THE STRANGE HISTORY OF PENTECOSTALISMPART 2 OF 3
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August 3, 1998 (David W. Cloud, FundamentalBaptist Information Service, 1701 Harns Rd., Oak Harbor, WA98277) - The following is Part 2 of 3 of "The StrangeHistory of Pentecostalism" by David W. Cloud--
AIMEE SEMPLE MCPHERSON
Another very influential Pentecostal evangelistand faith healer was AIMEE SEMPLE MCPHERSON (1890-1944), founderof the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. TheDictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements calls her"the most prominent woman leader Pentecostalism has producedto date." She was married three times and divorced twice.Her first husband, Robert Semple, died in China in 1910, wherethe young couple had gone as missionaries. In 1911 she marriedHarold Stewart McPherson. He complained about her hystericalbehavior and her neglect of him, and in 1921 the marriage endedin divorce (Eve Simson, The Faith Healer, p. 36). Aimeehad left Harold to attend to her preaching. Interestingly,Aimee's associate pastor, Rheba Crawford, also left her husbandto preach, and Rheba's husband also divorced her.
In May 1926, McPherson disappeared and wasthought to have been drowned while swimming off the Californiacoast. A month later she turned up in Mexico, claiming to havebeen kidnapped, but the evidence led most people to believe thatshe had an affair with a former employee, Kenneth Ormiston, whowas married at the time. The two had been seen together earlierin the year during Aimee McPherson's trip to Europe. At the sametime Aimee sailed for Europe, Ormiston disappeared from his job,and his wife, Ruth, registered a missing-person report at policeheadquarters. She told police a certain prominent woman wasresponsible for her husband's disappearance (Lately Thomas, TheVanishing Evangelist, p. 29). They had also been seentogether checking into the same hotels at various times inCalifornia, after her return from Europe, prior to the allegedkidnapping. Though McPherson claimed to have wandered for 14hours across roughly 20 miles of cruel desert covered withmesquite, cactus, and catclaw to escape her captors, when she wasfound she showed no sign of having been through such an ordeal.Her shoes were not scuffed or worn; there were grass stains onthe insteps (there was no grass in the desert through which sheclaims to have wandered); she was not dehydrated or sunburned;her lips were not parched, cracked, or swollen; her tongue wasnot swollen; her color was normal; her dress was not torn andbore no dust or perspiration stains. The dress collar and cuffs,though white in color, were barely soiled. Further, she waswearing a watch her mother had given her--a watch she had nottaken with her to the beach! (Epstein, Sister Aimee, p.299; Thomas, The Vanishing Evangelist, p. 59,66,78).Aimee told reporters that her ankles were bruised and torn byropes from her captivity, but there had been no sign of suchinjuries when she was examined. An exhaustive search was made tofind the adobe shack with a wooden floor where she claimed shehad been held captive and which she described in detail to theauthorities, but no such shack was found in a 46-square-milearea. Experienced desert men and trackers (one had ridden thatcountry as a cowboy for 37 years, another for 20), who attemptedto find her attackers, traced her footsteps, and they found whereshe apparently had gotten out of an automobile on a road not farfrom where she was found. The senior tracker testified that heexamined every foot of the ground over which she had claimed tohave walked and that her tracks had been found nowhere. As forthe shack, he said: "I do not know of an adobe house such asthe one described by Mrs. McPherson within a hundred and fiftymiles of Agua Prieta, and I know every house in this vastarea" (Lately, The Vanishing Evangelist, p. 84). Agrocery receipt signed by McPherson was found in a Carmel,California, cottage where it appears Aimee had met Ormistonduring the time she was alleged to have been kidnapped. Severaleye-witnesses testified that they saw the two together duringthat period.
The year after this episode, McPherson rejectedthe social taboos preached against by Bible-believing churches ofthat day. She bobbed her hair and started drinking, dancing, andwearing short skirts. In her early years she had preached againstsuch things. Her choir director, Gladwyn Nichols, and the entire300-member choir resigned because of her lifestyle. He told thepress that they left because of "Aimee's surrender toworldliness--her wardrobe of fancy gowns and short skirts,jewelry, furs, her new infatuation with cosmetics and bobbedhair, all specifically condemned by the Scriptures" (RobertBahr, Least of All Saints, p. 259).
In 1931 the divorced McPherson married thedivorced David Hutton. He divorced Aimee in 1934.
McPherson's ministry featured the unscripturalspirit slaying phenomenon. One of her biographies, Least ofAll Saints by Robert Bahr, contains a photo of McPhersonfollowers lying on the floor after she had laid hands on them andthey were allegedly "baptized of the Holy Spirit."There were also cases of "spiritual drunkenness" in herearly meetings (Epstein, Sister Aimee, p. 162), thoughher later ministry was not characterized by such displays.
