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EDITOR:
Steve Van Nattan

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EDWARD IRVING

Founder of The first Brownsville was in Scotland in 1830

 

Edward Irving

A. In the western world Pentecostalism generally traces its roots back to the teachings and experiences of Edward Irving, a Presbyterian Minister in Scotland in the early 1800's. After studying the Book of Acts he began to teach that what the early church experienced was to be normative for the church in his day. He was excommunicated from the Presbyterian Church over his heretical Christological doctrines.(1)

B. On March 28th 1830, a Miss Mary Campbell began to speak in other tongues and claimed she was divinely healed. The following year on October 30th 1831 her sister, Mrs. Cardale also began to speak in tongues and to prophesy.

C. Edward Irving formed his own church called the Catholic Apostolic Church and he soon ordained its first twelve apostles on November 7th, 1832. "He also expounded a detailed teaching on the gifts of the Holy Spirit and gave the whole of his theology an immediacy by his expectation of the immanent second coming of the Lord.(2) He died shortly thereafter, but the movement he started, which became known as "Irvingites."

D. Edward Irving is to be considered among the first true Neo-Montanists due to his beliefs in:

In the restoration of the charismatic gifts, including prophecy

His unwillingness to submit to recognized Church authority regarding his beliefs

His approval of women in ministry (coincidentally, women were the first to prophesy in his movement)

His belief in the also immediate return of Christ, i.e. a strong eschatological emphasis.

Irving was particularly interested in prophecy. He predicted there would be a widespread outpouring of the Holy Spirit and that the Jews would return to their own land. These have both happened in the first half of this century. Irving thought it would be much sooner. He believed the Millennium would commence in 1867.

Obviously, he had a devil, for the Holy Ghost does not give false prophecy.

Irving believed in divine healing and that sickness was caused by sin. Three of his four children died when very young, unattended by physicians. He died of consumption and is interred in the crypt of Glasgow Cathedral.

Letter by Irving about his star diviner and medium, Margaret Macdonald

 

The Strange Experiences of Robert Baxter

Information and all noted quotes are from Forerunner of the Charismatic Movement The Life of Edward Irving, Arnold Dallimore, published by Moody Press, 1983.

Robert Baxter was a lawyer and a member of the Church of England that had been praying for a revival of God's work. Having heard of the manifestations that began in Scottland and moved to London he was anxious to join the experience. When his job next took him to London, August of 1831, he joined the early Sunday morning prayer meeting at Edward Irving's church since the tongues were limited to that service at the time.  At this very first meeting which he attended already "fully convinced that the power was of God," (p.147) he recieved "the gift of prophecy."

Proverbs 22:3 A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished.

He returned to his home and supposedly experienced a deepening of his spiritual life which included periods of ecstasy. He began to read his Bible in a chaotic manner conforming individual verses to his preconceived ideas and finding intructions for his own life in some action in a Biblical narrative.

 2 Peter 1:20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.

He was not much given to tongues himself, but became obsessed with being "in the power" which he believed was the Holy Ghost. He likened the revelations he received to "lightning rooting itself in the earth." He considered these revelations as infallible, and had no power over them. He even went to the point of abandoning the Sunday School class that he was teaching and rushing home that he might receive his instructions for the next day.

1 Corinthians 14:32 And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.

He became very self-centered and gave constant attention to impulses regardless of their contradiction to common sense and the normal reasoning of a lawyer's mind.  He began to interpret unexplainable, as well as explainable, things as miracles.  Arnold Dallimore descirebs his situation thus, "...Baxter's moods were far from steady.  He was often puzzled about divine directions, and his periods of joy sometimes gave way to confusion.  The maintaining of his feelings of euphoria became a main endeavor of his life." (p.150)  This sounds remarkably similar to drug addiction.  He eventually added "the gift of knowledge" to his abilities at a meeting in London and also began preaching.

1 Corinthians 14:33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.

1 Corinthians 13:2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.

 

On Januray 14, 1832 he stated that the "saints of the Lord should go up to meet the Lord in the air" (p. 150) in 1260 days. However, he then repeated the statement several times over the next few months, thus confusing when the exact date would be. Irving, though, accepted the revelation and figured Christ's return would be in 1835 or 1836.  The rapture and the time of Jacob's Trouble were noticeably missing from this revelation.

