These days, love of God is often mixed up with love of country, patriotism and national pride. This was not the case with most early Pentecostals. In line with their pacifism, many influential Spirit-filled leaders criticized patriotism and nationalism. Here are some examples:
Charles Fox Parham (4 June 1873 – c. 29 January 1929) was an American preacher who was instrumental in the formation of Pentecostalism.
The past order of civilization was upheld by the power of nationalism, which in turn was upheld by the spirit of patriotism, which divided the peoples of the world by geographical boundaries, over which each fought the other until they turned the world into a shamble. The ruling power of this old order has always been the rich, who exploited the masses for profit or drove them en masse to war, to perpetuate their misrule.
The principle teachers of patriotism maintaining nationalism were the churches, who have lost their spiritual power and been forsaken of God. Thus, on the side of the old order in the coming struggle, will be arrayed the governments, the rich, and the churches, and whatever forces they can drive or patriotically inspire to fight for them. On the other hand the new order that rises out of the sea of humanity knows no national boundaries, believing in the universal brotherhood of mankind and the establishment of the teachings of Jesus Christ as a foundation for all laws, whether political or social.
Charles F. Parham, Everlasting Gospel, pp. 27-28.
Frank Bartleman (1871-1936) was an Author, Evangelist, and Missionary. He documented the Azusa Street revival and was very influential in the early Pentecostal revival.
One of the greatest crimes of the late war was that of robbing the church of her sacred calling and “pilgrim” role, turning her aside from the saving souls, to plunge her into the vortex of world politics and patriotism, with all its fallen prejudices preferences, avarices, cruelties, hates and murder.
The Church has no place to flaunt flags of national preference. God’s grace and gospel are international. Christ died for all men. Antichrist means to run the church by government edict. Then we will have state and Church. The State will dictate to the Church. The flags represent fallen nations, with fallen nationalistic, sectional prides, ambitions, etc., that breed strife, enmity, jealousy, and war, for they are without Christ. We do not belong to them.
Government is squarely up against God in its demands on Christians during war time. And Christians are squarely up against the question whether they shall obey God or man.
Should those in authority forbid the preaching of practicing of the Gospel, which Gospel forbids to the Christian the exercise of war, there is but one thing for him to do. He must obey God.
Frank Bartleman, Christian Citizenship, (Los Angeles: Author, n.d.).
A.J. Tomlinson (1865-1943) was the first general overseer of the Church of God of Prophecy.
Yes, the awful war seems near but we cannot fight in carnal warfare when Jesus taught differently, both by precept and example. The Church must shine and bless humanity, regardless of the World War …War is butchery and contrary to the spirit of Christianity. We as a nation, make a boast of being a Christian nation, but how little the spirit of Christianity prevails. We are a boastful, proud nation, running to many excesses, and spending much of our time in mere play.
The secular newspapers are full of the spirit of the world and calculated to inflame the minds of the American people with patriotic zeal. If war is declared public speakers will soon be infesting our country to enthuse the war spirit into our young men to induce them to volunteer to fight for their country, but we must guard against such things as much as possible on account of our religion.
A.J. Tomlinson, CHURCH OF GOD EVANGEL, Vol.8, No. 13, March 31, 1917.
Stanley H. Frodsham was a famous Pentecostal writer and a friend to the famous Pentecostal evangelist Smith Wigglesworth. In 1920 he became the editor of the Pentecostal Evangel.
National pride, like every other form of pride, is an abomination in the sight of God. And Pride of race must be one of the things that pass away when one becomes a new creature in Christ Jesus.
When seen from the heavenly viewpoint, how the present conflict is illumined. The policy of our God is plainly declared in the Word, “Peace on earth, goodwill toward men.” The nations who have drawn the sword to kill those of the same blood in other nations, for God “hath made of one blood all nations of men,” are not merely fighting against one another, but with their police of “War on earth and ill will toward men,” they are, without knowing it, again fulfilling the Scripture, “The Kings of the earth set themselves and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against His anointed.” Is any child of God going to side with these Belligerent kings? Will he not rather side with the Prince of Peace under whose banner of love he has chosen to serve?
Stanley H. Frodsham, “Our Heavenly Citizenship,” Word and Witness, Oct. 1915, p. 3.
Donald Gee (1891-1966) was an English Pentecostal Bible Teacher. Donald wrote the book Wind and Flame, which is the story of Pentecostalism in Europe in the 20th century. He was called “The Apostle of Balance.”
Then the only answer for the Christian is contained in the immortal words of Peter, “We ought to obey God rather than men.” Acts 5:29. Conscientious Objection then becomes the only possible course, however serious the consequences. The Bible puts clear before us the magnificent example of Daniel and the three Hebrews. Daniel 3 and 6. He who said, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s” also said, “But unto God the things that are God’s.” The two are to be combined to the last possible limit, but when further combination of allegiance becomes impossible–then God must come first.
The Christian’s true citizenship is in heaven, Phil. 3:20.
The writer has observed as a solemn fact that those of our Pentecostal brethren who took a strongly patriotic attitude in the last war have mostly gone backwards in spiritual power and influence ever since, while those who put Christ and His Word before all have advanced by divine grace….
However passionately patriotism may overwhelm everything else in time of war, the world certainly expects the Christian church to take a stand against war, and it is deeply disappointed at heart when that stand is not taken, however much it may persecute for the time the “conscientious objector.”
The Old Testament provides no justification for the Christian to go to war. Its history comprises “times of ignorance” at which God winked (Acts 17:30); its spiritual dynamic was a law written on tables of stone, and enforced by heavy physical penalties on every hand (e.g., Leviticus 26, etc.); the very bringing in with Christ of a New Covenant of which the keynote is the word “better” (Heb. 8:6, etc.) was a proof of its temporary character.
Donald Gee, “War, the Bible, and the Christian,” Pentecostal Evangel, Nov. 8, 1930, p. 6.
Pentecostals & Charismatics for Peace & Justice is a multicultural, gender inclusive, and ecumenical organization that promotes peace, justice, and reconciliation work among Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians around the world. If you like what we do, please join our Facebook forum, and sign up for our newsletter!