Archive for the ‘Frank Ewart’ Category

Glenn Cook: Oneness Apostle

19 October, 2010

As the Azusa Street meetings began to produce concentric waves of revival throughout Los Angeles and Southern California, many holiness ministers visited the mission at 312 Azusa Street to contend with William Seymour, the African American leader of the burgeoning Pentecostal group, concerning his strange new doctrine of speaking in tongues.  One of the early preachers to withstand Bro. Seymour was Glenn A. Cook, who was conducting holiness tent meetings at Seventh and Spring Streets in Los Angeles.  Cook was deeply impressed by Seymour’s humility and patience and began to attend the Pentecostal meetings.  He eventually apologized to Bro. Seymour for his “hard sayings” and spent five weeks in heartfelt repentance and spiritual agony before receiving the baptism of the Holy Ghost: 

I felt that I was really lost and unless I received the Holy Ghost and spoke in tongues I would miss all.  When I had just about given up all hope, the Holy Ghost fell on me as I lay in bed at home.  I seemed to be in a trance for about twenty-four hours and the next day in the meeting began to speak in tongues.

Bro. Cook proved to be an important asset to the work of the Azusa Mission and was soon ordained an elder by Bro. Seymour.  A former news reporter and a printer by trade, Cook assisted with the publication of The Apostolic Faith, the mission’s international publication, answered correspondence, and handled the mission’s finances. 

            In December 1906, Bro. Cook began an effective evangelistic campaign throughout the West, Midwest and South, spreading the Pentecostal message.  He arrived in Lamont, Oklahoma where “quite a number were tarrying and waiting for Pentecost.”  Hungry souls traveled to his meetings from over 100 miles away.  Heading eastward, he delivered the doctrine to Mother Mary Moise in St. Louis then on to Chicago.  In Indianapolis, he held powerful meetings, where several members of the Christian Missionary Alliance received the baptism of the Holy Ghost, including the Flower family, defectors from Dowie’s Zion who later became influential leaders in the Assemblies of God.  In an Apostolic Faith report, Cook accurately predicted that Indianapolis would become “a center of power, being an inter-urban railway center like Los Angeles.”  Cook was gladly received by a number of Church of God in Christ adherents in the South, while their bishop, Charles H. Mason, was on site at Azusa receiving the Holy Ghost. 

            In 1914, Cook was evangelizing in the east when he received a letter from Frank Ewart, who was conducting meetings in Los Angeles “stating that he and a number of my friends had started a tent meeting and were baptizing people in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.”  Ewart invited Cook to return to Los Angeles to assist in the work.  He accepted Ewart’s scriptural message, and he and Bro. Ewart rebaptized one another in a rented trough.  “During the following months,” wrote Bro. Cook, “the great revival broke out, many hundreds being baptized in the Name of Jesus.” 

            Bro. Cook’s acceptance of the doctrine of the mighty God in Christ placed him in the ranks of the Oneness Pentecostals, who were transforming the movement with a deeper revelation of Jesus Christ.  As a church planter, Cook took up the burden to revisit the works he had helped to found in 1906 and 1907 with the Oneness message:

During the spring of 1915, the call came to me from the Lord to go back East and carry the message to the places where several years before I had carried the message of the Holy Ghost baptism with speaking in tongues.  My first stop was St. Louis, where I visited the Rescue Home of Mother Moise . . . Before leaving St. Louis, Mother Moise, Ben Pemberton, and about forty others were baptized in the Name of Jesus in the Mississippi River.

Afterward, he traveled on to Indianapolis where:

. . . the saints were prepared and hungry for the new message.  Great crowds turned out from the beginning, people coming in from different points in Indiana, Ohio, and Illinois.  During the thirty days of the meeting, I was informed by those who kept a record that some 469 were baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ.  Among those baptized were G.T. Haywood, L.V. Roberts, the new Bishop [Samuel N.] Hancock, Brother [T.C.] Davis, and about all the leaders of that day.  The Lord made a clean sweep, leaving few Pentecostal people in te city who were not baptized in the Name of Jesus.

