houses, and an opera house.  In September 1910, Bell and Goss invited Durham to preach a camp meeting in Malvern for the Arkansas Apostolic Faith churches. [1]

Trouble surrounding Parham’s claims to be the leader of the movement led Bell to distance himself and the groups he was leading in the south from Parham and the Apostolic Faith. Bell and Goss looked to Durham’s leadership and the Finished Work message was their new banner. Bell changed the Apostolic Faith paper to the Word and Witness and continued to publish it from Malvern.

Following the death of William Durham in 1912, E.N. Bell and Howard Goss inherited the mantle of leadership  for the finished work churches but backed off of Durham’s rigidity and divisiveness. They wanted to bring ministers back together in cooperation but because neither Durham nor Parham believed in organization or credentials, Goss and Bell received permission to offer credentials through C.H. Mason’s Church of God in Christ. But I believe they had it in their mind they would eventually need to start their own organization.


1912 Tri-State Apostolic Faith Campmeeing

By 1912, to further locate Arkansas as the new center for Apostolic Pentecostalism in the south, Bell, Goss, and M.M. Pinson hosted conventions for ministers from the surrounding states in various towns including  Eureka Springs, Ozark, Little Rock and Hot Springs.


In 1913, a major fire devastated part of the town, but Goss declared “the burning out of half of Hot Springs recently by fire is no wise to stop the fire of the gospel guns upon the remainder of the city still standing.” [2]  To add to the “fire” in Hot Springs, in 1913 famed revivalst Maria Woolworth-Etter and Cyrus B. Fockler (another early AG leader) showed up to hold meetings. [3]  “Hundreds if not thousands” were being saved and filled with the Holy Ghost in Hot Springs.

The center of gravity for the Parham’s formerly Apostolic Faith groups was shifting from Texas to Arkansas, so much so that Houston Bible School leader, D.C.O. Opperman, decided start a Bible School in Hot Springs at the Opera House to open January 1914. Thus, when the call for the meeting was published in the Word and Witness in December of 1913, four of the five signers of the original call—Pinson, Goss, Opperman, Bell—were located already in the area surrounding Hot Springs.

On April 2-14, 1914, 300 Pentecostal ministers and laypeople from throughout the southwest met together in the old Opera House at 200 Central Ave. in historic down town Hot Springs. By the end of the week, they had formed a constitution and gave the new group a name, “The Assemblies of God”, a name proposed by T.K. Leonard because it was a “biblical name.” Bell and Goss no longer needed to use the Church of God in Christ credentials because they were now incorporated as their own separate group.[4] Bell was elected as the first general superintendent of the AG.  They were not trying to start a denomination; rather, they were wanting to unify the finished work churches together and continue what God had started a decade before. Little did they know that what the started that day would impact the nations with the gospel.

Hot Springs Today

Today, all that is left of the spark that has blossomed into 63 million adherents world wide is a plaque that was created in commemoration of the 2014 Centennial celebration. The opera house is no longer there. All that is left is a drive way, a parking lot, and a ugly power transformer. Below is the photo of me with the plaque. But the buildings surround the site are very much like they were a century ago.  The hotel across the street may have housed some of those first AG leaders. The springs water house next door could have been where they retreated after the meetings. The hills where the that famous photo took place are still there. Below is the picture of me where that could have been taken.  As someone who has spent years writing about AG history, it was such a joy to stand and look at the place where it all happened.  I wish there were more there to see today. But for me, it was enough and was well worth it.








For more AG history, this short video by the AG tells rest of the story.

AG Timeline – 6 minutes from Assemblies of God USA on Vimeo.

[1] “State Encampment,” Pentecostal Testimony (July 1, 1910), 10.

[2] “Hot Springs Under Fire,” Word and Witness (Sept 1, 1913), 1.

[3] Word and Witness, (Oct 1913), p. 1.

[4]  For a discussion on the reasons for this separation, see David D. Daniels, ‘Charles Harrison Mason: The Interracial Impulse’ Portraits of a Generation, James R. Goff and Grant Wacker (eds.) (Fayetteville, AK: University of Arkansas Press, 2002), pp. 254-270.

