III.A.3 The Essential Doctrine of Pentecost; Initial Evidence

Part III  –  Application to Pentecostal Theology

Subpart A  –    The Pentecostal Renewal

Article 3  –  The Essential Doctrine of Pentecost;  INITIAL EVIDENCE

By Daniel Irving

a.  The Doctrine of Initial Evidence Defined

b.  Scriptural-Basis for the Doctrine of Initial Evidence

c.  Modern Restoration of the Doctrine

d.  Initial Evidence; A Detested Doctrine

e.  Necessity of the Doctrine of Initial Evidence

f.   Presumption Relating to the Reception of the Spirit

i.    Initial Evidence Versus Believism

ii.   Case in Point;  R.A. Torrey

iii .   Case in Point;  A. B. Simpson & the Christian & Missionary Alliance

g.  Stammering Lips & the Mystery of Redemption 

Bethel Bible Students

Article 3

The Essential Doctrine of Pentecost;  INITIAL EVIDENCE

a.  The Doctrine of Initial Evidence Defined

The Pentecostal doctrine of Initial Evidence maintains that to be baptized in the Holy Spirit is to receive the Holy Spirit, and further, that the universal sign that one has received the Holy Spirit is that he/she will; “speak in other tongues as the Spirit [gives] utterance”[1] consistent with Acts 2:4.  Pentecostal-doctrine distinguishes between tongues as given as the sign of the receiving the Holy Spirit, and tongues in the sense of its volitional-exercise as a gift.   The former involves a non-volitional (ie. divine) acting-upon the tongue, mouth, and vocal cords so as to produce speech that is not understood by the speaker.  The latter (ie. the gift) is a volitional-cooperation with the unction of the Holy Ghost to produce speech that is not understood by the speaker.  The former predominates in the evangelistic accounts of the book of Acts.  Authority for the latter is found in the first epistle of Paul to the Corinthians.

Pentecostal-doctrine maintains that it is this non-volitional aspect of the event that qualifies it as a sign; the sign being that one has been sealed for God’s purposes in His church.[2]  The non-volitional aspect of this experience is expressed in the Scriptural phrase; “as the Spirit gave them utterance”.[3]   Having been so-sealed, the doctrine allows that the individual may not have actually received the gift itself and therefore might never go on to operate the actual gift or to speak in tongues again.

b.  Scriptural-Basis for the Doctrine of Initial Evidence

We know that on the day of Pentecost . . .

. . . they were all filled with the Holy Ghost& began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.                                                                                    Acts 2:4

The great majority of Christianity would maintain that Pentecost (as occurred in Acts 2:4) was limited to that day that the 120 in the upper room received the Holy Spirit.  However, we know that Pentecost was not limited to a single event in time given what occurred in the household of  Cornelius, upon whom:

 . .  was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.  For they heard them speak with tongues, & magnify God.    Act 10:45-46

Therefore it is clear that this principle called Pentecost was to be ongoing.  How did Peter know those of Cornelius’ household had received the Holy Ghost?  The strong implication is that his evidence was the speaking in tongues.  This is made very clear:

& they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.  For they heard them speak with tongues, & magnify God. Then answered Peter, “Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized,  which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?                Act 10:45-47

If the Gentiles; “received the Holy Ghost as well as” had the apostles, then when God; “poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost” on the apostles, it was the “outpouring” of Pentecost.  This clearly establishes that receiving the Holy Spirit, being baptized in the Holy Spirit, and Pentecost all form the same principle.

When Paul laid hands on the men at Ephesus . . .Paul before Ruler 01

. . . the Holy Ghost came on them; & they spoke with tongues & prophesied.                                                                                     Acts 19:6

In light of the above-Scriptures it would seem that any other doctrine than Initial Evidence would be incongruous.  Therefore, the only other inquiry is whether speaking in tongues constitutes the exclusive evidence of receiving the Holy Spirit.   But if there be other evidence, it is not found in Scripture unless we add the possibilities of “magnifying God” or “prophesying”.  The difficulty however, is that the sign of tongues is always present, while prophecy is not.  As to magnifying God that is never expressed as a sign (in and of itself) without the presence of tongues.  Therefore, the book of Acts clearly points to the speaking in tongues as the sign of the Spirit’s reception.

c.  Modern Restoration of the Doctrine

While we can historically find a wide array of spiritual experience and phenomenon since the time of the Great Awakening of which tongues was occasionally a part, a Pentecostal doctrine that paralleled Pentecostal-experience did not seem to arise until the Scottish Presbyterian revival of the early nineteenth-century.  As related in an earlier article,[4] Pentecostal-like baptisms began to occur at about the time that some Presbyterian ministers began rendering distinction between the principle of initial regeneration and that of the baptism of the Holy Ghost.  While the Scottish movement seemed to have been cut short due to heretical teaching on Christ’s humanity, the Pentecostal outpouring that occurred within the “Come Outers” of Methodism seventy years thereafter, grew and thrived given both the clarity of the Pentecostal message distinguishing regeneration from Spirit-baptism, the doctrine of tongues as Initial Evidence of the baptism, and the absence of notorious heretical teaching concerning the Person or work of Jesus Christ. Parham 01

This doctrine of Initial Evidence was birthed through the events in Topeka beginning on January 1, 1901.  While the chief ministerial figure at Topeka, Charles Parham, held some questionable doctrines as to the meaning of tongues,[5] the moment that his Topeka Bible school (with its students) affirmed tongues to be the initial-evidence of the reception of the Holy Ghost as an experience distinct from initial regeneration, thence occurred the Topeka Outpouring inaugurating the work of the Holy Spirit in the twentieth-century.[6]  When William Seymour accepted and faithfully preached this doctrine, God brought the outpouring to Los Angeles.  Among those baptized at Azusa Street was William Durham, who faithfully proclaimed the doctrine of Tongues as Initial Evidence and the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  The baptism followed Durham throughout his crusades in the U.S. and in Canada and became so identified with his ministry that many came to him from across the country and even from overseas to receive Pentecost.  His Pentecostal ministry would last only a few short years however, and a year before his death he revealed in his newspaper The Pentecostal Testimony that he believed himself to be a sacrifice for the Pentecostal message.  He writes:Durham 01

