Monday, May 6, 2013

Caught in the Rain - Part I


After my departure from an association of churches that were direct descendants of the Latter Rain movement, I spent a great dealt of time researching the movement to understand exactly where this movement originated and what it has influenced since its inception in 1948. Below is the first part of that study. All bibliographical references are included for your own personal research and to 'check up on me'. The hope is that from this series presented, you the reader will understand perhaps the roots of the issues you may be experiencing from perhaps being a member of a Latter Rain church or one of its spawned 'children' For the most part, as Jesus said in Mt. 7:15-23, we are to be aware of those who come to us in sheep's clothing and we are to especially look to the fruits of the tree if we are to determine if it is a 'good' or 'bad' tree. 

In essence, if you have ever been in an unfamiliar place, the first thing you do is look for a 'You are Here' map to gain orientation on where you are. Well, take the below as the first part of that map. I may answer some of the questions that you have concerning where your church came from and where did it get its doctrines from historically. What you will see is a tragic story unfold from Latter Rain and the many 'children' (other movements) that it birthed from that time that has devastated the churchscape over the last sixty-five years. Moreover you will see the roots of Latter Rain were manifested in its fruit - the doctrines.

I and my family were "Caught in the Rain" and most still are. It is my prayer that you, the reader, may use this series to gain orientation, perspective and the courage to take the next steps to come out from 'The Rain'. 

Caught in the Rain


I have been the founding pastor since 1990 in a Latter Rain Church that has direct ties to the original roots of the “New order of Latter Rain” that originated at the Sharon Orphanage, Saskatchewan, Canada in 1948. In this time, I have come to the point that I believe the very fundamentals of this movement need to be re-assessed. I hope to in this paper address this movement in three parts:

  1. Origins of Latter Rain – A brief historical assessment of leaders that were key to the movement from the very point of its inception.
  2. Life cycle of Latter Rain – This section will detail the movement of Latter Rain into the Charismatic Movement that began during the 1960’s and then continue to the present time. What will be discussed and briefly outlined are key teachings within the Latter Rain arena of churches and how these teachings have continued to impact the Church at large.
  3. Current State of the Rain – This will be done to assess the penetration of Latter Rain into mainstream Christianity in terms of its doctrines and practices.

At the conclusion of the above, I hope to do personal inventory, a baring of the soul if you will, as to my personal journey through the caverns of Latter Rain into where I stand today.

I. Origins of Latter Rain

At the outset, to put a time period on Latter Rain as a major movement (although that itself needs to be couched in the perspective of History itself) occurred between the years of 1946 to about 1970. While there is room for debate on this time frame, I believe it is a very soft timeframe that allows for the entry and exit of the major founders and proponents of Latter Rain.

In the beginning of the movement of Latter Rain, it was post World War II and there was a spiritual dearth in the denominational ranks of Pentecostalism formally (Assemblies of God, Church of God (Cleveland TN, etc). The fires set by the Azusa Street Revival had become mere embers and for the most part the Pentecostal world was looking back to recapture the fire while there were others that were looking for God to do  “something new”.  The  major scripture used was Is 43:18,19 in which the Lord was referenced as doing a new thing. This phrase became the battle cry of Latter Rain and is still a major theme with the post Latter Rain movements such as the Toronto Experience, The Discipleship Movement of the 1980’s, The Tabernacle of David movement of the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. [1]  To be more specific about the Origins of Latter Rain, the very roots of the movement can be traced back to the following leaders:

William Branham – (1909 -1965) – the following quote does indeed summarize the life of Branham: “Mystery, conundrum, enigma – the words all apply to William Marrion Branham. [2] Branham received an angelic visitation in his own words he received direction that would catapult him into much fame and controversy for his unorthodox teachings and practices. When the angel visited him, the angel told him

Fear not, I am sent from the presence of Almighty God to tell you that your peculiar life and your misunderstood ways have been to indicate that God has sent you to take a gift of divine healing to peoples of the world. IF YOU WILL BE SINCERE, AND CAN GET THE PEOPLE TO BELIEVE YOU, NOTHING SHALL STAND BEFORE YOUR PRAYER, NOT EVEN CANCER (the emphasis is His)”[3]
Branham is noted for his ability to discern sin and disease in his subject almost with uncanny and other-worldly precision. He was the first to practice the laying of on hands for healing and deliverance – he was the pioneer in the concept that demonic presence could cause physical sickness. In all instances the common procedure Branham followed were what he called the ‘three pulls’. These directions were from his angel that would use this procedure to direct Branham in what to do regarding the subject. To detail the pulls’ ( much like the tug of a fish on a line to indicate movement and presence):

  1. First pull – This was manifested by a shaking in Branham’s hands so as to indicate to him that the angel was present and was going to provide direction for him regarding some subject. It usually occurred when Branham would take the hand of his subject. The discernment at this time would be to target the ‘spirit’ that was the source of the illness or malady.
  2. Second pull – was the revelation of what exactly the problem or disease was and the cause of it. Here Branham shined the most in that it was his believe that if he could by this second pull build the faith of the individual that God could heal them through Branham’s confirmation of the illness, then the subject would be more open to receive the healing. Many times the secnd pull would occur as his subject approached him.
  3. Third Pull – was perhaps the most enigmatic because it was the very presence of the angel and their direction to Branham. Although he never talked about this in a consistent manner but he always stressed his reliance upon the angel for direction and how to proceed. He never veered from this stance and position regarding his angel. [4]

Branham died in a car accident in 1965.