The Future of AG Eschatology

On May 16th I successfully defended my dissertation and was awarded the degree of PhD in Pentecostal Theology from Bangor University (Wales, UK). I was examined by Dr. Robert Pope of Westminster College (Cambridge, UK) and Dr. Andrew Davies of University of Birmingham (UK).


The Viva (so called in the UK) took about an hour and it was a wonderful conversation about my research and my conclusions. After about five minutes of deliberation they announced that I passed with only minor corrections to be made in the days ahead. I never imagined that defending a thesis would be so enjoyable. Ten years of work and research came together in that one hour meeting.  I look forward to the corrected version being available to the public in the months ahead so people can read my work.

An Overview of My Research

Now that it is complete, I feel I can share more about my research. This this study sought to retrieve and interpret how the AG has understood eschatology over the past century. In order to understand how the AG expressed itself, I explored the various voices that have expressed AG beliefs over the past century.

First, the review of scholarly literature contains the most comprehensive survey of studies of AG eschatology and eschatological research by AG scholars. It revealed that AG scholars universally recognize the central role that eschatology has played in the fellowship but are uncomfortable with the fundamentalist dispensationalism expressions that have served as the primary orientation of its doctrine. Because of this, many Pentecostal and AG scholars have sought to argue for alternative models, which are thought to be pneumatologically compatible with the distinctive characteristics found in Pentecostal theology.

In order to test these conclusions, Chapters 3 and 4 sought to engage in a survey of the primary resources of the fellowship. Chapter 3 offered the first survey of official eschatological doctrine of the General Council expressed through the SFT. This chapter revealed multiple revisions have occurred with have led a gradual shift in emphasis during each period from a general expression of eschatological images toward a more specific linear chronology, subtle changes to the millennial position centered around the changing dynamics concerning the nation of Israel, and a noticeable reluctance to articulate a precise tribulational position in the SFT that denominational leaders made explicit in the position papers and supplemental statements.

In Chapter 4, over a century of articles throughout the 5,000 issues in Pentecostal Evangel were surveyed to produce the most comprehensive theological analysis of AG eschatological beliefs. The number and diversity of voices provided a richer and more nuanced narrative of the types of eschatological understandings that have been held in the AG.

In Chapter 5, I summarized the essential elements that make for an AG eschatology. And in Chapter 6, I attempted to construct a pneumatological eschatology based on those essential elements.

A Summary of Conclusions

This study reveals despite this strong pneumatological orientation when the AG began, over the last century AG eschatology has vacillated back and forth between distinctly Pentecostal expressions and those indistinguishable from fundamentalist dispensationalism. I assert that there were two parallel trajectories in the AG’s pneumatological orientation. When emphasis was placed on interpreting world events as the signs of Christ’s coming, the AG was more dispensational, pessimistic, and speculative. When the AG focused on the Holy Spirit as the sign, the AG was more hopeful, pneumatic, and focused on the four eschatological images rather than the chronology, which encouraged speculation.

Here are a number of interesting findings are worth mentioning:

