The latter rain movement as it has come to be called actually began in 1948 from a Pentecostal Assemblies of God revival in a ministry school in Saskatchewan Canada. The terms “New Order” and “Latter Rain” were coined from this movement. One of the main tenants of this new Latter Rain theology was the belief in the restoration of the ministry of the Apostle and Prophet of the modern day church. From that time on the idea that God was restoring these offices began to be disseminated first in the mainline Pentecostal churches and then in the evangelical spirit filled churches as a whole. New Order, that sounds allot like something the adversary is using in the UN and other globalists. This could make well meaning Christians open to working for the Antichrist system.
Kingdom Now The Latter Rain
I am personally here at Amos 3:7 very concerned with this movement. I have several people I know who are influenced greatly by this goose bump emotional experience-oriented fervor. I want to be clear, this movement exalts new revelation through the use or as I have observed misuses of spiritual gifts like the Corinthians. To the undiscerning and let’s be honest here. Most who are into this, but not all certainly are not reading the Bible through on a regular basis. They read the latest books, listen to audio teachings on topics that only touch a few verses here and there. Largely this crowd is into the goosebumps and emotional fervor that is whipped up each week. What they are not aware is that many of the well-meaning people who for one reason or another got plugged into these churches have no idea of occult origins and manifestations of spirits that lead people away from true doctrine.
I beg you read your bible and spend time in prayer asking God for understanding and take a good look at the people who began this movement and actually how flimsy the foundation is here. I love Gods people and He has given us ample warnings to watch for deception, lying signs, wonders, and false prophets. May the peace of almighty God give you wisdom, knowledge, and understanding of what His word says. Shalom, Keith
The Latter Rain Movement
It becomes apparent through study that Kingdom Theology had its beginning in the teachings of the more prominent leaders of the mid-twentieth-century phenomenon known as “The Latter Rain Movement.” These teachers blended Pentecostal fervor with supernatural manifestations which, when examined, are found to have been heavily influenced by occult activity.
The unwary believers of that time, whose lives were touched by these supernatural phenomena, were unversed in the occult sciences and accepted these manifestations of power as from God. Now we are seeing at the same time within Pentecostalism, both the true manifestations of the Holy Spirit and the occult manifestations of Satan. To determine which are of God and which from the adversary, it helps to know the history of this movement called the Latter Rain. Therefore I have endeavored to lay out in a semblance of chronological order the various influences the teachers of that period had upon each other, and how those influences are affecting the Church today.
In the fall of 1946, a “major fasting and prayer daily revival center” was established in San Diego, California. Under the leadership of Franklin Hall (assisted by Jack Walker, father of child evangelist “Little David” Walker), the teaching of fasting as a means of bringing about revival and the “restoration” of the Church spread throughout the Pentecostal world.(1) Other ministers who helped establish the fasting and prayer center were: Dr. Waltrip (Kathryn Kuhlman’s husband); Stanley Comstock; Earl Ivy; Tommy Baird; Myrtle Page; and Franklin Hall’s brothers, Delbert, Harold, and Virgil. (Delbert Hall and his wife, Florence, were pastors.)(2)
According to the Summer, 1985, issue of Franklin Hall’s newsletter, ‘Miracle World,’ in which is revealed some of the early history of his ministry, “A fasting chain came about. Several were on major fasts around the clock. Many were fasting for not only days but weeks at a time. One lady, Sister Mary Sommerville, fasted without food for eighty-three days. She was so strong on this notable fast that she ran and danced all over the place, being drunk on both the inner and outer filling of the precious Holy Spirit.”(3)
Hall claims more than one thousand converts during the first year of the center’s existence, with scores being healed of diseases, through fasting and prayer.
Alleged appearances of the Holy Ghost in fire and smoke are also related in Hall’s newsletter:
Once or twice the Fire department was briefed by folk seeing the Holy Smoke and Fire through the windows upstairs. They came running up the steps with the hoses to put out the fire. Some of the firemen, seeing that it was not a natural fire, sat down in the large revival center hall and worshipped the Lord getting saved. (4)
Spreading The Word
Hall and his wife, Helen, sold off some assets and borrowed against their home to finance the printing of “millions of pieces of literature” to send to people all over the world.5 The Hall’s claim this mail campaign resulted in the great healing revivals of the late forties and early fifties.
