Historical and Theological Origins of Assemblies of God Pacifism

Paul Alexander


The General Council of the Assemblies of God changed their official position regarding war from absolute pacifism to freedom of conscience in a mere fifty years.(1) They stated their early adamant stance in the following resolution during World War One:

Therefore, we, as a body of Christians, while purposing to fulfill all the obligations of loyal citizenship, are nevertheless constrained to declare we cannot conscientiously participate in war and armed resistance which involves the actual destruction of human life since this is contrary to our view of the clear teachings of the inspired Word of God, which is the sole basis of our faith. (2)

Previous to and during World War I several historical influences, theological emphases, and the social situation of the Assemblies of God contributed to their pacifistic stance. During and after World War II these emphases and situations changed and the pacifistic nature of the Assemblies of God changed as well. In 1967, the same body declared:

As a Movement we affirm our loyalty to the government of the United States in war or peace. We shall continue to insist, as we have historically, on the right of each member to choose for himself whether to declare his position as a combatant, a noncombatant, or a conscientious objector. (3)

The early claim of a nonviolent ethic is rooted historically among the predecessors of the Pentecostal movement. Both Quakerism and the nineteenth century Holiness Movement contributed to Assemblies of God pacifism.(4)

The Quaker Influence on Assemblies of God Pacifism

A 1917 explanation of the Assemblies of God declaration of pacifism referred to Quakerism in its opening sentence:

From the very beginning the movement has been characterized by Quaker principles. The laws of the Kingdom, laid down by our elder brother, Jesus Christ in His Sermon on the Mount, have been unqualifiedly adopted, consequently the movement has found itself opposed to the spilling of the blood of any man, or of offering resistance to any aggression. Every branch of the movement, whether in the United States, Canada, Great Britain or Germany, has held to this principle.(5)

Murray Dempster called the Quaker influence on Pentecostal pacifism “enigmatic.”(6) However, the Quakerism of Arthur Sidney Booth-Clibborn (a Pentecostal minister with a 250 year Quaker family heritage), his children (some of whom were founders and ministers in the Assemblies of God), and Hannah Whitall Smith influenced the Assemblies of God. Each was influenced by a Quaker heritage and they each had a significant impact on Pentecostal pacifism. The most direct evidence of this was the Pentecostal use of Booth-Clibborn’s 1914 book, Blood Against Blood. (7) It was highly recommended in the Assemblies of God and reflected classic Quaker arguments against war and violence.(8)

There was also evidence that the early Quaker peace testimony contained many parallels to early Pentecostal pacifism. These parallels reveal why an Assemblies of God mention of “Quaker principles” was not only appropriate but was indeed a deliberate reference.

Pentecostal Scholarship

Few Pentecostal historians, theologians, or ethicists have noted the influence of Quakerism upon the movement.(9) The few who have noticed relationships between Quakerism and Pentecostalism focused upon the similar emphases on the Holy Spirit and glossolalia while they neglected to discuss the pacifistic parallels in detail.(10)

This is seen most clearly in the article “Quakers (Society of Friends)” in the comprehensive Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements.(11) In the article, Burgess highlighted the fact that the Quakers emphasized the “experience of the Holy Spirit” and that they believed “Scripture corroborates and interprets one’s prior spiritual experience.” He also referred to their “visions, healings, prophecies, and a power from God that they likened to first-century Pentecost. There is even evidence of tongues-speech . . . .” The only reference to any relationship between the Quaker peace ethic and Pentecostalism was the final sentence of the eight paragraph article, “Quakers even provided arguments for early Pentecostals who tended to be strongly pacifistic.” This was probably a reference to Booth-Clibborn’s book but he provided no further explanation. (12)

Assemblies of God Scholarship

Assemblies of God scholars have not thoroughly investigated Quaker influence even though early Assemblies of God officials cited a Quaker heritage for their early peace ethic.(13) The early Assemblies of God leaders thought it necessary to refer to the Quaker principles that characterized the Pentecostal movement.(15) They could have thought this was important because the Quakers were widely recognized as a peace church and the General Council sought to gain conscientious objector status for their ministers during World War I. They might have hoped that they could provide a simple reference to the Friends and the affair would then be settled easily.

But the constituency of the Assemblies of God accepted this relationship with Quakerism without quarrel, and this signified that Assemblies of God persons must have agreed with the claim that their movement was defined by Quaker principles “from the very beginning.” The claim and widespread acceptance of Quaker influence demand a thorough investigation to discover the nature of the relationships between historic Quakerism and early Pentecostalism. This is accomplished by first examining the Quakers who influenced the early Assemblies of God and then investigating the many similarities that existed between the two groups.

Quakers Who Influenced the Early Assemblies of God

The historical connection between Quakerism and the Assemblies of God can be demonstrated by examining the lives of Arthur Sidney Booth-Clibborn, his descendants, and Hannah Whitall Smith.(16) This will contribute toward solving the mystery regarding the Quaker origins of Assemblies of God pacifism.

Arthur Sidney Booth-Clibborn.

Arthur Sidney Booth-Clibborn served as the clearest and strongest link between Quakerism and the Assemblies of God. His significant Quaker heritage has yet to be fully appreciated by any Pentecostal writer.(17) This section will elucidate Booth-Clibborn’s Quaker heritage, his arguments in favor of pacifism, and the impact that he had on the early Assemblies of God.

“The Society of Friends,” wrote Donald Green, “has produced so far only two systematic thinkers . . . Robert Barclay and Joseph John Gurney.”(18) Both of these authors, who wrote the most widely read and best known explanations and defenses of Quakerism, were ancestors of Arthur Sidney Booth-Clibborn. Robert Barclay penned An Apology for the True Christian Divinity as the Same is Held Forth and Preached by the People, in Scorn, Called Quakers in 1678 and Joseph John Gurney wrote Observations on the Religious Peculiarities of the Society of Friends in 1824. The former was lauded by Voltaire (19) and the latter went through ten editions in England and America. (20) When Booth-Clibborn stated that “ancestral examples. . . affected both my views and duties in this question of the two opposite kinds of war” (21) his readers could be assured that he had been influenced by some of the greatest examples of Quakerism.

Booth-Clibborn’s Quaker heritage began in the mid 1650s when John Clibborn tried to burn down a Quaker meeting house that had been erected on his land in Moate, Ireland. Instead, he converted to Quakerism because of the preaching of Thomas Lowe who also influenced William Penn to adopt Quaker peace principles. John Clibborn resigned his military position under Oliver Cromwell and harbored refugees during the wars that followed. “His life was attempted three times” because he was a Quaker but he would not testify against his enemies because “he bore them no ill-will.”(22)

During that same decade Colonel David Barclay, who was at one time the military governor over the majority of Scotland, “experience[ed] the new birth,” renounced war as anti-Christian, and was accused of succumbing to “the scandalous errours [sic] of Quaquarism [sic].”(23) John Greenleaf Whittier noted the persecutions suffered by David Barclay in both poetry and prose.(24) His son Robert Barclay became an influential Quaker theologian and traveled with both George Fox and William Penn. As previously mentioned, he also wrote his famous Apology, which is considered the classic presentation of the propositions of Quakerism. Joseph John Gurney was also a descendant of David Barclay. He argued for the relevance and importance of Quakerism on a broad scale through public speaking and publishing his famous work, Observations.

Booth-Clibborn touted his female Quaker ancestors as wonderful examples of nonviolence and “prominent women ministers in the Society.”(25) He claimed that women in ministry encouraged peace, provided good role models, and that “the restoration of women’s ministry to its normal place in the public service of Christ [would show] the unlawfulness of war for the Christian”(26)

Arthur Sidney Booth-Clibborn was aware of his rich Quaker heritage, and he had no intention of distancing himself from it. His acceptance of the holiness movement and the Pentecostal message did not detract from his pacifism. He considered himself a Quaker and wrote his book, Blood Against Blood, from the perspective of a Quaker missionary. He was “recorded” as a Quaker minister at an “unusually early age” and never drifted from those Quaker truths even when he joined the Salvation Army in 1881.(27)

Blood Against Blood was the first of two systematic presentations of Christian pacifism by Quaker Pentecostals.(28) In it Booth-Clibborn encapsulated the Quaker arguments against war that were eventually adopted by the early Assemblies of God. He insisted that absolute nonparticipation in war should be a Christian ethic, not just a Quaker one. (29) The two-fold premise of his book was represented in the title. First, the blood of carnal warfare was opposite the blood of Christ and the two were “mutually excluding and never reconcilable.”(30) Second, the blood of Christ was the only power by which the blood of warfare could be overcome and conquered. “Christianity is the only remedy to war. Not a bloodless gospel on the one hand, not an adulterated evangelicalism on the other. It must be Blood against blood.”(31)

Booth-Clibborn did not support antiwar movements or arguments that were not Christian. He believed that “moralists” who placed their hopes “in the social effort of man to save his own world on material lines” were doomed for failure.(32) He declared that the nonresistance of Tolstoy and those who followed “Tolstoyism” was “purely a negative force” even though it attempted to follow the example of the Sermon on the Mount.(33) Booth-Clibborn’s reasoning was based on his understanding that Tolstoy denied both the divinity and the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. Thus pacifism in itself was not the goal of Booth-Clibborn. He attempted to describe the life of a faithful Christian and participation in war was simply not an option.

