From Monogenesis to Polygenesis in Pentecostal Origins

A Survey of the Evidence from the Azusa Street, Hebden, and Mukti Missions


  • Adam Stewart University of Waterloo



Azusa Street Mission, Hebden Mission, Mukti Mission, Pentecostal history, Pentecostal origins


The idea that William Seymour’s Azusa Street Mission served as the isolated source of Pentecostal origination remains the dominant view among both Pentecostals and academics in the United States. In this article, I compare this well-known narrative of Pentecostal origins with the accounts of two lesser-known early missions that also contributed to the emergence of Pentecostalism: the Hebden Mission in Toronto, Canada and the Mukti Mission in Kedgaon, India. I argue that even a brief evaluation of these historical narratives (1) reveals that there was not anything particularly novel about the religious experiences described by the early participants of the Azusa Street Mission, and, therefore, (2) best supports a polygenetical rather than a monogenetical theory of Pentecostal origins. I conclude by offering some nascent suggestions for why a monogenetical theory of Pentecostal origination was so attractive to both early Pentecostal adherents and historians alike, despite the availability of evidence to the contrary.

Author Biography

Adam Stewart, University of Waterloo

Adam Stewart holds a PhD in religious studies from the University of Waterloo and teaches religious studies and sociology at the University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, and Master’s College and Seminary in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada.


Adhav, S.M. Pandita Ramabai. Madras: Christian Literature Society, 1979.

Anderson, A. An Introduction to Pentecostalism: Global Charismatic Christianity. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

—. “Origins”. In Stewart, Handbook of Pentecostal Christianity, 2012: 162–6.

—. “Pandita Ramabai, the Mukti Revival and Global Pentecostalism”. Transformation: An International Journal of Holistic Mission Studies 23.1 (2006): 37–48.

—. “Pandita Sarasvati Ramabai”. In Stewart, Handbook of Pentecostal Christianity, 2012: 173–77.

—. “‘The Present World-Wide Revival … Brought Up in India:’ Pandita Ramabai and the Origins of Pentecostalism”. In R.E. Hedlund, S. Kim and R. Boaz Johnson (eds), Indian and Christian: The Life and Legacy of Pandita Ramabai. Chennai: ISPCK, 2011: 307–25.

—. Spreading Fires: The Missionary Nature of Early Pentecostalism. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2007.

—. “Writing the Pentecostal History of Africa, Asia, and Latin America”. Journal of Beliefs and Values: Studies in Religion and Education 25.2 (2004): 139–51.

Anon. “A Gift of Tongues in a Queen Street Mission”. The Toronto Daily Star (17 January 1907): 15.

Bergunder, M. “The Cultural Turn”. In A. Anderson, M. Bergunder, A. Droogers and C. van der Laan (eds), Studying Global Pentecostalism: Theories and Methods. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2010: 51–73.

Blumhofer, E.L. “Consuming Fire: Pandita Ramabai and the Global Pentecostal Impulse”. In O.U. Kalu (ed.), Interpreting Contemporary Christianity: Global Processes and Local Identities. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdman, 2008: 207–37.

—. “‘From India’s Coral Strand’: Pandita Ramabai and US Support for Foreign Missions”. In D.H. Bays and G. Wacker (eds), The Foreign Missionary Enterprise at Home: Explorations in North American Cultural History. Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press, 2003: 152–70.

—. Restoring the Faith: The Assemblies of God, Pentecostalism, and American Culture. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1993.

Cartledge, M.J. Charismatic Glossolalia: An Empirical-Theological Study. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2002.

Chant, B. The Spirit of Pentecost: The Origins and Development of the Pentecostal Movement in Australia 1870–1939. Lexington, KY: Emeth Press, 2011.

Creech, J. “Visions of Glory: The Place of the Azusa Street Revival in Pentecostal History”. Church History 65.3 (1996): 407–25.

Curtis, H.D. Faith in the Great Physician: Suffering and Divine Healing in American Culture, 1860–1900. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007.

—. “The Global Character of Nineteenth-Century Divine Healing”. In C. Gunther Brown (ed.), Global Pentecostal and Charismatic Healing. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011: 29–45.

Di Giacomo, M. “Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity in Canada: Its Origins, Development, and Distinct Culture”. In M. Wilkinson (ed.), Canadian Pentecostalism: Transition and Transformation. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2009: 15–38.

Hebden, E. “How Pentecost Came to Toronto”. The Promise (May 1907): 1–3. —. “In Toronto, Canada”. The Apostolic Faith (April 1907): 1.

—. “Organizations”. The Promise (October 1909): 1.

—. “Organizations”. The Promise (March 1910): 1.

—. “This is the Power of the Holy Ghost”. The Apostolic Faith (February–March 1907): 3.

Hutchinson, M. and J. Wolffe. A Short History of Global Evangelicalism. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012.

Kay, W.K. Pentecostalism: A Very Short Introduction. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.

Kosambi, M. (ed., trans.). Pandita Ramabai Through Her Own Words: Selected Works. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2000.

McGee, G.B. “‘Latter Rain’ Falling in the East: Early-Twentieth-Century Pentecostalism in India and the Debate over Speaking in Tongues”. Church History 68.3 (1999): 648–65.

—. Miracles, Missions, and American Pentecostalism. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2010.

Miller, T.W. “The Canadian ‘Azusa’: The Hebden Mission in Toronto”. Pneuma: The Journal of the Society for Pentecostal Studies 8.1 (1986): 5–29.

—. Canadian Pentecostals: A History of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. Mississauga: Full Gospel Publishing House, 1994.

Noll, M.A. A History of Christianity in the United States and Canada. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1992.

Opp, J.W. The Lord for the Body: Religion, Medicine, and Protestant Faith Healing in Canada, 1880–1930. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2005.

Robeck, C.M., Jr. The Azusa Street Mission and Revival: The Birth of the Global Pentecostal Movement. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2006.

Sagan, C. The Demon-Haunted World: Science as the Candle in the Dark. New York: Random House, 1996.

Sloos, W. “The Story of James and Ellen Hebden: The First Family of Pentecost in Canada”. Pneuma: The Journal of the Society for Pentecostal Studies 32.2 (2010): 181–202.

Stephenson, C.A. Types of Pentecostal Theology: Method, System, Spirit. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013.

Stewart, A. “Azusa Street Mission and Revival”. In Stewart, Handbook of Pentecostal Christianity, 2012: 43–8.

—. “A Canadian Azusa? The Implications of the Hebden Mission for Pentecostal Historiography”. In M. Wilkinson and P. Althouse (eds), Winds from the North: Canadian Contributions to the Pentecostal Movement. Leiden: Brill, 2010: 17–37.

—. (ed.). Handbook of Pentecostal Christianity. DeKalb, IL: Northern Illinois University Press, 2012.

Studebaker, S.M. “The Plausibility of the Independent Origins of Canadian Pentecostalism: Winds from the North”. Pneuma: The Journal of the Society for Pentecostal Studies 33.3 (2011): 417–25.

van der Veer, P. Imperial Encounters: Religion and Modernity in India and Britain. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2001.

Wacker, G. Heaven Below: Early Pentecostals and American Culture. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001.



How to Cite

Stewart, A. (2014). From Monogenesis to Polygenesis in Pentecostal Origins: A Survey of the Evidence from the Azusa Street, Hebden, and Mukti Missions. PentecoStudies, 13(2), 151-172.