2013 Forrest H. Kirkpatrick Lecture

The Spirit Poured Out on All Flesh:
Stone-Campbell Missions and the Emergence of Early Global Pentecostalism

Dr. Scott Seay
Associate Professor of the History of Global Christianity, Christian Theological Seminary
Managing Editor, Stone-Campbell World History Project
Pastor, Brown County (IN) Presbyterian Fellowship

Presented March 9, 2013
Riverside Avenue Christian Church (DOC)
Jacksonville, FL


In late December, 1932, a small group of Disciples laypeople began gathering for a noontime prayer meeting in the Calle Comerío Christian Church in Bayamón, Puerto Rico. Recently the island had suffered three devastating hurricanes that killed hundreds, caused millions of dollars in damage, and destroyed countless sugar, citrus, tobacco, and coffee plantations. Beyond this, the Great Depression was crippling Puerto Rico, mainly because its economy was so closely bound with that of the United States after almost three decades of so-called “dollar diplomacy.” [1]  And the United Christian Missionary Society (UCMS) reduced its financial support of its mission in Puerto Rico by two-thirds, recalled all but four missionaries, and drastically cut the salaries of the fourteen Puerto Rican pastors. [2]  The Disciples gathered at these meetings believed that fervent prayer was the key in this time of difficulty and uncertainty: “la oración cambia las cosas” (“prayer really changes things”), they said. As they prayed together, they experienced an intense personal communion with God, with one another, and with those who were suffering. [3]

In early 1933, these prayer meetings exploded into a Pentecostal revival. Led by two young Puerto Rican pastors—Vicente Ortiz (d. 1979) and Carmelo Alvarez (1899-1979)—el Avivamiento del 33 spread to most Disciples congregations in Bayamón, and even influenced churches in other denominations. The revival included glossolalia (or, “speaking in tongues”), dancing in the Spirit, fasting, aggressive evangelism, and contagiously emotive worship. Leaders among Puerto Rican Disciples today are careful to point out that these miraculous gifts of the Spirit never competed with sound preaching of the gospel in this revival; instead, these gifts confirmed and supported their proclamation of the real miracle: the reconciliation that God offers to humanity in Jesus Christ. The revival continued for several months: membership in the churches grew dramatically; worship was transformed to reflect Puerto Rican culture, and the social witness of the churches strengthened. [4]

But this revival scandalized missionaries and leaders of the UCMS because they believed that such Pentecostal piety was inconsistent with the “Disciples way.” Throughout 1934, UCMS missionaries held a series of retreats designed to “extinguish the fires of revival” through re-education. They also required Puerto Rican pastors to pledge their cooperation with the missionaries in their efforts to re-establish patterns of worship that were consistent with what the missionaries had taught. While some Puerto Rican leaders complied, most resisted these efforts, leading to sharp disagreements and frequent confrontations with the missionaries. The missionaries even involved the local police in order to restore “order” in the churches. [5]  Puerto Rican Disciples historians agree that the missionaries opposed the revival out of disregard for Puerto Rican culture and a colonial desire to control the island’s churches and clergy. [6]

While it may be the best known example, el Avivamiento del 33 was not the first encounter that missionaries of the Stone-Campbell Movement had with the emergent Pentecostalism. Across the globe—in Wales, Korea, China, and India—Stone-Campbell missionaries encountered Pentecostalism as it emerged in the first decade of the 20th century. [7]  In some cases, these revivals were the direct result of western missionary activity; in other cases, they were cultivated almost entirely by indigenous leaders. In all cases, however, the “Disciples way”—particularly the movement’s overly rational theologies of the Holy Spirit—prevented missionaries from fully understanding and appreciating the significance of these revivals. Today, even with more than a century of hindsight, the Stone-Campbell Movement struggles to affirm Pentecostal piety and worship, even though they flourish among its racial/ethnic minorities, immigrant communities, and churches across the globe with historic ties to the Movement.

This paper begins by describing the theologies of the Holy Spirit that dominated the Stone-Campbell Movement in the 19th century. Though there were a few exceptions, these theologies generally stressed the role of the Holy Spirit in converting sinners to God, sanctifying believers, and sustaining the unity of the church. In so doing, they relied on a rational and literalistic interpretation of the Bible. Most believed that the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit were confined to the apostolic age, and doubted whether or even flatly denied that such gifts continued to be given to the church. The paper then describes several encounters that Stone- Campbell missionaries had with emergent Pentecostalism. Generally these missionaries responded positively to these “revivals” because they usually produced improved moral conduct in those converted. For the miraculous gifts of the Spirit that accompanied these revivals—especially glossolalia—they expressed concern, and occasionally outright contempt. The paper concludes with some provisional reflections about how the contemporary Stone-Campbell Movement—especially the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)—might learn from this history to become more hospitable to the pentecostal piety and worship flourishing in so many of its churches.


