Pentecostal "Schools": Cleveland (!) and Springfield (?)

cptRecently I was asked the following question via Facebook Messenger (see…Facebook can be useful and constructive):

Do you see any differences between the “Springfield school” and “Cleveland School” of Pentecostalism? If so, what do you think they are?
My response to this question is rooted in numerous conversations with several other PhD students writing on various Pentecostal matters and working to develop constructive Pentecostal theologies. This person’s question was the result of a good friend, Daniel Isgrigg (PhD, ABD),  who has used the language of “Springfield School” in his doctoral work with regard to the Assemblies of God stream of Pentecostalism as other than the previously labelled “Cleveland School” (due to its location in Cleveland, Tennessee as part of the work of Pentecostal Theological Seminary and more properly the Centre for Pentecostal Theology).
My answer follows:
I’ve had multiple conversations with Daniel Isgrigg about his use of the label “Springfield School”. It is highly problematic and the only (to my knowledge) one who ever used it in writing is James K.A. Smith who wrote “Springfield School (?)” in a footnote and does not appear to himself regard it as a “School” of thought or methodology.[1] My own argument is that it is not actually a “School” even though whatever it is may in fact represent majority views of interpretation, etc. within broader Pentecostal circles.
However, the Cleveland School holds to particular ideas and methods [2], has a publishing house producing significant works of constructive Pentecostal theologies, operates the Journal for Pentecostal Theology and continues to produce numerous PhDs following its trajectories.
I believe my Facebook friend’s follow-up response largely represents the distinctions even if only the Cleveland one might properly be called a “School” in the proper sense by my reckoning.
My observation (perhaps I’m wrong) is that the “Springfield School” leans more Reformed, Evangelical, Dispensational, Fundamentalist, whereas the “Cleveland School” leaned more Wesleyan and strives to produce a hermeneutical distinction between Pentecostalism and the rest of Evangelicalism. The Cleveland School *seems* to be more comfortable with the Great Tradition of the Church than the “Springfield School”. Am I off base? There just seems to be a different “feel”, for lack of a better word.
As such, my contention is for a legitimate burgeoning Cleveland School of Pentecostal theology, but remain unpersuaded that any actual “Springfield School” has ever coalesced into anything comparable. Not to say that it will not or that the institutions (publishing and academic) associated with it have not produced anything. They have and will continue to, but not at this point in the same distinct fashion as the more properly labelled Cleveland School.
Full disclosure: I am ordained with and teaching/administrating at a college that is associated with Springfield, yet I am completing a PhD via the Cleveland School and make great use of its methodological and spiritual tools.
1.  J.K.A. Smith, Thinking in Tongues (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2010), p. 6n13, is the footnote where Smith questions whether there might be a “Springfield School (?)”.
2.  K.J. Archer, ‘The Making of an Academic Pentecostal Tradition: The Cleveland School’. A paper presented at the Society for Pentecostal Studies (March 2016). Archer contends in this paper for a number of key figures related to the “Cleveland School” as well as certain features of it such as hermeneutics, epistomology, and spirituality.
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4 Responses to Pentecostal "Schools": Cleveland (!) and Springfield (?)

  1. Both are a far cry from classic Pentecostalism and in some ways are hostile to Pentecostals. In short, they are far from the revivals that started both.

    • Rick Wadholm says:

      This would require that you actually define “classic Pentecostalism” differently than the traditional manner which has to do with the issue of initial physical evidence (among a few other criteria). Both are actually categorically within “classic Pentecostalism”. And there are any number of areas globally in our various Pentecostal fellowships experiencing all manner of revival and renewal.

      And as to the “schools” I’m discussing…these are not even directly associated with the Fellowships (AG and CoG), but the one “Cleveland School” is about the renewal of Pentecostal hermeneutics and theology along the lines of early Pentecostalism’s Christocentristic message of the Full Gospel (among some other things which Kenneth Archer suggested in a paper at SPS several years ago now).

      • Peter Vandever says:

        Conduct a survey at Evangel and Lee with the following questions and see how off we are….

        Do you pray in tongues daily?
        Can you point to one example of God’s in your life?
        Do you believe in that divine healing is ingetral to the gospel?
        Do you live in expectation of the catching up?

        That’s without asking about personal holiness issues 🙂

        • Rick Wadholm says:

          None of that would have anything to do with the “School” of thought I’m addressing as part of a very specific conversation about ideas of identity and methodologies.

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