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Albert Benjamin Simpson

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A. B. Simpson, founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance

Albert Benjamin Simpson (December 15, 1843 – October 29, 1919), also known as A. B. Simpson, was a Canadian preacher, theologian, author, and founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA), an evangelical denomination with an emphasis on global evangelism that has been characterized as being Keswickian in theology.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Simpson was born in Bayview, near Cavendish, Prince Edward Island, Canada, as the third son and fourth child of James Simpson, Jr. and Janet Clark.[3] Author Harold H. Simpson has gathered an extensive genealogy of Cavendish families in Cavendish: Its History, Its People. His research establishes the Clark family (A. B. Simpson's mother's side) as one of the founding families of Cavendish in 1790, along with the Simpson family, and he traces common ancestors between Albert B. Simpson and Lucy Maud Montgomery, the author of Anne of Green Gables.

The young Albert was raised in a strict Calvinistic Scottish Presbyterian and Puritan tradition. His conversion of faith began under the ministry of Henry Grattan Guinness, a visiting evangelist from Ireland during the revival of 1859.[4] Simpson spent some time in the Chatham, Ontario area, and received his theological training in Toronto at Knox College, University of Toronto.

Presbyterian Ministry[edit]

After graduating in 1865, Simpson was subsequently ordained in the Canada Presbyterian Church, the largest of the Presbyterian groups in Canada that merged after his departure for the United States. At age 21, he accepted a call to the large Knox Presbyterian Church (closed in 1971) in nearby Hamilton, Ontario.

In December 1873, at age 30, Simpson left Canada and assumed the pulpit of the largest Presbyterian church in Louisville, Kentucky, the Chestnut Street Presbyterian Church. It was in Louisville that he first conceived of preaching the gospel to the common man by building a simple tabernacle for that purpose. Despite his success at the Chestnut Street Church, Simpson was frustrated by their reluctance to embrace this burden for wider evangelistic endeavor.

In 1880, Simpson was called to the Thirteenth Street Presbyterian Church in New York City where he immediately began reaching out to the world with the gospel. In August 1881, he experienced divine healing of a heart problem.[5] In October 1881, he adopted the vision of believer's baptism as a symbol of commitment and was baptized by immersion in a Baptist church.[6] After discussing his change in beliefs at his church, he decided to leave it.

Evangelical Ministry[edit]

In 1881 he began an independent gospel ministry to the many new immigrants and the neglected masses of New York City.[7] Beside active evangelistic work in the church, he published in 1882 a missionary journal, The Gospel in All Lands, the first missionary journal with pictures.[8] Simpson also founded and began publishing an illustrated magazine entitled The Word, Work, and World. By 1911, this magazine became known as The Alliance Weekly, then Alliance Life. It is the official publication of The Christian and Missionary Alliance, in the US and Canada.

In 1882, Simpson began informal training classes in order to reach "the neglected peoples of the world with the neglected resources of the church".[9] By 1883, a formal program was in place and ministers and missionaries were being trained in a multi-cultural context (This school was the beginning of Nyack College and Alliance Theological Seminary).

In 1885, he was invited to the International Convention of Holiness and Divine Healing in London, by the American pastor William Boardman, author of The Higher Christian Life.[10] He taught about holiness and especially a sermon known as "Himself", that describes the sanctification as a focus on Christ himself and on his work on the cross.

In 1889, Simpson and his church family moved into their new home at the corner of 44th St. and 8th Av. called the New York Tabernacle. This became the base not only of his ministry of evangelism in the city, but also of his growing work of worldwide missions.


In 1887, he began a series of sermons called “Fourfold Gospel” (“4-sided Gospel” or “Full Gospel”) in New York.[11] According to him, this concept represents the 4 aspects of the ministry of Jesus Christ: "Jesus our Savior, Sanctifier, Healer, and Coming King".[12] The Fourfold Gospel is symbolized in the logo of the C&MA: the Cross (Savior), the Laver (Sanctifier), the Pitcher (Healer), and the Crown (Coming King). He came to his special emphasis in ministry through his absolute Christ-centeredness in doctrine and experience.

