Chapter 8 The Welsh-Pentecostal Revival 1900- 1920
The Western Civilization people looked forward to the Twentieth Century with optimism. Secular historians predicted a century of peace, prosperity, and progress even talking of a utopia. Religious authors gloried in the past of how divine providence had brought three revivals to America, and they trusted that the Holy Spirit would move again in the new century. However, a variety of opinions and prophecies were offered in their literature.
Reuben A. Torrey, the President of Moody Bible, wrote How to Promote and Conduct a Successful Revival with Suggestive Outline in 1901. He said, "Revival is in the air. Thoughtful ministers and Christians everywhere are talking about a revival, expecting a revival, and best of all, praying for a revival. There seems to be little doubt that a revival of some kind is coming, but the important question is what kind of revival will it be? Will it be a true revival, sent of God because His people have met the conditions that make it possible for God to work with power, or will it be a spurious revival gotten up by the arts and devices of man?"
Frank Beardsley closed his 1904 A History of American Revivals with these words, "there was a diminishing number of accessions to the churches, and indications were not wanting that the religious life of the nation was suffering a decline, but with the efforts now under way in various denominations, it is hoped that the opening years of this new century may be characterized by a sweeping revival which shall greatly increase the usefulness and spiritual power of the churches."
Leonard Woolsey Bacon's A History of American Christianity was published in 1901. He was so impressed by the Chicago celebration of the four hundredth anniversary of Columbus' discovery that he called it "those seventeen wonderful September days of 1892." He predicted that from their "World Parliament of Religions" that "a Christian union" would be a "divine event" of the new century, and the Protestant and Roman Catholic churches would combine their "ingenuity and resources" as fellow-Christians.
Josiah Strong, a leader in the Evangelical Alliance and the League for Social Services, wrote The Next Great Awakening in 1902. He called for a program of "Jesus' social legislation." He said that "the church should save men not souls" by transforming the selfish and competitive principals of modern capitalism. The next awakening would be a reformation of American social, political, and economic life through "divine grace," and not some more spectacular mass meetings by another sensational revivalist. This would be accomplished by "loving persuasion and voluntary cooperation" or when needed, by local, state, and national legislation. Supporters of the Social Gospel loved Strong's opinions, but the friends of old-time religion denounced him.
J. Wilbur Chapman wrote in 1903 in his Present-Day Evangelism, "America is fast following the steps of the old Roman Empire. The home is despised, children are an encumbrance, a poodle dog is of more value than a baby. Wealth and pride consume the lifeblood of the nation and aristocratic weaknesses sap our democratic vigor. And yet in the presence of all these discouragements, we confidently believe that the skies are brightening and that there is the assurance of the dawning of a new day. There is an increasing number in the Church too longing for better things. There is a great volume of prayer ascending to God in behalf of the unsaved."
The religious journals were filled with suggestions about 20th Century evangelism. George F. Pentecost, who had abandoned the field of itinerant evangelism, and George E. Horr, editor of the Baptist weekly, The Watchman, both felt personal evangelism by the laity and pastoral evangelism should be the methods of the future.
Amzi Clarence Dixon, a Baptist pastor in Boston and Brooklyn, became head of the Moody Church in Chicago. He published Evangelism Old and New in 1906. He called for "True Evangelism" that preached "new birth," "repentance and faith," and "winning souls to Christ." He denounced the new socialistic approach as "bloodless evangelism" and "academic evangelism" as "False Evangelism." Dixon said that colleges and academic institutions were turning into "hot-beds of infidelity or refrigerators of indifference." He pointed out that the only true revivals in the past were led by "believers in the inspiration and infallible authority of The Word of God."
Warren A. Candler, bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, wrote his Great Revivals book in 1904. His 10th and final chapter "The Next Great Awakening" provides one of the most detailed expectations for a 20th Century revival. He predicted a "revival of religion" where dead things would come to life. The revival would "conquer death" and give a "hope of new life." It would "regenerate a nation" and "inspire philanthropy." It would produce religious emotions that would "stir the heart," but not "the fanatical excitement, begotten of earthly passions."
Candler said that the next awakening would be doctrinal with "inspired truth" like Whitefield, Edwards, Stoddard, Wesley, Finney, and Moody preached. Would there be more great leaders? "Yes, mightier than in past awakenings." He, also, predicted new songs, and he said, "there are no great revivals without hymns." William McLoughlin called Candler's book "the most forceful and eloquent proponent of the nationalistic school of evangelicalism."
Premillennialism was not fashionable in middle-class churches at the turn of the century. Candler warned evangelical revivalists to steer clear of the pessimistic doctrine of the imminent second coming doctrine. He thought it was fatalistic and the world was not a wrecked vessel where only a few could be saved. After 1920 premillennialism reappeared in revival preaching.
While there was plenty of talk about revival, the climate in America was changing dramatically. Immigrants were pouring at a rate of almost a million a year. Most were coming from Southern and Eastern Europe of Catholic, Jewish, and Orthodox background. They were referred to as the "new" immigrants, who did not assimilate with the mainline traditions of white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant, and Western European. They only complicated the problems of urbanization, labor unrest, and furthermore they looked different, they had different customs, and they spoke different languages from the "old" immigrants. Plus, they had no experience with Evangelical Awakenings or Protestant evangelism. Too many were unchurched, unsaved, and unfortunately even unwanted.
American Christians were still aware of the Laymen's Awakening of 1858. However, the average American church thought revival to impossible without an evangelist or the regular revival meetings on the church calendar. Nevertheless, the mainline denominations made preparations for an awakening, and some parachurch organizations began to pray for the new century and a possible revival, too.
The Methodists across the nation joined the "Twentieth Century Forward Movement." Their goal was to win two millions souls to Christ, and they appealed for twenty million dollars for the project. The Baptists, also, began to pray for an awakening in their annual revival meetings.
The Presbyterians Church (USA) even joined efforts for revival. Under the leadership of Dr. J. Wilbur Chapman, twelve hundred pastors united in a circle of prayer for revival. Special evangelistic services were held in all 1285 Presbyterian churches in 1903. They, also, called for interdenominational cooperation. The Methodists and Baptists praised their initiative.
From the hopes for revival and the vision for world evangelism came the first American attempt at a world-wide evangelistic tour. It was planned by R.A. Torrey, superintendent of Moody Bible, and Charles M. Alexander, who was a student at Moody Bible during the World's Fair in 1893. The tour started in 1901 in the South Pacific and went to Australia, Tasmania, and New Zealand. The evangelistic pair continued to Asia in China and India. After the British Isles they finished in Canada in 1906. Much credit for their success was given to the "prayer circles" of the wives back in Chicago.
However, when the revival occurred, it did not start in the United States. In fact according to James Edwin Orr, the greatest revival expert in history, it did not even begin with the phenomenal Welsh Revival of 1904-05. Orr claimed that it was worldwide, and it touched the most obscure places. It seemed to arise simultaneously all over the world. Like the 1858 Revival the early days of the Twentieth Century found their beginnings in prayer meetings.