Franklin Hall (1907-1993) –  Along with Branham, Hall was a major influence on Latter Rain. Hall preceded it by as much as ten years given he was a traveling evangelist during the Great Depression and World War II. His major contribution to Latter Rain was in his teachings about fasting in his book The Atomic Power With God Through Fasting and Prayer.  This book was cited by Hawtin and the North Battleford brethren as the catalyst that ushered in Latter Rain. Hall’s teaching included, as Branham the laying of hands. Hall taught that the Baptism of Fire from which a believer once received through the laying on of hands would ultimately result in their immortalization.[5]  Ern Hawtin (George’s brother and co-worker) cites the major influence this book had upon Latter Rain in its early stages:

“The truth of fasting was one great contributing factor to the revival [sic Latter Rain]. One year before this we had read Franklin Hall’s book entitled “Atomic Power with God through Fasting and Prayer.” We immediately began to practice fasting. Previously we had not understood long fasts. The revival would never have been possible without the restoration of this great truth through our brother Hall.”[6]

Hall was at the very least a very controversial figure and there is evidence from the tracts that he wrote. In one instance, he taught that the filling of the Holy Spirit changed the physical makeup of the subject that could lead to immortality. There is also some evidence that Hall referred to astrology (as did Branham) in many of his teachings.  Through his works, Oral Roberts, Kenneth Hagin, A.A. Allen and W.V. Grant were practitioners of his teachings on fasting.

George Hawtin (1909-1994) -  Along with his brother Ern,  Hawtin was a key leader of the “New Order of Latter Rain.” They were principles in the founding of  Bethel Bible Institute that was a part of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada (PAOC). The Hawtins resigned from the PAOC and joined with Herrick Holt of North Battleford, Saskatchewan to help in the work of Sharon Orphanage and Schools. Along with seventy students of Bethel they worked together in the fledgling ministry.  It was shortly after the joining, several of the North Battleford brethren attended a healing-evangelism service of Branham’s. In Hawtin’s words later published in the Sharon Star, a periodical of the North Battleford work, Hawtin was inspired by the power of Branham’s gifts and enablements:

“The Branham Campaign in Vancouver, B.C. was a great success. Your editor {sic Hawtin} was privileged to attend and give his report below.It is now becoming well known that Rev. Branham has the supernatural gift of healing. Never in my life have I seen anything to equal what I saw in Vancouver. The meetings were held in the Exhibition Garden, a building seating possibly between two and five thousand people…His sermons have the effect of inspiring faith in his hearers..I saw the deaf receive their hearing. I heard the dumb speak…I saw a goiter vanish…I came home from those meeting realizing as never before that the real gifts of the holy Spirit are far mightier than anything we have imagined in our wildest dreams..”

Hawtin continued to direct the group a Sharon towards the move of God of which they had been hungering. On Febraury 12,1948, the ‘outpouring of the Latter Rain’ began. His Brother Ern recounts the meeting where the glory fell:

“I shall never forget the morning that God moved into our midst in this strange new manner. Some students were under the power of God on the floor, others were kneeling in adoration and worship before the Lord.the anointing deepened until the awe of God was upon everyone. The Lord spoke to one of the brethren “Go and lay hands upon a certain student and pray for him.” While he was in doubtand contemplation of the sisters who had been under the power of god went to the brother saying the same words, and naming the identical student he was to pray for. He went in obedience and a revelation was given concerning the student’s life and future ministry. After this a long prophecy was givenwith minute details concerning the great thing God was about to do…”These are the last days my people. The coming of the Lord draweth nigh, and I shall move in the midst of mine own. The gifts of the Spirit will be restored to my church. If thou shalt obey me, I will immediately restore them..If thou dost not reverence the Lord and his house, the Lord shall require it at thy hands. Do not speak lightly of the things I am about to do for the lord shall not hold thee guiltless. Do not gossip about these things. Do not write letters to thy nearest friends for they will not understand. If thou disobey the Lord in these things take heed lest thy days be numbered in sorrow and thou goest early to the grave…I shall indicate from time to time those who are to receive the gifts of my Spirit. They shall be received by prophecy and the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.” [7]

This pattern of laying on of hands and prophecy would become a watermark of the New Order of the Latter Rain. It is directly influenced from the principles instituted by William Branham and Franklin Hall regarding the laying on of hands for healing and impartation. Soon this presbytery consisting of seven men from North Battleford were a traveling group of ministries. While the New testament ministry of prophet is cited, James Watt who recounted his personal experience and analysis of this type of ministry in his paper entitled “Historical Analysis of the development of Two Concepts of ‘Presbytery’” . He comments:

“the role of the travelling presbytery as initiated by North Battleford brethren is not God’s ideal, neither is it the scriptural pattern. One verse alone in the Bible refers to a New Testament presbytery (I Tim 4:14), and this does not necessarily refer to a travelling presbytery coming into a local church within a city..”[8]

