Archive for the ‘Latter Rain Movement’ Category

Raymond G. Hoekstra and the Latter Rain

29 June, 2008

During the 1940s, many Pentecostals became persuaded of the need for a renewal of Pentecostal revival. Despite the growth of the movement, the zeal of the first generation of Spirit-filled believers was waning, and organizational formations and doctrinal differences left the overall Pentecostal movement fragmented. A 1941 article by Albert Weaver, an early Pentecostal, noted: “The need for an outpouring of the Spirit upon His people, God’s spiritual grain, is not only a necessity, it is urgent. We are in great apostasy, and spiritual drought is visible everywhere” (5). In the midst of such dryness, some Pentecostals began to seek after a “new thing” to re-ignite the lost fervor, and the Latter Rain Movement, or “New Order”, which swept up many believers in its wild deluge, initially seemed to be a revitalizing force in Pentecostalism. Ultimately, the Latter Rain proved to be divisive and doctrinally unstable, presenting yet another significant crisis in the Pentecostal movement.The tenets of the Latter Rain are probably best summarized in a 1949 Assemblies of God resolution detailing the movement’s errors:

1. The overemphasis relative to imparting, identifying, bestowing or confirming gifts by the laying of hands and prophecy.
2. The erroneous teaching that the Church is built on the foundation of present-day apostles and prophets.
3. The extreme teaching as advocated by the “New Order” regarding the confession of sin to man and deliverance as practiced, which claims prerogatives to human agency which belong only to Christ.
4. The erroneous teaching concerning impartation of the gift of languages as special equipment or missionary service.
5. The extreme unscriptural practice of imparting or imposing personal leadings by the means of gifts of utterance.
6. Such other wrestings and distortions of Scriptural interpretation which are in opposition to teachings and practices generally accepted among us. (qtd. in Warner 16)

The resolution presents a clear picture of some of the aberrant notions of Latter Rain proponents. The movement was anti-establishment, and undermined general teachings about the Church, magnifying spiritual gifts over ecclesiastical authority and equating contemporary inspiration with Scripture.

The Latter Rain movement had its beginnings at Sharon Orphanage and Schools in North Battleford, Saskatchewan, Canada where on 12 February 1948 Bible school students experienced “God moving in [their] midst in a strange new way” (qtd. in Warner 16). A lengthy prophecy detailed the coming move of God, and gifts of healing began to manifest at the school. The “revival” soon spread to the Northwestern United States and was carried throughout North America, where it impacted a number of healing revivalists. Promises of divine healing and spiritual renewal drew thousands into the stream, and evangelists carried the Latter Rain message to city after city attracting both Onenenss and Trinitarian Pentecostals who were willing to minimize doctrinal distinctions to embrace what they accepted as the latest iteration of revival.

In Indiana, one of the most well-known casualties of the Latter Rain movement was Raymond Hoekstra, pastor of Calvary Tabernacle. Bro. Hoekstra assumed the pastorate of the 32-member Fletcher Pentecostal Church in 1937. This was his first foray into pastoral ministry. Bro. Hoekstra had been saved as a young man at the Anchor Rescue Mission in San Jose, California and began his pastorate in Indianapolis only four years later (Hoekstra GPG 16; Basore). The small church grew rapidly to over 200 under his leadership, and they eventually razed the small frame building and erected a block structure renamed Calvary Tabernacle (Basore).

Bro. Hoekstra’s difficulties began in 1949 with a revival invitation to a child evangelist, David Walker, known as “Little David.” While Little David had early experiences at the Apostolic Gospel Tabernacle in Long Beach, California, his father, recognizing the boy’s call to preach at the age of 9, soon expanded his itinerary to include Foursquare and Assemblies of God churches (Walker LDMB 17 & Walker Interview). David Walker says that as a child he really had no sense of doctrine and felt comfortable preaching at Oneness and Trinitarian meetings (Walker Interview). He came to Calvary for revival, and Bro. Hoekstra scheduled a crusade in the 10,000-seat Cadle Tabernacle at the corner of New Jersey and Ohio where Little David preached to a full house. The meeting changed Bro. Hoekstra, as he embraced the mysticism of the Latter Rain movement. At Calvary, he began to believe that healing oil was flowing from his hands, and some saints claimed the same experience. He also began to question evidential tongues and told some tarrying for the Spirit to simply “repeat after me” (Basore).

