Christological Confusions

21 01 2011

Truth Matters Newsletters – January 2011 – Vol. 16 Issue 1 – Christological Confusions – By Rev. Robert Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

Christological Confusions

Rev. Bob Liichow

 In the last few weeks Discernment Ministries International has received emails expressing concern over our belief in the Trinity of God. One would think that after two thousand years of biblical study and scholarly debate questions about the nature of the godhead would have been satisfactorily answered. The truth is they have been. The Church Catholic (universal) has been united in the following belief:

Whoever wills to be in a state of salvation, before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic Faith, which except everyone shall have kept whole and undefiled without doubt he will perish eternally. Now the Catholic Faith is that we worship One God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity, neither confounding the Persons nor dividing the substance. For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, another of the Holy Spirit. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, is One, the Glory equal, the Majesty coeternal. (1)

The orthodox Christian Church worships one God in Three Persons. I italicized the word person because our finite human language breaks down in many of our attempts to express eternal and timeless truth. Nonetheless, “person” is an adequate term to use because the word “person” is used to describe the three members of the Godhead because the word “person” is appropriate. A person is self-aware, can speak, love, hate, say “you,” yours,” “me,” “mine,” etc.

Each of the three persons in the Trinity demonstrate these qualities throughout the scriptures. The Bible is very clear concerning the fact that there is but One God yet is seen operating as Three within the One. The Father is not the same person as the Son; the Son is not the same person as the Holy Spirit; and the Holy Spirit is not the same person as the Father. They are not three gods and not three beings. They are three distinct persons; yet, they are the one God.

One of the recent emails excoriating DMI was regarding our declaring Mr. William M. Branham a heretic and telling people that he was a “Oneness” believer. The person writing us was partially correct in their diatribe by stating that Branham was not a member of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the WORLD (PAW) or the Apostolic Pentecostal Church; both Oneness denominations. They were correct in that Mr. Branham denounced all denominations as being of the great whore Babylon and was a member of none. However, Mr. Branham and all his followers deny the reality of the Trinity. A fellow truth-teller and Apologist Eric Pement wrote the following concerning Branham’s view on the godhead:

From his earliest days, Branham rejected the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. He thundered, “Trinitarianism is of the Devil! I say that THUS SAITH THE LORD.” Branham insisted that the Trinity doctrine originated with Satan, and that it taught there were “three gods.” Therefore he directed that any believer who was baptized according to the triune formula given in Matthew 28:19 should be rebaptized “in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Branham generally described the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit as being three “titles,” offices,” attributes,” or “merits” of God. The problem with this explanation is that titles, offices, attributes, or merits cannot relate to one another on a personal level. (2)

I have written many articles about Mr. Branham and they can be read on our website or by visiting our BLOG which has all of the extant Truth Matters for your viewing pleasure. This being the case let me just mention Branham again briefly for those who are newer readers and may be unfamiliar with some of the background of this Arch-heretic.

Branham is probably one of the most widely followed revivalists of our era. He was killed by a drunk driver in the mid 1960’s. At the time of his death Branham’s popularity had taken a huge downward spiral. He had taught too many bizarre teachings and uttered various strange prophetic words that were simply too much for the mainstream Pentecostals to swallow. So at the end of his life, his revival meetings dwindled in size. Sadly, Branham was one of the first men to really utilize technology in his meetings. The result was that we have virtually all of his revival sermons on audio and many hours on 16mm tape. Branham is almost single-handedly responsible for the creation of the ten thousand plus independent charismatic congregations.

Branham’s warning to leave denominationalism almost destroyed the Assemblies of God (AOG) denomination due to the fact they lost of many of their pastors! After his death he became mythic in stature largely in part due to the other revivalists who tried to raise him from the dead for several days after his car accident! Men like Kenneth Hagin, Oral Roberts, T.L. Osborn, A.A Allen, Gordon Lindsey lauded and praised this man at his funeral as the greatest prophet of their generation. The end result? Today there are over 20,000 web sites dealing with this heretic. Hundreds of Branhamite congregations (aka groups) which do nothing but listen to his past sermons, watch him on video and read about him and spread his message!

Naturally, this Bran Amite (3) felt led to correct my views both on Mr. Branham and the Trinity of God. He failed in both arenas because there was nothing to correct regarding my understanding of both topics.

What Did Branham Believe About the godhead?

