The Word Faith Movement Examined 6 History

So far we’ve established…

  • Speaking in tongues is a sign to those who do not believe
  • Biblically, “tongues” refers to languages
  • There were only three cases of speaking in tongues in the Book of Acts: 2:4-11, 10:44-48, and 19:1-8
  • All three instances of speaking in tongues, Apostles were present, and Jews were present. In all three cases, unbelieving Jews were in the vicinity to witness.
  • speaking in an unknown tongue probably refers to speaking in Hebrew, according to two commentators (Adam Clarke and Charles Hodge)
  • Speaking in tongues must be done one at a time.
  • there must be no more than three people per service speaking in tongues.
  • Someone must be there that understands that language to interpret.
  • There must be no more than three people to preach at any service.
  • women may not preach or speak in tongues.
  • The sign gifts can be demonstrated departing somewhere around 60AD.
  • Paul was unable to heal three of his friends of sicknesses, one of them sick near to death.
  • Prophecy has demonstrably passed away
  • Many false and pagan religions speak in modern tongues
  • Modern Tongues has too small a vocabulary to be a real language
  • Modern tongues lacks the grammar structure to be a real language.
  • Modern Tongues have been studied by language experts and declared not a real language.
  • Modern tongues have been described as essentially the same as pagan speaking in tongues
  • supposed “raisings from the dead” are apparently unverifiable – nobody is forthcoming with the names, or even the persons themselves.
  • claims of amputees being healed also are unverifiable.
  • serious birth defects apparently cannot be healed by these faith healers.
  • Most Pentecostal healings amount to back pains and headaches, and have the healing powers of aspirin

Now, we finally will begin examining the roots of the Word Faith movement. I’m going to bring up some names that are not often examined in connection with the Word Faith movement. I’ll have to break this one up over several days, as it is very long, but all of this information is very important to show Charismatic/Pentecostals and Word Faith adherents the origins and truths of their “denomination”.

For those mildly curious, I initially wrote this as a single blog post – due to the size it had grown to before reaching the supposed “Second Wave”, it became obvious that it would have to be broken into multiple posts.

I’ll be quoting from David Cloud a lot. He has already done much excellent research on this. Another person who has done a lot of research on this is Terry Arnold, who like Cloud, surprised me in uncovering the true source of most of Charismatic teachings – the infamous and irrepressible Frank W. Sandford of Durham, Maine. He’s relatively unknown today, but in 1901 he was famous throughout America and Canada for his exploits and sometimes bizarre teachings. More on him (much more) in a moment. The true source of Word Faith, however, is… well, you’ll see. It took over a month to write the timeline, which this narrative is based on. By the time I was done researching, I had visited over 100 websites, trying to find information on people it was difficult to find information on. I will from time to time suggest why some of the ancestors of the Word Faith sometimes engaged in bizarre behavior. These are my theories. I am not trying to insult these people’s memories – indeed, my layman’s analysis may well help to explain some of their actions, and we may be able to look at them with some sympathy. Of course, it’s also entirely possible that every last one of these people were wolves in sheeps clothing, and utterly without excuse. You get to choose which of these theories you believe, or can hold off judgment – whichever you prefer. But please remember Christians are encouraged to judge with righteous judgment (John 7:24). We are required to know who is a false teacher and who is not, to protect ourselves.

We’re now entering a territory where mainline Pentecostals claim they do not belong. As I said, you would be hard pressed to find a Pentecostal church completely free of Word Faith influences.

The origins seem scattered at first. There’s a number of factors that seem innocent enough or completely unrelated – and yet, as you look at the timeline, you can connect the dots easily enough!

The Holiness movement was started by George Whitefield, a British evangelist who traveled the UK and America in the 1700’s. He preached repentance, and inspired many to investigate Methodism, the denomination to whom Whitefield belonged. There was nothing heretical about the teachings of Whitefield, but indeed, it spurred many into accepting Methodism, and its teaching of Progressive Sanctification. This doctrine emphasizes that believers are incapable of sin, which attracted new Christians who were struggling with overcoming their sinful nature and desiring to live a holy life. The Teaching seemed too good to be true (it is…), and many flocked to it, rather than attempting to combat it through Christian Growth and discipleship, which leads to spiritual maturity. The Holiness movement created the seeds that would be watered by later teachers.

