by Jack Llewellyn
On 31 January Amy Collier Artman delivered a lecture with the title “Televising Testimony: Kathryn Kuhlman and Your Faith and Mine” on the Missouri State University campus. Dr. Artman is a Missouri State alumna, having earned a BA here in 1992. From Springfield she went on to a Master of Divinity degree from Texas Christian University, and a PhD (in 2009) from the University of Chicago.
The title of Dr. Artman’s doctoral dissertation provided a hint about the content of her lecture; the dissertation’s title is “The Miracle Lady: Kathryn Kuhlman and the Gentrification of Charismatic Christianity in Twentieth Century America.” Kathryn Kuhlman was a pioneering televangelist, with a weekly program on network television, which focused on miraculous healing. In Springfield, Dr. Artman explained that the “gentrification” of her dissertation title signals not just Kuhlman’s development of a more refined style of evangelizing. It also signals a style that was going to become the hot new thing in American churches, in the way the gentrified neighborhoods are all the buzz in American cities. Dr. Artman’s argument about Kuhlman’s preaching style was driven home by a compelling analysis of clips from the evangelist’s early television show, Your Faith and Mine.
Responding to Dr. Artman’s lecture was Wayne E. Warner. Mr. Warner is the former director of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (the Assemblies of God’s archives). The author of the 1993 book, Kathryn Kuhlman: The Woman behind the Miracles, Mr. Warner is the leading authority on that book’s subject. In his response to Dr. Artman, Mr. Warner emphasized the follow up that he had done on some of the subjects of Kuhlman’s healing ministry.
The question and answer session after the lecture and response was particularly exciting, as Dr. Artman and Mr. Warner were challenged to think out loud and to compare their knowledge about Kathryn Kuhlman and their interpretation of her contributions to American religious history. Students and the rest of the audience witnessed scholarly discovery unfolding before their eyes.