John Howard Yoder described this kind of pacifism as that of “the virtuous minority” or “vocational pacifism.”(34) Christians were to live according to a different ethic than that which could be required of the rest of the world. This approach calls “into doubt this axiom that the same ethics are for everybody. . . all are invited to live on this level, but not all are expected or required to do so.”(35) This minority morality allowed the church to function according to its prophetic vocation without demanding that everybody else live the same way.

Booth-Clibborn was a strong Quaker but he also appreciated and supported the Pentecostal movement, “all their [he and his wife’s] sympathies were with the Outpouring, even from the beginning. How could it be otherwise when nine of their children had received their Pentecost.”(36) Indeed, Booth-Clibborn himself claimed to have received the baptism in the Holy Spirit under the ministry of a Quaker minister.(37)

Arthur Booth-Clibborn’s influence on the early Assemblies of God came primarily from his book and articles in The Pentecostal Evangel, but his children also had an effect.(38) William Booth-Clibborn, the fifth child of Arthur Booth-Clibborn, was a charter member of the Assemblies of God in 1914 and wrote many books of his own.(39) His 1936 work entitled The Baptism in the Holy Spirit. A Personal Testimony illustrates the close connection that his family, especially his pacifist father, had with the beginning of the Pentecostal movement.

William Booth-Clibborn related several statements that his father made about the Pentecostal revival and experience. In reference to a woman at a mission hall he wrote, “She is speaking by the Spirit and Power of God in a language unfamiliar to her. This is the unknown tongue you read about in Scripture. Is it not wonderful that God should be again baptizing with the Holy Ghost like He did in the early days of the Christian Church.”(40) Arthur Booth-Clibborn also “proclaimed to one and all that this [Pentecostal] revival was destined to sweep the world.” (41)

William Booth-Clibborn even claimed that “unless my parents had stepped out on questions of conscience and the advocacy of advanced truths such as . . . the anti-Christian character of all carnal warfare, we would never have been ready as a family to experience Pentecost in our home.”(42) This significant statement revealed the connection between Quaker pacifism and early Pentecostalism in the mind of at least this one founder of the Assemblies of God. It also revealed the connection between the baptism in the Holy Spirit and pacifism.(43)

Three sons and two daughters of Arthur Booth-Clibborn were also related to the Assemblies of God. Eric Booth-Clibborn was an Assemblies of God missionary who died shortly after reaching the French African Sudan.(44) He wrote five articles for The Pentecostal Evangel and his wife wrote one as well.(45) Samuel Herbert Booth-Clibborn wrote two articles against war that were published in The Weekly Evangel in 1917. (46) They reflected the arguments presented by his father in Blood Against Blood and were therefore absolutely pacifistic. He also penned a book modeled after his father’s that declared the same unquestionable ethic for Christians.(47)

The early Assemblies of God leaders had great respect for Arthur Booth-Clibborn and his family. The Weekly Evangel strongly recommended Blood Against Blood to all of is readers in 1915.

A most striking, realistic and forceful book by Arthur Sidney Booth-Clibborn, an English Pentecostal Evangelist and Elder who has put into words the principles burning in the hearts of all the Pentecostal saints on the subject of whether a Christian should go to war or not. This book presents war from a Christian standpoint and is not intended for those out of Christ. Should the United States go to war with Germany, or any other nation, what shall be the attitude of the Pentecostal people. Send for a copy of this wonderful book and then make a decision. Price 55 cts. Postpaid. The Gospel Publishing House. (48)

Another advertisement lauded it by stating that “The Gospel Publishing House is in possession of a powerful book” and encouraged Pentecostals to “purchase it and become imbued with the spirit of its contents, in a complete opposition and protest against war and the shedding of blood.”(49) The edition they were selling was replete with Quaker references, quotes, and an impressive account of Booth-Clibborn’s Quaker heritage. It had clearly already made an impact on the leadership of the Assemblies of God because that same issue of The Weekly Evangel contained a reference to Quakerism:

The Pentecostal people. . . are uncompromisingly opposed to war, having much the same spirit as the early Quakers, who would rather be shot themselves than that they should shed the blood of their fellow men.(50)

Furthermore, this official periodical of the Assemblies of God highly recommended Blood Against Blood two full years before the next reference to Quaker principles in 1917.

In 1917, as a way of advertising the book, The Weekly Evangel quoted fourteen lines from Blood Against Blood. The citation was antiwar in nature and quoted such eminent persons as George Fox, “I cannot fight for the spirit of war is slain within me” and the church father Tertullian, “Our religion teaches us that it is better to be killed than to kill.”(51)

The final evidence that the Booth-Clibborn family had a great impact on the early Assemblies of God is the number of their articles printed in The Pentecostal Evangel. Arthur Booth-Clibbom authored thirteen articles that were published in the pages of The Pentecostal Evangel from 1918-1922. William Booth-Clibborn penned six articles from 1915-1926 and Eric Booth-Clibborn published five before his death in 1924 while Theodore, Lucile, and Genevieve each had one article printed in The Pentecostal Evangel. (52)

Hannah Whitall Smith (1832-1911)

Hannah Whitall Smith was a Philadelphia Quaker whose writings had a significant impact on the American holiness movement and early Pentecostalism. She has been called the “spark which finally ignited the holiness revival movement in England and throughout the continent of Europe.”(53) Her Quakerism, which was evident in her books, sermons, and correspondence, helped contribute to the pacifistic nature of the emerging Pentecostal movement because so many of the early Pentecostals read her writings. This can be seen from the success of her best-selling book, The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life, (54) which sold over two million copies by 1950 (55) and was quoted repeatedly in The Pentecostal Evangel. (56)

Her acceptance of Wesleyan perfectionism and her “prominent part in the spreading holiness revival”(57) did not dampen her Quaker peace testimony. She referred to her Quaker heritage in her books and quoted inspiring statements made by other Quakers. The Christian ‘s Secret of a Happy Life revealed that she was a Quaker and that her life was characterized by Quaker principles. She alluded to nonparticipation in war when she wrote, “Famine and fire and war may rage around [the child of God], but under its father’s tender care the child abides in utter unconcern and perfect rest.”(58) She emphasized being obedient to God even when that obedience resulted in great difficulties.(59) She viewed all events as coming directly from God and desired that Christians should “receive everything directly from His hands, with no intervention of second causes.”(60) This justified her pacifism and allowed her to insist that “We are not to avenge ourselves, because our Father has charged Himself with our defense.” (61)

In the chapter entitled “Practical Results in Daily Use” she encouraged her readers to “walk through the world as Christ walked.”(62) She elaborated upon this theme by explaining that Christians are soldiers for Christ and not soldiers of this world. Christians must “not resent injuries or unkindness, but must return good for evil, and turn the other cheek to the hand that smites us.”(63)

Hannah Whitall Smith’s The God of All Comfort (64) revealed more of her Quaker theology and heritage. She quoted fellow Quakers (65) and taught her readers that “the Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.” (66) She emphasized the peace that was available in the midst of storms, turmoil, and enemies because the fight of the Christian is a fight of faith.(67)

“But you may ask, ‘Are we not to do any fighting ourselves?’ Of course we are to fight, but not in this fashion. We are to fight the ‘good fight of faith,’ as Paul exhorted Timothy; and “the fight of faith is not a fight of effort or struggle, but it is a fight of trusting.” (68)

Smith employed stories from the Old Testament that showed how the followers of God did not have to fight their battles but only had to trust in God. She referred to Jehoshaphat as an example to follow, “He did not waste his time and his energies in trying to prepare engines of warfare or in arranging plans for a battle, but he at once ‘set himself to seek the Lord.’” (69)

She combined her concern for spirituality and the higher Christian life with practical concerns. She taught that when a Christian is offended and wants to get angry and retaliate they should instead follow her example.

“I look at Christ and think of what He would have done, and dwell upon the thought of His gentleness and meekness and His love for the offending one; and, as I look, I begin to want to be like Him and I ask in faith that I may be made a ‘partaker of his nature,’ and anger and revenge die out of my heart and I love my enemy and long to serve him.” (70)

Holiness and Pentecostal people read and quoted Hannah Whitall Smith’s writings. The Quaker heritage of the Assemblies of God can be seen by the fact that she was quoted only one page after the Assemblies of God statement of 1917, “From the very beginning the movement has been characterized by Quaker principles.”(71) That statement occurred on page six and on page seven there was an unrelated article in which Mrs. A. R. Flower cited a passage from Smith’s The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life:

That cross inmate of your household, who has hitherto made life a burden to you, and who has been the Juggernaut car to crush your soul into the dust, may henceforth be a glorious chariot to carry you to the heights of heavenly patience and long-suffering. (72)

Hannah Whitall Smith’s Quakerism clearly influenced the early Assemblies of God leaders as they studied and quoted her numerous works.

