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The Shepherd in No Man’s Land: Psalm 23 and Early Pentecostal Pacifism


Though the global Pentecostal movement is not associated with pacifism or nonviolence in the contemporary era, many key Pentecostal leaders at the turn of 20th century expressed strong pacifist views. This paper traces the origin of these views and argues that pacifism was a necessary result of the early Pentecostal worldview for two reasons: First, the early Pentecostal church saw itself as a restoration of the apostolic movement which provided no room for violence or bloodshed in the Christian life. Second, the early Pentecostal movement saw itself on the brink of an imminent eschaton, which fixed their gaze away from the powers of this world and toward the world to come. The second part of this paper traces the pacifist Pentecostal thought of Arthur Sidney Booth-Clibborn and Frank Bartleman, using Psalm 23 as a scriptural foundation. It will be argued that these early Pentecostal pacifists viewed themselves as sojourners in the valley of the shadow of death, who sought to remain true to the peaceful, sacrificial way of Christ, their shepherd, amidst a world torn apart by violence.


Pentecost, Pacifism, Nonviolence, Psalm 23, Early pentecostalism, Pentecostalism