It was during this time (1946) that Franklin Hall wrote his book, ‘Atomic Power With God Through Fasting and Prayer,’ which was to have a significant impact on the world of Pentecostalism. Many people, little known at that time, were greatly influenced by Hall’s literature. Gordon Lindsay’s publication, ‘Voice of Healing,’ helped spread the fasting message, as well as did Thomas and Evelyn Wyatt’s worldwide radio broadcasts.
Hall’s newsletter records how others received his message:
Rev. Walter Frederick, a former Assembly superintendent in Canada, sent Brother Hall’s literature to every Pentecostal preacher in Canada….A few of the others (not too well-known then) ministers [sic] who had major fasting experiences by our writings in the 1946, 1947 to 1950 fasting era and who also became famous are:
Tommy Hicks. (6)
Hall’s writings on fasting and diet as a means to spiritual restoration might easily be seen as the primitive beginnings of today’s “Christian holism.”
As evidence of God’s favor upon those who fast, Hall points out that even the prayers of pagans will be answered by God if they are accompanied by fasting:
Many, if not all, the American Indian tribes sought revelation of the Great Spirit through Prayer and Fasting. When they had famines, food shortages, lack of rain, etc., the Great Spirit was sought through prayer and fasting, and their prayers were answered. (7)
Hall uses this as an example of how fasting is necessary to have our prayers answered. In fact, he states that “Without fasting, prayer becomes ineffectual.”(8) In other words, those who pray to demons will have their prayers answered if they fast, but Christians will not have their prayers answered if they don’t fast. At the least, it would seem, they would be hindered greatly. This is a good example of how a person can extol a faith in Christ while negating all the effects of that faith and the relationship with God it entails. By giving credit for answered prayer to the demon gods of pagan religions, Hall displays a mindset characteristic of occult science.
UFO’s An Other Paranormal Influences
That there is a definite occult influence on Hall’s career is evident in other writings. His book, ‘The Return of Immortality,’ suggests that Christians can learn how to become immortal through stages of spiritual growth. This involves experiences with “UFO‘s, and the UIO gravitational and levitation control.”9 His teachings on attaining immortality in this life through psycho-spiritual exercises and righteous living were the foundation upon which many in the Latter Rain and subsequent movements based their immortalization theories.
Hall’s main point in his immortalization theory is that “the sleeping, so-called, un-foundationally built church” must awaken to
a real cause and calling, that when God’s word is completely acted upon and complied with, will result in bringing about the real gushers and torrents of the long, past due, RAIN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS. A rain of IMMORTALITY UPON THE EARTH that so many prophets have written about and portrayed in their prophesies
Hall’s premise is not, however, predicated upon God’s promise of immortality for the faithful after their resurrection. This is evidenced by his following words:
Permanent, lasting Freedoms from all sickness, harmful accident things and defeat will come about. Freedom from the imprisonment of all gravitational forces will also be brought upon the whole man.
This study teaches one the power and secrets of space flight. Space floatation [sic] and hovering ability. It gives the Bible formula for weightlessness, the ‘raising up’ power of those who come to immortality. (John 6 chapter and Romans 2:7) (11)
In his book, Hall gives “evidence” of his already having attained a degree of “immortality” (which allegedly affects everything that comes in contact with the immortal person’s body):
Brother Hall’s light-colored jacket is seven years old and has never been pressed or cleaned or aerated in 7 years, since new, yet it has been worn repeatedly in many overseas countries and regularly in all crusades everywhere (excepting one). It has been on more than 200 airlines in travels. It has no spots, stains, discoloration or body odors anywhere on it or inside it – similar to the children of Israel’s clothes under the Glory, Immortality Cloud of Fire Power.
