How We Escaped – By Elmer Shelhamer

Chapter 11

More Narrow Escapes

It is easy to swing from one extreme to another. In so doing a person can oppose an error to his own hurt. Years ago when the Pentecostal movement first appeared, many good people embraced it, while others opposed. For the time being I stood neutral, though some of my best friends sought and professed their “Baptism.” I took a special trip from Atlanta, Ga. to Los Angeles to study impartially the work and workers. At that time I was publishing a radical holiness paper and some of the zealous brethren sent me strong articles denouncing the new manifestation. When I declined to publish them, I was branded as Pro-Pentecostal. Later, I was invited to preach for them in the big stone church in Chicago and they published my sermon in pamphlet form, entitled, “Marks of Deep Spirituality.” Later again, when in Johannesburg, South Africa, I accepted an invitation to hold a convention for the “Apostolics.” Our dear Second Blessing people protested in strong terms, threatening to cancel all my calls with them.

Well, what is the safe position to take? St. Paul felt clear to preach to the circumcision and also to the uncircumcision. In my case, only one thought must actuate me; not pelf, or a little fame, but the Glory of God. The result was, the pastor and all his people humbled themselves and sought heart purity. They remarked, “This Holiness preacher from America is an enigma to us. He does not teach just as we do, yet he has a depth that we do not have, hence we are seekers.

Friends, it means much to be saved from needless prejudice. Wesley said, “Go not where they want you, but where they want you most. Go not where you can do good, but where you do the most good.” I have found some very saintly souls among this people, but like nearly every new movement, they need balancing. For instance: Here is a hungry heart, who attends their services, humbles himself and receives a genuine blessing. He receives what he needs from God, but he also receives what he did not need from the movement. Every movement puts its imprint upon those who embrace it. We call it “psychic influence,” and it can exist and operate among the most spiritual people. The leaders may not say a word from the pulpit, but mind over matter will cause the new adherents to ring true (perhaps unconsciously) to the standards held by its advocates.

This is why, after mingling for years among these dear people in Jerusalem and other centers, we felt clear to write our booklet, “Five Reasons Why I Do Not Seek the Gift of Tongues.” The sure cure against formality on the one hand and fanaticism on the other, is the deep inward crucifixion of the “Old Man,” and the constant infilling with holy love. I am satisfied had it not been for this I would have been swept off my feet years ago.