William Baxter Godbey - Itinerant Apostle of the Holiness Movement

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This is the first scholarly biography of William B. Godbey, one of the most colorful and beloved evangelists in the southern holiness movement of the 19th century. He was a highly effective revivalist who promoted the holiness movement as the restoration of New Testament Christianity and primitive Wesleyanism. Godbey was one of the major figures in the holiness movement’s turn to premillennialism, as well as one of the principal ‘holiness heroes’ who kept glossolalia out of a significant portion of the Wesleyan-holiness tradition. He profoundly shaped the ‘eradicationist’ wing of the movement. Godbey was a lifelong member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. Remembered in the holiness movement as an ‘eccentric’ and forgotten in Methodism, Godbey was in his lifetime respected as the ‘Bible commentator’ and Greek scholar. He traveled around the world five times, and produced a prodigious literature. The author of an influential book on women in ministry, Godbey was a staunch advocate for women preachers. More than just a biography, this book is a window on the theology and culture of the southern holiness movement in its formative period.


“… Hamilton’s books is an excellent theological biography and offers considerable insight into the southern holiness movement and radical evangelicalism.” – Register of the Kentucky Historical Society

“. . . it becomes clear from the start that Hamilton intends to do much more than provide a readable biography. He intends to show how the ministry of one holiness evangelist is intertwined with the emerging theological identity of the Wesleyan-holiness tradition. It is a task that Hamilton argues with solid research and theological insight…. Hamilton has made a contribution to Wesleyan-holiness theology. First, he has given those within the tradition a clear picture of an important personality. Second, he has developed many theological threads, which occur in Godbey’s theology and have influenced the Wesleyan-holiness tradition… It should find a place on the shelf of anyone who seriously seeks to understand how one evangelist in the early days of the movement has helped to shape the tradition.” – Henry W. Spaulding II, Professor of Theology and Philosophy, Trevecca Nazarene University

“[This] biography of William B. Godbey, is long overdue … Godbey was one of the most prominent evangelists of the Wesleyan / Holiness movement … Hamilton, recognizing Godbey’s importance, has provided a valuable addition not only to the scholarship documenting the development of the Wesleyan / Holiness movement, but also has contributed to a fuller understanding of the theological streams flowing through American Christianity in the nineteenth century.” – Susie C. Stanley, Professor of Religious Studies, Messiah College

“Hamilton has produced an unusually readable examination of the life, times and teaching of William B. Godbey…. The great strength of the presentation is that one comes away at the end with a balanced portrait of Godbey, the development of his thinking, and the American context in which he lived…. He draws upon Godbey’s own very extensive writings to let the reader assess the somewhat idiosyncratic style they reflect…. succeeds admirably as an introduction to Godbey, as well as an introduction to the Holiness Movement and its offspring.” – Claude Cox

Table of Contents

Little Fop
Gospel Ranger
Holiness or Hell
Robed and Ready
Gospel Order
Index of names and subjects

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