I. The Welsh Revival:
The Awakening in Wales and the fame of Evan John Roberts was heard around the world in 1904-05. Evan Roberts was born in the village of Loughor near Swansea in 1878. His devout family was strongly involved at Moriah Church of the Welsh Calvinistic Methodist denomination. He was a communicant by his teenage years. He attended meetings six days a week at his church, and he was deeply committed to praying for revival for over ten years.
He worked in the coal mines for twelve years, and then became a blacksmith. In 1903 Roberts entered Newcastle Emlyn Academy to prepare for the ministry. In his search for a deeper spiritual life, he crossed paths with Rev. Seth Joshua, an evangelist, who called for a deeper obedience to the Holy Spirit. During one of his meetings Evan Roberts came to the front, kneeled, and cried in agony, "Lord, bend me." While some observed it as an ecstatic emotional experience, Evan later gave testimony that a wave of peace flooded his soul, and that he felt ablaze to tell all of Wales about The Savior.
In October, 1904 under divine impulsion Evan suspended his studies and went home to preach the gospel. He was given permission to hold meetings at his home church in Loughor and its chapel Pisgah. He centered on four essential conditions for an out pouring of the Holy Spirit: first, confess of all past sins, do away with any trace of doubt, obey the Spirit promptly and unquestioningly, and finally, make a public confession of Christ as your Savior.
The second night the service lasted 3 hours, and within a week the crowds were staying until three o'clock in the morning. The second week the Moorish Church was overflowing with 800 people. Although the young layman was not an outstanding speaker, his passion and sometimes sobbing moved the crowds. He prophesied that he'd had a vision that 100,000 would be won to the churches in Wales.
Immediately large crowds began attending prayer meetings, and they lasted past midnight. There was no advertisement or publicity. Shop keepers closed early to get a seat in the crowded churches, and they simple put a sign in the window "Closed gone to prayer meeting." The spirit filled meetings stressed spontaneity by concentrating on the work of the Holy Spirit as people confessed their sins and Jesus Christ as Savior. At times the service only consisted of Evan Roberts opening with "Let's pray." South Wales was ablaze and within two months conversions numbered 34,000.
Everywhere changed lives were proclaiming in the Welsh tongue "Diolch Iddo" (Praises to God) or (Thanks be to Him). A pronounced decline in drunkenness and profanity was noticed in the coal mining regions. Some pit-men remained at prayer meeting throughout the night only to go directly to their jobs. The pit ponies provided the best witnesses to these new creatures in Christ; they could not understand their hailer's commands as old things like kicks and obscenities passed away. Also, a tavern keeper mourned that it took six months to sell the beer he had previously sold in six days. The Swansea County Police Court announced that they did not have a single charge for drunkenness during the 1905 New Years holiday.
At Cardiff during an International Rugby football match a Baptist Minister said that he had heard only one swear word in the crowd. When he reproved the offender, the man thanked him, and thousands of spectators began singing the hymn "Throw out the Life Line." The hymn "Bread of Heaven" became a popular song at the rugby games.
Within six months 100,000 converts were added to the Welsh churches. Spirit-filled gatherings were held in homes, barns, coal mines, quarries, and even a pig-sty. It was estimated that eighty percent of the people were still in the churches five years later.
Evan Roberts received invitations to speak around the world. However, he spoke almost entirely in Wales and in the Welsh language. He spoke once in Liverpool, but it was to Welshmen; and he only used a few English words. He only toured with a group of singing young women, and refused all requests for tours and even pictures.
Observers including R.A. Torrey came from other countries to see him preach. At one meeting where he intended not to speak, one foreigner complained, "I came to see Evan Roberts." Roberts replied, "You don't need to meet me, you need to know Jesus Christ." Mostly, Evan Roberts tried to avoid the limelight.
In 1906 he experienced two setbacks. Peter Price, a Congregational minister, and several others criticized Evan Roberts and the emotionalism of the revival. Also, Roberts health broke from exhaustion. He retired from public ministry and lived with friends until his death at Cardiff in 1951. Eventually his critics were discredited. Regardless without him the awakening continued and it spread. One of the first areas touched by the Welsh Revival was at Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania where thousands of Welsh folks had settled in the United States.
II. The American Phase:
The tidings of the Welsh Revival kindled reports in every religious journal that a revival was coming. Every Protestant denomination published news of the spontaneous events in Wales. When the awakening among the Pennsylvania Welshmen occurred in December of 1904, it started a cleansing wave that touched every part of the United States in 1905.
During the first two months of the new year churches from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh were jammed with repenters coming out and confessing Jesus. Philadelphia claimed the greatest number of converts since the days of Moody and Sankey. The Methodists in Philadelphia avowed that they had 10,000 converts by springtime. The Baptists declared that every part of the state was experiencing revival.
The Northeast was ablaze. New Jersey reported that spacious churches were overflowing, and the "Young Peoples" societies were gaining new members at a rate of 10 to 300 percent. Newark said that "Pentecost was literally repeated." Atlantic City claimed that only 50 people remained unconverted in their town of 60,000. Town after town said that church life was being revived. In Schenectady, New York the local minister's association reported that all the evangelical denominations had joined for prayer, and that revival meetings were crowded at noon, afternoon, and evening regardless of the church. The secular press had daily columns with headlines on the "Power of Prayer," "Great Moral Liftup," "The Fires of Pentecost," and "Yesterday's Conversions."
New York City was having its best spiritual days since 1858. By April the awakening was throughout New England. Even without any organized evangelistic effort churches were experiencing responses everywhere. They came for membership, baptism, prayer, and especially for confession. In Danbury, Connecticut Daniel Shepardson, the wheel-chair evangelist, saw results and repenters. On one Sunday in Boston 150 professed conversion at Dr. A.C. Dixon's church. In Rutland, Vermont the union prayer meetings at the YMCA received such a response that they asked Dr. Dixon to help with the harvest. Within a week 450 inquired for instruction.
Even the most unlikely responses took place. At Northfield, the birthplace of D.L. Moody, the stories of the Welsh revival caused a wave of confessions and repentance at the Christian meetings. In Forest City, Maine where drunkenness was common and the churches closed for eight months of the winter, a revival broke out during the summer of 1905 affecting the entire state. Gloversville in New York's Mohawk River Valley reported a cross-section of converts: infidels, drinkers, moralists, black, white, Italian, Swede, American, fathers, mothers, and youths. In Boston the daily prayer meeting at the Old North Church became so crowded that businessmen expanded to other churches in the city. Throughout the Northeast church leaders agreed that this was not a man-made revival for they had planned nothing, but the Spirit of The Lord was upon the land.
The first phase of the awakening in the South took place in Atlanta. Nearly one thousand businessmen had agreed to pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. They succeeded in establishing a midday prayer on November 2, 1904. In an overwhelming show of unity stores, factories, offices, saloons, amusement places, and even the Georgia Supreme Court closed their doors for the noon hour of prayer.
