ORAL ROBERTS DEAD & DAMAGE DONE

29 04 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – January 2010 – Vol. 15 Issue 1 – Oral Roberts Dead & Damage Done – By Rev. Robert Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

ORAL ROBERTS DEAD & DAMAGE DONE

By Rev. Robert Liichow

Another giant has fallen. One of the veritable “Generals” of Pentecostalism has assumed room temperature and now faces the judgment of the Just Judge, our Lord Jesus Christ (read Hebrews 9:27).

We all have heard the old adage “don’t speak ill of the dead” but as a good liturgical. Confessional, evangelical Lutheran I must ask “what does this adage mean?” We speak ill of the dead all the time. Seen any positive documentaries on Adolf Hitler, Pol Pot, or Joe Stalin lately?

DMI rebuked Oral Roberts and exposed him as a fraud during his life and we surely do not want to see Pentecostal myths gain a foothold now that Oral is dead. Certainly DMI prayed for the family asking God to comfort them in their loss but that does not change the facts regarding Mr. Roberts SINistry of over fifty years.

Let’s begin with a statement made by Richard Roberts, Oral surviving son, I say “surviving” son because Oral’s other boy committed suicide (something few people even know.)

Richard Roberts called his father “the greatest man of God I’ve ever known.” A modern-day apostle of the healing ministry, an author, educator, evangelist, prophet, and innovator,” he said in a statement Tuesday. “He was the only man of his generation to build a worldwide ministry, an accredited university, and a medical school.”

Admittedly, most men think the world of their fathers, I know I do. It is human nature to want to make them larger-then-life especially in a memorial statement. Unfortunately Richard uttered some outright whoppers (lies, prevarications, story’s deceptions, and myths) in his comments.

The first lie about Oral (let’s not start myth making before he is even in the ground Richard!) is that he was the only man in his generation (1918-2009) to build a worldwide ministry. Oh really? Oral did not even begin to broadcast until 1954.

If Richard is correct about Oral having the only worldwide ministry in his generation how does he explain?

Dr. Daisy Washburn Osborn, they established their headquarters in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1949. Together they proclaimed the Gospel to millions of unreached people in over 80 nations for well over half a century of world-changing missionary-evangelism, preaching daily to multitudes from 20,000 to 300,000 people with God confirming his word by many astounding miracles.

Roberts without a doubt cashed in BIG TIME on the post World War II so called “healing revival.” Although Oral was to become the biggest and one of the longest surviving members of those halcyon days of casting demons into jars, putting up huge tents and raking in the millions he still was not the first nor the innovator that Richard wants people to believe.

William Branham is usually cited as the founder of the post WWII healing revival. Branham, a man whose life I have studied in-depth began his healing revivals as early as 1941 was well known for his international ministry. Sadly Branham was a heretic and false prophet and today there are over 123,000 web sites DEVOTED to this man’s false teachings, false prophecies and failed visions. Branham is vastly more popular today, over thirty (30) years after his death in 1965 when he was killed by a drunk driver. What’s my point? My point is, just because a false leader dies does not mean that their influence is over at the time of their transition from time to eternity. Branham’s errors continue to mislead multitudes and Robert’s errors and legacy may also mushroom and mislead even more people after his death than he influenced in his lifetime here on earth.

Roberts Was No “Saint”

Please allow me to clarify the above comment; DMI is not stating that Mr. Roberts did not go to heaven or that he was not a saint in the generally understood use of the term by evangelical Christians. What is meant ins that Oral Roberts was no genuine super-saint or highly anointed healer according to charismatic lingo and his own press. Although Oral is known for his alleged healing ministry his main emphasis was financial prosperity:

But Oral Roberts, who has died aged 91 of complications from pneumonia, always devoted himself to money – and, occasionally, God. He even justified his love of wealth with a biblical source. At the age of 29, he was a struggling part-time preacher with church pastorates in Oklahoma, and his college studies had not brought him a degree. He told the story of how he picked up his bible and it fell open at the Third Epistle of John. His eye caught verse two, which read: “I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as they soul prospereth.” He had not heard this verse before and neither had his schoolteacher wife Evelyn, though both were the offspring of preachers. Roberts decided immediately that it was all right to be rich. The next day he brought a Buick and God appeared, he said, telling him to heal people. Roberts then added this aspect to his tent revival meetings and a month later in Enid, Oklahoma, he cured, he said, a woman the use of whose hand had been impaired for 38 years.

The above reporter used an interesting phrase when he said Oral “devoted himself to money.” Dr. H. Wayne House, a personal friend and mentor told my wife and I that he personally heard Oral Roberts telling the teachers of ORU in a meeting that He, Oral, and I quote, “I love money, money, money, money.”

That comment also mirrors Gordon Gekko in the movie Wall Street when he shouted “greed is good.” Oral is reported to have said that God told him to avoid three things if he wanted his healing ministry to succeed. Oral was supposedly commanded to — (1) touch not the gold; (2) touch not the glory and (3) touch not the girls.

Now one would imagine that if Almighty God, the Ancient of Days, Might Jah who rides on the clouds — audibly spoke to you, and you knew it was indeed God, then one would imagine obedience would follow His directives, right?

Obviously, Oral failed the Lord’s test, this we know from the observable facts of his life. Oral failed regarding the “gold.” If anyone hammered the false doctrine that God wants all of His children RICH it was initially Mr. Roberts. He died a multi-millionaire in his own right with a ministry machine worth tens of millions, to own a copy of his mailing list alone is the stuff lesser televangelists and Gospel pimps dream about. No Oral died stinking filthy rich and he did so at the expense of the poor, widows, and people on fixed incomes (plus one very wealthy dog track ownerThe 79-year-old entrepreneur wrote a $1.3 million check to get Roberts down from his prayer tower and finance Roberts’ medical scholarships. He’ll deliver the check today at a country club luncheon with Richard Roberts, whose father appears to be saved by the sizable donation).”

Oral equally failed when it came to touching the “glory.” In Pentecostal thought touching the glory of God is to take credit for something that God did. Everything Oral touched he named after himself! [As an aside beware anyone who names the ministry after themselves]. God’s direction for a school became “Oral Roberts University.” Even his overall outreach was called “Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association.” It might have been acceptable to name something after Oral once he was dead, but he had the audacity to name things after himself while he was still in our midst. Talk about touching the glory…tisk, tisk, tisk, Oral!!

As far as we know Oral was faithful to his wife of many years and I do not doubt this. However two misses out of three is abysmal! Perhaps this explains why Oral Roberts could never prove to everyone’s satisfaction that God had used him to heal anyone at all. Roberts, like all the fake-healers would simply point to the individual claiming healing and say “ask them.”

I don’t try to prove [that] multiplied thousands [are being healed]. I just say, “There’s the person. Let him tell you” [This is enough] to me and the person…I can’t prove that any person who ever came to me was healed, that is I can’t prove it to the satisfaction of everyone.

Just because a person feels good after the “anointed” evangelist prays over them does not mean they have been healed. My mother-in-law was prayed for by Benny Hinn personally. Immediately after prayer she declared she was healed, based on how she felt. Within 12 hours her “healed” condition had returned. To her dying day she believed she was really healed by Benny, but lost her healing due to her own lack of spiritual fortitude! What a shame and what a burden to live under. How many multitudes also “lost” their healing shortly after Oral Roberts left town with their best seed-faith offering.

Rest assured, not many if any people “lost” any healing they received at the hands of Oral. Let’s do the math: Oral was laying hands on the sick from say approximately 1948 thru 2008 about sixty (60) years. Out of all those multitudes of people over the years statistically one would imagine that there would be quite a catalog of independently verified physical healings and miracles….but there are not. Just a 5% success rate would have given Roberts 50,000 verified miraculous testimonies; a mere 2.5? Would be 25,000 stories to use to bilk the non-healed seekers! The truth of the matter is that Oral Roberts was a fake-healer. People simply did not get healed at his crusades as he said they did. He lied, either intentionally or unintentionally, he did not speak truthfully about miracles and healings regarding his own work.

Oral a Grandiose Failure

Virtually everything Oral did regarding his ministry machine was done under the egis of the “Lord” telling him to bring to pass whatever his vision was. The “Lord” told him to build a university and so Oral made it so (with the help of millions of donated dollars). Unlike other Christian colleges Oral Roberts University (ORU) and campus was going to be a paradise on earth of holy living college kids. From there the Lord directed Roberts to build a law school and later on most spectacular of all is when God announced that Oral was to build for Him a hospital!

“He said to me: ‘Son, you cannot put the vision I have given you into a place where My full healing power is not freely accepted. It must be in a place defeated by lack of faith in My miraculous power. You must build a new and different medical center for Me. The healing steams of prayer and medicine must merge through what I will have you build…”There rising before me were the details of the buildings. Immediately I was led to read the two chapters in the Bible, Revelation 21,22. There I saw the City of God, the New Jerusalem, with its River of Life and its broad avenues. ….”I saw the City of god as a reflection of God himself bringing healing and health to those who entered there. Suddenly God gave me a new name for the Health Care and Research Center I am to build in His name. “You shall call it the City of Faith.’ I thought my heart would burst with joy. The City of Faith. What a name! I knew God could give a name like that to the Health Care and Research Center He wanted to build.” (p.333) By late 1984 Oral’s City of Faith projected figure of 777 operational beds seemed a remote goal (p.391). “In a dramatic announcement in July 1984, he reported that Jesus had once again visited him and an ‘angel of the Lord’ had been placed at his disposal. Oral ‘dispatched’ the angel to bring the ‘poor, needy and the sick’ to the City of Faith, opening the hospital to indigent patients. In the fall of 1984, the occupancy rate at the hospital seemed to be rising” (p.391). [The rise in the rate of occupancy at the City of Faith was only temporary.]

Before taking one step further does it strike anyone as strange that The Ancient of Days would first give a man a divine capacity to heal the sick and then after praying for a few million folks tell the man that now He wants him to build a hospital for Him? Isn’t it easier and cheaper to have Oral continue to heal folks as opposed to them having to go to a doctor, spend serious money and time getting medically treated? With Oral, no matter what your problem is, blammo a healing hand on you and *PRESTO* away goes your problem, easy-peasy and all for the cost of a donation in to the KFC bucket!!

The fact that Roberts could raise the millions to build the “City of Faith” is testimony to the man’s shear charisma (and I ain’t speaking of the Holy Spirit here) and ability to talk people out of their money.

Most people know the story of how God appeared to Oral in the form of a 900 foot Jesus. This apparition told Oral to build the City of Faith and He, God, would reveal to Oral the medical cure for cancer. “In the letter, Roberts told his partners, ‘I felt an overwhelming holy presence all around me. When I opened my eyes, there He stood…some 900 feet tall, looking at me; His eyes…Oh! His eyes! He stood a full 300 feet taller than the 600 foot tall City of Faith.’ Well that appeal letter tugged at the heart and purse strings of the devoted and the City of Faith Hospital and Doctor’s College came into being.