The attainment of “Immortality blessings” are alleged by Hall to be more successfully attained through open-eye prayer. “Coming with closed eyes,” he stated, “destroys faith.”(13)
The Immortal Substance & The Zodiac
Hall claims that there is an “Immortal Substance” that comes upon the believer who feeds upon it “from within Christ’s now body” – the “FIRE – IMMORTAL – PACKED – BODY” (Emphasis Hall’s). This “Immortal Substance” is claimed to be seen on those who attend Hall’s meetings, as a fine gold and silver, sparkling material that emanates from sometimes visible “Immortal Heavenly Objects” (IHO’s), “Unusual Heavenly Objects” (UHO’s), and “Unidentified Flying Objects” (UFO’s). In Hall’s words, “The sparkling shining FINE GOLD and SILVER are seen upon their SKIN, brought about through the faith-power of impartation. The polished brass, the beryl stone appearances are even now manifested today.” He challenges the reader to see and behold these phenomena by attending “the International Holy Ghost and Fire Seminars of Brother and Sister Franklin Hall.”(14) This sparkling material Hall calls, “The shiny metal like Jesus’ substance.”(15) While Hall has many excellent things to say about fasting from the standpoint of good health when it comes to spiritual matters he often transcends sensibility and delves into areas of the occult. The book upon which many healers of the Latter Rain period publicly acknowledged their dependence, ‘Atomic Power With God Through Fasting and Prayer,’ is evidence:
In the zodiacal sign, ‘Scorpio,’ which is the eighth sign of the Zodiac, we have a picture of a scorpion with its stinger lifted ready to strike. This is the sign of death and is supposed to govern the sex area. Just before this sign in the heavens, there is a sign of the Judge, Jesus, who is the giver of LIFE. Jesus proceeds toward death and pulls the STING OUT OF DEATH. ‘O, death where is thy sting? O, grave, where is thy victory?’ (16)
There is today a growing acceptance of the idea that the Zodiac is a representation of the Gospel. More will be said about this when we examine the teachings of some current Kingdom Theology proponents. But I feel that I should a least point out at this time that the Zodiac is an arbitrary assignment of images to certain stars by the priests of the Babylonian mystery religion. No matter how one tries to make it fit Scripture by claiming Genesis 1:4 , there is no scriptural evidence that the “signs and seasons” spoken of in God’s Word have any relation to the astrologists’ Zodiac. We have the more sure written Word of God for guidance; we tread on dangerous ground when we try to accommodate His Word to occult science, or try to make the two equal.
Hall’s penchant for a form of “Christian Astrology” is evidenced further in his statement that, “In 1848 A.D. the Aquarian Age was introduced to the world.”(17) Those familiar with the New Age Movement will recognize the Aquarian Age as the “Golden Age” of enlightenment when mankind will take a quantum leap in his evolutionary stages, to immortalization. The Aquarian Age will not be completely entered into until around the year 2000 A.D. Hall’s writings are replete with strange, even weird statements difficult to decipher. The following, though a bit lengthy and poorly written, are examples:
So much has been said about the travels of the astronauts, about conquering space and even going to Venus or Mars, about the power behind the saucers. The overcoming saints, however, are hundreds of years ahead of our scientists. These heaven projected saints will be so clothed and covered with the Immortality, supernatural, ZOOMING sparkling Substance, that it will be no more trouble at all for them to take off.
Where will they go?
They will fly right into the Glory Cloud residence of our Lord and Savior, Heaven in Him. Into His Cloud Fire Body. (Rev.12:5)
What distance will they go?
The distance, at first, may not be very far away, however, as the 8th church from out of the 7 churches of revelation, called the ‘overcomers,’ become more and more adjusted and acclimated to Holy Ghost Space flight, great distances taken, will seem like no distance at all.
Jesus taught a small, but a precious group of His followers – those who were able to bear it, that gravity would be completely loosed from them, in the last days, when they learned how to train their appetites into a different channel. We must learn to labor for the meal that endures unto everlasting (IMMORTAL) life. The meat that draws us away from gravity holding things. John.6:27.
The ‘not-perisheth’ menu is the menu of Immortality, weight releasing power. The ‘endureth unto everlasting life’ menu.