For two years the Lord has been moving upon me much of the time to make myself an offering to the whole Pentecostal movement, and not to confine my labors to any particular field.  In the fullest possible sense, I now am endeavoring to do this.  Pray that my whole life may be laid at His feet, and used to the very best advantage for His glory, and the good of His people.[7]

Indeed, after his ministry became the focal center of the Pentecostal Movement and Durham its most influential voice, he died on July 7, 1912.  Ironically, this was six months after Charles Parham issued the ultimatum that God take the life of the one preaching error concerning the “Second Work” doctrine, whether he or William Durham.

d.  Initial Evidence; A Detested Doctrine

Initial Evidence was that doctrine that particularly exposed Pentecostals to the scorn of the world around them; particularly the scorn of the historic denominations.  Tongues was restored to the church as the evidence God’s sealing upon His work.   Where this doctrine was preached in an assertive and uncompromising way, God poured out His Spirit with liberality.  Where this doctrine was equivocated-upon to avoid conflict with men, the gift seemed to be withheld.  Why were men repulsed-so at this doctrine?  Why did they despise its messengers?  According to William Durham, this truth is a locator of men:

Now it is not to be supposed that this truth is opposed just simply as an ordinary point of doctrine is opposed.  Men in this day, as a rule, are not concerned enough about a small point of doctrine to fight against it, as this doctrine has been fought.  This is one of the penetrating truths of God, such as He often sends, that locates every man that hears it.  . . . just about the time men get settled down to rest in carnal security, on their highly prized but false theories, God sends a plain message of truth, that simply puts every soul on the face of the earth in a corner.[8]

The truth restored at the dawn of the twentieth-century particularly depended-upon the doctrine of Initial Evidence for its efficacy in bringing to life the substance of which it spoke, ie. the coming of the Kingdom of God.

e.  Necessity of the Doctrine of Initial Evidence

The world was substantially reintroduced to Pentecost through the outpourings that occurred at Azusa Street.  Azusa BuildingAfter William Durham received his baptism in 1907, the focal center of the Pentecostal message shifted to Chicago, where Durham pastored the North Avenue Mission.  He was a forceful and effective advocate of the Pentecostal message.  While the doctrine of Initial Evidence was widely received within Pentecost particularly given the circumstances of its restoration at Topeka, his doctrine of The Finished Work of Christ was initially controversial within Pentecost.  Durham returned to Azusa Street in 1911 in order to re-establish a work that had fallen into substantial turmoil, malaise, backsliding. He proclaimed the message of Pentecost within the context of the doctrine he called The Finished Work of Christ in a place that had stumbled into false-assumptions concerning Pentecost and was erring into legalistic forms. He was an unyielding advocate that the baptism of the Holy Spirit:

– was available to all men for the asking,

– was a vital-component of the full gospel of God,

– was the same event as receiving the Holy Spirit,

– was manifested through the “initial-evidence” of “speaking in tongues”

– must be affirmatively and uncompromisingly preached in faithfulness to Christ.

His ministry was powerfully attended by the presence of God, and his doctrines were promulgated to Pentecostal communities through his newspaper, The Pentecostal Testimony until denominationalism divided the movement soon after his untimely death in 1912.

Historically, the doctrine of Initial Evidence placed Pentecostals well outside of the mainstream of denominational Christianity, and the doctrine met with hostility when it was declared with strength.  This likely accounts for its rare advocacy today in any consistently forceful way even though it is held within the creed of practically every major Pentecostal denomination.

As one of the key proponents of the doctrine, Durham lamented that many Pentecostal ministers were reticent to strongly assert the doctrine of Pentecost for fear that it would alienate people, particularly Christian people.  He writes:

While God’s faithful ministers have been thundering forth His present-day message in such a fearless, uncompromising way that thousands have been brought fact to face with their need, and thus led to seek and find God, the compromisers have gone about soothing the consciences of the really convicted, telling them they could have the Holy Ghost and not speak in tongues, or that they already had the baptism and all they needed to do was to wait for the evidence of tongues. [9]

And he continues:

Many of us know that the tongues are the evidence of the baptism in the Holy Ghost; and the Pentecostal message is direct from God, and we can do nothing less than to proclaim it with all our hearts, no matter how much persecution and suffering it may bring upon us.  And it has been the grief of our lives for years, to see men who ought to be preaching this blessed message, and standing with us in the front ranks, lagging behind afraid to take a stand.  Some say they see the truth of the Pentecostal message, but do not think it is time to preach it.  In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, what possible excuse can there be for withholding a truth from the people when God reveals it?  It seems to us that this is a cowardly excuse for compromising the precious truth of God, and withholding it from the people.  Brethren, take stand.

Durham maintained that where this doctrine is not assertively taught and preached, the baptism of the Holy Ghost is infrequently given, as the doctrine brings vital clarity to the work of God. Apostolic Faith Group 1910 His premise was that one should never be in doubt on the subject of whether he/she is a member of Christ.  There might be a variety of sensations and emotions one might experience when seeking earnestly for the Holy Spirit, particularly when God’s Spirit has peculiar presence, but we must have objective-evidence that our sealing has been transacted.

The Pentecostal doctrine of initial evidence contemplates:

1)       a belief that God will baptize us,

2)       that we shall know at such moment that we have been baptized.