Unless the Lord builds the house, the laborers labor in vain — In 1989, only eight years after it opened, the City of Faith was $25 million in debt and Roberts closed the hospital (the last patient left on 16 October). No medical cure for cancer and now no school. Did Oral Roberts ever admit that he was wrong? NO. Did anyone charismatic leader call Oral to account for his statements and actions? NO. The City of faith is bankrupt today and the Law School is also closed, along with the medical school. The undergraduate and graduate school of ORU are still limping along but the university has been undergoing severe financial problems over the last several years. Without Oral to pull in the serious money the school will eventually close.

Oral’s Legacy

What can be said about his legacy? Sadly, I cannot find too many good things to say regarding Mr. Robert’s SINistry. He popularized the false concept of “seed-faith.” An entire edition could be devoted to this CONcept which due to Roberts, has inundated almost every corner of the Church. It is the false teaching of giving to get which Roberts tries to valiantly defend in several of his books.

Remember the “Holy Laughter” revival brought to us by Rodney Howard Brown, the Holy Ghost bartender? Due to Richard and Oral bring Rodney from a low wattage church to Tulsa from there this latest non-charismatic gift went global. From Tulsa RHB took off and the rest is Pentecostal history, again due much in part to Roberts.

Lastly, Oral is known by many as this generation’s pioneer of so-called televised “healing evangelism.” Even though the bible denotes no such ministry Pentecostals have created a specific breed of evangelist, the healing type. Again, the problem here is that he cannot demonstrate, nor are multitudes lining up to verify they have received healing via Mr. Roberts. Because of his television success Roberts breed another generation of hucksters to follow in his wake. We can thank Oral Roberts for helping promote the SINistries of people like Kenneth (Oral’s former pilot) & Gloria Copeland, Fred Price, Carleton Pierson (now a universalist heretic) and many others.

So he has a legacy of twisting the Scriptures and thus biblically deceiving multitudes especially in the area of financial prosperity and physical healing. He has a legacy of empty buildings in Tulsa, all of which scream out in derision “another religious flake” to the Church’s shame. Oral leaves a legacy of helping to spread a mass delusion flowing under the guise of holy laughter and spiritual drunkenness which has globally infected multitudes who’ve been led into deeper delusions.

Did Roberts do any good? DMI would not say that some people probably did come to a saving faith in Jesus Christ at some of his meetings and possibly even via the television. God uses the foolishness of preaching (see 1 Cor. 1:21) to draw those who will believe. Without doubt God certainly uses preachers who from time to time act foolishly; He certainly still uses me in spite of myself. Many students have graduated from ORU with a fairly good Bible-based undergraduate education. While the Medical & Law schools were functioning they both managed to matriculate some fine students. Dr. Wayne House earned his Law degree at ORU’s Law School; he reported having very fine teachers.

While the above works are certainly laudable they do not exculpate Roberts regarding the spiritual damage that he is responsible for. What can be done? To begin with his son, Richard, could pull all of the books, tapes, videos and dvd’s by his father on divine healing, financial prosperity, seed-faith, etc. and apologize to the Body of Christ for his father’s error’s. Obviously, this will never happen in our lives.

What you and I can do is not allow our Pentecostal and sign-gift friends and family to believe that Mr. Roberts was a great healer and prophet to his generation when the facts prove he was anything but those things.  ♦

Copyright © 2010 Robert S. Liichow

END NOTES

1. Obtained from http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/us/2009/December/Oral-Roberts-Hospitialized-After-Fall/ underlining added for emphasis.

2. Schneider, Keith (December 15,2009). “Oral Roberts, Fiery Preacher, Dies at 91”. The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/16/us/16roberts.html

3. Obtained from http://www.osborn.org/site/sections/12   on 01-08-10. Bold type added for emphasis.

4. Anderson, A., An Introduction to Pentecostalism (Cambridge University Press, 2004) p. 58

5. Obtained from At Totten’s Ford, Believers News, April 1998 this is a PDF article.

6. Head-On Collision Kills 1, Injures 6, Friona Stare, December 1965

7. Obtained from http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2w009/dec/15/oral-roberts-obituary on 01-08-10.

8. Obtained from http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/P2-3816636.html on 01-08-10

9. Randi, James. The Faith Healers, Prometheus Books, 1987, p. 193, underlining added.

10. Obtained from http://en.allexperts.com/q/Tulsa-3039/Oral-Roberts-University.htm on 01-08-10

11. Obtained from http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/article.aspx?articleid=20080326_222_67873 on -1-08-10

12. Just because the Law and Medical School went defunct is not to imply that the teachers or professors were substandard. The faculty from all I have learned were (and are) fine, godly men and women.

13. http://en.wkipedia.org/wiki/CityPlex_Towers





Azusa’s 100th Anniversary (The Truth Behind the Hype)

19 08 2009

Truth Matters Newsletters – April 2006 – Vol. 11 Issue 4 – Azusa’s 100th Anniversary – by Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

Azusa’s 100th Anniversary (The Truth Behind the Hype)

scanAzusaemblem0001

I want to add a few comments before getting into the heart of this article because I am aware that we have new readers each month that may not be as familiar with my background as some of our more seasoned readers. I was raised as a child in a Christian home by godly parents and was baptized a member of the United Presbyterian Church. Years later when I was at the University of Michigan, having wandered away from Father’s house like the prodigal son, I came into contact with a charismatic community called “The Word of God Community” (WOG). (1) WOG offered a six week course called “Life in the Spirit” and at the end of the lessons, hands were laid on the participants they were supposed to receive their heavenly prayer language, i.e. begin to speak in other tongues. I underwent the training and became a member of the Pentecostal Church of God. I left that very small congregation and joined a new group on campus led by a man who had just graduated from Rhema Bible Training Center called Greater Faith Christian Center. It was there that I met my wife and became part of the Word of Faith movement, leaving behind the Discipleship movement and classic Pentecostalism. Without going into a lot more detail, my wife and I ended up participating in the Prophetic movement which sort of “morphed into the Apostolic movement and at the very end before our doctrinal deliverance, the Signs and Wonders move. I say all this, to simply alert the reader that I am not writing about something I have not personally seen, heard, experienced and unfortunately, taught to others. I write this article from both an experiential point-of-view as well as a researched position.

100 Years of Revival?

This April is the celebration of the so-called “Azusa Street Revival” which is traditionally considered the official beginning of Pentecostalism in the United States.

The very word “Azusa” conjures up nothing but positive images in the minds of virtually all Pentecostal/charismatic believers. To them, it was a time of a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit as was experienced in the Book of Acts. The “proof” of this outpouring was the evidence of seekers beginning to speak in what was termed other tongues. (2) Supernatural gifts long dormant in the Church were being imparted and restored. It was a time of worldwide evangelism and divine healing and miracles. The emphasis behind the evangelism was the belief that Jesus Christ was very quickly going to return and rapture the Church. Thus He needed to again supernaturally equip His saints to go into the entire world and preach the Gospel. Azusa was fertile soil from which many “famous” Pentecostal ministries were birthed.

This is what I called the “hype” surrounding the Azusa experience. Yet nothing happens in a vacuum. People did not suddenly begin to speak in tongues, prophesy, sing in other tongues, dance in the spirit, slain in the spirit, etc…due to some sovereign move of God at Azusa. There was over 100 years of “priming the pump” before the alleged outpouring at Azusa street occurred.

Some Historical Background Prior to Azusa

The first thing to always keep in mind when thinking about any Pentecostal or charismatic group is that they are at the core restorationalistic in their belief system. This simply means they believe the Church at some point lost its spiritual bearings and power and God has had to “restore” the supernatural gifts (tongues, prophesy, miracles, etc) and spiritual direction (now through restored prophets and apostles) back to the Church in order to bring Her to a state purity where the Lord can return for Her. The basic text cited is:

Acts 3:19-21 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.

The mindset was and still is that God must send times of refreshing, i.e. revival to the Church. At some point the “big” revival will occur during which time God will restore everything lost to the Church and then Jesus can come for His Bride. Many groups prior to the Azusa experience claimed to be chosen ones to be used to restore the Church and bring back Jesus.

The Shaker Cult, America’s first Pentecostals

Ann Lee, the Founder of the United Society of Believers came to America in 1772 (a little over 130 years prior to Azusa). I have detailed their aberrant beliefs in my book “The Two Roots of Today’s Revival, of which we still have a few copies left. The Shakers were the first group in America to speak in other tongues, prophesy, sing in other tongues, manifest holy laughter, be slain in the spirit, dance in the spirit, shake, and become drunk in the spirit. All of this is fully detailed in my book and many places on the Internet. They believed they were the true Church and were very evangelistic due to believing the end of times was upon the world and also because they taught strict celibacy so numerical growth had to come from inducting new members into the cult.

The Cane Ridge “Revival”

Started around 1801 (just shy of 100 years before Azusa) as a gathering of Methodist, Presbyterian and Baptist preachers who gathered to preach to the unconverted. Shaker evangelists also came to these meetings and brought with them their manifestations (the same ones we see in charismatic congregations today). The end result was that the Shakers imparted their gifts to many at the meetings and even gained some converts from Christian churches! Here are a few citations of the pandemonium brought on by the manifestations:

The first was held at Cabin-Creek. It began on the 22nd of May, and continued four days and three nights. The scene was awful beyond description; the falling, crying out, praying, exhorting, singing, shouting & exhibited such new and striking evidences of a supernatural power, that few, if any could escape without being affected. Such as tried to run from it, were frequently struck on the way, or impelled by some alarming signal to return, but there were moreover in the schismatic worship, a species of exercises of an involuntary kind, which seemed to have been substituted by the Great Spirit, in the room of the falling, &c. which had been among the New-Light. The principal of these, were the rolling exercise, the jerks, and the barks.

Still more demeaning and mortifying were the jerks. Nothing in nature could better represent this strange and unaccountable operation, than for one to goad another, alternately on every side, with a piece of red hot iron. The exercise commonly began in the head which would fly backward and forward, and from side to side, with a quick jolt, which the person would naturally labor to suppress, but in vain: and the more any one laboured to stay himself and be sober, the more he staggered, and the more rapidly his twitches increased. He must necessarily go as he was stimulated, whether with a violent dash on the ground and bounce from place to place like a foot-ball, or hop round with head, limbs and trunk, twitching and jolting in every direction, as if they must inevitably fly asunder. (3)

What these few examples tell us is that the people involved at Cane Ridge were overtaken by paranormal manifestations which included making animal noises (sound familiar?), jerking, spontaneous and uncontrollable physical movements along with spiritual drunkenness! All such manifestations were common to the Shaker cult and as I have been contending, this cult brought them into the religious gathering.

The end result of this revival? Schism and division occurred among true Christians. Ungodly manifestations were brought in by enthusiasts and the non-Christian Shaker cult. The defection of some former Christian pastors to join the Shaker cult. Many of the “holiness” denominations have their roots back at the Cane Ridge meetings. The holiness movement was another precursor to what was to become known as Pentecostalism. Some of these groups taught that there were various baptisms one must undergo with the goal of achieving sinless perfection. Some groups spoke in tongues, others practiced divine healing. All of this was transpiring almost 100 years before Azusa in the United States. Overseas other groups that predated Azusa were also active and laying groundwork for the Azusa experience.