…The quickening power of the Holy Spirit brings about Immortality REVERSE ENERGY EMPOWERMENT. (18)
Gravity-freed, great people will run up walls, not break rank, and if they fall on a sword, the Immortality power from Jesus’ body, on them, will protect them. It appears that they also can walk or run upside down. See Joel 2:3-11
In an ad for another of his books, ‘Formula for Raising the Dead,’ Hall cautions the potential purchaser,
This volume is only for very advanced Holy Ghost people. Do not order unless you are open to an apostolic teaching and have read four other books by Bro. Franklin Hall. (20)
I would not question Hall’s sincerity and desire to attain spiritual enlightenment. But the heavy flavor of occultism in his teachings should have been sufficient warning even back in 1946. Yet many prominent teachers credit the empowerment for their ministries (especially healing ministries) on his book on fasting and prayer. It’s clear that Hall’s teachings are a blend of occultism with Christianity. And since his teachings formed the basis of those that came after, and since the influence of those teachings upon neo-Pentecostalism is so great, close scrutiny of every ministry they touched is necessary.
– Footnotes –
- Franklin Hall, “Miracle Word” (Phoenix; Hall Deliverance Foundation, Inc., Summer, 1985) p.10.
- Ibid, p.9.
- Franklin Hall, ‘Atomic Power With God Through Fasting and Prayer’ (Phoenix: Hall Deliverance Foundation, Inc., 5th Ed., 1975), p.19.
- Ibid., p.9.
- Franklin Hall, Catalogue of Publications (Phoenix: Hall Deliverance Foundation, 1986).
- Franklin Hall, ‘The Return of Immortality’ (Phoenix: Hall Deliverance Foundation, Inc., 1976), pp.2-3.
- Ibid., p.3.
- Ibid., Inside Front Cover.
- Ibid., p.10.
- Ibid., p.48.
- Ibid., p.20.
- ‘Atomic Power With God Through Fasting and Prayer’, pp.29,31.
- Ibid., p.7.
- Ibid., p.53
- Ibid., p.55.
- Catalogue of Publications.
Inscribed on a pyramid-shaped tombstone in a Jeffersonville, Indiana cemetery, are the names of the seven churches of Revelation, “Ephesian” at the base representing the beginning of the Church Age, “Laodicean” near the top the end of the Church Age. On the opposite face are the names of seven men whose impact on the Church throughout its history has been significant.
Were the two faces of the pyramid juxtaposed one over the other, we would see the names of the churches superimposed over the men’s names in the following order, from bottom to top:
Ephesian – Paul
Smyrnean – Ireneaus
Pergamean – Martin
Thyatirean – Columba
Sardisean – Luther
Philadelphian – Wesley
Laodicean – Branham
Among most major proponents of Kingdom Theology, these men are considered the great reformers of the various stages of Church history. To many Kingdom Theology proponents, William Branham was perhaps the greatest “prophet” for the Church’s final age.
In 1948, Branham, a Baptist preacher turned Pentecostal, and influenced by Franklin Hall, gained notoriety for his teachings on what he called, “God’s Seventh Church Age” (supposedly the final move of God before the manifestation of His Kingdom on earth). Branham based this teaching primarily on Joel 2:23 and Revelation 1:20-3:22, the latter recording Jesus’ messages to the seven churches in Asia Minor.
Branham claimed that the angels (messengers) of the churches were men who appeared at various times throughout Church history to usher in revelations that would lead the Church in new directions according to the purpose of God. As indicated on his tombstone, Branham was thought to be the angel to the Church of Laodicea – the end-time Church.
In his teachings on Joel 2:23, Branham defined the “latter rain” as the Pentecostal movement of his day. God’s promise to restore what the locust, cankerworm, caterpillar, and palmerworm had eaten, he defined as the “restoration” of the Church out of denominationalism (which he equated with “the Mark of the Beast”).
Although denying he was a believer in the “oneness” doctrine, Branham had his own form of “oneness” teaching that defined God as one person who manifested Himself as three different “attributes”: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, rather than three Persons comprising one Godhead.(21) He believed the doctrine of the Trinity was the “Babylonian Foundation” of the denominations, inherited from Roman Catholicism.(22)
Branham also believed that the Word of God was given in three forms: the Zodiac, the Egyptian pyramids, and the written Scriptures.(23) The Zodiac theory was not new, having been put forth by Franklin Hall previously, and as early as 1893 by historian E.W. Bullinger in his book, ‘The Witness of the Stars.’ The idea that the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt was constructed by God (possibly through Enoch) is at least as old as the Zodiac theory and is popular with the Dawn Bible Students, an offshoot of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
It can be said of Branham that he had a simplicity and apparent humility which attracted many followers.
