The Word Faith Movement Examined 7 History


Again, I apologize – this series will be LONG. There’s a lot of information to put out on this.

Although many Word Faith adherents deny it – The word Faith movement is greatly influenced by the teachings of Mary Baker Eddy and her Christian Science. E. W. Kenyon is quoted concerning his knowledge of Christian Science teachings, showing he was well familiar with it. As Kenneth Hagin plagiarized large portions of Kenyon’s work, and modern Word Faith teachers routinely utilize Hagin’s theologies – it runs back to the source.

I should point out that in 1881, the Wescott Hort greek texts were releassed simultaneously with the English Revised Version, the heretical translation of the Bible. The impact of liberal thinking and modernism on that age would subconsciously encourage men to add to the word of God, and take away from. Within three years of the release of the new Bible, the The Western Kansas Ministerial Association debated the Methodist doctrine of Entire Sanctification and Sinless Perfectionism, and theorizes there might be a three santifications – regeneration, sanctification and the subsequent baptism of the Holy Ghost. Add Speaking in tongues and prophetic utterances to the mix (Frank W. Sandford), Divine healing (A. B. Simpson) and New Thought, Christian Science and the god-man heresy (E. W. Kenyon) – and you have Word Faith. The only thing yet to occur would be the money grubbing, courtesy of Oral Roberts. But we’ll get there.

We next move to the biggest mover and shaker of the Word Faith movement, E. W. Kenyon. Kenyon was born in 1860, originally a Methodist. Kenyon’s testimony is unknown, except that he claims to have been saved at a Methodist meeting in 1884. It most likely was not a real conversion, as Kenyon left Christianity by 1890 in pursuit of being an actor. He ended up enrolling at the Emerson College of Oratory in Boston, Massachusetts (an institution which advocated Quimby’s New Thought teachings) to study acting. Incidentally, the mother church of Christian Science can be found in Boston as well. Kenyon repeated the error of Mary Baker Eddy, by combining mysticism, Quimby’s New Thought and Christianity together. This truly is the beginning of the Word-Faith movement. While up to now we’ve mostly studied the history of Pentacostalism, at this point we begin a concentrated study of the history of the Word Faith movement. We will after this begin an exhaustive study of the doctrine of the Word Faith movement. At the conclusion of this, you will be convinced that it is incompatible with the Lord Jesus Christ, Christianity and the Bible. The only conclusion you’ll be able to come to is that it is another Gospel, another Jesus, and cannot save.

He attended a college that specialized in training lecturers for the metaphysical science cults. And he imported and adapted into his system most of the essential ideas these cults propagated. (John MacArthur, Charismatic Chaos, Pgs 289-290)

It should be recalled that in Quimby’s group, the work of combining New Thought with Theosophy (an openly Satanic movement started by Madam Blatavsky – although she would claim to have “rediscovered” it) and with Swedenborgianism had already occurred. This combination of teachings by Warren Felt Evans is what passed down to the Emerson School, at which Kenyon studied. Kenyon could not have arrived at these teachings on his own after Emerson, if indeed he studied these very teachings at Emerson! It is another case of lack of integrity in the Word Faith Movement in that Kenyon claims to have deciphered these writings from the Bible when in fact he’d been taught them at college. The real reason is that Kenyon understood his teachings to be heretical, and knew if he openly told his students that he’d studied a combination of New Thought, Swedenborgianism and the dreaded Theosophy – he’d have been unsuccessful, and would have been denounced by every Christian teacher who heard of him.

Kenyon attended the Emerson School of Oratory in 1892. There, he was under the influence of Charles Emerson, a Christian Scientist; R.W. Trine, a Gnostic who wrote one of the major books on New Thought; and M.J. Savage, a Unitarian whose church Kenyon attended. (THE TRUTH ABOUT THE WORD OF FAITH, exwordoffaith.blogspot.com)

This fact should be emphasized. Kenyon was studying at a school run by a Christian Scientist, knowingly and willingly. This alone should case ALL Charismatics to stop and seriously question all Word Faith teachers and doctrine. Christians are commanded by the Bible to separate from heretics, not to attend their schools. In this case, we have no less than THREE heretics who are teaching, and Kenyon is not only willingly studying their teachings, but also is attending a Unitarian “church” – an institution that in its very essence denies the Lord Jesus Christ! Kenyon’s very profession of faith and his testimony is suspect! Yes, this happens during a period of rebellion against Christianity – but Kenyon claimed to be repentant and return to Christianity. In reality, this probably means he was born again at Gordon’s church, and not during his previous claim to be born again

The only thing missing from Christian Science is the Blood. (E. W. Kenyon)

That quote alone – even without the understading of Kenyon attending a Christ-denying “church” and studying at a New Age-mysticism institute – should bring up a lot of questions, in the minds of every Charismatic. The Word Faith movement completely rests on the words and works of E. W. Kenyon. He is the Word Faith movement. I’m going by the words of my first pastor, who was Word Faith – And he was an astute student of all Word Faith materials. He clearly taught E. W. Kenyon was indeed the first.

E.W. Kenyon taught that “sickness is a spiritual condition manifested in the physical body.” (Word of Faith Heresy Exposed, Alan Vincent)

in 1893, Kenyon abandons his dreams of being an actor and returns to Christianity, and begins attending Adoniram Judson Gordon’s Clarendon Street Baptist Church in 1893. I call attention to this date for two reasons I will divulge shortly. Gordon begins in 1894 – AFTER KENYON LEAVES – teaching divine healing and that Christians must seek the Holy Spirit the way that they seek the Lord Jesus Christ. The words “Second, subsequent Blessing” are not used, but it is a stagesetter for the teachings that Frank W. Sandford will build upon. I also point out there is nothing else of Word Faith teachings to be found in Gordon’s teachings.

