Remembering to be Faithful: The Role of Humility in the Revitalization of Pentecostal Churches
This dissertation addresses spiritual revitalization of Pentecostal churches. This paper's thesis is that the revitalization of Pentecostal churches must begin with the recovery of the early Pentecostals' passion and urgency. Knowledge of the antecedents affords a clear understanding of the early Pentecostal movement. Chapter 1 examines the spiritual decline in the decades leading up to the birth of Pentecostalism. The chapter considers the causes of decline, the dynamics of renewal, and concludes by introducing key figures in restoration movements in the latter half of the nineteenth century. Chapter 2 explores the passions of the Pentecostal forerunners in their own words. This chapter is organized around the four central doctrines: salvation, baptism in the Holy Spirit, divine healing, and the second coming of Christ. Chapters 3 and 4 focus on early Pentecostalism. Chapter 3 describes the rise of Pentecostalism at the Azusa Street revival. The story is built around two key figures: Charles Parham and William J. Seymour. Chapter 4 focuses on the urgencies and passions of the participants in the Azusa Street revival. It uses firsthand accounts to describe the experience of the participants. In researching this chapter, insistence on humility emerged as the key passion that informed every other passion at Azusa Street. This chapter, therefore, uses humility as the lens through which to view the revival. After an examination of the biblical concept of humility, this chapter describes the facilities and activities of the Azusa Street revival from the perspective of humility. Chapter 5 offers conducting reflections on humility as an agent for the revitalization of Pentecostal churches. It considers how contemporary Pentecostals might re-appropriate the early Pentecostal passion for humility in their own search for renewed Pentecostal vitality.