Finished Work controversy

   The Finished Work controversy was a dispute that arose in the early Pentecostal movement in America. At the Azusa Street revival in Los Angeles (1906-08), the seminal event in Pentecostalism, leader William J. Seymour preached sanctification according to the understanding of the Methodist Holiness movement, from which he came. A Christian's life moved from justification (or conversion) as one phase, to God's promise to cleanse the heart and sanctify the believer fully as the next. The experience of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and its accompanying sign of speaking in tongues, was only for the sanctified believer.
   William H. Durham (1873-1912), who did not come from a Holiness background, began to criticize this view from his base in Chicago. He followed the general Lutheran and Reformed view that Christ's "finished work" of atonement provided for both justification and sanctification. Sanctification was not a second instantaneous work of the Holy Spirit; it was a gradual process of acquiring in one's life all that had been accomplished at Calvary. Durham lobbied for his views in Los Angeles in 1911 and as people aligned with Durham, the Pentecostal movement split into two camps.
   Those who had previously been Methodists and/or Holiness people rejected Durham's views. They founded such groups as the Church of God (Cleveland,Tennessee), the International Pentecostal Holiness Church, and the Church of God in Christ. Those who followed Durham's view founded the Assemblies of God, the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, and the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada.
   Further reading:
   ■ Frank Bartleman, How Pentecost Came to Los Angeles (Northridge, Calif.: Voice Christian, 1968)
   ■ Vinson Synan, The Century of the Holy Spirit: 100 Years of Pentecostal and Charismatic Revival (Nashville, Tenn.: Thomas Nelson, 2001)
   ■ A. C. Valdez, Jr., Fire on Azusa Street (Costa Mesa, Calif.: Gift Publications, 1980).

Encyclopedia of Protestantism. . 2005.

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