In addition, I call attention to the 1893 date for an additional reason. Kenyon left Christianity after six years, suggesting his conversion at the time probably was not genuine. If this is the case, then his salvation experience would have to be considered 1893, and 1897 would be the earliest that Kenyon would be Biblically permitted to pastor a church. However, the year that Kenyon is ordained by Freewill Baptists and begins pastoring his first church is… 1893. In other words, just a few months after his possible conversion experience. I do make an issue of this, simply on the grounds that I went through a similar circumstance myself, having been in the ministry for a couple of years before leaving to pursue worldly goals. When I came back, I had to evaluate my previous salvation claim in light of Scripture – there is no record of anyone in the Bible backsliding for several years, and coming back.

24 Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment: Acts 15:24 (KJV)

18 Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. 1 John 2:18-19 (KJV)

This is the only biblical record of anyone leaving Christianity, and the Bible makes it clear they were not saved. The Judaizers are clearly not saved, as they are preaching another Gospel. John takes the time to clearly explain that their leaving is fruit rather showing they were never saved to begin with.

For instance, If you were saved in the year 2000, left, and came back in 2007, you should not consider yourself in 2013 as being saved for 13 years. You should consider it only from the time of your return, if you have a solid testimony after that time. For purposes of ministry, I consider my 2008 experience my salvation experience, and the Bible made it clear that the earliest I could actively enter the ministry would be 2011. It’s now 2013, and I will probably be ordained in October or November.

This attention to dates brings a number of things into question – not the least of which being – was E. W. Kenyon biblically qualified to preach? The answer would be “No”. If there is any question whatsoever, then a return to Christianity should be probably considered the date of salvation experience. At the VERY LEAST, if we accept the 1884 date, then Kenyon’s return to Christianity is truly too soon to alllow him to preach, instead of mere months later. He needed to be rooted and grounded in the faith.

The next issue is that Kenyon’s supporters turn to Gordon’s teachings to attempt to show that Kenyon was “…teaching what he learned from his pastor” (I cannot recall the source of this quote, as the PDF I saved of that website is missing.) However, Gordon did not begin to teach this until after Kenyon had left. The question is now “wag the dog” – did Gordon come to these “divine healings” and “Seek the Holy Spirit” doctrines from himself, or from conversations with Kenyon? It is a question we cannot answer, unless the answer may be found in the personal writings of either Kenyon and Gordon, which I do not have access to. It is indeed possible as well that Gordon simply was taking influence from what was currently the rage in Christian thinking. Kenyon’s teachings, however, are light years away from what the current rage of “higher life” Christians. I should point out that Gordon died of Influenza the year after his book on divine healing came out.

However, I state this – If Gordon did not begin teaching this until the year after Kenyon left – where did Kenyon derive these teachings in only a few months? The obvious answer is, if they are identical to the new thoughts teachings of Emerson College (which they are), then we must conclude they came from his years at Emerson.

In the 1884 book The Atonement for Sin and Sickness, Russell Kelso Carter demonstrates an early version of what Kenyon later taught: “I only prayed, O, Lord, make me sure of the truth, and I will confess it; I have nothing to do with consequences; that is Thy part,” and again, “Jesus has the keeping part, I have the believing and confessing.” (Wikipedia entry on E. W. Kenyon)

The Wikipedia entry on Kenyon is a flawed argument. Russell Carter is quoted from his tract The Atonement For Sin and Sickness, not a book. We have nothing to tie this to “Positive confessionism”, as this is also reminiscent of Gospel Tracts and the assurance of Salvation, a very hot topic in the 1880’s, as was whether or not a person went to Hell if they died without Jesus. There were a large number of pamphlets published in those days on both issues. There is also no proof that Carter was himself not influenced by New Thought and Christian Science! It is typical of an Argument From Authority, one of Thouless’s 38 methods of Crooked And Dishonest Thinking.

I need to emphasize that a person needs quite some time to formulate a systematic theology. Try it. Write a statement of faith without copying one, using only a Strong’s Concordance. It is an interesting experiment! I know it took 8 months, with the benefits of Computer Software, topical Bibles and with a year and a half of Seminary training. Kenyon had none of this, as Nave and Torrey did not publish their Topical Bibles until early in the 20th century. And here’s the kicker – Strongs was not completed until 1890. Seven Years later. I do not know if Cruden’s concordence was available at the time either. Cruden’s would have been more difficult to use, as the first editions of it were not exhaustive, but rather allowed the user to search for the most common words. Without a formulated systematic theology in place, we must conclude that Kenyon simply took his training in Christian Science, Theosophy, and New Thought and simply combined it with a Gospel-light theology reminiscent of a Biblically unlearned Christian.

