John Alexander Dowie
|John Alexander Dowie|
Alexander Dowie in his robes as Elijah the Restorer
25 May 1847|
|Died||9 March 1907
Zion, Illinois, United States
John Alexander Dowie (25 May 1847 – 9 March 1907) was a Scottish evangelist and faith healer who ministered in Australia and the United States. He founded the city of Zion, Illinois, and the Christian Catholic Apostolic Church. He was both an eloquent and eccentric figure with impressive powers of persuasion.
Dowie was born in Edinburgh to John Murray Dowie, a tailor and preacher. He moved to Adelaide, South Australia with his parents in 1860 and found work in a prosperous shoe business run by an uncle, Alexander Dowie. After a few months, Dowie left the employment of his uncle and had various jobs through which he advanced his position. At length, he became confidential clerk for the resident partner of a firm that was doing a business of $2 million a year.
His father was president of the South Adelaide chapter of the Total Abstinence Society in 1867, and John Alexander an active member. Around 1868 at the age of 21, Dowie returned to Edinburgh to study theology. He then returned to Australia and was ordained pastor of a Congregational church at Alma, South Australia (near Hamley Bridge) in 1872. Dowie received and accepted a call to a pastorate at Manly, New South Wales, in 1873 and at Newtown in 1875. He married his cousin, Jane Dowie, on 26 May 1876. They had three children, Gladstone (1877–1945), Jeanie (1879-1885) and Esther (1881–1902).
He published Rome's Polluted Springs in 1877, the substance of two lectures given at the Masonic Hall, Sydney. In 1879 he also published at Sydney The Drama, The Press and the Pulpit, revised reports of two lectures given the previous March. About this time he gave up his pastorate as a Congregational clergyman and became an independent evangelist, holding his meetings in a theatre and claiming powers as a faith-healer. He was for a time involved with the Salvation Army. Coming to Melbourne in the early 1880s, he attracted many followers. In 1882, he was invited to the Sackville Street Tabernacle, Collingwood. His authoritarian leadership led to a split in the church, and Dowie was fined and jailed for over a month for leading unauthorized processions. He gave his account of the incident in Sin in The Camp.
After a visit to New Zealand, he moved to the United States in 1888. He first settled in San Francisco and later moved to Chicago where he established a tabernacle and healing homes. His healing ministry was successful, but he spent much of 1895 in court fighting allegations that he was practicing medicine without a license. In 1896, Dowie founded the Christian Catholic Church with himself as general overseer. In 1900, he founded the city of Zion, 40 miles from Chicago, where he owned all the property of some 8,000 people and prohibited smoking, drinking, eating pork and establishing theaters, dance halls, doctors' surgeries and secret lodges. The church was renamed as the Christian Catholic Apostolic Church in Zion in 1904. In 1905, he suffered a stroke in Mexico. While absent, he was deposed by Wilbur G. Voliva, his chief lieutenant, after allegations of misusing money raised for the community and polygamy. He attempted to recover his authority through litigation but was ultimately forced to accept an allowance until his death in 1907.
Theology and influence
Dowie was a restorationist and sought to recover the "primitive condition" of the Church. He believed in an end-times restoration of spiritual gifts and apostolic offices to the Church. In 1899, he claimed to be "God's Messenger" and in 1901, he claimed to be the spiritual return of the Biblical prophet Elijah, and styled himself as "Elijah the Restorer", "The Prophet Elijah", or "The Third Elijah". He was also an advocate of divine healing and was highly critical of other teachers on healing. This criticism largely stemmed from differences of opinion on the use of "means" or medicine; Dowie was for total reliance on divine healing and against the use of all forms of medicine. He opened a number of healing homes where people could come for instruction in healing and for specific prayer. He emphasized faith in God, "entire consecration", and holiness.
Dowie was a forerunner of Pentecostalism, and many of his followers became influential figures in the early twentieth century revival. Though Dowie did not visit South Africa, some of his followers went there as missionaries between 1904 and 1908 and established churches at Wakkerstroom and Charlestown on the Transvaal-Natal border. After the missionaries left, these churches proliferated into a number of denominations of African Zionism, all claiming their origin in Zion, Illinois, which together constitute the largest group of Christians in South Africa.
- Percival Serle (1949). "Dowie, John Alexander". Dictionary of Australian Biography. Angus & Robertson. Retrieved 2007-09-03.
- H. J. Gibbney (1972). "Dowie, John Alexander (1847 - 1907)". Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 4. MUP. pp. 95–96. Retrieved 2007-09-03.
- The Life of John Alexander Dowie, Gordon Lindsay, Voice of Healing Publishing Co. 1951
- "TOPICS OF THE DAY.". The South Australian Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1858 - 1889) (Adelaide, SA: National Library of Australia). 18 May 1867. p. 2. Retrieved 1 December 2011.
- Blumhofer, 32-33.
- Harlan, Rolvix (1906). Dowie, John Alexander Dowie and the Christian Catholic Apostolic Church in Zion (Ph.D.). Univ of Chicago.
- Blumhofer, Edith L. The Assemblies of God: A Chapter in the Story of American Pentecostalism Volume 1—To 1941. Springfield, Missouri: Gospel Publishing House, 1989. ISBN 0-88243-457-8. Page 33.
- Blumhofer, 31-32.
- Blumhofer, 34.
- Blumhofer, 31-34.
- Adrian Hastings, The Church in Africa: 1450-1950. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994 pp. 499-505, 520-521, 537-538
- Hennie Pretorius and Lizo Jafta, "A Branch Springs Out: African Initiated Churches" in Christianity in South Africa, edited by Richard Elphick and Rodney Davenport. Berkeley & Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1997 pp. 216-224
- JOHN ALEXANDER DOWIE: A MINISTER OF DIVINE HEALING
- Leaves of Healing: the Life, Ministry, and Message of John Alexander Dowie