"Christless Pentecost" Revisited,

A Review and Reprint of the David Wilkerson-CharisLife Article,

by Ronald Ginther

In preparation, I ask the Holy Spirit to guide me in this article, as it is a very serious topic, indeed. Yet the article I read in CharisLife's newsletter of 1984, with the editor's comment to my mother penned on it (Bless you, dear Pearl!), encourages me to make some comments that would qualify this as a review. I cannot just reprint the article without permission, even at this late date! It would be easier for me to just reprint it and take my chances of stepping on toes--but I only rarely ever get a letter back when I write to authors or magazines for permission to reprint--and this article by David Wilkerson is principally a quote from Frank Bartleman, who was "an eyewitness to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in 1907 at Azusa Street.

Did he get Frank Bartleman's permission? It was probably not needed, as Frank Bartleman most probably wanted this prophetic warning to be heeded and thus desired the widest possible dissemination. I did read a book by one of the ministers who witnessed the outpouring at Azusa, but it has not come to light lately, and I cannot recall who wrote it. I do recall discussing the Azusa Street revival with fellow Bible school students back in the 1970s. I was particularly impressed by the way no man or minister ran the outpouring and the events, how people of every station and ministry, high and low in society, were "leveled" by the Holy Spirit, to where they lay outstretched on the floor, for long periods, just letting the Holy Spirit do his work uninterruptedly and without interference from anyone. One minister, I forget his name, lay with his head in a box! I do hope that detail is correct, as it just delights me to think about. If only we had that sort of humility today, that sort of freedom for the Holy Spirit to lead and move in the churches today! What could we then expect! We might see the entire nation transformed, and the church in revival, coast to coast!

Reading this article now, after having posted my reservations and dismay concerning the recent Centennial celebration of Azusa Street in Los Angeles, I am struck by how timely this has come to my attention. I wish to bring it to you, consequently, and if David Wilkerson sees this on-line, I can only pray and hope he will take it kindly, wanting the word of the Lord to go out more than he wishes the proprieties being served (I have observed proprieties, but, as I said, I seldom get a civil response, telling me yea or nay to my request. I have even written twice to a church where I was confirmed at age twelve, and where part of my family still attends regularly, and I did not receive a civil response in the form of a single letter! Consequently, I have to admit I do not understand my fellow Christians--civility seems dead, these days! That is a sign of the gross deterioration of the moral fiber of the mainstream worldly society, a society that has invaded the church.

I am offering this review-reprint now, chiefly because it appears to answer the questions I raised regarding the Centennial celebration I viewed partly on television not long ago. It would be good if it isn't true of the Centennial celebration and its promoters and participants, and I hope to hear that it does not apply from someone who knows the truth of the matter. Just the same, the warning is one that we should heed, even if it one hundred years old! We can better tell, at this date, if it is a warning we should heed or discard, as it will apply all the more now than it did in 1984 when David Wilkerson brought Frank Bartleman's warning to people's attention. Having always held David Wilkerson's church and newsletter in high regard, his calling this warning to our attention is all the more reason, in my opinion, to take it to heart now--expecially at this late date when our nation is teetering on the edge of utter destruction.!

Now the article itself, which is largely Frank Bartleman's warning quoted by David Wilkerson:

"The following is a prophetic warning from Azusa Street 75 years ago, concerning the dangers of a Christless Pentecost!

"Frank Bartleman was an eyewitness to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in 1907 at Azusa Street, Los Angeles. He has been characterized as the Reporter of the Azusa Street Revival. Nearly 75 years ago [starting with 1984], during the outpouring, he wrote a tract warning of a Christless Pentecost.

He warned:

"'We may not hold a doctrine, or seek an experience, except in Christ. Many are willing to seek power in order to perform miracles, draw attention and adoration of the people to themselves, thus robbing Christ of His glory, and making a fair showing in the flesh. The greatest need would seem to be for true followers of the meek and lowly Jesus. Religious enthusiasm easily goes to seed. The human spirit so predominates the show-off, religious spirit.

"'Any work that exalts the Holy Ghost or 'gifts' above Jesus will finally end up in fanaticism. Whatever causes us to exalt and love Jesus is well and safe. The reverse will ruin all. The Holy Ghost is a great light, but focused on Jesus always for His revealing.

Where the Holy Ghost is actually in control, Jesus is proclaimed the Head--the Holy Ghost, His executive.'"

"In another place, Brother Bartleman warned:

"'The temptation seems to be toward empty manifestations. This does not require any particular cross, or death to the self-life. Hence it is always popular.

"'We may not put power, gifts, the Holy Ghost, or in fact anything ahead of Jesus. Any mission that exalts even the Holy Ghost above the Lord Jesus Christ is bound for the rocks of error and fanaticism.