I should point out that Kenyon follows the typical example of Pentacostal ministers (that of having little to no Seminary training) prior to preaching. I remind the reader Kenyon studied acting at Emerson. Gordon could not have trained Kenyon, as Kenyon was only with him for a few months, and the minimum Biblical requirement is 3 years (we see from example of the Apostle Paul and the 11 surviving Apostles). I cannot stress this point enough! It is another case of men which are unlearned and unstable wresting the Scriptures to their own destruction. The pattern is repeated over and over again in Pentacostal preachers. I will deal at length with Kenyon’s doctrine in another post, as there are is a large numbers of areas for serious concern. If Kenyon was not teaching heresy, he most certainly taught error, and was skirting the heresy line. Kenneth Hagin, on the other hand, firmly crossed the heresy line. If anyone is offended by that statement, I apologize. I can only state that I was Pentacostal during my first phase of claiming to be a Christian. It was only when I was Bibblically born again that I heard teachings questioning Pentacostalism, and I was forced to turn to the Bible, and investigate the issue for myself. I was forced quickly to conclude modern tongues are not Biblical, and that true tongues passed away. Again, more on this later.

Returning to the history of the Word Faith movement, The very next event that sparked the Pentacostal movement comes from he Christians’ Secret to a Happy Life by Hannah Whitehall Smith. Raised by Quaker parents, she was attracted to the teachings of Wesley and of Finney, and thus wrote of “sinless perfectionism”, and “Yielding yourself unto God”. “Empty yoursielf” was a catchphrase of the book. This mixing of Quakerism and Methodist doctrines resulted in the first major work that would yield the Pentacostal movement. The essence of the book was advocating allowing the Holy Ghost to move and influence you, to listen at all times for God to speak to you audibly. Although some of this stems from Scripture, in many cases it is stretching beyond what is written in the Bible.

God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, 2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; 3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; Hebrews 1:1-3 (KJV)

Cloud writes,

Influential leaders such as Charles Finney, William Booth, and Phoebe Palmer promoted various forms of the doctrine of “complete sanctification,” claiming that the dedicted believer can experience a condition of perfection of some sort in this life. A similar doctrine had been taught in the Methodist denomination from its inception. The doctrine of entire holiness usually involved a belief that the individual could experience a “second work of grace” or a “second blessing” whereby the sin nature was either eradicated or conquered, thus placing the entirely sanctified Christian above the normal struggles with sin. (Way Of Life Encyclopedia of Christianity and the Bible, pg. 96, Way of Life Publishing Company)

One of the first Evangelists to create the Pentacostal movement was Reverend Frank W. Sandford a retired baseball player turned evangelist. Sandford had the misfortune of attending seminary three times, each time completing the first year… then leaving to start a church. There is no record anywhere, that I am aware of, of Sandford completing anything beyond the first year of seminary – including Moody Bible institute. There is no doubt he had attended Moody – but no historical record he ever completed it. Instead, the historical record shows that Sandford showed a history of enrolling in seminary, and leaving within a few months to pastor churches. Then, bizarrely, would then resign the church after a few months to a year, and enroll in another seminary. Sandford did complete Bates College, starting his career as a school teacher. But seminary was never completed, according to the Nelson Fair, Clear and Terrible book.

The last time, he was attending D. L. Moody’s Bible College, when he discovered Hannah Whitehall Smith‘s book. Ignoring the Biblical injunction that women should not teach men, Sandford devoured the book, and promptly made a vow in his personal papers to yield himself unto the Holy Ghost. He returned to his native Maine, first holding tent revivals in 1893, then borrowed farms, finally starting a community with Quakers called Shiloh in Durham-Lisbon Falls in 1897. The Hannah Whitehall Smith influence is shown by Sandford seeking out Quakers to ally with. A. B Simpson would be another influence. His teachings of divine healing would be another influence. A. B. Simpson created the Four Fold Gospel, which was eerily emphasizing healing at the same time New Thought was all the rage, publishing books on – healing. Sandford would attend Simpson’s meetings early in his career. As Sandford was the first to emphasize the spiritual gifts being for today, it would be clear the influence would extend the other way. Eventually, Simpson would be rejected by his own missionary alliance, over the issue of tongues speaking, and whether or not the speaking of tongues was the initial evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Eventually the Quakers would separate from Sandford, citing doctrinal differences – and would excommunicate all adherents who had accepted baptism by Sandford. Shiloh had been quasi-charismatic, emphasizing a second, subsequent baptism of the Holy Ghost. The “Second, subsequent baptism of the Holy Ghost” doctrine originates with Sandford. I have read a great deal on this subject, and Sandford appears to be the first to emphasize this as something to be actively sought. If not with him, then the “Tarry until you recieve” portion of the “Second Baptism” most definately originates with him. The Quaker “moved of the Holy Spirit” doctrine passed over to Sandford during this phase. It would be carried down from one of Sandford’s disciples to Topeka, Kansas. From there it would travel to Azuza Street – and on to every modern Charismatic Church. There is no record of Sandford being aware of E. W.Kenyon, or being influenced by his writings – geographical proximity is not enough in that day and age – Sandford’s “Kingdom Movement” made limited inroads into Boston. However, he too would be familiar with P. P. Quimby, as Quimby had his office in Portland, a place to which Sandford frequently traveled to purchase his boats. Sandford’s boat travel ministry apparently is the role model for all the televangelists who travel by personally owned jets. And “Mainuh’s stick togethah”, as the locals say. Natives to the New England region tend to view their living their as their identification. “I’m from Maine” is what someone who lived there 5 years will tell people 40 years later.

Certainly it must be repeated that Quimby’s advertisements appeared in the papers in those days, as did articles on the “New Science”, as they called New Thought. Today, as we have studied Quimby’s unBiblical teachings at length, we recognize them to be heresy. However, to a Christian movement such as “The Higher Life Christians”, they were actively seeking God, and were also beginning to teach that divine healing accompanied this “second, subsequent blessing”. Any newspaper article on miraculous healings would be devoured and discussed by the higher life crowd. Even if Quimby’s teachings were recognized as unScriptural, the Higher life crowd very probably overlooked it – after all, it conformed to what their rapidly evolving theology taught!

