The M. E. Golder Research Center > The Arroyo Seco Campmeeting (1913)


 

The Arroyo Seco Camp Meeting - 1913

In April 1913, at the World-Wide Apostolic Camp Meeting held in Arroyo Seco, California and conducted by Maria Woodworth-Etter, organizers promised that God would "deal with them, giving them a unity and power that we have not yet known."[62] Canadian R. E. McAlister preached a message about water baptism just prior to a baptismal service that was about to be conducted. His message defended the "single immersion" method and preached "that apostolic baptism was administered as a single immersion in a single name, Jesus Christ," saying: "The words Father, Son, and Holy Ghost were never used in Christian baptism". This immediately caused controversy when Frank Denny, a Pentecostal missionary to China, jumped on the platform and tried to censor McAlister. Oneness Pentecostals mark this occasion as the initial "spark" in the Oneness revival movement.

John G. Schaepe, a young minister, was so moved by McAlister's revelation that, after praying and reading the Bible all night, he ran through the camp the following morning shouting that he'd received a "revelation" on baptism, that the "name" of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit was "Lord Jesus Christ".[63] Schaepe (whose name is often misspelled Scheppe in a number of sources) claimed during this camp-meeting that the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost was the name Lord Jesus Christ which name was later part of the baptismal command posited by Peter in Acts 2:38 — i.e., baptism "in the name of Jesus Christ" — was the fulfillment and counterpart of the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19 constituting baptism "in the name (singular) of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (which "name" Oneness believers hold to be that of Jesus)." This conclusion was accepted by several others in the camp and given further theological development by a minister named Frank J. Ewart.

On April 15, 1914, Frank Ewart and Glenn Cook publicly baptized each other in "the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, but as the one name of Jesus, not as a Trinitarian formula." This is considered to be the historical point when Oneness Pentecostalism emerged as a distinct movement.[1] A number of ministers claimed they were baptized "in the Name of Jesus Christ" before 1914, including Frank Small and Andrew D. Urshan. Urshan claims to have baptized others in Jesus Christ's name as early as 1910.[64] Even Charles Parham himself, founder of the modern Pentecostal movement, baptized using a Christological formula prior to Azusa Street.[65]

However, it was not the Oneness baptismal formula which proved the divisive issue between Oneness advocates and other Pentecostals, but rather their rejection of the Trinity. In the Assemblies of God, the re-baptisms in Jesus' name caused a backlash from many Trinitarians in that organization, who feared the direction that their church might be heading toward. J. Roswell Flowers initiated a resolution on the subject, which caused many Oneness baptizers to withdraw from the organization. In October 1916 at the Fourth General Council of the Assemblies of God, the issue finally came to a head. The mostly-Trinitarian leadership, fearing that the new issue of Oneness might overtake their organization, drew up a doctrinal statement affirming the truth of Trinitarian dogma, among other issues. When this Statement of Fundamental Truths was adopted, a third of the fellowship's ministers left to form Oneness fellowships.[66] After this separation, most Oneness believers became relatively isolated from other Pentecostals.[1]

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