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“God Found His Moses” A biographical and theological analysis of the life of Joseph Smale (1867-1926)

By Timothy Bernard Welch


For over a century Pentecostal historiography has superficially recognised Pastor Joseph Smale as one of many individuals involved in the chain of events leading up to the 1906 Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles. However, an in-depth biographical assessment of Smale’s unique contribution has, to date, never been attempted. Therefore, this thesis provides the first analysis of Smale as a person and as a pastor, thus furnishing Pentecostal and Baptist historiographies with important biographical and theological insights that otherwise would have remained hidden beneath the surface of the Azusa Street storyline. These research findings are also innovative with regard to the connections between CH Spurgeon and Smale, such that this thesis proposes a distinct “Spurgeonic” root, among the multiple roots that were intrinsic to the emergence of Pentecostalism. The primary method involved establishes a correlation of the true biographical facts, while constructing valid opportunities to accurately detect Smale’s own “voice” speaking. Thus, having traced Smale’s pastoral formation within the context of his training at Spurgeon’s College and on into subsequent pastorates, the research explores the contextual preparation for Smale’s anticipation for revival. James E Loder’s model “The Logic of Transformation” is utilised as a framework for the purpose of structuring the incremental stages of Smale’s convictional insights. Smale’s role prior, during and after the 1905-06 revival in Los Angeles is then analysed with a view to establishing the extent of his Pentecostal life and practice. In particular, his preaching, ecclesiology and missiology are the focus of examination in light of early Pentecostalism, whilst also explaining in part Smale’s subsequent disaffection with the Pentecostal movement. Theologically, Smale’s roots are noted to combine during the revival period, integrating Wesleyan views of sanctification with the Spurgeonic emphasis that “The Pentecostal Blessing” would provide the impetus for intensifying sanctification and anointing for service. In conclusion, the legacy of Smale's ministry is recalibrated, suggesting that his "Word" and "Spirit" teaching and experiences could yet contribute a useful case study to progress ecumenical dialogue between Reformed and Pentecostal/Charismatic constituencies, and those researching the relationship between "organization" and "freedom" in the Spirit

Topics: CT Biography, BX Christian Denominations
Year: 2009
OAI identifier:

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