This pattern of traveling prophets would be replicated many times over during the subsequent decades and from Watts’ own assessment, to be honest had little scriptural grounds given no authority and accountability was enforced or even feasible. This lead to many of the excesses of prophecy experienced by many during the following years up to the present that has damaged many lives and set back the faith of many. While this is not replicated in all Latter Rain off-shoots, a few of the remnants have a great deal of balance and responsibility when it comes to ministry at this level in terms of accountability. However to the church at large, it has tainted these types of ministries as a first and lasting perception. At this time, the idea of the speciality of the North Battleford brethren as being the vanguard of the ‘new thing’ was evidenced and was soon to birth some fruit that was not at all good. The mindset was ‘if it did not originate with North Battleford, it was not valid.’ This type of mindset was to pervade much of the Latter Rain influenced and source churches in the decades that followed up to the present day.

Hawtin had further revelation in addition to the initial revelation of laying on of hands and the presbytery, Hawtin in the Sharon Star June edition 1948 stated:

“When one starts talking about prophets and apostles being in the Church in our day, the poor saints are shocked in holy terror and cry, ‘heresy! Heresy!’ Now MY BIBLE SAYS: “GOD HAS SET SOME in the church, FIRST APOSTLES, SECONDARILY PROPHETS, THIRDLY TEACHERS, after that miracles and gifts of healings, etc.”

This is a classic example of eisgesis that was to be so prevalent in the Latter Rain and Charismatic movements (Tabernacle of David, The Discipleship Movement, Signs and Wonders, etc.). Improper perspective and inaccurate hermeneutics play into the misapplication of orthodoxy. As such, divisions began to appear between the followers of Latter Rain ‘doctrine’ and those that originated from movements that preceded them. A growing estrangement of the North Battleford brethren from some of their closer associations such as the denominational arm of the Pentecostal movements birthed through the Azusa Street Revival of 1906 began to occur. Riss also commented that the exercise of authority by the travelling presbytery from North Battleford over local churches was what later would be called into question. [9] The main point being that Latter Rain stressed the lack of rights of any church to exercise authority over another church. In this the North Battleford had violated one of their principles. Given this was the beginning of the restoration of the office of the apostle and other parachurch type ministries as referenced in the Bible, this confusion is understood but it must be stated that it set into motion misuse of offices of ministries that would follow the patterns originating from the North Battleford brethren from that point forward. However this is yet another example of eisgesis that sourced from Latter Rain.  

There were a series of revelations that Hawtin and the North Battleford Brethren received. These revelations continued to set the tone and spirit of the New Order of Latter Rain to which most that would directly follow would embrace:

1.       Singing in the Holy Spirit/Song of the Lord: Hawtin describes it as follows

“We have heard vague rumors of the so-called Heavenly Choir in association with the outpouring of the Spirit which occurred around the turn of the century and have longed to hear it. But having heard it we must confess that it completely beggars not only description but also in large part both appreciated and understanding…A deep consciousness of the Spirit of Worship and Song always pervades the meeting as prelude to the choir….The most outstanding thing about it is the amazingly complicated depth of harmony…There is such a perfect order and timing as the mighty chords swell and roll that one is forced to concede that there is an unseen conductor”[10]

This manifestation would be a hallmark of true Latter Rain churches and set them as distinctively different than other variants. While some today have roots to Latter Rain, the ‘Song of the Lord’ is a direct characteristic of that which originated in North Battleford and soon spread to many Pentecostal denominations through out Canada, the United States and other parts of the world.

  1. Manifestation of the Sons of God: This teaching is sourced in the works of George Warnock in his work The Feast of Tabernacles (see below).  James Watt briefly affiliated with the North Battleford brethren once embraced this doctrine, in an article in the Sharon Star (the publication of the North Battleford brethren – April 1949 issue), Watts describes the major tenets and intent of this doctrine:

“A second Pentecost occurred in the Bible school at Edmonton, Alta., While classes were in session as usual, suddenly, without warning, a mighty wind swept through the building. Brother Crane was standing teaching the class and was almost swept off his feet. The Spirit fell simultaneously upon the whole school and all began to prophesy together. This great demonstration was accompanied by a vision of the Manifestation of the Sons of God in the last days of this dispensation. This mighty army was seen conquering all before it. Sickness and disease were vanishing, and all evil spirits were seen scattered before the triumphant power of God’s people”[11]

In the following months (August 1949), R.E. McAlister’s periodical, The Truth Advocate: this was a major publication of the Oneness movement that was the first break with the denominations  spawned from the Azusa Street revival of 1906. McAlister was one of originators of the theology surrounding the baptismal formula of baptism in Jesus’ name which would be the defining point of the Oneness movement and the basic tenet of their theology. McAlister comments on the Edmonton experience:

“Spiritualistic trends were evident in the doctrine of the ‘manifestation of the Sons of God.’ The doctrine originated from the predictive prophesyings of Rev. E. Crane of the Northwest Bible Institute in Edmonton (sic this event occurred after the North Battleford brethren held a series of meeting ins Edmonton to spread the truth of Latter Rain earlier that year(Oct 1948)). He believed that he had seen a vision of the victorious saints as a mighty army…His entire class was affected by his belief and soon there grew the doctrine that the ‘elect’ would receive redemptive bodies here and now and that any person who died had not been able to ‘appropriate the redemption body” and was therefore not one of the “overcomers.” In the final analysis, to be an “overcomer” meant affiliation with the Sharon Group (sic North Battleford brethren). Affiliation alone was believed to give hope of ‘manifestation’.”[12]