Albert Benjamin Simpson was largely Keswickian, teaching the doctrine of entire sanctification heralded by the Higher Life movement.[13][14][15][2][16] Simpson, however, departed from traditional Keswickian teaching in his view of progressive sanctification and rejection of suppressionism.[17][18]

Plagued by illness for much of his life since childhood, Simpson believed he experienced divine healing after understanding it to be part of the blessing of abiding in Christ as Life and healing. He emphasized healing in his Fourfold Gospel and usually devoted one meeting a week for teaching, testimonies and prayer on these lines. Although such teaching isolated him (and the C&MA) from the mainline churches that either did not emphasize or outright rejected healing, Simpson was uncompromising in his beliefs.

Simpson's heart for evangelism was to become the driving force behind the creation of the C&MA. Initially, the Christian and Missionary Alliance was not founded as a denomination, but as an organized movement of world evangelism.

In his 1890 book, A Larger Christian Life, Simpson discussed his vision for the church:

He [Jesus] is showing us the plan for a Christian Church that is much more than an association of congenial friends to listen once a week to an intellectual discourse and musical entertainment and carry on by proxy a mechanism of Christian work; but rather a Church that can be at once the mother and home of every form of help and blessing which Jesus came to give to lost and suffering men, the birthplace and the home of souls, the fountain of healing and cleansing, the sheltering home for the orphan and distressed, the school for the culture and training of God's children, the armory where they are equipped for the battle of the Lord and the army which fights those battles in His name. Such a center of population in this sad and sinful world![19]

Simpson composed the lyrics of over 120 hymns,[20] 77 of which appear in the C&MA's 1962 hymnal, Hymns of the Christian Life, co-edited with R. Kelso Carter.[21]

His missionary vision is illustrated by these words of his hymn, "The Missionary Cry":

The Master's coming draweth near.
The Son of Man will soon appear,
His Kingdom is at hand.
But ere that glorious day can be,
The Gospel of the Kingdom, we
Must preach in every land.[22]

At the turn of the 20th century, numerous Alliance members began adopting Pentecostal beliefs as a result of the widespread experience of tongues and other spiritual manifestations within the Alliance movement and at Alliance meetings.[23] While Simpson remained an ardent proponent of the doctrine of Spirit Baptism that was a central teaching in late nineteenth-century evangelicalism, he became publicly critical of various practices within the Pentecostal movement that he considered excessive.[24] In particular, Simpson publicly challenged the emerging Pentecostal teaching that "speaking in tongues" was the sole acceptable evidence of baptism with the Holy Spirit. Notwithstanding his public criticism, however, in his private spiritual life, Simpson sought for the gift of tongues.[25] While he did not ever speak in tongues, he did, in the course of his seeking, have other ecstatic experiences of the kind that often bore the criticism of Pentecostal excessiveness, such as an experience he described in his private journal, saying, "The Spirit came with a baptism of Holy laughter for an hour or more and I am waiting for all He has yet to give and manifest."[26]


A. B. Simpson died in 1919 and his wife, Margaret (née Margaret L. Henry) in 1924.[27] They are buried on the Rockland County Campus of Nyack College in Nyack, New York.


A number of C&MA churches bear Simpson's name, including (i) Simpson University in Redding, California, (ii) the Albert B. Simpson school in Lima, Peru, (iii) the A. B. Simpson Alliance School in Zamboanga City, Philippines, (iv), Sekolah Tinggi Teologi Simpson (Simpson Theological College) in Ungaran, Indonesia and (v) The Simpson Memorial Church[28] (established in 1923) in Jamalpur, Ahmedabad, India. In 2023 it has completed 100 years, so the "Centenary Celebration[29]" is taking place from 1 May 2023 to 31 April 2024.