Edward Irving, Founder of the Catholic Apostolic Church

IRVING

In 1831 Irving began to establish his own denomination (which still exists today) after being excommunicated as a heretic by the London Presbyterian Church. Irving, like all the other schismatic’s and cults of his time, was a firm believer in the need for the sign-gifts to be restored to the Church in order for Christ to return:

Irving’s study of the Bible had also convinced him that all Christians should be baptized in the Holy Spirit and as evidence they would speak in tongues. There should also be prophecies and healings. (The general view was that these outward signs of power had ceased after the death of the apostles and the baptism was now limited to the inward gift of sanctification and fruitfulness.) During 1830 there were claims that people in the west of Scotland were manifesting these signs. After careful investigation, Irving was convinced they were genuine and that this was the start of the final outpouring of the Holy Spirit before the return of Jesus Christ.

Irving was particularly interested in prophecy. He predicted there would be a widespread outpouring of the Holy Spirit and that the Jews would return to their own land. These have both happened in the first half of this century. Irving thought it would be much sooner. He believed the Millennium would commence in 1867. For many people, his prophecies convinced them he was a “crank.”

Irving not only believed in Divine healing but also that sickness came as a consequence of sin. Three of his four children died at an early age. Irving had believed God would heal them but then decided it was judgment for his sin. (4)

Irving ordained twelve men to serve as restored “apostles” in his new sect, although he himself was not one of these men, nor was he viewed as a prophet. What convinced Irving that the gift of tongues had indeed been restored is when he investigated reports concerning two sisters who lived in Scotland:

There had been a legend that the spiritual gifts of earlier days would reassert themselves before the end, and here apparently was the forgotten gift of tongues coming back into the experience of mankind. It had begun in 1830 on the western side of Scotland, where the names of the sensitives, Campbell and MacDonald, spoke of that Celtic blood which has always been more alive to spiritual influences than the heavier Teutonic strain. The Albury Prophets were much exercised in their minds, and an emissary was sent from Mr. Irving’s church to investigate and report. He found that the matter was very real. The people were of good repute, one of them, indeed, a woman whose character could best be described as saintly. The strange tongues in which they both talked broke out at intervals, and the manifestation was accompanied by healing miracles and other signs of power. Clearly it was no fraud or pretence, but a real influx of some strange force which carried one back to apostolic times. The faithful waited eagerly for further developments….These were not long in coming, and they broke out in Irving’s own church. It was in July, 1831, that it was rumored that certain members of the congregation had been seized in this strange way in their own homes, and discreet exhibitions were held in the vestry and other secluded places. The pastor and his advisers were much puzzled as to whether a more public demonstration should be tolerated….The sounds came from both women and men, and consisted in the first instance of unintelligible noises which were either mere gibberish, or some entirely unknown language. “Sudden, doleful, and unintelligible sounds,” says one witness. “There was a force and fullness of sound,” said another description, “of which the delicate female organs would seem incapable.” “It burst forth with an astounding and terrible crash,” says a third. Many however, were greatly impressed by these sounds, and among them was Irving himself. (5)

Irving himself never spoke in other tongues, yet he did endorse and promote the experience. He and his sect were on the forefront of pre-millenarianism which later became part-and-parcel of American Pentecostalism. Like all of the others, Irving was firmly convinced that the manifestation of the original sign-gifts was proof that the return of Christ was at hand. His date setting proved false as did various prophetic utterances within his sect Later Pentecostals would have done well to learn from Edwards mistakes.

John Alexander Dowie, Founder of Zion, IL.

dowie2

Dowie was educated in Edinburgh, Scotland and began his first pastorate in Australia in 1872 where he served over a Congregationalist church. While serving as a pastor disease hit his congregation and many of his members died. This drove Dowie to seek God concerning divine healing:

And there I sat with sorrow bowed head for my afflicted people, until the bitter tears came to relieve my burning heart. Then I prayed for some message, and oh, how I longed to hear some words from Him who wept and sorrowed for the suffering long ago, the Man of Sorrows an Sympathies. And then the words of the Holy Ghost inspired in Acts 10:38 stood before me all radiant with light, revealing Satan as the defiler and Christ as the Healer. My tears were wiped away, my heart was strong, I saw the way of healing, and the door thereto was opened wide, and so I said, ‘God help me now to preach that word to all the dying round, and tell them how ‘tis Satan still defiles, and Jesus still delivers, for He is just the same today. (6)

Dowie began to travel around the world proclaiming that Jesus Christ is the Healer. His aspect of “restoration” can be summed up with the view of divine healing power being given back to the Church, especially through him. Eventually Dowie ended up in America preaching from coast to coast. While in Chicago he was deemed a fraud and a fake and was told to leave the city. In 1895 he founded an organization called “The Christian Catholic Church,” and eventually purchased land outside of Chicago where he began to build his version of the Kingdom of God on earth, know as Zion City.” His sycophants began to tell him that he was indeed Elijah who was to appear before the return of Christ. He began to believe their lies and shortly after proclaiming himself to be Elijah he suffered a massive stroke in 1906 and died in 1907. Many prominent Pentecostal leaders would come from Zion City, finding their way to the Azusa meetings. I guess with the death of “Elijah” it seemed pretty obvious to many people that the pillar of fire and cloud had moved on, this time to Los Angeles, CA.

The Keswick Movement, Total Sanctification Now!

This movement also had its roots in England and was also known as the “Higher Life” movement. It dates vary from as early as 1858 to as late as 1870, still a good 30 years prior to Azusa. Their main emphasis was the belief in a definite experience or work of grace they called “sanctification.”

The main idea of the Higher Life movement is that the Christian should move on from his initial conversion experience to also experience a second work of God in his life. This work of God is called “entire sanctification,” “the second blessing,” “the second touch,” “being filled with the Holy Spirit,” and various other terms. Higher Life teachers promoted the idea that Christians who had received this blessing from God could live a more holy, that is less sinful or even a sinless life. This teaching has its roots in John Wesley’s doctrine of Christian perfection. (7)

The importance of the Keswick Movement upon American Pentecostalism was the strong belief in a distinct experiential second work of the Holy Spirit in a believer’s life. Without obtaining this experience, then the Christian could not progress on into deeper levels of godliness.

Pearsall Smith (1827-98) and Hanna Whitall Smith (1832 – 1911). This married couple became prominent higher life teachers who widened the popularity of Boardman’s teaching throughout Britain. The higher life movement reached it’s culmination through the labors of the Smiths. Out of their efforts in the early years of the fourth quarter of the nineteenth century grew the great Keswick Movement. The Smith’s “higher life meetings and conferences did much to set the pattern for the Keswick Movement. Their emphasis arose as the result of their own entry into deeper spiritual experiences.” Mrs. Pearsall Smith’s own account reveals that she was seized with wonder as to why spiritual victory was always out of reach. She finally identified the problem. She had stopped with the blessed truth of justification, but hadn’t gone on to the twin truth of sanctification by faith. She then learned that victory was by faith and “that there was an experience called the ‘second blessing,’ which brought one into a place of victory.  (8)

The reason why this specific movement was influential to fledgling Pentecostalism was because it was based on two concepts: (1) If there could be a “second blessing” or gift of grace from the Holy Spirit who had to say that blessing was sanctification? Also, if there could be a second blessing, why not a third or forth endowment with Holy Ghost power/fire/gifts/anointing? (2) It was based on individuals having a direct tangible experience. Early Pentecostalism and today’s charismatic groups are all extremely experiential in every respect.

The Welsh “Revival”

Wales has a history of revivalism but the one that most people are familiar with is the brief pre-Azusa revival of 1904-1906. The most prominent leader of this revival was a young man named Evans Roberts. Although he intended to attend school and obtain theological training he found himself at the beginnings of a massive outbreak of spiritual enthusiasm:

After his three months training at Newcastle Emlyn he was to return to Casllwchwr to start his ministry. He is said to have direct visions from the Holy Spirit; very specific visions such as the number 100,000 representing the souls God is to use him to save. As the revival unfolded Evan Roberts is said to depend more and ,more on what he considered the guiding of the Holy Spirit, thus neglecting the authority of the Scriptures. (9)

Roberts never obtained his theological education and as the citation notes, he depended more on what he considered the “guiding” of the Holy Spirit than the Scriptures. The revival meetings that Roberts held also included strange paranormal manifestations. These outbursts became so pronounced in the meetings that Roberts left the revival in disgust. Once he left his leadership role the revival sputtered out. After departing from what he saw as demonic activity in the meetings he worked on a book with another Welsh sister named Jessie Penn-Lewis. The book they wrote is titled War on the Saints. This book is in reprint, but if someone wants to purchase a copy I advise them to make sure and buy an unabridged version and not the redacted one that is most common. I would also put out a word of warning concerning Jessie Penn-Lewis, she herself was probably mentally unstable and most certainly theologically ignorant herself, however, what I find fascinating in her book is the portion where she and Roberts deal with how Satan counterfeit’s the genuine working of the Holy Spirit. As far as that portion of the book goes, she is “spot on” in my opinion. (10)

According to the revival reports 100,000 people are supposed to have come to know the Lord Jesus Christ. The revival was well publicized to such an extent that what was transpiring in Wales was well known among the holiness movement in America. The “revival” in Wales with its attending signs and wonders only further whetted the spiritual appetites of American restorationalists.

Expectancy of revival intensified in Los Angeles, California, when believers there heard about the remarkable revival in Wales, where from September 1904 to June 1905, 100,000 people were converted to Christ. For the evangelicals around the world who had been praying for the outpouring of the latter rain of the Spirit as promoted by the Old Testament prophet Joel (2:23-29), the spectacular results in Wales suggested that the great end-times revival had begun. The world could now be evangelized in the power of the Spirit before the imminent return of Christ and the impending judgment on the wicked. (11)

The underlined portion of this citation regarding the Welsh revival is exactly the theological position of American holiness preachers. They already believed and had experienced a “second blessing” from the Holy Spirit and it seemed to them that there was more power to be obtained from God, and, in fact, necessary to receive in order to evangelize the world before the return of Christ. This brings us back to the United States and the “father” of American Pentecostalism, Mr. Charles Fox Parham.

Without the Work of Mr. Parham there is good chance that Pentecostalism as we know it today would not have come into existence. The Azusa meetings were not started by Parham and he really had very little to do with those meetings in person. The Azusa experience and the subsequent development of American Pentecostalism can genuinely be considered the “child” of “father” Parham’s labor. However, like any parent, he or she bears some responsibility for the actions of their children. Accordingly, it behooves us to take some time and look at Mr. Parham and his ministry before we can even begin to consider what occurred a few years later at 312 Azusa Street in Los Angeles, CA.

Charles F. Parham, Father of American Pentecostalism

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To state that Mr. Parham was a man with a very checkered background is putting it mildly, Parham started out in the Methodist/holiness movement and became a preacher around the age of 14 or 15 (the Bible warns us about the danger of placing a novice in leadership positions, see  1 Tim 3:6).