Absent this clarity, there are two possible outcomes; namely, we will either:

1)       continue asking for the Holy Spirit ad infinitum, (or)

2)       we will presume we have received, when we have not received.

Therefore this Pentecostal doctrine provided a clarity and assurance on the issue of whether one has been received into Christ’s body.  The doctrine maintained that in every instance where a person receives the Holy Spirit they will have this evidence.  Durham 01As to those standing in rejection of this doctrine, Durham asked them to consider the question; what is the evidence that they would propose for having received the Holy Spirit? If they have no alternative to the evidence offered in Scripture then how can they establish any experience at all as Biblically founded?   And if we reject the doctrine of tongues as initial evidence of the Spirit’s baptism, then what good would it do for us to receive an experience when rejecting its meaning?  Thus Pentecostals held the doctrine to be sacred as a restored apostolic truth, as Durham relates:

Whenever they cease in any place to teach that the tongues are the evidence, the power of God lifts and they have very few baptisms any more.  Wherever they stand for this truth and really preach it, if they are straight, or reasonably straight, in other doctrines and are a clean people, the power never leaves them, and people continue to get the baptism . . .  God always honors his own message. [10]

f.   Presumption Relating to the Reception of the Spirit

i.  Initial Evidence Versus Believism

Some will ask; “Why do I need a ‘sign’?”  Why can’t I simply accept my baptism by faith?  These questions were common stumbling points particularly for those denominations poised near to the Pentecostal movement, such as the Holiness and the Keswick movements, the Christian and Missionary Alliance, etc.

For Pentecostals, God’s word was clear that receiving the Holy Spirit is a real experience, accompanied by the physical manifestation of speaking in tongues.  Therefore the ambiguity of claiming something “by faith” without its objective demonstration did not fulfill the purposes of God in the vital transaction.  Neither was the baptism in the Holy Ghost something that could be claimed by faith, as it was not our proxy to transact, but belonged to Jesus Christ, whose blood  purchased the covenant.  Thus John declared that the baptism of the Holy Ghost and fire would come from the hand of Jesus Christ Himself:John the Baptist 06

I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but He that comes after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear:  He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, & with fire.       Matt 3:11

Clearly, to Christ belongs the authority to baptize into His body. Thus the Pentecostal message was to petition God for the Holy Ghost’s baptism, rather than to indulge a claim it by faith doctrine that seemed to have confused the Holiness movement and Methodists for more than a hundred years.  For Pentecostals, the baptism in the Holy Spirit represented a rare moment of concreteness which would serve the believer as a touchstone in the wilderness wandering that was certain to follow his/her baptism.

We might observe that those who rejected the Pentecostal doctrine of Initial Evidence were forced to engage in the fallacy of textualism whenever addressing the issue of the Holy Spirit’s baptism themselves, taking Scriptures such as:

. . .  ye are complete in Him,   Col 2:10

. . . ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, & by the Spirit of our God.              I Cor. 6:11

  For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.   Rom 10:13 

. . . and interpreting these as having been transacted in fact, rather than requiring the witness of experience.  These and other verses of scripture are commonly misapplied as if the real and effectual operation of God’s Spirit was not even necessary. Heaven 01 But we are not “complete”, unless we are “in Him”, and we are not “washed, sanctified, (&) justified absent a transaction “by the Spirit of our God”.  And neither do we truly “call upon the name of the Lord” absent the mediation of the Holy Ghost.

The Church is to attend upon promises.   We have a promise from God that where He calls us to cry, He Himself will answer;[11] If He causes one to hunger, He Himself will fill the hunger;[12] If He brings one into distress, He shall deliver from that distress.[13]  But we are not to construe these promises so as to presume them already in possession.  God’s word never tells us to accept baptism by faith in a presumptuous manner that avoids entreaty and petition to God through Christ for His Spirit.  But God’s word does provide us with a means of knowing (ie. “evidence”) that we have received His Spirit.  Therefore this presumption that we have procured God’s promises absent any transactional event falls short of the Gospel message.  This too commonly taught approach (sometimes referred to as “Believism”) asserts that belief in itself constitutes the procurement of the promises and that our assertion of having received is all that is required.  But this is not the teaching of Scripture, and this view, in fact, serves to hamper the procurement of God’s promises for the individual.  Although a temporary refuge for religionists, Believism poorly serves those that would enter the kingdom of God.  The Pentecostal doctrine of Initial Evidence asserted just the opposite of the denominational tendency of Believism.  They asserted that God must answer.

ii.   Case in Point;  R.A. Torrey

In the years leading up to the restoration of Pentecost, various Christian organizations and denominations that had accepted the Higher Life teachings of the Holiness movement and the principles of Divine healing worked effectively together in the cause of evangelistic works.  An example of this would be the collegiality and the joint efforts between the Moody Bible Institute and its Chicago Avenue church with A.B. Simpson’s Christian and Missionary Alliance (CMA).  In fact, R. A. Torrey, who would become superintendent of the Moody Bible Institute in 1889, was a frequent speaker at CMA functions and was even a member of the Missionary Board of Alliance in the 1890’s.[14]  Torrey in NZ 1902The Moody Bible Institute, which is today known as a citadel of evangelical conservatism, was itself a major center for the healing-movement[15] until abruptly-rejecting the principle of Divine healing.  That organization’s sudden repudiation of Divine healing was due largely to a public and very bitter quarrel that occurred between that organization and Divine-healing self-promoter, John Alexander Dowie in the mid-1890’s.[16]

The timeline of events leading to the 1901 Pentecostal outpouring in Topeka included a particularly pronounced period of foment in the 1890’s.   Those denominations and organizations that chose to assume an accommodating doctrinal posture toward the healing ministries were witness to many incidences of divine healing and so grew in the expectancy of Divine things.  Such organizations as were willing to make room for Holiness and Healing teaching and practice began to experience moves of the Holy Ghost.  One way to assume an accommodating posture was to accept that the Spirit of God could and would move miraculously in the Church of the present day.