  1. Despite the dispensational influences that often emphasize pessimistic views of the future, the AG managed to maintain a hopeful orientation toward their view of the return of Christ. It was called a “blessed hope” and the Spirit was the spirit of hope that fueled their expectation of Christ’s coming.
  2. The AG was highly committed to premillennialism because it was the only view that affirmed the OT prophecies about the coming messianic kingdom, which prepares the earth for the renewed earth.
  3. The commitment to the “salvation of national Israel” was eschatological, not political. Any theology of Israel they held was contingent upon the return of Christ. In this way they made a distinction between present/political/geographical Israel and the coming messianic restoration of Israel in the millennium that kept them from whole-heartedly affirming the present state of Israel.
  4. The AG was committed to dispensationalism, but managed the tensions by emphasizing the “latter rain” orientation in which they expected the Spirit to be the primary sign of the return of Christ. Therefore, the type of dispensationalism the AG affirmed was not that of J.N. Darby, C.I. Scofield or other fundamentalists; it was a uniquely pentecostal form of progressive dispensationalism fueled by the latter rain metanarrative.
  5. The official eschatological statements do not affirm any tribulational position.  It is assumed that the AG is pretribulational.  That is not true. I show  that several times AG officials had the opportunity to change the language to be pre-tribulational and declined. It is, in fact, permissible in the AG to hold pre, mid, post or even “a-tribulational” positions as licensed minister of the AG. Several denominational leaders, even those who created the official statements, held mid-tribulational or multi-rapture views.
  6. This study casts doubt on assumptions that the AG was not particularly engaged in social or ecological concerns. AG writers consistently wrestled with various social and geo-political realities such as poverty, social changes, and ecological issues. Furthermore, this study found no indication that AG eschatology advocated a reckless attitude toward the environment; rather they consistently supported the continuity between the first creation and the new creation.

This thesis makes several significant contributions to the study of the field of Pentecostal history and theology.

  1. First, this is the first analysis of periodical literature for the entire life span of a particular denominational periodical within the Pentecostal movement. The nuances that were brought out concerning AG eschatology were only possible by expanding the breadth of sources to include the entire lifespan of the community.
  2. A second contribution is by expanding the scope of the study to a full century, I was able to cast doubt on the assertion that the dispensational orientation was detrimental to the AG’s pneumatological orientation. Those who study Pentecostal eschatology now have a more nuanced account of the role dispensationalism has played in how Pentecostals have expressed their eschatology. For the AG, it is more accurate to characterize their eschatology as progressive dispensationalism, or even perhaps Pentecostal dispensationalism, rather than fundamentalist dispensationalism.
  3. A final contribution of this thesis is that it is the first attempt at constructing a comprehensive AG eschatology oriented in the concept of the pneumatological imagination. While other studies have offered alternative visions for Pentecostal eschatology, this study offers suggestions for actual revisions to present doctrinal formulations. Not only were specific recommendations made toward revising the SFT, a methodology of how to implement these changes was also suggested.

I look forward to sharing my work with the world in the months ahead.


A Vision To Change the World


Recently I was interviewed for Dr. Billy Wilson’s television program, World Impact.  Dr. Wilson’s program was focused on the subject of having a vision to change the world by seeing what others do not see. I was asked to comment as a historian on how Oral Roberts’ vision for ORU was beyond what other could see and how his students have carried on that legacy. It was a great honor to be interviewed and hope my comments captured his legacy well.  You can see my comments beginning at 13:09.

World Impact – Vision to Change the World from World Impact TV on Vimeo.

AG Eschatology, Oral Roberts, and Reception History: A Research Update

I have great news about my PhD journey! On April 16, 2019 I will finally be defending  my PhD dissertation on “The Origin, Development, and Future of Assemblies of God Eschatology”.  It has been nearly a year since began the process of submitting my final draft.  After several delays and snags, I will finally be sitting for my defense (called a viva in the UK) and hopefully bring this journey to a close that began over ten years ago. I welcome your prayers for me!

I am truly excited that I will soon be able to share my research after everything is finalized. I am extremely proud of the work I have done in tracing how the AG has expressed their belief in the second coming of Jesus throughout 100 years of AG literature.  This will be the first study to chart the development of official doctrinal statements and the various changes that have been made in the past century (and yes, there have been many changes!) I am also the first to create a narrative of how these beliefs were expressed  by leaders, pastors and individuals in the AG through the hundreds of articles in over 5,000 issues of the Pentecostal evangel from 1914-2014. I am also the first to chart the role of the Holy Spirit in shaping how these beliefs have been expressed.  To wrap up my study, I offer a comprehensive integration of the past and the future to re-imagine how AG doctrine can continue to develop a Spirit-focused eschatology consistent with the past but also embraces the  future for the AG.

