Pentecostals were relatively isolated from mainstream Protestantism in the early twentieth century. Eighty years ago, in 1942, when the Assemblies of God and other Pentecostal churches were invited to become founding members of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), it was a watershed event that paved the way for increased cooperation between Pentecostals and other theologically conservative evangelical churches.
In 1947, Pentecostal Evangel Editor Stanley H. Frodsham recounted how participation in the NAE seemed to be a fulfillment of prophecy. Frodsham recalled that, years earlier, “a mature Pentecostal saint” made the following prediction: “The time will assuredly come when God will unite all true children of God in real heart fellowship, and will break down all the barriers that are now separating us from one another.”
The early Pentecostals who heard this prediction, according to Frodsham, discerned that it was in accordance with Scripture: “In our hearts we were convinced that this was a true prophecy, for did not our Lord Jesus pray that they (all His children) may be one?”
While the Bible admonished believers to exhibit unity, such unity was elusive. Frodsham lamented that “the saints have been busy through the centuries building denominational and sectarian walls of partition between themselves and other saints.”
Tearing down these walls of division among believers was one of the reasons why the Assemblies of God formed, Frodsham reminded readers. He wrote, “At the first Council of the Assemblies of God, held at Hot Springs, Arkansas, in 1914, the ministers who attended all came with one mind, determined to oppose the raising of walls that would separate us as a Pentecostal people from other children of God.”
Frodsham believed the formation of the NAE helped to achieve the vision of unity promoted in the Bible and by early Pentecostals. He noted that the NAE brought together different strands within the broader evangelical family: “When the National Association of Evangelicals came into being five years ago, those who called for the convention did what no other group of Fundamentalist believers had done before – they invited the brethren of both the Holiness and the Pentecostal groups.”
Moreover, the NAE helped usher Pentecostals into the evangelical mainstream and also provided opportunities for interaction between the churches: “They recognized us as a people outstandingly aggressive in evangelism and missionary vision, and acknowledged that our coming together with others who are true to the fundamentals of the faith could mean mutual blessing,” Frodsham stated.
Today the Assemblies of God is the largest of the 40 denominations that are members of the National Association of Evangelicals.
Read Stanley Frodsham’s entire article, “Fifth Annual Convention of the NAE,” on pages 6 and 7 of the May 10, 1947, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.
Also featured in this issue:
• “When Mother Looked!” by John Wright Follette
• “Divine Rules for Parents,” by S. M. Padgett
And many more!
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Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.
PHOTO: Harold Ockenga (left) and Thomas F. Zimmerman at a 1961 NAE meeting.