Gordon Lindsay told of how he impressed audiences with his utter and complete consecration. (24)
The Serpent’s Seed
In spite of his apparent humility and consecration, Branham had great difficulty controlling a strident, hateful attitude toward women. In his own poor English, transcribed from a sermon, Branham stated,
But I remember when my father’s still up there running, I had to be out there with water and stuff, see young ladies that wasn’t over seventeen, eighteen years, up there with a man my age now, drunk. And they’d have to sober them up and give them black coffee, to get them home to cook their husband’s supper. Oh, something like that, I said, ‘I…This was my remarked [sic] then, THEY’RE NOT WORTH A GOOD CLEAN BULLET TO KILL THEM WITH IT.’ That’s right. And I hated women. That’s right. And I just have to watch every move now, to keep from still thinking the same thing. (25)
This attitude toward women may have played a part in the development of Branham’s bizarre “Serpent Seed” teaching. This was based on a twisted interpretation of Genesis 3:13, where Eve is recorded as saying, “The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.” The word “beguiled” Branham defined as “seduced sexually.” He claimed that Satan and Eve engaged in an adulterous affair out of which Cain was born. Since that time evil has passed from generation to generation through women, who keep the seed of the serpent alive.(26) He seemed to think that women are responsible for the evil in the world because of their enticements.
The “Serpent’s Seed” teaching obviously indicated that Branham didn’t take the Scriptures literally, where we read, “And Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bare Cain…” (Genesis 4:1).
His animosity toward women led to the preaching of a rigid moral code that lambasted them on their manner of dress and may have been responsible for his “revelation” that allowed for divorce.(27)
From the time of his infancy, it was evident to his parents that William’s life had upon it the touch of the supernatural. Born in 1909 in a mountain cabin near Burkesville, Kentucky, William Marrion Branham’s childhood was spent in extreme poverty. His father was only eighteen years of age, and his mother fifteen when he came into the world weighing a scant five pounds, the first of nine boys and one girl.(28)
The following account may be legend or fact, but it was part of Branham’s testimony from the start: On the day of his birth, after being washed, he was placed in his mother’s arms by the midwife who then went to a window to open the shutter. (There was no glass in the Branham house in those days.) As dawn broke sending a few rays of light into the room, there was seen a small circular halo about a foot in diameter, above the bed where little William lay in his mother’s arms.(29)
Thousands of people have supposedly seen this halo, which is ostensibly revealed in a photograph taken in Houston, Texas, during a January 1950, campaign. (The best we’ve been able to obtain is a photostatic copy of a copy which, though poorly reproduced here, will allow the reader to see what has been taken for a “halo.” Whether this is a halo or a flaw in the negative – whether it is a manifestation of God or Satan or poor photography, we will leave to the reader’s judgment.)
When he was three years of age, Branham experienced for the first time what he called “the Voice.” At age seven “the Voice” commanded him, “Don’t you never drink, smoke, or defile your body in any way. There’ll be work for you to do when you get older.”(30)
This “Voice” accompanied Branham throughout his lifetime and eventually made itself known as an “angel” that directed him in every aspect of his personal life.(31) During healing services, Branham would often fall into a trance during which his angel would work through him. Asked once if the healings were done by the Holy Spirit, Branham replied, “No, my angel does it.”(32)
Branham was one of the foremost proponents of the theory of healing and imparting the Holy Spirit through the “laying on of hands.” He would often feel a heat in his hand as he touched affected parts and exhibited a remarkable clairvoyance in knowing intimate details of the lives of people he had never seen before. No doubt this was due to the angel’s possession of his mind.
Difficulties With The Brethren
Branham’s unorthodox methods of healing and allegedly imparting the Holy Spirit by the laying on of his hands came under severe criticism by the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. These practices became major sources of controversy between the Latter Rain Movement and the established Pentecostal denominations who held to their belief that one must “tarry” in prayer for the gift of the Holy Spirit.
In spite of his bizarre healing methods and aberrant doctrines, Branham enjoyed remarkable popularity among many Pentecostals, and was warmly received by such notables as Demos Shakarian (founder of the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International), Oral Roberts, W.V. Grant, A.A. Allen, Gordon Lindsay (founder of Christ for the Nations), O.L. Jaggers, George Warnock, and Franklin Hall.
