‘WHEN IDEOLOGY COMES TO CHURCH’
>Daryl here, my response to Matthew’s article. “Excellent work. Challenged me to purge myself of any leanings to ‘isms.’ I began a blog on the popular term in Christian circles ‘New Era,’ covering ‘New Era Ideologies In Church History,’ and I came across your article in searching this topic.”
I have gained more insight into the influence of ideologies in the Church! Thank you.
“To get at what I mean by ideology: combine the words “idea” with “idolatry.” I speak of ideology as any idea, or any system of ideas, that has become for us an idol. That is, whenever an idea, or a system of ideas, becomes, in effect, God for us, and we trust it to explain everything, fix everything and prove ourselves more right, virtuous and intelligent than others.” Mathew Swora https://zionmennoniteoregon.org/when-ideology-comes-to-church/?unapproved=112&moderation-hash=c48923b15356ac14ca86acaf5e4e46fc#comment-112
I highly recommend reading the article above, as I see the relevancy of this truth played out in ‘spades,’ in the Church at large today. Many ideologies are slowly removing the gospel and Biblical truth from the Church, ideologies are being taught as doctrines. They worship Me in vain, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men. Having neglected the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men. And He was saying to them, “Neatly do you set aside the commandment of God, that you might keep your tradition…Thus you nullify the word of God by the tradition you have handed down.” Mark 7: 7-9,13
‘New Era’ Ideologies Thro’ Out Church History
Mirage Of A Golden Age
The Progressive’s Abandonment of the Past – The golden age is now
The Conservative’s Search for the “Golden Age”-Looking for a return to a previous era.
The thoroughgoing progressive believes things have been getting better, not worse, and the thoroughgoing conservative believes things have been getting worse, and not better. As such, the Christian (conservative) is likely to push for a return to a previous era. Taylor explains:
“They (the Middle Ages, or the seventeenth century, or the pre-60’s America) got it right, and we have to repudiate whatever in modern times deviates from that standard” (745).
Because evangelicals see ourselves tasked with engaging and resisting the culture simultaneously, we always face the temptation of pining for a golden era of Christianity.
The Early Church
Some believe in the pristine days of the early church and want to return to the simplicity of those times. But a cursory reading of the New Testament reveals that the earliest days were not flawless. Doctrinal crises, moral quandaries, disciplinary actions, and divisive factions often carried the day. There is much good we can retrieve from the early church, but we cannot and must not try to return.
The Great Tradition
In recent years, there has been a surge of interest in the church fathers. I have benefited from the writings of Chrysostom, Augustine, Hilary, and Basil. The recent translations and commentaries on these ancient works offer us spiritual nourishment.
And yet, it is a mistake to think of the centuries of ecumenical councils as a “Golden Age.” These were also the years that gave us an amped up neo-Platonic vision of the body, downplayed the ordinary Christian life, led toward ascetic extremes, and married church and state to the point crusades could be led in the name of the Prince of Peace.
The Reforming Puritans
The gospel-centered crowd today is most likely to look back to the Reformation and the subsequent centuries. We look back with gratitude for the recovery of justification by faith and the Puritan era of personal piety, doctrinal precision, which stirred revivals that shook the landscape of early America.
But even here, we are wrong to spot a “Golden Age.” All the Reformational heroes are marred in one way or another: Luther’s anti-Semitism, Calvin’s egregious treatment of doctrinal disputants, Edwards’ acceptance of slavery, etc. Geneva is a Ghost Town with buried treasure still being unearthed; it is not a home we can ever inhabit again.
“Immediate to God”
In short, there is no Golden Age of Christianity. Taylor quotes Ranke’s famous phrase unmittelbar zu Gott applied to the ages of history. Loosely translated, it means all ages are “directly or immediate to God.”
In other words, these ages “differ because each mode of Christian life has had to climb out of, achieve a certain distance from its own embedding in its time… But far from allowing these modes to be neatly ranked, this is the difference which enables them to give something to each other” (745).
Church History as Treasure Box, Not a Map
What is the takeaway for evangelicals today? In contrast to the progressive’s rosy view of the present and untested view of the future, we may often be standing in the middle of the road with our hands outstretched, saying, “Stop and consider!” as the rushing crowd surges forward to a future unable to fulfill their utopian dreams.