McPherson taught that healing is guaranteed inthe atonement. She falsely promised to the eager crowds:"Your chains will be shattered, your fetters crushed, yourtroubles healed, if you only believe--for where the spirit of theLord is, there is liberty" (Epstein, Sister Aimee,p. 221). It is blessedly true, of course, that the Lord is a verypresent help in time of trouble and that He goes with Hischildren through all their trials, but to promise that in thispresent life all problems will be removed and all sicknesseshealed if one only has enough faith is a deception. McPhersonwarned that the attitude "if it is His will to heal me, I amwilling" brings no results (Epstein, p. 224). In fact,McPherson claimed that physical healing is part of the gospel.The "foursquare" gospel she promoted was Jesus Christas Savior, Baptizer in the Holy Spirit, Healer, and Coming King.She claimed that she had obtained this gospel through a vision in1922, in which God showed her that the Gospel was for body andsoul and spirit. It was the same "foursquare gospel"being preached by the Elim Foursquare Gospel Association inIreland (McPherson had worked with Elim's founder, GeorgeJeffrys), the Assemblies of God in the United States, and otherPentecostal groups. The "full" Gospel, though, issimply the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ forour sins (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
Aimee McPherson promised that physical healingis available to those who have complete faith. In spite of this,most who came to her meetings in search of healing leftdisappointed. To go through McPherson's healing line requiredthat one obtain a card, and these were normally limited to 75people.
The following sad case of a little girl whoattended a McPherson revival crusade illustrates the plight ofthose who are duped by this false teaching:
"A little girl wore a pair of glasses one-half of which was entirely black. I gathered that she was totally blind in one eye and almost blind in the other. I sat upon the stage very close to the whole procedure. While prayer was being made for her, the little girl, who appeared to be about 11 years of age, wept and sobbed and writhed in her eagerness to secure the help that she had been led to expect. She left the platform and public claim was made by one of the workers that she had been healed, and the little girl verified the claim by a nod of the head given in reply to the question of the workers. An hour later, when the meeting was out, I noticed a small cluster of women near the platform. I thought I saw the blind little girl in their midst, so I asked my wife to go over and investigate and talk to her if necessary. She found the erstwhile 'cured' girl flat on her face on the floor, sobbing, with shattered hopes and a breaking heart. Her disappointment was complete, and so was her disillusionment. The improved sight that she seemed to have had in the midst of the excitement on the platform had disappeared, and with it the hope of the little girl" (Arno Clemens Gaebelein, The Healing Question, New York: Our Hope Publications, 1925, p. 93).
Though there were some notable healingsdocumented under McPherson's ministry, one of McPherson'sbiographers, Daniel Epstein (though extremely sympathetic toher), admitted that those healed were "mostly diseases ofthe immune system, or attributed to hysteria." He said:"Sister Aimee is not credited with raising anyone from thedead, correcting a harelip or cleft palate, or restoring amissing limb, digit, or internal organ" (Epstein, SisterAimee, New York: Harcourt, Brace Jovanovich, 1993, p. 112).
McPherson preached an unscripturalpositive-only message which predated the New Evangelical approachby many decades. Consider the following descriptions of hermessage by her biographer:
"Anticipating the 'creation theology' of Matthew Fox by sixty years, Aimee would stress grace above original sin, with the bait of love she would go 'fishing for whales.' Her preaching was anecdotal and affectionate, never threatening" (Epstein, p. 118).
"And she took the opportunity to condemn the method of Billy Sunday, the teetotaler who yelled at sinners and threatened them with damnation and hellfire. 'Let us lead them by kindness and sympathy,' Aimee advised" (Epstein, pp. 221,222).
"Aimee built her career by replacing the 'Gospel of Fear, Hellfire, and Damnation' with the 'Gospel of Reconciliation and Love'" (Epstein, p. 283).
McPherson's mother, Mildred (Minnie) Kennedy,worked as a business associate in her daughter's successfulevangelistic empire. In fact, they owned the Angelus Templeoutright, in a fifty-fifty partnership. They frequently got intoterrific fights. In 1927 Aimee had her mother fired from thepositions she had long held in her Foursquare church. Mildredreturned for a brief time to help during a massive financialcrisis created by Aimee's unwise investments, but in 1929 Mildredleft her daughter Aimee's ministry permanently "afterreceiving a broken nose during an explosive argument"(Robert Bahr, Least of All Saints, p. 296). In 1937Mildred sided with her granddaughter, Roberta, in a highlypublicized lawsuit against Aimee's lawyer. The widowed MildredKennedy wed in 1931, but the marriage was annulled when it waslearned that the man was already married. Later that same yearthe man obtained a quickie divorce in Las Vegas, Mildred met himthere and they were remarried. The strange marriage lasted lessthan a year. When Aimee McPherson died of a drug overdose in1944, she left her mother ten dollars with the stipulation thatif Mildred contested it she would get nothing (Bahr, p. 282).
Another of the early Pentecostal leaders wasA.J. TOMLINSON (1865-1943), founder of the CHURCH OF GOD OFPROPHECY. Tomlinson was one of the most influential men in theformation of the Pentecostal movement. As a young man, Tomlinson,a mystical Quaker, accepted the teaching on healing in theatonement taught by Holiness-Pentecostal female evangelist CarrieJudd Montgomery. Before the turn of the century, he also acceptedthe false holiness doctrine of entire sanctification, that thededicated Christian can be free from sin, and claimed that he hadattained this experience. In 1901 he visited Frank Sandford'swork in Maine and was baptized by Sandford. He joined a groupwhich called itself "The Church of the Living God for theEvangelization of the World, Gathering of Israel, New Order ofThings at the Close of the Gentile Age." The extreme latterrain position of this group was evident in its name. In 1903 hejoined a congregation named the Holiness Church at Camp Creek,Tennessee, and was soon elected the pastor. In June of that yearhe claimed to have a vision that the true church of Jesus Christwas restored in his Holiness Church. Tomlinson believed the truechurch was lost in A.D. 325 and that it was restored in layers,beginning with the 16th-century Protestant Reformation andculminating with the founding of the Church of God in 1903."To Tomlinson the group he was associated with was the onlytrue and valid Christian communion 'this side of the DarkAges'" (Vinson Synan, The Holiness-Pentecostal Tradition,p. 76). Their meetings were often characterized by pandemonium,i.e., shouting, jerking, falling, writhing like serpents,trances. There were long lists of unscriptural prohibitions,including Coca Cola, pork, chewing gum, rings, bracelets, andneckties. Not only were such things forbidden, but those who usedthem were considered unsaved.