Prior to the restoration of the Pentecostal doctrine of Initial Evidence,[17] discussion of the baptism of the Holy Spirit was characterized by mysteriousness.  Without the concrete evidence of tongues, the various denominations, organizations, and conference speakers were left to their own theorys on the subject.  These theories were usually poorly-defined and personal testimonies on the subject were varied and vague.

The renowned minister, R. A. Torrey was known for speaking on the subject of the baptism of the Holy Spirit at CMA meetings, and his (ie. Moody’s) church in Chicago held conferences for persons seeking the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  His own testimony is quite characteristic of the poorly-defined and confusing state of affairs that existed prior to the restoration of the doctrine of Initial Evidence.  Torrey taught the baptism based upon the following experience of his:Torrey-RA

I recall the exact spot where I was kneeling in prayer in my study . . .It was a very quiet moment, one of the quietest moments I ever knew . . .Then God simply said to me, not in any audible voice, but in my heart, “Its yours.  Now go and preach.”  He had already said it to me in His Word in I John 5:14-15; but I did not then know my Bible as I know    it now, and God had pity on my ignorance said it directly to my soul . .Some time after this experience (I do not recall just how long after) while sitting in my room one day . . . suddenly . . . I found myself shouting (I was not brought up to shout and I am not of a shouting temperment, but I shouted like the loudest shouting Methodist), “Glory to God, glory to God, glory to God,” and I could not stop . . .But that was not when I was baptized with the Holy Spirit.  I was baptized with the Holy Spirit when I took Him by simple faith in the Word of God.

This testimony presents an example of “textualism,” wherein the asserting of Scripture, suffices-for, and stands in place of receiving of the substance.  In our impatience or unbelief that God will act-upon His covenant, we lay premature claim on the Holy Spirit’s agency to transact upon God’s covenant.  There is also a profound misapplication of Scripture that occurs here, that we should understand.

There does not appear anything in the historic testimony to indicate that Mr. Torrey ever did receive the Spirit’s baptism consistent with Acts chapter two.  If he did not, the reason would seem to be that he stopped seeking after satisfying himself with a peculiar resort to I John 5:14-15.    In looking to this verse, we find it to be a promise that God will answer the petitions of those that make petition according to his will.  The passage reads:

And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he hears us:  And if we know that He hears us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.                                                                                      I John 5:14-15

But the apostle is not speaking particularly about the manner in which we are to receive the Holy Spirit.  Rather he is speaking to those that have the mind of the Spirit, and are thereby equipped to pray according to that mind.  But let us ask ourselves;  “Who has the “mind of the Spirit?”  The answer is, those that have received the Holy Spirit.  The reasoning becomes circular.

There is a principle of law that where there are two different legal provisions that might reasonably govern the same issue, and one law is specific to that issue, while the other law is generalized so as to potentially incorporate that issue, the law to be applied is that which is specific to the issue at hand.  Torrey’s resort to the first epistle of John to relieve the requirement upon him that he seek God for the baptism was error because it ignored the very specific rule God has provided for persons in his position.  I John 5:14-15 is an example of a general rule; that is, when we pray according to the mind of the Spirit of God, our petition will be granted.  However, there is a specific-rule dealing with receiving the Holy Spirit.  The specific rule is not that we ask for the baptism once in prayer and thereafter claim the promise; On the contrary!  What is the specific-rule for receiving the Holy Spirit?  Persist until God gives us the Holy Spirit.  Jesus related a parable concerning how we are to seek God for things from heaven.  He said:Christ Teaching 01

“….yet because of persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs.   And I say to you, “Ask, & it shall be given to you, seek, and you shall find;  Knock, and it shall be opened to you.   For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it shall be opened. Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish;  he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he?   Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he?   If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”      Luke 11:8-13

If the Lord gave us clear and specific direction as to how to receive the Holy Spirit, then what value may be found by the taking of a different route and by opting to misapply a generalized Scripture that gives us an option we prefer?  We cannot claim the promise, because we seek it under terms inconsistent with the Lord’s testimony. We engage in the misapplication of Scripture.

R. A. Torrey taught the baptism of the Spirit at a time when confusion reigned on the issue.  And this is why the remarkable-date of January 1, 1901 was not happenstance.  God took this day, and said “no more” – taking a few of those from  the holiness and healing movements, and using them to re-establish for the Church the doctrine of Initial Evidence of tongues.  Entrenching himself in this erroneous position, Torrey went on to reject true doctrine when it came, and went on further to become a stern opponent of the Pentecostal movement.

iii .   Case in Point;  A. B. Simpson & the Christian & Missionary Alliance

Where the doctrine of Initial Evidence is not faithfully declared, the result is necessarily presumption on the issue of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  This condition was most apparent in those denominations that sat on the cusp of Pentecost without entering upon the restored  theology and experience.[18]  While they embraced those truths declared by the Holiness movement, and while it was on the heels the Holiness movement through which Pentecost was restored, many of these relatively enlightened and fortuitously postured Christian organizations sat too long on the fence, unwilling to concede they did not already know the Spirit’s baptism.  The vast majority of professing Christendom rejected the Pentecostal teaching of the  baptism of the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues out-of-hand, and thus did not engage consideration of the Pentecostal doctrine of Initial Evidence.  However, there was one organization which remained open for a time to the Pentecostal issue while rejecting out-of-hand the doctrine essential to that work (ie. the doctrine of Initial Evidence); this was the Christian and Missionary Alliance (CMA).simpson-jesus-only

The C.M.A. was founded by A. B. Simpson in the 1880’s and became one of the most prominent and influential organizations within the Healing movement in America during the period leading up the Azusa Street revival.  While most organizations rejected Pentecost, A.B. Simpson did not reject the principle out-of-hand.  As a result, that organization began to experience tremendous moves of the Spirit of God during the early days of Pentecost, with many of its members experiencing the Spirit’s-baptism at a time when the other denominations, standing in rejection of Pentecost, were becoming rigid against it.