Stone-Campbell Theologies of the Holy Spirit

The founders of the Stone-Campbell Movement worked out their theologies of the Holy Spirit as a part of their opposition to creeds and their insistence on a rational, literalistic reading of the Bible. Barton Stone (1772-1844), for example, came to clarity in his position during his struggles over the doctrine of the Trinity as expressed in the Westminster Confession of Faith. By the 1820s he had concluded that the Holy Spirit was not a person of the Godhead, but a power or “energy” at work in believers operating through the Word. [8]  Moreover, in rejecting the Westminster doctrine of human depravity, Stone asserted that people can come to faith without some prior divine assistance. After all, faith consists of believing the testimony of God as revealed in scripture; so faith comes through Bible study and the sound preaching of the Word. Though the Holy Spirit inspired the writers of scripture and “accompanies” preaching, he held that people first come to faith by simply believing the Bible. [9]

Alexander Campbell (1788-1866) came to surprisingly similar conclusions by the 1820s. Relying on a rationalist and literalist reading of scripture and rejecting the “hypercalvinism” of his day, he concluded that a person comes to faith in Jesus Christ only by the preaching of the Word; “converting faith” develops out of a person’s conscious decision to believe the gospel and to obey the scriptural command to be baptized. [10]  Only afterward did the believer receive the Holy Spirit. The critical supporting text for Campbell was Acts 2:38, in which Peter proclaimed, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and (then and only then for Campbell) ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (KJV). Though Campbell was insistent on this point, Stone not deny the possibility that the Holy Spirit was given to unimmersed believers as well. [11]

Both Stone and Campbell taught that the indwelling Holy Spirit had a vital role to play in the sanctification of the believer. Stone claimed that the believer who truly has the Holy Spirit will actually desire holiness: he or she “hungers and thirsts for righteousness, pants for God, and a perfect conformity to his lovely character.” [12]  Through the inward work of the Holy Spirit, the believer will develop the fruit of the Spirit as Paul describes in Galatians 5: love, joy, peace, and the like. But Stone maintained that not every Christian is “full of the Holy Spirit;” instead, believers possess the Spirit “by measure” based upon their faith and obedience to the teachings of scripture. Indeed, he counseled believers to pray continually for a greater measure of the Holy Spirit. [13]  Naturally this understanding of the Holy Spirit’s sanctifying work led him to oppose many of the popular amusements of his day: dancing, card-playing, drinking alcohol, and other such coarse and immoral activities.

Similarly, Campbell held that the Holy Spirit plays an essential role in forming the Christian character of believers. He defined sanctification as both a state of being “set apart” and as a “progressive work” of “developing a holy character.” In both senses, sanctification requires the action of the Holy Spirit; indeed, the Spirit is the “author of all holiness” in believers. Christians, he claimed, are “quickened, animated, encouraged, and sanctified by the power and influence of the Holy Spirit of God, working in them through the truth...and without this gift no one could be saved.” [14]  Sanctification has a communal dimension as well because, according to Campbell, the Holy Spirit creates and sustains the whole people of God. The “communion of the Holy Spirit” refers to “unity in that which is common,” and thereby “the Spirit of God animates, consoles, and refreshes the whole body of Christ.” [15]

But what do the founders have to say about the gifts of the Spirit—glossolalia, interpretation, prophecy, and healing—as described on the pages of the New Testament? Both Stone and Campbell were very careful to make a distinction between the gift of the Holy Spirit and miraculous gifts of the Spirit. They believed that the former is given to all obedient people of faith while the latter is given only to a few. Stone plainly noted that “It is evident from the scriptures that all the Christians of apostolic times had not the miraculous gifts of the Spirit…” A literal reading of Acts led him to conclude that only the apostles possessed such gifts, and that they were inaugurated at Pentecost and probably concluded upon the conversion of the Gentile Cornelius and his household (Acts 10). [16]  Similarly, Campbell held that the Holy Spirit itself is the gift, not the miraculous works. When the Bible speaks of such charisma, they are clearly “splendid bequests” of the prior gift—namely, the Holy Spirit—and should not be confused with the gift itself.  [17]  Such miraculous gifts were given to confirm the witness of the apostles to the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ; to empower the apostles to preach with confidence; and to supply compelling evidence for the power of God to save sinners. [18]

Stone and Campbell came to different conclusions, however, on the issue of whether such miraculous gifts of the Spirit continued to be given to the contemporary church. Though he believed that such gifts were probably confined to the apostolic age, Stone was willing to admit, “I see no authority in scripture why we should draw the conclusion that the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit are, according to the will of God, withdrawn from the Church.” [19]  Interestingly, in none of his writings does Stone attribute the so-called “religious exercises” that he observed at the Cane Ridge Revival (1801) directly to the work of the Holy Spirit. Instead, the context helped him make sense of what he saw: “So low had religion sunk,” he wrote in his autobiography more than forty years later, “and such carelessness had universally prevailed, that I have thought that nothing common could have arrested the attention of the world; therefore, these uncommon agitations were sent for this purpose.” What Stone did attribute to the work of the Holy Spirit at Cane Ridge was the unity that seemed to prevail among the participants in the revival. Leaders of various denominations “appeared cordially united” in preaching the gospel; in singing songs of praise and in praying everyone seemed united. [20]  This experience, more than any other, probably convinced Stone of another key work of the Holy Spirit: creating and sustaining Christian unity. [21]

By contrast, Campbell held with more certainty that miraculous gifts of the Spirit were confined to the apostolic age. Referring to the earliest church, he said that “no man ever did possess the gift of the Holy Spirit, who could not, and did not afford a manifestation of the Spirit.” [22]  But he also believed that these miraculous gifts were essential to the life of the primitive church only because the earliest Christians did not possess “written revelation,” namely the Bible. Once that written revelation came into being, he believed that miraculous gifts of the Spirit were no longer necessary to convert sinners to God. Not surprisingly, evangelicals often criticized Campbell for “denying the work of the Holy Spirit.” [23]