In 1907 the group officially adopted the nameChurch of God. In 1923 Tomlinson left the original Church of Godgroup (which became the mainline Church of God (Cleveland,Tennessee) and formed his own organization, later called theChurch of God of Prophecy. Tomlinson claimed that physicalhealing is guaranteed in the atonement and he taught against theuse of medicine. He believed that tongues speaking is theevidence of salvation. He taught that a person can lose hissalvation and then be reconverted, at which time he must berebaptized. Tomlinson defended the practice of women preachers,and the Church of God of Prophecy has a large number of womenpastors and denominational leaders. The unscriptural spiritslaying phenomenon has been a part of the Church of God ofProphecy from its inception. In 1940 Tomlinson purchased a216-acre parcel and named it Field of the Woods, in recognitionof the vision he was alleged to have had in 1903 by which herediscovered the true church of God. After Tomlinson's death in1943, the courts decreed that the denomination would be calledChurch of God of Prophecy to differentiate it from other groupswhich used the name Church of God. Tomlinson's successor wasselected by a message allegedly given in tongues, theninterpreted. Tomlinson's oldest son, Homer, started his ownchurch after his father's death, and between 1954 and 1966 hetraveled to the capitals of 101 countries and crowned himself asKing of the World, promising peace and prosperity. He claimedthat many national miracles followed these coronation ceremonies,and he took credit for stopping wars, halting massacres, andending droughts.
Though hailed today by Benny Hinn and otherLaughing Revival leaders as a great evangelist and healer,Pentecostal latter rain healing- evangelist A.A. ALLEN(1911-1970) was a drunkard and a charlatan. His MiracleMagazine was filled with incredible claims, such as the cureof a woman who allegedly shed 200 pounds instantly during one ofhis healing services. In 1956 he began claiming that miracle oilflowed from the hands and heads of those attending his meetings.This allegedly began when God poured supernatural oil on thehands of Lewin Burchan, a seven-year-old boy who was being usedas a Pentecostal evangelist. In the 1960s, Allen launched a"raise the dead" campaign, urging his followers tobelieve God for resurrections. He had to stop this when somerefused to bury their dead loved ones (Harrell, p. 199). Allenalso claimed to have the authority to lay hands on those who gaveto his ministry, granting them "the power to getwealth." Many of his books promised prosperity. Three ofthese were The Secret to Scriptural Financial Success(1953), Power to Get Wealth (1963), and God'sGuarantee to Bless and Prosper You Financially (1968). Inone story often related by Allen, he was praying for the money topay a $410 printing bill when the $1 bills in his pocket wereinstantly changed to $20 bills. Allen told his followers: "Ibelieve I can command God to perform a miracle for youfinancially." Allen built his own 2400-acre community calledMiracle Valley, in Arizona. His vast evangelistic empire took inabout $3.5 million annually, a massive amount of money for thattime. Allen was arrested for drunk driving during a revival in1955. He divorced his wife in 1967, in spite of the fact that shehad stood by him during the many troubles he had brought uponhimself, and three years later he died alone at a motel in SanFrancisco while his team was conducting a crusade in WestVirginia. He was 59 years old and he had himself with liquor.
Another famous Pentecostal latter days healingevangelist was JACK COE (1918-1956). His ministry, too, wascharacterized by false teaching and outrageous and untrue claims.Though the Assemblies of God expelled him in 1953 for extremism,Coe's false teaching that healing is guaranteed in the atonementis shared by the Assemblies of God. He claimed that consultingphysicians was connected with the mark of the beast (Simson, TheFaith Healer, p. 164). In February 1956, at a healingcrusade in Miami, Florida, Coe laid hands on a little boy who wasstricken with polio. The boy's mother, Ann Clark, was told byCoe: "If you believe Jesus heals the child, take the bracesoff, and leave them off." She immediately removed the bracesfrom the boy's feeble legs, but as he attempted to take a step,he collapsed to the floor. Believing the false teaching that Coeand the other faith healers preached that God had promised herboy's healing through faith, Mrs. Clark determined not to put thebraces back on. Soon the boy's legs began to swell and she tookhim to a doctor, who ordered the braces to be put back on. Herletter to Jack Coe, seeking his counsel, was ignored. Shecontacted the police and Coe was charged with practicing medicinewithout a license. After a highly publicized trial, the judgedismissed the case. Mrs. Clark's sad experience reminds us thatthe path of the Pentecostal movement is strewn with this type ofheartache because it promises things which God has not promised.