Unfortunately, Mr. Simpson’s acceptance of Pentecost was not complete and unreserved.  His opinion was that the gift of tongues had been, “abused in the early church for the self-exaltation of those who received it” and he asserted that God had withdrawn tongues from the church because of this tendency for abuse.[19]  Upon the restoration of Pentecost, he had difficulty changing this opinion, and his publication; The Christian Alliance & Missionary Weekly commonly published  articles urging caution; warning of the potential for delusion where men accept the phenomenon.  In 1907, after acknowledging some demonstrations of the gift to be genuine, he further wrote:

But, there have been many instances where the alleged gift of tongues led the subjects and the audiences into the wildest excesses and were accompanied with voices and actions more closely resembling wild animals than rational beings, impressing all unprejudiced observers that it was the work of the devil.  In some well authenticated cases that which in the beginning appeared to be a genuine movement of the Holy Spirit degenerated very soon into wildfire and fanaticism, and became most harmful, not only to the person concerned but to all others affected by it.  It is very sad to find apparently sincere and earnest Christians running after some man or woman with the idea of receiving through the human-instrument some wonderful gift. [20]

Simpson’s faint endorsement for the Pentecostal experience caused many to doubt the sincerity of his professed acceptance of Pentecost, creating division and confusion within his organization.  And so, a few months later he writes:

We are receiving considerable correspondence and some criticisms about recent articles in our weekly and monthly papers concerning the gift of tongues.  Some sincere and zealous friends are unduly sensitive about even the extremely gentle and moderate words of caution that have been expressed  The very sensitiveness manifested regarding caution or criticism is the best evidence of the danger of excess and the need of sobermindedness.

Simpson’s continuous warnings thereafter that Christians “try the spirits” in the context of the speaking in tongues, in the mind of many seekers and recipients of the baptism, betrayed a profound skepticism and suspicion of the baptism.  For instance, Simpson writes:

There is always danger to earnest souls who are seeking at any cost the best gifts of the Holy Spirit that they may be open to the influence of wicked spirits as to the Holy Ghost.  Satan is the great mimic, and loves to imitate God and counterfeit the highest and holiest spiritual manifestations, and his choicest victims are honest, earnest, and unsuspecting souls.

Simpson’s words represented a collision course with the Pentecostal doctrine which maintained the baptism was, itself, God “giving His Holy Spirit to them that asked.”  If so, Jesus clearly taught that we are not to suspect a counterfeit.  Jesus said:Christ Teaching 02

He will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he?  Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he?   If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”    Luke 11:12-13

If the baptism of the Holy Spirit was God answering the seeker’s request for His Spirit, then Simpson was placing himself at a profound odds with God’s purposes.  Pentecostal leaders understood this to be a very bad direction precisely because they accepted the baptism to be the  receiving of the Holy Spirit; whereas Simpson, much like Wesley, could not bring himself to acknowledge that professing Christianity was not already recipient upon the event of regenerating faith.  However, Simpson diligently tried to straddle both sides of the fence in order to maintain unity within the CMA.  He writes:

We are raising no question about the reality of the gift of tongues as one of the manifestations of the Holy Spirit in the Christian age.  Our warning is against the danger of exaggerating it, of seeking it for its own sake rather than seeking the Spirit Himself, and of exercising it in an extravagant and unscriptural way to the dishonor of Christ, the disorder of His work and the division of His people.  We appeal for the spirit of sanity as well as the spirit of power. [21]

When expressing his concerns regarding the manifestation of tongues, Simpson would normally refer to the gift of tongues.  He necessarily had to do so given that he did not recognize tongues as  any sign of receiving the Holy Spirit.  Therefore his objections consistently use the term “gift of” whenever he made reference to tongues.  This missed its significance to Pentecostals, who received the experience as the sign of Spirit baptism.  Simpson further argued, as had many in the early-days of Pentecost, that tongues should be of a known language.  However the principle verse relating to tongues as a sign, indicated just the opposite:

And these signs shall follow them that believe; In My name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;   Mark 16:17

The Greek-word used by Mark translated “new” is kahee-nos’,[22] which means “new” or “fresh”.  It does not mean “foreign” or “unfamiliar.”  Pentecostals viewed tongues as the sign of the very reception of the Holy Spirit, rendering a disconnect in the dialogue between the new movement and the old order.  On the surface, Simpson’s argument for placing restrictions upon the public use of the gift of tongues was Scripturally-grounded,[23] whereas his rejection of tongues as evidence of the Spirit’s baptism ran contrary to Scripture.

Simpson also expressed concerns that Pentecostals were focusing too much upon tongues.  Again, this objection clearly arose from his non-acceptance of the doctrine of Initial Evidence.  Certainly, if one regards tongues as meaningless babble, or as a supernatural phenomenon without significance, then it might be reasonable to criticize a focus upon what is meaningless.  But if tongues (as a sign) constituted the evidence of receiving the Holy Ghost, or (as gift,) constituted the Divine means of prayer in the Spirit, then Simpson’s concerns were short-sighted indeed.   William Durham addressed this misunderstanding:Durham 01

As small a thing as the speaking in tongues seems to many to be, it is marvelous what a stir it has made in the world.  When six years ago it was first preached on the Pacific Coast, that the speaking in tongues was the evidence of the baptism, it met with bitter opposition from the holiness people. [24]

Further, what Simpson perceived as an inordinate emphasis and focus might be better perceived as rather a common-thread of experience.  As Initial Evidence of the receiving of the Holy Spirit, tongues was necessarily the common experience of those experiencing the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  As such, and to outside observation, it might appear that tongues held too central a place.  Outsiders to the experience, at best, misinterpreted tongues to be merely the gift referred to in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians; but for the Spirit-baptized and those seeking for the same, it was the restoration of the indwelling power of God shed abroad to mankind.