It needs to be emphasized the power of the newspaper in those days. The Newspapers were so influential in the 19th and early 20th century, that literally a newspaper editor could start a war from the very words he chose for a headline! Not a war of words, but an actual war with men killing one another. The Spanish-American war is said to have been invented in order to sell newspapers. LIterally, a war in which men were killed was created to sell newspapers.

Everyone read the newspapers, sometimes two editions a day. The newspapers communicated to one another via telegraph. Controversial happenings in Durham Maine at noon could be read about in Chicago or San Francisco that very day, in the evening edition of the newspaper. Sandford enjoyed giving interviews and seeing his name in the paper (when it was favorable to him), unlike John Dowie, who for the mosr part shunned publicity.

I draw attention to two circumstances, and one central theme of Sandford’s ministry. The core of Sandford’s original group were people who’d been Quakers, and had been excommunicated. This creates an emotional shock in the excommunicant, feelings of rejection, alienation, and guilt. Emotionally, they would literally follow Sandford – who accepted them during this crucial phase – to the grave. And several did.

Sandford’s habit of enrolling in seminaries, then off to pastor a church too soon, seemed to create emotional conflicts. This isn’t psycho babble – it’s the same stress you undergo when you are delayed, and know you’re expected somewhere else at the same time. You get stressed, angry, impatient. If its circumstances beyond your control, dismay sets in. Now if you’ve trapped yourself in a bad situation, the emotional conflict spirals upward. What is beyond a shadow of a doubt is that in 1890, Sandford had a nervous breakdown. And on that recognition, he resolved to take a tour of the world by boat, to recover. During that tour, his boat is shipwrecked. And Sandford begins hearing voices.

It’s my opinion that Sandford’s nervous breakdown was not yet fully past, when the shipwreck unhinged him. Sandford seemed to have developed a low level schizophrenia, never quite getting to the point where he stopped bathing (as happens to some people). The Bible does speak of mental illness, so this is biblically possible. Another possible conclusion would be demonic possession. Whether Sandford was possessed or not, I cannot say. You choose which of the two you like best, Shizophrenic or demon possessed. It’s very probable that the one (possession) causes the other (mental illness). Matthew 4:4 appears to draws a disctinction between the two, whereas in Matthew 17:15 they were synonymous.

The tragedy lay in that Sandford assumed the whispering voice he hears in his head is God, as many schizophrenics commonly do. And Sandford was going to be in a pastoral position of authority. Thanks to the Hannah Whitehall Smith, he was already actively listening for the voice of God. So when he began hearing voices, it was the confirmation sign he’d been looking for.

Adoniram Jordon Gordon, the pastor of E. W. kenyon, released his book “The Ministry of the Spirit” in 1894. Completely by coincidence, Sandford announced in 1894 he had recieved a second, subsequent blessing of the Holy Spirit.

Reverend Sandford was known for his prophetic announcements, including one delivred in Jerusalem that he was Elijah the prophet. He believed he could cast out demons (the concept of shouting at someone supposedly possessed by demons originates with Sandford as well, and would be picked up and advocated by Smith Wigglesworth), there was a Baptism of Fire, divine healings, and that occurrenses such as people being dropped to the floor, unable to get up (known today as “Slain in the Spirit”) apparently routinely happened. Sandford routinely would purge Shiloh of adherents, claiming a Judgment, Fair Clear and Terrible was about to happen. The Shiloh adherents began seeking the gifts of the spirit right away, with Sandford casting out demons in 1894, speaking in tongues around 1898, and allegedly raising the dead in 1899. At that time, the initial belief was that speaking in tongues was the miraculous ability to speak in foreign languages – which actually was a correct Biblical understanding of it.

Few of today’s Pentecostal leaders seem to realise the fact that generally the early Holiness leaders, including Parham himself, believed Biblical tongues were known earthy languages. (The Foundation and History of the Pentacostal Movement, Terry Arnold & Mike Claydon, Pg. 6)

Sandford began a pattern of travel, then stay at Shiloh – and withdraw from people. It was remarkably similar to Manic depression, except it happened for MUCH longer periods than is customary for a manic depressive. A Manic individual usually withdraws for a few days – with Sandford, it was up to five weeks sometimes.

The major influence behind the tongues movement would be Charles Fox Parham, who eventually broke with Sandford over the issue, and left Shiloh to return home, and start his own Bible College, more of which you will read in a moment. This event sparked the infamous Fair Clear and Terrible purge, in which some people were quite simply rejected from the movement. A few of those were later allowed to return, after publically repenting of whatever sin Sandford imagined. The paranoia and suspicion of betrayal is another symptom of the schizophrenia. In some of the more dreastic cases, this is when a few schizophrenics will actually snap and kill someone. Sandford was not that disordered to get to that point.

Eventually, Sandford was convicted of cruelty to children, death resulting, from the deaths of at least two children at Shiloh from starvation and denial of medical attention – and spent time in Prison around 1916. These accounts can be found in the book “Fair, Clear and Terrible” by Shirley Nelson (British American Publishing Company). The account is actually fascinating reading. I am surprised that there is not a steady stream of Charismatic devotees travelling to Durham, Maine to visit Shiloh as the birthplace of their movement.