Baxter had more than one bizarre revelation that he acted upon.  One of these was the totally unscriptural command to leave his wife and family.  The revelation included various and other details.  Part of these were fulfilled but part were not, and much to his confusion and dismay Edward Irving and one of the "gifted ones"  of Irving's church rejected his plan to leave his wife.  He told himself, as he had before, that he had misunderstood the directions.

1 Timothy 5:8 But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.

Irving and Baxter both believed that the "baptism with fire" would also be given which Baxter believed would bring in the healings and signs of the early apostles.  In due time, therefore, he received a revelation that he and his wife would be baptized by fire on the day after the next.  They waited and prayed together for a number of days without receiving it and after his wife gave up he continued himself until he had waited for 6 weeks for this baptism!  He explained away the lack of its' appearance by claiming that it was a figurative baptism of sin being consumed out of the recipiant's soul, rather than a literal cloven tongue as on the day of Pentacost.

1 John 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

By this time he was beginning to have doubts as to the authenticity of the things that were happening. There were three basic reasons why he continued with this delusion at this time. One, the people seemed so spiritual.  Two, Irving taught that doubts regarding the manifestations came from Satan and were to be dealt with as a temptation to sin would be. Three, Irving taught that they were to shut off their minds and not reason.  He said, "We are not a reasoning people." (p.155)  (This sounds remarkably like Rodney Howard-Browne misquoting the Scripture as saying, "The things of the Lord are foolishness to the natural mind ." emphasis added)

Matthew 23:27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.
28 Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.

1 John 4:1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

Isaiah 1:18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD...

Baxter continued to self-impose these things upon himself, but his doubt was growing.  Some of his miracles seemed successful while others were not, and he was having difficulty believing, as Irving taught, that it was the lack of faith in the person that was receiving the miracle that caused this.

He then met a man that shook his faith in his guru. This man pointed out some of Irvings heresies and especially his teaching that Christ had a sinful nature.  Baxter was taken by surprise as he had assumed that Irving was sound and had not bothered to check him out on such things.  He wrote to Irving and received a confirmation of this heresy from the man himself.

Acts 17:11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

 

 

At this point Robert Baxter began to use his mind again.  He reasoned this doctrine out and came to a conclusion that sounds very familiar and pertinant today.  "Christ is first abased towards our sinful condition, and we next are exalted to be put on an eqyality with Him: as though Christ had a work to do in making His own flesh holy, and we are enabled to do the same work and make our flesh holy." (p. 156)  One could almost hear Kenneth Copeland saying, "You are little Christs." He was forced now to realize that the gifts and miracles were not the sign of the approval of the Holy Spirit , as he had thought, since it was impossible for the Spirit of God to approve such heresy.  He now lost his deep fascination with the apparenly miraculous occurances.

As has been already noted, Baxter had taken to mangaling the Scripture to fit his bizarre ideas.  He now began to study them in earnest and to compare what he had been taught with what the Bible actually said and meant.  He lost his self-centeredness and concern about emotional experiences and began to live by faith and the word of God.  He even began to point out the errors in the Irvingite movement including the assasination of the intillect as anti-scriptural and the fact that the so-called prophets would contradict each other while speaking by the professed power of the Holy Ghost.

2 Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

At this time he still thought too highly of Edward Irving, but he continued to grow and to reason out of his former beliefs. Eventually on April 26, 1832, Robert Baxter knocked on Irving's door and told him to his face that the so-called gifts that were manifested were all a grand delusion and in 1883 he published his testimony and observations in a treatise entitled:

NARRATIVE OF FACTS

Characterizing the

SUPERNATURAL MANIFESTATIONS

in

MEMEBERS OF MR. IRVING'S CONGREGATION

And Other Individuals In England and Scottland

and

FORMERLY IN THE WRITER HIMSELF

by

ROBERT BAXTER

Arnold Dallimore ends his chapter on Baxter with some very interesting observations regarding Baxter's conclusions and a quote from Baxter himslef.  We read on p. 158, "...As the weeks passed and as he wrote out the several factors that influenced his thinking, he came to a definite conviction concerning the whole matter.  It was that the various manifestaions, despite certain inexplicable features, arose either from psychic activity or from the working of Satan -- an attempt he suggested, by the devil to discredit the true work of God -- and he looked upon the entire developement as 'a grand delusion.'