At least two second-generation leaders of the Stone-Campbell Movement tried to bridge the gap that had developed between the rationalists and the sensualists; or put differently, between those who advocated a “Word only” position concerning conversion of sinners to God and those who advocated a “Spirit only” position. Both Robert Richardson (1806-1876) and Robert Milligan (1814-1875) believed by the 1860s and 1870s that there was no single pattern in the New Testament for the way that believers received the Holy Spirit, and therefore there was no single pattern for Christians of their time either. [24]  Instead, there was a kind of constellation of ideas in the Scripture concerning the work of the Holy Spirit in conversation and sanctification that permitted varying interpretations on some issues. In a way this was a bold starting point because it departed so significantly from the teachings of the founders on the Holy Spirit.

In keeping with the theological convictions of the founders, both Milligan and Richardson held that the gift of the Holy Spirit was given only to believers who obeyed the command of the New Testament to be immersed. This did not mean, however, that the Holy Spirit did not act at all in the lives of unbelievers to urge them toward conversion. Imagining the Spirit as “our great and benevolent educator” Milligan argued that it often exercised influence over the minds of sinners to prepare them for conversion by sound preaching of the Word. Citing passage after passage from Scripture, he finally concluded: “the Holy Spirit operates on the minds of the unconverted through the Word of God...[and] it never converts any man without the Word.” [25]  Similarly, Richardson broke with the founders too in claiming that it was an “important part of the office of the Spirit to influence and convict the unbelieving world.” He claimed that the Holy Spirit convicted the world of a very specific sin: failing to believe the divine testimony about the messiahship of Jesus, the justification of sinners, and the coming divine judgment of the world. [26]  Thus neither Milligan’s position nor Richardson’s was fully “Word only” like that of the founders of the Stone-Campbell Movement, nor “Spirit only” like that of the majority of 19th-century evangelicals.

Milligan and Richardson held that the principal work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers was sanctification, just like the founders. As we have seen, Stone and Campbell typically understood sanctification primarily as the gradual development of holiness, the maturation of Christian character. Richardson, by contrast, relied on a before-and-after picture of the disciples to illustrate the power of the Holy Spirit. It was more than sanctification, more than the development of the fruit of the Spirit; it was a complete revolution of their moral character. He wrote:

Instead of worldly hopes and ambitions, there was now a nobility of self-abnegation and renunciation truly sublime. Instead of a hesitating and timorous allegiance, there was now a devotion of soul and a consecration of life wholly unexampled. In place of limited personal attachments, there was an expansive and pervading love of humanity; and for a calculating and cautious policy, a divine trust that banished all fear of consequences. [27]

It is clear that sanctification for Richardson is really about cultivating and maintaining right affections and motives, and the behavior that issues from them. Milligan taught a similarly robust understanding of the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit to effect a moral revolution in the believer. However, he retained some sense of human agency in sanctification. “God does not convert men into machines in order to save them,” he said. “But he calls every man to do what he can, and all that he can, with the assurance that [the Holy Spirit] will do the rest.” [28]  It is likely that these second-generation leaders of the Stone-Campbell Movement feared that the rational, literalistic understanding of sanctification that characterized the founders threatened the development of vital Christian spirituality.

But the spirituality post-apostolic Christians should never rest on hopes for the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit, Milligan and Richardson both insisted. For Milligan it was simple: he stated with confidence that such gifts ceased operation in the church once the New Testament had been written. “The miraculous demonstrations of the Spirit,” he claimed, “were continued till the scheme of redemption was fully revealed, and the canon of the Holy Scriptures was placed on a historical basis so firm and enduring that nothing can ever shake it.” [29]  Richardson, however, advanced a more nuanced argument. After demonstrating from scripture that so-called “miracles” belonged to every age of human history, he argued that the gift of the Holy Spirit given at Pentecost was superior to them all. “Miracles can exist,” he wrote, “apart from the gift of the Holy Spirit. But they constitute a manifestation quite different from that promised in the Paraclete.” Indeed, the gift of the Holy Spirit is an interior presence of God, a divine indwelling in the believer; what could be more miraculous than that? [30]  Indeed, while external miracles belonged to an earlier, less mature stage of faith in God, belief in the indwelling Holy Spirit and the revolutionary effect it has on the moral character of the believer belongs only to truly mature faith.

J. H. Garrison (1842-1931) took this last point to its logical conclusion in a study on the Holy Spirit published in 1905, just as global Pentecostalism was beginning to emerge. After affirming the teachings of his forebears in the Movement, he decried what he calls the “extreme claims of some Holiness people.” Holiness, he argued, consisted in the hourly and daily struggle against sin, in which the obedient believer is aided throughout his or her whole life by the indwelling Holy Spirit. Unlike the “fanatics” of his day, holiness is not, he says, “a mere ecstasy of feeling,” a “glowing desire to be Christ-like,” or “an experience to be attained in a moment of triumphant faith.” [31]

Like Campbell and others before him, Garrison makes a clear distinction between the “extraordinary gifts of the Spirit” and the “ordinary gift of the Holy Spirit;” while the former were confined to the age of the apostles only, the latter continues to be available to all obedient believers. More aggressively than anyone before him, however, Garrison claimed that miraculous gifts of the Spirit were appropriate to the “infant condition” of the apostolic church; but in the later, more mature church, such miraculous gifts were no longer be necessary. “The cessation of the miraculous,” he argues, “was not retrogression, but progress. It indicated not a declining faith and waning spiritual power...but a faith strong enough to stand without such extraneous helps, and a spiritual development which could dispense with supernatural or extraordinary gifts.” [32]

Having traced out in some detail the theologies of the Holy Spirit that dominated the Stone-Campbell Movement in the 19th century, we now turn our attention to several encounters that its missions had with early Pentecostal revivals across the globe. What we discover is that those very theologies of the Holy Spirit prevented the Movement’s missionaries from appreciating fully the importance of those revivals.


