Latter Rain (post–World War II movement)

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The Latter Rain, also known as the New Order or New Order of the Latter Rain, was a post–World War II movement within Pentecostal Christianity which remains controversial to this day. For clarification in discussion of the Latter Rain, a distinction should be made between:

  • The Latter Rain Revival (1948–1952)
  • The Latter Rain Movement (1952–1960s)
  • Sharon Schools (Global Missions)
  • Other groups influenced by the Latter Rain.

The Latter Rain Movement had its beginnings in the years following World War II and was contemporary with the evangelical awakening led by Billy Graham, as well as the Healing Revival of Oral Roberts, Jack Coe, and William Branham.[1] Branham is often erroneously considered the founder of the Latter Rain because those who started it were inspired by attending one of his meetings. Rather, several leaders of the small Pentecostal, 'Sharon Orphanage' in North Battleford, Saskatchewan, were inspired to look for a deeper dimension of Christianity after visiting Branham's meeting. They began to fast and pray in search of it. Later that year, groups organized large revival events, and news quickly swept across Canada and the United States, influencing many Pentecostal believers.

As the revival died down after a few years, those who had been changed by the doctrine formed various groups which became known as "The Latter Rain" (Movement). The Latter Rain strongly emphasized relational networks over organizational structure. In addition, the term Latter Rain has become somewhat of a pejorative label; therefore, many ministers who were influenced by it are reluctant to make this well known. They often choose to emphasize only formal participation. Much of the movement, along with elements of the Healing Revival, slowly dissolved into parts of the larger Charismatic movement.

Latter Rain emphases are some of the most noticeable difference between Pentecostals and Charismatics, as delineated, for example, by the Assemblies of God USA in their 2000 position paper on End Time Revival.[2] The movement was rejected by classical Pentecostal denominations.[3]

This should not be confused with earlier movements or ideas within Pentecostalism, including the Latter Rain Assemblies in South Africa, begun in 1927. Distinction should also be made between various groups with Latter Rain influences and the Sharon Schools (also known as Global Missions) organization, which has "camp" meeting grounds at North Battleford, where the revival and movement first originated.

History[edit]

Latter Rain Revival (1948–1952)[edit]

The late 1940s was a time of deep spiritual hunger among Pentecostals,[4] who were concerned about the declining operation of the gifts of the Spirit once so evident when Pentecostalism began in the early 20th century.[5] In response to this spiritual hunger, about 70 students gathered in October 1947 in North Battleford, Saskatchewan, to begin the first term of the newly formed Sharon Bible College.[6] Most were first-year students, but some were second- and third-year students from the Pentecostal Bible College in Saskatoon.[6]

The students worked hard by day to prepare the buildings for classes and gathered for prayer in the evenings, which included intercessory prayer, prophecy and fasting. Some fasted between three and forty days.[6] At this time, the school consisted of three buildings at the North Battleford airport.[7]

At this time the group was led primarily by George Hawtin and Percy G. Hunt, two former pastors of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada, and Herrick Holt, a pastor of the Church of the Foursquare Gospel in North Battleford.[8] They were later joined by George Hawtin's brother Ernest Hawtin, and brother-in-law Milford Kirkpatrick.[8] The initial 70 Sharon School students had followed Hawtin and Hunt from Bethel Bible Institute in Saskatoon, where both had formerly taught. Hawtin had been asked to resign for lack of cooperation with the institute, and Hunt resigned in sympathy.[8]

On February 11, 1948, a young woman prophesied[8] about an open door which God had set before the students and was asking them to pass through. A following prophecy described the open door as the doorway into the gifts and ministries in the Body of Christ.[6]

Thomas Holdcroft wrote about the events:

In extended chapel services for four days... the procedure emerged of calling out members of the audience and imparting a spiritual gift to them by the laying on of hands accompanied by a suitable prophecy. The authorization and direction of these activities was a series of vocal prophetic utterances by both students and their teachers.[9]

In the spring of 1948 on Easter weekend, special services were held which the school called the "Feast of Pentecost". Many people who had heard of the revivals in North Battleford attended these services. This led to what is considered the first "Camp Meeting" during July 7–18, 1948, which began drawing large crowds in the thousands.[6][8]