In a nutshell Branham believed nothing unique or new about God, in fact, he bought in an ancient heresy (unbeknown to him, Branham had less than an eighth grad education). Branham and the Oneness Pentecostals believe in “Jesus only.” Their churches are known among other Trinitarian Pentecostals as Jesus Only churches. Jesus is the Father, Jesus is the Son and Jesus is the Holy Spirit, there is no God but Jesus Christ, He is the One God.

Even though this ancient heresy was soundly rebuked, defeated and anathematized (declared a soul damning heresy) time and time again by The Church it still has persisted. Without going over eras of church history suffice it to say this heresy was virtually dead until 1913.

The Azusa revival of 1906 was already slowing down by 1913 and it was during a revival meeting in Los Angeles in 1913 that whipped things up again. This time a Canadian man named R.E. McAlister began to re-baptize converts in Jesus name only. This initially brought some confusion and debate. McAlister and his followers broke off from their fledgling Pentecostal brethren and took steps to formalize their doctrinal stance. The result was that today the fastest growing Pentecostal denominations are the Oneness Pentecostals which include the following organized groups: United Pentecostal Church International (UPC), Apostolic World Christian Federation, Assemblies of the Lord Jesus Christ, Church of the Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostolic Faith, Pentecostal Assemblies of the World (PAW). (4)

Within two years this reincarnation of ancient heresy was solidified into specific beliefs. Some of these beliefs included the need to be baptized by immersion in Jesus name only. This is a prerequisite to salvation, you must be baptized in Jesus name. What is more you must speak in other tongues as proof of having obtained full salvation. Thrown into the mix is a mishmash of Wesleyan holiness (works) and a firm belief that they are the only true Church.

Their Ancient Error

Several heretics arose in the early Church (there really are no “new” heresies per se). The “Jesus only” heresy is attributed to Sabellius, who taught a form of this doctrine in Rome in the third century. The Lord raised up as the chief opponent of Sabellianism a man named Tertullian, who labeled the movement “Patripassianism,” from the Latin words patris for “father”, and passus for “to suffer” because it implied that the Father suffered on the Cross. Sabellius, Praxeas, Noetus all fell into the error of “modalism” which simply means God takes upon Himself “modes” or simply appears in different forms but is the same and One God.

The Monarchians properly so-called (Modalists) exaggerated the oneness of the Father and the Son so as to make them but one Person; thus the distinctions in the Holy Trinity are energies or modes, not Persons; God the Father appears on earth as Son; hence it seemed to their opponents that Monarchians made the Father suffer and die. In the West they were called Patripassians, whereas in the East they are usually called Sabellians. The first to visit Rome was probably Praxeas, who went on to Carthage some time before 206-208; but he was apparently not in reality a heresiarch, and the arguments refuted by Tertullian somewhat later in his book “Adversus Praxean” are doubtless those of the Roman Monarchians. (5)

This error denies the individuality within the godhead and no doubt came about in an attempt to secure the place of deity for Jesus Christ. However in their attempt “making” Jesus to be God they veered off into error.

I asked the writer several simple valid questions which he refused to answer. In fact, when you encounter a Oneness dupe I would urge you to consider asking some of these same questions found on the following page.

 

Some challenging Questions To Ask The Arians at Your Doorstep and other Places

1. Is Jesus His own Father?

2. If Jesus’ will and the Father’s will were identical, then why did Jesus express the desire to escape the cup but resigns Himself not to His own will, but the will of the Father? See my article on this.

3. Was Jesus praying to Himself in the Garden of Gethsemane? If so, why?

4. If Jesus was praying to the divine side of Himself, then isn’t He still praying to Himself?

5. Why was Jesus not saying, “Not My will, but MY will be done?” if there is only one person and one will involved when He was praying in Luke 22:42 & Matt. 26:39 ?

6. If baptism is essential for salvation, then what happens to someone who repents of sin, accepts Jesus as Savior, walks across the street to get baptized but is killed by a car. Does he go to heaven or hell?

A. If he goes to heaven, then baptism isn’t a requirement is it?

B. If he goes to hell, then faith in Christ isn’t sufficient to save him is it?

7. If God is only one person, why did Jesus say in John 14:23, “If a man love me, he will keep my words; and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” If God is only one person, why does Jesus say, “we”?