A rival charismatic group was John Alexander Dowie‘s Zion City, apparently an attempt to copy Shiloh north of Chicago in 1900. Dowie and Sandford knew each other, and Dowie had spoken at Moody Bible College while Sandford had visited there. Not to be outdone, Sandford ended up speaking at Moody as well. What had started out as a cooperation turned into a rivalry. Dowie, like Sandford, also claimed to be Elijah the prophet, which places 1900 as the year of great blessings, in that there were two Elijah the prohets at the same time. Perhaps America was more blessed than ancient Israel to have two Elijahs when they had only one… I don’t know. The claim reveals an awareness of Shiloh, and a conscious attempt to mimic and/or supercede. Awareness of Shiloh is not too far-fetched – it regularly made the newspapers in New England, and papers throughout the US did share stories of Shiloh. Dowie’s claim to be Elijah was perhaps the stronger, since he made himself a High Priest’s outfit, and tried to look the part. In addition, Dowie called the main building of his Zion City “Shiloh”.

Dowie, also like Sandford, refused his adherents medical attention, claiming one should seek divine healing. Dowie apparently believed everything he preached. A fire resulted in the severe burning of his daughter. One of Dowie’s followers suggested applying petroleum jelly to her burns to relieve the pain, and Dowie banished him. Eventually, Dowie’s daughter succumbed to the injuries and, like the children at Shiloh – died. Oddly, the account seems to be missing from Dowie’s official biography.

There are reports of speaking in tongues at Zion City as well. Both Dowie and Sandford had established the “no doctors” doctrine after Mary Baker Eddy. Whether they were influenced by her or not is unknown – but it is striking that Mary Baker Eddy was originally established in Maine (before the “mother church” was established in Boston), as was Sandford’s Shiloh and Quimby’s “New thought” school. And there is no denying that Christian Science is most infamous for its insistance on “no doctors” – usually resulting in the death of its practitioners.

Rumours of infidelity, marital irregularities and financial scandal plagued his (Dowie’s) ministry in his last years until his death in 1907. (The Foundation and History of the Pentacostal Movement, Terry Arnold & Mike Claydon, Pg. 7)

We come now to the best known founder of Pentecostalism, Charles Fox Parham. Like Sandford, he too had a Quaker connection. His mother had died when he was young, and his father remarried, to a Quaker woman, Harriet Miller. They are married in a Friend’s Society ceremony in 1886, showing that Parham would be exposed to Quaker influences growing up. Parham supposedly was saved as a youth, in 1887 at the age of fourteen. He claimed later to have been ordained at this time as a Methodist minister – again, like many of the other early Pentecostals, within a few months of his salvation experience! I repeat again, the Bible forbids the ordaining of anyone prior to 3 1/2 years of salvation.

The Wikipedia entry (and one or two accounts I have read) all make the claim that Parham was in reality never ordained. We have a conflict between historical records and Parham’s recollections. I do not know which one is the accurate. I do know that Parham began preaching at 15, was preaching solo serives by 19, and had enrolled in Southwestern University (a seminary) that same year (1891). Parham would leave the university in 1893, feeling that an education in the Bible, rooting and grounding him in Scripture would actually interfere with the Holy Ghost’s leading of his life. Parham’s use of the phrase “Holy Spirit” rather than “Holy Ghost” (which only occurs seven times in the King James, but numerous times in the Revised Version) suggests Parham had been studying from the Revised Version, rather than the Authorized Version.

In addition, Parham learned British Israelism from J. H. Allen during this period, uniting him in theology with Sandford, who would start his Shiloh ministry in Bowdoinham, Maine that same year based upon that teaching, coupled with “Higher Life” Christianity. Sandford learned the British Israelitism from a Seventh Day Adventist, Professor Totten (Ironically, Totten” is German for “Dead”.)

J. H. Allen published his book on British Israeliteism the following year (1894). This would be the same book that Herbert W. Armstrong would read in the 1930’s, leading him to start the Worldwide Church of God cult.

It’s amazing, reading the history of this movement, how so many of the players of the early Pentacostalism would found or inspire so many cults and false movements. Joseph Smith would create Mormonism, William Miller would set the stage for Seventh Day Adventism, who in turn influenced the theology of Frank Sandford – and the Seventh Day Adventists also created the Jehovah’s Witnesses. P. P. Quimby influenced both Christian Science and E. W. Kenyon. E. W. Kenyon’s pastor would write a book that would influence Sandford. Who in turn influenced Charles Parham, who would send out William Seymour, who started the Azuza Street Mission. The Azuza Street Mission would create gthe Welsh revivals, which would lead to Smith Wigglesworth coming forth. John Dowie, would create a rival Shiloh, influenced by and influencing at the same time Sandford. Dowie’s group would yield the Assemblies of God denomination, and would bring forth Finis J. Dake. J. H. Allen was an influence on Charles Parham, and would be the indirect cause of the Worldwide Church of God heresy, until the mid 90’s, when the Worldwide Church of God finally rejected Armstrong’s teachings.

Parham would start a group of meetings, trying to plant churches from 1893 until 1899, when he began travelling. Parham went at first to Shiloh, to study with Sandford. What is recorded that Parham may have initially believed that tongues included “unknown tongues”, as that is what some accounts describe the disagreement with Sandford as being over. Or it may possibly have been a jealousy issue – Sandford might not have minded his Shiloh adherents speaking in tongues when Sandford laid hands on them – but perhaps it was a different issue when it came from Parham! At any rate, Parham split with Sandford, choosing to go spitefully to Dowie’s Zion City, no doubt to irritate Sandford. Irritate him it did – Sandford instituted an inquisition, questioning his Shiloh community at length, and purging some in what came to be called the Fair, Clear and Terrible purges. The Shiloh cult dreaded this purge, fearing to be cast out as unworthy.

