Beginning in the early 1900s, the Pentecostal movement has expanded and grown into a worldwide phenomenon that spanned in many different countries and generated hundreds of different denominations. Indeed, Pentecostalism has grown so large that it is now almost impossible to tally the existing numbers of Pentecostal believers. Worldwide, it is estimated that the Pentecostals constitute the second largest group of Christians, following after the Catholics. As large and complex global Pentecostalism has become, the origin of this Christian movement remains as intricate. It is the scope of this paper to focus the discussion to the origin of North American Pentecostalism. This author’s contention is that Pentecostalism in America (if not worldwide) began and started with the Topeka, Kansas Outpouring/Azusa Street Revival, with deep roots in the late 1900s American Holiness movement.
Pentecostalism is a unique phenomenon that has occurred in the latest progression of modern Christianity. Sometimes dubbed as “Holly Rollers,” Pentecostals are often times perceived as tongue babbling, uneducated people from the backwoods, who would fall down when they are prayed for. Nevertheless, it is hard to discount the formidable worldwide magnitude this phenomenon has developed into. Pentecostalism has out-grown past the status of a mere denomination into a global phenomenon, giving birth to hundreds of denominations out from the Pentecostal movement. The largest and arguably most influential Pentecostal denomination is the Assembly of God, with branches in many different countries in the world. Started in 1914, a few years after the start of Pentecostalism in America, the Assembly of God represents a four-fold Gospel that is cardinal to its doctrine: salvation, healing, baptism in the Spirit, and the soon second coming of Christ.
The origin of Pentecostalism in America can be represented by two schools of thoughts: a single source of origination from the Topeka, Kansas Outpouring / Azusa Street Revival, or multiple sources of origination. There are arguments for both sides; however, it is this author’s contention that the American Pentecostal movement began with a center point of origin from the Topeka, Kansas Outpouring / Azusa Street Revival.
The social landscape of America during the early 1900s
In the turn of the 20th century, in the early 1900s, America was in the era of modernization. Progressivism was in full gear with big corporations and industrialization already on their way. The year 1903 marked the birth of the iconic Ford Motor Company. Optimism was in the air, and the country was heading toward great wealth and prosperity. Little did Americans knew, a Great Depression was awaiting them just 29 years down the road.
The spiritual landscape leading to Topeka, Kansas Outpouring / Azusa Street Revival
The late 19th century marked the emergence of the Holiness movement, with two distinctive groups: the...