  • The Gospel of Healing, New York: Word, Work & World Publishing Company; London: John Snow & Co. (1885); OCLC 55213901
  • The Self Life and the Christ Life, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Christian Publications (1886); OCLC 4308382
  • Divine Emblems in the Book of Genesis, New York: Word, Work and World Publishing Co. (1888); OCLC 41986359 (re-print: Nyack, New York: Christian Alliance Publishing Co. (1901); OCLC 25263492)
  • The Four-Fold Gospel, New York: Word, Work & World Publishing Co. (1888); OCLC 742275515 (3rd ed., revised: New York: Christian Alliance Publishing Co. (1890); OCLC 645130107)
  • Hymns and Songs of the Four-Fold Gospel, and the Fullness of Jesus, New York: Christian Alliance Publishing Co.(1890); OCLC 1111873456, 18862939
  • Wholly Sanctified, New York: Christian Alliance Publishing Co. (1890); OCLC 32463133
  • The Gospel of Healing (4th ed.), New York: Christian Alliance Publishing Co. (1890); OCLC 907378823
  • A Larger Christian Life, New York: Christian Alliance Publishing Co. (1890); OCLC 1079825080
  • The Life of Prayer (1890)
  • The Christ of the Forty Days (1890)
  • The Names of Jesus (1892)
  • The Love Life of the Lord (3rd ed. rev. 1895)
  • 'The Holy Spirit' or 'Power From on High,' New York: Christian Alliance Publications (1895); OCLC 38367937 (Part I: The Old Testament; Part II: The New Testament)
  • Christ in the Tabernacle (1896)
  • Days of Heaven Upon Earth: A Year Book of Scripture Texts and Living Truths (1897)
  • Hymns of the Christian Life, Numbers One and Two (1897)
  • Present Truths or the Supernatural (1897)
  • Danger Lines in the Deeper Life (1898)
  • But God: The Resources and Sufficiency of God (1899)
  • Heart Messages for Sabbaths at Home (1899)
  • Service for the King (1900)
  • The Sweetest Christian Life (1899)
  • The Apostolic Church (1900)
  • The Cross of Christ (1910)
  • When the Comforter came; thirty-one meditations on the Holy Spirit--one for each day in the month (1911)
  • Life More Abundantly (1912)
  • The Coming One (1912)
  • Michele Nardi: The Italian Evangelist; His Life and Work (1916)
  • The Gentle Love of the Holy Spirit
Posthumous compilations
  • Songs of the Spirit: Hitherto Unpublished Poems and a Few Old Favorites (1920)
  • Missionary Message (1925)
  • Standing on Faith and Talks on the Self Life London: Marshall, Morgan & Scott (1932); OCLC 27093970
  • Walking in the Spirit: A Series of Arresting Addresses on the Subject of the Holy Spirit in Christian Experience Harrisburg: Christian Publications (1952); OCLC 3463184

Works about A. B. Simpson[edit]

  • The Life of A.B. Simpson, by Albert E. Thompson, Brooklyn: The Christian Alliance Publishing Company (1920); OCLC 1141352704
  • A.B. Simpson, His Life and Work (reprint of the 1920 edition), by Albert E. Thompson, Harrisburg: Christian Publications (1960); OCLC 613708917
  • A.B.: The Unlikely Founder of a Global Movement (1st ed.), by David P. Jones, Colorado Springs: The Christian and Missionary Alliance (2019); OCLC 1114965579
  • Simpson and the Making of Modern Evangelicalism. by Henry, James Daryn. A.B., Montreal ;: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2019.