Parham’s stay with Dowie didn’t last long, for reasons unexplained. Parham returned home the same year. Charles Parham started his own Bible School in Topeka Kansas the same year. This is apparently the origin of the modern movement. Parham, like Sandford, was convinced all miracle sign gifts were for today, and thus, opened his Bible Institute to teach exactly that. I should point out this was a Bible Institute organized out of rebellion, due to Parham having the doctrinal split with his pastor (Frank Sandford). This casts a pall over everything done in Pentacostalism/Word Faith, in that it was the result of a barely trained man differing in doctrine with another barely trained man – and leaving to establish his own Bible Institute when neither himself or his Pastor had been fully trained to do so.

39 And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch? Luke 6:39 (KJV)

It is essential to note some additional information about Parham, as the picture most people portray him as shows either a devout man, or a confused and uneducated man. However, the real picture is far more severe, showing him possibly to be mentally unstable, and very probably a Sociopath.

Earlier in life Parham had suffered a brain viral infection which some believe caused him to behave disorderly. He was in fact rejected ordination by the Methodist Church. He denied the doctrine of eternal punishment, opposed medical and medicine treatment, and believed serious diseases to be demonic…Parham was documented as having mental, emotional, psychological and sociological disorders. In 1907 he was arrested for homosexual acts with a 22 year old man in San Antonio, Texas.The case was not prosecuted for lack of evidence and the scandal remained a mystery. From then unto his death in 1929,he was considered a fallen prophet by many church leaders of his time. However, he continued his religious endeavours up to the end, including raising funds for a trip to the Holy Land to search for the Ark of the Covenant. This trip never materialised as Parham claimed to have been ‘mugged’ in new York and had all his money stolen. (The Other Side of Azuza, Terry Arnold)

As a reult of the teachings of Parham, Agnes Ozman (a female student at the Bible School) began to speak in a gibberish language, and Parham triumphantly declared that the gift of tongues had returned – despite his years at Shiloh, teaching the same thing before Sandford stopped him. When was Parham claiming the gift of tongues had returned? It’s obvious that he was trying to claim they had miraculously returned at this moment – but he’d been encouraging speaking in tongues back at Shiloh! This also suggests a great deal of dishonesty or at the least, no integrity. Either the speaking in tongues at Shiloh had been the return of tongues, or they were not – which means both the “illegitimate” speaking of tongues and the “Legitimate” speaking of tongues had their origin in Parham – or they were both incorrect. They cannot be legitimate, if Parham was announcing the sign gifts had returned in 1901, but had been teaching people to do so just three years before in Shiloh!

Ozman also claimed the ability to miraculously write in other languages, specifically chinese. This is an occultic practice, known as “automatic writing”, and is used often by mediums. A historical center in Topeka still has the supposed Chinese. It was shown to a Chinese man who had no earthly idea what it was. Politely, he responded to the Historical Society, “Perhaps ask the Japanese.”

On Oct. 23, 1904, a nine year old girl, Nettie Smith, died after her father refused medical treatment due to belief in Parham’s teaching. The locals became angry with Parham and his ministry suffered greatly. (Pentacostal Roots: Amazing Facts, Terry Arnold)

A man named William Seymour attended one of Parham’s other schools, witnessing such events. Because Seymour was black, he was not permitted to sit in the classroom with everyone else, but rather had to sit in the hallway and listen to what he could hear go on. Seymour was able to confound Parham by his prodigious memory – Parham was able to quote from memory entire lectures of Parham’s. Sadly, racism casts an ugly pall over Christianity, in that Seymour seems to have an obvious call on his life by God. What a force he could have been if he’d gone to a Baptist seminary!

After being expelled from a Nazarine church for preaching ‘heresy’, he set up his own church in Azusa St, Los Angeles. This was to become the ‘Azusa Street revival’ centre from which many Apostolic Faith and Pentecostal churches worldwide would claim their roots. (The Foundation and History of the Pentacostal Movement, Terry Arnold & Mike Claydon, Pg. 5)

Seymour eventually left the Bible School, and in 1906 had moved to California, where he started the Azuza Street mission. The Asuza Street mission lasted for a few years, and is chiefly known for the Azuza Street revival, which is known for speaking in tongues, wild prophesying, and apparently a woman got up and began to preach in violation of Scripture, and according to third hand accounts of the event, apparently walked on air while prophesying.

It cannot be the Lord who gave her that miraculous ability, if indeed it happened. I have not been able to locate any other eyewitness accounts of the meeting, and this account of levitation never made it to the newspapers. Nor would the Lord have blessed someone violating Scripture with miraculous powers – It should be pointed out that in the Bible, anyone deviating even the tiniest amount from the methods as given by the Lord was dealt with swiftly. The sons of Aaron were destroyed for offering “strange fire” – and that was only the deviation of attempting to offer a prescribed offering of the Lord in the manner of the Canaanite nations around the Israelites.

I’ll add this – levitation, if indeed it happened, is not something recorded in the Bible. The Lord Jesus Christ walked on water, and physically ascended into heaven. When Satan tried to distort Scripture for the one being in the world who could possibly levitate, the Lord Jesus rebuked him.