They have no adequate biblical response in attempting to answer these questions. Within Pentecostalism there has been a debate as to whether or not their Oneness compatriots are in fact Christians. I can answer that question very easily no debate necessary.  NO!   These people are guilty of preaching another Gospel [see 2 Cor. 11:4]. They present a system of works righteousness from the beginning to the end. Obviously they proclaim another Christ [see 2 Cor. 11:4] and if you are wrong regarding the Person and work of Jesus, then frankly, it matters not what one is right about. Lastly, they advance another spirit [see 2 Cor. 11:4] who is not the Holy Spirit as revealed in Scripture. How sad to go to church and worship someone you really do not know, and more importantly does not know you!

The second type of email to challenge DMI’s Trinitarian stance came from the other side of the heretical Christological morass of delusion, i.e. that Jesus is not God at all.

There were several heretics involved in attempting to mislead the church, time and space permit only touching on a few of the “bigs.” The following people taught more or less the same error with some subtle nuances that are unimportant to this discussion. These deceived deceivers taught that Jesus was the first created being by the Father. Thus in their system the godhead consists of God the Father period. Jesus is His first and greatest creation and the Holy Spirit is simply the spirit of the Father God. To them Jesus is not God, nor is the Holy Spirit.

Arius is probably one of the best documented of the heretics of this stripe. His beliefs can be boiled down to the following statement:

Using Greek terms, it denies that the Son is of one essence, nature, or substance with God; He is not consubstantial (homoousios) with the Father, and therefore not like Him, or equal in dignity, or co-eternal, or within the real sphere of Deity. (6)

The views of Arius were sounded defeated at the Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D. Almost 1,200 years later another somewhat similar error erupted in the 1500’s called “Socinianism” so named after the two brothers whom espoused this aberrant doctrine. They taught the following:

Socinianism denies the doctrine of the Trinity claiming it denies the simplicity of God’s unity. Instead, God is a single person with the Holy Spirit as the power of God. Since it emphasizes the unity of God, there could be no divine and human union in a single person as Christ. Therefore, Socinianism denies the incarnation and deity of Christ as well as Christ’s pre-existence…Since Jesus is not divine by nature, His sacrifice was not efficacious; that is, it did not result in the redemption of people who would trust in it, it teaches that Jesus was only a man.   (7)

Socinianism furthermore denies the efficacy of infant baptism, the reality of eternal damnation in hell, opting for annihilation of the wicked. To these people the Bible is only authoritative as properly understood [rationalism] by themselves.

Monophysitism was another heretical attempt to wrest Christ from the godhead. Monophysitism is heretical because of its erroneous assertions that the nature of Christ had only one nature, not two as is taught in the correct doctrine of the hypostatic union (Jesus is both fully God and fully man). The problem here is the same as concerning the above views:

The denial of the human nature of Christ is a denial of the true incarnation of the Word as a man. Without a true incarnation there can be no atonement of sin for mankind since it was not then a true man who died for our sins. (8)

Fortunately, this view was defeated at the Sixth Ecumenical Council in 680-681 A.D. Even though it was defeated by the Church and shown to be a heretical view it still exists today. What is more is that you have probably encountered the descendants of Arius and the Socinian brothers!

Today the most vocal voice spewing Arian heresy is the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Within the first few minutes of conversation they will deny that the Trinity exists, they will deny that Jesus is God the Son from all eternity. They will tell you that Jesus is the first and highest creation of Jehovah, as such He is referred to as a “son” but He is a created being. There is a vast amount of research material available free of charge on our website and the internet on how to answer the J.W.’s when they come knocking on your door.

Another popular group in America which holds forth Arianism along with other cultic beliefs is the Unitarian Universalist Church. Sadly, a purely American invention. Fortunately one that does not have a tremendous impact, unlike the J.W.’s who are very busy (after all their salvation depends on it).

Within the same week DMI received emails espousing these two heretical views of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is apparent that people outside the major cult groups (J.W.’s etc.) are beset with damnable ignorance about the biblical Jesus. This is ignorance the Church banished hundreds of years ago!

People historically have erred concerning whether Jesus was divine or not. Some exalt Him to being the only True God, others say He is n o God at all. If this was not confusing enough there is another category of error DMI has yet to be asked about, that being, the heresy regarding the two natures of Christ.