Similarities of Early Quakerism and Early Pentecostalism

The Pre-History of Quaker Pacifism

Quaker pacifism has a pre-history. It did not appear ex nihilo to become the defining testimony of the Society of Friends. The roots of Quaker pacifism can be found in the Lollards (followers of John Wyclif) of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries and English Anabaptists and Baptists of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

The Lollards told the English parliament in 1395 that “Christ. . . taught for to love and to have mercy on his enemies and not for to slay them.”(73) They also tacked their statement to the doors of Westminster Abbey and St. Paul’s Cathedral so that the entire city would know they were against war. However, like many Christian pacifistic groups that followed them, not all within their ranks agreed with the ethic of nonviolence. One of the Lollard leaders exhibited his militant tendencies by rebelling against the government in 1414.(74)

The English Anabaptists were “mostly obscure weavers or petty traders and craftsmen.”(75) Their marginalized and low socio-economic status was a familiar situation for Christian pacifists and seems to provide a context from which an Anabaptist in 1575 testified, “Christ is the true expounder of the law, and saith, resist not, and gave us an example to follow his steps.”(76) However, this same man evidenced within his own thought the tensions between loyalty to government and a consistent peace testimony. He assured the government that he was not against their ability to use the sword against evildoers and that their authority was ordained by God.(77) This recognition of divine authority for governing powers to kill evildoers as well as enemies of the state is what troubled the Assemblies of God so many years later and eventually led to their choice of patriotism over pacifism. It also sounded almost exactly like the initial proclamation of pacifism by the Assemblies of God, i.e. stressing loyalty to the government first but then insisting; nevertheless, that they could not participate in the destruction of human life.(78)

Another similarity between English Anabaptism and the early Pentecostals is the fact that both were separatists who severed ties with the established churches. The Anabaptists served as the foundation for the first free churches in England – the Congregationalist and Baptist denominations. The early Pentecostal movement consisted of people from many different denominations who had distanced themselves from their previous associations. These twentieth century separatists eventually formed thousands of Pentecostal and Charismatic denominations. (79)

The first English Baptist church was founded by a pacifist in 1609. John Smyth, who had left the Church of England and subsequently joined the Mennonites, (80) evidenced several themes that characterized the early Assemblies of God. First, he desired to be like the “primitive church, which was completely perfect [and] did not acknowledge the magistracy in its midst.” This reference to the primitive church revealed hints of a restorationist motif that was so prevalent in early Pentecostalism. He carried it further by stating that members of the “the church of the new testament” led “unarmed and unweaponed li[ves].”(81) His pacifism was rooted in being like the New Testament church and this nonviolence was accompanied by a recognition that the government was “a necessary ordinance of God . . . for the punishing of the evil.”(82) This loyalty to the existing government accompanied by restorationist and perfectionist pacifism reveals early roots of the Assemblies of God position.

Rufus Jones argued that Quaker pacifism was the product of a “slowly maturing spiritual movement”(83) and Peter Brock insisted that “the pacifist idea was not at that date [1650s] entirely a novelty in England.”(84) Now that some of the precedents to Quaker pacifism have been examined and compared to early Assemblies of God pacifism, the development of the peace testimony within Quakerism itself is considered.

Early Quakerism Compared with Early Assemblies of God Pacifism

Radical. Early Quakerism and early Pentecostalism shared many similarities. Both were radical movements that broke away from the established and powerful churches in attempts to be more like the primitive church. (85) Quakers have been likened to radical Puritans and labeled as “far more radical than some historians would still admit.” (86) It would not be too much of a leap to consider early Pentecostals “radical Evangelicals”(87) or radical Fundamentalists who “merely carried Biblical literalism – the bedrock of Fundamentalism – to its logical conclusion.”(88) This antiestablishment attitude on their part allowed them to view war from the perspective of outsiders. They attacked America’s treatment of the native Americans and the “wrong to the black people.” (89) As a minority within both Christianity and the world they could proclaim a radical message to both the religious and secular establishments. Being against the established powers meant that a superior way needed to be restored.

Restorationism. The early Quakers had a fanatical desire to restore New Testament Christianity after “a thousand years of Catholic apostasy” with their “intensely transforming religious awakening.”(90) Compare this to the advertisement appearing in the 1908 magazine The Pentecost, “LOST – Somewhere between the days of Pentecost and Present time: real bible [sic] salvation. Search yourself and see if you have it.” (91) Thus, the Quaker and Pentecostal views of history were very similar. The Quakers considered themselves to be a renewal movement that would bring new life to the kingdom of God because they were returning to the New Testament way. Joseph John Gurney, a nineteenth century Quaker, titled his book “Primitive Christianity” and wrote an entire essay “On the Discipline of the Primitive Christians and on that of the Society of Friends” in which he sought to show that the Quakers were the most like New Testament Christians.” (92) An Assemblies of God historian titled his book. Suddenly. . . From Heaven: A History of the Assemblies of God (93) which encapsulated the view that “the church ended in Acts 28, went underground for 1900 years and then reemerged at Azusa Street.”(94)

Defenders of the Poor. Both early Quakers and early Pentecostals were “socially disreputable” and represented the outcasts. Quakers “spoke out on behalf of the poorer sections of the population.”(95) William Penn wrote that

the sweat and tedious labour of the husbandman, early and late, cold and hot, wet and dry [is] converted into the pleasure, ease and pastime of a small number of men; severity [is] laid upon nineteen parts of the land to feed the inordinate lusts and delicious appetites of the twentieth. . . the very trimming of the vain world would clothe all the naked one[s] (96)

Early Pentecostals proclaimed that war created situations in which “the poor must live on half rations. The sick must die. We cannot buy new clothes. We cannot buy good food. We cannot travel. Rent prices are criminally high.”(97) They also declared that “the rich man’s dog gets more meat than the poor man’s family.”(98) Frank Bartleman attacked “Wall Street interests, Pork Barrel administration,” “human leeches,” and “Dollar patriotism.” The Quaker testimonies of simplicity and equality were heard when he said, “Think of Charlie Chaplin, the popular Movie Actor, getting around half million dollars and over, for one year’s salary, while millions are starving.”(99)

Carl Brumback claimed that the Assemblies of God helped correct the problem of rich churches that neglected the poor and caused them to “get out of the race and join the ranks of the unchurched. A mute cry went up to the throne of God from the hearts of these ‘common people’ for a church where they could feel ‘at home.’” (100) Both the Quakers and the early Assemblies of God accepted the rejects of society and trumpeted their causes.

Evangelization. Quakers desired to evangelize everyone in the world, from the soldiers in the military to the peoples across the seas. From their earliest days Quakers proselytized among the soldiers and “found a sympathetic hearing and valuable support among both the army officers and rank and file.” (101) This eventually resulted in the authorities being “alarm[ed] at the spread of Quakerism among the soldiers.” (102) The Assemblies of God confirmed their desire to “Work Amongst the Soldiers” at the General Council in 1917.

Bro. Raymond Richey was asked to speak about the work the Lord has laid upon his heart among the soldier boys, and in a very enthusiastic way he told how wonderfully the Lord had opened up the way for him, giving him favor in the eyes of the authorities, and how signally his efforts had been blessed so far. (103)

This resulted in the adoption of a resolution that encouraged the Assemblies of God to “adopt every available means consistent with Scriptural teaching and example to cooperate with every approved agency for revivals among the soldiers.” (104)

Early Quaker evangelism efforts compelled them to rent halls so they could spread their message to the masses. They also prophesied in the streets, “Early Quaker prophetic messages of judgment and confrontation were often given in a marketplace . . . .”(105) Some Quakers wanted to go to America in the 1670s so they could “convert Indians” (106)

The twentieth-century Pentecostal movement began in a rented hall on Azusa Street in Los Angeles and Pentecostals were generally ready to preach on any street corner if an audience could be found. Missionary zeal was an integral aspect of the early Assemblies of God and related directly to why they claimed to be a pacifist church. The first reason provided to the Assemblies of God constituency as an explanation of the pacifist resolution in 1917 was that “from its very inception, the Pentecostal Movement has been a movement of evangelism, studiously avoiding any principles or actions which would thwart it in its great purpose.” (107) Wars and killing were understood to be a hindrance to missions and evangelism was certainly more important than patriotism.(108)

Women Ministers. Another remarkable similarity between early Quakerism and the early Assemblies of God was their attitude toward women. Quakers allowed God to speak through any person who was willing and “the equality in ministry of all Friends, rich and poor, young and old, educated and unschooled, and especially women and men, was noticed by everyone in the l650s.” (109) Margaret Fell wrote a tract in 1666 entitled “Women’s Speaking” which was a breakthrough and showed that the Quakers allowed women to write as well as preach.