But we must also resist the temptation to see a past era as necessarily “better” or “worse” than our own. Church history is a treasure box, not a map. We don’t honor our forefathers and mothers by seeking to return to their times; we honor them by receiving their wisdom and learning from their victories and failures. We retrieve from the past the elements and tools needed for faithfulness today.
There is no “golden age” of Christianity in the past, only an unbroken line of broken sinners saved by the grace of God and empowered to transmit the gospel to the next generation. One day, we’ll be history and our insights will be in the treasure box too. Let’s make sure we’ve given our best.
Golden Age Of The Church – Kingdom Consummation
Discouragement with the state of the modern church and an overly optimistic view of church history have caused some Christians to believe that the church once had a golden age. It’s often suggested that the early church represented this age. We must correct our drifting and return to the values and practices of the early church, the argument goes. They want the church to be more “Apostolic.” They want it to be more communal (see Acts 2:44). They want it to be free of denominationalism and separation. The natural consequence of this well-intended attitude is a disparagement of the modern church.
In many ways, these critics are right—there are many things that the church needs to heed from our earliest forefathers. The early Christians faithfully employed the divinely ordained means of grace (v. 42), they shared the gospel with deep fervor, they exhibited tremendous generosity, and so forth. We would do well to reform our piety and practice to better conform to Scripture, which reform perhaps was modeled better by previous generations of Christians. This is the heart of the Reformation principle semper reformanda—the church is continually reforming itself to the teaching of Scripture. But to identify the early church (or any other age) as the golden era and to yearn for its exact replication is misguided and dangerous for a number of reasons.
- The idea of a golden age discounts the shifts in redemptive history.
I understand the frustration in reading the book of Acts and concluding that the Holy Spirit was more visible in His work in the early church. But the Spirit that came upon those at Pentecost is the same Spirit that indwells us. What’s the difference, then? The primary difference is with regard to methodology, not source. The extraordinary, foundational Apostolic office—with all its accompanying gifts—eventually gave way to a more permanent church structure featuring the simple offices of elder and deacon. (Daryl here. I would say, different application of apostolic ministry) This doesn’t make the church any less “spiritual”; rather, it accounts for the intentional shift from the Apostolic foundation-laying stage to the more permanent ordinary age. If we are to lament anything in the modern church, it should be our susceptibility to neglect those ordinary means of building the church in search of something more extraordinary. In reality, the early church devoted itself to the same things that we should be devoting ourselves to—the sacraments, the Word of God, fellowship, and prayer (Acts 2:42). The Spirit who made the ascended Christ present to them in and through those means is the same Spirit who does so for us today. Grasping for the gifts of the past implies a distrust in the redemptive plan of Christ. To identify the early church as the golden era and to yearn for its exact replication is misguided and dangerous.
- The idea of a golden age venerates the early church.
Again, it would be unfair to discount the exemplary characteristics of the early church. It may be equally unfair to overlook their failures while persistently recounting our failures. In many ways, the early church looked just like us. The first Christians dealt with moral failure—sexual immorality (Romans and Corinthians), greed and dishonest gain (Jude), disunity and quarrels (Philippians and James), and laziness (Thessalonians). There were doctrinal failures—legalism (Galatians and Hebrews), false spirituality (Colossians), and pretentious, heartless religion (Ephesians; see Rev. 2:1–7). There were wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matt. 7:15; Col. 2:8; 2 Peter 2:1–3) and church officers falling (3 John). Paul had to rebuke his fellow Apostle Peter for abysmal conduct with regard to prejudices (Gal. 2:11–14). Ecclesiastically, there is nothing new under the sun (Eccl. 1:9). Moral and doctrinal failures will permeate the air until Christ’s second advent. If perfection is the criterion for an age to be classified as golden, the early church didn’t qualify any more than ours does.
- The idea of a golden age misconstrues the headship of Christ.