Louisville, Kentucky claimed the most remarkable revival in the city's history with conversions numbering 4,000 and 58 businesses closing for noon-day prayer meetings by March of 1905. The Presbyterians felt that the awakening was statewide. At the First Baptist Church of Paducah the devoted ministry of Dr. J.J. Checks ended with a blessing of over a thousand new members in 1905 just before he went home to The Lord.
Throughout the other Southern states the Awakening of 1905 followed a similar pattern. Reports in the churches and their religious papers covered the Welsh revival and Evan Robert's sermons. A hope of revival spawned evangelistic and prayer services. The leading denominations the Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, and Episcopal cooperated in unified meetings. Every place confirmed that there was a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit and a great ingathering of souls.
Norfolk, Virginia had a tremendous unified effort by their churches. In the Carolinas, Tennessee, and Georgia many local congregations reported the same results. In Florida the most prominent evangelist was Mordecai F. Ham, who became more famous after a teenager committed his life to Christ at the 1934 Charlotte, North Carolina crusade. The youth was Billy Graham.
The revival rolled across the Deep South and reached Texas by the spring. In Houston the churches were crowded and the gambling dens were closed. Dallas and Waco, including Baylor University, were moved by the Revival of 1905.
When news of the Welsh Revival reached the Midwest, intercessory prayer meetings sprang up in every state. In Michigan many places declared "the greatest religious revival in history." Adrian, Bay City, Grand Rapids, Saginaw, Marquette, Trimountain, and others proclaimed their finest spiritual awakening. Big cities and small towns, Baptists and Methodists all experienced revival.
In Ohio fifty Dayton churches enjoyed an extraordinary spiritual season. In Indiana ministers from throughout the state gathered in Indianapolis to share the results of the revival. From Illinois to Iowa a rising evangelist and former baseball player named Billy Sunday had a sensational season. The headlines in Burlington Iowa read "Billy Sunday has made a graveyard out of once fast town."
The spontaneity of the meetings was a similar characteristic of the Revival of 1905 whether in big cities or small towns. Sometimes the simple call like Evan Roberts "let's pray" was enough. Chicago had some great, unstructured noonday prayer meetings. St. Louis and Kansas City admitted amazing results at unprogrammed prayer meetings, especially the confessions of sin and the conversions to Jesus.
In Denver at the beginning of 1905 a team of ten evangelists, the most famous being J. Wilbur Chapman and W.E. Biederwolf, shared in a successful campaign that resulted in January 20th being an extraordinary day of prayer. Stores and every school closed. The Colorado Legislature adjourned. Churches and theaters were filled for midday prayer and evangelistic services with 12,000 in attendance.
On the West Coast Methodists reported a remarkable spiritual awakening throughout Southern California. In Los Angeles over a hundred churches cooperated with a team of visiting evangelists in meetings that had an attendance of over 180,000. In Oregon it was called the "Portland Pentecost" when 200 stores agreed to close from 11 to 2 for noonday prayer meetings. Seattle had a similar blessing when J. Wilbur Chapman preached. He had been called the "greatest evangelist in the country" by Dwight L. Moody a decade earlier.
At the end of 1905 every denomination reported membership increases of ten percent or more. The Methodist, the largest Protestant group, had 102,000 new members which was double their usual annual increase. The Baptists reported that baptisms were up over ten percent everywhere. The five largest Protestant denominations Methodist, Baptist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Episcopalian increased 264,253 members in 1905. The Protestants grew 150 percent more than the Roman Catholics, despite their overwhelming advantage from immigration.
The Awakening of 1905 had a similar spontaneous impact on the secular and Christian colleges across the nation. The World Student Christian Federation designated February 12, 1905 as a "Day of Prayer for Students." John Mott declared, "the rise of an unparalleled interest of men in spiritual things." On numerous campuses there was an increase in voluntary Bible studies and Bible classes, membership in Christian associations (particularly the YMCA), prayer groups, and evangelistic meetings.
Career preparations uncharacteristically reflected new spiritual goals with a marked increase in missionary studies and social action occupations. In 1896 two thousand students were in missionary studies, and in 1906 eleven thousand students were pursuing missions. The response was so great that the Laymen's Missionary Movement was founded at NYC's Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church. Their meeting commemorated the 100th anniversary of the William's "Haystack Meeting." Under the inspiration of J. Campbell White they agreed to support and raise funds for the Student Volunteer Movement goal to evangelize the world in this generation.
Many college campuses were touched by the awakening. Among those that proclaimed memorable renewals were Yale, Cornell, Princeton, Rutgers, Trinity, Stetson, Baylor, Stanford, California-Berkeley, Seattle Pacific, Drake, Missouri, Northwestern, and Michigan. Taylor in Upland, Indiana spent the week of January 6, 1905 in prayer. They called it the greatest revival in the school's history.
In February 1905, an extraordinary revival occurred at Asbury College in tiny Wilmore, Kentucky. The school was practically closed because the classes turned into prayer meetings of confession, reconciliation, restitution, dedication and even of conversion. The event originated in a dormitory prayer meeting, when a Maryland student was called to be a missionary. The following day the Holy Spirit changed the regular chapel service as a student the famous young E. Stanley Jones showed a remarkable transformation. After graduation Jones became the best known Twentieth Century missionary to India.
III. The Pentecostal Phase:
A distinctly unique and a minority phase of the 1905 Awakening was the Pentecostal Movement which found its birthplace in the United States. Tracing its ancestry to the Holiness Movement and the Keswich Conference of the Methodist Church, Pentecostalism centered on the Holy Spirit baptism, a post conversion experience, and particularly the gifts of glossolalia (speaking in tongues) and divine healing. Their message was taken from the second chapters of Joel and Acts, and was directed at the nominal Christians, who were often lethargic in their beliefs rather than unconverted. Like the orthodox Christians they believed in the infallibility of the Scriptures, and they interpreted these events as signs of the "last days."
Critics contented that the spectacular gifts "ceased" after the apostles, and that everyone received the Holy Spirit at the moment of salvation. They criticized the Pentecostals for satanic influence and as heretics. Some judged the glossolalia as "gibberish" and "the babbling of fanaticism." Their meetings were described as "nerve racking" and called a "free vaudeville show." The opposition resorted to mobs, violence, and even arson. Nevertheless, the Pentecostals encouraged the emotional excesses by quoting the Apostle Paul's admonitions "do not forbid speaking with tongues" and "quench not The Spirit." Although sporadic occurrences of tongues had taken place after the Reformation particularly with the Irvingites in Britain, the American roots took place in 1901 at Bethel Bible College in Topeka, Kansas. Charles Fox Parham, a Holiness evangelist, was teaching on Acts 2 on New Years Eve, when a student Miss Agnes Ozman requested that he lay hands on her so she could receive this Holy Spirit baptism. She experienced glossolalia. Classes were suspended and the entire student body began praying sometimes for hours. Others began speaking in languages, also.