Charles was converted in 1886 when he attended evangelistic meetings at a local Congregational church; a “Damascus road” experience that changed the direction of his life. Shortly afterward, Parham began attending a Methodist church where he taught Sunday school. At age 15, he began conducting revival services on his own. To further prepare himself for ministry, in 1890, he enrolled at Southwest Kansas College in Winfield. While a student, Parham “backslid” and decided to become a medical doctor. But following another bout with rheumatic fever, he recommitted himself to the ministry. Returning to evangelistic work, he obtained a minister’s license from the Southwest Kansas Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, North….Parham’s relationship with his Methodist superiors became tense. His ambiguous attitude toward denominational affiliation did not warm their hearts. More importantly, Parham’s adoption of Wesleyan “holiness” theology with its crisis experience of sanctification branded him as a troublemaker. Holiness preachers declared that following conversion, believers should seek for this “second blessing” to purge the Adamic nature from their hearts. To Methodist leaders, this smacked of doctrinal aberration…At the annual Southwest Kansas district conference in 1895, Parham surrendered his license to preach and “left denominationalism forever.” Denouncing Methodism as spiritually bankrupt, he had a “world-wide parish,” free of the confines of a pastorate, with a lot of theater-going, card-playing, wine-drinking, fashionable, unconverted Methodists.” Though freedom from denominational restraints offered Parham the liberty he desired, it brought new problems, uncertainties, and hardships. (11)

What we can see in Parham’s life is that he never received a solid biblical education which left him susceptible to aberrant beliefs. One major belief he was the fountainhead of was the idea that denominations were basically not of God and that churches should be independent groups without any real structural leadership. This concept was trumpeted by William Branham and those who followed him as a prophet during the late 1940’s. The desire to destroy all denominational distinctions lives on today in the prophetic/apostolic movements.

Parham’s issues with the Methodist Church went far beyond just a young man chaffing under the spiritual oversight of others. Parham believed several heretical concepts including:

Parham, the founder of Pentecostalism, was riddled with doctrinal heresies. He believed in annihilation of the unsaved and denied the Bible doctrine of eternal torment. He taught that there were two separate creations, and that Adam and Eve were of a different race than people who allegedly lived outside of the Garden of Eden. The first race of men did not have souls, he claimed, and this race of unsoiled people was destroyed in the flood. Parham believed that those who received the latter days spirit baptism and spoke in tongues would make up the bride of Christ and would have a special place of authority at Christ’s return. He believed in a partial rapture composed of tongues speakers. Parham believed that physical healing is the Christian’s birthright. (13)

As far as research can determine he never recanted any of these beliefs. His aberrant beliefs concerning divine healing became part of the original doctrine of what is known today as the Church of God in Christ, one of the largest Pentecostal denominations (sorry Charles) in the world:

In spite of his teaching that it was always God’s will to heal and that medicine and doctors must be shunned, one of Parham’s sons died at age 16 of a sickness which was not healed. In October 1904 a nine-year-old girl named Nettie Smith died. Her father was an avid follower of Parham and refused medical treatment for his daughter. Nettie’s death turned local public opinion against Parham because the little girl’s sickness was treatable and the community therefore considered her death unnecessary. Parham himself suffered various sicknesses throughout his life and at times was too sick to preach or travel. For example, he spent the entire winter of 1904-05 sick and bedridden (James Goff r., Fields White Unto Harvest, p. 94), in spite of his own preaching that healing is guaranteed in the atonement. Parham was the first Pentecostal preacher to pray over handkerchiefs and mail them to those who desired his ministrations (Goff, p. 104) (14)

Do his beliefs strike a familiar ring with any of our former charismatic readers? The Word of Faith cult teaches it is always God’s will to heal. Dr. Hobart Freeman (now deceased) also taught the shunning of medicine; this only cost him close to 100 deaths in his congregation in northern Indiana, the location of his church “the Glory Barn.” To this day various sign-gift sects teach against using medicine or going to doctors. It can all be traced back to Parham. However, Goff is wrong in his comments about Parham being the “first Pentecostal preacher” to pray over handkerchiefs. The first Pentecostal” in America to use handkerchiefs for healing purposes was none other than Joseph Smith, the first restored prophet to the restored Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. (15) Again, to this day it is in Mormon doctrine that their Bishops can have the ability to speak in other tongues, and obviously the Mormon Church believes in restored prophets. (16) Keep in mind that the Mormon cult was founded in 1830, 76 years before the Azusa experience.

Parham’s main claim to fame comes from his “Bible” school which was located in Topeka, Kansas:

In plush surroundings at the former Stone mansion outside of Topeka, Kansas, the first Pentecostal revival of the century began on January 1, 1901. This revival would give rise to the most dynamic force for evangelism and missions in modern times.

The elegant setting, however, meant little to the band of 40 students of the Bethel Bible School that the 27-year-old Charles F. Parham had begun 3 months earlier in these rented facilities. Convinced that God had commissioned them as missionaries in the “last days,” they gathered to pray for the promised “latter rain” outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Joel 2:23,28,29), to acquire the same spiritual power that marked the expansion of the Early Church. In this intense atmosphere of expectancy on New Year’s Day, student Agnes N. Ozman became the first to receive the sign of Spirit baptism: speaking in tongues. “Thus was the Church militant again permitted to receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit,” mused Parham. With the great end-times revival beginning and the army of harvesters prepared for the mission fields, the clouds would soon part and “the Lord himself…descend from heaven” (1 Thessalonians 4:16). (17)

Parham had been teaching his students that they should expect the Lord to give them supernatural power to evangelize the world. The manner in which they would know that they had received this baptism of power (just as with the Holiness belief in a secondary experience) would be the evidence/experience of speaking in other tongues.

In the fall of 1900, after leading his students through a series of Bible studies on repentance; justification by faith, sanctification, and healing, Parham instructed them on Spirit baptism. By the end of December, they were prepared to encounter Acts 2 in a new way. After the revival commenced on New Year’s Day, he announced that the students had spoken many languages. He himself had received the capability of preaching in German and Swedish, Agnes Ozman in “Chinese,” and others in a variety of languages including Japanese, Hungarian, Syrian, Hindi, and Spanish. Parham noted that “cloven tongues of fire” appeared over the heads of speakers. Sometimes interpretations followed such as “God is love,: Jesus is mighty to save,” and “Jesus is ready to hear.” (18)

During the formative years of Pentecostalism in America Pentecostal people believed that speaking in other tongues was a genuine language not some “angelic” tongue or private ecstatic speech as sign-gift people teach today. There is no independent proof that Agnes Ozaman, Parham or anyone else actually received the biblical gift of other languages. In 1905 Parham moved his school and students to Houston, Texas which is where the “Azusa” connection is finally made.

seymour

One of Parham’s students was a man named William J. Seymour, who can be considered the father of the Azusa experience. He was a black man and thus Parham would not allow Seymour to sit in the classroom, he had to sit in the hallway and listen through the door. It is worth noting that Mr. Parham was a racist and officially joined the KKK in 1910. (19) Nonetheless Seymour endured the humiliation. Seymour’s source for doctrinal education was a heretic, which explains why he too would later expound heretical concepts:

Seymour accepted Parham’s view of baptism in the Holy Spirit—the belief that in every instance, God would give intelligible languages—speaking in tongues to believers for missionary evangelism…Neeley Terry, an African-American and member of the new congregation led by Hutchinson in Los Angeles, visited Houston in 1905 and was impressed when she heard Seymour preach. Returning home, she recommended him to Hutchinson, since the church was seeking a pastor. As a result, Seymour accepted the invitation to shepherd the small flock. With some financial assistance from Parham, he traveled by train westward and arrived in Los Angeles in February 1906. (20)

Seymour, like Parham came from a holiness background and so was used to experiential religion. The Holiness view was that the “second blessing” of sanctification was the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Parham’s view was that the baptism in the Holy Spirit was proved by having the gift of tongues. All Pentecostal groups today hold to this belief. Back in 1906 such a concept was not well received among many Holiness groups:

Seymour immediately encountered resistance when just 2 days after arriving he began preaching to his new congregation that speaking in tongues was the Bible evidence of baptism in the Holy Spirit. On the following Sunday, March 4, he returned to the mission and found that Hutchinson had padlocked the door. Condemnation also came from the Holiness Church Association of Southern California with which the church had affiliation. (21)

seymour1

The congregation Seymour came to Pastor locked him out of the church building and this forced Seymour to take his “new message” regarding the baptism in the Holy Spirit elsewhere. Seymour stayed at a parishioner’s home and led Bible studies there regarding the “Pentecostal” baptism. After a short while several people began to speak in tongues. News of this spread through both the white and black holiness communities and many of their members began to pray to receive this new outpouring of the Holy Spirit (according to their paradigm). The crowds grew to a size where Seymour had to relocate. The group rented a former African Methodist Episcopal (AMI) building relocated at 312 Azusa Street Los Angeles, Ca. This address had become synonymous with the birth of American Pentecostalism.

Seymour called his organization the “Apostolic Faith” and for a couple of years published a sporadic newsletter under the same name. People began to hear of what was taking place on Azusa street and came seeking to receive the Pentecostal blessing with the evidence of speaking with tongues.

scanApostolicnewspaper0001

Most who visited the mission came to receive the empowerment of Spirit baptism and be equipped with intelligible new languages for gospel preaching overseas. This would enable them to bypass the nuisance of formal language study. The Apostolic Faith reported: “God is solving the missionary problem, sending out new-tongued missionaries on the apostolic faith line, without purse or scrip, and the Lord is going before them preparing the way.” Missionaries home on furloughs also attended and spoke in tongues and in a few instances identified the languages being spoken. The recipients, however, usually depended on the Lord to identify the languages they had received. (22).

People began to come to Azusa as word spread. There was the common belief that the return of Christ was imminent due to various millennial and rapture doctrines being propagated by various sects within the Church. It seemed logical to many people who already believed in subsequent distinct spiritual experiences apart from regeneration that God would once again restore the gift of other tongues to equip the saints for the last big world-wide missionary push.

African-Americans, Latinos, whites, and others prayed and sang together, creating a dimension of spiritual unity and equality, almost unprecedented for the time. It allowed men, women, and children to celebrate their unity in Christ and participate as led by the Spirit. Indeed, so unusual was the mixture of blacks and whites, that Bartleman enthusiastically exclaimed, “The color line was washed away in the blood.” He meant that in the sanctifying work of the Spirit, the sin of racial prejudice had been removed by the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ. (23)

Admittedly, it was unique for that time for a black man (and black women) to be laying hands on white men and women to receive healing and blessings. It was virtually unknown within the Church in America for a black man, Seymour, to be leading white men and women spiritually. The sad thing is that this sense of “unity” lasted only a short time and within 3 years racism reared its ugly head and along with various false doctrines divided the fledgling Pentecostal movement.

The “hype” concerning Azusa was that untold numbers of people were coming to Los Angeles to receive power from on high. The people were all in one accord and hundreds if not thousands were sent forth around the world to reap the end time harvest. God was working signs, wonders and miracles on a regular basis at Azusa and testimonies were pouring in from their missionaries from around the world. (24)

The “truth” concerning these meetings tells another story altogether. The revival meetings were not Spirit-led, nor were things being done decently and in order. William Seymour, for whatever reasons had virtually lost control over the meetings, who spoke, who attended and what transpired under his oversight.

