By R. G. Robins

A.J. Tomlinson (1865-1943) ranks one of the best figures of the early Pentecostal stream, and prefer such a lot of of his cohorts, he was once as complicated as he used to be colourful. Arriving in Appalachia as a house missionary decided to uplift and evangelize negative mountain whites, he stayed to turn into the co-founder and leader architect of the Church of God (Cleveland, TN) and the Church of God of Prophecy, which including their minor offspring now represent the third-largest denominational kin inside of American Pentecostalism. R.G. Robins's biography recreates the realm during which Tomlinson operated, and during his tale bargains a brand new figuring out of the origins of the Pentecostal circulate. students have tended to view Pentecostalism as basically one amongst many anti-modernist events of the early 20th century. Robins argues that this can be a misreading of the movement's origins-the results of projecting the modernist/fundamentalist controversy of the Twenties again onto the sooner spiritual panorama. looking to go back the tale of Pentecostalism to its right ancient context, Robins means that Pentecostalism should still rightly be visible as an outgrowth of the unconventional holiness move of the overdue 19th century. He argues that, faraway from being anti-modern, Pentecostals tended to include modernity. Pentecostal modernism, notwithstanding, used to be a operating classification or ''plainfolk'' phenomenon, and it's the plainfolk personality of the move that has led such a lot of students to mislabel it as anti-modern or fundamentalist. in the course of the compelling narrative of Tomlinson's existence tale, Robins sheds new mild on late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century American faith, and offers a extra subtle lens wherein to view the spiritual dynamics of our personal day. v

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Extra resources for A. J. Tomlinson: Plainfolk Modernist

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In mainline denominations the potential for conflict inherent in biblicism could be attenuated by social or institutional controls on interpretation. Within holiness, however, few such controls existed, a liability compounded by the sheer scale of the movement’s diversity. ”31 By that measure, radical holiness was quintessential religion. 32 Given its diversity, its perfectionist mind-set, its hair-trigger polemical instincts, and its grounding in a foundational text that could be described as a schism waiting to happen, it might have been hard to predict that radical holiness would coalesce into one of the nation’s finest manifestations of plainfolk modernism.

2 Beneath a firmament of luminaries such as D. L. Moody, A. J. Gordon, and Reuben Torrey, networks of lesser-known and often more militant saints moved in asym- radical holiness 29 metrical orbits, ranging from a moderate region occupied by groups like A. B. Simpson’s Christian Alliance to a “torrid zone” where aggressive confederations like B. H. Irwin’s Fire-Baptized Holiness Association held sway. 3 In the absence of an overarching structure, scores of periodicals exerted perhaps the strongest centripetal force working on the movement as a whole.

12 What separated men like Nelson and Irwin from the world of the Christian Herald had its doctrinal manifestations, but it was not essentially doctrinal. Rather, it sprang from one’s posture vis-a`-vis powerful cultural traditions that defined proper religious and social behavior. That posture was not rigidly determined by education, level of affluence, or denominational affiliation, though each of these factors played a role. Rather, it emerged from a complex calculus of factors, elective and ascribed, that left one in cultural terms leaning high or leaning low.

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