We need to be careful that we don’t deny that Christians in certain eras got certain things more right than Christians in other eras. We need even more care to ensure we don’t unintentionally usurp Christ’s authority as sovereign Head of the church. As Head, Christ will complete the work that He has begun (Phil. 1:6). To that end, He prayed to the Father to “keep them in your name, which you have given me” (John 17:11). Those whom the Father has given Christ will be protected—because Jesus’ prayers are efficacious. What about those professing evangelicals who are dropping like flies by rejecting orthodoxy? Such compromises are discouraging, but, as many have noted, the stark contrast between true disciples and false disciples is becoming well defined. The winnowing fork is separating the wheat from the chaff before our eyes (Matt. 3:12). Those who fall away prove themselves to be those for whom Jesus hasn’t prayed (John 17:9) and those who never truly belonged with us (1 John 2:19). But these situations aren’t unique to the modern church. The visible church has always been a mix of true and false believers. For the life of the church between the first and second advents of Christ, there have always been Judases among Peters. The final separation won’t happen until the consummation of the kingdom. That will be the true golden age—the age when the church triumphant will be made up of only those for whom Jesus prayed and the Great Commission will have ceased (Jer. 31:34). This is the eschatological path the church is on.
Comparing the modern church against the early church is like comparing Bill Russell with Michael Jordan. Depending on your perspective, such evaluation either romanticizes what was and disregards what is, or it romanticizes what is and disregards what was. Seeking the peace and purity of the church should involve a healthy evaluation of church history, but it should never romanticize an era at the expense of denigrating the modern church. We only need to reorient our doctrine and practice according to a particular church era inasmuch as they reflect Scripture. We study church history both to know what to do and to know what not to do.
This presupposes there is no golden age of the church, only multiple eras of the church during which the affection of Christ rested on her even in all her mess. On the other hand, the golden age of the church is yet to come. It is true that Christ’s bride doesn’t look like she should, but it’s equally true that she will look exactly the way she should at the wedding of the Lamb. This much He has promised. Therefore, we should be patient with Christ’s bride because we know that she will make it to that final day. Only then will she exchange her rags for the unblemished wedding dress her Husband has prepared for her (Rev. 19:8). That will be golden.
Joachim Of Fiore – A New Order For A new Era
EARLY ‘NEW ERA’ IDIOLOGIES
Back in the 12th century, nearly all doctrine was Augustinian a-millennialism. Then along came a monk who overturned this idea and introduced a startling “new” theory that he had received by “divine illumination”.
This monk was Joachim of Fiore, an Italian, born in 1130. He became a monk, then an abbot of a Cistercian Abbey, and eventually he founded his own order of monks.What Joachim predicted was a new order. New spiritual forms of worship would arise, and there would be no need for church rituals and rites and formalities. Everything would be known and achieved “in the Spirit”.
Joachim saw the Age of the Father as carnal, the Age of the Son as partly carnal and partly spiritual (a soulish age), but the Third Age would be pure spirit; people everywhere would have inner light and wisdom.
At that time, the world would be converted, the perfected Body of Christ would be revealed, and the saints would be given the dominion over the earth. But only those who had been preparing themselves with this new revelation would participate, not all the Christians! This sounds very familiar to anyone versed in Latter-Rain doctrine.
Living In The Overlap
Joachim also believed each age had an overlap when the things of the coming age intruded into the old order. That ties in neatly with the Restoration belief that we are “living in the overlap”. The new-agers also believe in the overlap theory, when the old order dominates, but certain enlightened people begin to wake up to the new order and move on ahead of the rest of mankind. The spiritual pioneers go ahead to prepare the new age. In Restoration terms, this elite company would be “Joseph Company” who go ahead and prepare the way.
What Joachim predicted was a new order. New spiritual forms of worship would arise, and there would be no need for church rituals and rites and formalities. Everything would be known and achieved “in the Spirit”.
The Gnostic Source of Joachim’s Revelations
Joachim received his new vision for the future through deep spiritual meditation, and from the inner revelations given to him during periods of contemplation.
“The mystics claimed to see divine truth through the inner vision of the soul, by reflecting, brooding, and waiting for the light. Joachim (12th century monk) and the school that followed the trail he blazed, exemplified mysticism, believing that the world was growing old and that the time of her change was at hand.”
“The third age would be a new age. This new era would set in, supported by a new monastic society, which would raise life to a new spiritual basis…A new form of life and a new society would spring up. Joachim’s call was not so much Repent, turn back to the old source, but to change and become new, to reach a higher goal. He said: It is fitting that the life be changed, since it is necessary that the state of the world be changed. (Prophetic Faith by L. E. Froom. Volume One, page 689).
What Joachim proposed was basically the same scheme that we have now in the Latter Rain movement. Joachim believed in the Three Ages of mankind. See the chart below outlining his view of history.
- From Abraham to John The Baptist was the first age, the Age of the Father, the Old Testament.