Though he taught that healing was guaranteed inthe atonement and warned his followers against using medicine andconsulting physicians, Coe went to the hospital when he fell illwith polio only a few months after the aforementioned trial. Hesuccumbed to this disease a few weeks later, and it would bedifficult not to see the hand of God in such a remarkablecoincidence. After Coe's death, his widow published a series ofarticles exposing the fraud of key healing evangelists.
CHARLES PRICE (1880-1947) was another of thefamous latter day rain theology healing evangelists of the firsthalf of the 20th century. He turned his back on modernistictheology after attending Aimee Semple McPherson's meeting inearly 1920 and was "baptized in the Spirit" soonthereafter. Beginning in 1922 he conducted healing crusades inmany parts of the world. In 1923, following a Price crusade inVancouver, British Columbia, a group of physicians, professors,lawyers, and ministers followed up on the alleged healings. Ofthe 350 people who had claimed to be healed, they could not findany physical change in the conditions of 301, 39 had died withinsix months of the meeting, five had become insane, and fiveothers appeared to be cured of "nervous disorders" (D.Richard Wolfe, "Faith Healing and Healing Faith," Journalof the Indiana Medical Association, 53, April 1959, citedfrom Eve Simson, The Faith Healer, St. Louis: Concordia,1977, p. 166).
Some of the Pentecostal healing evangelists ofthe 1950s reported that hundreds of deaf people were healedduring meetings in JAMAICA. In 1962 G.H. Montgomery, associatedwith Jack Coe's widow, Juanita, exposed this fraud with thefollowing report: "Some of these same evangelists reportedthat literally hundreds of deaf people were healed and receivedtheir hearing in the Jamaica meetings. Now, it so happens that wehave a missionary daughter in Jamaica who works exclusively withdeaf people. In five years of work with these people, neither shenor her colleagues have ever found so much as one person who washealed of total deafness" (Harrell, All Things ArePossible, p. 142).
Many of the more amazing healings andresurrections and other miracles reported by the latter rainpeople allegedly occur in AFRICA and Asia and South America, faraway from those who are being told about the miracles. Oftentimeswhen someone has occasion to follow-up on these miracles, theyare found to be false. In 1984 evangelist Duncan Leightonfollowed the DEREK PRINCE team through Zambia where thousands ofmiracle healings were claimed. Leighton's efforts to documentgenuine miracle healings were fruitless (Leighton, Signs, OneWonders, cited in The Healing Epidemic, p. 216). Amissionary doctor who followed up on reports of miracle healingsin Africa in the mid 1940s also could not find any genuineorganic healings. "I have not come across a single case ofundoubted cure proved by medical examination of the clinicalcondition before and after the alleged healing" (Ibid., p.219).
Another example of the confusion which hascharacterized the Pentecostal movement throughout its history isthe ministry of DAVID DUPLESSIS (1905-1987), one of the key menin bringing together Pentecostals and Roman Catholics. Duplessis'parents came under the influence of Pentecostal missionaries outof John Dowie's Zion City. They were put out of the DutchReformed Church in South Africa when they accepted the hereticaldoctrines of the latter rain miracle revival, healing in theatonement, and spirit baptism with the evidence of tongues.Duplessis' father became a part-time Pentecostal preacher andrefused to allow his family to take medicines or visit doctors.He even refused veterinary care for his livestock and was brieflyjailed for causing the needless deaths of plagued cattle. DavidDuplessis claimed that he had a Pentecostal spirit baptismexperience in 1918 and in 1930 he was ordained as a Pentecostalpreacher. Six years later Pentecostal evangelist SmithWigglesworth prophesied over Duplessis that he would be one ofGod's instruments in a coming worldwide ecumenical revival. Bythe 1950s Duplessis became immersed in the task of ecumenism. Hepreached that God was pouring out the latter rain power justpreceding Christ's return. He traveled widely, visiting theapostate leaders of the various mainline denominations. He becamefriends with the modernistic leaders of the World Council ofChurches and participated in the second assembly of the WCC in1954 and in the third assembly in 1961. He was invited to theVatican to speak personally with Pope John XXIII and was the onlyPentecostal invited to attend the Roman Catholic Vatican IICouncil of the mid-1960s. In his autobiography he testified thathis heart broke and he literally wept during the performance ofthe Catholic mass (A Man Called Mr. Pentecost, p. 215).Throughout these experiences, Duplessis thought he was led by theLord because of the "prophecies" he had received andalso because of various powerful emotional and spiritualexperiences. When he met with 24 modernistic ecumenical leadersin 1956, for example, he said he "felt a warm glow come overme" and his attitude of judging doctrine melted away."I felt such love and compassion for those ecclesiasticalleaders that I would rather have died for them than pass sentenceupon them." He contrasted this with the "old days"when he would have denounced their false theology (A ManCalled Mr. Pentecost, p. 181). When he first visited theVatican, Duplessis claimed that a similar experience caused hisprejudice against Catholicism to melt away so that thereafter hecould readily accept Catholic priests as brothers in Christwithout any judgmentalism whatsoever regarding their doctrine.Through powerful emotional experiences at mass during the VaticanII council, Duplessis says he was purged entirely from suspicionabout Catholic doctrine (p. 216).
