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Pilgrimage Into Pentecost: The Pneumatological Legacy of Howard M. Ervin

Through a series of circumstances, he was given testimonies of men like Harold Bredesen and John Osteen who had received the Holy Spirit. The stories he heard resonated with him because these men struggled with their own emptiness in ministry and were looking for the fullness of the Holy Spirit. After finding out about the baptism in the Spirit from these men, he read Acts 2 again and it all finally made since to him. Ervin began to tell God, “How soon can I have the experience? Don’t leave anything out or I am going to feel cheated. I don’t want to wait till it becomes popular. Let it cost me something.”11 Shortly after, he met with a well known Pentecostal man named David du Plessis who was speaking at Ervin’s alma mater, Princeton. David du Plessis and Ervin would eventually become lifelong friends.

[pullqwuote]The number one priority of the Holy Spirit is the healing of the Church. — Howard M. Ervin

[/pullquote]In 1960, Howard Ervin’s pilgrimage into Pentecost was realized. After a year and nine months of investigation and prayer, Ervin received the baptism in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of tongues. Ervin had been invited to come to a FGBMFI meeting in Miami, Florida.12 After one of the sessions, David du Plessis and Dennis Bennett prayed with Ervin to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit. When they had laid hands on him, he felt what felt like ten thousand volts of divine electricity go through him. Later that night Ervin began to hear in his head a language he did not know. That night, while he was in shower of his hotel room, he received the baptism in the Spirit in its fullness and spoke in tongues. Though his pilgrimage into Pentecost was complete, his pilgrimage into Pentecostalism was just beginning.

Howard Ervin would now begin to bring this experience of Spirit baptism back to his Baptist church in New Jersey. He always maintained a “Baptist” Sunday morning service but offered an evening Pentecostal healing service.13 Theses late night healing services lasted three years and had visitors that ranged from “Quakers to Catholics, a number of whom traveled fifty miles and more to attend the charismatic services.”14 This would be the beginning of Ervin’s ministry to all denominations. Through his relationship with Full Gospel Businessmen Men’s Fellowship International, Ervin established friendships with men like Demos Shakarian, David du Plessis, Harold Bredesen and Oral Roberts. With the help of these men, Howard Ervin was able to bring the message of the baptism in the Holy Spirit to people all over the nation. Through FGBMI, Oral Roberts was introduced to Ervin’s ministry and invited him to his multi-denominational Oral Roberts Ministry partner seminars. For the next three years, Ervin would establish a special friendship with Oral Roberts as he spoke at the partner’s seminars and FGBMI meetings around the country. This was the beginning of a relationship that would bind Howard Ervin to Oral Roberts University for the next forty years.


Oral Roberts University

In 1966, Pastor Howard Ervin became Professor Howard Ervin when he joined the founding faculty of the nation’s first charismatic university, Oral Roberts University. Prior to Ervin joining the faculty, Oral Roberts had invited Ervin to be an advisor in the creation of the School of Theology.15 Ervin was asked personally by Oral Roberts and Dr. R.O. Corvin the dean of the seminary, to be one of the founding members of the faculty of ORU.16 The founder, first president and current chancellor of Oral Roberts University commented that when building the university, “God knew I needed Howard Ervin.”17 Because of his impressive credentials, he was quickly drawn into leadership and served as the Associate Dean of the School of Theology.18 In the summer of 1967, Howard Ervin became the acting dean of the School of Theology. As he quickly encountered the challenges of running a new seminary, Ervin realized that the young university was not ready for a Seminary. In 1968, he asked Oral to close the seminary. With the seminary now closed, he began the process of building an accredited undergraduate theology department. Howard Ervin served as the Chairman of the Department of Theology from 1969-1978 and designed an excellent academic undergraduate program. In 1978, the School of Theology and Missions was reopened and Ervin became the Professor of Old Testament and the seminary’s most senior professor. Though qualified for leadership, he preferred his first love of teaching. Dr. Ervin taught classes in his two areas of expertise, Old Testament and Pneumatology. One class became known as Dr. Ervin’s signature class; GTHE 692: Pneumatology. Ervin taught this class every year of his forty year academic career.

Now retired, Dr. Ervin is still beloved by faculty and students. He has received multiple Outstanding Faculty awards. In 2006, Ervin was named the outstanding teacher of theology and the outstanding teacher of the University.19 Howard Ervin retired from his duties as professor in the Fall of 2006. At age 91, Ervin completed a teaching career that spanned 40 years. This writer was privileged to be part of the final Pneumatology class of Dr. Ervin’s career in the Spring semester of 2006. At 91 years of age, Ervin was as articulate and challenging as any professor in the School of Theology and Missions.

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Category: Fall 2009, Spirit

About the Author: Daniel Isgrigg, B.A. and M.A. (Oral Roberts University), is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Bangor University in Wales working on the origins of Assemblies of God eschatology. He is an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God, a member of the Society for Pentecostal Studies, and is the Director of the Holy Spirit Research Center at Oral Roberts University. Daniel is also the author of Pilgrimage Into Pentecost: The Pneumatological Legacy of Howard M. Ervin (Word & Spirit Press, 2008) and Why I Want To Be Left Behind (Word & Spirit Press, 2008). Facebook

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