- From John The Baptist to the Fulness of the Gentiles was the Second age, of the Son, the age of the new Testament.
- Joachim proposed a new age, the Age of the Spirit, when the Church would be transformed, and receive the knowledge of all things by direct revelation. After “the fulness” of time, the elect would enter the Consumation of All Things, an Age of the Spirit, an age of spiritual transformation and spiritual revelation of the Word of God.
A Continuity of Thought Throughout the Ages
What possible connection could there be between Joachim of Fiore, 13th century mystic, and the Toronto Blessing in the Church today? The link is the continuity of thought behind the “new thing”, the gnostic revelation throughout all ages. That spirit of wisdom, the serpent in the garden, has been preparing the apostate church for his new thing for centuries.
Once the church as a whole abandoned the literal interpretation of scripture – the literal return of the Jews to their land, the literal antichrist, the literal millennium and so forth – once started interpreting scripture allegorically, they were wide open for deception. Anything goes if you treat the Bible as a book of symbols and metaphors!
Then along came a mystic (Joachim) who planted new thoughts about a coming age of the spirit, and the church fell for it. This new thinking was triumphalistic and hopeful. It pierced the grim every-day boredom of Church life and gave Christians something to hope for, a glorious vision of the future! Christians eagerly believed they could be glorified and perfected and turned into world rulers. This was new and exciting!
Things don’t change. People are the same today. After the War, when people began to give up the literal pre-millennial understanding of prophecy, they left themselves wide open to strange esoteric doctrines. The Latter Rain revival cashed in on that trend. Each time the message is the same: people can become spiritually transformed and rule the world. Satan’s plan has not changed in essence since the beginning. “Ye shall be as God…”
Quaker ‘Inner Light’ Failed Any ‘New Dawn’
George Fox 1624–1691 Quakers, also called Friends, are a historically Christian group whose formal name is the Religious Society of Friends or Friends Church. Members of the various Quaker movements are all generally united by their belief in the ability of each human being to experientially access the light within, or “that of God in every one”. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quakers
Though Quakers were people that lived austere, ‘holy’ lives, Quaker teaching is riddled with error: their final authority is not the Bible, but resides in the individual (the inner light), women are encouraged to be ministers (as they are in Pentecostalism), they believe in the universal brotherhood of all people, there is no creed or confession of faith, they are universalistic as regards redemption, and modern Quakers have become completely liberal in doctrine. https://www.understanding-ministries.com/docs/The%20Origins%20of%20Pentecostalism.pdf
“The first wave of Quaker missioners believed that the Quaker community had been raised up by God to preach a revolutionary gospel and to end the long night of apostasy. The “great people’ that hath come into existence through the preaching of this revolutionary gospel was evidence to them that a new day had dawned in Christian history. They called themselves “the children of the light and children of the day of Christ.”...this dawn did not prove to be the herald of a new era in Christian history, as the first Quakers expected that it would.” George Fox’s Teaching about Christ p.30 https://digitalcommons.georgefox.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1954&context=qrt
The Shakers (1770+)
The Shakers are usually seen to be the followers of Ann Lee (1736-1781), the wife of a blacksmith in Manchester, but the movement really started amongst the Radical Quakers.
Becoming a Shaking Quaker at 22, she married at 25 and had four children. After losing all her children in infancy, Lee’s distress was funnelled into religious enthusiasm. She agonised over her sinfulness and resented her marriage, subjecting herself to rigorous penance. As a result of these exercises, in 1770 she was overcome by divine ‘revelation’ and received a new gospel, which was based upon a hatred of sex: human depravity was caused by the sex act. Eventually, she saw herself as the messiah, a second version of Christ and was known as Ann the Word or Mother Ann. This, and other doctrinal heresies accompanied her teaching on the restoration of end time spiritual gifts including tongues and healing, the most serious deviation being the rejection of the inspiration of the Bible.
In 1774, upon ‘divine’ command, she immigrated from England to New York State, near Albany, with 8 followers, and in 1787 her growing followers, many from Baptist churches, were organised into the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing, a millennialist, perfectionist sect. As well as basic Quaker beliefs of simplicity, frugal living, equality, honesty and charity, they believed that the source of evil was sex, pride and greed. Salvation was by good conduct. God was a duality of the masculine and feminine, with Lee as the counterpart to Christ, commissioned to complete his work. Christ’s physical resurrection was denied. Celibacy was enforced along with communal property and strict regulation of ethics, including diet. Their worship was a wild and exuberant spontaneity which included the shaking off of sin and vigorous dancing (hence the name ‘Shaker’). Visions, tongues, healings, revelations for guidance, prophecies, signs and other gifts attracted attention, many being convinced by Lee’s end-time restorationist message. One source states that they danced together naked, whilst speaking in tongues, in order to mortify the flesh and learn how to control sexual temptation.