As a young man Duplessis was prepared for thedeception he experienced in the ecumenical movement. He claimedthat he got his guidance from God in direct revelations and alsothrough "tongues." In his autobiography, he said thatin his early spiritual life God showed him that tongues was ameans for determining the divine will. "... the lightclicked on. I was speaking to God in tongues, and He was speakingback to me in my mind. I began to find beautiful revelation thatway. .... Praying in tongues proved to be a wonderful step inworking my way out of such an impasse [in not being able todiscern God's will]. I would merely pray in tongues, and if theidea held firm, then I knew it was real" (A Man CalledMr. Pentecost, pp. 76-78). This testimony reflects the deepand frightful spiritual ignorance which caused Duplessis to beled from deception to deception throughout his life. ThePentecostal movement has been characterized by this confusion anddeception throughout the century. Though Duplessis lost hisministerial credentials with the Assemblies of God for awhile forhis radical ecumenism, he retained his membership in an Assemblyof God congregation and his ministerial credentials were formallyreinstated with the AOG in 1980.
SMITH WIGGLESWORTH (1859-1947) was a famousPentecostal evangelist and faith healer. Many books have beenwritten about his unusual life. He was converted in a Methodistchurch, confirmed as an Anglican, and as a young man wasassociated with the Salvation Army and Plymouth Brethren. In 1907he claimed that he was "baptised in the Holy Spirit"after hands were laid on him by Mary Boddy, who alleged to havehad a Pentecostal experience only a month prior to that. Mrs.Boddy believed in the doctrine of healing in the atonement, butshe spent the last sixteen years of her life as an invalid.Wigglesworth, too, believed that physical healing is guaranteedin the atonement of Christ. He taught against the use of allmedicine. He believed that signs and wonders should always followthe preaching of the Gospel. He taught that a Christian can bejustified and sanctified but still not have everything necessaryfrom God. "People are never safe until they are baptizedwith the Holy Ghost" (Wigglesworth, "The Place ofPower," June 1916, reprinted in The Anointing of HisSpirit, p. 151). He taught that handkerchiefs which areprayed over will bring life if carried in faith to the sick (TheAnointing of His Spirit, p. 231). He taught: "Jesuscame to set us free from sin, to free us from sickness, so thatwe should go forth in the power of the Spirit and minister to theneedy, sick, and afflicted" (Wigglesworth, "Divine LifeBrings Divine Health," Pentecostal Evangel, Jan.17, 1942). He claimed that the Christian has the power to speakthings into existence: "God declares, 'You have ananointing.' Believe God and you will see this happen. What yousay will come to pass. Speak the word and the bound shall befree, the sick shall be healed" (Wigglesworth, "Powerfrom on High," Pentecostal Evangel, May 27, 1944).
Like today's Word-Faith preachers, Wigglesworthfailed to make a proper distinction between the person andministry of Jesus Christ and that of the Christian. He claimedthat Jesus Christ increased in the fullness of God and in thepower of the Holy Spirit. "I want you to understand thatafter the trials, after all the temptations and everything, Jesuscomes out more full of God, more clothed in the Spirit, moreready for the fight" (Wigglesworth, "The Place ofPower," June 1916, reprinted in The Anointing of HisSpirit, p. 146). This is heresy. The Lord Jesus Christ wasGod the Son. He could not be "more full of God."Further, He was given the Spirit without measure (John 3:34). TheLord Jesus Christ did not come to be our example; He came to beour Savior (Lk. 19:10). Wigglesworth also taught that theChristian can operate in the same omnipotent power that Christexercised. "Dare you come into the place of omnipotence? ...God's design is to bring you to the place where you will be a sonclothed with the power of gifts and graces, ministries andoperations, to bring you into glory, clothed with the majesty ofheaven. For he shall bring many sons and daughters untoglory--unto son-likeness, son-perfection" (Wigglesworth,"The Privileges of Sonship," August 1924, reprinted in TheAnointing of His Spirit, p. 221). This is very similar tothe false Manifest Sons of God theology of the perfectibility ofcertain saints, and it is the same heresy as that taught today byKenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, and other Word-Faith teachers.Again, it is a confusion of this present life with that which isto come. They would mock this statement, claiming that my problemis unbelief and spiritual blindness, but the fact remains thatthey cannot do the miracles that Christ performed. The Lord JesusChrist never conducted a healing crusade and He never took up anoffering before He performed His signs and wonders. He did nothave any rock music to stir up the crowd. He did not laughhysterically or stagger about like a drunk man. He could raisethe dead and heal every sickness without fail. No Pentecostalpreacher has ever been able to do this.
Wigglesworth taught a form of sinlessperfection. He stated: "I am realizing very truly these daysthat there is a sanctification of the Spirit where the thoughtsare holy, where the life is beautiful, with no blemish"(Wigglesworth, "Count It All Joy," August 1925,reprinted in The Anointing of His Spirit, p. 226). Oh,that this were the truth, but it is not. The Apostle Pauldescribed his experience in these words: "For I know that inme (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will ispresent with me; but how to perform that which is good I findnot. ... O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from thebody of this death" (Rom. 8:18,24). There is spiritualvictory through the Holy Spirit in this life, but it is not theexperience described by Wigglesworth. It is not a life in whichthe thoughts are perfectly holy and in which there is no blemish.This is the destructive heresy of perfectionism, of completesanctification, which has led multitudes of sincere people downthe road of confusion and despair. To encourage people to seekand demand that which God has not promised is to expose them todemonic delusion and fleshly fanaticism.