While there are many variants of this teaching the common element among them is exclusivity. It is believed that only a handful of believers out of the multitude of Christendom will be those who receive this ‘Sonship’ and so rule and reign with Christ in eternity. This characteristic of exclusivity among Latter Rain churches is also an earmark of distinction. It is quite rare that Latter Rain churches in general fellowship outside of their circle of churches who do not hold the same tenets as it does.

Hawtin would later reflect on the growing sectarian spirit of the North Battleford brethren began to manifest during the first few years of Latter Rain. By 1960, Hawtin and his brother Ern had left (Ern left in  1953) the Movement. It was said that Hawtin was excommunicated from the leadership in 1960. This ‘sectarian spirit’ would come to show itself in subsequent movements during the following years and is worth reviewing because it’s characteristics seem manifested in some of the off-shoots of Latter Rain that would persist up to the present time:

“ I look sadly in retrospect now, I can see with clearness that the great and blessed move of God was not two years old before the sectarian spirit began to show its ugly head…it is true that we vociferously denied that we had become a sect…
  1. there was to be no fellowship with anybody who was not within the confines of our ever narrowing circle. We were the true church. We were the elect. We stood on the foundation and all other men stood on sinking sand.
  2. No man cast out a devil unless he followed us.
  3. No teaching was worth the time it took to tell unless it originated with us.
  4. We were the most spiritual people in the world.
  5. We were going to reign in the kingdom and even now were beginning to reign.
  6. We had the gifts of the Spirit, and we were going to “call the shots” in the tribulation.

But we did not know that like Ephesus we had lost our first love, and must repent and do the first works over again…”[13]

During the turbulent and glorious years of  the high water mark of Latter Rain and the North Battleford brethren’s influence, the position of Hawtin and company were vaulted perhaps to an extreme. In Hawtin’s own words, the tragedy of pride and sectarianism entered into the North Battleford brethren and unfortunately in most of those who carried Latter Rain into this present century, the same characteristics that mark the passing of those who themselves alleged moved in the vanguard of the Spirit to be relegated to the side show of self importance and elitism. At the end of life, Hawtin no doubt reflected on the mistakes made and did repent of what was proposed to be the glory of the presence of God marred by the intervention of those who once held the oracles of God. In the twilight of most great movements, the pattern above in church history is so often repeated.

George Warnock  (1917-?) Penned the book The Feast of Tabernacles (1951), that became the field manual for Latter Rain as it concerned the doctrine of the ‘Manifestation of the Sons of God.’ Historically, Warnock had been earlier associated with Ern Baxter as secretary for William Branham during the mid-1940’s prior to his association with the North Battleford brethren. Warnock cites in his personal biography (see the link below), that his work on the feasts was a direct result of James Watt’s teachings during the Sharon Camp Meeting of July 1948 that the last Feast of Tabernacles “was not yet been fulfilled.” [14] Warnock had reflected later on that event and how it worked in him to write the book:

“I somehow never forgot that, and over the period of a year more following this, the message seemed to grow on me as I read the scriptures…James [sic Watt] certainly dropped a seed in my heart when he spoke of the feast of Tabernacles…as something yet to be fulfilled came as something new…and it grew on me for months. It was probably at least a year, or a year and a half before I ministered on it…and then in the spring of ’51 I felt to put it in print, for distribution at our forthcoming camp”[15]

This teaching would be also the formulation of the final exodus of the church from denominationalism and that the structure of the church would more reflect the model of the New Testament  which was Apostolic in nature. The idea and concept of the Body of Christ being universal and that there were no real lines of division in the true body of Christ would finally culminate with the impact of Latter Rain upon the Church at large. A new age would be ushered in where the church would return to unity under the leadership of the Holy Spirit through the foundation of modern-day Apostles and Prophets. This was crucial to the Latter Rain movement that believed that Jesus’ return was imminent and that the church structure and form must reflect the biblical model in order to confirm the end of days. Reg Layzell, referred to as the Apostle of Latter Rain, comments on this coming unity in the body of Christ in which Manifestation of the Sons of God was an integral part after the July 1948 Sharon Camp meeting:

“In the Spirit and by the Spirit, God taught us many things – some we did not know and had not heard before…The great message that stirred all our souls was the first message of the Body of Christ coming together….We could see, by faith, the prayer of Jesus in John 17:21 being fulfilled. At last the world would see unity so it could believe”[16]

Warnock cites in his work Feast of Tabrnacles about this:

“…in the spring of 1948 God came forth in answer to prayer and fasting of his children, poured out the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and revealed the fact that now at this time He would bring His body together, and make His Church one glorious church without spot of wrinkle” [17]