"Moreover, he saw as an error the kind of Christian life that is ever seeking spiritual novelties and that places high emotionalism ahead of biblical understanding.  Indeed, more than once he expressed his sorrow concerning the months he had wasted, saying for instance:

"'Oh! the deep subtility -- the hollowness of our hearts -- the awful justice of our God, who, because of the craving after something more than the gentle dew of the Spirit, gave us indeed meat to our lust, by leaving us under a spiritual power, which was supernatural and sweet to the taste, but afterwards wormwood and ashes.

"' Surely we have so much of glorious revelation made plain to us, that we can feed upon it in peace and patience...and need not to cultivate an unhealthy appetite after crude and novel views, in which we can neither find rest nor edification.'"

Hebrews 13:9 Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein.

Isaiah 32:17 And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.

--by Mary Van Nattan

 

 

Modern Roots: The 1901 Apostasy:

John Alexander Dowie

  1. Like Irving, Dowie was a minister from the same area. He was originally a Congregational Pastor, who subsequently left his denomination and formed his own called the "Christian Catholic Church." (Burgess, McGee, Alexander, Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements, Zondervan Publishing House, 1988, pg. 249)
  2. In 1901 he began to build a city of righteousness outside of Chicago which he named Zion.
  3. He believed that he was the first restored apostle to The Church, and later came to believe he was the prophet Elijah, the restorer, sent to pave the way for the return of Christ which he too believed was immanent.
  4. He taught that the Church would be fully restored to apostolic authority and power.
  5. His beliefs coupled with those of Edward Irving formed the initial platform for the rapid spread of Neo-Montanist beliefs which were to soon be launched globally.

Azusa Street Mission

  • William Seymour had been taught about receiving the baptism with the Holy Ghost,
    (i.e. the gift of speaking in other tongues) by Charles Fox Parham in Kansas.
  • Parham had a small Bible school in which he taught the need for a restoration of
    New Testament
    Christianity based on the model shown in the book of Acts.
  • In 1901, a woman, names Agnes Ozman was the first recorded tongue-talking Pentecostal
    in American Church history, and William Seymour received the baptism at some point while at Bible school under Parham.
  • Seymour went to Los Angeles and began to preach about the Holy Spirit baptism in a barn/warehouse on Azusa.

 

What Eyewitness said about the Azusa Street Mission
All these men are respected Bible scholars

G. Campbell Morgan described the Azusa Street activities as

"the last vomit of Satan." ("From Holy Laughter to Holy Fire" by Michael L. Brown, pages 197&198)

R.A. Torrey declared that this new Pentecostal movement was

emphatically not of God, and founded by a Sodomite." ("From Holy Laughter to Holy Fire" by Michael L. Brown, pages 197&198)

H. A. Ironside said in 1912 AD both the holiness and Pentecostal movements were

disgusting. . .delusions and insanities." ... "pandemonium's where exhibitions worthy of a madhouse or a collection of howling dervishes," were causing a " heavy toll of lunacy and infidelity." ("From Holy Laughter to Holy Fire" by Michael L. Brown, pages 197&198)

W.B. Godbey said of the Azusa Street participants and he claimed the movement was the result of spiritualism.

Satan's preachers, jugglers, necromancers, enchanters, magicians, and all sorts or mendicant," ("From Holy Laughter to Holy Fire" by Michael L. Brown, pages 197&198)

Clarence Larkin

But the conduct of those possessed, in which they fall to the ground and writhe in contortions, causing disarrangement's of the clothing and disgraceful scenes, is more a characteristic of demon possession, than a work of the Holy Spirit. From what has been said we see that we are living in "Perilous Times," and that all about us are "Seducing Spirits," and that they will become more active as the Dispensation draws to its close, and that we must exert the greatest care lest we be led astra." ("From Holy Laughter to Holy Fire" by Michael L. Brown, pages 197&198)

These 5 well trained theologians were alive and active when the "Azusa Revival" began and they were well informed and had firsthand knowledge. Why is their testimony disregarded and the testimony of Biblically uneducated people accepted?

 

 

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