Is There Anything New Under the Sun? (Return to Discussion of “INC”)

Roger E. Olson | 1/17/2019 | Staff
amyc9948 (Posted by) Level 3
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My previous (most recently preceding) blog post about the so-called “INC” phenomenon has set off a conversation (almost a debate) about whether INC is really new or, as I argue, just a new manifestation of something old.

If you are joining here and don’t know what “INC” refers to, please look back to the previous blog post here. It was entitled “A Newish American Church Phenomenon: INC (Independent Network Christianity).” Some responders (here and by other means of communication) challenged my claim that INC is just a new manifestation of an old pattern in American religious life. Let me explain further.

Pentecostalism - Teenager - Movement - Adult - Jesus

I grew up in the “thick” of American classical Pentecostalism in the 1950s and 1960s. I was a teenager when the charismatic movement broke out and a (very) young adult when the Jesus People Movement exploded on the scene. But my roots are in classical Pentecostalism.

No doubt the technology being used by INC is new, but it also is a new form of something older—radio, television, direct mail, fax machine networking. Now they (INC leaders) use the world wide web including Youtube channels, blogs, and podcasting on their own web sites.

Pattern - People - Pentecostalism - Timers - Phenomena

The pattern, however, is the same. And this is what some good people who didn’t grow up in classical Pentecostalism in the 1950s (or before) don’t know. I’m here to tell them. Only a few old timers like myself will remember these phenomena.

If you want a book to read about it, I suggest David Edwin Harrell’s All Things Are Possible. It’s a little old now, but it takes the story up to about 1970—the story of American healing revivals and revivalists. I knew some of the evangelists in the book; they held revivals supported by our church. I ate dinners and lunches with them; they were in our home. Others I...
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