Certainly, Simpson was concerned that the issue would divide the CMA.  He writes:

At the approach of our Council many weeks ago very many of us were called to much prayer that God would guide us through the spiritual crisis which was facing our work in all parts of the land, and keep us united in the Holy Ghost.

Despite the reticence of its leader, a Pentecostal revival commenced and swept through the student body and ministers of Simpson’s organization, the CMA.  This occurred at their May 1907 convention in Nyack, NJ.   In response to the sudden manifestation of the sign and the gift of tongues within his organization, Dr. Simpson appointed one of his ministers, Dr. Henry B. Wilson, a former Anglican priest, to investigate the meetings and to offer his evaluation.  His response was-tepid:Wilson-Henry B

I am not able to approve the movement, though I am willing to concede that there is probably something of God in it somewhere.

Upon this report, the CMA chose to reject the fundamental doctrine of Pentecost to the effect the Holy Spirit is received through the  means of Spirit baptism and evidenced by speaking in tongues.  Having finally expressed a firm stance against tongues as initial evidence, the CMA was abandoned in droves by those  within its ranks that had accepted Pentecostal teaching and the restored sign of tongues.  Thereupon, the CMA lost its relevance in the Pentecostal movement and was no longer hospitable to the doctrine of the Spirit’s baptism.  As a result the denomination also suffered great loss of people and property to the emerging Pentecostal organizations, most notably to the Assemblies of God.  Keith Bailey writes on behalf of the CMA:

The Alliance suffered a loss of both people and property.  A number of former Alliance men became prominent in the Assemblies of God.  At one time the president of the SpringfieldCentralBibleCollege of the Assemblies of God, the foreign secretary of the Assemblies of God, one of the general superintendents of the Assemblies of God, and the editor of the Pentecostal Evangel were all Nyack graduates.  Menzies names in his book 37 different ministers of the C&MA who went into the Assemblies of God. [25]

While the CMA maintained that its losses were the result of “standing on the principle that the doctrine of initial-evidence was unscriptural”, the truer assessment may have been that the leadership had been engaged in undermining and minimizing upon Pentecost and the Spirit’s baptism to such an extent that they felt backed into a corner when God moved in this way within the CMA itself.  When the Spirit’s baptism and tongues could no longer be stifled by homilies on “decency and orderliness,” the gloves were forced to come off on the truer issue at hand.

When we look at A. B. Simpson himself, we find that he apparently did believe the “baptism,” as the Pentecostals called it, to be a legitimate endowment of power.  He apparently even sought the experience for himself.  However he confined his view of the baptism to rather “a special form of divine anointing.”[26]  This perception led him to continuously seek “the anointing” while denying the experience as itself constituting the very reception of the Spirit, as well as denying tongues as the evidence thereof.  Therefore, one must wonder what would have been the result had he experienced the baptism with its duly accompanying initial evidence of tongues which he seems to have so-mistrusted.

We read in his diary-entry of August 9, 1907, written shortly after his June entry lamenting the loss of unity resulting from the “tongues” controversy:

On this Friday afternoon I retired, as I have done for so many years, to the place in the woods where God healed me in August 1881 and renewed my covenant of healing again as I have done every year since.  At the same time I pressed upon Him a new claim for a mighty Baptism of the Holy Ghost in His complete Pentecostal fullness embracing all the gifts and graces of the Spirit for my special need at this time and for the new conditions and needs of my life and work.  He met me as I lay upon my face before Him with a distinct illumination, and then as the Presence began to fade and I cried out to Him to stay, He bade me believe and take it all by simple faith as I had taken my healing 26 years before.  I did so, and was enabled definitely to believe and claim it all and rest in Him.

Thus, in the same manner that R.A. Torrey “received his baptism by faith,” so did A.B. Simpson follow suit.  Five years later, his entry for October 6, 1912 reads:Simpson &  Wife

Five years have passed since these mem. were written.  Much has come and gone.  God has been ever with me and wrought for me.  No extraordinary manifestation of the Spirit in tongues or similar gifts has come.  Many of my friends have received such manifestations, but mine has still been a life of fellowship and service.

Although he asked, he does not appear to have received; all the while those around him were receiving an abundance during that truly glorious period between 1906 and 1912 that Pentecost was being restored in dramatic fashion.   In his book, A Survey of 20th Century Revival Movements in North America, Richard Riss suggests Simpson may have later recognized his mistake.

According to David McDowell, in 1912 A. B. Simpson remarked to him, “David, I did what I thought was best, but I am afraid that I missed it.”  Fifteen years later, Albert E. Funk, foreign secretary of the CMA, observed, “David, the Alliance has missed God!” [27]

The Christian and Missionary Alliance continues to this day laboring under a state of reconstructed doctrine as it existed in the time of their organizational formation in the 1880’s.  In reading some of the articles written by CMA leaders of the past few decades, one senses the fatigue of perpetuating missionary efforts which they seem to acknowledge to be lacking in the substance and spirit that existed in their early history under the leadership of Dr. A.B. Simpson.    They observe that:

. . . many denominations have withered spiritually because they did not keep faith with their sound biblical beginnings” and that “many outstanding religious institutions have outlived their usefulness because they failed to maintain a sense of continuity with historic values that invoked divine blessing.[28]