Stone-Campbell Missions and Emergent Pentecostalism

Probably the earliest encounter that the Stone-Campbell Movement had with emergent Pentecostalism came during the Welsh Revival. This revival broke out among the Welsh-speaking mining communities in November, 1904, and before it ended six months later it claimed as many as 100,000 converts. Laypeople—rather than ordained clergy—led seemingly chaotic meetings including “singing in the Spirit” using ancient Welsh chants, emotional prayers spoken simultaneously by many people, and reports of revelatory experiences and divine visions. Leaders claimed that the revival was the “latter rain” promised by the prophet Joel, an end-times Pentecost that would inspire a world-wide revival to precede the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. [33]

Leading the Welsh Revival was an unassuming young man, 26-year-old Evan Roberts (1878-1951). Born into a poverty-stricken family in Loughor—a small town in South Wales—he was raised in the Welsh Calvinist Methodist Church. He dropped out of school at age eleven to work with his father in the coal mines for more than a decade. In 1903, he entered college at Newcastle Emlyn, intending to become a minister. While attending a prayer meeting, however, he was filled with the Holy Spirit. Inspired by visions of a great outpouring of the Spirit, he began preaching a message of emotive confession of all known sin, restitution for the wrong one has done, surrender to the Holy Spirit, and public confession of Jesus Christ. He personally led more than a hundred protracted meetings throughout Wales. Eventually, however, the strains of leading the revival were too much for the young man and by mid-1905 he had withdrawn entirely from public life. [34]

The Churches of Christ in Great Britain had sent William Webley as its first evangelist to Wales in 1891, just over a decade before the revival began. Initially the work was very difficult, mainly because of opposition from the Welsh Baptists; nevertheless, the missionary continued his patient work, and on the eve of the Welsh Revival he presided over five struggling congregations among the mining towns in South Wales. [35] The fires of the revival soon would engulf each of the towns where these churches were located.

News of the Welsh Revival came to the attention of the Churches of Christ in Great Britain in January, 1905, when three articles appeared on the pages of the Bible Advocate. Two simply excerpted accounts of the revival from British newspapers; another was written by Webley himself. “Previous to this great awakening,” he wrote,

the churches were in a deplorable state. Worldliness, pride, formality, and consequent barrenness were too evident, to the grief of God-fearing men and women. During the last few years, sceptics [sic.] had become bold and arrogant, and with a zeal worthy of a better cause, propagated their blasphemous negations and deadly errors amongst the miners of South Wales. Hundreds of men who were not avowed sceptics [sic.] were influenced to the rejection of Christianity by its deadly blight. [36]

He explained how the revival broke out in Loughor under the leadership of Evan Roberts, and how he had been itinerating throughout the mining communities of South Wales. The revival, he concluded, was having a salutary effect on thousands of young people who were raised in religious homes, but had backslidden. He hoped that the revival would “influence them to do what they have been taught to be right, and to become...sound and sincere converts.” [37]

These articles caught the attention of a reader of the Bible Advocate who wrote a letter to the editor under the pseudonym “Macedonian.” [38]  The writer charges the General Evangelistic Committee and the Bible Advocate with ignoring the promise that the Welsh Revival presented.

“Why has not every available evangelist been dispatched to the fruitful fields?” he asked. He called attention to the change in the moral lives of converts as the “grand characteristic” of the revival: “the paying off of old debts, giving up the bad trade in the public houses, beer shops, and tobacco shops, the lack of their old enthusiasm for football and sports, etc.” The Stone-Campbell Movement in Britain had not been able to produce this kind of result in the moral lives of its people. So, he demanded that something be done: “If it were in some far-away country, we would have a great stir...missionaries would be sent...and large amounts of money would be spent...But when the door is open near home, the field already white to harvest, we apparently let the grand opportunity slide.” [39]

The General Evangelistic Committee of the Churches of Christ in Great Britain dispatched trusted evangelist Bartley Ellis to South Wales to observe the revival firsthand, and to “make what good out of it [he] could.” He and Webley held a month of special meetings in the Stone-Campbell Movement churches in order to “guide some of the enthusiasm along New Testament lines.” They attended a revival meeting led by Evan Roberts himself on February 17, 1905 in the mining town of Cymmer. The four-hour meeting consisted primarily of singing Welsh chants, simultaneous and deeply emotional prayer, loud confession of sins, and a “simple talk” given by Roberts “in a conversational manner.” Though they affirmed the obvious moral reform in those converted by the revival, they were disturbed by the emotional excesses: “under the guidance and influence of the Holy Ghost, they sing and dance, shout and scream, and perform all kinds of antics.” [40]

