The History of the Renewal Movement – Part 1

As promised, I’m tossing up my notes from the Last Days Bible Conference.  The audio from the conference (and possibly video: there were cameras there) isn’t up yet, and I am not sure when it will be.  There is audio up from my sermon at GraceLife Church in Calgary, and that audio can be downloaded here.  Apparently there will be video up sometime soon, and when the conference audio/video is up, I’ll certainly throw a post on here showing people where they can go to watch it.

I’m going to break my notes up into 2 sections, just to keep the post from becoming unbearably long.

Also, there are no references or footnotes in these notes.  It’s all documented, but in order to get this out I didn’t spend the dozen plus hours needed to go back through all my notes and find whatever specific quote or references was appropriate.  I didn’t provide references in my talk (for obvious reasons of time constraints), and these are the notes I preached on (with minor changes to turn points into complete sentences and whatnot).

So, here are the notes from session 1: The History of the Renewal:



The History of the Renewal

Before we start:

1. Definitions:

a. Pentecostal and Charismatic believers and scholars make distinctions between various camps:

i. Pentecostal – The denominations that started basically before 1947.

ii. Charismatic Movement – The denominations and independent churches that started basically after 1960 when tongues-speaking got into non-Pentecostal denominations.

b. Many folks claim that “Pentecostal” refers to the older, more civilized groups like The Assemblies of God or the Church of the Foursquare Gospel, and “Charismatic” refers to more excessive modern groups like the Catch The Fire or Bethel Church.

After almost 2 years of intense research, I actually disagree.

The theology and practice, at its core, hasn’t really changed all that much.  There has been development and nuanced progress to various ideas, sure.

Still, the modern heretical doctrines peddled by the craziest folks in the movement are often just the logical extension of the heresies peddled by their spiritual forefathers…and their spiritual forefathers were often only slightly less crazy.

c.  I’m going to make distinctions, but not the typical distinctions.

I’m going to steal Jack Hayford’s term Renewal and break the Renewal as a movement that started in 1901 with 4 distinct periods:

– 1901-1947

– 1947-1965

– 1965-1982

– 1982-now.

d. Also, in the critical side of my presentation I’m taking aim exclusively at the corrupt leaders of the movement, not the average people on the pew.

Advocacy Leaders

It’s the people who are in the limelight, writing the books, headlining the conferences and peddling the horrible ideas that I’m going to be critiquing.

Most megachurches are, in reality, led by 5 -15 people who set the theological agenda and do most of the teaching.

I’m not after the people who are being deceived; I’m after the deceivers.

Factors that led up to the 1901 Renewal.

1. Expectation of the outpouring of the Spirit

a. The 1800s was a time of intense eschatological expectation.

i. There was a revival in studying biblical prophecy

ii. The belief that the end times were near contributed to “restoration” movements like the Mormons, the Irvingites, the Millerites, and the Seventh Day Adventists.

– They all thought that they were living in the “last day restoration” of the true church or Spiritual power.

b.  The belief that the end times were near led to a growing expectation of an outpouring of the Spirit, which would provide a great empowerment for service.

i. This drove much of the missionary movement in the 1800s.

c.  The growing expectation of an outpouring of the Spirit also meant the restoration of the gifts.

i. Tongues, healing and prophecy were universally considered to be gone in the 1800s.

ii. The only groups where they appeared before around 1875 were heretical “restorationist” groups.

–  The Quakers (1650) “received the Spirit” and shook, spoke in tongues, prophesied, and witnessed healings.

– John Wesley labelled them heretics.

– The Jansenists (1650) “received the Spirit” and had all manner of experiences: seizures, trances, barking like dogs, dancing in a frenzy, jumping on one leg, spinning on their heels, speaking in tongues, prophesying, healings, levitation, etc.

– They were Catholics.

– The Shakers (1750) “received the Spirit” and shook, spoke in tongues, sang in tongues prophesied, and witnessed healings.

– Their leader (Ann Lee) said she was part of the Trinity, which was actually just her and Jesus.

– The Cane Ridge Revival (1800). A tent meeting revival where people got “the jerks”, were slain in the Spirit, had “holy laughter”, barked, fell into trances, spoke in tongues, danced until they fell over, prophesied and predicted the date of the second coming, etc.

– The “manifestations” fell upon believers and unbelievers alike.

– The leader, Barton W. Stone, denied the trinity, became a universalist and eventually left to become a Shaker (endorsing Ann Lee as part of the Trinity Binity).

– The Irvingites (1820). He taught the restoration of the gifts and biblical offices and the return of Christ in 1864.

– The gifts were apparently “restored” in 1830.