  1. ^ Knight III, Henry H. (11 August 2010). From Aldersgate to Azusa Street: Wesleyan, Holiness, and Pentecostal Visions of the New Creation. Wipf and Stock Publishers. p. 365. ISBN 978-1-63087-656-2. Not included on this chart are denominations that emerged out of the Keswick wing of the Holiness movement. The most significant of these is the Christian and Missionary Alliance.
  2. ^ a b Kenyon, Howard N. (29 October 2019). Ethics in the Age of the Spirit: Race, Women, War, and the Assemblies of God. Wipf and Stock Publishers. ISBN 978-1-4982-8522-3. Much of the Keswickian influence came through A.B. Simpson's Christian and Missionary Alliance, itself an ecumenical missionary movement
  3. ^ George A. Rawlyk, Aspects of the Canadian Evangelical Experience, McGill-Queen's Press - MQUP, Canada, 1997, page 271
  4. ^ Austin, Alvyn (2007). China's millions: the China Inland Mission and late Qing society, 1832–1905. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. p. 96. ISBN 978-0-8028-2975-7. OCLC 76828852.
  5. ^ J. Gordon Melton, Encyclopedia of Protestantism, Infobase Publishing, USA, 2005, p. 497
  6. ^ Daryn Henry, A.B. Simpson and the Making of Modern Evangelicalism, McGill-Queen's Press - MQUP, Canada, 2019, p. 158-159
  7. ^ Daryn Henry, A.B. Simpson and the Making of Modern Evangelicalism, McGill-Queen's Press - MQUP, Canada, 2019, p. 160
  8. ^ J. Gordon Melton and Martin Baumann, Religions of the World: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Beliefs and Practices, ABC-CLIO, USA, 2010, page 605
  9. ^ William Kostlevy, Historical Dictionary of the Holiness Movement, Scarecrow Press, USA, 2009, page 270
  10. ^ Michael G. Yount, A. B. Simpson: His Message and Impact on the Third Great Awakening, Wipf and Stock Publishers, USA, 2016, p. 75
  11. ^ Daryn Henry, A.B. Simpson and the Making of Modern Evangelicalism, McGill-Queen's Press - MQUP, Canada, 2019, p. 168
  12. ^ Randall Herbert Balmer, Encyclopedia of Evangelicalism, Baylor University Press, USA, 2004, page 128
  13. ^ Wu, Dongsheng John (1 April 2012). Understanding Watchman Nee: Spirituality, Knowledge, and Formation. Wipf and Stock Publishers. p. 58. ISBN 978-1-63087-573-2. D. D. Bundy notes that A. B. Simpson (1843–1919)—Presbyterian founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance—who never accepted the Wesleyan doctrine of eradication of sin, accepted the Keswickian understanding of sanctification.
  14. ^ III, Henry H. Knight (1 February 2014). Anticipating Heaven Below: Optimism of Grace from Wesley to the Pentecostals. Wipf and Stock Publishers. pp. 91–92. ISBN 978-1-63087-125-3. It is the other christological strand, that of the indwelling Christ, that is the heart of the distinctive sanctification theology of A. B. Simpson. A Presbyterian who ultimately founded the Christian and Missionary Alliance, Simpson operates within a Keswick framework while also drawing upon Wesleyan ideals. Like Wesley, Simpson described sin as in the motive or intent of the heart most especially lack of love for God and neighbour. While he agrees with Keswick that we can't ever be freed from this sinful nature in this life, he insisted, as Van De Walle puts it, "the power of the resurrected Christ would more than enable the believer to consider the sin nature a vanquished foe and to behave as though it were.
  15. ^ Burgess, Stanley M.; Maas, Eduard M. van der (3 August 2010). The New International Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements: Revised and Expanded Edition. Zondervan. ISBN 978-0-310-87335-8. A.B. Simpson, founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance (CMA), influenced by A.J. Gordon and W.E. Boardman, adopted a Keswickian understanding of sanctification.
  16. ^ Murphy, Karen (23 May 2018). Pentecostals and Roman Catholics on Becoming a Christian: Spirit-Baptism, Faith, Conversion, Experience, and Discipleship in Ecumenical Perspective. Brill Academic Publishers. p. 131. ISBN 978-90-04-36786-9. ... the Christian and Missionary Alliance (CMA) ... accepted the Keswickian teaching over the Wesleyan-Holiness belief.