Beyond the emotionalism of the meeting, Ellis and Webley were disturbed by the apparent hesitance of the Holy Spirit to come down and convert sinners to God, despite their earnest prayers and hearty singing. “If the things said and done at [the revival] were under the guidance of the Holy Spirit,” he surmised, “then one is forced to the conclusion that the Holy Spirit has changed his methods from what they were in the early years of the first century.” This could only mean that the Acts of the Apostles was “no longer a reliable guide as to how men and women are converted to God.” Disregarding his experience at the revival altogether, Ellis concluded that the Churches of Christ still had the best understanding of God’s plan for the conversion of sinners, and advised them to “keep to it” because it would bring the most good to humanity and the most glory to God. [41]

Though it was unlikely that the Welsh Revival would present any direct benefit to the Churches of Christ, Ellis and Webley predicted that there could be indirect benefits. They hoped that those aroused out of their religious indifference by the revival would then encounter some who could lead them to the proper practice of New Testament Christianity. South Wales would be a fertile field for the Stone-Campbell Movement, not because of the Welsh Revival, but in spite of it. There is some evidence that this was the case. Webley continued his evangelistic work and before World War I, six more congregations of the Churches of Christ had been founded, and four additional Welsh evangelists had been recruited. This was one of only a few areas of numerical growth in the Churches of Christ in Great Britain during this period. [42]

Welsh Calvinistic Methodist missionaries had been working in India since the 1840s, particularly in the states of Gujarat and Assam. By the turn of the 20th century, their work was a thriving mission with more than 16,000 church members, a number of schools and hospitals, and a press that churned out devotional literature and Bibles in Khasi. The Welsh Revival brought new missionaries to these fields, and in 1905-1906 a Pentecostal revival broke out among the people of the Khasi and Lushai (Mizo) Hills in northeastern India. At least 8,000 Indians converted after experiencing an outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the accompanying miraculous gifts. [43]  Though this revival was located far from the center of Stone-Campbell missionary activity in central India, it nonetheless set off a chain of events that would bring the Movement’s missionaries into contact with early pentecostalism in other parts of Asia.

Indeed, news of the Khasi and Lushai Hills revival reached northern Korea in 1906, where Methodist, Baptist, and Presbyterian missionaries had been trying to cultivate an evangelical revival for the previous three years. Since they had first arrived in the 1880s, these missionaries had experienced only modest success; they hoped that such a revival would both grow the church and prevent it from being politicized amidst mounting Japanese and Russian colonialism. Inspired by news from Wales and India, missionaries and Korean Christians alike experienced a great Pentecostal revival centered in Pyongyang—a city ravaged by the Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895)--throughout 1907. Participants described the experience of powerful “Spirit baptism” that led them to deep humiliation, agonizing public confession of sins, and physical manifestations of the Spirit’s power. Described as the “Pentecost” of Korean Christianity, the Pyongyang Revival also included thousands of conversions and set high standards of piety that continue to shape Korean Christianity today. [44]

William D. Cunningham (1864-1936) and his wife Emily (1873-1953) had established the Yotsuya Mission in Tokyo, Japan in 1901, and it quickly emerged as one of the most successful direct-support missions of the Stone-Campbell Movement. In 1907, while en route to the Centenary Missionary Convention in Shanghai, China, Cunningham visited Pyongyang and saw the revival first-hand, which was then at its height. [45] Though Yotsuya’s work in Tokyo was not yet fully stable, Cunningham nonetheless dispatched two of his Japanese converts to northern Korea in 1909 in an attempt to capitalize on the momentum produced by the Pyongyang Revival. Though these Japanese missionaries were able to baptize a handful of Koreans, Cunningham’s mission was not able to sustain the work financially and it closed. [46]  Yotsuya’s lasting mission in Korea would re-emerge in the 1920s, when Korean Christians—some of whom were converted at the Pyongyang Revival—led the work.

The Foreign Christian Missionary Society also considered beginning work in Korea by 1911 after learning about the continued growth of the churches there after the Pyongyang Revival. In one appeal, FCMS secretary F. M. Rains noted that, since the revival, there had been an average of one addition to the church per hour in Korea, bringing the total membership to more than 250,000. The Korean harvest had been greater in 26 years than that in China even after more than a hundred years of Protestant missionary work! But the real question was this: are these conversions genuine? Rains cited nine different “proofs,” ranging from giving up tobacco and concubines to sacrificial financial giving, as evidence for the genuineness of these revival conversions. Clearly Rains reflected a typical Stone-Campbell bias in making sense of conversion: assurance does not depend on the miraculous nature of the experience, but on the moral outcome of that alleged conversion. [47]  Aside from periodically sending leaders from the Japanese mission to Korea to preach and baptize, the FCMS never engaged in a sustained mission in Korea.

Within months of the Pyongyang Revival’s beginning, news reached the Chinese churches, first in Manchuria, then across the provinces of northeast China and those along the Yangtze River Valley. A handful of western missionaries and Chinese church workers also visited Pyongyang in 1907; and after their return, they tried to cultivate similar revivals in their own missions. Among them was Canadian Presbyterian missionary Jonathan Goforth (1859-1936). He left his assigned station in the Henan province and became a travelling evangelist, teaching denominational missions how to promote revivals. He made a calculated decision in 1908 to focus his efforts not on converting non-Christian Chinese, but in promoting Pentecostal revivals within existing churches. He worked throughout northern and central China for almost thirty years, conducting revivals that raised the standards of piety and purity in existing churches. [48]

Among those denominational mission in which these revivals broke out was the Stone-Campbell Movement’s China Mission. The FCMS began this mission in Nanking in 1886, and soon it spread to many other cities in the Yangtze River Valley. It included medical care, vigorous evangelism and church planting, and educational work. From the beginning, the China Christian Mission was ecumenical in outlook; leaders cultivated a close working relationship with other denominational missions, especially in its educational work.