This thought and effort was the impetus of the rest of the work that detailed the end time realities as the Latter Rain proponents would view it and from which the major movements within the subsequent Charismatic movement would source some of its own concepts of proper discipleship, church discipline, five-fold ministries, Kingdom dominion in the socio-political arena and church government. The concept of an elite corps of men and women called to lead the church into the future and to which the ordinary and every day member would look to for spiritual guidance, direction and even as far as spiritual absolution would follow in the off-shoots of Latter Rain.  Warnock said in the work:

"Now we can understand how the overcomer in the Day of the Lord, when Great Tribulation is upon the earth, will be able to administer help and comfort and sustenance to God's people who are under oppression and persecution [WHICH THESE BELIEVERS WON'T BE UNDER!!] The Great Tribulation itself is going to be cut short because of the Sons of God. . .so the Sons of God, through the exercise of their royal priesthood, shall actually shorten the Great Tribulation. Jesus has declared that they would: 'For the elect's sake those days shall be shortened." (Matt.24:22) The elect will have entered into a new priesthood, a royal priesthood. As priests, they will be able to present the needs of the people to God, and intercede for them; and as kings they will have the authority of God to dispense life and blessing to such as are in tribulation and distress. The world has had her day of kings and dictators. . .This new kingdom shall be a Priesthood;--a priesthood that "can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that out of the way," for they will remember their former afflictions. . .They shall not have forgotten that they too were once sinners, defiled in His sight, and poured out their complaints to God in bitterness of their sorrow. And therefore they shall reign as priests, co-heirs with the Son in the Kingdom of Grace." [18]
In some form of fashion, from the extreme to the moderate, this doctrine is a major indicator of a Latter Rain church – the interjection of Apostolic leadership between the believer and Christ to guide, intercede, encourage and facilitate maturity – this was the shining glory of the Manifestation of the Sons. The glimmer would soon fade into the acquisition of power through the new found authority and so the stage was set for the coming abuses of ultimate power as they have always occurred in church history when present.

When the flurry of those first few years was beginning to wane, Warnock commented in his biography the same sentiments as James Watt and George Hawtin on the North Battleford brethren and thus the fount of Latter Rain:

“But after a few years I was becoming more and more aware that the Spirit of God no longer hovered over us as He once did. Several others felt the same way. God forbid that I should attach any blame to anyone…He alone is the Judge. Perhaps all of us who were involved, were responsible in one way or another, for causing the Holy Dove of God’s Spirit to be grieved. I knew I must leave…but I never lost confidence in what God had done, and would yet do…when a new generation would earnestly seek the Lord to come again, and set up His habitation in the midst of His people.”[19]
Warnock later left the ministry of North Battleford and moved to California for a period of years before returning to Canada.
James Watt   One of the key figures of the North Battleford brethren. It was under one of the meetings that Watt was preaching that the Song of the Lord/Singing in the Spirit was initiated. Watt was influential and seminal on his teachings that influenced and inspired George Warnock to pen Feast of Tabernacles.  Watt became associated with Latter Rain very early on. He is well known by his association with Ern Baxter during the 1960’s and during that time (1967) he received a revelation from God on the need for foundational teaching based on Hebrews 6:1-2. This turned into a 4000 page document that was written by a team of 40 people and whose final fruit was a set of teachings that were expository in nature on the foundations of Christ as outlined in the aforementioned scriptures.[20] This type of foundational teaching referencing Heb. 6:1-2 became a  distinctive feature of Latter Rain churches from the 1960’s on. Authors who penned like works were: Pat Gruits, James Beall and Ern Baxter. Watt was a zealot when it came to the North Battleford teaching but after the embracing of North Battleford of the Manifestation of the Sons, Watt began to pull away. Initially, Watt embraced the teaching, in December 1948 in an article in the Sharon Star he said:
“Fast and pray over God’s word and you will receive of the manna of heaven. The feast of Tabernaclesis upon us. Now are the living waters, the rivers of living water of John 7:37-39, about to be outpoured through the church. Jerusalem is about to be made a praise in the earth, and the waters of Zech. 14:8 are about to flow. Prepare your hearts. Break up the fallow ground. Now cometh the day of the manifestation of the Sons of God”[21]
Very soon after this article, Watt become disturbed by this teaching and commented as follows on it:
“When he observed that the teaching, revelation and practice was starting to clearly depart from the standards of the Word of God, he challenged the leaders. When the leaders continued to promote an extreme position on the manifestation of the Sons of God, and continued to accept revelation and prophecy without carefully balancing it with the written word, the writer[sic Watt] withdrew…”[22]
Watt recognized the eisgesis occurring and so turned back the Bible to gain focus and perspective on this ‘new thing’ or revelation. He later withdrew from the Latter Rain movement proper and yet practiced and initiated many of the precepts of Latter Rain in his later years – especially as it concerned the use of revelation to propel ministries and lives of those who received it.
Myrtle Beall – During the Latter rain outpouring, Myrtle Beall travelled to meetings held by the North Battleford brethren at the request of Reg Layzell. During these meetings, the Song of the Lord and many other manifestions were recorded. For example, missionaries to be sent to China requested to be given the gift of tongues in that region to where they were going. Hands were laid on them and they were said to have received usage of that language. While this later proved to be false, events and happenings during the meetings did  spark excitement amongst those who attended. M.D. Beall comments[23]:
“My heart was longing for God and for a manifestation of the Gifts of the Spirit to be operating in our church. God made a way for me to come to the convention…Upon our arrival here, we certainly found, like the Queen of Sheba, that half was never told. God met us here in a wonderful way and imparted unto us by the laying on of hands and prophecy, the Gifts we always felt we sorely needed in carrying on God’s work for Him…May God bless the Hawtin party and keep them faithful to the great work whereunto God has called them.”[24]
Once returning from these meetings, M.D. Beall held meetings at Bethesda Temple in which many ministers within and without the Assemblies of God came and were deeply influenced by them. Bethesda Temple would become a major ‘Armory’ of ministries that would come forth from it in the decades that followed. Controversy was sparked within the Assemblies of God from these meetings and their impact on several churches within the denomination. Eventually, as a result of these meetings and their influence on the denomination, there was a formal addressing of the New Order of Latter Rain that was initiated by The Main Office of the Assemblies of God in 1956. In this address the major tenets of Latter Rain were addressed as heresy. As a result of that action, many churches who were formally of the Assemblies of God left the denomination including Bethesda Temple.
Bill BrittonDuring the outpouring in 1948, Bill Britton was a student at Central Bible Institute in Springfield, Mo. This is cited in Riss as evidence that the outpouring was not isolated to the North Battleford brethren but had been manifested elsewhere. Britton comments:
“In 1948, in the fall, there was a glorious revival. It struck across the country and in various places – an outpouring of the Spirit. It hit our school…and for a week or so there was a tremendous move of the Spirit upon the students there. At the same time, it was happening to another Bible school up in Canada, unknown to us...God was moving in a sovereign way and they just let Him move.”[25]
Britton became involved in latter Rain and the subsequent Charismatic Movement. He was known as the ‘Prophet on Wheels’. Much of his teachings were controversial as they focused on Christian Maturity and deeper teaching on the types and shadows of the Old Testament as key to deeper truth. He was a major proponent of the Manifestation of the Sons of God doctrine although it is stated that many took his teachings and extended them to extremes. One thing can be noted about Britton, he was very allegorical in his teaching (e.g. The Harness of the Lord) and heavily used types and metaphors to teach deeper truth. This kind of teaching is not new to the church but is very prevalent in Latter Rain churches for the most part. Revelation on the true meaning of certain scriptures and doctrines in order to extend them into a fuller revelation is standard in Latter Rain churches. Usually the leadership brings the deeper meaning that is embraced by the congregants and for the most part, revelation and its proper interpretation and application is limited to the top echelons.  It is also common that some revelations cannot be seen by congregants who have not yet achieved the spirituality required for the revelations to be understood. This is its bondage and yet ironically it’s further seduction.
Section Summary
With the leadership of these above and the origins of Latter Rain traced to it’s roots, what can be said about latter rain is that as a movement the following tenets can be extracted:
1.       The practice of laying on of hands to be filled with the Holy Spirit (with the evidence of speaking in other tongues). However, this is not totally a characteristic of latter Rain churches but in some extreme elements of the Pentecostal element within the Body of Christ.
2.       The practice of laying on of hands to impart spiritual gifts other than tongues.
3.       The belief that God has now restored all the ministry gifts back to the Church, especially the office of the prophet and apostle {this is where today's prophetic/apostolic move comes from}. This will form the government in the coming church period before the end of days occurs. In very extreme circles, this leadership will assess and rule on the spiritual condition and state of salvation  and conversion of those under their charge.
4.       The concept of the restoration of the Tabernacle of David. Praise & Worship emphasized as a means to usher (1) in God's presence and (2) to usher God's people into His presence.
5.       Singing in the spirit congregationally, i.e. in other tongues
6.       The "song of the Lord" a prophetic song or one in other tongues but interpreted
7.       Emphasis on personal and directive prophecy.
8.       Women have a full and equal ministry role in the Church, i.e. women pastors, prophetesses, elders, etc.
9.       While varying in degree and content, the main theme is that God will raise out of the nominal  church (even within the particular church itself) a company of sons (Bride Company, Remnant, Elijah’s army, Joel’s army, etc) that will come to rule and reign with Christ during his millennial reign and through out eternity. In extreme cases, the doctrine can go to the limit that only this company of ‘sons’ will dwell within the ‘New Jerusalem’ all others not of that company will not be allowed within the Heavenly Jerusalem but will dwell outside the walls.
The fruit of latter rain has influenced current Christianity significantly. What extensions from latter rain teaching can be traced back to it are as follows:
1.       The five-fold ministry as forms of government – what can be said about this is that from the Latter Rain position of the independence of local churches at the inception, there are many Latter Rain organizations that through the offices of the five-fold ministry become para-church in nature. While this does not necessarily mean denominationalism, it is a veer from the original Latter Rain teachings. In Riss’ work, he recounts the model adopted by the North Battleford brethren as that of the Independent Assemblies of God as addressed by A.W. Rasmussen:
“I have diligently searched the scriptures to see if there was any organization instituted by the Apostles beyond and above the local church. I have been unable to find it. On the other hand the order of the local church is clearly taught. For example: the first new testament church was instituted in Jersualem with a membership and they in turn had leaders and deacons that took oversight of the flock. This pattern the Apostles followed in establishing churches in every place throughout the Apostolic Age.”[26]
While the oversight by external ministries is not clearly mentioned in this text. It did evolve as the movement took shape. In essence, Latter Rain churches for the most part remain independent which has accounted for their demise in recent years. It is quite common that usually when the leadership passes on, the church of which they founded does so as well. This would account for the lack of resilience of latter rain churches that can directly link themselves back to the North Battleford brethren. It is ironic and yet prophetic that by patterning themselves after the early church – as they envision it – they too go the same way. The hope for these churches is the impending coming of the Lord and so in this vein they hold the congregation focused and in states of readiness and further refinement of their doctrine and form of truth yet the numbers continue to dwindle. A good pattern in history to look at for this is the Irvingites of the 19th century who were Apostolic in nature. While there could be a modern application of the restoration of these ministries (Apostle and Prophet) to the 21st Century church, there is an absence of historical precedent for it by the 2nd century. The point being if there was a continuation of the ministry in the church of especially the Apostle, why were there no provisions made for it by either the apostles themselves or those to whom they chose to succeed them. The only church that claims any form of Apostolic succession is the Catholic church.  Bob DeWaay comments on the lack of historicity of the continuation of the office of the Apostle:
By 97 AD, the authorities in the church were not apostles and prophets, but elders who had been appointed according to the standards lain down by the apostles. Those who claim that God always intended there to be authoritative apostles in the church who give binding revelation ignore the fact that the apostles themselves never anticipated that they would have successors and gave no instructions for the qualifications of any such successors. But they did provide qualifications for elders, and these would apply to future generations”[27]
The question must be addressed by those who hold such offices;the requirements are to say the least daunting:
1>     They must receive a personal charge from the Lord. (Mt 28:19, Mk 16:15,Acts 1:8, Acts 9:4-6,15, Acts 10:42, Acts 13:2)
2>     They must be an eye-witness to the physical resurrection of Christ. (,Act 2:32, Acts 3;15, Acts 4:13, Acts 4:19-20, Acts 9:4-6, Acts 10:34-44)
3>     They must demonstrate the power and authority of an Apostle consistently. ( Acts 3:6,Acts 4:27-33, Acts 5:12, Acts 8:17, Acts 9:40-41, Act 10:34-44
4>     They must preach the gospel of Christ and that must be the priority of their teaching. Acts 2, Acts 3:12, Acts 4:8-12, 27:33, Acts 5:20-25, Acts 10:34-44,Acts 13:15-42
5>     They must only repeat the revelation as revealed in the scriptures, any extension, extrapolation or trajectory on the revelations and teachings of the first century apostles is not possible. Acts 4:20, Acts 5:20-25, Acts 9:19-20, Acts 10:34-44
6>     They must at all times demonstrate the characteristics and integrity of such a level of the ministry, even to their own detriment, livelihood and personal safety. Acts 5:41, Acts 9:24-25

