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Choosing the Jesus Way

Choosing the Jesus Way: American Indian Pentecostals and the Fight for the Indigenous Principle

Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 234
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  • Book Info
    Choosing the Jesus Way
    Book Description:

    Choosing the Jesus Wayuncovers the history and religious experiences of the first American Indian converts to Pentecostalism. Focusing on the Assemblies of God denomination, the story begins in 1918, when white missionaries fanned out from the South and Midwest to convert Native Americans in the West and other parts of the country. Drawing on new approaches to the global history of Pentecostalism, Angela Tarango shows how converted indigenous leaders eventually transformed a standard Pentecostal theology of missions in ways that reflected their own religious struggles and advanced their sovereignty within the denomination.Key to the story is the Pentecostal "indigenous principle," which encourages missionaries to train local leadership in hopes of creating an indigenous church rooted in the culture of the missionized. In Tarango's analysis, the indigenous principle itself was appropriated by the first generation of Native American Pentecostals, who transformed it to critique aspects of the missionary project and to argue for greater religious autonomy. More broadly, Tarango scrutinizes simplistic views of religious imperialism and demonstrates how religious forms and practices are often mutually influenced in the American experience.

    eISBN: 978-1-4696-1446-5
    Subjects: Religion, History, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. INTRODUCTION: Native Pentecostals, the Indigenous Principle, and Religious Practice
    (pp. 1-20)

    God called Sister Alta Washburn and Brother Charlie Lee. One was a dark-haired, petite midwestern woman with only a ninth-grade education; the other, a famous young Navajo artist. They came from vastly different places, but during the middle decades of the twentieth century, their lives and work intersected. They were unlikely partners in a movement that shaped the largest American Pentecostal denomination, the Assemblies of God (AG). As agents of change, their calls to become missionaries to American Indians profoundly altered their lives as well as the lives of others.

    In 1918, the first missionaries from the AG set out...

  5. CHAPTER 1 The Indigenous Principle: Pentecostal Missionary Theology and the Birth of the Assemblies of God’s Home Missions to American Indians
    (pp. 21-46)

    “I am still on the Lord’s side. I am located here at La Moine, [sic] Cal. I moved here to get right among the Indians. With the Lord’s help I have reached quite a few and have given out the Word of life to them…. There are some God has touched and I pray that they will receive the promise of the Father. I request your earnest prayer for us and the dear Indian people.”¹ Brother Thompson’s report of his missionary work to American Indians was the first of its kind in the pages of theChristian Evangel, the forerunner...

  6. CHAPTER 2 The Indigenous Principle on the Ground: American Indians, White Missionaries, and the Building of Missions
    (pp. 47-78)

    Born with a leaky heart and not expected to live long, Luther Cayton was deemed chosen by God because “God spared his life and he now has no heart trouble. His bones were so brittle they would break with his own weight, but God also healed this condition.”¹ Cayton, a Cherokee whose father was a holiness Methodist minister, eventually ended up serving as a missionary to his own people within the AG. Similarly, his contemporary James Phillips, an Apache, also came to Pentecostalism after a serious accident—he had broken his jaw while out on a drinking spree. Phillips was...

  7. CHAPTER 3 The Lived Indigenous Principle: New Understandings of Pentecostal Healing, Native Culture, and Pentecostal Indian Identity
    (pp. 79-109)

    Late one evening in 1943, John McPherson, a young Cherokee solider, went out drinking with his wife. As he stumbled from one bar to the next, he spied a Pentecostal preacher on the street corner exhorting sinners to come to Christ. Although McPherson grew up in a Salvation Army home and his wife was the daughter of a Pentecostal preacher, neither one had been saved. McPherson recounted, “[W]e heard the melodic refrain of a song, and recognizing it to be religious in nature, stopped to listen for a moment. This time, I heard more then [sic] just a melody, I...

  8. A section of illustrations
    (pp. 110-114)
  9. CHAPTER 4 Institutionalizing the Indigenous Principle: The American Indian College and Mesa View Assembly of God
    (pp. 115-146)

    Sister Alta Washburn had a problem. After many years on the mission field in Arizona, she faced competition from an independent Christian evangelist for the souls of the Phoenix area Indians.¹ The evangelist’s emotional preaching style horrified Sister Washburn; in her opinion, he exploited people.² She believed that she was losing Indian converts to him because they did not possess a solid biblical education. In her mind, the AG, though not perfect, represented firm, biblically based, evangelical teaching. This experience convinced Sister Washburn that the only way she could encourage the conversion of Indians and loyalty to the AG was...

  10. CHAPTER 5 The Fight for National Power and the Indigenous Principle: The Development of the Indian Representative Position and the Native American Fellowship
    (pp. 147-170)

    On 2 December 1977, T. E. Gannon, the national director of Home Missions, sent Cherokee evangelist Brother John McPherson an important letter. It read in part:

    You will recall that the General Council in session in Oklahoma City adopted a resolution authorizing the Executive Presbytery to appoint one to serve as an Indian representative. Unfortunately the resolution was so brief that little or no guidelines were given as to area of responsibility and no provision was made to fund this office. It was the unanimous decision of both the Home Missions Board and the Executive Presbytery that we should appoint...

  11. EPILOGUE: American Indian Pentecostals in the Twenty-First Century
    (pp. 171-178)

    On the afternoon of 10 August 2007, the members of the General Council of the Assemblies of God elected John E. Maracle to the Executive Presbytery.¹ Brother Maracle, a prominent Mohawk evangelist and the national Native American representative, ascended to the ethnic fellowship seat. He joined seventeen other prominent AG leaders in the Executive Presbytery—the most powerful arm of the AG.² One hundred one years after the great revival on Azusa Street, Brother Maracle became the first American Indian member of this exclusive governing board. After a long and frustrating twenty-year battle for tangible power and funding for the...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 179-202)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 203-210)
  14. Index
    (pp. 211-219)