The revivals swept through FCMS mission stations between 1908 and 1911, beginning in Chuchow, Guangwei, and other mission stations in the Anhui province. Preparations for one of these revivals often began weeks before, as members of the host church began gathering food and other provisions for the participants. The protracted meetings lasted seven to ten days, and typically included thousands of people fasting, weeping and wailing as they confessed their sins, and experiencing gifts of the Spirit. Many converts at these revivals surrendered their opium pipes and claimed that they had been cured of their addiction by the power of the Holy Spirit. Stone-Campbell missionaries understood the revivals in their mission as part of a greater awakening of China. [49]

At the center of the Stone-Campbell Movement’s pentecostal revivals in China was Shi Kwei-biao. A native of Chuchow, he was a professional story-teller and actor prior to his conversion. Though he had heard the gospel preached many times, his addiction to opium prevented him from becoming a Christian. In 1888, however, after seven tries, he successfully completed a treatment program designed by Stone-Campbell missionary Dr. William Macklin (1860-1947), and was baptized. Because of his oratory skills and his compelling testimony, he quickly emerged as one of the most successful evangelists of the China Mission. FCMS executive Archibald McLean said of Shi in 1919: “When he began his ministry the people who knew his career before his conversion spat on his clothes and in his face; now, when it is known that he is to preach in the same places, it is necessary to have a succession of services to accommodate the crowds who wish to hear him.” [50]  Shi worked with the China Mission until his death in 1925.

In 1907 Shi had been among those of the China Mission to attend the Centenary Missionary Conference in Shanghai and to visit Pyongyang at the height of the revival. After successfully leading the 1908 revival in Chuchow, the China Mission appointed him as general evangelist for the mission. In this role, he itinerated between more than twenty mission stations leading the churches in revival. By 1910 he had led great revivals in Luchowfu, Nantungchow, and Nanking. Unfortunately the violence and political turmoil associated with the Chinese revolution of 1911 brought this revivalism to an abrupt end. [51]


Provisional Lessons from this Study

By way of conclusion, and hopefully to inspire some dialogue with you, let me offer what I think are some provisional lessons that we can draw from these early encounters between Stone-Campbell Movement missions and the early Pentecostalism.

Because of its early emphasis on rational, literalistic readings of the Bible, the Stone-Campbell Movement has never developed a robust theology of the Holy Spirit. Certainly our founders, but even our later theologians and church leaders have confined the work of the Holy Spirit to conversion and sanctification, while ignoring the many other ways that the Spirit operates in the lives of believers, the corporate life of the church, and even the life of the world around us. On the other hand, some within the Stone-Campbell Movement have embraced a rather indefinite evangelicalism, especially in terms of worship style. Among these brothers and sisters, talk of the Holy Spirit is common, but very often that talk is not sufficiently tempered with insights from Scripture. In other words, this study has exposed the fact that the Stone-Campbell Movement’s theology of the Holy Spirit is too confining, too restrictive if we are to experience the fullness of what God is doing in the church and world.

Has the time come, then, for the Stone-Campbell Movement—especially the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)—to think seriously about expanding the range of its vision concerning the work of the Holy Spirit? While I am not suggesting that we all become Pentecostal, I am wondering whether this story of those early encounters helps us see that the Movement is not positioned to be especially welcoming of those who have a more robust understanding of the Holy Spirit, especially our racial/ethnic minority communities, our immigrant communities, and our partner churches across the globe with historic ties to the Movement. Thinking theologically about these issues may, in fact, help the church do that.

Secondly, we might puzzle over this phrase, “the Disciples way.” In el Avivamiento del 33 this issue is glaringly obvious as missionaries attempted to suppress the revival as inconsistent with Stone-Campbell tradition. But this same dynamic can be observed in the movement’s early encounters with Pentecostalism: in Wales, in Brazil, and in Korea, China, and India. While I did not refer to it specifically, a small minority of Stone-Campbell leaders in this context actually denounced Pentecostalism as being inspired by Satan rather than the Holy Spirit. The reason? Essentially because Pentecostalism was not consistent with the tradition, both in terms of its theology of the Holy Spirit and the patterns of worship that it considered normative.

But the fact remains: Pentecostal piety is growing in the Stone-Campbell Movement, especially among its racial/minority communities, immigrant communities, and in partner churches across the globe. How will we respond? Will we continue to respond with suspicion and doubt, trying to suppress this growth with an appeal to our tradition? Or will we, though appropriately cautious, embrace the news ways in which it seems God is working in our churches? Remember, Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3: the Spirit of God blows like the wind wherever it wants; we are unable to see it, except in the effects it has in the people and he world around us.



1 D. Newell Williams, et al., The Stone-Campbell Movement: A Global History (St. Louis: Chalice Press, 2013), 294. “Dollar diplomacy” refers to a strategy of foreign policy begun under presidents Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909) William Howard Taft (1909-1913) that encouraged U.S. financial investment in Latin America and the Caribbean to promote prosperity and stability. While there were some benefits of the policy to Latin America and the Caribbean, often it resulted in economic exploitation by U.S.-based corporations and dependence of the region’s economy on the United States.