Monothelitism attempted to avoid the apparently unsolvable question of whether Christ had two natures, one human and one divine, or only one nature. Rather it placed the focus on stating that the nature(s) had only one will and one operation, although, still Christ was defined to have two natures. Nestorius, a priest is often sited as an originator of this error. By the Third Council of Constantinople, where the idea of Monothelitism was debated ended with declaring Christ with two wills and two operations, both together in the body of Christ.

Eutychianism is similar to Monophycitism. It states that Christ’s natures were so thoroughly combined — in a sense scrambled together — that the result was that Christ was not really truly able to relate to us as humans. The problem is this implies that Jesus was not truly God nor man. Therefore, He would be unable to act as mediator and unable to truly atone for our sins. (9) We don’t encounter many folks like this proclaiming to be Christians today. This mis-belief is an ancient one that the Apostles encountered taught by the Docetists. They taught that Jesus only “appeared” to be a man, that He was really God and thus His sufferings were just an illusion, etc…

Tritheism is what the Orthodox Church is accused of by the ignorant and unlearned. This is the concept of three gods, distinct, yet in union. All the cults and Islam in particular declare we worship a three-headed god or worse yet, three distinct gods.

Jesse Duplantis in his book Heaven, Close Encounters of the God Kind, which book DMI has thoroughly debunked and proven this work to be both plagiarized and a blasphemous document [AGAIN CHECK OUR BLOG FOR THESE ARTICLES ON DUPLANTIS & HIS LIES].

While allegedly in the throne room of heaven, Jesse on his face just takes a quick peek into the events before his eyes! He declares to his angel guide that He saw the father’s feet (no man can see God and live, right?), he saw Jesus preaching in the throne room (hmmm isn’t Jesus “God” saw him and lived). Then Jesse says to his angel guide “I see the Father, I see Jesus, but where is the Holy Spirit?” His angelic guide “oh Jesse, He is on earth!” Immediately Jesse said he felt so stupid for even asking the question!!! This man is followed by millions! His book is in many languages and has sold hundreds of thousands of copies! Yet he is a liar, false teacher, thief, and a deceiver who does not know the God of the Bible.

It is easy to see how the unregenerate can fall into accusing us of worshipping three gods especially when we tell them that the Father is God, Jesus is God and the Holy Spirit is God, these three are the One God — their minds go TILT. Three persons, each “God” how can that not be three gods? The answer is simple — because God has given us His Word and in it we clearly see three divine persons and yet a uniform testimony of the fact that here is but One God.

Can we fully understand the nature of the godhead? No, and honestly, I doubt we ever will fully understand everything about God a billion years from now. What I do have is God’s Word and my role as a disciple is to bow my pride and hugely vast intellect [lol] to the authority of His Word and renew my mind to its sublime truths and to teach others the truths contained therein by example and rhetoric.

In closing I would urge our readers to consider beginning the new year off by boning up on some of the foundational doctrines of our faith because it is here, at the foundation, that the cultists attack. Here are a few good books to consider for your library. As always, I advise anyone to go to www.abebooks.com and try to buy these tomes used.

Copyright © 2011 Robert S. Liichow

Some Titles to Consider

1. A Summary of Christian Doctrine Edward W.A. Koehler

2. Know What You Believe, Paul E. Little

3. How to read the Bible For All It is Worth Dr. Gordon Fee

4. Systematic Theology, Millard Ericson

End Notes

1. The Athanasian Creed, underlining and bold type added for emphasis.

 2. Obtained from http://www.midwestoutreach.org/journals/branham_tree.html on 01-06-11

3. DMI over the years have received several emails regarding Mr. Branham. It seems part of his followers ministry is to scour the internet and challenge all who dare doubt “prophet” Branham.

4. What is amazing and telling about the history of American Pentecostalism is that after the Azusa revival 4 main divisions fissured almost immediately. The AOG & COGIC (Church of God in Christ) are Trinitarian in doctrine, but split over racism. The AOG being virtually all white and COGIC being all black. Then within the heretic modalist group also split into 2 branches, again based on race and not doctrine. So much for “Holy Ghost love” and “union.”

5. Obtained from http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/10448a.htm on 01-06-2011

6. Obtained from http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01707c.htm.

7. Obtained from http://carm.org/socinianism on 01-07-2011

8. Ibid

9. Obtained from http://www.experiencefestival.com/

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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

parham

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.