Academic journal article Church History

Aimee Semple McPherson and the Making of Modern Pentecostalism 1890-1926

Academic journal article Church History

Aimee Semple McPherson and the Making of Modern Pentecostalism 1890-1926

Article excerpt

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This new narrative of Aimee Semple McPherson's early years by Chas H. Barfoot occupies a space somewhere between academic and popular or journalistic biographies. For while Barfoot avoids simple hagiography and attempts to place his subject within a broader historical context, he nevertheless eschews formal academic protocols of detachment, writing in a personal tone as one touched by the legacy of Sister Aimee. Much like invaluable local histories, Barfoot's biography, however, offers a trove of anecdotes, events, sources, descriptions, and photographs relating to the emergence of McPherson on the national stage.

Barfoot arranges the material to argue that McPherson moved a large sector of the emerging Pentecostal movement to a middle position between Fundamentalism and mainline Protestantism--a position similar to the one currently held by interdenominational Evangelical megachurches. While Barfoot does not rigorously defend this argument, he presents anecdotal evidence that this was McPherson's intent, and that, to a certain extent, she achieved this goal. In arguing this point, Barfoot contrasts, on the one hand, her ecumenical and irenic style to Fundamentalists like "Fighting" Bob Shuler or Billy Sunday, and, on the other hand, notes her attempts to attract a middle-class, mainline Protestant audience by dampening the emotional excesses and theological innovations of her own Pentecostalism. …

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