The Pentecostal will tell you his history comes from the Azuza Street Revival. Actually, it comes from earlier than that. The ‘seedbed’ for the new Pentecostal movement and its doctrine was the Holiness movement in the late 1800’s. It is clear that various Holiness sectors of the Methodist movement left the traditional view of Sanctification as a process (‘progressive sanctification’) and began to develop over time doctrines of states or stages of sanctification. This appears to be the result of individuals being genuinely dissatisfied with their sinfulness and yearning for a greater holiness. Thus many actively sought more power over sin in their lives. (The Foundation and History of the Pentecostal Movement, Terry Arnold & Mike Claydon)

Mr. Arnold, in his writings on the history of the Pentecostal movement, dismisses any Pentecostal claim that the Pentecostal Denominations were the direct result of the Holiness Movement, drawing the distinction that it planted the seeds, but did not give birth to. He dismisses any such claims as a “myth” (The Foundation and History of the Pentecostal Movement, Terry Arnold & Mike Claydon)

As you will see, almost every originator of the Pentecostal Church was a Methodist. Many would leave the Freewill Baptist denomination, seduced by doctrines such as Entire Sanctification, and an assurance that “we no longer sin after we accept the subsequent blessing of Entire Sanctification”. David Cloud has done an excellent job of dismissing that doctrine as fanciful in both his free E-Books, and his Premium E-Books are highly recommended as well.

In 1817, the odd religion of Swedenborgianism (also called “The New Church”) comes to America, holding its first congress in Philadelphia. Swedenborgianism is a bizarre mix of “Enlightened Thought” (read – liberal philosophies mixed with agnosticism), The Bible (read as entirely spiritualized applications, instead of a literal understanding), and occultism. It paved the way for what would be the in vogue fascination with seances, fortune telling, and other means of necromancy. The “Sleeping Prophet” of Edgar Cayce (creator of the New Age philosophies) are remarkably similar to Swedenborgianism, and may well boil down to Cayce picking and choosing what elements of Swedenborgianism he particularly liked. Cayce (still many years in the future) would also blend in Madame Blatavsky’s Theosophy to create his new age.

The same year Warren Felt Evans is born. We’ll get to why that’s important soon enough. In 1818, William Miller, a Baptist minister, begins doing math, and discovers beyond a doubt that if you add a certain number to the year supposedly that Cyrus ordered the rebuilding of Jerusalem, the result was the number 1843. So he naively assumes that this will be the year of the rapture. As this predates the Darby-McDonald utterances of 1830 (and since Darby had written down his pre-tribulational views in 1827) – this should put to death once and for all any post-tribulational objections to the Rapture.

Within 6 years of each other, two women will be born who will alter the face of Christianity forever. The first is 1821 Mary Baker Eddy is born in Bow, New Hampshire. The second one will be Ellen G. Harmon. What do these two women have to do with Pentecostalism? Everything. As you’ll see.

But first, we have Joseph Smith. the “Prophet” Joseph Smith announces he is endowed with the spiritual gift of healing, like the apostles had. He is one of the few men to make this claim. He won’t be the last. Smith does such things as sending out healing cloths and laying hands on the sick, anointing them with oil. It will remain a minor part of Mormonism to this day. when the Salt Lake City bomber claimed one victim in the 20th century, a passerby laid hands upon the victim, anointing him with oil and commanding him to “Stay till a church elder can be summoned.” I suppose if the passerby had realized the very man he’d just anointed with oil had been the very bomber who’d injured and killed several others and had accidentally blown himself up dropping his latest bomb, he would have kept walking and saved the oil.

Phineas Parkhurst Quimby, also known as “Park”, began studying mesmerism (hypnosis, mind reading, mind control and thought transfer) initially from Dr. Robert H. Collyer, and eventually from Joseph Mesmer himself in 1838. He would later open a storefront clinic in Portland Maine, where anyone could come and receive “healings” and learn how to use these techniques. Quimby was hostile to Christianity and critical of religion. Quimby would die young, at the age of 64, the result of “overwork” according to Annetta D. Dresser. More likely it was the result of God – God is not mocked. What a man soweth, he shall also reap. Blasphemously, Dresser appropriates the words of the Lord and applies them to Quimby,

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.’ For, if ever a man did lay down his life for other, that man was Phineas Parkhurst Quimby.”

This would mean to Quimby’s adherents, he was a messiah- and thus was in reality an anti-christ. No testimony can be found in what writings are available. Absent any testimony, Christians should flee his teachings.