The meetings began in the mornings and continued for at least 12 hours. There was no order of services and usually no one leading. People sang at the same time but “with completely different syllables, rhythms, and melodies” (Ted Olsen, “American Pentecost,” Christian History, Issue 58, 1998). The services were characterized by much confusion: dancing, jumping, up and down, falling, trances, slaying in the spirit, “tongues” jerking, hysteria, strange noises, and “holy laughterOne visitor described the meetings as ‘wild, hysterical demonstrations.” The seekers would be seized with a strange spell and commence a jibberish of sounds.” A Time reporter noted that the participants “work themselves into a state of mad excitement in their peculiar zeal.” There was little or no order to the Azusa Street services. Whoever felt “moved by the spirit” to speak, would do so. Seymour rarely preached. Instead, much of the time he kept his head covered in an empty packing crate behind the pulpit. He taught the people to cry out to God and demand sanctification, the baptism with the Holy Ghost, and divine healing (Synan, p. 99) (25)

Due to all of the chaos in the meetings Seymour wrote Charles Parham to please come to Azusa (he had not yet been to any of these meetings) and see if he could help establish order and decorum.

Seymour wrote several letters to Parham asking advice in dealing with spiritualists and mediums from occult societies, who were trying to conduct séances in the services. And the church publicly admitted that not everyone at the meetings felt the presence of the Spirit. (26)

Seymour wrote Parham who was visiting John A. Dowie at Zion, IL. Parham did make his way to Azusa street and the following are some of his impressions of what he saw taking place:

When Parham visited the meetings in October 1906, even he was shocked by the confusion of the services. He was dismayed by the “awful fits and spasms” of the “holy rollers and hypnotists.” He described the Azusa “tongues” as “chattering, jabbering and sputtering, speaking no language at all” (Synan, p. 102). The Azusa Street meetings were so wild that Parham condemned them with the term “Sensational Holy Rollers.” He testified that the Azusa Street meetings were largely characterized by manifestations of the flesh, spiritualistic controls, and the practice of hypnotism (Sarah Parham, The Life of Charles F. Parham, Joplin, MO: Tri-state Printing, 1930, p. 163). According to Parham, two-thirds of the people professing Pentecostalism in his day “are either hypnotized or spook driven (Parham, Life of Charles Parham, p. 164). In his writings about Azusa Street, Parham described men and women falling on one another in a morally compromising manner…When Parham arrived in Azusa Street in 1906, he began his first sermon by telling the people that “God is sick at his stomach” because of the things which were occurring at Azusa (Charles Shumway, A Study of the “Gift of Tongues,” A.B. thesis, University of California, 1914, pp. 178,179; cited by Goff, Fields White Unto Harvest, p. 131). He never changed his opinion. To the end of his life, Parham, often called “the father of Pentecostalism,” denounced Azusa Street as a case of “spiritual power prostituted.” Thus the “father of Pentecostalism” roundly rejected the Azusa Street meetings as phony, manipulated, and demonic, even though practically all Pentecostal denominations trace their heritage directly from those meetings! (27)

Parham was adamant that Seymour remove the spiritualists and occultists from the services. Seymour refused to remove anyone from the services citing that our Lord said to His worker to let the tares and wheat grow together and that at the end of the age they will be separated. The result of Parham’s visit was the first of countless “splits” within Pentecostalism. Parham and Seymour never ministered together again, nor were they ever reconciled. Parham was not the only person to denounce what was taking place in the Azusa meetings. (28) Here are some comments made by leading theologians of their day:

G. Campbell Morgan  described the Azusa Street activities as “the last vomit of Satan” H.A. Ironside said both the holiness and Pentecostal movements were “disgusting, delusions and insanities.” In 1912 he said of their meetings “pandemonium’s where exhibitions worthy of a madhouse or a collection of howling dervishes,” were causing a “heavy toll of lunacy and infidelity.” W.B. Godbey said of the Azusa Street participants “Satan’s preachers, jugglers, necromancers, enchanters, magicians, and all sorts of mendicants,” and he claimed the movement was the result of spiritualism. Clarence Larkin “But the conduct of those possessed, in which they fall to the ground and writhe in contortions, causing disarrangement’s of the clothing and disgraceful scenes, is more a characteristic of demon possession, than a work of the Holy Spirit. From what has been said we see that we are living in “Perilous Times,” and that all about us are “Seducing Spirits,” and that they will become more active as the Dispensation draws to its close, and that we must exert the greatest car lest we be led astray. (29)

The truth behind the Azusa meetings is that they were far less anointed than many Pentecostal and charismatic revisionists want the world to believe. People have a tendency to only remember the “good times” and forget about all the nastiness in life, and the Azusa meetings are proof of this tendency.

After the incident with Parham, Seymour’s own racist and sectarian attitudes came forth:

Along with the success, hurts and heartaches soon came to Azusa Street, Seymour and the faithful learned to expect criticism from newspapers and leaders of other churches–including the founder of the Pentecostal Church of the Nazarene, P.F. Breese, who believed that Holiness people were already baptized in the Holy Spirit and that the Azusa tongues were not from God. But some of the harshest criticism came from inside the little mission, with the mother church splitting because of personality clashes, fanaticism, doctrinal differences, and racial separation. It was said that some whites left because the blacks had a lock on the leadership. Seymour proving that he was no more perfect than his critics, reportedly asked the Hispanics to leave, and later wrote by-laws that prevented anyone except African-Americans from holding office in the mission. The often-quoted line that “the color line was washed away in the blood” was true in practice for only a short time. (30)

Bartleman’s earlier exclamation “the color line was washed away in the blood” although theologically true, proved to be no more than excited ignorance when push came to shove in these meetings. As far as “race” was concerned the two earliest predominant Pentecostal denominations, i.e. The Assemblies of God in Christ (lily white) and The Church of God in Christ (African-American) formed specifically due to ethnicity versus doctrinal distinctions.

Building on the assumption that Azusa Street represents the moment in classical Pentecostalism’s past from which to chart decension, some have gone on to accuse the Assemblies of God of fostering racial division by separating in 1914 from the church of God in Christ. This line of reasoning celebrates the roles of black leaders and organizations in the formative stages of American Pentecostalism displaces Charles Parham, the white leader of the Topeka, Kansas, Pentecostal outpouring of 1901, with William Seymour, the black leader of Azusa Street; and maintains that at least since 1914 a steady process of white separation and domination has been under way. (31)

Actual confession and repentance of racism between these two denominations did not occur until 1994, almost 90 years after the Azusa “revival.” So much for the ‘love of God being shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost” (see Rom. 5:5).

Apart from the ensuing splits, during the revival meetings themselves a great deal of error was taught and then disseminated around the world. Some of the errors included the belief that people were supernaturally being given other tongues, actual foreign languages (xenolalia) and when Seymour or whoever at the meetings told the individuals what language they had been given, these folks often went to that nation as missionaries. The results were often tragic because when the people got to their destination, often at great expense, they learned they did not really speak the indigenous tongue at all. This brought reproach on the Gospel, because those claiming to represent Christ were (and were no doubt sincere in their attempt) ended up looking very foolish. There is simply no independent evidence that anyone who received the “baptism” at Azusa ever spoke in a genuine foreign language on the missionary field.

Another error with dreadful results was Seymour’s stance on divine healing, which he learned from Parham. He forbade people to go to medical doctors or to use medicine. The aberrant reasoning behind this belief in that Parham and others taught that physical healing was part of the atoning work of Christ on the cross. Thus to go to doctors or use medicine was to deny the finished work of Christ (in their minds). Obviously, this resulted in countless deaths and much suffering.

The belief that Jesus Christ was retuning soon is the main reason people came to Azusa, they wanted Holy Ghost power to go preach the Gospel and “get” as many people saved as they could. As noble as their intentions were, they were predicated on a wrongheaded belief regarding the return of Christ. Various dates were given for His return, all of which failed to come to pass. One hundred years have now passed and Jesus has not yet returned.

The belief that there is a subsequent “infilling” or baptism with the Holy Spirit after salvation is erroneous. When anyone is converted they have the Spirit at that moment (See 1 Cor. 12:13) and all Christians are sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise (See Eph. 4:30). The revivalists took Acts 2 to be normative for all Christians. They taught (and do teach) that all 120 people including the Apostles received the gifts of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. Yet a careful reading of the text will prove that only the Apostles received the Spirit in such a dramatic manner. Furthermore, throughout the Book of Acts it is only the Apostles who are ever involved with imparting spiritual gifts, never lay people. Pentecostals must teach it was all 120 people because if they accept the biblical evidence of only the Apostles as stewards of the Spirit, if you will, then they know they are dead in the water. Acts 2 is not normative and the prophecy of Joel was fulfilled on that day. The Apostle Peter said “this is that “ (see Acts 2:16) and nothing in the Scriptures indicate that this experience is to be repeated time and time again 9as many neo-Montanist groups have been claiming over the last 2,000 years).

Apart from the fact that no real foreign languages were bestowed, there were also manifestations of occulist practices such as automatic writing and the ability to suddenly play musical instruments:

Also present among the alleged miracles was the not uncommon occult practice of “automatic writing” which, if we may recall, was practiced on occasion by the Irvingities, at Shiloh, and by Agnes Ozman. Also present among the “miraculous manifestations” was another phenomenon directly related to occult mediumship, the ability to play musical instruments without any prior musical training or perceived ability: The Lord has given the gift of writing in unknown languages, also the gift of playing on instruments. (The Apostolic Faith edition 1) Azusa Street was undoubtedly the vehicle for the propagation of this occult method of mediumism, and it proliferated far and wide, thanks, no doubt, to the international acclaim that the “revival” had by now acquired: “I am still talking and writing in tongues. A missionary interpreted what I have been writing in Syriac and Armenian. I was singing Chinese one night, a missionary said. I am busy every day and going from place to place. Strong opposition from many, but God gives the victory, Glory!” Andrew G. Johnson, Address, 48 Skofde, Sweden (ibid, edition 6) “I received the Holy Ghost in San Jose, in November, and came to Kelseyville, in December. And when I received the January paper and read what the Lord was doing in other places, the power of God came on me mightily. I was alone and was lifted to my feet and stood on tiptoe with both arms extended above my head, and began to speak in tongues and to interpret, which I never had done before except a very little. Since I came here, one lady has received the Holy Ghost with a tongue, also the gift of writing some unknown language and the deaf mute signs.” (ibid, 6) “One sister received the gift of writing and also the interpretation of her languages. She has spoken and interpreted the soon coming of Jesus.” – Elizabeth M. May, Whittier, Cal. (ibid,6) (32)

Brothers and sisters, the belief in being able to “write in tongues’ is nothing less than demonic deception. There is no such gift ever cited in the entire Bible! Yet it was commonly believed that people possessed this ability. For some strange reason we do not have any of these “writings” available to us today in order that they might be linguistically examined.