Throughout his lifetime, Cook continued to promote the powerful message of baptism in the Name of Jesus and the fullness of the Godhead in Christ.  He contributed articles to a number of Apostolic circulars including The Blessed Truth, The Herald of Truth, and Meat in Due Season.  He continued a deep friendship with Bro. Frank Ewart, who introduced him to the Oneness truths, and worked alongside him in Pentecostal ministry in Los Angeles, where he pastored a work in Belvedere.  When he died in 1948, Bro. Glenn A. Cook was memorialized as a trailblazer.  The seeds of truth that he scattered throughout the United States as an apostle of the Faith continue to bring forth a mighty harvest.

 

 

Extra! Extra! Editorial Portrayals of the Early Oneness Movement

20 May, 2009

May 11, 1915, the Executive Presbytery of the Assemblies of God convened for a semi-annual meeting in St. Louis, Missouri. The announcement in the Weekly Evangel urged all presbyters to attend “as a number of important matters will be presented for deliberation and discussion.” Undoubtedly, the emerging “New Issue”, an early euphemism for the Oneness movement, was amongst the most important topics of the meeting. The Oneness doctrine, which spread quickly throughout the ranks of the Assemblies of God, represented a serious crisis for the fledgling organization as whole churches accepted the message of the Mighty God in Christ and submitted to rebaptism in the Name of Jesus. The printed call to the St. Louis meeting proved to be the commencement of the press war against Oneness, largely waged by Eudorus N. Bell, General Chairman of the Assemblies of God, and his powerful secretary, J. Roswell Flower. These men used the Weekly Evangel (later the Pentecostal Evangel), the official organ of the Assemblies of God, and other widely-read circulars to provide Trinitarian apologetics, discredit Oneness proponents, and to forge a semblance of unity that later led to the defection of the Oneness faction.

The germination of the Oneness movement actually predates the formation of the Assemblies of God, which organized in April 1914. Following the World Wide Apostolic Faith Camp Meeting held in April 1913 in Arroyo Seco, California, several attendees began a careful study of the Scriptures and became convinced that Jesus Christ was indeed God Himself rather than God the Son. April 15, 1914, Bro. Frank Ewart, who was solidly persuaded of the scriptural teaching, erected a tent in Belvedere, California and began preaching the Oneness message and the corollary doctrine of baptism in the Name of Jesus Christ. The moment was pivotal for the Pentecostal movement, and Bro. Ewart said: “The shot had been fired, and its sound was destined to be heard around the world.” Like the allusive shot that began the American Revolutionary War, the rediscovery of New Testament truth revolutionized the Pentecostal movement, with soldiers on both sides volleying for their respective positions.

The first mention of some doctrinal disruption is made in the August 1914 Word and Witness. J. Roswell Flower published a short editorial admonishment entitled “In Doctrines”:

In doctrinal teaching we shall stand for the certain truths as ever and against the doubtful and uncertain. We do not believe in keeping the saints confused and divided over men’s new theories [illegible] in wild fanatical tendencies which tear up more than they build up. Yet, we must keep our sky-lights open so as not to reject any new light God may throw upon the old Word. We must not fail to keep pace in life or teaching with light from heaven. To this end we earnestly ask the prayers and cooperation of every child of God.

While there is no specific mention of the “New Issue” doctrine, it is clear that Flower is attempting to steady the ship. However, we should recognize that his language is tolerant, if not expectant. Flower is clearly concerned about the unity of Pentecostals on issues of doctrine but is also careful about encouraging openness toward spiritual revelation that is consistent with the Scriptures.

