Dr. Steven L. Ware earned his Ph.D in Philosophy from Drew University, his Master of Sacred Theology from Trinity Lutheran Seminary, his Master of Divinity from Oral Roberts University and his B.A. from Taylor University. He is currently an Associate Professor of History and Theology at Nyack College—New York City. Dr. Ware has published articles in academic and professional journals and a theological dictionary, and edited a series of children’s books.
2004 0-7734-6301-1 In her 1917 sermon Lost and Restored, pentecostal evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson claimed that God had given her a vision showing the fall of the Christian Church from its original purity and the gradual restoration of that original purity in successive stages. Using the prophetic images of agricultural blight and recovery in Joel chapter two, she detailed the fall of the church after the apostolic age to its complete corruption in the Middle Ages. Then, beginning with the Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century, she described the church’s gradual restoration to purity and power with the influence of the Reformers, continuing through Wesley and the holiness movement, and culminating with the Pentecostal movement of her own lifetime. Whatever one may make of her claim to divine inspiration, a close comparison of McPherson’s statements alongside those of the leaders of the holiness movement in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries reveals ample precedent for her statements among leaders of the holiness movement.
Despite the example of such well-known leaders as McPherson, however, the many and varied manifestations of restorationism in American churches and religious movements have been generally neglected as a theme in American religious history, and have begun to be investigated and analyzed only since the 1970s. Moreover, while some scholarly attention has been given in recent years to restorationistic themes in groups such as the Puritans, Baptists, Anabaptists, Disciples of Christ, Churches of Christ, Methodists, and Pentecostals, little attention has been given to the prevalence of restorationistic themes in the holiness movement, and the significant contributions of holiness leaders toward the further prevalence of these themes in early pentecostalism.
This work focuses on the restorationist consciousness which was apparent among holiness groups during the decades of their primary theological and ecclesiastical formation, roughly the period 1880-1920. More specifically, it focuses on the restorationism prevalent among the more radical sectors of the movement—among those “come-outers” and “put-outers” who left the churches of their upbringing and became early leaders in the new, specifically holiness church bodies.