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Wednesday, September 9, 2020

The Men and Women who move in God's Movements are Imperfect... but effective.

The Imperfect History of the Church

Church History is fascinating. Imperfect Men and Women creating change for God. You never know what chain of events might be set by your actions. There is a distinct chain of dominoes that fall from Martin Luther's Theses of 1517  to the Tent Revival Meetings of the 20th Century. 

These dominoes involve an intricate layering of men and women, their causes, movements, and churches, and the often simultaneously Breathtaking and Devastating effects of their work. 

I'm studying them, and I couldn't possibly list them all. But I did notice a specific line of dominoes I would like to point out today. 

The whole of Church History is like a Fractal. Factals, as layers and layers of the Moves of God combine to create the intricate shapes of God's Church. 

Great videos on Fractals at Fractal Foundation Org.

Romanesco broccoli, showing self-similar form approximating a natural fractal

There's no linear "this then that" in God's Historical Movements. There are layers that fold into each other, overlap, and combine to create intricate masterpieces. 

Here are a few of those layers:


Martin Luther (1483-1546) (Lutherism) nailed his Theses to the wall of the church in 1517, essentially lighting the fires of the Protestant Reformation that would lead the church out of the dark ages into the light. He wasn't right or perfect, but he had the first glimmer of light. He laid the foundation of "Saved by Faith" not works. In many respects, he was insane. Plagued by depression, possibly even demons. But his work on this subject laid the groundwork for the centuries to follow. 

John Calvin (1509-1564) (Calvanism) was another stepping stone in the development of Church Theology as the Protestant Reformation came into fruition. He laid the foundation of asking good questions about what it means to be saved. He was flat wrong in many of his conclusions, but, he asked the right questions! And that gave the foundation upon which Arminian thought could grow.

Jacobus Arminius (1560-1609) (Arminianism) corrected Calvin's obvious errors, building upon the foundation he laid, leading us to see how Free Will played a role in salvation. He wasn't perfect either, but he gave a foundation upon which the Gospel could be understood, and built framework around the ever-present tension between understanding of Free Will and the Sovereignty of God. He demonstrated that the tension could not only co-exist, but was vital to understanding the Gospel. 

John Wesley (Methodist 1703-1791), himself an avid preacher of Arminianism, laid further ground work for a second experience after salvation (which he called holiness or sanctification) which we would later understand as Baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Charles Fox Parham (1873-1929) a Holiness Wesleyan preacher (and yet horrible racist), recorded some of the first Baptism of the Holy Spirit experiences involving speaking in Tongues. They were not unique, but rare prior to his ministry. He laid the foundation for a Theological position on this subsequent experience, calling it Pentecostalism. Showing us that the subsequent experience not only had a name but came with signs following. He over-corrected, laying down a theology too harsh to be true, but he gave us the beginnings of the conversation and a basis upon which to have the discussion. 

William J Seymour (1870-1922) attended one of Parham's trainings but had to listen from the hallway because of his race, and went on to ignite the world in the Azusa Street Revival (~1906-1913), which eventually birthed Pentecostalism into the world at large, and directly affected the earliest Pentecostal Denominations. The work of Seymour also laid the inter-racial, desegregated foundations for the church to follow in subsequent years. Our racially integrated churches today can thank Seymour for doing some of this early work. 

Aimee Semple McPherson (1890-1944) affected indirectly by both the happenings of these men in the USA and the revivals overseas in Ireland and Wales, went on to become one of the most powerful preachers (man or woman) of the 20th century, with healings and demonstrations that still make me curious today. She was also one of the most successful, founding her own denomination (Foursquare) (which birthed one of the churches (The Rock) that had the most profound affects on me as an adult), her own college ( which became Life Pacific University), one of the first Large Church Buildings (Angelus Temple, 5,300), as well us over 180 songs, multiple books, theater shows, and more. 

David du Plessis (1905-1987) Founder of the Charismatic Movement, attempts to reconcile the various groups and beliefs of these moves into one experience. He lays the groundwork for a broader understanding of the moves of the Holy Spirit than Parham gave us and built that understanding upon that earlier foundation. 

Granville Oral Roberts (1918-2009) took the baton further and was instrumental in ushering in the Healing Revivals, adjacent to the Charismatic Movement. He became the first to introduce these concepts to the larger world through Radio and Television. 

This led to the works of men like Kenneth Copeland (1936-Present), Jack Williams Hayford (1934-Present), and Robert Morris (1961- Present), Gateway Church. who have all had a direct affect on my life, theology, and Christian Experience. I can see a thread trying Martin Luther to Jacobus Arminius to John Wesley to William J Seymour to Robert Morris to Me.

I could add ten thousand layers in between, before, and after these... but it is humbling to see that the thoughts I've spent a lifetime struggling through, the theology I am developing, has it's origins in the works of men and women who came before me... I am not building anything new. I am simply taking the masterpiece I was given, and adding to that my peice of the equation, my unique contribution to the whole. I stand on the shoulders of giants. 

I only hope I can add something of value for the next generation to build upon. 


Shalom: Live Long and Prosper!
Darrell Wolfe (DG Wolfe)
Storyteller | Writer | Thinker | Consultant @

Clifton StrengthsFinder: Intellection, Learner, Ideation, Achiever, Input
16Personalities (Myers-Briggs Type): INFJ


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