Although many Pentecostals were willing to embrace Branham as an “apostle” and “prophet” while overlooking his aberrant teachings, his popularity declined in the late 1950’s after his numerous bold proclamations of “thus saith the Lord” to establish his doctrines. Many Pentecostal churches became reluctant to allow him to speak.(33)
False Prophet “William Branham”
Did you know…
No one conversant with Pentecostalism will deny that, for better or for worse, William Branham had a tremendous effect on the neo-Pentecostalism of his time. From all accounts, he did exhibit remarkable healing powers which no doubt played a significant part in giving credibility to his teachings.
Branham was warmly welcomed by Pentecostal churches and organizations such as the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International. This organization, in particular, provided his most reliable support. In 1961, the editor of FGBMFI’s magazine, ‘Voice,’ wrote,
In Bible Days, there were men of God who were Prophets and Seers. But in all the Sacred Records, none of these had a greater ministry than that of William Branham. (34)
It should be noted that often what Branham taught as a guest speaker differed from what he taught at his own church, Branham Tabernacle, where he felt freer to disclose his more aberrant teachings.
Toward the end of his career, however, Branham’s public espousal of his strange doctrines became even more controversial and he was used less and less by the FGBMFI, though for several years his speaking engagements were underwritten by local chapters. For years he had been a frequent speaker at regional and national conventions.
Branham’s life ended abruptly. While on a trip to Arizona, his car was hit head-on by one driven by a drunken driver. For six days he lay in a coma and, on Christmas Eve, 1965, he passed away.
The entire Pentecostal world was shaken by the tragedy. “A number of old friends – Oral Roberts, Demos Shakarian, T.L. Osborn – telephoned their concern.”(35)
When Branham died, Demos Shakarian wrote,
Rev. Branham often made the statement that the only Fellowship to which he belonged was FGBMFI. Often, when called upon to speak at various conventions and chapter meetings, he has traveled long distances to keep those engagements. His spirit of service was an inspiration.(36)
Many of Branham’s followers believed that he had truly come in the spirit of Elijah; some believed him to be God, born of a virgin.(37) They fully expected him to rise from the dead and come back to them at the end of three days.
Five days after his passing, William Branham was buried, and his grave was soon marked by the pyramid-shaped tombstone.
To date, William Branham’s body is still in the grave. But his occult approach to healing was picked up by hundreds of pastors and teachers who have traded on it to a greater or lesser degree.
– Footnotes –
- William M. Branham, ‘Adoption’ (Jeffersonville, IN: Spoken Word Publications, 1960), p.21.
- William M. Branham, ‘The Serpent’s Seed’, taped sermon, undated.
- 23 ‘Adoption’, pp.31,104.
- 24 David E. Harrell, Jr., ‘All Things Are Possible’ (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1976), p.162.
- 25 William M. Branham, ‘My Life Story’ (Spoken Word Publications, undated), p.27.
- 26 ‘The Serpent’s Seed’.
- 27 ‘All Things Are Possible’, p.162.
- 28 ‘Brother Branham’ (Jeffersonville, IN: Spoken Word Publications, undated), p.19.
- 29 ‘My Life Story’, p.21.
- 30 Ibid., p.24.
- 31 Kurt Koch, ‘Occult Bondage and Deliverance’ (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1972), p.50.
- 32 Ibid.
- 33 ‘All Things Are Possible’, p.159.
- 34 Ibid., p.161.
- 35 Ibid.
- 36 Ibid.
- 37 Ibid., p.164.
The Sharon Brethren
In the fall of 1947, two former pastors for the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada, George Hawtin and Percy G. Hunt, joined with Herrick Holt, a pastor of the North Battleford, Saskatchewan, Church of the Foursquare Gospel, in an independent work. That work – Sharon Orphanage and Schools which Holt had originally started in a large residence in North Battleford – had come to occupy about one thousand acres of farmland about ten miles distant from the city limits.