In fact, Quaker women were allowed to be the heads of household, supervise business meetings, and publicly convey “the most revolutionary message that all daily life was equally part of God’s direct Call to each of his ‘saints.’” (110) Robert Barclay, in his 1678 An Apology for the True Christian Divinity, insisted “that every good Christian (not only men, but even women also) is a preacher.”(111)

Joseph John Gurney penned an entire chapter entitled “On the Ministry of Women” in which he declared that “Friends believe it right, freely and equally, to allow the ministry of both sexes.”(112) This was an excellent chapter that expounded on the manifold reasons why women have been and always will be used by the Spirit to speak words of exhortation and instruction to the church. He dealt with Paul’s prohibitions by showing that the apostle was talking about speech that was not “prompted by the immediate impulses of the Holy Spirit.” (113)

Early Pentecostals also approved of women in ministry. In the first year of the Assemblies of God (1914), nearly one-third of ordained ministers were women.” (114) They cited Peter in Acts 2 as he quoted from Joel, “your sons and your daughters will prophesy.” This was used to show that women “could communicate religious truth under divine inspiration.”(115) The first person to be baptized in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues was Ms. Agnes Ozman and many of the pioneers of Pentecostalism were women.(116) There were frequent articles in The Pentecostal Evangel that were written by women in which they exhorted and encouraged the constituency. An example is “Daily Portion From the King’s Bounty” by Mrs. A. R. Flower who inspired women in ministry with poetry,

So her life was full of sunshine, for in toiling for the Lord

She had found the hidden sweetness that in common things lied stored. (117)

Both Quakers and the early Assemblies of God allowed the Spirit to use women to a greater degree than did the religious groups surrounding them. Both renewal movements broke with tradition and society as they elevated the status of the women in their assemblies. (118) Promoting women in ministry and pacifism were related endeavors. Arthur Sidney Booth-Clibborn believed that allowing women to minister would help the “unlawfulness of war for the Christian [to] become ever more evident.”(119)

Loyalty to Government. The final parallel to be considered is the attitudes that both early Quakers and the early Assemblies of God held toward government. Despite their disestablishment actions and speech in many areas, each group also contained members who supported their governments. Tension resulted in both groups because of these competing emphases. Some wanted to be loyal to their vision of the radical Christ, while others also felt the need be faithful to the government.

Their qualified cooperation with the state is viewed in light of the proclamation of their peace testimony. Both groups dealt with their governments in similar manners: drafting resolutions, sending letters to those in authority, and repeatedly declaring their loyalty to the earthly institutions. They both limited this allegiance with the qualification of nonviolence, but the qualification did not last in the Assemblies of God. Specific similarities and differences between the early Quakers and early Assemblies of God are explained throughout this section.

George Fox and other early Quakers were emotionally involved in the Commonwealth government. Peter Brock commented that “their past tied them to the parliamentary cause in countless ways that made it extremely hard to separate decisively from it.”(120) This is why Fox supported Cromwell’s army and encouraged the government to use military force against the papacy. He hoped for swift victory when his side was fighting and told Cromwell, “let thy soldiers go forth with a free willing heart.”(121) Fox evidenced a strong loyalty to his government and he believed that it was ordained of God. Fox supported the use of force when the government was upholding peace and ridding the world of evil even though he believed that it was neither Christian nor something in which he himself could participate.

Here the outward swordmen have not learned yet to beat their swords and spears into ploughshares and pruning hooks. Yet ye that are in that seed, see that ye accuse no man falsely, that hath the sword of justice, which is to keep the peace, and is a terror to the evil-doers, and to keep down the transgressors, and for the praise of them that do well. (122)

The early leaders of the Assemblies of God stressed their loyalty to the United States government in clear and certain terms. In 1917 the General Council prefaced their pacifist resolution with “While recognizing Human Government as of Divine ordination and affirming our unswerving loyalty to the Government of the United States . . . .” (123) That same Council showed that it was attached to the American way of life emotionally when it condemned “insulting the flag.” (124)

The following excerpt is a window into the American souls of some early Assemblies of God ministers:

Bro. E. L. Banta spoke on the importance of our loyalty to the powers that be, since they are ordained of God; and told of some so-called Pentecostal preachers who thought they were doing honor to God by insulting the flag and of the humiliation to them that followed. Bro. A. P. Collins followed and said we were on Bible grounds in honoring the government, and said that the flag stood not only for civil freedom but also for religious liberty; and that at the Texas District Council they had purposed to cancel the credentials of any preacher who spoke against the government. This body also agreed that such radicals do not represent the General Council. (125)

Civil freedom and religious liberty were the American qualities that A. P. Collins, who was a member of the General Presbytery, considered to be worthy of allegiance. Both Quakers and Pentecostals expressed loyalty to their governments because they thought they were the best options available. This was so strong in both cases that they sometimes vacillated on their peace testimony.

Brock argued that at first Fox did not require, or even think it necessary, that all Quakers agree with him regarding his noncombatant position. Since Cromwell was seeking justice (in their view) there was tension between the two ideals of peace and justice. The achievement of justice, even through violent means, was important enough for Fox to “enthusiastically support the government.”(126) Thus the early Quakers differed from the Anabaptist-Mennonite tradition and accepted at least the police functions of civil government. (127) The early leader of Quakerism, George Fox, wavered on pacifism and evidenced a strong loyalty to his government until it looked as if his cause (the parliamentary system) was defeated by the restoration of the monarchy. Once his side lost he decided to disapprove fighting. By the end of 1659 he had confirmed his position for Christians and proclaimed, “All that pretend to fight for Christ, are deceived; for his kingdom is not of this world, therefore his servants do not fight. Therefore fighters are not of Christ’s kingdom, but without Christ’s kingdom.” (128)

Even as they were passing the pacifist resolution and declaring themselves conscientiously opposed to war, early Assemblies of God leaders were allowing plenty of room for those among them who wanted to fight for America. When the Assemblies of God explained the pacifist position to the constituency in May 1917, the second paragraph of the article began with the following qualification, “It is not intended to hinder anyone from taking up arms who may feel free to do so, . . .” (129) J. W. Welch, the chairman of the executive presbytery and author of the article, also stated his own opinion:

Personally I should deplore the necessity for our young men to bear arms against others, but would be pleased to see many of them serve in a capacity that would afford them an opportunity to save life and to point men to Christ who may be facing death in the trenches. (130)

In 1918 a reader sent a war-related question to The Christian Evangel, “Would it be murder for a child of God to go to war and shoot men as do other soldiers?” E. N. Bell, a member of the general presbytery, answered that “Our faith leaves this with the conscience of each man. We have never opposed the going to war of our members whose conscience allowed them to go.” (131) Thus the Assemblies of God was like the Quakers in that they did not, at the beginning, forbid their members to participate in war even though the leader of the group was in favor of a noncombatant stance.

Prior to Fox’s pacifist decision, Quaker leader John Lilburne, a former Leveller, (132) quit the military and renounced violence. (133) He was only one of several Quakers who became pacifists in the 1650s. Thomas Lurting was a “fighting Quaker” who served in the English Navy until he developed “some scruple of conscience” during an attack on Barcelona. The reality of war seems to have had such an impact on him that it became clear that it was in every way opposed to the character of Christ. His firsthand experiences convinced him that he had both to be a pacifist and to convince as many of his Quaker brothers as possible of his perspective.(134) Arthur Booth-Clibborn’s experience is similar in that his intense antiwar activism and writing was prompted by his firsthand experiences in the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902). His famous book Blood Against Blood was penned shortly after he witnessed the violence of that war firsthand.

Quaker pacifism became an official principle of the Society of Friends in 1660. This took place after “the utopian millenarian hopes” of early Quakers were destroyed by the restoration of the monarchy in England. Fox then began to hold an uncompromising position that forbade any Quaker to serve in the military, “it was contrary to our principles, for our weapons are spiritual and not carnal.”(135) This was quite different from the way that the Assemblies of God developed. The Americans were on the winning side of World War I and II and the American Pentecostals continued to stress their loyalty to government and to allow each Christian to choose whether or not to fight. Quakers began to dismiss any Friends who approved of fighting in a war, while the Assemblies of God threatened to dismiss any Pentecostals who spoke against the government of the United States. (136) It seems that being on the losing or winning side of a war contributed to the future of pacifism for both the early Quakers and the early Assemblies of God.


Hopefully, the Assemblies of God reference to a Quaker heritage is no longer as enigmatic as it once was. Quaker pacifism and the twentieth century Pentecostal movement were linked together by several Quakers. The early Assemblies of God leaders read, published, and recommended the pacifistic and inspirational literature of Quakers. They also shared many theological perspectives with Quakers and were founded by descendants of Quakers. Both early Quakers and early Pentecostals were radical, restorationist, defenders of the poor who allowed women to minister while evangelizing the masses and remaining loyal to their governments. Their pacifism was closely tied to the first five of these characteristics but in tension with the last one. The evidence supports the assertion that at least a minority of the early Pentecostals valued and sought to emulate the peace testimony of the Quakers.

[From The Conclusion]

Acceptability from the Religious Establishment

During the debate about the military service article at the General Council in 1967 one Assemblies of God minister blatantly revealed their quest for acceptance as a reason for opposing conscientious objection because it provided “protection of a few at the cost of condemnation of the whole.”(28) The specific issue of killing in warfare was an embarrassment because it brought condemnation from the American churches with which the Assemblies of God had associated.

The Assemblies of God began by attempting to restore New Testament Christianity to the church and to the world. Some believed that this restoration included a critique of violence and injustice. Others limited the restoration to glossolalia, healings, and other gifts of the Holy Spirit. Both approaches conflicted with the religious establishment in America. However, those who accepted the former did so in a public manner that attacked the way the American churches supported their “Christian” government. Those who limited restoration to the latter manifestations of the Spirit could enjoy their experiential Christianity in the privacy of their own churches.

As the Assemblies of God grew, the minority who critiqued war had diminishing significance. By the time the Assemblies of God desired to affiliate with other American evangelical churches (1940s) they had hardly any critique of war left. Nevertheless, their limited conscientious objection did not match the ethics of the churches with which they desired to associate. The leaders who led the Assemblies of God toward the religious establishment did not highlight their pacifist heritage, and they gladly let the dwindling minority expire.