The Azusa “revival” lasted for only three years. Yet from this initial “root” of American Pentecostalism various forms of poisonous fruit have been borne over the years. For example, in spite of all the proclamation of how these “restored” gifts were uniting the Body of Christ, exactly the opposite occurred. One of the more egregious heresies to be spawned from Azusa was the restoration of the age old heresy of Modalism:

A more serious schism grew out of the “oneness’ or “Jesus only” controversy, which began in 1911 in Los Angeles. Led by Glen Cook and Frank Ewart, this movement rejected the teaching of the Trinity and taught that Jesus Christ was at the same time Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and that the only biblical mode of water baptism was administered in Jesus’ name and then was valid only if accompanied with glossolalia. This movement spread rapidly in the infant Assemblies of God after 1914 and resulted in a schism in 1916, which later produced the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World and the United Pentecostal Church. (33)

“Jesus Only” Pentecostal denominations are among the largest in the world and they are simply a cult. Apart from the Oneness groups other sign-gift cults have sprung up over the years, all of which trace their roots back to Azusa. Groups including: The Children of God, founded by restored prophet David Berg (Moses David): The Way International founded by Victor Paul Wierwille; House of Yahweh, founded by Buffalo Bill Hawkins; The Word of Faith cult, founded by E.W. Kenyon and Kenneth Hagin; various snake handling and poison drinking groups; The Local Church, founded by Witness Lee; the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God (this Ugandan cult caused the death of 444 people); Faith Assembly, founded by Dr,. Hobart Freeman are just a few of the many examples of aberrant groups who can trace their heritage back to Azusa Street. Since the advent of American Pentecostalism there are several hundred Pentecostal denominations and sects in existence today, so much for unity!

Apart from aberrant sects and heretical cults some of the most ungodly behavior has been exposed in the lives of the “GIANTS” of Pentecostalism. (34) Charles Fox Parham was charged with child Sodomy, was a member of the KKK and a Mason. (35) John Alexander Dowie claimed to be Elijah. (36) Aimee Semple McPherson was twice divorced, an adulteress and died of a barbiturate overdose in 1944. She founded The International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, a large Pentecostal denomination. (37)

DakeFinis

Finis Dake, author of the Dake Bible (the standard Bible used by many Pentecostals), he was convicted of taking a 16 year old girl across state lines and sleeping in the same hotel room with her under an assumed name in 1937. (38) A.A. Allen, famous healing evangelist died of a drug and alcohol overdose in June of 1970. (39) Paul Cain, healing evangelist later returned as an internationally recognized –

End Notes

1. The Word of God Community got its initial start at Notre Dame as part of the Roman Catholic Charismatic renewal. By the time it had expanded to the U O M campus it had become ecumenical. In fact, to me a member of the “community” you had to belong to a local church {I believe now that that was part of their strategy to infiltrate non-charismatic congregations}. The WOG community was part of a distinct segment of the charismatic renewal called “The Discipleship” or “Shepherding” movement.

 

2. It is important to note that from the original writings of early Pentecostalism the gift of tongues was believed to be that of genuine foreign language, given to equip the believer for missionary work due to the belief in the soon return of Christ. Today’s charismatic movement believes that other tongues can be a foreign language but is generally an “angelic tongue” given for the private use of the believer in prayer and for personal edification.

3. Obtained from The Kentucky Revival or A Short History of The Late Extraordinary Out-Pouring of The Spirit of God, In The Western States of America, Agreeably To Scripture Promises, And Prophecies Concerning The Latter Day; With A Brief Account of The Entrance and Progress of What The World Call Shakerism Among The Subjects of The Later Revival in Ohio and Kentucky. Written by Richard M. Nemar in 1808 underlining added for emphasis.

4. Obtained from http://www.geocities.com/lasttrumpet_2000/timeline/irvingbio.html.

5. Obtained form http://ww.spiritismonline.net/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=65.

6. Obtained from http://www.truthinhistory.org/Dowie.htm Underlining added.

7. Obtained from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Higher_life_movment.

8. Obtained from http://www.frontlinemin.org/higherlife.asp. Underlining added.

9. Obtained from http://www.answers.com/main/intquery;jsessionid=a8fgk86otl80g?method=4&dsid=2222&dekey=1904-1905+Welsh+Revival&curtab=1904-1905%20Welsh%20Revival. Underlining added.

10 If you want to learn more specifically about Jessie Penn-Lewis you might contact Pastor Dick Fisher or personal Freedom Outreach. He has done some research and writing about her background. The only place Dick and I agree to disagree is possibly when it comes to her views on the demonic counterfeits. DMI believes that Satan can does actually manifest himself and does use paranormal lying signs and wonders to deceive the Church and world. Some Christian apologists deny any spiritual reality to any and all manifestations, chalking them up to mere human emotionalism.

11. Obtained from http://www.ag.org/enrichmentjournal/199904/026_azusa.cfm. Underlining added.

12. McGee, Gary Tongues, The Bible Evidence The Revival Legacy of Charles F. Parham. Enrichment Journal, 1445 Boonville Ave. Springfield, MO 65802. Underlining added.

13. Cloud, David. The Strange History of Pentecostalism. Way of Life Literature, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061-0368. Underlining added.

14. Ibid.

15. Cullimore, James Joseph Smith, the Mormon Prophet Speeches, 218

University Press Building, Provo, Utah 84602

16. For more information go to http://www.josephsmith.net/portal/site/JosephSmith/menuitem.da0e1d4eb6d2d87f9c0a33b5f1e543a0/?vgnextoid=3b62982b9ab4201-VgnVCM1000001f5e340aRCRD.

17. McGee, Gary. Tongues The Bible Evidence The Revival Legacy of Charles F. Parham. Enrichment Journal 1445 Boonville Ave. Springfield, MO 65802.

18. Ibid. Bold type added.

19. Obtained from http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com/Charles%20Fox%20Parham.

20. McGee Gary, William J. Seymour and the Azusa Street Revival. Enrichment Journal, 1445 Boonville Ave. Springfield, MO 65802. Underlining and bold type added.

21. Ibid.

22. Ibid.

23. Ibid.

24. These reports were printed in the Apostolic Faith newsletters. DMI has all of the copies of these newsletters in our archives and they are available on CD rom for a nominal fee.

25. Cloud, David. The Strange History of Pentecostalism, Way of Life Literature, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061-0368. Underlining added.

26. Olsen, Ted. American Pentecost, the Story Behind the Azusa Street Revival. Underlining added.

27. Cloud, David, The Strange History of Pentecostalism, Way of Life Literture, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061-0368. Underlining and bolding added.

28. It is easy for some people to ignore Parham’s comments because he was a racist. Nonetheless, his denunciation of the revival meetings was not based on ethnic issues, but on what even he recognized as occult practices, hynotism and demonic activity. Parham came t assist Seymour, but seeing what was transpiring in the meetings and Seymour’s unwillingness to address these excesses it led to an inevitable split. Parham’s comments about Azusa should not be ignored, after al, he is the “father” of America Pentecostalism.

29. All of these statements ere taken from “from Holy Laughter to Holy Fire” by Michael L. Brown, pages 197 &198. Michael Brown was one of the key leaders in the “Pensacola Outpouring” (American’s version of the Toronto Blessing).

30. Olsen, Ted. American Pentecost, the Story Behind the Azusa Street Revival. 31. Blumhofer, Edith L. Christian Century, April 27, 1994.

32. Obtained from http://www.unitypublishing.com/NewReligiousMovements/WhatSpirit8.html. Underlining added.

33. Obtained from http://mb-soft.com/believe/txc/pentecos.htm. Underlining added.

 

34. Let there be no mistake in the readers mind, I am not saying that other denominations do have or have not had their share of fallen ministers. Yet it is the Pentecostal and charismatic leaders who claim to have received or achieved a higher level of spirituality than the “non-Spirit-filled” Christian, so their fall must be harder to explain away due to their claims of a higher anointing or closer walk with God than your general denominational leader.

35. McGee, Gary. Tongues. The bible Evidence The Revival Legacy of Charles F. Parham. Enrichment Journal 1445 Boonville Ave. Springfield, MO. 65802

36. Obtained from http://www.healing-ministries.net/etudes/men_women/alexander_dowie/default.html.

37. See http://www.who2.com/aimeesemplemcpherson.html for more information.

38. Spencer, Jeff. Dake’s/Dangerous Doctrines, 2004

39. Obtained from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_A_Allen.

 

40. Obtained from http://www.apologeticsindex.org/c06.html.

41. Lobdell, William, Onward Christian Soldier, Los Angeles Times, 2002.

42. Personal Knowledge, plus tones of information on the Trinity website

43. Obtained from http://www.jesus21.com/portal/index.php?s=scandals. http://www.th-record.com/1998/10/04bakker.htm.

44. Obtained from http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2004/011/2.19.html.





Sacred Cow Number Five – It Is God’s Will to Always Heal

11 07 2009
Truth Matters Newsletter – June 2005 – Vol. 10 Issue 6 – Sacred Cow Number Five – It is God’s Will to Always Heal – by Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

Sacred Cow Number Five – It Is God’s Will to Always Heal

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Throughout this series I have been focusing on the major beliefs of the Word of Faith (WOF) cult. It is appropriate to delve into this topic due to the fact that the cult is also known as the “Health and Wealth” movement. This month I will consider their views on divine healing as oppose to what the Bible teaches and next month I will close this series out by exposing their twisting of biblical texts concerning God’s will and financial prosperity. But what good is money if you don’t have your health, eh?

It is vitally important for you to understand Discernment Ministries International (DMI) position regarding divine healing. DMI does not doubt that our Lord Jesus Christ still heals His people. Where orthodox Christians diverge from the WOF cult is that we believe that God heals people according to His sovereign good pleasure which is based upon His will for us as individuals. The Lord is the Healer and frankly, it may or may not be within His plan to heal an individual physically. I have often taught that God answers 100% of my prayers (yours too), however, the answers are not always what I want.

There is absolutely nothing wrong or sinful for Christians to pray for physical healing for themselves, family members, friends or others. It is doctrinally correct for the elders of a congregation to anoint the sick with oil and pray for their physical restoration (read James 5:14,15). Our Lord can and does heal through the proper reception of His grace when we come to the altar and celebrate the Lord’s Supper:

Those guilty of unworthy communion through non-discernment of the body and/or failure to examine themselves commit sacrilege against the most holy things, for which reason they are weak or sick or have even died (1 Cor. 11:27-31)…In the Large Catechism Luther confesses the other side of the coin presented by the Apostle in these verses. ‘We must never regard the sacrament as a harmful thing from which we should flee, but as a pure, wholesome, soothing medicine that aids you and gives life in both soul and body. For where the soul is healed, the body is healed as well’ (LCV.68). Positive bodily benefit may accrue, even in this life, to those who worthily (I.e.., contritely and with faith) partake of the Holy Supper. For it may please Almighty God to hold back the progress or even to drive back the depredations of bodily and mental disease through the life-giving body and blood of Him “by [whose] wounds we are healed (Is 53:5c; 1 Pt 2:24) (1)

It is with these texts in mind that we know that our Lord can and does heal His people. DMI is not anti-healing, we are against any teaching which takes something God may graciously do for one of His children and turn that grace into a work wrought by man and thus available to anyone who knows how to work the work, which is essentially what the WOF cult has done.

The WOF Teaching on Divine Healing

The problem with the WOF view of divine healing is that it is based on false premises, shoddy exegesis and is being propagated in many cases by wolves masquerading as genuine Christians. Their belief promises healing to all yet provides healing to none. The only ones who truly benefit from this deadly error are the so-called healing evangelists, all of whom have gotten extremely wealthy from presenting false hopes to the hopeless and desperate. Let’s drive a stake into this particular darkness.