There was only one Apostle that did not die a martyr’s death and that is debatable since he died in exile on the island of Patmos -- an exclusive group indeed. Does the modern day church require the caliber of such men? Absolutely, if we do not have them in a physical material sense, we at the very least have the next best thing, their words. Can these words of those so long passed be used in the context of the often touted scripture Eph 4:11-16, very much so and they are perhaps the only concrete and real application that can be made. It is in this way the church can surely build upon the original foundation of the apostles and prophets – their words and so their ministry. Some would argue that there are ‘lesser apostles’ and the comparison to the first century apostle of the stature of the twelve or Paul is not fair or even applicable. To this it must be answered that they were by the words of Paul, apostles and so have his – Paul’s -- own requirements recognized by default. This is the ‘bar’ set by the Apostle himself. Let those who claim to be such, measure and compare to requirements as identified in the scriptures, it is only fair and right.
2.       The laying on of hands for impartation of the Holy Spirit, gifts of the Spirit and ministries – This was a major hallmark of Latter Rain and today it is very widely practiced even in some denominational churches. Even though symbolic on some churches, the practice is considered of utmost importance in others. In most Latter Rain churches extant, the congregants await the ‘word of the Lord’ to set their course, ministry and purpose in life. It would be good to remember the words of the Ern Hawtin co-founder of latter rain on this subject of person and directive prophesy:
“The Gift of Prophecy is in particular prominence in these last days as foretold in Scripture…However most groups which have started out to re-establish this gift in the church have ended in some extreme or gone back to where the gift ceased to operate. This need not happen, If we stay by the Scriptures, proving all things and holding fast to that which is good. We mention a few things that will help to avoid fanaticism and extremes and keep the Gift increasing in power and glory. When hands are laid upon a believer and prophecies are given, many things are revealed concerning his future life and ministry, his Gifts and how they are to be operated. Outside this ordination, guidance is not sought by prophecy, and it is not scriptural to ‘enquire’ of a New Testament prophet for personal direction. Prophecy…should not become a common procedure to guide people in everyday life..”[28]
Sad to say, directive prophecy has regressed to exactly this level and for the most part genuine prophecy has been lost. Many have built their lives and hopes on the words of others and many more await the ‘word’ in these churches. Many times, congregants are trained to ‘get a word’ from the Lord on a certain decision or issue in their lives. It is with this word, they set courses of major decisions in their lives. In Ern Hawtin’s own words ‘if we stay by the Scriptures, proving all things and holding fast to that which is good..”, each ‘word must be tested not just in experience but also must comply with the bulk of teaching the Bible has on that particular subject or how it is to be applied. Obviously, words or direction that violates fundamental and obvious teachings in the Bible are suspect. What usually happens in these cases is again eisgesis, that causes error-prone orthopraxis – improper application of orthodox teaching. This is both its appeal and its lethal quality. While the principles are clearly in the Bible to inquire of God, it is the application and nature of such inquiry that must be scrutinized carefully.
3.       Spontaneous Praise and Worship – In the early movement of Latter Rain, spontaneous worship, that is not prompted or a part of the order of a service was very evident. In most Latter Rain churches extant, this practice is at best random – a quality of worship that the Latter Rain churches criticize in others as not being spiritual enough to engage in meaningfully. Praise and worship is a part or section of the worship service. While the quality within this can vary, for the most part, it can be quite liturgical and it has been said that regardless of the level of awareness and desire a person may have, they are to offer up a sacrifice of praise regardless. In addition, in some instances, the congregation is rebuked for not being ‘ready’ to enter in to praise and worship. In a majority of Latter Rain churches, praise and worship has regressed through pageantry (banners/dancers) to where there is little sense of the spirit at all. This is especially true to those who have not held to the tenets of Latter Rain but have embraced teachings that are trajectories on the kernels of teaching Latter Rain originated. In the die hard troupe of Latter Rain churches, these forms of worship are eschewed as heresy and even demonic.