Quimby’s teachings amounted to these seven principles, as listed by Horatio w. Dresser, son of two of Quimby’s original students:

  1. The omnipresent Wisdom, the warm, loving Father of us all, Creator of all the universe, whose works are good, whose substance is an invisible reality
  2. The real man, whose life is eternal in the invisible kingdom of God, whose senses are spiritual and function independently of matter
  3. The visible world, which Dr. Quimby once characterized as “the shadow of Wisdom’s amusements”; that is, nature is only the outward projection or manifestation of an inward activity far more real and enduring.
  4. Spiritual matter, or fine interpenetrating substance, directly responsive to thought and subconsciously embodying in the flesh the fears, beliefs, hopes, errors, and joys of the mind
  5. Disease is due to false reasoning in regard to sensations, which man unwittingly develops by impressing wrong thoughts and mental pictures upon the subconscious spiritual matter
  6. As disease is due to false reasoning, so health is due to knowledge of the truth. To remove disease permanently, it is necessary to know the cause, the error which led to it. “The explanation is the cure.”
  7. To know the truth about life is therefore the sovereign remedy for all ills. This truth Jesus came to declare. Jesus knew how he cured and Dr. Quimby, without taking any credit to himself as a discoverer, believed that he understood and practiced the same great truth or science.

This of course assumed that the Lord was just a man, showing that Quimby was in no way a Christian, and not saved. You’ll see shortly this “new Thought” is very important, and not only do many of the Word Faith teachers embrace these concepts, they operate from the same supposition that the Lord was just a man. You cannot be saved and believe this!

“I say it is, for a person is to himself just what he thinks he is, and he is in his belief sick. If I am sick, I am sick for my feelings are my sickness, and my sickness is my belief, and my belief is my mind; therefore all disease is in the mind or belief. Now as our belief or disease is made up of ideas which are matter, it is necessary to know what ideas we are in; for to cure the disease is to correct the error; and as disease is what follows the error, destroy the cause, and the effect will cease. How can this be done? By a knowledge of the law of harmony…Your error is the cause of your sickness or trouble. Now to cure your sickness or trouble is to correct the error.” (“Is Disease a Belief”, disease a belief)

As a side note, I’ll mention that Warren Felt Evans is this same year ordained a Methodist minister. Again, we;ll get to why this is important.

In 1843, absolutely nothing happens. Well, A. B. Simpson is born. He’ll be mildly influential later. But for now, William Miller and his followers gather in the spot that Miller has calculated the Rapture would come to first. This should have been the last warning sign to his followers that something was amiss. The day ends with frantic people jumping in the air like fleas, trying vainly to jump start the rapture. They would gather in the same spot the next year, after Miller re-examined his calculations. Again, nothing happens. Miller apologizes and resigns – the correct thing to do. Miller does no more predicting ever again. In a power vacuum, the Millerites choose young Ellen G. Harmon, who goes into some kind of epileptic seizure and upon awakening, begins telling of strange visions. For some strange reason, the Millerites believe her. And when she begins advocating salvation by works and sabbath observance, nobody blinks an eye. At all. And Seventh Day Adventism is born. The Adventists ignore Scripture which plainly commands a woman not to have authority over men, nor to preach.

The year after Ellen Harmon marries James White (1846), John Alexander Dowie is born in Scotland. He will be VERY important later on.

1858, William Boardman publishes his book, The Higher Christian Life, advocating Methodism and it’s doctrine of Entire Sanctification as a subsequent event after salvation. It will herald a stir, creating what will be called “The Higher Life” movement of people seeking sinless perfectionism vainly.

In 1862, P. P. Quimby would be the catalyst of Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science. Warren Felt Evans (remember him???) had rejected Methodism and Chgristianity,come to Quimby before Eddy (some sources show him arriving a year after her), and had combined Swedenborgianism and later, Theosophy (A Satanic inspired philosophy, created by openly Satanic Madame Blatavsky), with Quimby’s “New Thought”. Eddy took much of Quimby’s ideas, apparently inspired by Evans, and formed Christian Science.

“When the first symptoms appear, dispute the testimony of the material senses with divine Science. Let your higher sense of justice destroy the false process of mortal opinions… Suffer no claim of sin or sickness to grow upon the thought. Dismiss it with an abiding conviction that it is illegitimate, because you know that God is no more the author of sickness than He is of sin… you have divine authority for denying that necessity and healing the sick. – Disease is an experience of a so-called mortal mind. It is fear manifest on the body.” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy)

Apparently, those who knew “Park” would later level constant, loud, vocal accusations of plagiarism of Quimby’s writings – most notably, Edward J. Arens (a former student of hers), and Julius and Anetta Dresser(Phineas P. Quimby – Father of the New Thought Movement,, author unknown). Quimby’s work – and Eddy’s – would not have a direct impact on Pentacostalism for almost 70 years. The work would be revived by Essek William “E.W.” Kenyon, which we will come to shortly.


Author: philipdean2013

Seminary graduate with a Ba. in Theology/Pastoral Studies, Happily married, Independent Baptist. I can't keep silent about what I see going on in Christianity any longer! Apostasy reigns around us, churches are sliding into worldiness, a whitewashed Gospel is preached everywhere... "Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein. Jeremiah 6:16 (KJV) So, I'm speaking out. ...Why aren't you???