The popular Bible commentator Harry Ironsidebegan his ministry as a young man with the Salvation Army. Heearnestly sought the sinless perfection experience, and at onepoint he thought he "had it." Alas, though, he soonrealized that his old sin nature was still present and active. Ingreat despair he was committed to a hospital in a state ofemotional and spiritual breakdown. There God brought him intocontact with literature which taught the way of biblicalsanctification and with Christians who could help him understandhis salvation correctly. He became established in the Faith andwent on to have a long and fruitful ministry of the Word of God.His testimony is in the book
Wigglesworth preached constantly on the powerof faith, but he failed to balance his teaching with the absolutenecessity of submitting one's faith to the sovereign will of God.He failed to distinguish properly between this present life andthe resurrection life which is to come (Romans 8:18- 25). Insteadhe taught: "Jesus would have us come forth in divinelikeness, in resurrection force, in the power of the Spirit, towalk in faith and understand his Word, what he meant when he saidhe would give us power over all the power of the enemy. Christwill subdue all things till everything comes into perfect harmonywith his will" (Wigglesworth, "The Substance of ThingsHoped For," Pentecostal Evangel, Oct. 25, 1924).This is a destructive doctrinal error which causes people to beconfused about what they can and cannot expect from God in thispresent time. Such false teaching produces great confusion andresults in the overthrowing of the faith of great numbers ofpeople who, having tried to exercise the faith spoken of by thePentecostal preacher and having failed to achieve the desiredmiracle, give up in great despair. Faith is trusting God and HisWord NO MATTER WHAT THE CIRCUMSTANCES, whether He does miraclesor whether He does not do miracles. Faith is waiting on God tobring His promises to pass, regardless of what I am experiencingin this present life. Hebrews 11 reminds us that there are twokinds of faith: that which overcomes difficulties (Heb. 11:32-35a) and that which endures difficulties (Heb. 11:35b-40).
In spite of his teaching that God promisesperfect physical wholeness and that the Christian can operate inthe same sign gifts that Christ exhibited, very few of those whosought Wigglesworth's healing ministrations were ever healed. Hisown wife died a mere six years after he became a Pentecostal, andhis son died two years after that. His daughter, who assisted inhis meetings, was never healed of her deafness. For three yearsWigglesworth himself suffered with gallstones.
In 1936 Wigglesworth gave a prophecy to theaforementioned David DuPlessis that God would pour out His Spiritupon all denominations and that the Pentecostal experience wouldsweep the world. DuPlessis was told that he would play asignificant role in this movement. The fulfillment of theprophecy has proven that it was not of God. The Holy Spirit isthe Spirit of Truth (Jn. 14:17; 15:27; 16:13; 1 John 4:6), andwherever He holds sway in men's lives He enlightens their mindsto the truth and causes them to abhor error. In contrast, theecumenical-Charismatic "renewal" with which DavidDuPlessis was associated, is a movement which confirms people intheir doctrinal error. Catholics remained committed to Romanheresies. Modernists remained committed to their unbelief.Members of apostate denominations remained committed to theapostasy. The ecumenical- Charismatic renewal has broken down thewalls between truth and error and has been one of the chief gluesof the end-times one-world church movement.
KENNETH HAGIN, SR.
KENNETH HAGIN, SR. (1917- ) is one of the mostinfluential Pentecostal leaders today. He claims that histeaching was given to him by God, but in fact he plagiarizedheavily from the writings of E.W. KENYON (1867-1948). D.R.McConnell, in his book A Different Gospel, documentsthis with pages of comparisons proving beyond question that Haginplagiarized Kenyon's writings. McConnel introduces this sectionof his book by saying: "Hagin has, indeed, copiedword-for-word without documentation from Kenyon's writings. Thefollowing excerpts of plagiarisms from no less than eight booksby E.W. Kenyon are presented as evidence of this charge. This isonly a sampling of such plagiarisms. Many more could becited." Plagiarism is not only deceit; it is a criminaloffense.