The second area of research I am focusing on right now is Oral Roberts Studies.  For over two decades, Oral Roberts studies have fallen into the background of the Pentecostal academy.  Following David Harrell’s monumental biography of Oral in 1985, little research has been conducted on this fascinated and controversial figure in Christian history.  This past fall, forays into this neglected space were made with the publication of a special edition of Spiritus: ORU Journal of Theology that honored the centennial of Oral’s birth with twelve new studies on his life and theology. I was able to contribute two pieces to that edition: one on the role of Oral Roberts’ view of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit and one on a shockingly different early account of his healing testimony that I co-authored with Vinson Synan. Writing these two pieces awakened me to the vast number of topics on Oral’s life, theology and ministry that are still yet to be explored.  The door is wide open for more research and the time has come for scholars to re-engage with this central figure in Pentecostal and Charismatic history.

Following my first two studies, I have been working on two new areas of Oral’s life and impact. The first is a study of Oral’s legacy of racial healing and reconciliation. His racial views were radical for his era and have been an important factor that led to the  extremely diverse student population on the campus of ORU today.  This study will be part of another special edition coming out in the Fall issue of Spiritus focused on the theme of healing, for which I will be the guest editor.  The second is a study about poverty, Pentecostalism, and Oral’s influence on the prosperity gospel.  I will be exploring how the trauma of Oral’s poverty stricken childhood was the primary motivator for his doctrine of prosperity. It is a challenging study that will wrestle with the implications of Oral’s influence on prosperity gospel, particularly in the majority world.

A final piece of research and writing will be showcased this upcoming week at the annual meeting of the Society for Pentecostal Studies.  The theme this year is “Reception History,” which is the methodology of exploring how Pentecostals have read, interpreted, viewed, and performed the Scriptures throughout their history. I will be presenting a paper on the Pentecostal practice of “tarrying.” Specifically I will be exploring how early Pentecostal’s received Jesus’ command to “tarry in Jerusalem” and how that command informed their expectations on the amount of time that one must seek the baptism in the Holy Spirit.  You can read this paper I am presenting next week here: Isgrigg SPS – How Long Shall We Tarry

In addition to presenting at this year’s conference, I am joining fellow AG scholars, Rick Wadholm and Martin Mittelstadt, to compile an edited volume focused on Reception History that will contain many of the studies  from this year’s meeting.  We are very excited to be working together on  this ground-breaking volume dedicated to articulating and demonstrating this emerging discipline within Pentecostal studies. Here is the Reception History Call for Contributions for potential authors.

This is a wonderful season in my life. I love my job as director of the Holy Spirit Research Center at Oral Roberts University. People ask me all the time, “Will you get to teach?”  The truth is I teach every day. That’s what academic librarians do! We teach students how to do academic research using the best sources available to them in ORU’s amazing library.  Every day I have conversations with students about Pentecostal history and its my job to help them to discover the wealth of materials that we have at ORU for them to explore. I get to watch the excitement they experience as they learn the ins and outs of finding information on topics they are passionate about. I also get to be the steward of the amazing collection of books, magazines, audio/video and artifact that have been entrusted to the HSRC for over 50 years.  Every day I am surrounded by the history of the Holy Spirit’s work around the globe. I am grateful to God for his leading in my life to bring me here. I am convinced that Oral was right: God is a good God!

By the way, the HSRC depends on the donation of materials related to the global Spirit-Empowered movement. We need your help! We are glad to take books, magazines, and other artifacts (old or new) from the Pentecostal and Charismatic movement to help us to continue to expand our collection. If you have something to donate, contact me.  https://oru.libguides.com/HSRC


Ten Opportunities for Future Assemblies of God Research

A question was asked today in an Assemblies of God scholars group I am a part of concerning what areas in the AG needed more scholarship. While doing my own research on the AG, I would often come across information or topics that I recognized were still gaps in AG research.  Here is a list of topics that I thought of that future researchers and young scholars could explore at the masters or doctoral level.

