Monday, June 20, 2022


If anyone has an interest in reading a short book on the pacifist history of certain Pentecostals during World War One, you can read my book here.


Pacifism in the Pentecostal movement was ubiquitous before and during the First World War. However, toward the end of the War, the pacific consensus among Pentecostals was disintegrating. Scholars have attributed the loss of pacifism primarily to two facts: first, a lack of a uniform ideological justification for pacifism among Pentecostals. Second, the loss of pacifism has been attributed to the acculturation that was a product of the upward social mobility of the second and third generation of Pentecostal leaders. While the acculturation argument may have some merit, the lack of uniformity argument does not. The Pentecostal movement was, by the time of the First World War, not homogenous.The theology and practice of Pentecostals varied widely. Even the lack of “uniform ideological justification” would not necessitate a loss of a distinctive doctrine. Though many arguments were advanced for pacifism, there was agreement on the foundational principles of pacifism among the most radically pacifist Pentecostal leaders. Radical pacifists are an understudied subgroup of first-generation Pentecostals. The primary cause of the loss of radical pacifism resulted from a theological process of paring down one’s belief system to foundational truths and contingent truths. The foundational truths are those that serve to characterize the movement. For Pentecostals this includes evangelism, glossolalia, and faith healing. The contingent assertions are negotiable practices that are allowed to disappear as they become irrelevant or inconvenient. For Pentecostals, pacifism belongs to the second category with other abandoned practices such as fire and snake handling, the rejection of medical professionals, mixed gender swimming, movies, and other popular forms of entertainment. It was when pacifism started being perceived as interfering with the foundational doctrine of evangelism that pacifism lost its hold on Pentecostals.

In chapter 1, “Radicals,” I look at some radical Pentecostal pacifists and the methods they employed in their objections to war, as well as the governmental repercussions of these positions. Chapter 2 examines the historiography of Pentecostal pacifism. The chronology of Pentecostal pacifism with relation to the First World War is documented in Chapter 3. Chapter 4 contains a more complete examination of radical Pentecostal pacifism as it existed during World War I by examining its practical and ideological antecedents; including, Quakerism, gender demographics, rural ideologies, and the asceticism that characterized the Holiness Movement. Chapter 5 examines the ideological and scriptural arguments used by radical Pentecostal pacifists in justifying their pacifism. The most frequently used arguments against Christian participation in war break down to five categories: murder, greed, heavenly citizenship, eschatology, and evangelism. Virtually every one of the ideologies has as its underlying principle “evangelism.” Chapter 6 shows how an evolving understanding of evangelism began the process of undermining the radical pacifism of many Pentecostal leaders.

This research included archival materials from Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center in Springfield, MO and Dixon Pentecostal Research Center in Cleveland, TN. The staff members at both archives were very helpful.

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