 

 

The present coming together of the hearts of God’s people is a move of God in believers [sic] hearts. A divided leadership has taught Christians to separate themselves from other Christians over doctrinal and denominational differences . . . Christians have been chained to religious machines. Often they were forbidden to attend other assemblies or fellowship with other Christians because of doctrinal or organizational differences. (Hoekstra LR 36-37)

In September 1950, a brief announcement appeared in The Pentecostal Herald: “This is to advise all concerned that Raymond G. Hoekstra is not in fellowship with the United Pentecostal Church” (“Notice . . .” 11). After working with Little David for approximately three years, he went on to work full-time in prison ministry, a work that he had begun in Indianapolis visiting the reformatory at Plainfield and the state prison in Michigan City (Hoekstra GPG 17). Bro. Hoekstra never returned to the Apostolic Faith. Like so many others, he was washed away in the cloudburst of the Latter Rain, but he left behind a thriving church in Indianapolis that built upon his revival foundation to become one of the great assemblies of the United Pentecostal Church.

Sources:

Basore, Robert and Emma. Personal interview. 15 May 2008.

Hoekstra, Raymond G. God’s Prison Gang. Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1977.

Hoekstra, Raymond G. The “Latter Rain” Portland, OR: Wings of Healing, 1950.

“Notice to Ministers of the United Pentecostal Church.” Pentecostal Herald. Vol. 25 No. 9, September 1950, p. 11.

Walker, David. Introducing Little David: “Teen-Age Miracle Boy Preacher in the Ministry of Miracles, Preaching and Healing for the Nations. St. Petersburg, FL: Little David Books, 1955.

Walker, David. Personal Interview. 29 April 2008.

Warner, Wayne. “Reaction of the A/G to the Latter Rain.” Heritage 1 September 1987, pp. 16-19.

Weaver, Albert. “The Need for Spiritual Rain.” Pentecostal Evangel. No. 1398, 22 February 1941, p. 5.

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William Marrion Branham: Profile of a False Prophet

3 July, 2006

While somewhat pejorative, the term Branhamite adequately distinguishes a small sect of Pentecostals dedicated to the life work and mission of William Marrion Branham. Like Apostolics, they embrace holiness and share some of the core doctrines of other Oneness Pentecostals. However, their devotion to Branham and the eccentric ideas that he embraced and propagated places them a world apart from Apostolic orthodoxy.

William Marrion Branham was born on April 6, 1909 to an impoverished young couple in Berksville, Kentucky. Branham claimed that at his birth, a large halo appeared above him and his 15-year-old mother (Dyck 3). This was the first of several “signs” that included angelic voices, heavenly visions, lights, and whirlwinds. This uneducated, self-styled prophet became the leading evangelist in the Healing Movement and developed a large, international following from his base church, Branham Tabernacle, in Jeffersonville, Indiana. His ministry began in his early twenties, and in 1936 he encountered a group of Oneness Pentecostals while vacationing with his wife. While he was impressed by the group’s sincerity and revivalism, he was reluctant to associate himself with “holy rollers”. In 1937, his wife and daughter were killed in the Ohio River flood, and Branham interpreted the loss as a divine punishment for rejecting the Pentecostals (Weaver 34-35).

His healing ministry was precipitated by a purported angelic visit on May 7, 1946. The luminescent messenger informed Branham: “God has sent you to take a gift of divine healing to the people of the world. If you will be sincere, and get the people to believe you, nothing shall stand before your prayer, not even cancer” (qtd. in Weaver 36).