Following the meeting of the Executive Presbytery in St. Louis, Flower printed a front-page piece, “Preliminary Statement. Concerning the Principles Involved in the New Issue by the Presbytery”, in the Weekly Evangel. While the statement was ratified by the presbyters, it bears a marked resemblance to the August 1914 comments by Flower: “We stand for everything clearly revealed and set forth in the written Word of God . . . In so far as there is anything in the Scriptures which we have not seen as yet, or have neglected, we stand ready to accept and teach this whenever the same is shown to be the teaching and practice of the Lord and His apostles.” Interestingly, the dictum seems much less focused on modes of baptism than another controversy equating the Holy Ghost with the blood. Evidently, some were teaching that the resurrected Christ had “spiritual blood” which was the same as the “new wine.” As such, proponents were teaching that the Lord’s Supper commemorated the resurrection rather than his death. All said, the statement does evidence growing doctrinal diversity amongst Pentecostals. However, the fact that the statement is merely “preliminary” indicates that the presbyters believed that further study was necessary before making a solid pronouncement of any kind.

In May 1915, E.N. Bell authored a four-part series for the Weekly Evangel on the baptismal debate. This study clearly elevated the visibility of the Oneness controversy, and Bell painstakingly attempts to nullify “in the Name of Jesus Christ” as a “fixed formula”, arguing that baptismal references in the New Testament indicate only that the rite was performed “under the power of Christ and the anointing of the Holy Ghost” but that “the mere phrase is not the essential thing.” In June, Bell published the final article in the series devoted to examining the Book of Acts. Surveying the controversial history of Christian baptism amongst the early post-apostolic believers, Bell admits that history supports the use of both singular and trine invocation, but he clearly believes Trinitarian baptism to be the default form. He explicitly rails against the “modern Los Angeles explanation” (a reference to the work of Frank Ewart and Glenn Cook): “But these new revelators have turned the table. They have reversed all history. They have done the new and unheard of thing.” Bell is clearly attempting to expose Ewart, Cook and company as mere innovators, manufacturers of an extra-biblical doctrine.

In an apparent reversal of his early opinions, Eudorus Bell caused a great stir in the summer of 1915 when, after so vehemently opposing the “New Issue”, he was reimmersed in the Name of Jesus Christ at the Third Interstate Encampment of the Assemblies of God in Jackson, Tennessee. The act made front page news in the August 1915 Word and Witness. In September 1915, Bro. Bell published a statement in the Weekly Evangel tellingly entitled: “Who is Jesus Christ? Being Exalted as the Jehovah of the Old Testament and the True God of the New. A New Realization of Christ as the Mighty God.” Though he claimed to retain his Trinitarian view, which he admits he does not and cannot comprehend, the article is essentially an Oneness exposition of the doctrine of Jesus Christ as God Himself:

I can say to-day [sic], before God and all men, that His joy is rolling in my soul now as never before. As I write His glory convulses my whole physical frame, and I have to stop now and then and say ‘Glory’ or ‘Oh Glory’ to let some of it escape. Night before last, as I lay on my bed, I heard in the Spirit the sweetest, most soul-thrilling song of the wonderful name of Jesus I ever heard since I was born. If people knew what God is putting in my soul by a brand new vision of Jesus and the wonders hid in His mighty and glorious name, they would begin to shout and help me praise the Lamb that was slain who is now beginning to receive some honor and praise, but who will eventually make the whole universe-sea, earth, and sky, reverberate with the universal praise and honor to His great name. Hallelujah to His Name forever and ever.

He continues throughout the piece to expound on Christ as Jehovah, Father and Creator, revealed and uses a collection of traditionally Oneness reference to buttress his arguments (Is. 9.6, Jn. 10.30, Col. 2.9, and Rev. 1.17). Bell ultimately never disconnected himself from the Trinitarian Assemblies of God, but this interesting episode clearly wrecks his nascent, stalwart stand against the Jesus’-Name formula.

Another function of the Pentecostal circulars was to keep a clear roster of who was aligned with whom. Bro. Ewart, who viewed Bell’s rebaptism as a victory for the Oneness camp, printed an expanded version of Bell’s Weekly Evangel article in his own Oneness publication, Meat in Due Season. In fact, Bro. Ewart proposed in his history, Phenomenon of Pentecost, that the Word and Witness version was edited to the point of mutilation, omitting some of the stronger Oneness statements made by Bell (Ewart 103).