 F.F. Bosworth, an early “healing” evangelist, made the following statement and as you can read Gloria Copeland’s comment echoes Bosworth’s and is now parroted by every WOF SINister on television and in pulpits today:

We see, from almost every conceivable angle throughout the Scripture, that there is no doctrine more clearly taught than it is God’s will to all who have need of healing, and that they may fulfill the number of their days, according to His promise. (2)

The Word of God will establish, without a doubt, that it is God’s will to heal everyone all of the time who will agree with Him. Agreeing with God puts you in a position to receive from God. (3)

There you have it folks, it is God’s will to heal everyone all of the time, end of story. Obviously people who are not healed are (1) out of the will of God for their lives and (2) not in agreement with God. Bosworth moved to Zion, IL a city founded by faith healer John Alexander Dowie (who later claimed he was Elijah returned and died of a stroke). His initial education and training came from his association with Dowie, Parham and E.W. Kenyon. In her healing school tape series Gloria goes on pontificating regarding the condition of the early Church:

In the early Church, they had this revelation. Sickness was no problem to them. They knew how to resist Satan and command disease to leave. They depended on the power of God to put them over in everything. Satan did not control the early Church, the believers kept him under control. (4)

The early Church she is referring to is the Church from its inception to the Dark Ages. The revelation they had was that it was God’s will to always heal people of everything every time. “Sickness was no problem to them.” Oh, really? What does she base that statement on? Paul in 1 Cor. 11 warned the Corinthians about abuses concerning the Lord’s Supper. That due to those abuses many were (1) weak; (2) sickly and (3) some had died. This seems like a bit of a problem to me. If people were not sick then James would not have written about the sick people calling for the church elders. Nothing is written in Acts about the rank and file believer “commanding disease to leave.” Both of Copeland’s statements are unwarranted and in fact, potentially quite dangerous a fact I will address later in this article. This much is certain, at least according to the WOF doctrine— healing is the will of God for all His people.

The fallacy behind their belief is that they teach that physical healing was also obtained for all of God’s children in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. “God heals today because healing is in the atonement.” Tilton is merely quoting Dr. T.J. McCrossan who attempted to write a scholarly apologetic for physical healing in the atonement in his book (read and cited by almost every WOF SINister) Bodily Healing and the Atonement:

Again, all Christians should expect God to heal their bodies today, because Christ died to atone for our sicknesses as well as for our diseases. (6)

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Gloria Copeland in her “healing school” echoes this sentiment as well:

When He paid the price for sin, He paid the price for sickness and the chastisement of our peace (mental torment) for us…Forgiveness of sin belongs to you now. Healing of your body belongs to you now. Freedom from mental torment belongs to you now…When Jesus came out of hell, He brought us with Him. We are not bound by sin, sickness or disease anymore. (7)

Some WOF extremists teach that the 39 “stripes” which Jesus was lashed with by the Roman soldiers actually represent categories of disease. Each lash was a disease which is why Peter says that “by His stripes we are healed” (see 1 Peter 2:24).

I continued and said, ‘How many of you believe that Jesus took all our diseases on himself at Calvary? Every one of those 39 stripes he had on his back was a different disease…Can you imagine all the brain damage in the world on him? Can you see all the crippling disease on him? Millions of all kinds of diseases, all on Jesus at one time? (8)

He suffered in our stead because He did not want us to suffer disease. He took our specific diseases and infirmities upon His own sinless, perfect body in complete payment of the penalty of our sin. (9)

The Bible says in Isaiah, that on Calvary He was so disfigured, His body was so bent out of shape, His Spirit was so twisted, that He didn’t even look like a man any more. Sin had crushed Him in His Spirit; sickness and disease had taken hold of His body. He had cancer, tuberculosis, syphilis, gonorrhea, and everything else all at one time. All of this from the whole world, came on Him, and He took everybody’s sickness, everybody’s disease upon His own body. (10)

The obvious error here stems from their belief that Jesus literally became a sinner. He did not bear the penalty for our sin, but He actually became sin. Even so regarding our sicknesses; He was not punished for sickness (which is a result of sin) but actually bore/became literally plagued with all the illnesses of humanity past, present and future during His scourging.

Jesus our Lamb suffered in two ways. He shed His blood on the cross for our salvation from sin, and He bore the stripes on His BODY for our healing from sickness. In the intense spiritual and physical agony of Calvary, which Jesus suffered principally in His spirit…But in the excruciating physical agony of the Praetorium, where Jesus suffered in His BODY from the terrible Roman lash, He bare our sicknesses; for it was there by His stripes that He was made sick for us (Isaiah 53:10), and by His stripes we are healed. (11)

When Jesus bore away our sins, He also bore away our diseases. The cross pronounced a double cure for the ills of mankind. The church of Jesus Christ has been made as free from sickness as it has been made free from sin. A Christian may continue to sin after he has been born again, but he does not have to…A Christian may continue to be sick after he has been born again but he does not have to. He has been redeemed from sickness. The price has been paid for his healing. Sickness can no longer exert dominion over him unless he allows it. (12)

When the Bible talks about suffering, that doesn’t mean ‘sickness.’ We have no business suffering sickness and disease, because Jesus redeemed us from that…Yes, there is suffering, but not sickness and disease. Thank God you don’t have to suffer with that, because Jesus bore our infirmities. (13)

The reason I cited all of the above individuals is to show you (and anyone you may share this with) how widely this error is taught. No one can claim that DMI is setting up a straw man argument. On the contrary, I have in fact only referenced a few examples and could have easily added an additional twenty quotes from our library concerning divine healing.

It is the WOF cult’s contention that divine healing is part-n-parcel of our redemption. I have heard Kenneth Copeland on numerous occasions say that it is as easy to get healed as it is to get saved. It simply requires an individual to use the same force of faith for both. This only shows their ignorance concerning salvation, but since they are at best semi-Pelagian and at worst full blown Pelagians (as was Charles Finney) it is understandable. Let me remind you of what Dr. Martin Luther said regarding salvation in the Third Article on Becoming Holy in his Small Catechism:

A. I believe that I cannot come to my Lord Jesus Christ by my own intelligence or power. But the Holy Spirit call me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, made me holy and kept me in the true faith, just as He calls, gathers together, enlightens and makes holy the whole Church on earth and keeps it with Jesus in the one, true faith. In this Church, He generously forgives each day every sin committed by me and by every believer. On the last day, He will raise me and all the dead from the grave. He will give eternal life to me and to all who believe in Christ. Yes, this is true!

Salvation is not by our own efforts it is by grace alone through faith and the faith to believe in Christ Jesus is a gift from God (read Eph. 2:8). This is in direct opposition to their view where they have the lost man making a decision to receive Christ and in the same manner to make a decision to be healed as well. Yet if salvation is the gift of God and physical healing is indeed included in the atoning death of Christ, then divine healing would have to equally be a gift. Naturally, they do not see it this way. In answering their claim of divine healing being in the atonement I will cite Dr. Crenshaw:

Is there healing in the atonement? Certainly, and in exactly the way Matthew used the Isaiah passage. From Isaiah we learn that Jesus definitively and once for all removed the cause of sickness by atonement in bearing sin. From Matthew we learn that He occasionally removed the effects of sin during His earthly ministry by miracles. We have already seen that He did miracles to demonstrate Who He was, and once this was done, there was no reason to expect them to continue. The purpose had been completed. Since the healing aspect of the Isaiah passage was “fulfilled” in the life of the Lord, why should we look for it to be fulfilled again today? (14)

Christ died because we were sinners in need of redemption, not because we were sick in need of healing. The focus of the atonement is our being made righteous before the Father by the imputation of Christ’s righteousness. Crenshaw goes on to say:

The Word of Faith leaders, however, make one of the fruits of His death, healing disease, the essence of the atonement. They miss the whole point of sin, judgment, and Jesus’ death, for God has not charged us with diseases but with sin, with disobedience to His moral laws. Diseases are the result of sin, not the sin itself, and Jesus bore our sin, not the result…While in this life though, we shall always have some sin and thus some sickness. It is only when we are glorified that we shall no longer sin (1 John 3:2). Just as we do not expect sinlessness in this life, neither should we expect perfect health.

One day we shall be sinless and free of sickness, and one day the curse from the earth shall be removed, all as a result of the atonement, but not now. (15)

In the April, 2005 edition of Truth Matters the article dealt with the WOF heresy concerning the atonement of Jesus and it is obvious to any genuine Christian that the leaders of this cult are totally ignorant of the biblical Jesus and the biblical account of His death for us on the cross. So it is no wonder they are equally confused regarding healing and the atonement. They all teach that sickness comes from Satan, they do not teach that we live in a fallen world, thusly much of our woes stem from this fact. They give far too much credit to Satan while ignoring texts such as—

For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; 2 Cor. 4:16,17

If one reads the prior verses and the following ones the meaning becomes clear. Our body is dying, yet spiritually we are growing daily by the grace of God. The WOF leaders and their followers are dying physically daily, as are we all. Those who propagate faith healing ministries are no less prone to disease than anyone else in the Body of Christ.

The danger of this specific error is that those who hear these leaders actually believe what they proclaim and follow their so-called spiritual laws and principles often at the cost of their own lives. Meanwhile, the faith healers keep their own physical ailments out of the spotlight as long as possible and when they are sick they make use of the best medical facilities money can buy.

How Do We Tap Into God’s Healing Power?

(All you Need is Faith, Everybody Now, All You Need is Faith)   (16)

 This is really the $64,000 question the WOF pundits claim to have the answer to. But first allow me to give you a short history lesson. Prior to the formation of this cult (17) belief in faith healing was around for many years. Individuals traveled under the aegis of “healing evangelists.” Some of the more notable characters include: John Alexander Dowie, John G. Lake, and Aimee Semple McPherson. These and other people laid the foundation for the so-called “healing revival” of Post World War II. The healers of the late 40’s and 50’s took their cues from the healers which proceeded them. In the Post War days healing evangelists roved the nation. Names like William Branham, Oral Roberts, A.A. Allen, Jack Coe, T.L. Osborn, O.L. Jaggers and Franklin Hall were (and are) commonplace in Pentecostalism and the early Charismatic renewal movement. There was extreme competition (18) among these healers and each one claimed a stronger “anointing” or more dramatic miracles in their meetings. From Dowie up to the present day those seeking divine healing were led to believe that they needed to be in the presence of the man or women especially anointed by God to heal the sick. These charlatans (as history has proven) usually laid hands upon the sick and commanded evil spirits (the cause of sickness they claimed) to leave the infirmed. All of these former faith healers obtained both fame and great fortunes from those in need.

Due to the tremendous wealth which these fake-healers accumulated it caused many others to take their place when death or exposure ended their time in the spotlight. Today we have a host of individuals who teach that Christians need to come to them specifically for healing, that they (the healers) are the mediators of God’s power for those who will but “believe.” People such as Oral Roberts, Kathryn Kuhlman (deceased), Benny Hinn, R.W. Schambach, Leroy Jenkins, Peter Popoff, Robert Tilton, W.V. Grant Jr., Jim Whittington, Don Stewart and other healing evangelists can be seen regularly on television. Hagin and his clones took a different and less risky route then the healing evangelists. It was the WOF cult that began to write and teach about divine healing apart from needing to go to the big tent, traveling healing revivalists which have dotted the spiritual landscape. Divine healing began to become codified into a guarantee from God if people simply applied the correct spiritual laws or principles.