– Irving then appointed 12 apostles, formed seven churches (apparently the churches of Revelation 2-3) which comprised the Catholic Apostolic Church and pronounced himself to be the angel of the seven churches.

d. From 1875 to 1900, there were dozens of recorded events where people reported speaking in tongues.

Some think that the significance of 1901 was the “restoration of tongues”, but Roswell Flower, one of the founders of the Assemblies of God in 1914, wrote, “There had been recorded many instances of persons speaking in tongues prior to the year 1900…

Tongues wasn’t new in 1901, and it had been around (in the United States) with sporadic frequency for 25+ years before…and exclusively around in heretical circles long before that.

2.  New Teaching on the Baptism of the Spirit


a.  John Wesley and Phoebe Palmer

i.  In the 1700’s, John Wesley taught “Christian perfectionism”; a “total surrender” to God that resulted in no more intentional sinning (known as “Christian Perfectionism”).

ii. This moment of “surrender” was a second work of grace, after salvation.

iii.  Phoebe Palmer focused on the moment of surrender, teaching that it was a moment of tangible change.

b.  Higher Life Movement

i. Went from 1858-1875 and developed the idea that the “moment of surrender” was actually the “Baptism of the Spirit”.

ii.  The Baptism was a “second work” of grace: empowering for Holiness.

iii.  The Higher Life movement collapsed in 1875 (the leader was revealed to be an unrepentant adulterer) but their theology continued on in the Keswick Holiness Movement.

c.  The Keswick Holiness Movement

i. The Keswick Holiness Movement taught that the Baptism of the Spirit was a baptism empowering for service rather than holiness (though holiness also was a byproduct), and also that the Baptism was a tangible experience following salvation.

– A.B. Simpson, D.L. Moody and R. A. Torrey were the three biggest voices that popularized the idea of the baptism of the Spirit as an definite (and even tangible) experience following salvation.

– R.A. Torrey is one of the most quoted pre-1901 writers in Renewal circles (which is interesting, seeing that he condemned the movement).

3.  Healing by Faith

a.  The idea that physical healing was an accessible right of believers was first put into practice by Swiss healer Dorothea Trudel.

b.  American physician Charles Culles visited Trudel’s healing house in 1873 and then incorporated faith healing in his practice.

c.  Culles then wrote “Faith Cures” in 1873, which basically claimed all the “healing” promises of the Old Testament as a covenant right for believers by means of twisting a select few New Testament scriptures (i.e. Gal 3:14)

d.  In 1882, A.B. Simpson experienced healing at Cullis’ camp in Old Orchard Beach, Maine and adopted his teaching.

e.  In 1882, A. J. Gordon wrote The Ministry Of Healing and the movement grew wildly in popularity over the next 10 years.

f.  In 1894, the Methodist Church officially spoke out against divine healing, which lead to several offshoot churches/organizations and independent healers:

i.  Charles Fox Parham was a disgruntled faith healing Methodist who had gone independent in 1895. He pronounced his denomination, and all others, as apostate because they lacked the Holy Spirit.

ii.  Parham travelled to both Zion Illinois and Shiloh, Maine in 1900 to see the two faith healing centers.

– Alexander Dowie ran the one in Illinois. Dowie was a notorious showman and unbelievable fraud.

– Frank Sanford ran the one in Maine. Sanford introduced Parham to speaking in tongues.

– After Parham left, both men pronounced themselves to be the prophet Elijah and renounced the other as a fraud.


This leads us to the first of 4 significant time periods in the Renewal:

1901-1947 – The Beginnings of Pentecostalism

1. Charles Fox Parham

a. In October 1900, Charles Parham bought an old house in Topeka, Kansas and started Bethel Bible College.

b. Parham had heard about the baptism of the Spirit all over the US: it was a big topic of the day.  Parham wanted to clarify his confusion with regards to the baptism of the Spirit.

c. The problem that Parham saw was the disagreement on the evidence of the baptism; people didn’t really know when they got it.  There was no agreed upon mark of the baptism.

i.  Right before Christmas, Parham left for a few days to preach.  He urged his students to study the Bible (specifically Acts 2) while he was gone and find out what the Bible laid out as the definitive mark of the Baptism of the Spirit.

ii. Parham returned and the students shared their findings with him: the definitive mark of the baptism of the Spirit was speaking in tongues.

iii.  The students found that Acts 2 clearly taught that one should, by the Spirit, speak in previously-unknown earthly languages.

iv. The students then prayed and waited for God to give them the baptism of the Spirit.

– This happened Jan. 1, 1901, when Agnes Ozman spoke and wrote in Chinese, as well as just spoke Czechoslovakian.

