The Foursquare Gospel is an evangelical Pentecostal denomination the name of which is closely related to the emblem, represented by four squares. The four squares symbolically show Jesus Christ the Savior, Baptizer, Healer, Coming King. It refers to the revelation of Aimee Semple McPherson, the founder of the church, which she received from the book of Ezekiel. Aimee McPherson described the emblem as the four essences and hypostases of Jesus Christ. This theological doctrine is the unique identifier of the church.
Aimee Semple McPherson (1890-1944) was a prominent Canadian evangelist who used radio and other media to preach and spread Christianity. One was one of the most famous Protestant evangelists and the founder of Foursquare Church (de Alminana 256). In 1922, she announced that she had received a revelation about the vision of the “Gospel of the Four Squares,” which defined the theology of serving Jesus Christ in four aspects (de Alminana 258). She laid down a cooperation policy with other evangelical churches, the consciousness of assemblies and unions that would lead an active preaching activity. Her preaching style, charity fundraisers, and faith healing activities attracted many followers and imitators.
Initially, the church was not planned as a denomination, but the number of followers was constantly growing; therefore, a structure was needed. The Evangelical Protestant Church does not recognize a vertical system since each person must turn to God and seek salvation individually. In 1927, a structure was formed, which in 1930 was named the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. It uses modified episcopal governance when pastors are appointed to the positions (Jensen 22). The followers believe that individuals must lead their peers. The horizontal structure and collaboration with other evangelical organizations allow the Foursquare Gospel to spread quickly to different countries and recruit new followers.
The theology of the Foursquare Gospel is based on the four hypostases of Christ and the recognition of the Bible as the whole word of God. The motto of the church is that “Jesus Crist is the same yesterday, and today, and tomorrow, and forever” from Hebrews 13:8 (Jensen 19). The Church confirms that Christ is “co-existent and co-eternal with the Father,” his virgin birth, death, and resurrection. Church followers believe in the existence of heaven and hell, the second coming of Christ, and the final judgment (Jensen 29). It practices Baptism by immersion only and the Lord’s supper (Jensen 29). Baptism using the Trinitarian formula is practiced only for adult believers and is closely related to the possibility of salvation, although it is not salvation in itself (Jensen 30). The Lord’s supper is understood in the church as a token that connects the believer with God.
On evolution issues, Aimee Semple McPherson believed that evolution is contrary to the Bible and Christianity and denies the power of God. Therefore, the church opposes Darwin’s theory, denying human and animal evolution (de Alminana 264). However, it does not support the idea of a “young Earth”(de Alminana 271). Disciples do not believe that the age of the Earth can be calculated based on the Bible.
The Bible is recognized as the word of God and the only source containing true knowledge. It is the final indisputable authority that allows us to make judgments on certain issues. The church recognizes that people are in the “fallen state of being” and feel guilty for violating God’s law (Kaunda 122). Salvations for people are achievable entirely by grace and a free gift. Even though the sacrifice of Christ was for all humanity, “the benefits of His death are obtained only through a personal appropriation by grace” (Kaunda 122). The church’s followers believe in a person’s free will, which leads them to salvation through a moral lifestyle.
Growth and Development
The Church of the Foursquare Gospel has proclaimed a policy of association with all Christians and cooperation to achieve a joint mission. Therefore, the church is a member of several Christian organizations such as Pentecostal Charismatic Churches of North America, Pentecostal World Fellowship, and the National Association of Evangelicals (International Church of the Foursquare Gospel). The Foursquare Church claims to have over 100,000 churches in 150 nations worldwide. The website claims that the church has 8.8 million followers worldwide. The last accurate count of American church members was made in 2006 and totaled 353,995 people (International Church of the Foursquare Gospel). The Pentecostal movement, like The Foursquare Church itself, claims to see growth in followers and the spread of churches to different countries. The US, Brazil, and Ecuador communities are particularly strong. According to these data, it can be stated that the church is developing and growing.
Video Lecture Summary
The Pentecostal movement is the fastest growing branch of Christianity, especially in the Global South. The many religious branches of Christianity influenced the movement, and it is difficult to trace its legacy. The lecturer described how the emergence of Pentecostalism coincided with the San Francisco storm of 1906 (“Video Lecture: Pentecostalism”). A new movement was forged in the services and motives held in parallel with the terrifying natural disasters. Another vital feature of Pentecostalism is the development of Methodism, a horizontal structure, and the pastor’s approach to the flock. The democratic design allows the church to constantly develop and look for new ways to attract people to salvation and faith. In addition to this, many people are attracted to music and healing rituals, which give unique energy to being in church (“Global Pentecostalism”). The movement is as tolerant as possible to people of all races and genders, aimed at gaining personal salvation.
“Global Pentecostalism.” YouTube, 2008.
de Alminana, Margaret English. “Aimee Semple McPherson’s Pentecostalism, Darwinism, Eugenics, the Disenfranchised, and the Scopes Monkey Trial.” Pneuma, vol. 41, no. 2, 2019, 255-278. Web.
International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. “Serving You, Changing the World.” Foursquare Leader. Web.
Jensen, Erik Ringsvold. Organizing Revival: the story of how the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel and the Norwegian Pentecostal movement sought to facilitate for growth. MS thesis. 2021.
Kaunda, Chammah J. “Pentecostal Rationality: Epistemology and Theological Hermeneutics in the Foursquare Tradition, written by Simo Frestadius.” Mission Studies, vol. 39, no.1, 2022, 122-123. Web.
“Video Lecture: Pentecostalism”.