The teachings from this revival came to be known as "Latter Rain" and quickly spread throughout Canada, the United States and around the world. Denominational leadership opposed some of the revival in late spring of 1948, and questioned the teachings and practices of the movement.[10] For instance, the 1949 General Council of the Assemblies of God USA declared in its Resolution #7:

We disapprove of those extreme teachings and practices, which being unfounded scripturally, serve only to break fellowship of like precious faith and tend to confusion and division among members of the Body of Christ, and be it hereby known that this 23rd General Council disapproves of the so-called 'New Order of the Latter Rain'...[4]

Bill Britton writes that,

in the restoration of the last days, we find certain men whose names are linked with the principles that were being revealed in their day... when we come to the time of the so-called "Latter Rain" revival of 1948–49 and the early 50's, the doctrine of "laying on of hands" (with prophecy) springs up, and we see ministries emerging into the national limelight as George and Ernie Hawtin, Myrtle Beall, Winston Nunes, Omar Johnson and many others.[11]

George Warnock, former personal secretary to Ern Baxter (an associate with William Branham's healing ministry), resided at Sharon Schools in the fall of 1949 and performed various work supporting the movement.[8] Warnock book, The Feast of Tabernacles (1951),[8] discussed the role of Sharon Schools and affiliated groups in living out the completion of God's feasts for Israel, through perfection of the saints and their dominion over the earth. He described the Jewish feasts of Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles as ones that "pre-figure and typify the whole Church Age, beginning with the death of Jesus on the cross, and consummating in "the manifestation of the Sons of God" – the "overcomers" who will step into immortality and establish the Kingdom of God on earth."[8]

Beliefs[edit]

Latter Rain proponents saw Pentecostalism as spiritually dry in the post-war period and in danger of slipping into a dry or mental formalism like many of their evangelical peers. Latter Rain doctrines addressed this formalism with a series of doctrinal and practical changes. These changes made the Latter Rain Movement distinct from the Pentecostal context from which it arose. Church life in Latter Rain influenced the development of church congregations significantly different from traditional Pentecostal ones.

The Latter Rain brought a new focus on the spiritual elements of Christianity, including personal prophecy, typological interpretation of Scripture, the restoration of the five-fold ministry, and a different eschatological emphasis. George Warnock's Feast of Tabernacles outlined some of these emphases, and has been considered a primary foundational text for the movement.[citation needed]

Eschatology[edit]

The Latter Rain broke with the dispensationalism, which had become entrenched in the ranks of Pentecostalism. It tended to be pessimistic in its outlook, whereas the Latter Rain emphasized a victorious eschatological outlook. Rather than attempting to save a few souls before the rise of the anti-Christ, the Latter Rain emphasized the Church as overcoming and victorious, relating that it would come into "full stature" as taught by the Apostle Paul.

The term Latter Rain stems from Bible passages such as Jeremiah 3:3, 5:23–25, Joel 2:23, Hosea 6:3, Zechariah 10:1, and James 5:7. The idea of a latter rain was not new to Pentecostals. It was present from the earliest days of Pentecostalism, which believed that the reappearance of speaking in tongues and the baptism of the Holy Spirit marked the "latter rain of God's Spirit." It was believed that these were signs of the coming end of history. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost had been the "former rain" that established the Church, but the current "move" of the Spirit was the latter rain that would bring the Church's work to completion and culminate in the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, which was and is imminent.[citation needed]

Joel's Army[edit]

A major feature of the expected latter rain would be the "manifestation of the Sons of God" or "Joel's Army". The Latter Rain movement taught that as the end of the age approached, the "overcomers" would arise within the Church. Various branches debated the nature and extent of this manifestation. These Manifest Sons of God, ones who have come into the full stature of Jesus Christ, would receive the Spirit without measure. They would be as Jesus was when he was on earth and would receive a number of divine gifts, including the ability to change their physical location, to speak any language through the Holy Spirit, and would be able to perform divine healings and other miracles. They would complete the work of God, restoring man's rightful position as was originally mandated in Genesis. By coming into the full stature of Christ, they would usher in his millennial reign. Extreme versions of this interpretation referred to Jesus as a "pattern" Son and applied "ye are gods" (Psalms 82:6) to this coming company of believers.[12]

