Fundamentalism and American Culture: The Shaping of Twentieth Century Evangelicalism, 1870-1925

By George M. Marsden | Go to book overview

thought of the times, often providing their own Christian versions of prevailing trends. Sometime around 1900 this parallel development was interrupted. To employ a psychological analogy, it was as though a series of shocks had arrested an aspect of personality development. The shocks were religious, intellectual, and social, sharpened by the disruption of World War I. The result was almost as if the positive aspects of the progressive political era had not only been rejected but even obliterated from memory. To continue the analogy, fundamentalists emerged from the experience not so much without social or political views as fixated on a set of views that had been characteristic of middle-class Americans in the last years before the crisis occurred. Their social views were frozen at a point that had been the prevailing American political opinion around 1890, save that the fundamentalists of the 1920s had forgotten the degree to which their predecessors—and even they themselves—had earlier espoused rather progressive social concerns. 32


XI. Holiness and Fundamentalism

The death of D. L. Moody in 1899 and the end of the nineteenth century coincided with the beginnings of serious fragmentation within the evangelical revivalist movement. The dispensationalist movement began to break apart over the issue of whether the secret rapture would remove believers from earth before or after the "tribulation" of the end times. Although contact among the leaders of the two camps continued (with the Scofield‐ Gaebelein pretribulationists dominant), the controversy brought the demise of the important Niagara Bible Conference in 1901 and a cessation of the "international" prophetic conferences from 1901 to 1914. 1

Of greater consequence was the revolution in the Methodistic Holiness wing of revivalism. In 1901 Charles F. Parham carried the prevalent "Pentecostal" insistence on "Baptism of the Holy Spirit" (as described in Acts 2) to the conclusion that tongues should still be the sign of a Pentecostal experience. Parham's student, W. J. Seymour, popularized this new Pentecostalism beginning in 1906 at the Azusa Street revival in Los Angeles, after which this movement grew into its own many varieties.

Significantly, the first major split within Pentecostalism reflected differences concerning holiness among the late-nineteenth-century revivalists. The original Pentecostal teachers, Parham and Seymour, taught a Methodistic Holiness view of a "second blessing" of entire sanctification in which the sinful nature was eradicated. This, they said, was followed by a third blessing, "Baptism of the Spirit," accompanied by tongues. By 1910, however, a

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