The dancing later became more ritualistic, and tongue speaking was reduced after Lee’s death as Joseph Meacham brought order to the wild worship. Numbers dwindled, but the movement later prospered in the wake of various religious revivals in America, especially in the West, particularly the Cane Ridge Revival.
The Shakers were very evangelistic in their zeal to propagate their false doctrines & practices. Shaker evangelists were involved with the Cane Ridge “Revival,” and brought their manifestations (which they called “signs”) with them and infected the meetings. https://discernmentministriesinternational.wordpress.com/tag/maria-woodworth-etter/
The occult ministry of Rebecca Jackson manifested all the revelation gifts practised by modern Charismatics and modelled by William Branham, including: the word of knowledge, word of wisdom and prophecy. Both claimed to be instructed by spirit beings, not Jesus!
What is more, the Shakers openly practised spiritualism. Messages were regularly received from the dead Mother Ann, and other deceased Shakers, who conversed with the recipients who were called (by themselves) ‘mediums’ or ‘instruments’. Furthermore, they willingly accepted the entrance of indigenous tribal spirits into their bodies (i.e. demonic counterfeits). These people cannot be considered to be Christians in any sense but their contribution to revivalism and the holiness movement is very significant. They were considered to be heretical in their own day, and should be seen so now. In fact, one writer declares that the Shakers were the forerunners of modern spiritualism.
In the late 1800’s, Shaker prophets declared that soon similar manifestations would break forth all over the world. Within 30 years the ‘revival’ at Azusa Street took place.
The New Light Prophets (1742+)
This group operated in New England at the time of Jonathan Edwards under the leadership of James Davenport (1716-1757). Originally a Congregationalist minister, he had gathered a big following in the revival and preached to large crowds in the open air like Whitefield. However, Davenport also led the crowds in singing praise, sometimes fohours. Yet Edwards considered that Davenport was an ‘enthusiast’ who had opened the door to Satan to obstruct true revival. This was because in 1742 Davenport began to hear inner voices, and then became a leader in what became familiar as the New Light Prophets.
This group believed that a ‘second Reformation’ had begun which included the restoration of the supernatural gifts. In time other manifestations occurred as members began to fall to the ground, shake and see visions. These actions were seen as evidence of the Spirit’s power, especially in conversion and Edwards had to write against this notion. Davenport himself went to extremes when he claimed the gift of discernment as the ability to see who was truly elect. Churches were split as he pronounced leaders were not really believers.
A seminary was started which did not use the Bible, in favour of subjective ‘spiritual’ revelation to train prophets. Music was used to enhance the atmosphere of meetings and preaching became theatrical and dramatic as fresh revelations interrupted meetings. Some of his hymns celebrated the lack of self control in God’s service, much like modern charismatic choruses of the Toronto school. In 1743 a bonfire was organised to burn Puritan books. At a second bonfire, led by the ‘spirit’, Davenport began removing his clothes and burning them. When an observer condemned Davenport of having the Devil in him, Davenport came to his senses and accepted the charge. Gradually the movement dissipated as Davenport now declared the work to be evil and sought forgiveness for
Davenport was a pattern for so many who followed. His problem began when he implicitly followed subjective impressions rather than the Word of God. He led great worship times, preached powerfully, gathered a large following, worked in the midst of great revival, enchanted great crowds, wrote hymns, started a Bible School, discipled prophets – and yet he later claimed that it was all Satanic, ‘misguided zeal’ provoked by ‘the false spirit’. I have been much led astray by following impulses or impressions … without a text of scripture; and my neglecting also duly to observe the analogy of scripture [the general, unified, doctrinal content of the Bible] … this … corrupted my experiences.
Emanuel Swedenborg 1688–1772
“The New Church…he received a new revelation from Christ in visions he experienced…He predicted in his writings that God would replace the traditional Christian Church…The movement was founded on the belief that God explained the spiritual meaning of the Bible to reveal the truth of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ…He cited divine revelation for his writings, and his followers believe that he witnessed the Last Judgment in the spiritual world with the inauguration of the New Church.”