The Assemblies of God impressed American evangelicals with their support of World War II by sending sixty-five thousand soldiers and over sixteen million pieces of free Christian literature to the Allied forces while employing over one hundred personnel in their Servicemen’s Department. (29) They participated in the formation of the National Association of Evangelicals in 1942 and thus conformed to the American church that many had hoped to reform. They assumed the appearance of a conservative American established denomination on the outside (regarding their politics), and reserved their radical practices (glossolalia, etc.) for the inside.

Assemblies of God Use of Scripture for Ethical Issues

The Assemblies of God interprets scripture in order to please both the secular and religious establishment, and they adjust their use of Scripture depending on the issue being addressed. The early minority who professed pacifistic ideals consistently appealed to the Bible, specifically to the New Testament and to Jesus. They began their articles with such questions and declarations as “What saith Scripture on this all important matter,” (30) “the arguments [are] based solely on the authority of God’s Holy Word,”(31) and “I took the stand that I did as a C. O. [because] I could not see any other stand to take as a Christian who is measuring his walk by the Word of God.”(32)

The 1917 resolution itself contained references to Scripture in every paragraph, and quoted five specific verses.(33) They interpreted the instructions and life of Jesus seriously and applied them to themselves, regardless of the consequences. Their respect for the New Testament meant that they would take the reproach of Christ upon themselves even to the point of death. Those Pentecostal pacifists publicly proclaimed the nonresistance inherent in the good news of Jesus.

Whenever any Assemblies of God people argued against the pacifists or the conscientious objectors they would consistently employ a rationale that appealed to defending the innocent, obeying the government, or freedom of conscience. When they referred to Scripture, they quoted the Old Testament, Romans 13, and any other verse that would support doing what the government said. They consistently avoided both the Gospels and any reference to Jesus. Beginning with the support of the European War in 1914, “[otherwise] not a life in Christendom would be safe. The State is of God,”(34) and continuing to the present, “we are committed to its avoidance [war] as much as accountability, sensibility, and responsibility allow,”(35) the militants within the Assemblies of God have avoided Jesus’ words and deeds.

More bluntly, the Assemblies of God interprets scripture in a haphazard manner and uses it to defend the secular and religious establishments. Ethical convictions that are not held by their evangelical associates receive no biblical support from the Assemblies of God. Disagreeing with war and capital punishment are not conservative evangelical ideals so the Assemblies of God ignores any New Testament evidence that might bolster those beliefs.

They deal with war by quoting Romans 13 and by appealing to conscience based on Romans 14. They actually provide an interpretation of the latter that they blatantly contradict regarding other ethical issues, “The Scriptures call for the employment of personal conscience in all matters.”(36) Even when appealing to Paul’s “disputable matters” passage they uncritically apply it to everything just to ensure that they do not have to take a stand against war.

But they never reference Romans 14, “Each of us will give an account of himself to God,” when discussing issues about which they feel they are on solid American evangelical ground: abortion, drinking alcohol, lotteries, gambling, suicide, and smoking tobacco.(37) Contrarily, since most conservative Christians support capital punishment, the Assemblies of God employs numerous Old Testament scriptures and Romans 13 to support it as well, once again stating “there is room in the church for honest differences of opinion concerning the use of capital punishment.”(38)

Significantly, they employ the example of Jesus only regarding safe ethical issues. Gambling is wrong because “Jesus taught that love is what earmarks the Christian and his disciple (John 13:35). No Christian who seeks to love his neighbor as himself (Matthew 22:39) can justify profiting from greed and addiction that motivates so much of gambling.”(39) The audacity of quoting these verses to apply to gambling and then never one single time mentioning Jesus or the gospels when discussing war is remarkable.

“Personal conscience in all matters” and “honest differences of opinion” only applied to killing in war and killing criminals. The Assemblies of God clearly chooses their scriptures selectively in order to bolster the status quo and its interests. They have ceased to hear the radical call to peace that Jesus issued. Once the Assemblies of God made it into the establishment they had either to deal with the arguments of their pacifists or ignore them. So far they have ignored both them and the portions of scripture to which they referred.

The Limiting of Ethics and Ecclesiology

The loss of any support for pacifism and the neglect of certain portions of Scripture have been accompanied by a narrowing of focus within the Assemblies of God. They have limited their ethics to personal matters and to issues that their evangelical friends support, i.e. the personal matters of war (drinking, gambling, and homosexuality) rather than the corporate and international issues of war. They have limited their ecclesiology to personal evangelization, i.e. saving people’s souls rather than critiquing the social order and transforming people’s lives.

Limited Ethical Concerns

The goal of this section is to demonstrate that the General Council of the Assemblies of God selects their ethical positions based not upon the New Testament or the teachings of Jesus but upon preconceived notions that correspond to mainstream evangelicalism. The Assemblies of God lost their prophetic minority who recognized the antichrist nature of violence and who critiqued capitalism, patriotism, imperialism, sexism, and racism.(40) These became nonissues for the Assemblies of God until it became popular within American culture to deal with the latter two. (41) Rather than address these earlier extensive concerns, they instead argue for abstinence from such actions as drinking, gambling, and homosexuality.

The rationales that they use to support these positions reveal that they employ Scripture in a highly selective manner and greatly limit their ethical concerns. In essence, they begin with a position that is popular among conservative American Christians and then go the Bible to support it. This is painfully evident in their defense of their positions on these three ethical issues when compared to the way they defend their position on war.

Consumption of Alcohol.

In 1985 the Assemblies of God published a seven page “Position Paper” entitled Abstinence that argued Christians should never consume any alcoholic beverages.(43) The scriptures and arguments they employed to defend this position could easily be applied to a call for abstinence from violence because the majority (except Proverbs 23) were simply applied to alcohol to prove their point. They stated that they based their position on 1) Scripture and 2) public outrage over the “high cost of alcohol in terms of human misery, death, and destruction of property.” (44) They considered the results of death and destruction to be applicable to abstaining from alcohol but not important when considering Christian participation in warfare.

Furthermore, the titles of each section revealed their eisegesis and discrimination to make their point. Interestingly, each could introduce a position paper against war.


The evidence within this dissertation reveals that military evangelism has consistently garnered more articles, finances, and concern than the ethics of war. The majority of Assemblies of God constituents have unfailingly wanted to save people’s souls and this majority eventually deleted official support for pacifism and conscientious objection. In 1965 thirty-two Assemblies of God military chaplains presented the proposal to allow fighting because the peace testimony hindered evangelism.(60) They wanted to enhance their ability to convert sinners and gladly jettisoned an aspect of early Christianity that got in the way. Once the majority allied itself with the establishment, abandoned their critique of violence, and focused solely on personal sins they viewed their role as converting people within the viciousness of the military system rather than delivering people from it.

They ceased thinking the church had anything to say about the way its government conquered its enemies. The early Assemblies of God pacifists who condemned the greed, oppression, and destruction of war gave way to Assemblies of God militants who condemned the greed, oppression, and destruction of gambling and alcohol. They transformed themselves into the perfect church from an American point of view: unique on the inside, conformist on the outside; critiquing personal morals (with whom people have sex) but never challenging the morality of the state perpetuating itself through violence; defending some life (our unborn babies), but not all life (our unborn, adolescent, and adult enemies).(61)

However, the official “Theology of Ministry,” which is supposed to define the Assemblies of God, leaves much room for pacifism rather than violence and for a social critique rather than mere personal evangelism. The connection between “Jesus-the model for our ministry” and his radical nonviolence has simply been forgotten and abandoned. Nevertheless, the Assemblies of God believes that Jesus “gave himself, in life and death, for others [and] the church is the extension of Christ’s ministry.”(62) They link the power of the Holy Spirit to the ability to witness and insist that this is the responsibility of the entire body of Christ. Unfortunately, they limit all of this to verbal proclamation when it also provides a firm foundation for a much more comprehensive ecclesiology.

Implications: The Loss of Pentecost

Pentecost encompassed three elements that early Pentecostal pacifists recognized.(63) First, it meant being empowered to take the life and example of Jesus very seriously, even to the point of following him in death. Second, it meant a prophetic, i.e. Spirit-led, critique of social, racial, economic, and institutional evil. Third, Pentecost provided a transforming eschatology that allowed followers of Jesus to live in accordance with the ultimate end of all things. They could embrace the peaceful Kingdom of God in the midst of a violent and chaotic existence.

These scarcely exist in the Assemblies of God any longer. Jesus’ example of suffering love has been qualified so that Pentecostals can kill their enemies for the good of their respective nations, whichever nation that happens to be. The critiques of capitalistic greed, patriotic idolatry, and the insanity of war have been replaced by joyful and divinely sanctioned participation in all three. The reality shaping eschatology of the early minority has been overwhelmed by an escapist eschatology that professes, “Jesus is coming back soon, but just in case he does not we need to kill our enemies.”

The Assemblies of God has always claimed to be a (many claim to be “the”) Pentecostal church that lives in accordance to the way of Jesus, “The Assemblies of God shall represent, as nearly as possible, the body of Christ as described in the New Testament.”(64) But the impact of Pentecost has been limited to glossolalia and other experiences that do not confront the violent status quo. The Assemblies of God prefers to “fight the devil” by attacking state lotteries and praying for healing while participating in that which they themselves describe as “a world that is now characterized by violence, wickedness, and war.”(65) They have accepted the parts of New Testament Christianity that allow them to be good Americans, but they have rejected the nonviolence of primitive Christianity. Early Assemblies of God pacifists believed that Pentecost was an empowerment to live and die like Jesus, but it has become merely an entryway into ecstatic experiences.