Joel's Army has been connected to Dominion Theology and Fivefold ministry thinking.[13] It has been described in the 21st century as a "rapidly growing apocalyptic movement," prophesied to become an "Armageddon-ready military force of young people who will love not their life unto death, who will stand face to face with the incarnation of satan as the antichrist and his army in the end of the age.[13]

Ecclesiology[edit]

The "Sacrifice of Praise" and the restoration of the Tabernacle of David were important themes within the Latter Rain. Dancing, lifting of hands and spontaneous praise are marks of this movement. An effort was made to show the error of many Christians who denied that such practices were imperative for believers.

A major theme of the Latter Rain was "unity" among the believers in the church service, the geographic region, and at large. They taught that God saw the Church organized not into denominations but along geographical lines, as in the book of Acts—one Church but in different locations. They expected that in the coming "last days," the various Christian denominations would dissolve, and the true Church would coalesce into city-wide churches under the leadership of the newly restored apostles and prophets.

The Latter Rain taught that there would be a restoration of the five ministerial roles mentioned in Ephesians 4:11: apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher). They believed that the foundational roles of apostle and prophet had been lost after the time of the first apostles due to the Dark Ages. They thought that God was restoring these ministries in the present day. These ideas are part of the "prophetic movement" and "New Apostolic Reformation".

Belief in the restoration of the offices of apostle and prophet distinguished the Latter Rain Movement from the rest of Pentecostalism. Classical Pentecostals understood the five ministerial roles not as offices or authority designated to any particular person but as functions available to the entire Spirit-baptized congregation, subject to the leading of the Spirit.[14]

Pneumatology[edit]

Pentecostals traditionally held that the baptism of the Holy Spirit usually comes after prolonged "tarrying" or waiting for the Spirit. By contrast, the Latter Rain movement taught that the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the gifts can be imparted from one believer to another through the laying on of hands.[15]

A participant in services at Bethesda Missionary Temple in Detroit, Michigan describes the discerning of gifts:

During the day men of God, who have been called to various offices by the Lord, as they feel led by the Spirit, call out of the congregation folks whose hearts have been made ready, lay hands upon them and set them apart for God. This laying on of hands is accompanied by various prophecies relative to their ministries and gifts of the Spirit that God has bestowed upon them.[16]

Controversies[edit]

The movement is distinguished from those whom it influenced. Some branches of the movement developed as cult-like groups, such as the Body of Christ or The Move; some remained orthodox Christian, and other parts of the movement moderated the doctrine and ultimately had positive effects on the Charismatic and Pentecostal churches at large.

During the early years, some of the most ardent critics of the Latter Rain and its theology came from within Pentecostalism, particularly the Assemblies of God. In 1949, the General Council of the Assemblies of God, following the leadership of its General Superintendent E. S. Williams, stated that pre-tribulation rapture represented correct eschatology. It rejected the Latter Rain practice of personal prophecy accompanied by the laying on of hands, as well as the Manifest Sons of God doctrine.[17] Stanley Frodsham, a noted Assemblies of God leader, left the Assemblies in favor of the Latter Rain. He noted that it had practices and experiences similar to the Azusa Street Revival, a founding element of the Pentecostal Church. The opposition of other Pentecostal denominations ultimately led to the withdrawal, under pressure, of Ivan Q. Spencer, founder of the Elim Fellowship, from inter-Pentecostal fellowship.

Contemporary criticism of the Latter Rain movement has emanated from fundamentalists, as demonstrated by their websites that attack the movement. Writers on such sites typically use association with the Latter Rain as a way to discredit modern Charismatics.[18] Some identify the roots of more recent Charismatic trends such as Kingdom Now theology, the Kansas City Prophets including Paul Cain, and the New Apostolic Reformation including C. Peter Wagner as being rooted in the Latter Rain. Scholars have not established the historical connections. The modern charismatic movement, while clearly influenced by some Latter Rain ideals such as the fivefold ministry and the laying on of hands, generally rejects the more extreme elements of Latter Rain theology.

