Date of Graduation

Summer 2012


Master of Arts in Religious Studies


Religious Studies

Committee Chair

Martha Finch


The purpose in undertaking this project was to describe and explain how the Assemblies of God (AoG) has transitioned from a sectarian movement with many social prohibitions to a mainstream denomination that has distanced itself from many of those original, defining characteristics. By using a socio-historical approach and considering four historical taboos (immodest dress, dancing, movies, and alcohol), one can see how the concept of worldliness has changed from the inception of the AoG (1914) to the present. A combination of printed materials and personal interviews comprise the basis for all research. During the early decades of the AoG, influenced by the holiness tradition, worldliness was visibly observable because the body acted as the signifier of Pentecostal piety. Following World War Two, the way worldliness was understood began to change due to regional differences, increased affluence among adherents, the AoG's budding relationship with evangelicalism, greater interaction with charismatic Christians, and general laxness among subsequent generations of believers. Instead of solely focusing on external appearances and activities, AoG adherents began to consider internal motivations and affections as sources of worldliness. This sentiment has continued into the present, where many adherents now are less likely to agree with social taboos that were regularly accepted prior to the war. Adherents disagree with some of the official positions of the AoG because the institution has continued to identify with its holiness roots. It seems likely that this identification will continue to diminish as more adherents become further removed from the holiness teachings.


worldliness, Assemblies of God, Pentecostalism, holiness, dress, dancing, movies, alcohol

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© Micah L. Hildreth

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