– Parham pronounced this event “the restoration of Pentecostal power” and called his movement the Apostolic Faith movement.

d. The school closed in 1901, but Parham went on the road.

i. In 1905 he moved his headquarters to Texas.

ii. He also started a school, and a young black man named William Seymour attended.

– Since Seymour was colored, he couldn’t be in the classroom so he sat in the hall and listened to Parham’s lectures.

– Parham took Seymour with him and shared the pulpit with him when he spoke at colored meetings.

e. In 1906 Seymour was invited out to Los Angeles to take over a Holiness church when the pastor, Julia Hutchins, decided to become a missionary since she had previously received the baptism of the Spirit and thought she was now “spiritually empowered” for successful missionary service.

i. Seymour showed up Feb. 22, 1906, and after hearing his teaching about the baptism of the Spirit and tongues, namely that their pastor had not received the baptism of the Spirit and was leaving on a missions trip that would be a fool’s errand, Hutchins chained & locked the doors.

ii. Seymour then moved in with some church people on 214 Bonnie Brae street and started a bible study with them.

iii. The quickly got the baptism of tongues and the study grew incredibly rapidly.

iv.  One month later the Bible Study purchased 312 Azusa Street started the Apostolic Faith Gospel Mission.

2. The Azusa Street Revival

As a note of the amount of confusion and lack of discernment in at Azusa street, there was a rather interesting and relatively little-known fact about The Apostolic Faith Gospel Mission.  When you went in the door, there was a creepy sign in the entrance: “Mene Mene Tekel Upharsin” was written on the wall, in green letters with the letter’s ‘N’ and ‘S’ upside down. ?!?


a. It was utter chaos:

i. There were tongues galore (both ecstatic speech and earthly languages), dancing, screaming, laughing, people being “slain in the Spirit”, people rolling on the floor, healings, etc/

ii. It was so loud that the police got called out nightly and people regularly were arrested for disturbing the peace.

iii. They were labelled “holy rollers” since they were known for literally rolling on the floor. The “holy rolling” phenomena preceded Asuza (and was found in bad places), but it was also found at Asuza (there were also other relatively concurrent groups with Azusa that were marked by “holy kicking” or “holy jumping” as distinctive manifestations of the Spirit).

b. It was filled with horrible theology:

i. First issue of Apostolic Faith explained the name of the movement: “The Apostolic Faith Movement stands for the restoration of the faith once delivered unto the saints…”

ii. They taught that “The blood of Jesus will never blot out any sin between man and man they can make right; but if we can’t make wrongs right the Blood graciously covers.”

iii. They taught that speaking in tongues wasn’t necessary to be a Christian, but it was the only proof that a person was.

iv. They taught that the Baptism of the Spirit was a third work of grace, after salvation and sanctification.

v. In a strange twist, even though the baptism of the Spirit was supposed to be an empowering for missionary service, any unbelievers who were discovered were literally thrown out of Azusa St. There are stories reported in local papers of “sinners” being physically assaulted, told they weren’t wanted, and tossed out of the meetings.

c. Fallout:

i.  The manifestations quickly got out of control; he knew that some of the “manifestations” at Azusa were fake, but he didn’t know how to tell.

ii. Seymour invited Parham to help him sort things out in October, 1906.

iii. Parham quickly condemned the movement as mostly a work of “the flesh” and Seymour chained and locked the doors, keeping Parham from teaching.

iv.  Seymour then tried to bring in William Durham, a respected pastor from Chicago, to help Asuza in 1911.

v.  Seymour chained and locked the doors on Durham as well, but 2/3 of the people followed Durham and started a new church.

vi.  After Durham went through, Azusa floundered and suffered financial scandals (i.e. thousands of dollars came in every week and not a cent was ever accounted for) until Seymour died in 1922.

d. The Growth of the Movement

i.  The church died but the movement still grew and spread like wildfire as Azusa workers swarmed the US and Europe. By the end of 1907 the movement had touched all over the US, as well as spread throughout Europe and Asia.


ii.  In the next 20 years after Azusa, many Holiness, Christians & Missionary Alliance,, Methodist and Baptist churches all left their denominations to form new Pentecostal denominations:

1911 – Pentecostal Holiness Church.

1914 – Assemblies of God

1927 – International Church of the Foursquare Gospel

iii. Due to their tremendous growth, in 1943 the National Association of Evangelicals embraced the Pentecostals. This was a turning point in the acceptance of Pentecostals by mainstream evangelicalism.


And next, we’ll walk through history from 1947 to around 2012.

The next post should be up soon.