Parham and his students began a series of one-night stands throughout Kansas and Texas over the next several years. They mostly faced ridicule until the meetings in Galena, Kansas when divine healings and conversions were proclaimed. By 1905 their efforts were called "Pentecostal" and "Full Gospel" meetings. A total of 25,000 believers and 60 preachers were the result of Parham's campaigns.
The movement finally gained worldwide fame in Los Angeles. It began when Pastor Joseph Smale of the First Baptist Church traveled to the Holy Lands to rest and recuperate after an illness. On his return trip he stopped in Wales to witness the awakening by Evan Roberts. In his home church Dr. Smale began to admonish his congregations to experience a similar reviving by the Holy Spirit. Hundreds fell to their knees and began sobbing, repenting, being converted, and speaking in inarticulate prayers. The meetings continued for fifteen weeks and the Glendale church had similar happenings. Nonetheless, the Baptist deacons rejected the activities.
In February of 1906 Dr. Smale moved downtown to Burbank Hall and started the "First New Testament Church." One charter member Frank Bartleman, a volunteer skid row mission worker, began exhorting and praying that a Pentecost-type revival would occur. When it happened his diary and his reports to Christian magazines chronicled the events.
The most famous figure of the revival was William J. Seymour, a Black Holiness evangelist from Texas. He was blind in one eye and was trained by C.F. Parham in Houston. He gathered believers at the home of Richard and Ruth Asberry on Bonnie Brae Street to receive this Holy Spirit baptism. When it happened the crowds became so great that the building collapsed; and they were forced to move to an old Methodist church at 312 Azusa Street.
The two story frame building in the heart of the Los Angeles industrial section was named the Apostolic Faith Gospel Mission. The main room was 40 by 60-foot and had unmatching backless chairs made of planks and old nail kegs. It was as plain as their preacher Brother Seymour, who spoke in the common language of the uneducated and in an unemotional manner. He was very humble and displayed no pride. He did not thunder his voice or flail his arms. He urged worshipper to speak to outsiders about their need for Jesus as Savior and not about speaking in tongues. No subjects or sermon was announced. There was no platform so everyone was on the same face-to-face level. Everything including the speaker was spontaneous at Azusa Street.
Beginning in April of 1906 for three years sessions were held day and night, and all-night prayer meetings became common. The crowds were inter-racial, and as Bartleman explained, "the color line was washed away by the Blood." Speaking in tongues was the main feature of the meeting, but healings were not uncommon, too. They had no hymnbooks or instruments so they sang everything from memory. It was called "the church without a collection plate." Early on the San Francisco earthquake (April 18th) provided a shock that increased the size of the crowds. The press and the regular church people came as inquisitive spectators and at times to scoff at the occurrences. However, seekers made pilgrimages from around the world, and every night several dozen ministers and foreign visitors were in attendance. Most were "tarrying" to receive the manifestations of the Holy Spirit that Paul wrote about in First Corinthians chapters12-14. Azusa Street became the shrine of Pentecostalism for the world to view.
From Azusa Street in Los Angeles the Pentecostal flame burst forth to other places. William H. Durham, at first a skeptic, received the Spirit baptism and returned to Chicago with a supernatural ministry. Eudorus N. Bell, who eventually became the first chairman of the Assemblies of God, carried the Pentecostal message back to Fort Worth, Texas. Charles H. Mason, a Negro from Memphis, received the baptism of the Spirit at Azusa Street, and founded the Church of God in Christ, one of the largest Black Pentecostal bodies in the world.
After Azusa G. B. Cashwell was a spirit-filled revivalist, who carried on successful meetings in Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. He brought the Pentecostal experience to one A. J. Tomlinson, who was the influential leader of the Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee). In Dunn, North Carolina Cashwell's message brought the tongues experience to J. H. King. Later King became the Bishop of the Pentecostal Holiness Church.
Although the Apostolic Faith Gospel Mission on Azusa Street spawned only 42 churches and less than 5,000 members, its influence stretched around the globe. Some, who were baptized in the Spirit there, carried the message directly to Toronto, Italy, and China. Their spiritual experience resulted in a clear zeal for evangelism. They were strongly moved by Acts 1:8, "when the Holy Spirit is come upon you, you will be my witnesses (to the uttermost places - that is worldwide)."
The news of Azusa Street caused Pentecostalism to branch out to other areas, too. In Nyack, New York the Christian Missionary Alliance school had one of several Pentecostal outbursts within their fellowship. At a CMA mission in New York City Tom Ball Barratt, a Cornishman, spoke in tongues and sang in the Spirit. The experience started Barratt on a missionary tour that spread Pentecostalism to Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and Britain. He, also, toured Switzerland and Germany on the continent with the message.
By 1910 Pentecostalism had spread not only throughout the United States and Canada, but it had become international. It had reached Europe, India, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and Latin America. Every continent with population had Pentecostals. Though less than 100,000 they would grow to millions. Eventually, it would be called the "third force" in American Protestantism.
Unfortunately the movement was tarnished by the treatment of two leaders: Parham and Seymour. Parham was charged with sodomy; however, rumors and innuendoes left followers believing that he might have been framed. Seymour' leadership was crippled when his mailing list of 50,000 readers of the periodical titled the Apostolic Faith was stolen by two white women in the movement. Also, other Pentecostal leaders differed with his views on the positive witness of an interracial Christian church in a segregated nation of those times. By 1914 Azusa Street was just a local Black church. Regrettably, the historians of the Pentecostal movement omitted the founding work of William J. Seymour. Only in recent years his reputation and respect has been re-established. Christian History chose him as one of "the ten most influential Christians of the Twentieth Century."
IV. Worldwide Results
The worldwide impact of the 1905 Awakening was almost totally unnoticed by Christian historians. Only J. Edwin Orr, the great English revival writer, was able to discern the global effects in his 1973 work The Flaming Tongue. Most students of the era favored the glorification of the numerous evangelists and their big business, revivalism methods rather than the wide-spread God-inspired renewal. However, Dr. Orr was able to document how all six of the populated continents experienced a noticeable, and a spontaneous spiritual awakening around 1905.
Around the world the stories of the Welsh Revival had an encouraging touch on Christians and missionaries everywhere and immediately. The news quickened the British Isles and particularly the coal-mining regions. When the Torrey-Alexander tour arrived, offerings for missions increased dramatically. The continent of Europe experienced only a slight lag in revival events. The biggest thrust took place in France among the less than one million evangelical Protestants. They experienced an awakening, a unity, and a growth that had not been seen before. The German Tent Missions enjoyed inspiring attendance's where thousands received the gospel under the big-tops. A spiritual renewal penetrated Central Europe and even Russia. Scandinavia was especially moved after the 1904 earthquake took place in Norway.
In Latin America the distribution of Bibles gave a spontaneous impetus to the revival. In a seven-year period evangelical Protestants increased 180 percent. Pentecostalism was strong in Chile and Brazil. Valparaiso had been called one of the most wicked cities in the world. After the 1906 earthquake it was christened "the Azusa of South America," and spiritual tremors traveled throughout the continent.