A small, controversial branch of the Latter Rain is the "Reconciliation" movement, especially those who believe in "Manifest Sonship" theology.[19] Reconciliation (also called ultimate or universal reconciliation) is a doctrine of Christian Universalism that acknowledges God's plan to save the whole world through the atoning sacrifice of Christ. According to this tradition, the manifest Sons of God are expected to reign on earth during a coming millennial age until ultimately every human being will be restored to harmony with God.[20]

Leaders[edit]

The following list includes some representative leaders of various branches, both past and present; it is not exhaustive.

Founders[edit]

  • Maria Fraser founded the Latter Rain Assemblies in South Africa (Blourokkies) in the 1920s, but this is generally considered a different movement from what developed in North America.
  • Reg Layzell founded Glad Tidings church in Vancouver, British Columbia; he is an author and influenced such books as The Key of David and Unto Perfection.
  • George Warnock wrote The Feast of Tabernacles (1951) which became very influential for its view of the biblical feasts and approach to the Scriptures. One identifiable mark of those influenced by the Latter Rain is their spiritual hermeneutic.
  • George Hawtin and his brother Ern Hawtin were early leaders and evangelists in the movement, who traveled to spread the word.
  • A. Earl Lee was one of the fathers of the movement in southern California. He had previously been involved with the preacher Aimee Semple McPherson.
  • Myrtle D. Beall was the founder and Senior Pastor of Bethesda Missionary Temple in Detroit, Michigan until her death in 1979. M.D. Beall was raised Catholic, and was converted during the Depression in a Protestant church in northeast Detroit that asked her to leave after she began sharing her experience of the Baptism in the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in tongues (she said this happened in the early 1930s in front of her wood burning stove early one morning as she prayed with her Bible open.) Bethesda's first building was a former tire repair shop. Beall began the work simply as a place for neighborhood women to bring their children to be schooled in the Scriptures. It was here that Phil W. "Pop" Baer and his wife Macy were saved, and served faithfully the rest of their lives. P.W. Baer was Bethesda's first adult male member and was the church treasurer until his death. His wife Macy was prominent leader of the daily prayer meetings that began in 1941 when Pearl Harbor was bombed, and continued until M. D. Beall visited Glad Tidings in Vancouver, British Columbia in December 1948. When she arrived back at her church, the same revival fires that she experienced in Vancouver erupted in Detroit. The next year, Bethesda would move into a brand new sanctuary holding 2,200 on the corner of Nevada and Van Dyke Avenue in Detroit (the building is now owned by The Perfecting Church pastored by Marvin Wynans.)

Sons James (1924 - 2013) and Harry Beall later joined her in the ministry. At her death, James became the senior pastor of Bethesda. During the 1970s, he was a prominent speaker and writer in the Charismatic Renewal. For instance, he was one of the speakers at the World Conference on the Holy Spirit in Jerusalem in 1974. Other speakers included Corrie ten Boom, Kathryn Kuhlman, Jamie Buckingham, J. Rodman Williams, as well as many others. The most widely circulated Charismatic magazine of that time, the Logos Journal, often featured articles by James. Her married daughter Patricia Beall Gruits became the author of several books, including "Understanding God", and also founder of a mission to Haiti called RHEMA, providing medical care to the poor, and trains native ministers and medical workers to serve in Haiti. Her husband Peter Gruits worked to build and direct the Haiti mission until his death. Rev. Patricia Gruits resides today in Rochester Hills, Michigan near family members who are carrying on the mission in Haiti, and now publishes her Foundation Stone Teaching series in many languages. James Beall's only daughter Analee Dunn is now Senior Pastor in Sterling Heights, Michigan at what is now known as Bethesda Christian Church north of Detroit, Michigan. This was one of the first major churches to embrace the Latter Rain and became the center of much activity, where services were held daily for almost 4 years, affecting tens of thousands from around the globe.