2 C. Manly Morton, Kingdom Building in Puerto Rico (Indianapolis: UCMS, 1949), 64-65.

3 Juan Figueroa, Los Discípulos de Cristo en Puerto Rico: Perfil de Nuestra Historia, (Bayamón: La Iglesia Cristiana (Discípulos de Cristo) en Puerto Rico, 2008), 116. See also Joaquín Vargas, Los Discípulos de Cristo en Puerto Rico (San Jose, Costa Rica: DEI, 1988), 88-90.

4 Figueroa, Los Discípulos, 117-118. See also Daisy Machado, “El granavivamiento del ’33,” The Protestant Missionary Enterprise, Revival, Identity, and Tradition,” in Orlando O. Espín, Gary Macy, ed., Futuring Our Past. Exploration in the Theology of Tradition (Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 2006), 249-275. I am indebted to Richie Sanchez, a current student at Christian Theological Seminary, who spoke with several descendants of the Puerto Rican leaders who experienced the revival. Particularly helpful was a phone conversation (translated from Spanish in summary form) between Richie Sanchez and Rev. Gamaliel Ortiz Nieves, the son of Vicente Ortiz.

5 Vargas, Los Discípulos, 95.

6 Figueroa, Los Discípulos, 119-121.

7 Following the lead of Pentecostal historian Allan Anderson, I assume that Pentecostalism emerged in “multiple Jerusalems,” virtually simultaneous episodes of revivalism across the globe that together mark the origins of the movement. See Anderson, Spreading Fires: The Missionary Nature of Early Pentecostalism (London: SCM Press, 2007), 5-9, and “Revising Pentecostal History in Global Perspective,” in Allan Anderson and E. Tang, ed., Asian and Pentecostal: The Charismatic Face of Christianity in Asia (Kuala Lumpur: Regnum Books, 2005), 147-173.

8 See Barton Stone, An Address to the Churches in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Ohio on Several Important Doctrines of Religion (Nashville: M. and J. Norvell, 1814). After being challenged by Presbyterian colleagues, Stone replied with a second edition of his Address in 1821 that was “corrected and enlarged.” See also Barton Stone, Letters to James Blythe (Lexington: W. Tanner, 1824), esp. 25-29. See also D. Newell Williams, Barton Stone: A Spiritual Biography (St. Louis: Chalice Press, 2000), 139-156.

9 See Barton Stone, The Biography of Elder Barton Warren Stone, John Rogers, ed., (Cincinnati: J. A. and U. P. James, 1847), 30-31; Barton Stone, “The Gift of the Holy Spirit,” Christian Messenger (1832): 149-152. Because of his position, Stone often had to defend himself against charges that he denied entirely the work of the Holy Spirit in salvation.

10 Robert Richardson, Memoirs of Alexander Campbell 2 vols. (Indianapolis: Religious Book Services, 1980), 1:425-428. Richardson suggests that Campbell came to this position on “converting grace” because of the influence of Scottish theologians James Haldane (1768-1851) and John Campbell (1766-1840).

11 Barton Stone, “Extracts from the History of Luther,” Christian Messenger (1836): 45; Barton Stone, “Reply to Will S. Gooch,” Christian Messenger (1835): 221-223.

12 Barton Stone, “ Of the Family of God on Earth,” Christian Messenger (1826): 5-17, quoted at p. 6.

13 Barton Stone, “Answer to Brother Richard McCorkle,” Christian Messenger (1836): 120-121.

14 Alexander Campbell, The Christian System (Bethany: A. Campbell, 1840), 63-67.

15 Alexander Campbell, “The Gift of the Holy Spirit,” Millennial Harbinger (1834): 569.

16 Barton Stone, “Answer to the Queries of J. M. Apollus,” Christian Messenger (1833): 37-39.

17 Alexander Campbell, “The Gift of the Holy Spirit,” Millennial Harbinger (1834): 172.

18 Barton Stone, “The Gift of the Holy Spirit,” Christian Messenger (1832): 109.

19 Barton Stone, “ Letter to Walter Scott,” Christian Messenger (1836): 13.

20 Stone, Biography, 38.

21 For a fuller treatment of Stone’s position see Lanis Kineman, “Barton Warren Stone’s Concept of the Holy Spirit” (BD thesis, Butler School of Religion, 1956); and Allen Knox, The Fire in the Stone: Barton Stone’s Theology of the Holy Spirit (Abilene: ACU Press, 1995).

22 Alexander Campbell, “The Gift of the Holy Spirit,” Millennial Harbinger (1834): 220.

23 On the tension between Campbell and other 19th c. evangelicals, see D. Newell Williams, “The Gospel as the Power of God to Salvation: Alexander Campbell and Experimental Religion,” in James Seale, ed., Lectures in Honor of the Alexander Campbell Bicentennial, 1788-1988 (Nashville: Disciples of Christ Historical Society, 1988), 127-148.

24 Stephen England, “The Holy Spirit in the Thought and Life of the Disciples of Christ,” in Ronald Osborne, Ralph Wilburn, and William Blakemore, ed., The Renewal of the Church: The Panel of Scholars Reports 3 vols. (St. Louis: Bethany Press, 1963), 1:111-134. England identifies only Richardson as a mediating figure; but Milligan’s position is strikingly similar.

