Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
And we all, faces unveiled, see as in a mirror the glory of the Lord and are changed into the glory of the Lord, glory to glory, through the Spirit.
The spirit of the Azusa Street Revival, credited with beginning the modern Pentecostal movement, was still very much alive when I was a kid. Old folks could still go into rapturous revery just thinking back on those days of 1906. And with six-hundred million people now considered Pentecostal, I think it’s safe to say Azusa Street was the most important religious happening of the Twentieth Century.
Azusa Street grew out of the “entire sanctification” or “holiness” movement among Southern Methodists, based in the belief that seekers can go beyond the initial conversion experience, “glory to glory in the spirit,” as 2 Corinthians would have it.
Nowadays I’m less taken by the complete sanctification theology of Azusa Street than by the miracle it wrought in the “original sin” of the United States, racism.
African American preacher William J. Seymour was the center of the revival, which brought together, in a time of complete segregation, black, white, Latino, Asian, male, female, rich, and poor. Faithfully following Galatians 3:28,
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus,
Pentecostals desegregated churches in the Jim Crow South of my youth. And women preached just like the men. Though its gains were largely snuffed out by later shifts to the political right among poor whites, for at least sixty years Azusa Street redefined life among the poor in the United States. I still feel its fire, all these years later. And I know it is possible for everyone and anyone to be “changed into the glory of the Lord, glory to glory, through the Spirit.”
The cliche is true—your image of God creates you.