  17. ^ Bernie A. Van De Walle, The Heart of the Gospel: A. B. Simpson, the Fourfold Gospel, and Late Nineteenth-Century Evangelical Theology, Wipf and Stock Publishers, USA, 2009, p. 93; "Despite similarities, Simpson's sanctification doctrine included its own distinctives, not duplicating either Keswick or Holiness soteriology", p. 94 ; "Richard Gilbertson, like McGraw, distinguishes between Simpson's view of sanctification and those of Keswick and Wesleyanism: There have been frequent attempts to categorize Simpson and the C&MA. Often the assertion is made that Simpson held to a Keswick-type view of sanctification. More precisely, Simpson should be seen as having been influenced by Boardman's Higher Christian Life, a book which also impacted the Keswick movement. Other than an 1885 invitation to speak at one of their conferences, Simpson had little formal contact with the British Keswick movement."
  18. ^ Gordon T. Smith, Conversion and Sanctification in the Christian & Missionary Alliance Archived 2020-01-09 at the Wayback Machine, awf.world, Brazil, 1992 : "He differed in some notable ways from the teachings of his contemporaries: he rejected the perfectionism of the Wesleyan-methodists; he did not accept the suppressionism of the Keswick movement." And "In these respects, the C&MA is distinct from the Keswick movement. The Alliance heritage is more life and work affirming. Our actions in the world do make a difference and are meaningful."
  19. ^ A. B. Simpson, A Larger Christian Life. p. 153.
  20. ^ "People " Simpson, A. B. (Albert B.), 1843–1919 " Texts". Hymnary.org. Retrieved December 11, 2011.
  21. ^ Hymns of the Christian Life: A Book of Worship in Song Emphasizing Evangelism, Missions, and the Deeper Life, 1962 revised and enlarged edition. Harrisburg, PA: Christian Publications, 1962.
  22. ^ Hymn 338, Hymns of the Christian Life, No. 2, 1897
  23. ^ Bernie A. Van De Walle, The Heart of the Gospel: A. B. Simpson, the Fourfold Gospel, and Late Nineteenth-Century Evangelical Theology, Wipf and Stock Publishers, USA, 2009, p. 20
  24. ^ George Thomas Kurian, James D. Smith III, The Encyclopedia of Christian Literature, Volume 2, Scarecrow Press, USA, 2010, p. 566
  25. ^ Charles Nienkirchen, A. B. Simpson and the Pentecostal Movement: A Study in Continuity, Crisis, and Change, Hendrickson, USA, 1992, pp. 131–140.
  26. ^ A.B. Simpson, Simpson’s Nyack Diary, entry for Sept 12, 1907, reproduced in Charles Nienkirchen A. B. Simpson and the Pentecostal Movement: A Study in Continuity, Crisis, and Change, Hendrickson, USA, 1992, p. 145.
  27. ^ George Thomas Kurian, Mark A. Lamport, Encyclopedia of Christianity in the United States, Volume 5, Rowman & Littlefield, USA, 2016, p. 2122
  28. ^ "Simpson Memorial Alliance Church · 2H7H+8MJ, opp Khan Jahan darwaja Jamalpur, Old City, Raikhad, tekra, Ahmedabad, Gujarat 380001, India". Simpson Memorial Alliance Church · 2H7H+8MJ, opp Khan Jahan darwaja Jamalpur, Old City, Raikhad, tekra, Ahmedabad, Gujarat 380001, India. Retrieved 2023-08-17.
  29. ^ "The Simpson Memorial Alliance Church, Jamalpur, Ahmedabad - Since 1923". www.facebook.com. Retrieved 2023-08-17.


  • Austin, Alvyn (2007). China's Millions: The China Inland Mission and Late Qing Society. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans. ISBN 978-0-8028-2975-7.
  • Nienkirchen, Charles (1992). A. B. Simpson and the Pentecostal Movement: A Study in Continuity, Crisis, and Change. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson. ISBN 9780913573990.
  • Tozer, A.W. (1943). Wingspread: Albert B. Simpson—a Study in Spiritual Altitude. Harrisburg, PA: Christian Publications.
  • Van De Walle, Bernie A. (2009). The Heart of the Gospel: A. B. Simpson, the Fourfold Gospel, and Late Nineteenth-Century Evangelical Theology. Eugene, OR: Pickwick. ISBN 978-1-55635-940-8.

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