His first healing revival was conducted at Bro. Robert Daugherty’s church in St. Louis. The success of the meeting led to other invitations, and Bro. W.E. Kidson, editor of The Apostolic Herald, began promoting Branham’s ministry, and he enjoyed relative success in many small Apostolic works in the south (Weaver 45).

Bro. Jack Moore, a Oneness pastor from Shreveport, Louisiana, joined the Branham team in 1947, and Gordon Lindsay, a prominent Assemblies of God minister from Ashland, Oregon, paired with Moore in June of that year. This unlikely union made Branham a favorite amongst Oneness and Trinitarian Pentecostals, and several campaigns were held tenuously uniting both factions behind the ministry of William Branham. Bro. Kidson, however, distanced himself from this ecumenical effort and refused to continue advertising Branham’s meetings in his publication.

Branham’s success was primarily attributable to his pinpoint accuracy demonstrated in his meetings. He repeatedly performed feats of incredible discernment, diagnosing diseases and miraculously intimating personal facts. In his first year of ministry, he claimed 35,000 healings (Weaver 47). In the 1950s, Branham traveled the globe holding campaigns in Finland, Norway, Europe, South Africa and India and enjoyed immense acclaim (Weaver 55).

Branham inconsistently emphasized the Oneness doctrines that he embraced. While he held Acts 2:38 to be the plan of salvation, he did not accept speaking in tongues as the sole initial evidence of Spirit baptism. He did, however, strongly advocate the Oneness of the Godhead and baptism in the Name of Jesus Christ. In his treatise An Exposition of the Seven Church Ages, he repeatedly castigates trinitarians. He rails against them as believers in “three Gods” calling the doctrine “a gross error” (Branham 18). Concerning the historical move from singular to trine baptism, Branham says: “While the many apostatized and embraced a trinity and baptized using the titles of Godhead, the Little flock still baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ and so held to the truth” (Branham 178-179). Throughout his writings and recorded sermons, he upholds these biblical doctrines.

Unfortunately, Branham also advanced many strange notions. His reworking of the Genesis account of the Fall stretches beyond all reason. He believed that the two trees in the Garden of Eden, the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, were Jesus and Satan respectively (Branham 102). He also taught a doctrine called “Serpent’s seed”, the idea that Eve was seduced by the serpent, an apelike creature, and bore Cain as the descendant of Satan (Branham 98-99). The resulting race mingled with the human line of Seth but bred hypocrisy and wickedness in the world. There exists a dual lineage from Eve, righteous and unrighteous. Additionally, he believed in the annihilation of the wicked, the ultimate destruction of Satan, and that the earth would be destroyed in an explosion in 1977.

When he died in a tragic car accident in December 1965, his most devoted followers believed that he would resurrect. His wife, who survived the accident, refused to inter her husband and delayed burial until April 11, 1966 (Dyck 6). He is buried in Jeffersonville beneath a large pyramidal stone, with an eagle, Branham’s prophetic symbol, atop it.

William Marrion Branham’s legacy is one of doctrinal confusion and noxious ideas. Any early successes as he moved toward truth are skewed by his gross theological, soteriological, and eschatological errors. As Hoosier Apostolics with a significant amount of Branham’s followers in our State, it is important to recognize the vast differences between Branhamism and Pentecostal truth. The Apostle John warned: “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (I Jn. 4.1). This verse is aptly applied to William Marrion Branham, a false prophet and a purveyor of false doctrine.

Works cited:

Branham, William Marrion. An Exposition of the Seven Church Ages. Jeffersonville, IN: Voice of God Recordings, 1965.

Dyck, Carl. William Branham: the Man and His Message. Saskatoon, Saskatchewan: Western Tract Mission, Inc., 1984.

Weaver, C. Douglas. The Healer-Prophet, William Marrion Branham: a Study of the Prophetic in American Pentecostalism. Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1987.