4.       Manifestation of the Sons of God – There are two main schools of the application of this doctrine in its present form. The interesting part is that they are diametrically opposed to one another. Here are the two views:
a.       Although growing more extreme and eccentric as time passes, some of the extensions of this doctrine are the Kingdom dominion proponents. These believe that the Kingdom of God will come about as a natural outgrowth of Christians banding together into socio-political forces to bend society to its purposes. Spiritual power accedes to economic and political power.
b.       The separatist view- in which the Latter Rain church sequesters itself from all worldly influence and activity as much as possible and becomes a closed society unto itself. The main belief in this point of view is the imminent return of the Lord and the members are to continue to refine their walk as purely as is possible or miss the coming of the Lord and so not being able to rule and reign or even dwell in the presence of Christ. In many cases, the congregation lives under the fear of not measuring up to those who assess their worthiness to make the ‘cut’. Many times this is used to keep those under them in a state of submission to the leadership of that particular church for fear of damnation should they dissent.
Both points of view, one natural and the other with spiritual connotations. However, each have a common characteristic. In each point of view, the elitist and separatist tendency is evident. Each focuses on the exercise of power even in this world or the next to which they are a direct emissary and conduit of that power.

Next Entry: The Life Cycle of Latter Rain

[1] Riss, Richard, Latter Rain Honeycomb Visual Productions Ltd, 1295 Eglinton Ave. E, Mississauga, Ontario, LAW 3e6, Canada Copyright 1987.  pp 53-54.
[2] Burgess, Stanley M, Van Der Maas, Eduard M. International Dictionary of Pentecostal Charismatic Movements,  Zondervan, Grand rapids, MI 49530, copyright 2001,2002. pp 708-709.
[3] Ibid, pp708.
[4] Ibid, pp 709.

[6] Riss, Richard, Latter Rain Honeycomb Visual Productions Ltd, 1295 Eglinton Ave. E, Mississauga, Ontario, LAW 3e6, Canada Copyright 1987.  pp 60.

[7] [7] Riss, Richard, Latter Rain Honeycomb Visual Productions Ltd, 1295 Eglinton Ave. E, Mississauga, Ontario, LAW 3e6, Canada Copyright 1987.  pp 62-63.

[8] Ibid, pp64.
[9] Ibid, pp 72.
[10] Ibid, pp82-83
[11] Ibid, pp 96.
[12] Ibid, pp 96
[13] Ibid, pp96-97.
[14] Ibid, pp 73-74.
[15] Ibid, pp 74
[16] Ibid, pp 74.
[17] Ibib, pp 74.
[18] George H. Warnock, The Feast of the Tabernacles: The Hope of the Church, reprinted March 1978, Sharon Schools, North Battleford, SK. Canada, p. 79.
[19] Mr. Warnock’s person biography on-line
[21] Riss, Richard, Latter Rain Honeycomb Visual Productions Ltd, 1295 Eglinton Ave. E, Mississauga, Ontario, LAW 3e6, Canada Copyright 1987.  pp 95.

[22] Ibid, pp 95.
[23] Ibid, pp 88
[24] Ibid, pp 89.
[25] Ibid, pp 81
[26] Ibid, Pg 59
[27] DeWaay, Robert, The Roots and Fruits of the New Apostolic Reformation,
[28] [28] Riss, Richard, Latter Rain Honeycomb Visual Productions Ltd, 1295 Eglinton Ave. E, Mississauga, Ontario, LAW 3e6, Canada Copyright 1987. pp 81

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