When Andrew Urshan cast his lot with the Oneness pariahs after his return from foreign missions work in 1919, the subject re-erupted in the Trinitarian Pentecostal press. Bell made the announcement of Urshan’s defection in the Christian Evangel in an article entitled, “Andrew Urshan’s New Stand. A Bit of Sad News.” Citing Bro. Urshan’s strong confession of faith in the Mighty God in Christ as published in his own periodical, Witness of God, Bell indicates that Bro. Urshan was willing to forfeit credentials with the Assemblies of God. He concludes the article with heartfelt concern for Bro. Urshan: “The above is given with deep, loving concern for Bro. Urshan and with no prejudice or illwill [sic] against him, only as new to the saints. Pray for God to guide Bro. Urshan.”

After the clear division of the Oneness and Trinitarian camps with the withdraw of Oneness ministers in 1916, the heated controversies subsided. Today, however, we recognize the role of these periodicals in making up the ranks. The attacks on “New Issue” doctrine and believers played a significant role in controlling the impact of the Oneness movement on the Assemblies of God but surely stoked the fires of Oneness zeal and indignation as well. Undoubtedly, Flower and Bell believed that they were defending orthodoxy and protecting their fellowship from grievous wolves. The articles do evidence the sharp division ultimately caused by the propagation of the truth. In the days before email announcements and online discussion forums, even before widespread interstate telephone networks or broadcast stations, Pentecostal circulars were the neural system of the movement. Despite efforts to disinherit and discredit the Oneness movement, the power of the pen could not thwart the sovereign move of the Spirit as many leaders and congregations within the Assemblies of God accepted the Bible message of salvation and the apostolic teaching of the mighty God in Christ.

Frank J. Ewart, Pentecostal Pioneer

9 November, 2008

On April 15, 1914, Frank J. Ewart delivered his first public sermon on Acts 2:38 in a tent on East First Street in Belvedere, California. Bro. Ewart’s decision to preach the message was the culmination of nearly a year of prayer and study and expressed the full salvation message taught by the New Testament Church. With this great conviction, Frank Ewart counted the cost and began teaching and preaching the wonderful doctrine of the Mighty God in Christ, baptizing converts in the Name of the Lord Jesus! What began that spring was a miraculous revival of truth, and Bro. Ewart’s obedience to the Word of God and the direction of the Holy Ghost sparked the modern Apostolic revival!Frank J. Ewart was born in Bendigo, Victoria, Australia in 1876. As a young man, he worked in the lumber industry and had aspirations to become a professional cricket player. In the midst of this pursuit, the young Ewart was arrested by a supernatural vision of the crucifixion of Jesus. He saw Christ upon the cross and lost all “ambition for worldly fame and popularity.” Ewart aligned himself with the Baptists and was appointed a “bush missionary” (Ewart 10). The Bush Missionary Society was founded in 1856 to minister to small communities in the remote outposts of the Australian frontier (Burgess 237). Ewart would travel to remote areas and begin a Baptist revival. Once a stable group was established a pastor would be sent, and Bro. Ewart would move on to a new location (Ewart 10).

In 1903, after a break in his health, Frank Ewart emigrated to Weyburn, Saskatchewan, Canada. He became a Baptist pastor there and married. He and his wife were desperate for a deeper move of God and prayed continually for the effectiveness of their ministry. Bro. Ewart’s health continued to deteriorate; and in 1908, he was given a furlough from the Baptist Church.

During this time, he traveled to Portland, Oregon to attend a Pentecostal camp meeting and became convinced that the experience was real. He received an “insatiable hunger” for the baptism of the Spirit and tarried twenty-one days before receiving a glorious Pentecost:

I received a mighty infilling with the Holy Ghost. God left no room for doubt. I spoke in several known languages that I knew nothing about, and some of them were interpreted that night. I had asked the lord to let all diseases go out of my body when the Holy Spirit came in. He took me at my word and answered my prayer. (Ewart 12)

Returning to Canada, Bro. Ewart was defrocked by the Baptist Church for his insistence that speaking in tongues was the evidence of Holy Ghost baptism, but he remained strong in his persuasion that the Pentecostal experience was real.

