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Full Gospel Baptist Church Exposed
In 1992, Bishop Paul Morton, a Black Baptist pastor, founded the Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship. This movement attracted several large Baptist churches and their pastors, offering them the option of being both Baptist and Pentecostal. While some Baptists were drawn to its charismatic practices and prosperity theology, others found them unbiblical or even dangerous.
In the 1990s, churches across America were inundated with charismatic revivals and worship services proclaiming healings and miracles. Baptist cessationists despised these so-called “faith healing crusades,” but charismatic preachers attracted audiences from a variety of churches – including some full gospel congregations.
Southern Baptists were confronted with the modern trends of Ivy League education and theology, neo-orthodoxy, an expanding ecumenical movement, and nonviolent direct action. These movements challenged their racial orthodoxy as well as exposed their denomination’s failure to address Jim Crow injustice.
The church needed to reconcile these trends with its own Southern spirituality and theology. J.P. Allen, who served as pastor of Broadway Church from 1962 until 1985, was one of the leading lights in this movement.
One of his major tasks was to integrate Broadway’s new vision with the church’s long-standing traditions. Though he made several mistakes along the way, his efforts proved ultimately successful.
He also fostered an informal network of churches that joined together to address local needs. While at Broadway, its congregation grew to over a thousand members.
His leadership was highly esteemed within the community. Additionally, he was an outspoken supporter of racial justice and reconciliation initiatives.
Some of his ideas were controversial, yet he was widely praised for his efforts. His ministry served as an example to both Southern Baptist peers and the rest of the church.
As the movement gained traction, so too did its influence. Full gospel churches became an appealing option for those seeking a church with a more contemporary message and greater emphasis on social issues.
This movement not only attracted younger pastors, but it also appealed to older Baptists who had become weary of their conventions and rigid rules and regulations. As a result, there emerged an amalgamation of Baptist and Pentecostal practices.
Though the Full Gospel church has encountered difficulties in the past, it remains a vibrant and effective Christian congregation. As it moves forward into the future, its beacon of hope and faith will continue to inspire those within its community as well as around the world.