Restorationism in the Holiness Movement in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries
Studies in American Religion No.80
In her 1917 sermon Lost and Restored, Pentecostal evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson claimed that God had given her a vision showing the fall of the Christian Church from its original purity and the gradual restoration of that original purity in successive stages. Using the prophetic images of agricultural blight and recovery in Joel chapter two, she detailed the fall of the church after the apostolic age to its complete corruption in the Middle Ages. Then, beginning with the Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century, she described the church's gradual restoration to purity and power with the influence of the Reformers, continuing through Wesley and the holiness movement, and culminating with the Pentecostal movement of her own lifetime. Whatever one may make of her claim to divine inspiration, a close comparison of McPherson's statements alongside those of the leaders of the holiness movement in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries reveals ample precedent for her statements among leaders of the holiness movement.
Despite the example of such well-known leaders as McPherson, however, the many and varied manifestations of restorationism in American churches and religious movements have been generally neglected as a theme in American religious history, and have begun to be investigated and analyzed only since the 1970s. Moreover, while some scholarly attention has been given in recent years to restorationistic themes in groups such as the Puritans, Baptists, Anabaptists, Disciples of Christ, Churches of Christ. Methodists, and Pentecostals, little attention has been given to the prevalence of restorationistic themes in the holiness movement, and the significant contributions of holiness leaders toward the further prevalence of these themes in early Pentecostalism. This work focuses on the restorationist consciousness which was apparent among holiness groups during the decades of their primary theological and ecclesiastical formation, roughly the period 1880-1920.
More specifically, it focuses on the restorationism prevalent among the more radical sectors of the movement among those "come-others" and "put-others" who left the churches of their upbringing and became early leaders in the new, specifically holiness church bodies.
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What Reviewers Are Saying
"This book is important for at least two reasons. First, it provides further evidence concerning the significance of restorationism as an important force in the evolution of American Protestant theology and denominationalism. The volume makes a constructive and valuable contribution to the growing body of literature which seeks to show the goal of many American Protestants to model their spirituality, theology, and ecclesiology on what they believe to be the church of New Testament times. Second, the book takes its place among the most noteworthy historical studies of the holiness movement which is increasingly recognized for its role in American religious life... This book explores the important theme of restorationism as one of the primary factors in the origin and development of the holiness movement and the churches which were given birth by it. The author shows clearly and persuasively how restorationism was a formative influence among the movement's most important radical leaders, including Phineas Bresee, John Brooks, Martin Wells Knapp, Henry Clay Morrison, Herbert M. Riggle, Albert B. Simpson, and Daniel S. Warner." - (From the Commendatory Preface)Professor Charles Yrigoyen, Jr.,Drew University; "Dr. Ware has written a fine study on a little known segment of an important element of American Protestantism. His work rests on good scholarship and a command of most of the primary sources important to his argument... I admire this work and believe it can make a significant contribution to the scholarly study of the holiness and Pentecostal movements." - Professor Merle D. Strege, Anderson University"