In 1911, Bro. Ewart came to Los Angeles and participated in the great revival in that city. In 1912, he assumed the pastorate of William Durham’s Seventh Street Mission in Los Angeles after Durham’s untimely death. The mission was a center of Pentecostal revival where Durham taught and preached the “Finished Work of Calvary,” and Ewart continued his ministry there until April 1913, when he went to the World Wide Apostolic Faith Camp Meeting “ready for God’s new move” (Ewart 90, 13).

The interstate camp meeting of 1913 is the stuff of Pentecostal legend. When Evangelist R.E. McAlister emphatically stated: ” . . . that the apostles invariably baptized their converts once in the name of Jesus Christ, that the words Father, Son, and Holy Ghost were never used in Christian baptism”, some of the hearers, including Ewart, were inspired to research the claim (qtd. in Ewart 94). At the close of the camp meeting, R.E. McAlister, Glenn Cook, and Ewart began a Pentecostal mission on Main Street. After several months, the mission unified with Pastor Elmer K. Fisher’s Victoria Hall on Spring Street, and much emphasis was given to preaching and praying in the Name of Jesus. Still, baptism was administered according to the regular Trinitarian formula.

In the spring of 1914, Ewart became determined that “the only way to get apostolic results was to adopt apostolic methods and obey their precepts” and branched out from Victoria Hall (Ewart 96). Pastor Fisher, who did not initially accept Bro. Ewart’s message of baptism solely in the Name of Christ, helped him secure a tent, and meetings began in Belvedere. Glenn Cook came out the first night to hear Bro. Ewart preached, and the two secured a baptismal tank and rebaptized one another invoking the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ (Ewart 96).

The results of preaching and baptizing in the Name of Jesus were incredible, and the tent filled completely:

One of the greatest, most startling characteristics of that great revival was that the vast majority of the new converts were filled with the holy Ghost after coming up out of the water. They would leave the tank speaking in other tongues. Many were healed when they were baptized. (Ewart 98)

God confirmed the pioneer’s obedience with remarkable results and dynamic conversions. The leader of the Owl Gang, who harassed Bro. & Sis. Ewart and had burned down the revival tent, was baptized and filled with the Holy Ghost; the Baptist Sunday School Superintendent was saved, and Sgt. J.D. Cornwall of the city police force was converted (Ewart 99, 104).

Bro. Ewart published Meat in Due Season, an influential Oneness periodical that spread the Apostolic truth far and wide. Through his ministry, writing, and the evangelism of Bro. Cook, who received Ewart’s message, many prominent Pentecostals became persuaded of the efficacy of baptism in the Name of Jesus, including Lemuel C. Hall, William Booth-Clibborn, A.H. Argue, Frank Small, George B. Studd, Elmer K. Fisher, R.J. Scott, Garfield T. Haywood, W.T. Witherspoon, E.G. Lowe, Raymond Hoekstra, W.L. Stallones, and Harry Morse (Ewart 101).

Bro. Frank J. Ewart died in 1947. He established and led a thriving church in Belvedere and authored several books. He was ordained with the United Pentecostal Church before his death. This man’s powerful revelation and Bible conviction was seminal in producing the modern Oneness Pentecostal Church, the true iteration of Apostolic Christianity. A great debt is owed to this faithful pioneer who sacrificed precious fellowship and his own good name to publish Acts 2:38 salvation and stand for the only name “given under heaven whereby we must be saved.”

Sources:

Burgess, H.T. John Howard Angas, Pioneer, Pastoralist, Politician and Philanthropist. Adelaide, Australia: Vardon & Pritchard, 1905.

Ewart, Frank J. The Phenomenon of Pentecost. Hazelwood, MO: Word Aflame Press, 2000.