The loss of the pacifist minority brings into question whether the Assemblies of God can honestly consider themselves a New Testament church. Their alliance with their nation and quest for acceptability, their selective use of Scripture, and their limited ethical and ecclesiological concerns reveal that the majority has defined and applied Pentecost in ways opposite the New Testament churches. To claim to be like primitive Christians while proudly participating in violence and warfare is hypocritical.

Thus the Assemblies of God has three options if they seek to be honest.

First, they can cease considering themselves a representation of the body of Christ as described in the New Testament, for they are not. They have neither accepted nor adequately explained away the dominant primitive Christian witness to nonviolence. They have not officially attempted to deal with their own nonviolent heritage, which was an earnest attempt to restore primitive Christianity.

Second, if they insist on describing themselves as a New Testament church, then they must resurrect their pacifistic heritage and incorporate nonviolence into their understanding of Christianity and Pentecost since it was integral to the early church. Historically in the Assemblies of God, those who argued for pacifism did so from the Scriptural examples of Jesus and the early Christians, while those who argued for militarism did so from “accountability, sensibility, and responsibility,” the “ideals, freedom, and national existence [of] our nation,” and they never referred to Jesus.(66)

However, a third option would be for the Assemblies of God to explain how they can be “restored,” “Pentecostal,” and “New Testament” without reflecting the nonviolence inherent in the early witness of the church. This process could include a public discussion of the “just war tradition” and then a decision could be made following the dialogue. However, while they can cease being conscientious objectors and pacifists they must also consider the implications. The first implication is that they have redefined Pentecost to be just tongues and talk rather than a true and complete reversal of Babel. Pentecost is thus limited and incomplete, a “watered-down” and “sugar-coated” (67) version that fits well in a prosperous establishment that must defend itself against those who speak different languages. Pentecost, for the Assemblies of God, does not mean that Christians speak and live a new language given to them by God and that this is their testimony of the unity and fellowship found in the risen Christ. Pentecost instead allows Christians to speak the languages, i.e. fight the battles, of their respective nations, thus silencing and quenching the message of the Holy Spirit to the world.

A second implication is that the Assemblies of God must cease claiming that they resemble, or even desire to resemble, Jesus or the New Testament church regarding their ethics. The latter prohibited retaliation, resistance, and violence scores of times in numerous writings. However, neither Jesus nor the New Testament churches ever forbade alcohol (they actually consumed it regularly). The Assemblies of God encourages retaliation, violence, and war, while prohibiting alcohol. The loss of pacifism and conscientious objection within the Assemblies of God signaled the elimination of their claim to be a restorationist movement.


1 The General Council of the Assemblies of God is referred to both as the General Council and as the Assemblies of God. Within this dissertation, the singular Assembly of God refers to one individual church within the denomination.

2 General Council Combined Minutes 1914-1917 (Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, 1917), 11-12. Also in “The Pentecostal Movement and the Conscription Law,” The Weekly Evangel, 4 August 1917, 6. The full statement makes five references to specific scriptures: Luke 2.14, Hebrews 12.14, Exodus 20.13, Matthew 5.39, and Matthew 5.44.

3 Minutes of the General Council of the Assemblies of God (Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, 1967), 14.

4 The “black oral root” of Pentecostalism, as noted by Walter J. Hollenweger in Pentecostalism: Origins and Developments Worldwide (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1997), 18-24, affected this issue via the holiness movement so Charles Mason is examined in the section on holiness influences.

5 “The Pentecostal Movement and the Conscription Law,” The Weekly Evangel, 4 August 1917, 6.

6 Murray Dempster, “‘Crossing Borders’: Arguments Used by Early American Pentecostals in Support of the Global Character of Pentecostalism,” European Pentecostal Theological Association Bulletin 10 (1991): 74.

7 Arthur Sidney Booth-Clibborn, Blood Against Blood (1901; reprint New York, NY: Charles Cook, 1914).

8 It was recommended in at least three editions of the Word and Witness in 1915 (a predecessor to The Pentecostal Evangel which was edited by the Assemblies of God founders E. N. Bell and J. R. Flower) as well as by The Christian Evangel. Word and Witness, June 1915, 2; July 1915, 2; August 1915, 4. The Christian Evangel, 19 June 1915, 1.

9 Roger Robins recognized the relationship between the Assemblies of God and Quakerism because of “shared values and beliefs” but stated that “the Quaker connection should not be pressed.” He was more concerned with demonstrating the pacifism of the early Assemblies of God than showing any direct Quaker influence. “Our Forgotten Heritage: A Look at Early Pentecostal Pacifism,” Assemblies of God Heritage (Winter: 1986-87), 3-5. He claimed that “the Quaker influence among Pentecostals was not small” but did not elaborate in “A Chronology of Peace: Attitudes Toward War and Peace in the Assemblies of God: 1914-1918,” Pneuma (Spring: 1984), 19.

10 Leonard Lovett noted that Quakers experienced glossolalia, “Black Origins of the Pentecostal Movement” in Aspects of the Pentecostal-Charismatic Origins, ed. Vinson Synan, (Plainfield, NJ: Logos, 1975), 126. Martin Marty briefly mentioned Quakers in a lineage from Montanists to Pentecostals, “Pentecostalism in American Piety and Practice” in Aspects of the Pentecostal-Charismatic Origins, ed. Vinson Synan, (Plainfield, NJ: Logos, 1975), 205. Nils Bloch-Hoell noted Quaker glossolalia, screaming, convulsions, baptism in the Holy Spirit, and entire sanctification, The Pentecostal Movement (New York, NY: Humanities Press, 1964), 16, 139. But he decided there was “no direct historical or genetic connection between the above-mentioned movements [Quakers, Shakers, Mormons] and the Pentecostal Movement.” Walter Hollenweger praised the early pacifism of the Pentecostals and refered to Arthur S. Booth-Clibborn’s Blood Against Blood but he did not mention he was a Quaker, Pentecostalism (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1997), 187. Hollenweger also noted that there was a group called the Quaker Pentecostals of the USA but did not elucidate, The Pentecostals (Minneapolis, MN: Augsberg, 1972), 72. Donald Dayton linked Quakerism and Pentecostalism as “the more radically, pneumatically oriented movements” and credited Quakerism/Pietism with influencing Pentecostal thought regarding divine healing, Theological Roots of Pentecostalism (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1987), 42, 117. John Thomas Nichol included the glossolalia of Shakers and the unique pacifist position of the International Pentecostal Assemblies which “differentiate[d] the IPA from the other Pentecostals” but said nothing about Quakers, Pentecostalism (New York, NY: Harper & Row, 1966), 22, 144.

11 “Stanley M. Burgess, “Quakers (Society of Friends)” in Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements, Stanley M. Burgess, Gary B. McGee, and Patrick H. Alexander, eds. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1988), 752.

12 The editors of the Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements did not include an article on Arthur Sidney Booth-Clibborn even though they included over four hundred articles on individuals related to the twentieth century Pentecostal and Charismatic movements.

13 Edith Blumhofer mentioned that Samuel Herbert Booth-Clibborn’s father, Arthur Sidney Booth-Clibborn, was a Quaker by birth and that The Pentecostal Evangel recommended his strongly pacifistic book, Blood Against Blood. Blumhofer also noted that Maria Woodworth-Etter (1844-1924), an early Pentecostal evangelist, was supported by Quakers and that Assemblies of God education was modeled after Quaker principles, “Friends conceded that the Bible was authoritative and then talked about the Spirit.” The Assemblies of God vol. 1 (Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, 1989), 351, 34, 314. William Menzies makes no reference to Quakerism in his presentation of Assemblies of God attitudes toward military service, Anointed to Serve: The Story of the Assemblies of God (Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, 1971). Stanley H. Frodsham also decided not to mention Quaker ideals or pacifism in With Signs Following: The Story of the Pentecostal Revival in the Twentieth Century (Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, 1946). Carl Brumback related the story of a “Quakeress” and Quaker minister (not named) who prayed for the healing of Alice Reynolds Flower’s mother in 1872 but mentioned nothing about pacifism, Suddenly. . . From Heaven: A History of the Assemblies of God (Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, 1961), 11.

15 The men who comprised the 1917 Executive Presbytery of Assemblies of God and who wrote this resolution were J.W. Welch, Stanley H. Frodsham, J. Roswell Flower, D.W. Kerr, and D.B. Rickard. The Weekly Evangel, 19 May 1917, 8.

16 Although Frank Bartleman’s mother was a Quaker, he explained that he was not influenced religiously by his parents. Frank Bartleman, From Plow to Pulpit, From Maine to California (Los Angeles, CA: by the author, 1924), 6, 31; reprinted in The Higher Christian Life: Sources for the Study of the Holiness, Pentecostal, and Keswick Movements, ed. Donald W. Dayton, no.5 Witness to Pentecost: The Life of Frank Bartleman, with a preface by Cecil M. Robeck, Jr. (New York: Garland Publishing, 1985). Charles Parham’s minimal Quaker associations had little effect upon the development of Assemblies of God attitudes toward war. He had been ostracized from the infant Pentecostal movement in 1907 because of sodomy charges and nothing he wrote ever appeared in The Pentecostal Evangel.