Kenyon was a Baptist pastor and never joinedthe Pentecostal movement (though he did move in Pentecostalcircles toward the end of his life), but his pioneer radiobroadcasts and voluminous writings had broad influence in theDeeper Life and Pentecostal-Charismatic movements. Though he didnot use the term "revelation" to describe his teaching,he presented his doctrine as new and history-changing. He claimedthat if his message were followed it would create a master raceof Christians who would have complete power over demons anddisease. In his book Identification, he stated: "When thesetruths really gain the ascendancy in us, they will make usspiritual supermen, masters of demons and disease. ... It will bethe end of weakness and failure" (Identification,Seattle: Kenyon's Gospel Publishing Society, 1968, p. 68). In hisearly years Kenyon was influenced by Methodist sinlessperfectionism and by New Thought doctrine. It is obvious that heborrowed heavily from the latter. D.R. McConnell masterfullytraces this connection in his book A Different Gospel.In 1892 Kenyon enrolled in the Emerson College of Oratory,"an institution that was absolutely inundated withmetaphysical, cultic ideas and practices" (McConnell, ADifferent Gospel, p. 34). Charles Wesley Emerson, the headof Emerson College, was a Unitarian minister and eventuallyjoined Mary Baker Eddy's Christian Science movement. A number ofEmerson graduates went on to become prominent Christian Sciencepractitioners. One graduate of Emerson compiled The CompleteConcordance of the Writings of Mary Baker Eddy. Anothergraduate wrote the book Twelve Years with Mary Baker Eddy.Emerson's "religion was a veritable smorgasbord of thesources underlying New Thought metaphysics: Platonism,Swedenborgianism, New England Unitarianism, and EmersonianTranscendentalism. All of these various elements were heldtogether by heavy proof-texting from the Bible and aquasi-Darwinian view of the religious evolution of humanity whichended in man becoming a god" (Ibid., p. 35). Though Kenyonclaimed to be opposed to the New Thought cults and though heclaimed to derive his teaching strictly from the Bible, there isno question that he incorporated many New Thought ideas into hisdoctrine. Like New Thought, Kenyon taught that the spiritual isthe cause of all physical effects and that positive confessionhas the power to create its own reality. He believed that healingand other ongoing miracles are necessary to demonstrate thereality of Christianity. He considered his writings "to be awonderful new interpretation of the Scriptures, a 'new type ofChristianity,' which would bring healing and prosperity to allwho possessed his revelation knowledge of the Bible"(McConnell, p. 50).
Kenneth Hagin's positive-confession teachings,which he derived at least partially from Kenyon, have spawned anentire movement within modern Pentecostalism, and its proponentshave vast influence. The Dictionary of the Pentecostal andCharismatic Movements admits that "Kenyon's writings becameseminal for the ministries of Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland,Don Gossett, Charles Capps, and others in the Word of Faith andPositive Confession movements." This Dictionary also notesthat Kenyon influenced Ern Baxter, F.F. Bosworth, David Nunn,T.L. Osborn, Jimmy Swaggart, "and many others." In asurvey taken by Charisma magazine in 1985, sevenWord-Faith teachers ranked among the top 24 most influentialCharismatic leaders. Kenneth Hagin, Sr., ranked third. Haginprotege Kenneth Copeland ranked second. Other Word-Faith teacherslisted in the survey were Marilyn Hickey, Fred Price, RobertTilton, John Osteen, and Norvel Hayes.
Hagin teaches that Christ's physical death didnot remove sin. Rather, it was Christ's alleged spiritual deathand his alleged struggles in hell which removed sin. Haginteaches that Christ was sent to hell and there he struggledagainst Satan and the demons and by his victory over them he wasborn again. This is heresy of the greatest sort. The Bibleplainly states that we are redeemed by Christ's death and blood(Acts 20:28; Heb. 9:14; 10:10). The atonement was finished on thecross. When Christ dismissed His spirit from his body, He cried,"It is finished" (John 19:30). The Lord Jesus Christwas not born again; He was never lost. He bore our sin, but Hewas never a sinner. He was never tormented in hell by Satan andthe demons. Nowhere does the Bible say that Satan is in hell orthat he has any influence in hell. One happy day in the future hewill be bound for 1,000 years in the bottomless pit (Rev. 20:1-3)and ultimately he will be cast into the lake of fire (Rev.20:10), but nowhere does the Bible say Satan is the master ofhell.
Hagin further teaches that the Christian is anincarnation of God like Jesus was. "The believer is as muchan incarnation as was Jesus of Nazareth" (Hagin, "TheIncarnation," The Word of Faith, Dec. 1980, citedfrom Hank Hanegraaff, Christianity in Crisis, pp. 175,397). This is a gross heresy. The Lord Jesus Christ is Godmanifest in the flesh. He is the eternal Son of God. Nowhere isthe believer said to be an incarnation of Almighty God. The LordJesus Christ performed miracles to demonstrate that He was theSon of God, the promised Messiah. No Christian can do the thingsthat Christ did. Not one Pentecostal preacher has ever been ableto perform the miracles that Christ performed. It is blasphemousconfusion to claim that the believer is an incarnation of Godlike Christ was.
Hagin has been guided by alleged visitations ofangels and of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. His book IBelieve in Visions describes eight of these. The seventhoccurred December 12, 1962. Hagin claims the Lord prophesied tohim in this visitation that He would soon begin to move among alldenominations to "bring them into a full salvation and intothe baptism of the Holy Ghost." Hagin claims that JesusChrist told him that he would play a part in this ecumenicalmiracle revival. As we have seen, a similar prophecy was given toDavid DuPlessis by Smith Wigglesworth in 1936. Theecumenical-Charismatic movement which has since swept through theRoman Catholic Church and the mainline Protestant denominationswould appear to be a fulfillment of these prophecies. DuPlessiswas the first to carry Pentecostal experiences to the RomanCatholic Church. He was the only Pentecostal to attend Rome'sVatican II Council in the mid 1960s. The succeedingecumenical-Charismatic movement has not been based on the Word ofGod, though. Charismatic Catholics who have received the"baptism of the Holy Spirit" have not turned away fromRome's heresies but instead have found that their love for heresyhas been rekindled. They have fallen in love with the falseCatholic Mary and with the false Catholic mass and with theblasphemous office of the pope. I have witnessed the unscripturalfruit of the ecumenical Charismatic movement firsthand. In 1987and again in 1990 I attended with press credentials two of thelargest Charismatic conferences ever held. They were organized bythe North America Congress on the Holy Spirit & WorldEvangelization. Roughly 40 denominations were represented. Fiftypercent of the attendees were Roman Catholic. A Catholic mass wasfeatured every morning. Catholic priest Tom Forrest from Romebrought the concluding message at both meetings. In IndianapolisForrest preached a message on why he was thankful for RomanCatholicism, and he said that he praised the Lord for Mary theQueen of Heaven and for purgatory! Upon the authority of theBible I can testify that the ecumenical-Charismatic"revival" is demonically inspired because it producesdoctrinal error instead of truth. The Holy Spirit is the Spiritof TRUTH.