25 Robert Milligan, An Exposition and Defense of the Scheme of Redemption (Cincinnati: R. W. Carroll, 1869),272-275.

26 Robert Richardson, A Scriptural View of the Office of the Holy Spirit (Cincinnati: Bosworth, Chase, and Hall, 1873), 226, 247-248.

27 Richardson, Office of the Holy Spirit, 183.

28 Milligan, Exposition, 277.

29 Milligan, Exposition, 265.

30 Richardson, Office of the Holy Spirit, 169-170.

31 J. H. Garrison, The Holy Spirit: His Personality, Mission, and Modes of Activity (St. Louis: Christian Publishing Company, 1905), 174-175.

32 Garrison, The Holy Spirit, 154-155.

33 Allan Anderson, An Introduction to Pentecostalism (New York: Cambridge, 2004), 36. See also Eifon Evans, The Welsh Revival of 1904 (Bridgend: Evangelical Press of Wales, 1969).

34 Anderson, Introduction to Pentecostalism, 36. No critical biography of Evan Roberts has been written. For a brief and haigiographic account of his life, see Barnabas Harper, Evan Roberts (Pensacola: Christian Life Books, 2004).

35 William Webley, “Evangelistic Work in South Wales,” The Bible Advocate (1905): 5-7. See also David Thompson, Let Sects and Parties Fall: A Short History of the Association of Churches of Christ in Great Britain and Ireland (London: Berean Press, 1981), 115.

36 William Webley, “The Welsh Revival,” Bible Advocate (1905): 35.

37 Webley, “Welsh Revival,” 36.

38 This pseudonym is not without significance. In Acts 16:6-10, Paul has a vision of a man standing and begging him, saying “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” This passage provided a powerful symbol for 19th-century Protestant missions.

39 Macedonian [pseud.], “The Welsh Revival: What are We Doing?” Bible Advocate (1905): 47. Several other letters to the editor also called for something to be done. See Bible Advocate (1905): 54, 60, 77, 91.

40 Bartley Ellis, “The Revival in South Wales: Its Incidents and Its Lessons,” Bible Advocate (1905): 200-203, 211-214, and 225-227; “Report of the General Evangelistic Committee,” Yearbook of Churches of Christ (Birmingham: Churches of Christ, 1905): 46.

41 Ellis, “The Revival in South Wales,” 202-203.

42 Ellis, “The Revival in South Wales,” 225. See also A. C. Watters, History of British Churches of Christ (Greenfield: William Mitchell Printing Company, 1948), 95 and Thompson, Sects and Parties, 115.

43 “Foreign Mission of the Presbyterian Church of Wales,” at http://www.mundus.ac.uk/cats/15/296.htm, accessed March 8, 2013. As early as the 1860s, however, revivals with pentecostal features—including glossolalia—began breaking out among the Indian Christians in Kerala. Thus, the origin of Indian Pentecostalism should not be located only in this Welsh mission work.

44 Bonjour Bay, “The Pyongyang Great Revival in Korea and Spirit Baptism,” Evangelical Review of Theology (Winter, 2007): 6; Timothy Lee, “The Great Revival of 1907 in Korea: Its Evangelical and Political Background,” Criterion (Spring, 2001): 12.

45 Emily Cunningham and Florence Still, The Faming Torch: The Life Story of W. D. Cunningham (Tokyo: Yotsuya Mission, 1939), 45.

46 “About People,” Tokyo Christian (November 1921), 1; W. D. Cunningham, “Visit to Korea,” Christian Standard (1924): 863; “About People,” Tokyo Christian (October, 1929), 1; “Korean Notes,” Tokyo Christian (July, 1933), 3. See also Williams, et al., The Stone-Campbell Movement, 270-271.

47 F. M. Rains, “A Visit to Our Mission Stations—A Trip to Korea,” Missionary Intelligencer (1911): 287-289.

48 Lian Xi, Redeemed by Fire: The Rise of Popular Christianity in Modern China (New Haven: Yale, 2010), 87-89; Daniel Bays, “Christian Revival in China, 1900-1937,” in Edith Blumhofer and Randall Balmer, ed., Modern Christian Revivals (Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 1993), 163ff; and Rosalind Goforth, Goforth of China (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1937).

49 E. I. Osgood, “China,” The Missionary Intelligencer (May, 1908), 206; D. E. Dannenberg, “The Gwangwei Revival,” Christian Standard (1909): 456; “Chu Cheo,” The Missionary Intelligencer (November, 1909), 506-507; and William Remfrey Hunt, “Revival in China,” The Missionary Intelligencer (February, 1911), 115-117.

50 Williams, et al., Stone-Campbell Movement, 126. See also Elliott Osgood, Shi the Storyteller: The Life and Work of Shi Kwei-piao, Chinese Storyteller and Pastor (Cincinnati: Powell and White, 1926).

51 E. I. Osgood, “A Revival in the Chucheo District,” The Missionary Intelligencer (January, 1910): 34-35; G. B. Baird, “The Beginning of the Harvest,” The Missionary Intelligencer (July, 1910): 362-363; John Johnson, “The Revival in Nantungchow,” The Missionary Intelligencer (July, 1910): 363-364; and Mary Kelly, “Wonderful Revival in Nankin,” The Missionary Intelligencer (August, 1910): 407-409.