The Azusa Street Revival and Racism

I recently wrote a paper reflecting on the Azusa Street Revival in 1906 as it relates to racism.

This was in many ways one of the most important events in American Christianity as it spawned the beginnings of American Pentecostalism, of which I am beneficiary of today. Historians rave about the significance and how awesome this event was because of the power of the Spirit witnessed there amongst many other things.

One of the supposed successes of this revival was how it brought together different races to seek God, an unprecedented sight for early 20th century Los Angeles. In the revival meetings, blacks, whites, latinos, asians, young, and old were joined together to experience the Holy Spirit together.

Unfortunately, as I researched in my paper, while it began as a movement of the Spirit as well as one which broke many different social boundaries erected by men, it ultimately was destroyed by the very thing it was trying to rid of–racism.

The revival meetings were ended by three successive conflicts all of which dealt with issues of race. The results were startling: Pentecostalism, while starting off as a multi-ethnic phenomenon ended as one of the most racial divisive denominations for the next decades. The walls of racism were denominationally erected as white churches would reject and frown upon black ministers, churches, and mission that would take years and years to reverse.

In conclusion, I can identify with an astounding question from a South African when reflecting on the Asuza Street Revival: “Can someone be Spirit-filled and racist at the same time?”


 

Edit: Since people keep emailing me about the original research, here is the paper along with sources I used.

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Phil Chan
Phil has been writing for over 15 years. His passion is to help people see God and to live a life that matters.

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