Hagin has taught a health-prosperity gospel. Hesays: "Like salvation, healing is a gift, already paid forat Calvary. All we need to do is accept it. All we need to do ispossess the promise that is ours. As children of God, we need torealize that healing belongs to us" (Hagin, HealingBelongs to Us, p. 32). He further says: "God isglorified through healing and deliverance, not sickness andsuffering" (Hagin, The Key to Scriptural Healing,p. 17). Hagin's claims do not match reality, though. A few yearsago he claimed that he hadn't been sick in 60 years, but actuallyhe has had several cardiovascular crises, one lasting six weeks.Heart disease is a sickness, dear friends!
As for prosperity, Hagin claims that the Lordspoke to him in a vision in 1959 with the words: "If youwill learn to follow that inward witness I will make you rich. Iwill guide you in all the affairs of life, financial as well asspiritual" (Hagin, How to Be Led by the Holy Spirit).In an article "How God Taught Me about Prosperity,"Hagin claims that Jesus Christ taught him not to think that it iswrong to have riches. Allegedly Christ told him not to "prayabout money anymore; that is, the way you've been praying. CLAIMWHATEVER YOU NEED." Christ allegedly further taught Haginthat he has personal angels who can be commanded to do hisbidding. Hagin says Christ told him in 1963 that the angels werewaiting for his command to provide his material desires."They are waiting on you to give them the order, just as thewaitress cannot do anything for you until you give her theorder" (Hagin, I Believe in Visions, p. 126).
This is the source for the terms"word-faith" or "positive confession." Thatwhich the believer confesses with his mouth will be true inreality. Various forms of this false idea have spread throughoutmany parts of the Pentecostal-Charismatic movement today.
Hagin's ministry has been characterized byphenomena which we would characterize as demonic. Theunscriptural "spirit slaying" phenomenon has been amajor part of his ministry. He describes many people who havefallen into trances during his meetings. He claims one teenagegirl was in a trance for almost nine hours, and that when he anda pastor tried to move her, the two of them were unable to budgeher off the floor, in spite of the fact that this pastor was alarge man weighing more than 200 pounds. He tells of other peoplebeing glued to the floor so that no one could move them. On oneoccasion, when someone was levitated in a meeting, Hagin's wifeand two other people questioned whether it was of the Lord. Heclaims that God instructed him to touch all three of them on theforehead with his little finger, and when he did so, they wereknocked to the floor and paralyzed so that they could not get up.They were not allowed to rise until they acknowledged thatHagin's power was of God. When they admitted this, Hagin touchedthem again with his finger and they were released (McConnell, p.64). Hagin tells of a woman who danced off a platform andlevitated in the air while she was "dancing in theSpirit." He claims to have visited both Heaven and Hell.
Hagin has been in the center of the currentLaughing Revival. We have previously related that it was during aRodney Howard-Browne crusade at Hagin's church that Vineyardpastor Randy Clark received the "anointing" which hesubsequently carried to Toronto. I have seen video recordings ofa conference conducted by Kenneth Hagin, Sr., Kenneth Hagin, Jr.,and Kenneth Copeland in Chesterfield, Missouri, October 12-24,1997. It is one of the strangest and most unscriptural things Ihave ever witnessed. Hagin, Sr. staggers around like a drunk,sticking his tongue out and wiggling it like a serpent. He blowsand hisses and pants, blowing on people, waving his arms at them,striking them on the head, while entire rows of people fall downor slide out of their seats in a drunken stupor as he lurches by.Women fall to the floor in all sorts of compromising positionsand have to be covered with the assistance of ladies who areassigned that task. Kenneth Copeland and Kenneth Hagin, Jr., areright in the middle of the insanity, acting as if they werecompletely drunken on liquor, rolling on the floor, makingstrange noises, laughing hysterically for no apparent reason. Oneof Hagin's helpers, a large man who is attempting to hold thesenior Hagin upright, is overcome with drunkenness and falls intothe lap of an attractive woman. Pandemonium and confusion reign.Four men are required to help the drunken Hagin get back onto thespeaker's platform.
Hagin's influence has been phenomenal.Thousands of students have graduated from his Rhema BibleTraining Center and have gone throughout the world plantingchurches patterned after his ministry. The stated purpose ofRhema is "to produce graduates who will carry forth thegreat charismatic renewal that God has sent into our time."His daily radio program is broadcast on more than 180 stations inthe States and by short-wave to about 80 other countries. By thelate 1980s, more than three million of his 85 books and a halfmillion of his sermons on audio cassette were being distributedeach year. His monthly Word of Faith magazine goes to190,000 homes.