17 Jay Beaman was the only author who mentioned some specifics about Booth-Clibborn’s ancestors. He referred to Robert Barclay as a “leading Quaker theologian” but did not elaborate on the significance of the connection and he did not refer to Joseph John Gurney. Pentecostal Pacifism: The Origin, Development, and Rejection of Pacific Belief among the Pentecostals (Hillsboro, KS: Center for Mennonite Brethren Studies, 1989), 67. Howard Kenyon cited only Booth-Clibborn’s “250 year Quaker heritage” in “An Analysis of Ethical Issues in the History of the Assemblies of God” (Ph.D. diss., Baylor University, 1988), 290. Although Murray Dempster quoted Booth-Clibborn repeatedly (at least sixteen times) he neglected to mention that he was a Quaker in “Reassessing the Moral Rhetoric of Early American Pentecostal Pacifism.” Dempster referred to and quoted Booth-Clibborn over a dozen times in “Crossing Borders” with no mention of his Quakerism and then stated that “the allusion to Quaker principles [in the 1917 Assemblies of God statement] is enigmatic.” However, previously he had noted that Booth-Clibborn’s Quakerism needed to be examined in his review of Beaman’s Pentecostal Pacifism, Pneuma 11, no. 1 (Fall 1989): 62.

18 Donald Green, introduction to A Peculiar People. The Rediscovery of Primitive Christianity, by Joseph John Gurney (1824; reprint Richmond, IN: Friends United Press, 1979), v.

19 Booth-Clibborn, 170.

20 Green, iv.

21 Booth-Clibborn, 172.

22 Ibid., 169.

23 Ibid.

24 Ibid., 170.

25 Ibid., 172.

26 Ibid., 175.

27 Ibid. He and his wife, Catherine Booth (daughter of General William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army), were prominent founders and leaders of the Salvation Army in France, Switzerland, Holland, and Belgium. Ibid., 3.

28 His son authored the other one. Samuel H. Booth-Clibborn, Should a Christian Fight? An Appeal to Christian Young Men of All Nations (Swengel, PA: Bible Truth Depot, n.d.). Internal evidence indicates that the book was written in either 1917 or 1918, i.e. during American participation in World War I.

29 Ibid., 29.

30 Ibid., 44.

31 Ibid., 45. Emphasis in the original.

32 Ibid., 50-5 1.

33 Ibid., 59.

34 John Howard Yoder, Nevertheless. Varieties and Shortcomings of Religious Pacifism (Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1971), 77-83.

35 Ibid., 78.

36 William Booth-Clibborn, The Baptism in the Holy Spirit. A Personal Testimony, 4th ed. (1936; reprint Dallas, TX: Voice of Healing Publishing, 1962), 74.

37 Arthur Sidney Booth-Clibborn, 21. It should be noted that he did not call this a “Pentecostal” experience at that time.

38 Arthur Sidney Booth-Clibborn authored thirteen articles for The Pentecostal Evangel between 1918 and 1922. See bibliography for a complete listing.

39 General Council Minutes, 1914, 13. He wrote twenty-one books by 1968, Saved by Sight. The Vision Without Which We Perish (Northridge, CA: Voice Christian Publications, 1968), 10.

40 William Booth-Clibborn, The Baptism in the Holy Spirit: A Personal Testimony (Portland, OR: Booth-Clibborn Book Concern, 1936), 19.

41 Ibid., 47.

42 Ibid., 10.

43 Although pacifism preceded the baptism in the Holy Spirit as preparation through holiness, the Booth-Clibborns explained that the Holy Spirit provided the power to be nonviolent even in the face of hatred.

44 Brumback, 339. William Booth-Clibborn, The Baptism in the Holy Spirit: A Personal Testimony (1936), 28.

45 Mrs. Eric Booth-Clibborn, “Obedient Unto Death,” The Weekly Evangel, 2 January 1926, 12. See bibliography for complete listing.

46 “The Christian and War. Is It Too Late?” The Weekly Evangel, 28 April 1917, 5. “The Christian and War. Article 2. Christ Cleansing the Temple.” The Weekly Evangel, 19 May 1917, 4. The content of these articles is examined in chapter two.

47 Samuel H. Booth-Clibborn, Should A Christian Fight: An Appeal to Christian Young Men of All Nations. It contained much of the same material that appeared in his articles in The Weekly Evangel.

48 “Blood Against Blood. Should Christians Go to War?” The Weekly Evangel, 10 July 1915, 3.

49 The Weekly Evangel, 19 June 1915, 1.

50 “Pentecostal Saints Opposed to War,” Weekly Evangel, 19 June 1915, 1. The editors at that time were E. N. Bell and J. R. Flower.

51 “What is War?” The Weekly Evangel, 21 April 1917, 2.

52 See the bibliography of the dissertation for a complete listing.

53 Easterly Dieter, The Holiness Revival of the Nineteenth Century, (Metuchen, NJ: The Scarecrow Press, 1980), 159.

54 Hannah Whitall Smith, The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life (1870; reprint Westwood, NJ: Barbour and Company, 1985).

55 Charles Edward Jones, Perfectionist Persuasion. The Holiness Movement and American Methodism, 1867-1936 (Metuchen, NJ: The Scarecrow Press, 1974), 146.

56 Mrs. A. R. Flower, “Daily Portion From the King’s Bounty,” The Weekly Evangel, 4 August 1917, 7.

57 Dieter, 159.

58 Smith, The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life, 44.

59 Ibid., 48.

60 Ibid., 149.

61 Ibid., 149-150.

62 Ibid., 206.

63 Ibid

64 Hannah Whitall Smith, The God of All Comfort (1875; reprint Chicago: Moody Press, 1956).

65 Ibid., 160, 176.

66 Ibid., 81.

67 Ibid., 82, 86, 109.

68 Ibid., 82.

69 Ibid., 194.

70 Ibid., 227.

71 “The Pentecostal Movement and the Conscription Law,” The Weekly Evangel, 4 August 1917, 6.

72 Smith, The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life, 242; quoted by Mrs. A. R. Flower, “Daily Portion From the King’s Bounty,” The Weekly Evangel, 4 August 1917, 7.

73 H..S. Cronin, ed., “The Twelve Conclusions of the Lollards,” The English Historical Review 22:2 (April 1907): 302-303; quoted in Peter Brock, The Quaker Peace Testimony 1660 to 1914 (York, England: Sessions Book Trust, 1990), 1.

74 Brock, 2.

75 Ibid, 3.

76 Albert Peel, ed., “A Conscientious Objector of 1576,” Transactions of the Baptist Historical Society 7:1/2 (1920): 123; quoted in Brock, 4.

77 Brock, 3.

78 This could be considered the “pacifism of cultic law” which, while refraining from killing, does participate in noncombatant forms of war and does not condemn those who do kill. Yoder, Nevertheless, 96-98.

79 In 1988 there were eleven thousand Pentecostal denominations and three thousand independent charismatic denominations. Pentecostals/charismatics “are found within all 150 traditional non-Pentecostal ecclesiastical confessions, families, and traditions . . . are found in 8,000 ethnolinguistic cultures, speaking 7,000 languages, covering 95 percent of the world’s total population.” Twenty-eight percent (562,526,000) of Christians are Pentecostals/charismatics, i.e. one-twelfth of the world. D. B. Barret, “Statistics, Global,” Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements, 811, 813.

80 Brock., 5.

81 Timothy George, “Between Pacifism and Coercion: The English Baptist Doctrine of Religious Toleration,” The Mennonite Quarterly Review 58:1 (January 1984): 38.

82 Ibid., 34.

83 Rufus M. Jones, Spiritual Reformers in the 16th and 17th Centuries (London: 1914), 337; quoted in Brock, 7.

84 Brock, 7.

85 Hugh Barbour and J. William Frost, The Quakers, Denominations in America (Westport, CN: Greenwood Press, 1988), 5.

86 Barry Reay, The Quakers and the English Revolution (London, 1985), 3.

87 Gary B. McGee, “The Debate over Missionary Tongues Among Radical Evangelicals, 1881-1897,” in Toward Healing Our Divisions: Reflecting on Pentecostal Diversity and Common Witness, The 28th Annual Meeting of the Society for Pentecostal Studies Held in Springfield, Missouri 11-13 March 1999 (Society for Pentecostal Studies, 1999), 6.

88 Robert Mapes Anderson, Vision of the Disinherited. The Making of American Pentecostalism (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1992), 6. Anderson stated that “Pentecostals stood in somewhat the same relationship to other Fundamentalists as the Quakers did to other Puritans.” There is debate regarding the extent to which Pentecostals should have been considered Fundamentalists since they were so open to the Spirit and were rejected by the established Fundamentalists of the day. Nevertheless, after establishing their doctrinal distinctives (tongues) they sought associations with the evangelicals and helped start the National Association of Evangelicals in 1942. See chapter three of this dissertation for further elaboration.

89 Frank Bartleman, “What Will the Harvest Be?” The Pentecostal Evangel, 7 August 1915, 2.

90 Barbour and Frost, 11.

91 The Pentecost 1 (November 1908): 7.

92 Joseph John Gurney, A Peculiar People. The Rediscovery of Primitive Christianity (1824; reprint, Richmond, IN: Friends United Press, 1979), 454-492.