To this end, CMA leadership urges a remembrance of CMA first-principles; “deeper life teaching,” “sanctification”, “crisis experience”, etc – those true and blessed doctrines upon which the Holiness-Movement stood their ground.  But if there seems a frustration in realizing the Divine-blessing upon their labors, history may suggest the answer to reside less in any failure to “maintain . . .  historic values that invoked divine blessing” than in the failure to honor what God has done in order to bring greater light upon those efforts.

g.  Stammering Lips & the Mystery of Redemption

The stammering tongue is the sign that God has answered the believer to ultimately bring about that rest upon which he may rely as being in Christ, rather than resting within any false refuge of man’s own making; ie. the things of mere religion.  Recall Isaiah’s prophecy concerning tongues:

(v.9) To whom shall he teach knowledge? . . .    (v.11-12) For with stammering lips and another tongues will he speak to this people.   To whom He said, this is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing; yet they would not hear . . . .   . . . . (v.14) Wherefore hear the word of the Lord ye scornful men that rules this people which is in Jerusalem.  Because ye have said, “We have made a covenant with death, and with hell we are in agreement; for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood we have hid ourselves.”                                  Is. 28:9,11-12, 14

The apostle Paul identifies this prophecy with the New Testament operation of tongues,[29] a manifestation of the Spirit’s effectual agency – the doctrines relating to which being substantially-restored at the beginning of the twentieth-century.  To minister today as if that revelation had not occurred is to minister without sufficient knowledge of the gospel.

Strangely, tongues has become a stumbling-point for so many within Christianity.  Why would God’s ways include something so meaningless as the stammerings of an unknown language?  But there is prophetic indication that tongues constitutes a sign to be ridiculed given man’s judgment that he knows best God’s purposes for the man.  God’s testimony is to the opposite effect.Bright Cloud 1

For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the Lord.                                                                                     Is. 55:8

. . . as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, & My thoughts than your thoughts.              Is. 55:9

So what will God express that a man could possibly articulate in a satisfactory way?  But God has manifested in the flesh, made Himself man’s sufficiency before an infinitely unknowable and unsearchable Creator in the Person of Jesus Christ.  He has performed so, that when an account is to be given, it is given through the agency of His Son, for the man.  Absent God’s provision of the sufficiency of His only begotten Son, we are left the lament:Adam & Eve Sin

Why was there no man when I came? When I called, why was there none to answer?  Is My hand so short that it cannot ransom?  Or have I no power to deliver?                                                                                      Is. 50:2

Are God’s ways not best?  Is His provision in Himself insufficient?  Human means, man’s intelligence, his education, eloquence, and virtue must ultimately be cast aside when the issue is his soul.  Man’s own response to the question of Sin is  inept.  The only answer God will receive is the blood of the cross of Jesus Christ.  This is the only answer that Holiness will hear.  Faith will perceive this, and cast-aside that which cannot deliver.  And when the Spirit of faith beckons the heart, He increases strength in the heart to offer a response:

Seek the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts:                                                                                      Is. 55:6-7

This is a time of liberty; the time to believe.  This is the time we are invited, urged . . . rather compelled by the Holy Spirit to choose God’s means of sanctification and to escape sin’s bondage freely through simple faith in God’s answer for sin.  And in this awakened condition of liberty, the man is given strength by means outside of Himself to reach unto God His savior:

and let him return unto the LORD, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.                    Is. 55:7

But this is not merely a belief of the mind; rather this is a spiritual-affair transacted through the heart – impossible unless the Spirit of God is moving and transacting on behalf of the man.  Therefore God assures the man that his own ideas, and doubts, and fears, and perceptions, and understanding, bear no weight in this transaction.  Rather, it is God and His understanding that shall hold the man through the Person of His Son:

For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the LORD. . . . For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.                                                                                      Is. 55:8-9

Therefore when God comes unto the man, how is the man to respond?  An eloquent sermon or correct doctrine?  Should He speak proper words in a language man may understand with his mind that his inner-nature should be healed?  No.  God says, “My thoughts are not your thoughts.”  Not only are they different in nature, they different in degree.  Not only are they different in degree, they are infinitely-so.  “For as the heavens are higher than the earth . . . [are] . . My thoughts than your thoughts.”  So what is God to do that He may bring back His sheep to Himself?  He sends forth His own substance in the Person of His Son:Valley 1

For as the rain cometh down, & the snow from heaven, & returneth not, but waters the earth, & makes it bring forth & bud, that it may give seed to the sower, & bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goes forth out of my mouth:  it shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, & it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.                 Is. 55:10-11

The rain of His Spirit upon men shall bring forth the knowledge of God that is the revelation of Christ; a knowledge that transcends the spoken-word.  When a man receives the Spirit of God, he also receives a sign (not necessarily a “gift”) but a sign that by faith the transaction has been sealed allowing God to express Himself outside the limitations of the man.  Therefore tongues is a sign of the Spirit’s sealing.[30]   And this was the great truth that was restored at the beginning of the twentieth-century.


[1] e.g. Durham writes;  “. . when the blessed Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, comes in to take up His permanent abode, He speaks in other tongues.”  Pentecostal Testimony Vol. II No. 2 (1912) Edited and published by William H. Durham, 6820 South Denver Ave., Los Angeles, CA.  The article is;  Speaking in Tongues is the Evidence of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit

[2] e.g. Durham writes;  “God chose that this sign should follow, when the Spirit was poured out upon His own Apostles on the day of Pentecost, Acts 2:1-5.  It was recognized as infallible proof at the house of Cornelius, Acts 10:44-47.”  Pentecostal Testimony Vol. II No. 2 (1912) Edited and published by William H. Durham, 6820 South Denver Ave., Los Angeles, CA.  The article is;  Speaking in Tongues is the Evidence of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit

[3] Acts 2:4

[4] The article is  Part I; Subpart E; Article 1 – Events in Scotland and the Heresy of Edward Irving

[5] e.g. his doctrine that tongues (to be valid) must be xeno-glossialic (ie. a true recognized language) was quickly realized to be incorrect within the Pentecostal movement.  Many Pentecostals had become missionaries based upon the assumption their tongues-speech was for this purpose, e.g. Alfred Garr and his wife.  The return of many disappointed missionaries caused Pentecostal-leaders to concede that “missions” may not be the purpose of tongues and that tongues might not commonly be natural languages.   Parham also held to “British-Israelism” (a doctrinal-fad of the 19th century) and to the doctrine of the “Annihilation of the Wicked”

[6] The outpouring occurred on January 1, 1901.

