Arthur Booth-Clibborn/Hannah Whitall Smith; Pacifist Roots of The Assembly of God Church

By Jon Kauffman

Strongly influencing the Assembly of God in the early years was Arthur Booth-Clibborn.

At age 26, in 1881, Arthur Booth-Clibborn became a Quaker minister, soon afterward at the invitation of General William Booth, Clibborn joined the Salvation Army and married Booth’s daughter Kate. Booth served in the Salvation Army until 1902 when he converted to Pentecostalism

Clibborn’s family were Quakers and Clibborn considered himself a Quaker all his life. Some of his children were founders and ministers in the Assembly of God church.

Pink tip on Condon Peak this evening with the frozen falls below growing even as the snow disappears. Picture: Copyright © 2020 by Leon Kauffman

Another Quaker strongly influencing the Assemblies of God was Hannah Whitall Smith. Smith held to a Wesleyan and holiness theology and a strong Quaker peace stance.

Some pink on the Missions this morning. Picture: Copyright © 2020 by Leon Kauffman

In the beginning, the Assembly of God considered themselves pacifists.

The following statement by the General Council of the Assemblies of God appeared in a 1917 Weekly Evangel article titled “Pentecostal Movement and the Conscription Law.”…

Therefore, we, as a body of Christians, while purposing to fulfill all the obligations of loyal citizenship, are nevertheless constrained to declare we cannot conscientiously participate in war and armed resistance which involves the actual destruction of human life since this is contrary to our view of the clear teachings of the inspired Word of God, which is the sole basis of our faith.” 1.

Booth-Clibborn did not support antiwar movements or arguments that were not Christian. He believed that “moralists” who placed their hopes “in the social effort of man to save his own world on material lines” were doomed for failure. 2.

Today many Assembly of God members are far removed from their pacifist roots.

During the debate about the military service article at the General Council in 1967 one Assemblies of God minister blatantly revealed their quest for acceptance (by American Churches) as a reason for opposing conscientious objection 2.

  1.   Christian Peace and Nonviolence, A Documentary History, Edited by Michael G. Long
  2.   Historical and Theological Origins of Assemblies of God by Paul Alexander

Reasons Christians Give to Say Violence by Christians is Legitimate

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Copyright © 2020 by Jon Kauffman. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted when used to further the Kingdom of God. Permission is gladly given to re-blog this post.

Author: Jon

Jon Kauffman graduated from Goshen College, earning a BA in Religion. Jon attended a Mennonite Church while growing up and currently attends the Salvation Army Church. Jon works as a drafter at TrueNorth Steel, Fargo, ND.

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