93 In the forward to this work J. Roswell Flower asks the rhetorical question, “Is it possible for the church of the twentieth century to revert to the principles of the church of the first century, and to expect that the miraculous leadership of the Holy Spirit, so explicitly recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, may be realized in the church today?” Carl Brumback, Suddenly. . . From Heaven: A History of the Assemblies of God, 6.

94 Murray Dempster, “Reassessing the Moral Rhetoric of Early American Pentecostal Pacifism,” Crux 26 (March 1990): 26.

95 Brock, 10.

96 William Penn, No Cross, No Crown, 1, Ch. 18, 10; quoted in Barbour and Frost, 44.

97 Frank Bartleman, “War and the Christian,” tract, 4.

98 Frank Bartleman, “In the Last Days,” Word and Work, September 1916, 393.

99 Frank Bartleman, “Christian Preparedness,” Word and Work, c. 1916, 114.

100 Brumback, 6.

101 Brock, 11.

102 Ibid.

103 General Council Combined Minutes, 1914-1917, 16.

104 Ibid.

105 Barbour and Frost, 39.

106 Ibid., 73.

107 Pentecostal Movement and the Conscription Law,” The Weekly Evangel, 4 August 1917, 6. Emphasis added.

108 Ironically, evangelizing the military eventually helped reverse the early Assemblies of God attitudes toward war. It became a reason to support the soldiers and the wars they fought.

109 Barbour and Frost, 43.

110 Ibid. See also Hugh Barbour, “Quaker Prophetesses,” in J. William Frost and John M. Moore, eds., Seeking the Light (Wallingford and Haverford, PA: 1986), 4 1-60; Mary Maples Dunn, “Women of Light,” in Carol Ruth Berkin and Mary Beth Norton, eds., Women of America: A History (Boston: 1979), 114-138.

111 Barclay, 203.

112 Gurney, 261. Emphasis in the original.

113 lbid., 265.

114 General Council Combined Minutes, 1914, 13-15. One hundred fifty-two out of five hundred thirty-one ministers were women. In the Assemblies of God women were allowed to serve as evangelists and missionaries. However, the first General Council in 1914 decided (by male voters) that women could not pastor or hold administrative offices. This contrast with Quakerism parallels the loss of pacifism predicted by Booth-Clibborn when he equated women in ministry with pacifism.

115 A.J. Gordon, “The Ministry of Women,” The Alliance Weekly, 1 May 1948, 277; quoted in Kenyon, 190. This article was printed over 50 years after Gordon’s death in 1895.

116 See Mary Jackson, “The Role of Women in Ministry in the Assemblies of God,” Ph.D. diss., The University of Texas at Arlington, 1997. Also “Women, Role of,” Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements, 893-899.

117 Mrs. A. R. Flower, “Daily Portion From the King’s Bounty,” The Weekly Evangel, 4 August 1917, 7. Mrs. H. J. Johns, “Camp Fremont, Calif,” The Christian Evangel, 7 September 1918, 7. Mrs. Belle Price, “Praying for the Soldiers,” The Weekly Evangel, 7 July 1917, 11.

118 However, in the early Assemblies of God the same man who greatly moderated their pacifism also limited women in ministry. E. N. Bell, a Southern Baptist minister who became a Pentecostal, disapproved of women in authority and also approved combatant participation in war. He had neither a holiness nor a Quaker background. This is evaluated further in chapter two of the dissertation.

119 Sidney Booth-Clibborn, Blood Against Blood, 175.

120 Brock, 17.

121 Quoted in Hugh Barbour, The Quakers in Puritan England (London, 1964), 196.

122 Fox, Epistles, no. 188 (1659); quoted in Brock, 16. This is a clear reference to Romans 13, which is the primary New Testament passage employed to justify the use of violence to maintain civil peace.

123 General Council Minutes, 1917, 11-12. Emphasis added.

124 Ibid., 17.

125 Ibid.

126 Brock, 18.

127 Ibid.

128 Fox, Journal, 357; quoted in Brock, 23.

129 J. W. Welch, “An Explanation,”19 The Weekly Evangel, May 1917, 8. This is a significant concession that is evaluated in chapter two of the dissertation.

130 Ibid. Welch expressed a cultic law pacifism that allowed noncombatant military service, i.e. conscientious objection rather than absolute pacifism. Yoder, Nevertheless, 97.

131 E.N. Bell, “Questions and Answers,” The Christian Evangel, 19 October 1918, 5. Emphasis in the original. Even with this concession to conscience at this early date the nature of the 1917 and 1967 statements are still radically different. The former argued from scripture and was written to sound absolute so that it would convince the government of its sincerity while the latter emphasized freedom of conscience and avoided both absolute terminology and any references to scripture. Furthermore, the 1917 statement was constructed when E. N. Bell was not in leadership.

132 Levellers were a seventeenth century religious group that “demanded that no man be ruled by another against his will, and called for absolute social and political equality.” Bacon, 10.

133 Brock, 18.

134 Ibid., 19.

135 George Fox, Journal, 357; quoted in Brock, 23.

136 This policy was enacted at the Texas District Council of 1917. General Council Minutes, 1917, 11-12.

From the Conclusion – Notes

28 Cordas. C. Burnett, as quoted by Howard Cummings of Aurora, Colorado, interview by author, 12 April 2000, by letter, personal files of the author. Emphasis added. Burnett served as National Secretary for the Assemblies of God Education Department and as president of Bethany Bible College (Assemblies of God).

29 Harry A. Jaegar, “Spiritual Conquest Among the American Doughboys,” The Pentecostal Evangel, 12 May 1945, 5, 7. “Helping the Servicemen,” The Pentecostal Evangel, 21 February 1942, 6.

30 “The Crisis,” The Weekly Evangel, 21 April 1917, 7. The author then quoted from Matthew 5-7, Luke 6, and Philippians 3.

31 Samuel H. Booth-Clibborn, “The Christian and War. It is too Late?” The Weekly Evangel, 28 April 1917, 5. Booth-Clibborn referenced Hebrews 13, John 1, Matthew 5 and 18, Philippians 3, Romans 12, and Revelation 7.

32 “Compulsory Military Service: An English Conscientious Objector’s Testimony,” The Weekly Evangel, 28 April 1917, 7.

33 “The Pentecostal Movement and the Conscription Law,” The Pentecostal Evangel, 4 August 1917, 6. The presbytery employed Luke 2.14, Hebrews 12.14, Exodus 20.13, Matthew 5.39, and Matthew 5.44.

34 “Is European War Justifiable?” The Christian Evangel, 12 December 1914, 1.

35 The Assemblies of God Perspectives: Contemporary Issues: Social, Medical, Political (Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, 1995), 29.

36 Ibid. Emphasis added.

37 Ibid., 3-43. Freedom of conscience is never mentioned regarding any of these issues.

38 Ibid., 23. The authors quoted the Old Testament eleven times and Romans 13.1-7 twice.

39 Ibid., 14.

40 Evidence within this dissertation reveals the critique of capitalism, patriotism, and imperialism. For further evidence see Murray Dempster, “‘Crossing Borders.”’ Howard Kenyon provided an excellent assessment of the Assemblies of God attitudes toward women and African-Americans. Kenyon, 42-283. Mary Jackson devoted her dissertation toward examining “The Role of Women in Ministry in the Assemblies of God” (Ph.D. diss., The University of Texas at Arlington, 1997).

41 “The Assemblies of God did not dissolve the all-white Pentecostal Fellowship of North America until 1994, thirty years after the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Regarding sexism, the Assemblies of God boasts about the fact that they ordain women but there are no women district superintendents, general presbyters, or executive presbyters.

42 Although these issues may not be the three most significant sins identified by the Assemblies of God, each one is presented as an absolute and each one has been discussed in relation to military personnel. The Assemblies of God believes it is more important to completely abstain from each of these than to refrain from killing in war.

43 Abstinence (Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, 1985).

44 “Ibid., 1. These “cry out with urgency for the church of Jesus Christ to oppose firmly any use whatsoever of a beverage which so insidiously afflicts and binds the bodies and minds of men and women.”

60 “Church Convention Vote Due on Duty in Armed Services,” Independent Press-Telegram (Long Beach, CA), 26 August 1967, sec. B, p. 4.

61 “The Assemblies of God is unashamedly pro-life. . . abortion is still immoral and sinful. . . all human life is created in the image of God. . . . We are not to disallow participation in war, even if that participation involves killing. The preservation of peace and tranquility sometimes makes this response imperative.” Perspectives, 3, 29. Thus, the Assemblies of God disapproves killing American fetuses but would approve killing the fetuses, mothers, and fathers of America’s enemies during war.

62 Theology of Ministry (Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, 1993), 2.

63 Evidence for these themes is found in chapter one of this dissertation in the presentation of similarities between Quakers and early Pentecostals as well as in the theological origins of Pentecostal pacifism.

64 General Council Minutes, 1999, 88.

65 Perspectives, 29.

66 Perspectives, 29. General Council Minutes, 1967, 35.

67 These are terms often used by Assemblies of God ministers to describe other people’s Christianity that allows actions which they disapprove: alcohol, smoking, lotteries, etc.


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