Until Next Time,

Lyndon “The Armchair Historian” Unger


12 thoughts on “The History of the Renewal Movement – Part 1

  1. Pingback: The Fatal Flaws of the Renewal – Part 1 | Watch Your Life and Doctrine Closely…

  2. Hi –
    Thanks for the lectures. You mentioned a few movements even before 1901 like the Quakers, but you didn’t mention the Montanist movement. This goes back to within the first few hundred years of the Christian Church, and it has all the nasty ear marks of the Renewal movement. If anyone is interested in history, or just interested in not repeating history, it’s definitely worth looking into.
    Thanks again for the awesome lectures.

    • Hey Don,

      You’re right. I didn’t mention the Montanists because I was tracing the more immediate history of modern Pentecostalism; namely the factors that directly led to its birthing. Montanism is connected, but over a millennia out from all the current elements that coalesced into the movement.

      I didn’t talk about Anabaptist influences, or Medieval influences either, but that’s more because it’s harder to trace direct connections and influence.

  3. Hi Lyndon. I have re-discovered your terrific site which I first pored over last year. I enjoy your articles, particularly the one above, which has some fascinating details which were hitherto unknown to me. I think you have a great sense of humor and much to say that many Christians (charismatic ones in particular) should read.

    I came out of ‘charismania’ early last year after nearly 34 very painful years. I am an Australian who was raised Anglican (but never heard the real gospel in that denomination here, though a few Anglican churches here do preach it). My oldest school friend and my mother’s closest friend were both charismatics and invited us to a few meetings (inc a Full Gospel Businessmen’s dinner) back in the late ’70’s. While in college I took a Philosophy class which delved into mystical theories/experiences and unwittingly opened the door to occult manifestations and demonic torment. My mother’s friend explained what was going on and told me I needed to be born again (a good thing to finally hear), however once saved I was out of one “frying pan” and into another as I underwent “deliverance ministry” (a misnomer if ever there was one) by various “inner healing experts” for over a year, getting progressively worse. The “faith message” of Kenneth Hagin seemed to be the antidote to this (at least I stopped responding to alter calls and throwing up demons) and I became the first Melbournian to graduate from Rhema Bible School in Tulsa in 1986. I pastored a church in Melbourne for 17 years (1991-2008) which I founded, however I never got free of oppression and found myself following ‘prophetic words’ which became ruinous to my life. Pleading with the Lord to show me that which was truly of him , I came across YouTube videos and websites which exposed the heresies of the movement (inc. some messages given at the Strange Fire conference). I read Charismatic Chaos and Strange Fire, stopped speaking in jibberish and began attending a Presbyerian Church with much sounder teaching in it. (Although I do not agree with Calvinism)

    I also found articles of yours last year which were very helpful to me. I had little or no knowledge of the NAR but I am now very aware of the damage they are doing and that they are a logical (albeit monstrous) outgrowth of the Pentecostal movement. Hagin often spoke well of “prophets” like Branham and was essentially a Latter Rain proponent (just in more veiled terms than NAR-ites use today). Your articles from your lectures are very valuable and well-reseached. I praise God for your ministry.

    I now view the Charismatic movement as a false movement begun by heretics. Unlike the more obvious cults (eg. mormons), there was once enough gospel in the movement to at least get people saved before destroying them with false doctrines and false manifestations. I still believe there are saved people trapped in the movement, but I believe they are becoming the minority as the ‘spiritual train wreck’ gathers momentum and departs further and further from even a semblance of the salvation message (egs. Hillsong, Redding, IHOP, Lakewood,Copeland in Popeland etc). Coming out of this apostasy of such an immense magnitude is a true ‘sign and wonder’ which I thank the Lord for daily.

    • Wow! What a story Mike!

      34 years? God’s grace is amazing!

      Don’t worry about Calvinism; that one takes a little time and it’s made more difficult with just how MUCH misinformation and misrepresentation there is about it.

      At the end of the day, your salvation doesn’t depend on whether or not you’re a Calvinist. Just never stop placing yourself under the teaching of the Scripture and submitting to what you learn.

      I’m thankful that my work has profited you and been helpful!

      I’m also glad that you haven’t tossed the movement and all Pentecostals/Charismatics in the fire. I still have several Pentecostal/Charismatic friends who love the Lord and are sadly deceived by the frauds in their lives…but frauds are all they’ve ever seen and they’re aware, at some level, that something is amiss. They’re also afraid of abandoning the only thing they’ve ever known.

      I’m sure that like myself, your journey out was a long and painful one. I hope and pray that the Lord brings you back into ministry at some point, proclaiming his word with clarity and passion in Melbourne! Australia needs some good Bible expositors!

  4. Thanks for your warm and insightful comments! I have realized that I made quite a ‘typo’. My surname is ‘Evans’ not ‘Evabs”. (I wrote this very late last night!). Could you please correct that for me? Thanks brother, Mike

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