Subscribe via RSS Feed

A Pentecostal Season: The Methodists in England and America, Part 2

Methodist historian, Ann Taves says much the same thing as historian John Wigger, “A striking feature of the Methodist accounts was their continual reference to manifestations of the power of God or the outpouring of the Spirit. In his “Brief Narrative of the Revival of Religion in Virginia,” Devereaux Jarratt said that as early as “the year 1765, the power of God was … sensibly felt by a few.” In 1770 and 1771, there was “a more considerable outpouring of the Spirit.” With the arrival of Methodist itinerant Robert Shadford in the winter of 1776, “the Spirit of the Lord was poured out in a manner we had not seen before.” Over and over, Methodists’ accounts of revivals in the 1770s and 1780s refer to the power of God being manifest in their assemblies. Falling to the ground, crying out, and shouting for joy came to be identified by many as specific manifestations of God’s presence in their midst.”[37]

Lester Ruth also affirms John Wigger’s highlighting the centrality of the supernatural among early American Methodists:

The supernatural realm and the possibility of having an ecstatic experience within it were not on the periphery of their piety. These things occupied the center of their spirituality until well into the nineteenth century. Methodists expected and desired encounters with God and other spiritual beings through visions, dreams, miracles, signs and wonders. This supernatural quality saturated even their regular religious life in times of prayer and worship as Methodists shouted, fell, and danced in overwhelming experiences of God’s wrath, grace, and presence.[38]

Methodists grew faster in Virginia than anywhere else in America. By 1776 half of all the Methodists in America were in Virginia. The Virginia revival of 1773-1776 was the first instance of a Pentecostal-like religious revival in the nation and was a direct antecedent of the frontier Kentucky revivals of 1800. From this stronghold in Virginia, Methodists began their successful growth that eventually spread over the entire continent.[39]

Nathan Bangs described a great revival that swept through Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Connecticut, and New Hampshire, and stated “that most of the preachers had received a new baptism of the Holy Spirit—like that which had been showered upon Calvin Wooster, and others in Canada, the preceding year [1799]; and wherever they went they carried the holy fire with them, and God wrought wonders by their instrumentality.”[40]

The growth of this “heart religion” as Wesley termed it, was not just part of frontier life, it was part of urban life as well. The message of the Methodists had great appeal to the poor and downtrodden. One Congregational minister commented on the Methodist way that was gaining converts daily: “They are constantly mingling with the people, and enter into all their feelings, wishes and wants; and their discourses are on the level with the capacity of their hearers, and addressed to their understanding and feelings, and produce a thrilling effect, while our discourses shoot over their heads and they remain unaffected. … They reach a large class of people that we do not. The ignorant, the drunken, the profane, listen to their homespun but zealous … discourses.”[41]

Lester Ruth points out that “Exuberant religious expression has often been too closely linked with the so-called frontier regions of early America (Kentucky and Tennessee) and with the start of the Second Great Awakening.” And he argues that these were widespread phenomena among Methodists before the beginning of the Awakening in the nineteenth century.[42]


Pin It
Page 6 of 8« First...45678

Tags: , , , , ,

Category: Church History, Fall 2018

About the Author: Frank H. Billman, B.A. (Houghton College), M.Div. (Trinity Evangelical Divinity School), Th.M. (Trinity Evangelical Divinity School), D.Min. (Eastern Baptist [now Palmer] Theological Seminary), is an educator, pastor, author, and international speaker. He is currently leading the doctor of ministry program in supernatural ministry at United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio. While on the staff of Aldersgate Renewal Ministries for 12 years, he led workshops, local and regional renewal events, was supervisor for International Ministries, Methodist School of Supernatural Ministries, and Supernatural Ministry Intensives, and was a general session speaker at the national conferences. In addition to numerous articles, he is the author of Shepherding Renewal (Aldersgate Renewal Ministries, 2011), and The Supernatural Thread in Methodism: Signs and Wonders Among Methodists Then and Now (Creation House, 2013).

  • Connect with

    Subscribe via Twitter 1328 Followers   Subscribe via Facebook Fans
  • Recent Comments

  • Featured Authors

    Amos Yong is Professor of Theology & Mission and director of the Center for Missiological Research at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena. His graduate education includes degree...

    Jelle Creemers: Theological Dialogue with Classical Pentecostals

    Antipas L. Harris, D.Min. (Boston University), S.T.M. (Yale University Divinity School), M.Div. (Emory University), is the president-dean of Jakes Divinity School and associate pasto...

    King’s Dream of the Beloved Community

    Craig S. Keener, Ph.D. (Duke University), is F. M. and Ada Thompson Professor of Biblical Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. He is author of many books<...

    A Keener Understanding of the Bible: The Jewish Context for the Book of Revelation

    William L. De Arteaga, Ph.D., is known internationally as a Christian historian and expert on revivals and the rebirth and renewal of the Christian healing movement. His major w...

    Ryan Burge: Most Nones Still Keep the Faith