During the great healing revival, evangelists would hold short meetings, and I’d come along behind them with longer meetings. By the time I got there, I often found people who had been healed in those meetings already had lost their healing. This happened in my meetings, too, but I learned how to get them healed and keep them healed. (19)

Even though Hagin attempted to lump himself in with the “big” healing revivalist he never was seen as one of them. In fact, Hagin is not known for even having a divine healing ministry per se. Hagin would show up after the “big-boys” had left town and hold smaller meetings in which he would pray for those who had lost their healing and teach the attendees how to receive divine healing. The important point to remember is that Hagin states he ’learned how to get them healed and keep them healed.” In essence he is saying that he is really more powerful than the huge tent revivalists in that he had the needed revelation of how one can remain healed. Before considering how to keep divine healing, let’s get down to brass tacks and see what is taught on how to receive it in the first place!

Faith healing is exactly what it says it is: you are healed by faith, and you keep your healing by faith…Miracles and healing happen through faith: so if it happens through faith, then we need to find out about faith. (20)

Everything within the WOF cult is predicated by their concept of faith, (21) which as we studied last month does not mean a believer’s simple reliance and trust in God, the object of our faith as revealed in the Holy Scriptures. To these people faith is a mystical force which when properly use according to set spiritual laws will create and change spiritual and physical reality, including physical health and healing. So the initial piece to the healing puzzle is that people receive healing by releasing the force of faith within them for healing.

Your faith will cause the power of God to be manifested in your life. His power is always present. It will do what you need it to do. (22)

Notice how depersonalized Copeland’s statement is; “your faith will cause….it will do what you need it to do.” God’s power is separated from Himself (something the Bible does not teach). The power of our faith, i.e. our ability to conceive in our spirits what we desire will cause this power to be activated. God’s power is at our command and is only limited by the strength of our faith. If a person believes this way about God and faith, then when they fail to receive their healing by “faith” it can have some very dire implications for that individual, or their families.

“If Christ is our Passover lamb, His blood was most assuredly shed to save us from the wrath of God through the forgiveness of our sins, and His flesh was bruised and broken for our physical benefits.’ The logical conclusion to such reasoning is that if one gets sick, he really has not had his sins forgiven. To evade this logic, they make a distinction between forgiveness and healing, which is the Gnostic dualism… (23)

The Copelands assert that the faith that saves is the same faith that heals. It is only logical to believe if one is not healed, then one must not be saved either. Admittedly, the WOF cult does not make this distinction, but then logic is not their strong suit.

Let’s consider just a few of the biblical examples of people who received divine healing from God apart from exercising faith on their part. How do they explain the FACT that ten lepers were healed by Jesus, yet only ONE had faith (read Luke 17:12-19). How much faith did Lazarus exercise when Jesus raised him from the dead, death after all is a permanent result of sin & sickness (read the crippled beggar in Acts 3:3-8 ? The cripple asked for money, Peter and John had none, instead the man got physically healed, something he obviously did not believe for! I could mention the case where Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law in Mark 1:31. Nothing is mentioned of her faith in Christ, yet Jesus healed her. Most of you are familiar with the case of the man who was born blind. Jesus healed him and in this case the man had faith in Jesus AFTER he was healed, not before (read John 4:16).

Failure to Receive Divine Healing

All failure to receive the promised blessings falls squarely on the shoulders of the individual believer. It is never the fault of the healer. In closing I will cite seven of the most common excuses used to attempt to explain away the lack of success in the healing business. Space does not permit me to give direct citations, but I will list works which detail what I am sharing in the end notes. (24)

#1. The individual only had head knowledge of God’s will for healing and not a revelation from the Spirit to their spirit. The individual only had mental assent, which will not heal anyone. Remember the only way you can know if you have a spirit versus soul revelation is by the manifestation of what you have believed for.

#2. Hidden sin in a person’s life can block the flow of divine healing. Naturally this excuse does not explain why God allegedly heals unbelievers and admitted sinners in healing revivals. This mystery is attested to by Kuhlman and Hinn.

#3. A lack of tithing (off the gross vs. the net) will open the door for demonic attack. God will rebuke the devourer (I.e. Satan & demons in the WOF cult) on the behalf of the faithful tither (read Mal. 3:11). This is a frequently twisted text used by SINisters to bilk money from God’s gullible and often desperate sheep.

#4. A lack of knowledge concerning divine healing is a major cause of sickness in the Church. After all, doesn’t the Bible teach us that “My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge” in Hosea 4:6? How can one exercise faith for healing when one does not know it is God’s will to heal them?

#5. Sicknesses that come form unknown causes. This is a major source of confusion and depression among WOF cultists. Marilyn Hickey is well known for teaching that “the curse causeless shall not come” from Proverbs 26:2. So when sickness attacks the WOF devotee they immediately begin to search their lives and see if thee is any hidden sin, lack of giving or strife with others. There is always a cause for sickness and its root is to be found in Satan and the believer who has left the door open for him to attack them.

#6. An attack from Satan to hold back God’s plan. This excuse is usually reserved for the leaders in the movement itself. If the sheep get a disease, then it is obviously their fault in some way. If a leader gets a disease it is an attack from the Enemy to hinder the expansion of the Kingdom of God. For example, when Jan Crouch gets cancer it is because Satan wanted to stop her from giving donated toys to poor children in Haiti.

#7. The individual was healed, but lost their healing. This is a common excuse favored by the healing evangelists. They claim people were healed in their meetings and when they die later on, it is because they “lost” their healing. This is why so many books have been written on how to Keep your healing.

When you read the books published by individuals cited in this article do not be deceived by the testimonies they share. No information is ever given that will enable the reader to verify the claims being made. Anyone can write “ten people, born blind were healed in my Calcutta crusade’ or “Mrs. M. wrote us and said that after she sent in her last $100 God delivered her completely from the demon of stomach cancer.” Also, realize that the level of sickness and disease is as high, if not actually higher among the WOF leaders. The rate of cancer among their international leadership and their families is off the scale. One would expect to see a large (and growing larger) group of extremely healthy individuals and yet they are no better off than anyone else in the Church.

They promise much but they deliver nothing but false hopes and empty promises. I believe Jude must have know people like this in his day:

Woe unto them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core. These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever. Jude 1:11-13 ¨ ♦

Copyright © 2005  Robert S. Liichow

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Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Kenneth Copeland (*But were Afraid to Ask By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

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End Notes

1. Stephenson, John R. The Lord’s Supper (Northville, SD: The Luther Academy), 2003 p. 200. Bold type added for emphasis.

2. God’s Word for Your Healing (Tulsa, Ok: Harrison House) 1993, p. 9 This comment is attributed to F.F. Bosworth by the unknown author of this book. F.F. Bosworth is best known today for his book Christ the Healer. The following comments were obtained from http://www.christianheroes.com/ev/ev014.asp: “Little is known of the early life of F.F. Bosworth. His family moved to Zion city whilst he was young and both he and his brother BB were to become preachers. FF Bosworth strongly influenced many of the early healing evangelists. This list includes Oral Roberts, T.L. Osborn, J.G. Lake and many others. His book ‘Christ the Healer is a tremendous book on the principles of healing through the finished work of Christ on the cross at Calvary. Bosworth worked with John Alexander Dowie for a number of years before starting his own healing ministry. Bosworth embraced Pentecostalism as a result of being influenced by Charles Parham in 1906. Bosworth was also influenced by E.W. Kenyon and his teachings on divine healing…In 1948Bosworth met William Branham. Bosworth supported Branham until his death. (Bosworth’s) in 1958” The underlining and bold type has been added.

3. Copeland, Gloria, Healing School (Fort Worth, TX: Kenneth Copeland Ministries), 1988, p. 5.

4. Ibid. p. 10

5. Tilton, Robert How to Receive & Keep Your Healing (Dallas, TX: Robert Tilton Ministries) 1987, p. 22 bold type added.

6. McCrossan, T.J. Bodily Healing and the Atonement (Tulsa, OK. Rhema Bible Church). 1982 p. 10.

7. Copeland, Gloria, Healing School (Fort Worth, TX; Kenneth Copeland Ministries 1988 pp. 28,29,30

8. Hunter, Charles and Francis, How to Heal the Sick, Kingwood, TX: Hunter Books), 1981, 9.85.

8. Roberts, Oral How I know God Wants to Heal You, (Tulsa, OK ; Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association) 1970 p. 3 Underlining added.

9. Price, Frederick K. Is Healing For All, (Tulsa, OK: Harrison House) 1976, p. 119. Underlining added.

10. Osborn, T.L. Healing the Sick and Casting Out Devils, (Tulsa, OK; The voice of Faith Ministry), 1950, pp. 179, 180.

11. Copeland, Gloria, God’s Will For Your Healing, (Fort Worth, TX; Kenneth Copeland Ministries) 1972, p. 30

12. Hagin Kenneth E. Must Christians Suffer?, (Tulsa, OK Kenneth Hagin Ministries). 1990 pp. 2, 41.

13. Crenshaw, Curtis, Man As God The Word of Faith Movement (Memphis, TN; Footstool Publications), 1994 p. 139

14. Ibid p. 133

15. Hum this to yourself using the Beatles tune ‘All you need is Love”

In saying ‘formation’ I am referring to the establishment of actual Word of Faith congregations. This did not really begin to occur until Kenneth Hagin had graduated his first class from Rhema Bible Training Center outside of Tulsa, OK. In the late 1940’s up to this day there have been many formerly Pentecostal congregations which separated themselves from their denominations and became independent charismatic churches, many of which began to teach WOF concepts as they became popular. One of the largest and most enduring WOF “denominations” was started by Buddy Harrison, Hagin’s son-in-law called Faith Christian Fellowship which has 100’s of congregations throughout America and overseas.

16. For many years there was an ongoing “battle” between A.A. Allen and Jack Coe over who had the largest healing revival tent. Branham claimed to see an angel feel demons in his right hand, Roberts said God had anointed his right hand with healing power. Jack Coe would inflate the results of his meetings and make outlandish claims. Each healer tried to find a “nitch” market among the sick seekers.

17. Hagin, Kenneth, How to Keep Your Healing (Tulsa, OK. Kenneth Hagin Ministries). 1989, p. 19

18. Tilton, Robert, How To Receive & Keep Your Healing, (Dallas, TX: Robert Tilton Ministries ) 1987, p. 18 Underlining added.

In Last month’s Truth Matters (May 2005) I delved into the WOF concept regarding faith and it would be redundant to devote much space re-explaining it in this issue.

19. Copeland, Gloria, Healing School (Fort Worth, TX: Kenneth Copeland Ministries) 1988 p. 4 underlining added.

20 Crenshaw, Curtis, Man As God The Word of Faith Movement (Memphis, TN. Footstool Publication) 1994 p. 143. In the beginning of this citation Crenshaw is quoting from McCrossan’s book on healing and the atonement. Bold type added.

21. Here are some titles which cover these excuses and many others: T.L. Osborn. One Hundred Divine Healing Facts; Gordon Lindsey Twenty-Five Objections to divine healing and Bible answers; K. Neill Foster Twenty-three Reasons Why Some Are Not Healed.

22. I have mentioned in many previous articles and on our website the fact that the rate of cancer among WOF leaders and their families far exceeds that of other international Christian leaders and their families.