The doctrines of the New Church review and assess the doctrines of earlier churches…before the New Church can be received, the doctrines of older churches must be exposed and rejected. The New Church is so opposed to the doctrines of the older Christian churches that they cannot coexist…In the New Church, authority is based on divine revelation rather than creeds or church councils.”
Edgar Cayce & Disciples Of Christ 1877-1945
The Christian Church (Disciples Of Christ) is a Mainline Protestant Christian denomination in the United States and Canada. The denomination started with the Restoration Movement during the Second Great Awakening. In 1801, the Cane Ridge Revival in Kentucky planted the seed for a movement in Kentucky and the Ohio River Valley to disassociate from denominationalism.
Barton Stone from the ‘Cane Ridge Revival’ and Thomas Cambell from western Pennsylvania and Virginia formed the Christian Church (Disciples Of Christ), the ‘Cane Ridge Revival’ being influenced by the occult practices of the Shakers. Alexander Campbell’s millennialism was more optimistic than Stone’s. He had more confidence in the potential for human progress and believed that Christians could unite to transform the world and initiate a millennial age. Both saw restoring apostolic Christianity as a means of hastening the millennium. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Restoration_Movement
Shocking detailed coverage of ‘Cane Ridge Revival’ here, p.22-24 https://www.understanding-ministries.com/docs/The%20Origins%20of%20Pentecostalism.pdf
Edgar Cayce Throughout his life, Cayce was drawn to church as a member of the Disciples of Christ. He read the Bible once a year every year, taught at Sunday school, and recruited missionaries. He said he could see auras around people, spoke to angels, and heard voices of departed relatives. In his early years, he agonized over whether these psychic abilities were spiritually delivered from the highest source.
“Almost every day, several times a day Edgar would induce himself into an out-of-body experience and reveal profound information on various subjects such as human origins, dreams, meditation, prayer, religion, afterlife realms, consciousness, the soul and spirit, and the Book of Revelation, to name a few. But it was the information that revealed about the future which he is probably most known for. He provided information about the history of humanity from the very beginning to a time in the future when humans will evolve into beings with supernatural powers. He described a new era of enlightenment and peace when divinity within humans would be manifested on the earth.”
The Disciples Of Christ church was also where Maria Woodworth Etter had a ‘spiritual encounter.’
One of the most misleading statements in watchtower publications is that they accurately foretold 1914 to be the “start” of the conclusion of this system of things. Rather…falsely predicted 1914 to be the “end” of the system of things, the conclusion of Armageddon and the start of the earthly paradise.
“the deliverance of the saints must take place some time before 1914 is manifest”
“the Day of Vengeance … will end in October, 1914”
“the great “time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation,” will reach its culmination”
“we present proofs that the setting up of the Kingdom of God is already begun”
“we consider it an established truth that the final end of the kingdoms of this world, and the full establishment of the Kingdom of God, will be accomplished near the end of A.D.1914.”
Previous Claims Of Impending Charism..Global Revival
Mid to late 19th century: The Holiness Movement There were multiple examples of revivalism, usually centred in some leader. Most famous was Maria Woodworth-Etter [1844-1924] whose occult behaviour was so extreme that St Louis doctors tried to section her as insane in 1890. She was able to make people fall over while she often went into trances, which in some cases allegedly lasted for days, then she would continue preaching. Her doctrine was false and her meetings aberrant; any good teaching was copied from others like WE Boardman [1810-1886]19. The press labelled her as ‘The Voodoo Priestess’. After 1885 her meetings become constant front-page news and attracted great scandal, including being arrested for obtaining money under false pretences. She was so ecumenical that she preached at Mormon churches. The rise of preachers like Woodworth-Etter gave rise to hopes of a coming global revival, which was energised by the 1904 Welsh Revival, but all these hopes did was to incubate Pentecostalism.
1901: The Topeka Revival under Charles Parham
When Agnes Ozman began to speak in tongues (thought to be Chinese) the doctrine was developed that missionaries would be able to evangelise nations without learning the languages. Parham [1873-1929] taught that a global revival was imminent when the church would be fully restored. The missionary doctrine was quickly abandoned when it failed overseas (firstly in India). Neither did the promised revival occur. In fact, Parham actually condemned the Azusa Street revival five years later as being demonic. However, Parham is regarded as the founding pioneer of the Pentecostal churches.
