Giving Proper Credit to William Seymour
Dec 28, 2006
In a recent web log, I mentioned Charles Parham as the primary founder of modern Pentecost in 1901. Then I mentioned the Azusa Street revival in 1906, the Latter Rain in 1948, the FGBMA, Charismatic Movement, and Word of Faith without mentioning any names connected to those movements. I did not mean to slight any of them, because there are quite a few names that could be brought to your attention, and I simply did not want this to become a full-blown history lesson. I try to limit my web logs to bite-size portions no more than 8,000 characters.
Yet in the interest of history, I must say that the more you know about these things, the better you will understand Pentecost and its founders. So I am reproducing an email response from a reader that will fill in some of the gaps in my web log:
Thank you for making available the opportunity to share a suggestion I have regarding your web log entry for 12/26/2006. Therein you credit Charles Parham with the Pentecostal revival beginning on January 1, 1901. You mention further the Azusa Street revival as a secondary echo effect that occurred in April 1906 at Azusa Street in Los Angeles. You failed to give honor where honor was due to a man who is most consistently and highly regarded for having the more profound and impacting effect for the Pentecostal movement in the U.S. and worldwide. A man, as you well know, by the name of William J. Seymour.
It can hardly be argued that almost all mainline pentecostal denominations today trace their historical roots to this Azusa Street Revival. I do not credit Seymour, however, as the father of modern-day Pentecostalism. It could be argued as to who could traditionally claim that honor, Parham -vs- Seymour. I found it very disturbing nonetheless that mention was not given in his honor as a traditional pentecostal father.
Less disturbing was failure to mention the associated "founders" or leaders of the other movements you noted, i.e, the Latter Rain movement, FGBMA, the Charismatic Movement, etc. However, I can see how not noting these particular leaders or founders would be seemingly insignificant -- as all of these movements, as you well stated, were leavened Pentecostal works, and as such could be traced back to Parham and/or Seymour. Any student of history would rather quickly come to that conclusion.
Historically, Pentecostalism can be afforded even earlier roots than Parham or Seymour in the Shearer Schoolhouse Revival of 1896 and seemingly the Church of God (Cleveland). If my research bears correction, I humbly ask you for it. Otherwise, I do enjoy your web log as it has been a source for much spiritual enlightenment and edification.
RESPONSE TO QUESTION: There certainly are sprinklings of Pentecost before 1901. In fact, these were the things that caused Parham to assign his students in Topeka the task of researching Pentecost. The result of this was an outpouring of the Spirit--which was already in progress when Parham returned to the school from a teaching trip.
So, yes, there are many other people involved in this, who each had their part in the Pentecostal outpouring of the day.
Dr. Stephen Jones