5 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, 6 And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. 7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. Matthew 4:5-7 (KJV)

Levitation is something supposedly done by false religions, such as Hinduism. It is not a Christian thing. I personally have never levitated, although a couple of speed bumps I’ve encountered have led me to believe I was about to, temporarily!

Seymour, believing this to be a true revival similar to Acts 2, encouraged anyone who wanted to to get up and speak, as they were moved by the spirit. What ended up happening was that Seymour simply sat in a chair with his head hung down behind some peach crates that formed the makeshift pulpit, and would passively wait for someone else to make sense of the chaos. Seymour’s involvement seemed to be nothing more than waiting, and crying out “Repent!” at random moments.

What is not widely reported is that when Charles Parham was asked by Seymour to come to assess the situation, he found much that resembled the Corinthian Church. Parham found it difficult to distinguish between the true and the false use of the gifts. He found ‘hypnotic influences, familiar spirit influences, spiritualistic influences, mesmeric influences and all kinds of spells and spasms, falling in trances, etc. All of these things are foreign to and unknown [to the Apostolic Faith movement] outside of Los Angelos, except in the places visited by the workers sent out from this city.’ Parham later denounced the movement as a case of ‘awful fits and spasms’ and of ‘holy rollers and hypnotists’. (The Other Side of Azuza, Terry Arnold)

It is interesting (and a typical response of a sociopath) that although Parham had been an advocate of speaking in tongues, when it occurred separate from him, he was opposed to it – citing the very argument that had forced him out of Sandford’s Shiloh! I have no proof that Parham was a sociopath, but his behavior very much typifies either a narcissistic personality disorder or sociopathy. While not all Narissistic personalities are sociopaths, the sexual sins, the conflict with authority figures and the disregard of laws and almost obsessive self advancement are all symptoms of this disorder. While I do not believe in Psychology, the Bible does mention Lunatics and mental illness several times.

Azuza Street eventually failed after only 3 years, and the bank foreclosed on the property. Seymour died at the age of 52, in poor health and downcast – ironic for a man who advocated miracle healings. By the very doctrines expressed by the Word Faith (numbers, wealth, success=blessings of God) – Azuza Street could not have been a success, as it failed relatively quickly and in bankruptcy. While Azuza Street is wrongly touted as the start of Pentacostalism, it never seems to be mentioned in Word Faith churches that Azuza Street failed from finances and drop off of attendance. It is just glossed over that “While Azuza ended, the tongues movement spread throughout the world.” The impression given to Charismatics is that Azuza was intended as a temporary revival that God blessed with a second, subsequent blessing of the Holy Spirit.

Here’s what famous preachers of the time had to say about Azuza Street Mission, Pentacostalism and its Charismania…

G. Cambell Morgan described the new Pentecostal movement and William Seymour’s church at Azusa St, as ‘the last great vomit of Satan’;

Torrey declared the movement ‘emphatically not of God and founded by a sodomite’;

H. A. Ironside himself went to one of the Azusa St churches in Portland, Oregon, and described it as containing ‘disgusting delusions . . . pandemonium exhibitions worthy of a mad house or a collection of holy dervishes’, causing ‘a heavy toll of lunacy and infidelity.’ (quotes from The Foundation and History of the Pentacostal Movement, Terry Arnold & Mike Claydon)

It is interesting that these four places (Shiloh, Zion City, Topeka and Azuza Street Mission) have had such a drastic effect on the Charismatic Movement. Everything stems back to Shiloh and Frank Sandford. All movements of Pentacostalism trace themselves back to these roots. The Assemblies of God trace their lineage back to Dowie’s Zion City, which in turn had been inspired by Shiloh.

An interesting phenomenon is that those who vociferously claim divine healings seem to be haunted by deaths and illnesses. Sandford experienced an outbreak of Tuberculosis at Shiloh, and several died. Wigglesworth’s wife died of disease, but he was unable to heal her. Dowie’s daughter was burned to death, lingering for a while in agony before succumbing to her injuries. Seymour died at a young age of ill health (56), as did Quimby (64). At the time I write this, I am 49. 56 is only 7 years away for me, and 64 is only 15 years away. These ages are indeed young, although it might not seem so to a 20 year old.

Later Faith Healers would die of illnesses, such as William Branham, Katherine Kuhlman, Kenneth Hagin, and Oral Roberts.

So the truth is, the Azuza Street revival was not the beginning of the “first wave”, but rather, the cultish Shiloh.

An influential book written during the Azuza period (apparently published after it closed) called the “Latter Rain Covenant” by David Myland. perhaps not well known, it nonetheless detailed the entire latter rain philosophy. Myland is probably the inventor of it, using scraps of unrelated teachings from Dowie, Sandford and Seymour. David Cloud reports that the book attempts to highly spiritualize the teachings of the Bible, a common error of unlearned and unstable men wresting “…as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. 2 Peter 3:16b (KJV). It is interesting to note the Assemblies of God have a flirtatious affair with the “Latter Rain” Theology – accepting it, rejecting it as heresy, accepting it again, rejecting it again…

Smith Wigglesworth was a contemporary of Dake, McPherson, Sandford, Parham, Seymour and Dowie. He was born in 1859, but recieved the supposed gift of tongues by the laying on of hands by a Mary Boddy in 1907 – not an ordained minister. It should be noted that the gift of tongues was always passed on Biblically by an Apostle, and done in the presence of Jews. There is no record of any of the twelve apostles or Paul surviving into the 19th or 20th century.