With Hawtin and Hunt came seventy students from Bethel Bible Institute where both had formerly taught before Hawtin was asked to resign for lack of cooperation, and Hunt resigned out of sympathy. George Hawtin’s brother-in- law, Milford Kirkpatrick, and Ernest Hawtin, George’s brother, soon joined in ministry at Sharon.(38)
Herrick Holt had been preaching that God was going to be doing a “new thing” in accordance with the prophecy of Isaiah 43:18-19;
Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold I will do a new thing; Now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.
Of great influence upon the work at Sharon were the teachings of William Branham. Several of the school’s brethren visited one of his campaigns shortly after George Hawtin and P.G. Hunt had come on staff. With renewed fervor, the brethren took Branham’s teachings back to Sharon, unaware that the supernatural power bestowed upon them by Branham would make their ministry the focal point of the Latter Rain Movement for several years to come.(39)
Another influence, on the Hawtin brothers in particular, was J.E. Stile’s book, ‘The Gift of the Holy Spirit,’ which asserted that if one were truly repentant and believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, all that was necessary for him to receive the Holy Spirit was for another believer to lay hands on him.(40)
Franklin Hall’s book was especially utilized at Sharon. Ernest Hawtin wrote:
The truth of fasting was one great contributing factor to the revival. One year before this we had read Franklin Hall’s book, entitled ‘Atomic Power With God Through Fasting and Prayer.’ We immediately began to practice [sic] fasting. Previously we had not understood the possibility of long fasts. The revival would never have been possible without the restoration of this great truth through our good brother Hall (41)
On February 11, 1948, a young woman at the Bible school prophesied that a great revival was about to break out. The next day, according to Ern Hawtin, the Holy Spirit fell with great power.
Day after day the Glory and Power of God came among us. Great repentance, humbling, fasting and prayer prevailed in everyone.(42)
Because of the manifestation of power at North Battleford, news of the outbreak spread, and soon people were coming from everywhere to receive that power. They believed that the long drought was over for Pentecostals, whose use of the gifts had gradually declined since the advent of Pentecostalism at the turn of the century.(43)
A striking characteristic of the Sharon revival was the effort to avoid the establishment of another denomination as had happened during the earlier Pentecostal Movement. George Hawtin was especially adamant about this and labored to instruct those who were touched by his ministry not to fall into that trap. He felt that the unity of the Church was essential to bring about its restoration, and therefore encouraged the establishment of autonomous, local congregations.
It became a hallmark of the Latter Rain Movement that innumerable independent churches sprang up with no denominational affiliation. This did not sit well with the Pentecostal denominations, who lost many members to this “new thing.”
A major point of controversy between the North Battleford brethren and some Pentecostal denominations was the teaching by the former that there are present-day apostles and prophets for the Church.(44) And though George Hawtin wrote in the June, 1948, issue of ‘The Sharon Star’ (the school’s newsletter) that “no church exercises or has any right to exercise authority of jurisdiction over another church, its pastors or members,” the traveling “presbytery” from Sharon, of which he was a part, did indeed exercise authority over people in other congregations through personal “directive prophecy.”(45) [See also: Apostles, and Apostolic Teams]
In spite of the Sharon group’s insistence upon autonomy, they eventually became sectarian to the extreme, holding to the notions that no teaching was valid unless it originated with them, no fellowship was to be engaged in with anyone outside their own confines, and they alone were the purveyors of God’s truth. If anyone would be an “overcomer,” it must be through obedience to their authority.
Even some who were endorsed as apostles and prophets by the Sharon group eventually became disillusioned and broke ties from Sharon. Among these was Reg Layzell who wrote:
At the first camp meeting, you were made a member of the Body of Christ by the Spirit of God. And even if you said you were not in the Body you still were. No man could put you in or take you out. Now the error: they claim you are only put in by them and can be put out by them. (46)
A significant event in the history of Sharon Orphanage and School was its July 7-18, 1948 Camp Meeting, during which thousands of people from Canada and the United States flocked in hopes of receiving something special from God. Residents from at least twenty states attended, and the great Latter Rain Movement burst upon the world.
From that time the movement spread rapidly and Sharon shortly became just one of many centers of teaching for the Latter Rain Movement.