In the Pacific realm the familiar Christian missionary strongholds were encouraged by the reports from Wales. The 1902 Torrey-Alexander campaign proved to be a blessed preparation for a later harvest by the evangelicals of Australia. As the Welsh reports reached mission stations throughout Oceania, prayer meetings increased from Hawaii to Madagascar. The conviction of sin was everywhere, and "seekers" became "finders" of the Lord Jesus Christ. The doors for missionaries opened in the Philippines and even the Dutch East Indies.
On the continent of Asia prayer meetings and Bible studies turned many hearts to confessions, tears, and commitments to Christ. There was a marked increase in requests for communion and baptism in lands where Buddha and Mohammed reigned. During the first decade of the century in India Christianity increased sixteen times faster than the Hindu religion, and ninety-percent of the nurses became Christians. At Mukti in India the dramatic story was reported about a girl with a visible fire around her during a prayer meeting. One single church in Burma baptized over 3,000 in 1905. In China after a hundred missionaries were martyred during the Boxer Rebellion, people were awakened to prayer and finally a revival broke out in 1908-09.
The most dramatic revival occurred in Korea after Japan gained control during the Russo-Japanese War. Some even paralleled their revival with Wales. Once a persecuted church Christianity quadrupled and became the strongest single organization in Korea. The revival was called the spiritual birth of Korean Christianity.
In Japan a well-planned evangelism campaign called "Taikyo Dendo" began in 1901. It meant "aggressive evangelism" or "Forward Movement," and it reaped over 5,000 confessions of faith in Christ in five weeks. Originally the house-to-house visitations took place in Tokyo, however, the program spread to other big cities. When the war and a famine took place, the news of revival in Wales and Korea renewed the movement. The preaching of two Moody Bible graduates Kimuri and Nakada with several Japanese pastors and evangelists led to the Japanese Evangelical Alliance. In Tokyo in 1907 John R. Mott succeeded in holding the first international World's Christian Student Federation conference in Asia.
The continent that experienced the greatest progress in Christianity was Africa. Annually for the first two decades of the 20th Century there was a uniform increase in Christians over twice that of the population growth. Although the Boer War was called "the last war of gentlemen," evangelist Gipsy Smith had a successful harvest of converts with his "Mission of Peace." Also, John Mott, the apostle of unity, visited South Africa in 1906 and healed the wounds of war with a conference of great cooperation between the Protestant ministers. Missionary activities heightened and awakenings were numerous in all areas of Africa, even into the once "impossible" Islamic regions of North Africa.
The results of the 1905 Awakening were emphatically worldwide. Overseas Christianity, which had been mainly a Western religion, gleaned the greatest international harvest in history. In many places gains of hundreds of thousands souls were common. The seven leading US denominations grew by two million in a five year period. While it appeared to some that each awakening was weaker, J. Edwin Orr argued that in reality the scope of Christianity had a wider influence with each outpouring of the Holy Spirit. In the case of this awakening the ingatherings in Wales, Chile, Burma, and Korea were the greatest in their histories.
V. Billy Sunday
During the first decade of the 20th Century professional evangelists enlisted the practices of big business organizations and the showmanship of vaudeville. They well may have ridden on the coattails of the 1905 Awakening. These evangelists used some version of Chapman new "simultaneous citywide evangelism meetings," and they gave entertaining tirades against the general sins of society. Their crusades attacked drinking, card playing, dancing, and theater going. They belittled any public figures and local ministers, who did not support their cause.
However, the climax of their message was the free-will offering and the salvation call. By this time the "converts" could be harvested by either raising their hand or standing when everyone was in prayer (heads bowed and eyes closed). Even decent people could walk the aisle and sign a "decision card." Rodney "Gypsy" Smith made the entire process more passable by announcing that it cost $4.92 to produce each convert. After all as J. Wilbur Chapman advertised, this was "The King's Business."
In 1904 because of concerns over the system the Interdenominational Association of Evangelists (IAE) was formed at a Bible conference in Winona Lake, Indiana. It was an attempt to enjoin most of the evangelists of the day into some unified practices. They held annual meetings until the mid-1930's.
By the second decade of the century 650 revivalists and 1,200 part-time campaigners conducted an estimated 35,000 revivals between 1912 and 1918. Their theme included a mix of social gospel, patriotism, prohibition, and old time religion. While Chapman and Torrey seemed to be the heirs to Moody's mantle in the first decade, in the second decade the most popular and spectacular evangelist was clearly William Ashley Sunday, who was better known as "Billy" Sunday.
Billy Sunday was born on November 19, 1862 on a farm near Ames, Iowa. A month later his father died of a disease while serving in the Union Army. He never saw his son. After many family struggles with poverty, Billy was sent to a soldier's orphan home in 1874. Although he never graduated from high school, he did lead the baseball team to the 1883 Iowa State Championship. It opened the door for an eight-year major league baseball career as an outfielder for the Chicago (White Stockings), Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia teams. His speed and base stealing gained him fame, and he was the first major leaguer to circle the bases in fourteen seconds.
One evening in the fall of 1887 Billy and five teammates got "tanked up" at a Chicago saloon. They were sitting on a curbstone when a band from the Pacific Garden Rescue Mission invited them to the service. He went to the mission. At the persuasion of Mrs. George Clark, wife of the founder of the mission, Billy Sunday went forward and publicly accepted Christ as his Savior.
He continued playing baseball, but refused to play on Sundays. On road trips he spoke at local chapters of the YMCA. He joined the Jefferson Park Presbyterian Church where he met his future wife Nell Thompson. In the off season he took public speaking classes at Northwestern University. When he gave up baseball in 1891, he took a full-time position with the Chicago YMCA at one-sixth of his baseball salary.
His position gave him experience with grassroots evangelism and an adequate income for his wife and two children until the Depression of 1893 occurred. Then, providentially, he was offered a job as the advanced man for the great evangelist J. Wilbur Chapman. He, also, served a time with Milan B. Williams. He learned all the details of a professional evangelists.
In 1895, when Chapman was called to a pastorate in Philadelphia, Billy Sunday was asked to be a replacement in Garner, Iowa for a one-week revival. It was the first of 300 revivals and the beginning of a 40-year career. During the first decade he preached mainly in small towns. By the second decade it was cities like Spokane, Toledo, Columbus, Boulder, etc. At the end of 20 years he was at the top and every metropolitan city wanted him.
His 20 most successful most successful revivals were held from 1912-21, when a total of 593,004 people hit the sawdust trail. The free-will offerings were over three-quarters of a million dollars. The New York City campaign was his most spectacular. It was a ten-week meeting from April-June of 1917. It was during the US's entrance into The Great War (W.W.I). At the sixteen-thousand seat tabernacle on Broadway and 168th Street the famous of society as well as the common unchurched masses were in the attendance of one and three quarters of a million. Sunday was at his best on sin and patriotism. His most remember statement was if "hell could be turned upside down, you would find stamped on the bottom 'Made in Germany.' He announced that the entire free-will offering of the final week would be donated to war charities. Overall 98,264 "trail-hitters" responded to his "Come, you (fill in the blank with: nationality, or position, or occupation)." It was the pinnacle of his fame.