Smith Wigglesworth’s story starts with Alexander Boddy, who had an “intense religious experience” in 1892, leading him to seek out Christianity. I don’t think that’s a good description of a salvation experience, but we lack writings by Boddie to know exactly what that entails. His wife Mary was apparently healed of Athsma in 1899, part of the wave of “divine healings” that seemed to accompany the “higher life” Christians. It should be noted that many people diagnose themselves with Athsma who are simply out of shape, and assume their huffing and puffing to be the result of a disease. However, we do not know the veracity of Boddy’s claim to the disease, and could have indeed been an accurate diagnosis.

Boddy’s cure comes 5 years after A. J. Gordon’s The Ministry of the Spirit book. The welsh revivals start in Europe around 1904 – before the Azuza Street Revivals. Eyewitness accounts of the Welsch Revival includes extensive descriptions of bizarre behaviours, which many experts later chalk up to hypnotic suggestion and mental illness. For instance, one of the individuals there repeatedly and obsessively rolled objects between their palms over and over again. The Welsch revivals lasted perhaps less than a year, a yeaer at most, finally being abandoned by its originator after he suffered a string of nervous breakdowns. Not before the Boddy’s visit the Welsh revivals.

T. B. Barrett, one of the attendees of the Welsh revivals travels to Oslo, where he tries to recreate it. The Boddys travel to his revival, and bring it back to Boddy’s church at Sunderland. This is attended by Smith Wigglesworth, an illiterate plumber, who receives the Baptism of the Holy Ghost from Mary Boddy. Wigglesworth apparently is truly born again, as there is a radical change in his life. Like many of the other Pentecostal first wave, he has little to no Bible training – indeed, cannot even read until his wife teached him how, so that he can read his Bible. Unlike all other of the First Wave preachers, Wigglesworth refuses to read any book except the Bible, not even reading any commentaries by Bible teachers such as Adam Clarke or Matthew Henry. Allegedly, Wigglesworth raises his wife from the dead a few yearsyear later by punching her dead body, making her jump up. The miracle was short lived, as Polly Wigglesworth died in 1913 – suggesting that her death was probably a coma from her illness, to which she eventually succumbed.

It should be noted that many of the major doctrines of New Thought/Word of Faith were taught by Wigglesworth, including the “God insists everyone must be healed if they’re born again” doctrine. As these doctrines cannot be found in the Bible, it shows that Wigglesworth must have been familiar with the teachings of E. W. Kenyon – or more likely, was familiar with the teachings of P. P. Quimby. It should be noted that despite Wigglesworth’s supposed miraculous healing abilities, Wigglesworth’s daughter remained deaf her entire life, and Wigglesworth suffered from gallstones and later with Sciata – so painful a condition one would expect him to “heal thyself”. Obviously there was a personal inconsistancy between Wigglesworth’s doctrines and what actually happened – and most definitely wiith the Bible. Wigglesworth’s wife died of illness, and Mary Boddy, the woman who laid hands on Wigglesworth was an invalid the last 16 years of her life.

Wigglesworth employed controversial methods, punching and kicking those who came to him for healings – apparently the inspiration of Faith “Healer” Todd Bentley. Bentley apparently was also inspired by stories of Wigglesworth punching corpses and having them ressurect after the assault. These stories were spreaqd by Lester Summerall in his booklets about Wigglesworth. However, Summerall’s credibility is seriously called into question by an investigation into missapropriations of funds involved in the “Feed the World” campaign.

It is also to be noted that like most other faith healing evangelists, no documented healings or supposed ressurections can be found. Again, you’d think in those days of sensational newspaper stories that someone would have come forward to claim, “I died, and Smith Wigglesworth brought me back from the dead! I’ve got broken ribs, but the rest of me is healed!”

I suppose I should mention John G. Lake. Lake was born in 1870, and was ordained a Methodist minister in 1891 – but left the ministry almost immediately in pursuit of a career in real estate. He remained in the world until 1898, when he brought his brother to John Dowie for miracle healing. His brother was healed, and Lake decided to try it himself, healing his wife of cancer the same year. ten years later, Lake feels the call to return to the ministry, and he and his wife Jenny travel to Africa. This raises many questions about the validity of Lake’s profession of faith – and how exactly was Jenny Lake healed? If a man is not born again, he cannot perform miracle healing. And there was no fruit of being a believer in Lake’s lfe, but rather the opposite, in that he left the ministry immediately after ordination to pursue wealth.

Just ten years after Jenny Lake’s miracle healing, she dies in Africa. John Lake remains there for three years, travelling back home and remarrying. Next, in a move reminiscent of P. P. Quimby, Lake establishes “Healing rooms” in Spokane, Washington – instead of a church. He would rty to establish the healing rooms in Seattle in 1920, only to find them not as successful. He returns to Spokane. John lake would die in 1935, never having pastored a church beyond the mission in Africa. John G. Lake would be re-examined in the 1990’s in a book, which would come to the conclusion that Lake performed fraud, deception and trickery during not only his Africa years, but during his “Healing rooms” time. Like Parham and Voliva, he shows possible signs of being a sociopath.

Not everyone in the First Wave of Pentecostalism was mentally ill. William Seymour seemed to have a distinct call of God on his life, but ran afoul by being associated with Parham. Wigglesworth was sincere, but Biblically untrained and uneducated – and used some very questionable methods! The Boddy’s appeared the same.

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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???