A Pertinent Question-Could it be…?
By Fred J. Foster
No one connected with the Pentecostal movement in those early days could deny the fact that God was bringing old truth back to fresh reality. All the happenings in the countless meetings across the country were actually not a new thing, but, on the contrary, were as old as the gospel of Christ itself. The early church had experienced them time and again. Through the years, though, prior to the Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D., a turning away from the purity of divine truth and revelation was easily seen. Then in the Dark and Medieval Period of history, New Testament salvation was completely lost, except in the hearts of a few struggling, persecuted people, ostracized as heretics.
Then, like a beautiful ray of sunshine on an otherwise cloudy day, Martin Luther burst upon the scene of history with his Justification by Faith pronouncement. Before his time, bright rays had been seen in the persons of Wycliffe and Huss, and following him came a momentum which could not be impeded, under the guidance of such reformers as Zwingli, Calvin, Knox, Tyndale, Cartwright and Wesley. On into the nineteenth century it seemed something was happening. Slowly and gradually God was bringing old truth back to its proper place. It seemed that one age could only receive a certain amount of truth. It was all they were capable of evaluating, but they would guard it diligently and hand it on to the next era. These, in turn, would take up the torch, and God, seeing fit to add something else more enlightening, would project this on until conditions were such that new truth would be acceptable. Deliberately through the centuries conditions of change from the Roman Catholic concept to a state of mind whereby all the doctrinal activity of the first century church could be comprehended and acted upon was brought about.
PARHAM AT TOPEKA
This brings us to January 1, 1901 in Topeka, Kansas when God began pouring out the Baptism of the Holy Ghost upon the students in Bethel Bible Collage. (1) This is a pinnacle in history. Much has been said about it and the man C. F. Parham, who was the founder of the school. Here history shows God again revealing himself in tremendous power through the infilling of the believer with the Holy Spirit, with the initial evidence of speaking in tongues as the Spirit gave utterance.
I raise this question, though: Could it be that God was endeavoring to bring a companion truth to light at the same time? Was the Lord of the church attempting to bless countless thousands with divine revelation, but they were unable to grasp the meaning, or were too overjoyed with the Holy Spirit baptism to take time to evaluate the depth of water baptism?
It was the year 1902. Parham wrote a book stating much of his religious philosophy, and the second chapter dealt with water baptism. “Indeed for months nothing, pro or con, came upon the subject, until one day at the Bible School, we were waiting upon God that we might know the Scriptural teaching of water baptism. Finally the Spirit of God spoke, ‘We are buried by baptism unto His death.’ We had known that for years. Again the Spirit said, ‘God the Father, and God the Holy Spirit never died.’
“Then how quickly we recognized the fact that we could not be buried by baptism in the name of the Father and in the name of the Holy Ghost, because it stood for nothing, as they never died, and were never resurrected. So if you desire to witness a public confession of a clean conscience toward God and man, faith in the divinity of Jesus Christ, you will be baptized by single immersion, signifying the death, burial and resurrection; being baptized in the name of Jesus, into the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost; they are one when in Christ you become one with all.” (2)
PARHAM’S ANSWER CONCERNING WATER BAPTISM
Before this time, after trying to put the question of water baptism aside, Parham said, “One day, meditating alone in the woods, the Spirit said, ‘Have you obeyed every command you believe to be in the Word?’
“We answered, ‘Yes.’ The question was repeated; the same answer was given. The third time the question was asked, we answered ‘No,’ for like a flood the convincing evidence of the necessity of obedience rushed in upon us, how Peter said, ‘Repent and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ.’ “3
Samuel C. McClain says, “Naturally, as this school and Rev. Parham continued the study of the Book of Acts, it became evident that each and all of the apostles baptized in Jesus’ name. In 1902, seeking God very definitely on this subject, Rev. Parham came to the conclusion that a reason why the apostles baptized in Jesus’ name was that Jesus is the only door of entrance, that it was Jesus who died, and that Paul declared we are buried with Him by baptism into His death. And, since the Father did not die, nor did the Holy Ghost, it is proper that all candidates be baptized or buried in the name of Jesus Christ.
“In the year 1903 the revival had swept into many cities and villages, and in Galena, Kansas, H. A. Goss was converted and buried in Jesus’ name through water baptism.” (4)
In a letter to the author, dated June 15, 1963, H. A. Goss confirmed that Parham did baptize him in the name of Jesus, in the stated revival. Goss was too young and too new in Pentecost to fully understand its consequences at the time.
“After many ministers came into the faith, who used the formula in baptism as had long been used in their former churches, it was decided, in order to keep unity, that the new movement should use the old formula, Matthew 28:19.” (5)
Now, as one looks back upon such history, the pertinent question arises time and again: could it be that this was God’s time to bring this glorious truth to the surface, whereby all professing Pentecostals would be practicing it today? Were men too enveloped in feelings of unity to stand for heaven-sent revelation? Could it be that much heartache and agony gone through later would have been avoided, if proper action had been taken, and pointed direction had been given at such a time as this?
1 Ewart, “Phenomenon of Pentecost,” p. 30.
2 Parham, “A Voice Crying in the Wilderness,” p. 23, 24.
4 McClain, “Notes,” p. 3.
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS TAKEN FROM 20th CENTURY PENTECOSTALS AND PUBLISHED BY WORD AFLAME PRESS, 1980, PAGES 118-122. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.