[7] Taken from article in the Pentecostal Testimony (circa. 1911) Our Book & Other Personal Matters, written by William H. Durham.

[8] Pentecostal Testimony Vol. II No. 2 (1912) Edited and published by William H. Durham, 6820 South Denver Ave., Los Angeles, CA.  The article is;  Speaking in Tongues is the Evidence of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit

[9] Pentecostal Testimony Vol. I No. 8 (circa. 1911) Edited and published by William H. Durham, 6820 South Denver Ave., Los Angeles, CA.  Taken from the article;  An Open Letter to My Brother Ministers In and Out of the Pentecostal Movement.  A Strong Appeal

[10] Pentecostal Testimony Vol. II No. 2 (1912) Edited and published by William H. Durham, 6820 South Denver Ave., Los Angeles, CA.  The article is;  Speaking in Tongues is the Evidence of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit

[11] e.g. Psalm 18:3, Acts 2:21, Romans 10:13

[12] e.g. Matthew 5:6, Isaiah 41:17

[13] e.g. Psalm 22:24, 34:4-6, 120:1, Jonah 2:2

[14] Healing and Revival biography of R. A. Torrey, www.healingandrevival.com taken on 9/1/11.

[15] The Man, the Movement, & the Mission; A Documentary History of the Christian & Missionary Alliance, compiled by Dr. Charles Nienkirchen, Canadian Theological Seminary, May 1987; Chapter IV “CMA and Pentecost”.

[16] Dowie (a caustically-outspoken faith-healer) moved his ministry to Chicago in 1893 and began to attack other ministries in the Chicago-area having disagreement with his methods.  A particularly-bitter-clash ensued between him and D.L. Moody on the issue of divine-healing, which led Dowie (in 1898) to make-public a letter that was allegedly written to him by Moody’s assistant (and successor) R. A. Torrey wherein Torrey had sought prayer for his daughter and stated his belief in divine-healing.  Torrey denied the letter was genuine.  Dowie claimed a knowledge that Moody would soon die for resisting his (ie. Dowie’s) ministry.   Moody died the following-year (in December of 1899).  In January 1900 R.A. Torrey preached a sermon against Dowie, after-the-which, Dowie denounced Torrey as an “apostate” and a “coward” (in his Leaves of Healing newspaper) and threatened the same judgment upon Torrey.  Torrey seems to have lost all interest in participating with the CMA (a major proponent of divine-healing) after that point, and the Moody organization thereafter withdrew from its active-role in the healing-movement that culminated in Pentecost (stumbling into the dispensationalism taught by Darby and Scofield.  (See The Man, the Movement, & the Mission; A Documentary History of the Christian & Missionary Alliance, compiled by Dr. Charles Nienkirchen, Canadian Theological Seminary, May 1987; Chapter IV “CMA and Pentecost”.

[17] The doctrine was asserted on the eve of the Topeka Outpouring in 1901, and thereafter proclaimed by Charles Parham.  William Seymour faithfully carried the doctrine to Los Angeles, on the eve of the Azusa Street Revival.  William Durham (and many others) thereafter faithfully carried it abroad with great evidences following their ministries.

[18] e.g. the Methodist churches and the Christian and Missionary Alliance.

[19] A.B. Simpson; The Gift of Tongues (Feb 5, 1892) from The Christian Alliance and Missionary Weekly.

[20] The Christian and Missionary Alliance, A.B. Simpson editorial (1907)

[21] The Christian and Missionary Alliance, A.B. Simpson editorial (1907)

[22] G2537  kainos  kahee-nos’  Of uncertain affinity; new (especially in freshness; while G3501 is properly so with respect to age): – new.

[23] I Corinthians 14:23 If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, & all speak with tongues, & there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?

[24] Speaking in Tongues is the Evidence of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, by William H. Durham – From the Pentecostal Testimony Vol. II, No. II (1912)

[25] Dealing with the Charismatics in Today’s Church (1977) by Keith Bailey, from CBC/CTS Archives.

[26] The Christian and Missionary Alliance, A.B. Simpson editorial (1907)

[27] Survey of 20th Century Revival Movements in North America, by Richard M. Riss, © 1988, Hendrickson Publisers, Inc. PO Box 3473, PeabodyMA01961-3473 at pg. 79.

[28] Quotes of Louis King (1982) cited within The Man, the Movement, & the Mission; A Documentary History of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, compiled by Dr. Charles Nienkirchen, Canadian Theological Seminary, May 1987.  The article comes from Chapter 9 Reflections on Alliance History – Document No. 72 – Louis L. King; Remembrance; Mentor of the Future (1982)

[29] I Corinthians 14:21

[30] See commentary on Isaiah 28:11

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About Lamp-Stand

I was converted to the faith of Jesus Christ in 1982 at which time I received water baptism and Spirit baptism. In the Spring of 2008 I was led of the Spirit through a process of repentance upon which I had an encounter with Christ that worked a profound change upon my inner being. I became aware that I had been forgiven a great debt of sin. I soon felt the Lord's direction that I close my office that my energies not be divided from the study of doctrine.
This entry was posted in 3A. PENTECOSTAL RENEWAL (Application to Pentecostal Theology) and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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