"'There seems to be a great danger of losing sight of the fact that Jesus was 'all in all.' The work of Calvary, the atonement, must be the center for our consideration. The Holy Ghost will never draw our attention from Christ to Himself, but rather reveal Christ in a fuller way. We are in danger of slighting Jesus--getting Him 'lost in the temple,' by the exaltation of the Holy Ghost and of the gifts of the Spirit. Jesus must be the center of everything.'" Conclusion: David Wilkerson and Frank Bartleman have warned the church, in 1907 and 1984 respectively, that exalting the Holy Spirit above Jesus and exalting the Holy Spirit's gifts put us in danger of heresy and fanaticism. Was this warning taken to heart? What do we see happening in the churches where the Holy Spirit is supposedly in charge? Or in the multitude of ministries that carry the popular, charismatic "dove" of the Holy Spirit as their emblem or logo? It appears that the Holy Spirit has no problem with these churches and ministries--or is the opposite the case? Are we grieving the Holy Spirit by unintentionally slighting Jesus, Whom the Holy Spirit aims to exalt. Are we ruled by the human spirit, with a show-off, religious spirit predominating in our services and Christian events and gatherings? What is the case? We need to know, as I doubt very much that Frank Bartleman, and David Wilkerson in turn, were unnecessarily concerned. Both must have seen clear enough evidences to warn and then repeat the warning.

I must say, personally, I have been bothered, without anyone telling me anything-- by people exalting the Holy Spirit as the chief Person and Power-Source of the Trinity, going on and on about the Holy Spirit, with scarcely a word about Jesus and His Cross and what Jesus did to gain us salvation, much less, what Jesus means to us His sheep as Head of the Church. Have you ever been bothered by that? Am I alone in this? I just know the scriptures, that it says the Holy Spirit did not come to exalt anyone else but Jesus, and that is His sole task on earth--yet when we turn against this expressed mission of the Holy Spirit and exalt the Holy Spirit in every way we can--we seem to be contradicting the Holy Spirit's purpose on earth. He must cringe, when He sees that ubiquitous "dove" logo plastered over every sort of building, vehicle, and pamphlet and book, and church or mass evangelism conference banners proclaiming "Holy Spirit Conference" or the like. We think He is well pleased--but is He? Scriptures indicate he cannot be pleased--or I have completely misread what Jesus said about Himself, the Father, and the Holy Spirit!

I believe Jesus when He said He did not come to exalt himself, but to show us the Father. I believe Jesus when He said the Holy Spirit--our Comforter, our Paraclete who goes along with us so tenderly, so thoughtfully, to help and guide us through our difficulties and trials--did not come to exalt Himself but to exalt Jesus. This is the true way of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Why do we have a problem with it? Why do we exalt the Holy Spirit over Jesus, when even the Father in heaven is exalting His Son, giving him a Name of authority that is above all other names in heaven and earth?

Thinking about this, I have to wonder if somehow we are really exalting--yes, ourselves--exalting you and me while superficially giving the Holy Spirit our praises and attentions. It is our show-off, religious, human spirit that is dominate, not the humble spirit of Christ and the humble spirit of the Holy Ghost. How freely, without any inhibition or qualms, we can parade ourselves around like Emperor Jones the self-proclaimed supreme potentate of Africa, exercising our spiritual gifts and being applauded, without being dampened in the least by the lowly example of Jesus, who suffered and died to self on the Cross in the utmost pain, degradation, and agony. We can wear the Fifth Avenue $400 suits or, in the case of women, $1000 gowns with pounds of jewelry and makeup and designer accessories! No one lifts an eyebrow--after all, we "must look our best before the TV cameras, so as not to disgrace the cause of Christ!" Where is Paul's remark about modesty in women, and sober, humble demeaner in men? Obviously, what was good for poor, old Paul the Apostle to follow, we have graduated from! We've gone to a higher level! As he views us here on earth (if he is given a view of us), what could he be thinking about what he sees in the church he sacrificed so much to bring about? I for one don't want to know!

In a word, we are fleshly! We are not dead to self--and our extravagant behavior, our ostentatious dressing-up, our parading our ourselves, is the proof of that fact. Please go to Part II when it comes on-line soon, which is the CharisLife article, "Dying to Self." Frank Bartleman really put his finger on the reason for this development, when he said: "The temptation seems to be toward empty manifestations. This does not require any particular cross, or death to the self-life. Hence it is always popular."

Now isn't that what we see today, a "Popular Christianity" holding sway in America? Celebrity-mad, self-centered, materialistic, self-indulgent, our superficial, fleshly Christian faith will not stand in the hardships to come, nor will it be able to stand against secular humanism's constant assaults, or combat the surging tsunami of feely-touchy New Age Religion that embraces all the world's religions (Jainism, Sikhism, Bahai, Buddhism, Hindu, "Christian" without Jesus once being mentioned in the "Christian" prayers, Judaism, Muslim, Native African, Native American, Shinto, Zoroastrian all offer "prayers for peace" in the booklet commemorating UN-sponsored "Day of World Peace," October 27, 1986; booklet of prayers published by St. Paul's Episcopal Chapel, New York, next to the site of the destroyed WTC).

Christless Pentecost?--Christless Azusa? Now a Christless Christianity (imagine such a oxymoron!) has come to the fore, joining hands with Catholic and Muslim prayer beads, Jewish prayer shawls, Muslim prayer rugs, furiously revolving Tibetan Buddhist prayer-cylinders, and all the other religious claptrap of the world's Christless religions! That is what we have come to--far down and far off the road from Azusa. God have mercy on us in America! We still have a street named Azusa in Los Angeles, perhaps, but I believe we are so off-track we must be travelling an entirely different road--one of yellow brick, leading to Oz, not the kingdom of God!

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