1906-1913: Azusa Street revival
Again it was expected that this was a precursor to a worldwide revival and a restoration of the church to be like the apostolic church. While many Pentecostal missionaries went out, the global revival did not occur and in Los Angeles the original church splintered into opposing factions. In fact this was no revival at all but hysteria and emotionalism. There was no control over wild behaviour that even attracted witches and mediums who were left in the meeting to perform their occult behaviour. *(Daryl here. The AOG did address these issues in the following years.) Mid-20th century
Pentecostal revivalists Revivalist type meetings and a focus upon healing were emphasised by multiple Pentecostal leaders: John Lake [1870-1935], Kathryn Kuhlman [1907-1976], Aimee Semple McPherson [1890-1944], Oral Roberts [1918-2009] and many more. To many Pentecostalists, these were a precursor to a coming worldwide Pentecostal revival that would restore the church and usher in the millennium.
1948: Latter Rain This began in an emotional, mystical revival in North Battleford, Canada. It spawned multiple heresies (as mentioned in this paper) and helped propel the 50s healing revivals. It emphasised a coming global revival that would restore the church and initiate new apostles and prophets. The actual revival died down after the Assemblies of God outlawed the movement for heresy; however, its influence was to re-emerge later in the Charismatic Movement and particularly in UK Restorationism. Paul Cain was a part of this movement and brought its heresies into modern Charismatic churches, aided by his associations with John Wimber, RT Kendall and Jack Deere. 1950s Healing Revival E.g. AA Allen [1911-1970]; William Branham [1909-1965], Jack Coe [1918-1956]. William Edwin Boardman a key ‘Higher Life’ teacher, published ‘The Higher Christian Life’ in 1858.
Branham was a major heretic and occultist who even denied the Trinity. A book could be written about his errors. Branham is the darling of the current Charismatic revivalists. Pentecostals in general accepted the Healing Revival as a precursor to global revival. In fact it was filled with fraud, sinful leaders and emotional excitement. Even Hollywood made a film about this (‘Elmer Gantry’).
1960s Charismatic Movement This re-appearance of Pentecostalism in evangelical churches was considered to be the precursor of a global revival. The baptism in the Spirit would unite all churches and change the world. In fact, it was the opening of occultism, mysticism and heresies into evangelical churches. Nothing improved over the decades and the UK church dwindled massively.
*>Daryl here. I will address the “occultism, mysticism and heresies” introduced, at a later date.
1970’s Restoration Movement. This time it was the ministries of apostles and prophets and a reconstructed church on authoritarian lines that was promised to be the harbinger of a global revival to bring in a truly apostolic world wide church. Very soon there was a worldwide scandal about authoritarian ‘heavy shepherding’ that broke up many groups and ruined some ministries. The movement reconstituted itself into several Charismatic denominations, which became exactly like the thing they originally rebelled against (formal, hierarchical, authoritarian, churches). Numbers diminished even more in the UK churches.
1980’s Signs and Wonders Movement of John Wimber The same process; this time based upon healings and miracles. 1990s Toronto Blessing, Pensacola etc. The same process; this time based upon mysticism and exotic behaviour.
Late 2000’s Lakeland Revival
This 2008 aberration was led by the false prophet Todd Bentley whose ministry was filled with heresy, aberrations and violent behaviour. It dissipated when he was soon caught in fornication that led to divorce; but not before there was speculation that this was the beginning of a worldwide end-time revival. This time millions were able to tune into meetings through the Internet.
We could actually continue extending this list backwards over many centuries. Every few years or few decades someone spawns a heretical movement claiming to be the precursor of a global revival. For example in the early-mid-19th century the study of prophetics, that eventually led to the development of Dispensationalism, spawned theories of a global revival in a restored church. The scandalous church that Edward Irving belonged to in London is but one example. As with later versions, this just led to an authoritarian church cult led by apostles. Instead of learning from history, most Christians just fall for the new version of lies; in the same way that the world falls for the lies that push them into war after war, never learning from history.
It seems almost every generation in modern history has had those who embraced ‘new era’ ideology, they being the catalyst. Part 2 will look at ‘new age’ ‘new era’ philosophy and current ‘christian’ ‘new era’ ‘prophetic’ rhetoric.