In his thesis on this movement, Richard Riss states: “It should be noted however, that prior to the revival, these practices [laying on of hands and acceptance of apostles and prophets] were already commonplace in some places, including Elim Bible Institute, which was at that time in Hornell, N.Y., and which, until the revival, had not had contact with North Battleford.”(47)
It should also be noted…that prophecy was a major distinguishing mark of the Latter Rain Movement, whereas, in the case of the healing evangelists, healing was more prominent, and in the case of the early Pentecostal revival, tongues had prominence.
Elim Bible Institute was for years prior to the outbreak of the Latter Rain Movement a center for neo-Pentecostal teachings. Although it was Sharon Orphanage that gave real impetus to these teachings, it is Elim Bible Institute that has continued even to this day with its influence, while the Sharon group has largely been relegated to obscurity.
– Footnotes –
- 38 Richard Riss, ‘The Latter Rain Movement of 1948 and the Mid-twentieth Century Evangelical Awakening’ (Vancouver, B.C.: Thesis), p.79.
- 39 Ibid., p.80-81.
- 40 Ibid., p.83-84.
- 41 Ibid., p.86.
- 42 Ibid., p.89.
- 43 Ibid., p.89-90.
- 44 Ibid., p.101.
- 45 Ibid., p.102.
- 46 Ibid., p.154.
- 47 Ibid., p.108.
- 48 Ibid., p.116.
Among those present at the Sharon Camp Meeting in July 1948, was George Warnock who at one time had been personal secretary to Ern Baxter (an associate with William Branham’s healing ministry).(49) At this meeting, one of the teachers, James Watt, made a passing remark that the third of Israel’s feasts, the Feast of Tabernacles, was yet to be fulfilled.(50) This struck Warnock and he began to associate it with the end-time ministry of the Church, and the concept of restoration.
In the fall of 1949, Warnock took up residence at Sharon, “assisting in the office work, and helping in the Bible School and in the local church.”(51)
In 1951 Warnock wrote his book, ‘The Feast of Tabernacles,’ in which he laid out a specific doctrine for the Latter Rain Movement and those who came after. He taught that the Church was about to usher in the completion of God’s feasts for Israel, through the perfection of the saints and their dominion over the earth.
Essentially, this Latter Rain teaching implies that the three great annual feasts of the Lord in Israel’s worship (Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles) 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.(52)
Warnock teaches that this will be accomplished through the restoration of the Church in unity and, once done, the saints will “eat the Lord’s Supper in reality.”(53) (as if we are not doing so now).
“Unity” as defined by Kingdom Theology entails the putting on of “the mind of Christ” so that we all think, say, believe, and confess the same things.(54) What we will think, say, believe, and confess will be told to us by the apostles and prophets.
Unity without regard to “doctrine” (except the doctrine of those imposing the unity) is the great cry among those today who think that the Body of Christ has thus far failed in its commission. We will deal with these teachings in more detail later.
– Footnotes –
- 49 Richard Riss, ‘The Latter Rain Movement of 1948 and the Mid-twentieth Century Evangelical Awakening’ (Vancouver, B.C.: Thesis), p.104.
- 50 Ibid.
- 51 Ibid.
- 52 George Warnock, ‘The Feast of Tabernacles’ (Cranbrook, B.C.: George Warnock, 1951), p.14-20.
- 53 Ibid., p.22.
- 54 Ibid., p.23.
The Latter Rain Continues
Many teachings of the Latter Rain Movement have been retained in the Church through the influence of various men and women, many of whom are still alive, and active in groups that spun off from the Latter Rain Movement.
Although the Latter Rain Movement has had lasting effects upon Pentecostalism in general, its effects upon the major Pentecostal denominations was minimal after the mid-1950’s. This was due in part to the role the Assemblies of God played in confronting the Latter Rain extremes. That denomination, as well as others, lost many pastors and members to the Latter Rain as a consequence of their opposition.
Today, the influence of the Latter Rain Movement upon traditional as well as Pentecostal denominations is growing. And although by all appearances the name has died out, the Latter Rain Movement has surfaced under other names and is held together by a network of teachers and organizations which are finding new acceptance on a wide scale in the Christian media.
Keep in mind that Albert Dager wrote this article in 1986 – well before today’s controversial renewal and revival movements came onto the scene and began promoting the Latter Rain teachings.
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