Dear Workshop,

On Thursday, April 19, Kyle Wagner, PhD candidate in the History of Christianity at the Divinity School will present:


“Countering the Great Humanist Threat: The Assemblies of God Educator and the Construction of a New Pentecostal Model of Higher Education, 1956-1975”


Time: 12:00, Thursday, April 19, 2012

Place: Swift Hall, Room 400

Food: Snacks provided, feel free to bring your lunch!

Paper: A copy of this essay can be obtained by emailing Paul at

An excerpt from Kyle’s paper follows:

In February 2002, in the still confused mix of shock, mourning, and patriotism that characterized much of the American national mood just months after the tragic events of September 11, 2001, United States Attorney General John Ashcroft performed his composition “Let the Eagle Soar” for an audience at the Charlotte, North Carolina campus of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. This patriotic and explicitly Christian tune, with lines such as “Let the might eagle soar/soar with healing in her wings/as the land beneath her sings/’Only God, no other kings” subsequently was employed for satiric effect by Michael Moore in his film Farenheit 9/11 as well as becoming a punch-line for comedians from David Letterman to Stephen Colbert. This ridicule in popular media sources, however, masks the intriguing fact that John Ashcroft, a member of the Assemblies of God (AOG), had ascended to the highest public office ever occupied by a Pentecostal Christian in the United States, complicating a common perception of Pentecostals as anti-intellectual and disengaged from politics.

In many ways, the story of John Ashcroft’s rise to this position of national influence must be traced back to his father, J. Robert Ashcroft, an Assemblies of God minister who became the denomination’s National Secretary of Education from 1953 to 1958 and President of Evangel College, the AOG’s first liberal arts college, from 1958 to 1974. Writing in 1957, Robert Ashcroft bemoaned the embattled state of the body, mind, and soul in a nation perceived to be advancing steadily toward ‘secularism’ and away from God. For Ashcroft, this national decline was intimately linked with higher education. Not only was higher education the source of our nation’s failure, it was also the key to its future success; the only question was what proper higher education actually should entail.




– Paul Chang


Persons with a disability who believe they may need assistance, please contact Paul Chang in advance at