  • James Watt was an elder at the Sharon Orphanage and school.
  • J. Preston Eby was an early proponent; he resigned under pressure from the Pentecostal Holiness Church in 1956 because his Latter Rain beliefs were not approved by the church.
  • Thomas Wyatt, a pastor from Portland, Oregon, hosted the North Battleford men at a pastor's conference, thus enabling the spread of the doctrine.
  • Garlon and Modest Pemberton were the pastors of a significant Latter Rain church in Houston.
  • Charles E. Green founded Word of Faith Temple in New Orleans, Louisiana, which grew to over a thousand members. The church is still in existence today, and is known as Life Gate Church. Charles Green's son, Michael, pastors Life Gate Church.
  • Fred Poole pastored a Latter Rain church in Philadelphia.

Ministers Fellowship International[edit]

Ministers Fellowship International (MFI) is the most prominent direct descendant of the Latter Rain movement and one that is considered mainstream in theology. It founded Portland Bible College in Portland, Oregon, which is a leading institution in the Latter Rain tradition. Many of the books used by Latter Rain churches are textbooks created for Portland Bible College and written by its original teachers. These books include Present Day Truths by Dick Iverson and many by Kevin Conner. City Bible Publishing carries many contemporary books that define the movement. Kevin Conner's Tabernacle of David and Present Day Truths are classics on worship and restoration.

MFI's leadership includes many significant figures from the early years of the movement.

  • Dick Iverson, founder of City Bible Church, formerly Bible Temple, and Portland Bible College, was the apostolic overseer of Ministers Fellowship International. That position is now held by Frank Damazio.[21]
  • Kevin Conner, an influential Bible teacher in the Latter Rain; he blended some of the new ideas with more traditional hermeneutics. He influenced T.D. Jakes and other ministers.[22]
  • David Schoch was associated with this branch of the Latter Rain and was an honorary member of the apostolic board of MFI until his death in July 2007.[21] The church he led is now known as City At the Cross in Long Beach, California.[23]
  • Violet Kiteley founded Shiloh Christian Fellowship in Oakland, California. David Kiteley, was Co-Founder of Shiloh, and is now Pastor Emeritus and an original member of the MFI leadership. Patrick Kiteley, David's son is now Pastor of Shiloh

Church and member of MFI leadership team.[21]

Disputed movements[edit]

While these were influenced by the Latter Rain, they are considered to be independent and not recognized by it.

Others[edit]

  • Bishop Bill Hamon of Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, has been influential in the Charismatic movement.[26] Hamon's book The Eternal Church outlines the movement, noting his presence.[27]
  • Dr. Kelley Varner of Richlands, North Carolina, had a teaching ministry influenced by the Latter Rain, which he acknowledges in his books.[28]
  • John Gavazzoni, Kenneth Greatorex, Gary Sigler and Robert Torango are charismatic Christians who teach universal reconciliation and sonship (a version of the ancient Christian doctrines of apocatastasis and theosis). Gavazzoni and Greatorex are leaders of Greater Emmanuel International Ministries.[29] Sigler runs a large website called Kingdom Resources.[30] Torango leads a church and evangelistic ministry in Tennessee.[31]
  • Tony Salmon, of West Virginia, is founder and vice president of Kingdom Ministries. Salmon has been an active proponent of and spokesman for the teachings of sonship and reconciliation.[32]
  • Charles Schmitt, pastor of the Immanuel's Church in Silver Spring, Maryland, and founder of the Body of Christ movement, spent time in the Latter Rain.
  • Bill Britton is an author and teacher on sonship.
  • Paul N. Grubb and his wife, Lura, of Faith Temple in Memphis, Tennessee, were also sonship proponents.
  • Wade Taylor co-founder (along with Bill Britton) of Pinecrest Bible Training Center in Salisbury Center, New York.
  • Robin McMillan, pastor of the lead fellowship of Rick Joyner's MorningStar Ministries, was mentored by Wade Taylor. MorningStar itself is very reflective of a Latter Rain ideal.
  • Glenn Ewing and his son, Robert Ewing, of Waco, Texas, trained Jim Laffoon, leading prophet for Every Nations