Although many saw him as the culmination of Edwards, Finney, Moody, and others, Billy Sunday's success was attributed to his personality and his business organization. His revival corporation was the equal of Standard Oil and US Steel. It was referred to as "The Sunday Party." Several dozen directors coordinated everything from building the wooden tabernacles to the thousands of volunteers, who carried out the chores of the campaign. It took 50,000 the put on the New York meetings including the 5-10,000, who met for prayer at the "cottage meetings."
The key figures in the Sunday Party included his wife Nell or "Ma" Sunday, who acted as a business manager. The crucial advance man scheduled everything with the local ministers and laymen. Two men, who did nothing but supervised the tabernacles which were required at every revival. At the meetings the only person, who shared the limelight on the platform, was his choir leader. After 1909 Homer Rodeheaver was Sunday's suave, charming teammate. "Rody" warmed up the audiences with his congenial personality and musical skill which included the trombone, an instrument more for the circus than for worship. Rodeheaver was a success with on his own businesses in music publishing and phonograph manufacturing. For twenty years the two were a great compliment to each other's talents.
The half-hour "singfest" was like a pep rally or a political convention. The music was jazzy and patriotic, usually culminated with some old-time hymns. When Sunday finished his message, "Rody" broke in with a marching tune like "Onward Christian Soldiers," or "Softly and tenderly Jesus is Calling." The choirs, as large as 2,000 with two pianos, wooed the audience to the sawdust trial as Bill Sunday stood at ground level to greet them with a handshake.
The overwhelming attraction of Billy Sunday was his flamboyant preaching style as he spoke and moved in dramatic fashion on the platform. He was an overpowering speaker using 300-words a minute that kept every eye riveted on him. For every description he had a stream of rapid-fire, hyphenated slang terms. When he said, "the church needed fighting men of God," he said that it did not need, "hog-jowled, weasel-eyed, sponge-columned, mushy-fisted, jelly-spined, pussy-footing, four-flushing, charlotte-russe Christians."
He was a defender of muscular Christianity, American patriotism, womanhood, hard work, and especially "The Lord's work." He was most effective when using caustic barbs about the sins of the world such as booze, tobacco, gambling, dancing, theater-going, evolution, the liberal preachers, and the politicians, who would not vote for prohibition or Sunday blue-laws. He was a spectacular story teller especially when making a Bible story into a plain, practical pantomime of daily life.
The five-foot eight athletic Billy Sunday not only preached a muscular Christianity like using the phrase "Jesus was the greatest scrapper that ever lived," but Sunday displayed it on the stage. He ran, walked, skipped, bounced, and gyrated around the platform. Every story included some physical action that transfixed the observers. He would use a chair to fend the Devil, and then smash it over something on the stage. He portrayed a believer's entrance into heaven with a baseball slide, and ended with "Safe in the arm's of Jesus." He did handstands. He pounded the podium and jumped off the pulpit. Throughout the sermon he'd shed his coat, pull off his tie, roll up his sleeves, and leave the audience emotionally drained. The New York Tribune drama critic said of the Broadway superstar, "George M. Cohan has neither the punch nor the pace of Billy Sunday."
After 1920 the crowds did not follow Billy Sunday. He was almost sixty years old. His message was out of date for those who could not remember the values of the 19th Century. America was tired of crusades and causes. The Jazz Age of pleasure and Hollywood was more attractive. As Bernard Weisberger wrote, "Once more, a sinful world turned its back on the old-time religion." Only small towns and neighborhood churches call him to preach, and the big city super campaigns disappeared for the next three decades. Besides that the Sunday family had problems with their three sons, and George committed suicide in 1933. Finally, Billy concluded that only the Second Coming of Christ would end the problems of the Thirties. He predicted that 1935 might well be the year of fulfillment. The sensational revivalist died of a heart attack on November 6, 1935 at age 73 in Chicago.
While critics faulted his wealth, his irreverent language, and the sincerity of his converts, the life and times of Billy Sunday saw a significant swing in the respect for Christianity in America. Although he was ordained by the Presbyterian church without a seminary degree, nevertheless, he was the voice of old-time religion, the throwback to patriotic American virtues, and no popular figure his time could hold an audience like he did. During his forty year career Billy Sunday preached to 100 million people and he claimed a million conversions. In most of the cases he personally shook their hands at the end of the sawdust trails.
While some hoped that the evangelist would reach the unchurched, urban blue collar masses, Billy Sunday proclaimed he was "a halfway house between the brownstone church (of the rich) and the Salvation Army (of the poor)." He spoke the language of the middle-class, church-oriented, city dwellers from farm or small-town roots, and native-born Americans. If revival is an awakening of the church, Sunday built his reputation on calling the religious to "return to God," depart from their sins, and walk in decency; and he did it in a spectacular manner.
VI. A Modern Church for a New Century:
Christianity entered the 20th Century facing even greater challenges from science, history, and the social and economic problems of the Industrial Age. Between 1860 and 1920 America had completely changed from a nation with a rural, small town character to a society with an urban, big city, industrial makeup. New ideas and changes produced a skepticism and doubt as to whether Christianity could meet the needs of modern times. Church leaders and theologians responded with everything from retreat and accommodation to a firm, steadfast orthodoxy.
While the nation centered on the material needs of the people, the Progressives passed legislation to solve the social problems, and the Social Gospel blossomed as a Christian's answer to the difficulty. Unfortunately, too many Protestants centered on Rauschenbusch's conclusions which said, "Social religion, too, demands repentance and faith: repentance for our social sins: faith in the possibility of a new social order." Meanwhile, a growing liberal wing moved away from traditional Christianity, and for the first time in American history a broad and influential theology was not evangelical.
The Modernists embodied the Enlightenment and German philosophies toward Scripture and God's revelation to man. The historic approach toward the supernatural and especially the redemptive purpose of Jesus Christ was abandoned by the movement. Scientifically, it was impossible to explain the miracles of the Bible. Even Jesus was only viewed as a historical figure and not as God or The Savior of mankind.
Some theologians took a liberal view that God was to be experienced primarily in nature and human reason. They viewed the Scriptures as poetic, mystical, and even mythical. It was nothing more than a flawed human record of history and certainly not a divine revelation. Therefore, reason was left as the final arbitrator of truth.
Another rising segment of liberal Protestants promoted Jesus as the King of love and the beautiful unseen friend. They wanted to eliminate doctrines and creeds, and particular the view of sinful, fallen man, who needed redemption. To them mankind was basically good without any serious sins and any preaching about the Cross was to be avoided. Horace Bushnell and Henry Ward Beecher paved the way for this approach.
Despite this, on the other side, defenders of the faith came forward to support the essential elements of the Christian faith against the eroding attacks of evolution, biblical criticism, and comparative religions. They became known as the Fundamentalists. From 1910 to 1915 R. A. Torrey and A. C. Dixon wrote a series of twelve small books designed to defend the truths of Christianity. Eventually 64 authors contributed to the undertaking. Lyman and Milton Stewart, wealthy oilmen from Los Angeles, financed the project and distributed 3 million free copies to seminary students and Christian workers throughout the nation.