1). Institutional History: The last denominational history was written in 1989 by Edith Blumhofer. The republished version of People of the Spirit by Gary B. McGee has added to that story. But, I still believe that a full history with updated information on the history and doctrinal development of the movement is needed. Likewise, I believe there is a need for a doctoral level study of the history of AG Bible school and universities. There is some work on P.C. Nelson and SAGU, as well as a few studies in Heritage on them as a whole. These institutions have been such a large part of the ethos of the denomination that the history and philosophy of these universities would be a fantastic study.

2). We need an updated systematic theology. Sometime back, I wrote a post on the history of Bible Doctrine books. The first full bible doctrines book was P.C. Nelson’s in 1936 (republished by GPH in 1948).  Myer Pearlman wrote Knowing the Doctrines of the Bible in 1937 and E.S. Williams followed that in 1953 with his Systematic Theology.  But it wasn’t until William Menzies wrote Understanding our Doctrine, which became the basis for Stanley Horton’s republished work Bible Doctrines (1993), that the AG had a modern theological exploration of AG doctrine by a PhD level scholar. The later  Systematic Theology (1994), edited by Stanley Horton, was a suitable systematic text, yet it is now nearly 25 years old.  It is time for a more mature and updated theological text based on the AG’s theological orientation and reflecting contemporary understandings of key AG doctrinal issues.  I hope my work on AG eschatology is a seed toward this goal.

3). There have only been a couple major studies of individual doctrinal beliefs of the Assemblies of God: Various ones on Initial evidence, Sanctification by Bruce Rosdahl and mine on Eschatology. More studies based on the doctrinal history of our other doctrines is needed. Also, while most studies of the AG include a history of the Statement of Fundamental Truths (including a whole chapter in my dissertation), no single study has yet to fully research the history of this document and its doctrines.

4). The genre of Pentecostal biographies has grown in the past few decades, but there is still much work to do, especially on important AG figures. We still need biographies leaders like E.N. Bell, S.A. Jamieson, Stanley Frodsham, E.S. Williams, and many others. The most recent was David Ringer’s short bio of J.R. Flower. Before that was the biography of Stanley Horton by Lois Olena. Many more like it could be produced.

5) In the topic of biographical study, I could see the potential of a volume on the women of the Assemblies of God.  The topic of women in ministry was covered brilliantly by Joy Qualls and there has been some short studies by the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. However, there is certainly a need for more biographies some of the AG’s significant female ministers. The stories of women like  Alice Flower, Elizabeth Sisson, Alice Luce, and others have yet to be told. I particularly think someone should study the phenomenon of the female child evangelists like Louise Nankeville and Edna Jean Horn, could be explored.

6). Someone needs to do a study on the two genres that GPH published in many books: Poetry and Junior Fiction Novels. I was surprised to find out how many poems were published in the Pentecostal Evangel and how many christian poetry books by AG ministers were published by GPH. I was equally surprised to see the number of junior fiction novels the GPH published. Someone needs to do a literary analysis of these interesting genres in AG history.

7). Someone needs to do a study of first generation AG PhD’s such as Stanley Horton, William Menzies, Klaud Kendrick, John Wycoff, etc. and how that impacted the way the AG did theology.

8). Nearly 30 years ago, Margaret Poloma declared that the AG was at a “crossroads” in the charismatic ethos of our local churches.  Where have we gone since then?  I think we need an updated sociological study similar to Poloma’s in 1989, with statistical data charting the prevalence of charismata in the AG. (editing note, Peter Althouse reminded me that Poloma and Green produced a 2010 updated study of the AG).

9). Someone needs study the rise of neo-reformed theology among AG ministers. In 1993, Blumhofer suggested that the growing educational level of our ministers is leading to outside theologies working among our ministers. This may be much more the case now. Many younger pastors are drawn to the neo-reformed movement for theological stability. But what consequences does that have on Pentecostal orientation of our ministers? A good empirical study on this is needed.

10). Someone needs to look further into the issue of race and the AG. There are a few studies , and some discussion in books but a comprehensive investigation that includes dialoging with the CoGiC historians needs to be written.