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

His view of the baptism in the Holy Spirit is a comprehensive one. His views are held together in a consistent whole that is true to the scripture and explains all the difficult passages and issues. This paper is a call for Pentecostals to re-examine his views again and discover the strength of his theology for Pentecostals. Ervin will not be accepted by everyone, but Pentecostals can take advantage of the commitment to scripture and the quality of scholarship that Ervin brings to the debate. Though his works were written in a different time, the message is still valid for today. The next generation of Pentecostals can stand on the shoulders of those who came before. This generation of Pentecostals can rediscover the strength of Howard M. Ervin’s Pneumatology for the 21st Century Church.



Howard Ervin is not only an educator and pastor, he is a capable writer. He produced six books on the subject of pneumatology between 1968 and 2002 as well as several articles. His works show the quality and scholarship that he maintains. In 1968, Ervin produced his first work on the Pentecostal experience under the title, These Are Not Drunken As Ye Suppose.52 This work outlines all Dr. Ervin learned and taught in his church on the subject of Spirit baptism. Considered one of the first scholarly works from a Pentecostal position, Ervin makes a strong exegetical argument for the purpose of the baptism in the Holy Spirit, tongues as evidence, one baptism-one filling and an evaluation of spiritual gifts. The tone and spirit of this text is apologetic. Ervin systematically explains each of the issues of Spirit baptism and Acts. This work is written for the pastor or educator and masterfully reflects the practical and theological arguments of his pneumatology.

Your theology is only as good as your exegesis.

Howard M. Ervin

In 1971, Ervin published a series of letters that he had written to a member of his former congregation. And Forbid Not to Speak with Tongues53 contains answers to Tony’s questions brought about by Dr. J. Vernon McGee’s critique of tongues. Ervin answers pastorally the questions addressed in his previous book. This short book was written to be understandable by the layman and easy to read. Ervin shows his ability to expose the exegesis and presuppositions of the anti-Pentecostals.

In 1972, Logos published his third work, This Which Ye See and Hear.54 As a series of essays, Ervin discusses further issues brought about by questions raised in his first work. Touted as a “Layman’s Guide to the Holy Spirit,” this writer would find it hard to recommend this work to laymen. Ervin seems to stray from his usual clear and logical arguments. But this work does take on topics such as an understanding of the full metaphor, the purpose of Pentecost and tongues as prophecy and signs.

In 1972, Ervin contributed to the book, The Layman’s Commentary on the Holy Spirit, edited by his friend and colleague, John Rea.55 Ervin was one of the contributing editors along with R.O. Corvin, the original dean of the School of Theology at ORU, David du Plessis, and Rodman Williams. This work is a commentary on the Holy Spirit, but there is no direct reference to any one particular editor’s comments. Ervin’s contributions are not discernable from any of the other editors.

In 1984, Ervin produced his stunning exegetical response to James Dunn’s classic with his work, Conversion-Initiation and Baptism in the Holy Spirit.56 This work provides an argument-by-argument critique of Dunn’s treatment of Pentecostal theology. With additional exegetical support for the Pentecostal viewpoint and a defense of his own views, Ervin shows how the Pentecostal exegesis is sound and consistent. Simple arguments as well as complex exegesis make this work important for any Pentecostal looking for solid defense of their faith.

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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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