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Stanley Horton: Theologian of a Movement

By Ken Horn

Stanley M. Horton: Shaper of Pentecostal Theology by Lois E. Olena with Raymond L. Gannon (Springfield, Mo.: Gospel Publishing House) was released this year. In March, Evangel Editor Ken Horn was one of the presenters as Dr. Horton was honored at the Society for Pentecostal Studies in Eugene, Ore. The following is adapted from those comments.

Stanley Horton penned his first words in the Pentecostal Evangel in a far different world than we live in today. Yet, if he was penning his first words today I suspect they would be the same. His very first words in the magazine were: “I am glad the Lord has given me a Pentecostal experience.” Pneumatology — the study of the Holy Spirit — would become a prime area of his focus.

His first article — published Feb. 12, 1949, when he was at Central Bible College, “We Need the Supernatural Today!” — shows he was not tied to abstract theology. To the contrary, Dr. Horton’s theology — especially his theology of the Holy Spirit — has never been abstract or pedantic. It has always had its practical, experiential side.

Before I came to the Pentecostal Evangel I was already familiar with Dr. Stanley Horton the author and theologian. As a pastor I had used his curriculum and books. When Logion Press was launched under his guidance, I quickly snapped up Systematic Theology, Isaiah, Bible Doctrines: A Pentecostal Perspective (Assemblies of God’s 16 Fundamentals of the Faith) and I and II Corinthians.

I was aware that he was a frequent contributor to the Pentecostal Evangel, but it was not until I came to the magazine more than 12 years ago that I became keenly aware of the sheer breadth of his theology and the prolific nature of his pen.

As I learned the differences in the writing craft of pastor, professor and Christian journalist, I came to realize the rarity of those who can write on academic, pastoral and popular levels effectively. Dr. Stanley Horton is one of the few.

Dr. Horton’s works are almost all theological. Some are topical; others, expository or exegetical. But in all, he is a student of the Word, clearly explaining the Bible’s meaning as it sheds light on doctrine … or doctrine as it is formulated by Scripture.

Dr. Horton edited the ambitious Complete Biblical Library (Ralph Harris, executive editor) and was chairman of the editorial committee for portions of The Full Life Study Bible and the 2003 reprint, Life in the Spirit Study Bible.

I hesitate to mention any of Dr. Horton’s books, since he is such a prolific author. A complete bibliography is posted on the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center Web site at www.iFPHC.org/Horton.

Horton’s major theological themes have been pneumatology, eschatology (the study of the end times), and, more specifically, the study of Israel.

“There can be little doubt,” says Shaper of Pentecostal Theology co-author Raymond Gannon, “that Stanley Horton’s most important text was What the Bible Says About the Holy Spirit, first published in 1976.”

Horton has confronted the aspects of dispensationalism that are unfriendly to Pentecostalism, especially the doctrine of cessationism — the teaching that the gifts of the Holy Spirit ceased at the close of the New Testament canon.

Horton agrees that the Holy Spirit occupies every believer, but his theology is a strong voice for perpetuity of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Also high on Dr. Horton’s list of subjects is eschatology. Note his Our Destiny: Biblical Teachings on the Last Things and a large percentage of the body of his work.

His theology of Israel has been a welcome inclusion to those who believe that God is not through with that nation.

But, perhaps surprisingly to some, one of Dr. Horton’s greatest areas of impact has been in the pages of the weekly magazine of the Assemblies of God where he has been, perhaps, the most prolific writer over a period of six decades. The longest lists in his bibliography are his articles and columns — several hundred of them — in the Pentecostal Evangel.

Dr. Horton has analyzed the Hebrew and Greek for us in popular word studies.

(For example, he corrected: YHWH Rapha to YHWH Ropheka.)

He has been responding to questions with short and to-the-point answers for most of those 60 years of writing. His shorter answers have appeared primarily in his “Inside the Bible” column or the more recent “Q&A.”

Dr. Horton has answered questions that are easy, hard, controversial, obscure, practical … every kind. Such as:

“Is it biblical to have women deacons?” (“Yes.”)

“Why do we speak of ‘baptized in the Holy Spirit’ instead of ‘with’?”

“Is it scriptural to pray for people and to expect them to fall over backward?”

“What about generational curses?”

And many others.

Dr. Stanley Horton has been given many titles. I recommend we include “Man of the Spirit.” That is a fitting name for a man whose influential theology has all been undergirded by his first words in our magazine 60 years ago: “I am glad the Lord has given me a Pentecostal experience.”

And we are glad the Lord has given us a Pentecostal theologian, Dr. Stanley Horton.


KEN HORN is editor of the Pentecostal Evangel and blogs at Snapshots (khorn.agblogger.org).

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