How Eschatology Shaped AG Social Ethics

This week I attended the annual meeting for the Society for Pentecostal Studies. It was a wonderful meeting.  The theme this year was “Pentecostals and the Poor”.  This theme appealed to me because one of the questions my thesis attempts to answer is how Assemblies of God eschatology translated to how they engaged in social issues.  Did their belief in the soon coming of Christ mean that they ignored issues such as poverty?  I submitted this paper and I was grateful it was accepted.

My paper was given on Friday afternoon in the History interest group. I was excited about sharing my paper, but I was also excited because there were three other excellent papers that were also scheduled during my session: a history of Church Mothers by Jane Coulton, a history of the Church of God by historian David Roebuck and a paper about the origin of Oral Robert’s doctrine of healing by the renown Pentecostal historian Vinson Synan. Needless to say, it was a great crowd and I felt so honored to be in the same session as these excellent scholars. My paper was well received and people seemed very interested in my research.

Isgrigg – Interpreting the Signs of the Times SPS


This paper will seek to explore how the AG’s premillennial beliefs affected the way they interpreted three primary social issues: political attitudes, economic issues, and responses to social and moral issues.  I had to limit the time frame and issues covered because of length, but my thesis looks at these attitudes all the way up to the present. This paper give just a taste of what I found. To aid in this task, commentary on social issues through the lens of eschatology in the Pentecostal Evangel will be analyzed through the first two periods of AG history: Formative Period (1914-1926), Scholastic Period (1927-1948).


Want Less

I was in a parking lot yesterday and a bumper sticker caught my eye. It was two simple words: Want Less.  Immediately my spirit said, “Yes. That’s it.”  We live in a consumerism nightmare. We have filled our lives with stuff.  Most of us have so much stuff that we are buried in debt.  And yet we are all miserable.  King Solomon talked about this in the book of Ecclesiastes.  He says,

I undertook great projects…I made gardens and parks for myself…I amassed silver and gold for myself…I became greater than anyone…I denied myself nothing my eyes desired. I refused my heart no pleasure..Yet when I surveyed all I had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless. (Ecc 2:4-11)

Solomon’s words ring true.  We have everything, and have nothing. The problem is not that we have stuff, the problem is that we ‘WANT’ so much. We all need to Want Less. 

Nearly 6 months ago, my family left a great church that was not only a family of people we loved but also provided a living for our family.  It was a modest living, but we were blessed none the less.  Its almost 6 months now of being without income and people wonder how we have been able to survive.

Two words: Want Less.

I think many people in our society are afraid of poverty. But in reality, with all our stuff and drowning is debt, people are already poor. We use stuff to make us feel better. But it doesn’t. We get jobs so we can have better stuff. But we are still miserable.  I have been to the dump. I’ve seen all that stuff we think is so important. Its just a pile of junk in the end.  Our consumerism is not only destroying us, its destroying our planet. 

In 1985, my father moved our family to Bixby with a dream of building a YMCA.  There was nothing here but a board of directors.  Our family struggled, but my Dad had a dream. People in the Y business told him, “Get out of there, you’ll starve before you build that Y.”  But we stayed. My parents weren’t afraid of poverty.  We just learned how to Want Less.  In 1989, he and his team raised 2 Million dollars to build what is today the Daily Family Ymca. We were poor, but we did it.  The Y has been a pillar of the community for over 30 years. But it would have never been done if this one family had not decided to Want Less.

What would you do if you could learn to want less? What step of faith, what dream, what life would you live if you would want less? What ‘Want’ have you traded for what you really want?

We left our church because we felt like it was time. We knew it would cost us comfort. But we did it in search of God’s plan for our life.  We were not afraid of being poor. And because we were already used to living our lives with less, we have made it so far. We are still in the process and the story is not over.  But this time has given us so many things that we didn’t have six months ago.

Simplicity has a price, but the rewards are incalculable.  Peace. Family. Life. Purpose. This is all any of us want. When you want less, you are easily satisfied with what you have.  We don’t have much. Probably less than we have ever had. But I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that we have more of what matters than we have ever had as a family.