It turns out that principled pacifism is not the sole province of Mennonites. Jay Beaman and Brian Pipkin have uncovered a wealth of documents that testify to the peace commitments of other American religious groups. They have compiled them in a sourcebook entitled Pentecostal and Holiness Statements on War and Peace.
by Pastor Eric Gabourel
“I don’t eat the flesh of animals, their by causing them pain…” wrote the man that was to become the first General Overseer of the Church of God (Cleveland, TN). A.J. Tomlinson’s story of facilitating the growth of an international Pentecostal denomination begins in the lonely hamlet of Culbertson, North Carolina.
Tomlinson, a native of Indiana, was no stranger to this part of the American South. He had been on missionary journeys to rural Appalachia before. Armed with the disciplines of fasting and prayer this journey was to be one that would make a lasting impact on 20th century Christianity.
Tomlinson moved to Culbertson, N.C. on October 16, 1899 with an Edenic vision in his heart. Tomlinson referred to himself and his cohorts as Bible Missionaries Living in Common. Their goal was not only to recreate the egalitarian vision of the early church, but to also restore a reality experienced in the Garden of Eden.
“Only in the insanity of corporate America can nonviolent animal rights activists be charged as terrorists while a white supremacist who gunned down African-Americans in a South Carolina church is charged on criminal counts. Only in the insanity of America can Wall Street financers implode the global economy through massive acts of fraud, causing widespread suffering, and be rewarded with trillions of dollars in government bailouts. Only in the insanity of America can government leaders wage wars that are defined as criminal acts of aggression under international law and then remain, unchallenged, in positions of power and influence.”
Did you know that Pentecostal denominations have not always been militaristic? For example, during WWI, Pentecostals widely professed pacifism, the active promotion of peace, and resisted participation in warfare.