Other movements and institutions[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Riss, Richard (1987). Latter Rain: The Latter Rain Movement of 1948. Honeycomb Visual Productions. p. 11. 
  2. ^ Assemblies of God Position Paper on End Time revival
  3. ^ Riss, Richard (1982), "The Latter Rain Movement of 1948", Pneuma: The Journal of the Society for Pentecostal Studies 4 (1): 35 
  4. ^ a b Schmitt, Charles P. (2002). Floods Upon the Dry Ground, Shippensburg, PA: Revival Press.
  5. ^ Nichol, John Thomas (1966) Pentecostalism, New York: Harper & Row.
  6. ^ a b c d e Wanagas, Ewald A. (2000). The Revival & Outpouring of the Holy Spirit: Things I Have Seen and Heard, North Battleford: Sharon Children's Homes and Schools.
  7. ^ Warnock, George H. (1978) The Feast of Tabernacles, North Battleford: Sharon Schools
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h Albert James Dager, "An Examination of Kingdom Theology", Apologetics Index
  9. ^ Holdcroft, L. Thomas (1980), "The New Order of the Latter Rain", Pneuma: The Journal of the Society for Pentecostal Studies 2 (2): 48, doi:10.1163/157007480x00099 
  10. ^ Hawtin, George R. (1948). Local Church Government, North Battleford: Sharon Star
  11. ^ Bill Britton, Dimensions of Truth
  12. ^ Kenneth E. Hagin, New Thresholds of Faith, (Tulsa, OK: FLP, 2nd edn, 1985 [1972]), p.56.
  13. ^ a b Casey Sanchez (Fall 2008). "'Arming' for Armageddon: Militant Joel's Army Followers Seek Theocracy". Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved 2008-09-02. 
  14. ^ Shane Jack Clifton, An Analysis of the Developing Ecclesiology of the Assemblies of God in Australia, [PhD thesis, Australian Catholic University, 2005], p. 150. Accessed May 20, 2010.
  15. ^ Riss, "The Latter Rain Movement of 1948", Pneuma, p. 35-36.
  16. ^ Blumhofer, Edith L. (1993). Restoring the Faith: The Assemblies of God, Pentecostalism, and American Culture. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press. pp. 207–208. ISBN 978-0-252-06281-0. 
  17. ^ Minutes of the General Council of the Assemblies of God, Resolution 7: "The New Order of the Latter Rain."
  18. ^ For an example, see Barbara Aho, "The Latter Rain Revival", WatchPair.com.
  19. ^ Sigler.org and Greater-emmanuel.org are websites with many links to ministries that teach both Reconciliation and Sonship doctrines.
  20. ^ See Hearingthetruthofgod.com: THE “SECOND” COMING “?” by J. Preston Eby, THE MANIFESTATION OF THE SONS OF GOD, and THE COMING AGE OF MIRACLES by Bill Britton. Leaders in this tradition include John Gavazzoni, Kenneth Greatorex, Gary Sigler, and Robert Torango.
  21. ^ a b c MFI Leadership Page
  22. ^ Jakes citing Conner, The Potter's House
  23. ^ Latter Rain Reformation summary paper
  24. ^ Riss, Richard (1987). Latter Rain: The Latter Rain Movement of 1948. Honeycomb Visual Productions. p. 142. 
  25. ^ People Magazine 2/3/1986
  26. ^ Charisma Profile Article. Sept 2004..
  27. ^ Hamon, Bill (2001). The Eternal Church. Destiny Image. pp. 225–238. ISBN 0-7684-2176-4. 
  28. ^ Kelley Varner Ministries
  29. ^ Greater-emmanuel.org
  30. ^ Sigler.org
  31. ^ Thehouseofthelord.com
  32. ^ Kingdom Ministries
  33. ^ Nori Bio on Destiny Image

External links[edit]

Pro

Critical

Attempt to be Neutral

Bibliography[edit]

Hollenweger, Walter (1972). The Pentecostals. London: SCM.