The booklets were titled The Fundamentals: A Testimony to the Truth. The central doctrines were namely: the Virgin birth of Christ, His deity, His substitutionary atonement for sinful mankind, His resurrection and Second Coming, and the authority and inerrancy of Scripture. Curtis Lee Laws, a Baptist editor, coined the term "fundamentalists." They were the conservative and honorable defense against modernism. By 1920 a large random Protestant following identified with their principles. As W. G. McLoughlin wrote "the vast majority of fundamentalists were respectable, pious folks who expressed their fervor by intensively devout praying, hymn singing, Bible reading, and soul-winning, At the same time the Protestant liberals found a strong voice in the The Christian Century magazine. Their editors saw fundamentalism as out of date and the Bible as a book of human origin. Also, historians labeled the fundamentalists as rigid, bigoted, narrow-minded, and "losers" for two battles that they neither sought nor desired to fight. The first was the Scopes "Monkey" trial in 1925, and the second was the Klan vs Catholic Presidential candidate Al Smith in 1928. Both will be found in the next chapter.
Another dogmatic expression "dispensationalism" grew in respect as the 20th Century looked more and more like the "last days" or the "end times." The modern roots came from J.N. Darby of the Plymouth Brethren in the 19th Century. However, the Scofield Bible published in 1909 helped popularize the ideas. Dispensationalists held that God dealt differently with men in different eras of Biblical history. Scofield held that man was in the sixth age of grace, and that the Millennium or thousand year Kingdom of Christ on earth was near. The Dispensationalists agreed that the premillennial return of Christ was imminent. Consequently, they placed a great deal of stress on prophecy and the literal interpretation of the Bible.
When World War One occurred, the tremendous devastation and the staggering number of deaths stimulated a greater interest in eschatology and apocalyptic literature. Also, the deviant sects of Christianity Seventh Day Adventists, Latter-Day Saints (Mormons), and the Jehovah's Witnesses claimed credibility by their interest in the Second Coming of Christ, and they increased their proselytizing .
Sydney Ahlstrom said that, "No aspect of American church history is..so difficult to summarize as the movements of dissent and reaction that occurred between the Civil War and World War I." The evangelical consensus had disappeared. Biblical inerrancy became the theological battleline. Some tried to accommodate evolution and higher criticism, while others firmly held that the Scriptures were "not the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit."
Regardless of the divisions, there were many attempts at ecumenical unity and interdenominational cooperation. In 1906 the Layman's Missionary Movement was born out a Nashville SVM meeting. They made plans to support the Student Volunteer Movement's goal to "evangelize the world in this generation." In 1908 thirty-three denominations formally joined the Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America. Their preamble proposed a "oneness of the Christian Churches of America in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior." Also in 1908, Father Paul Wattson, the founder of the Atonement Frairs, started the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Protestant churches have joined with the Roman Catholic Church, and the January event is now celebrated throughout the world by most Christian churches. The Gideons began distributing free Bibles to schools, hotels, hospitals, and prisons in 1908. In 1911 the Men and Religion Forward Movement was launched with a goal to win three million to the churches. It was an interdenominational movement with an emphasis on men joining the churches. It was called the greatest pre-war crusade, and their social service division was the most active component of their crusade.
Historians look at the impact of causes by the results of an era, and certainly many social changes took place during the early decades of the Twentieth Century. Usually religious revivals result in some reforms in the surrounding society. Since the 1905 Awakening was either forgotten or unnoticed until Orr's 1973 book, it is debatable how much influence the event had on the Progressive Movement. The muckrakers exposed the evils in society with their sensational journalism. The election of 1912 proved the popularity of reform. Woodrow Wilson, son of a Presbyterian minister and an outstanding Christian, tremendously changed the Presidency when he took the leadership of legislation from the Congress. Social legislation was passed in banking, the tariff, trust busting, temperance, consumer products, and democratic opportunities.
By this time social reform clearly won a platform in most denominations and Christian organizations. One outstanding initiative was the Goodwill Industries. Edgar J. Helms, a Methodist minister in Boston's poor South End, conceived the idea of collecting unwanted household goods and employing the poor to refurbish them. Income from the resold goods paid the workers' wages. By 1907 the title "Goodwill Industries" was adopted from a Brooklyn shop. Another Christian endeavor The Volunteers of America was an offshoot of the Salvation Army. It was founded by Commander and Mrs. Ballington Booth. The Volunteers were at first noted for their work in penal institutions and particularly the Hope Halls work with released prisoners. Nevertheless, the optimism about mankind's basic good and his hope for progress was shattered, when the four year Great War lingered on the Western Front in France.
VII The Great War: The First World War:
John R. Price in his book America at the Crossroads: Repentance or Repression pointed out the similarities of the four awakenings in America or what he called periods of national repentance. Each was followed by a war: The First Great Awakening then the War for Independence, The Second Great Awakening then the War of 1812, The Noonday Prayer Revival then the Civil War, and the Awakening of 1905 followed by World War One. He contended that "Our Lord, therefore, again used a national repentance of His believers to prepare them for them tragedy of war."
Before 1914 America was a latecomer to international affairs, and to Europe's imperialistic competition. The Monroe Doctrine had been not only a shield from European expansion, but also a deterrent for American involvement. The US had only dabbled in foreign affairs like the Spanish America War in Cuba and the Philippines, the Open Door in China, and the European Conferences such as the Hague and Algeciras.
In 1913, America looked back to the faded memories of the Civil War, and they scheduled a re-enactment for the 50th anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg. The surviving veterans from each side lined up to stage Pickett's third-day charge. When the march toward Cemetery Ridge was repeated, the old soldiers on both sides dropped their weapons and embraced on the former battlefield in tears and weeping. Little did they realize that the pains of the past war would be experienced by a new generation in a foreign fray.
In 1914 Europe was an armed camp. Germany, after its 1870 unification, was anxious to have a colonial realm like Britain and France. France hoped for revenge from the quick and embarrassing defeat in the Franco-Prussian War. Austria's Francis Joseph, who had ruled since 1848, was related to the Czar, the Kaiser, and the King of England. Great Britain controlled one-fourth of the World, and the popular saying was that "the sun never sets on the British Empire." Germany pleaded that they only wanted "a place in the sun." Finally, when Germany invaded Belgium with the Schlieffen Plan, Sir Edward Grey, British Foreign Minister, said, "The lights are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime."
After the first offensive was stopped at the Marne, the Allies and the Central Powers suffered through a four-year stalemate. Everyone was shocked at the devastation and the carnage of the modern weapons. The trench warfare produced despair and discouragement. The battles over the same ground at Verdun, Ypres, and the Somme were referred to as "the bells of Hell." The poison gas, the Big Berthas, the machine guns, the dreadnoughts, airplanes, tanks, submarines - the slaughter would kill ten million and wound another twenty million. It was nothing like the World had ever experienced before. Some thought it was the Apocalypse, and others began talking about Armageddon. In the end only a fresh supply of American doughboys would go "over there" to break the deadlock.
