Assemblies of God Jobs
Blogging from the heartland, Sean MacNair calls it like he sees it. In a brief post he concisely serves up highlights from 100 years of American church renewal (See: “The Pardoner’s Tale: My best (stolen) idea so far this year“). He buzzes over Pentecostalism, the Charismatic renewal, healing revivals, Billy Graham, the Charismatic Catholic renewal, the Jesus Movement, the megachurch-cum-denomination trend, worship innovations, and the Emergent Conversation. His point: Renewal threatens the status quo but ultimately gets institutionalized, fades into oblivion, or is assimilated into the mainstream.
New movements come, new movements go, and the people on either side of an impending change in style always look askance at the guy across the aisle, when in fact they don’t have to, this too shall pass or at least be assimilated.
For example, look at the Azusa Street revival in Los Angeles in the early 1900’s. The holy rollers came on the scene in waves, and boy were the established churches aggravated. Excessive emotion was being brought into the church, emotion not befitting the “house of Gawd” (adopt the proper pseudo-reverential tone here). These Pentecostals, as they were dubbed, were driven out and forced to establish their own fellowships. Eventually groups like the Assemblies of God sprang up, never intending to become a denomination, but after 30 years travelling down that road anyway. 100 years later the AOG is part of the establishment and new groups are trying to breath life into it. A movement that brought much needed life to the faith of many, and was thought of as a threat, did not remain so.
MacNair’s criticism echoes Margaret Poloma’s evaluation:
Just as other once-charismatic religious movements have followed the path of over-institutionalization and over-regulation, which in turn has discouraged much of the original charisma, the Assemblies of God could suffer the chilling effects of routinization. … Paradoxically, the institution that developed out of charisma and has been strengthened by fresh outbursts also seeks to tame and domesticate this spirit. it remains to be seen whether — and how much — charisma will rule over bureaucratic forms and regulations, or whether organizational concerns will stifle the Spirit.
(Again, emphasis mine.)
— Margaret Poloma, ‘The Assemblies of God at the Crossroads: Charisma and Institutional Dilemmas, ” Christian Century, (10/17/90), pp. 932-934.
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