Meanwhile in America, President Wilson established a policy of neutrality and ran for re-election on the slogan "He kept us out of war." The Friends, Mennonites, and Brethren (Dunkards) maintained their traditional position of pacifism. President Wilson set aside Sunday Oct 4, 1914 as a day for prayer. The New York Times front page read Whole Nation Prays for Peace. Most of the clergy upheld the appeal.
At the outset America had a large minority with German roots and did not appear to prefer a side. However, stories of atrocities in Belgium and the sinking of the Lusitania swayed the Yanks to the Allies. While the government soon used propaganda to promote war hatred, the ministers were quick to abandon neutrality and to preach a "holy cause" against the German tactics. Ironically, when Congress voted for a declaration of war on April 6th 1917, it was "Good Friday."
Newell Dwight Hillis, minister of the Plymouth Congregational Church of Brooklyn, became far and away the most popular and outstanding lecturer on German atrocities in the war. Dr. Hillis made trips to Europe and gave first-hand reports. On a tour to sell the second Liberty bonds he spoke 400 times in 162 cities. Listeners were aghast by his narrative about German soldiers with syphilis, who raped French and Belgium women, and then mutilated their breasts as a contamination warning to the next German soldier. He included his vivid details and even pictures in his book German Atrocities. Former President Teddy Roosevelt, who volunteered to lead a regiment to France said, "I would rather have Dr. Hillis as chaplain than any other man I know."
Ray Hamilton Abrams, University of Pennsylvania Sociology professor, wrote Preachers Present Arms, and he enumerated the vigorous role that the churches and the Christian leaders played in the war efforts. His chapters "The Holy War" and "The Church as a Servant of the State" testify that the church and the State were partners in the promotion of the war hysteria. While some have said that Abrams exaggerated the wartime role of the churches, Sydney Ahlstrom defended him by saying, "No successful refutation has been forecoming - nor is one likely to appear."
Nevertheless, activities for the war in the church buildings were numerous. Ladies met to roll bandages, knit socks and sew sweaters. Liberty loans and war saving stamps were practically sold from the pulpit. Raising quotas for every kind of war activity was preached from the pulpits. The local Red Cross units held their meetings at the church. Many ministers followed the government's propaganda outlines. William W. Sweet offered this opinion, "At least for the period of World War I the separation of church and state was suspended."
As the nation mobilized for war, the government began to manage the economy. The man selected to lead the Food Administration was Herbert Hoover, a Quaker and an outstanding humanitarian. He had organized the feeding of Belgium after the German invasion. The commitment of "wheatless and meatless" days and the voluntary vow to planting "victory gardens" by the civilians enormously stimulated food production.
When the draft or Selective Service was established, Congress, also, approved the status of chaplains and decreed a ratio of one for each twelve hundred soldiers. The War Department used the YMCA as their semiofficial agent for chaplains and volunteers to operate the canteens to comfort the men in the training camps and eventually overseas. However, there were numerous religious agencies to minister to the armed forces, and an overwhelming spirit of cooperation between the religious groups.
The Federal Council of Churches organized a General Wartime Commission to coordinate the efforts 35 different groups of Protestant churches, the YMCA, YWCA, the American Bible Society, and similar institutions. The chairman was Robert E. Speer, a prominent Presbyterian layman, who had a brilliant career on Foreign Missions Boards and the Presbyterian Church.
The National Catholic War Council made a huge impact on the Catholic Church in America. They recruited about a thousand military chaplains. The most famous chaplain of the war was Father Francis Patrick Duffy of New York's "Fighting 69th" of the famous 42nd Rainbow Division. Also, the Knights of Columbus raised over $14 million for the Church's war work.
When the men went overseas, they were accompanied by over eleven thousand civilian service people. They came from every religious organization and national groups like the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, the Jewish Welfare Board, and the Library Association. The response was so great that the United Fund Drive of 1918 set an American fund-raising record of $200 million. Local church congregations were the focal points for the volunteers and quotas of the war effort.
During the final campaign of the war in the Argonne Forest America was given its most celebrated soldier of W.W.I Alvin Cullum York. He almost single-handedly captured 132 German soldiers and silenced 35 machine guns. When he marched them back to the Allied line as POW's, an officer asked, "How many do you have," and Sergeant York replied, "I got a-plenty." The redhead rifleman from Pall Mall, Tennessee was honored by numerous groups and received the highest medals from France & the US Congress.
His life became a Hollywood movie which won Gary Cooper an Academy Award as Sergeant York in 1941. Most history book neglect to include York's Christian testimony. His future wife Gracie Williams let him know that she had no intentions of marrying a hard-cursing, hard-drinking, gambling ruffian like he was. At a revival meeting in a small country church, Alvin York gave his heart to Jesus. Of his conversion he said that he was "struck down by the power of love and the Great God Almighty, all together." In the movie version they had him struck by lightning. However, the movie does include his spiritual struggle with the 6th Commandment "Thou shalt not kill," and his pacifist reluctance to go to war initially.
Finally, when the Armistice silenced the guns, it was suppose to be Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points that would end "the war to end all wars." But at Versailles, the "Tiger" Clemenceau wanted 1871 undone and restitution from Germany. He said that, "President Wilson's Fourteen Points was "worse" than Almighty God. He had only ten." Clemenceau, also, quipped that Wilson was, "talking like Jesus Christ." However, in the end, the US Senate rejected the League of Nations and the peace settlement did not survive twenty year.
The War stimulated all kinds of interest in Bible prophecy. Jerusalem was captured by British General Allenby. He was a devout Christian. He said that he received his battle plan to just fly planes over the city, while reading the book of Isaiah (31:5). The most holy city of Christianity was liberated from Moslem rule for the first time since the seventh Century without firing a shot.
Even more astounding was the springtime of modern Zionism. In 1917 Great Britain made a pledge to Chaim Weizmann that their nation would secure "a national home for the Jewish people." It was called the Balfour Declaration. Who can know God's timetable, but perhaps this was the bud for graffing the slumbering natural branch back into the eternal vine. (Romans 11).
While the First World War was limited mostly to Europe, a worldwide influenza epidemic known as the "Spanish Lady" reached every country on the globe by 1919. The virus killed 20 million people and affected half the world's population. It, also, produced a hysteria of blame on the Kaiser, the Jews, the Bolsheviks, and any foreigner immigrating to another country. Bible students pointed out that this was the "beginning of sorrows" from Jesus' Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24). "Nation shall rise up against nation...and famines and pestilence and earthquakes." Some asked, "Was this that pestilence before His return?"
W.W. Sweet gave this final generalization, "No war has ever helped the cause of vital religion. Religion always slumps as a result. At no time in the history of organized religion in America has it been at such a low ebb as after our great wars. How could Christianity be expected to thrive in an atmosphere of hate? Hate is horrible anywhere- but hate in actual war is hate at its worst."