Somebody recently posted a link to an intriguing article from the online version of Charisma: Remembering the Latter Rain. I’m not sure how recent the article is, but it’s fascinating — in a train-wreck sort of way.
It’s amazing to me — a face-palm moment, if you will — that long after the Latter Rain movement was rejected as unbiblical (waaaay back in 1949), that it just keeps showing up again and again. This is a bizarre group that just will not go away.
What makes this so intriguing is that I seriously doubt the majority of people who are currently promoting the Latter Rain movement have any clue about what the Latter Rain was all about. For example, the article linked above even spoke glowingly of William Branham as a key influence in the Latter Rain.
One of William Branham’s most famous teachings was the “Serpent Seed”, where he claimed that the Genesis 3 account of the Fall of Man had nothing to do with Adam & Eve eating the forbidden fruit. Instead, Branham taught that the ‘original sin’ was that Eve had sex with Satan. And got pregnant, giving birth to Cain, who was born of this “satanic seed”. Conversely, Abel (and later Seth) was born to Eve via her real husband, Adam, which meant that Abel & Seth (and their descendants) carried “godly seed” because Adam was created by God.
And throughout history (taught Branham), we see children from the godly seed (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, King David, Jesus), and the offspring of the satanic seed (Ishmael, Esau, King Saul, and the Anti-Christ).
(Perhaps not surprisingly, Branham also suggested many times that pastors and leaders with theological training were from Satan’s lineage. Same goes for denominations — God hates ’em and always has.)
Branham had several other theological face-palm teachings that would take too long to detail here, but the Serpent Seed stands out as why his influence on the Latter Rain should raise red flags, not accolades.
What is even more amazing — from a theological face-palming perspective — is the kind of arguments people will throw at you to justify the legitimacy of the Latter Rain. I’m surprised how often I hear: “Well, there were miraculous healings, so obviously God isn’t too worried about their theology!”
Which, being translated, means: “Anything you say can and will be dismissed as irrelevant. Miracles prove orthodoxy. You must have missed the memo.”
By themselves, miracles don’t prove anything, except that something unusual has just happened. Miracles are a sign which draws attention to something. Jesus’ miracles attracted multitudes, but as soon as He got theological — “I am the bread of life” — people deserted Him in droves (John 6:25-66). Jesus’ miracles pointed to His message, but they didn’t guarantee people would accept it.
Throughout the book of Acts, there are numerous examples of the disciples doing miraculous things as the Holy Spirit enabled them — which drew attention to the message that the disciples were preaching: the Gospel of Jesus. Yet even the Bereans were commended for searching the Scriptures to prove the truthfulness of Paul’s message (Acts 17:10-12). The miracles weren’t the gospel; they only pointed to the message of it. To use a common phrase, “signs and wonders are signs that make you wonder”. But that’s quite a different thing than functioning as “proof”.
In the case of Branham’s “Serpent Seed”, it doesn’t matter how many miracles may or may not have happened — the teaching is blatantly unscriptural. There’s no getting around that. When miracles are trotted out as proof that God isn’t concerned about theology, what we have is an “epic fail” in the area of discernment.
The other argument that I hear all too often is something along the lines of: “Well, if you actually knew anyone involved, you’d see what wonderful and Jesus-loving people they really are.”
Which, being translated, means: “Nice people can’t be deceived.” (!?)
Where do we get the idea that sincerity = orthodoxy? Or that anything unorthodox always resembles a flesh-eating Zombie Apocalypse? I don’t know about you, but I’ve got some extremely nice friends who have no use for Jesus, and I also know some Christians who act like (ahem…) butt-heads.
Let’s face it: when the Arian heresy was rejected, there were probably a lot of sincere Arians who were hurt and offended. Marcion had a lot of followers who were probably also nice people. Cult leader Jim Jones probably had some very sincere believers drinking the Kool-Aid in Guyana.
It would be so much easier if miracles proved orthodoxy. It would be very reassuring to think that nice, sincere people could never be deceived. But that kind of thinking can be dangerous.
In the case of the Latter Rain, in order to get past the theological face-palming, probably the best thing would be for people to actually read the writings of William Branham, Franklin Hall, or George Warnock for themselves. Not read about Branham, Hall and Warnock — read what they wrote. And compare their teachings to Scripture.
That would be a real eye-opener, and would result in theological face-palming for an entirely different (redemptive) reason.
Warnock’s stuff on Ephesians 4 and the Bride is beautiful… Can’t say I agree with all of it but definitely orthodox! 🙂
I am the guy that posted the Charisma article. LOL
But to be fair to myself and the article, THIS is what I focused on when I posted the article:
“In 1948 the movement was an immature infant and needed much
refinement, and there were some seedbeds of error that needed to be
purged. But there was also a tremendous deposit of God that is still
affecting many Spirit-filled churches of all denominations today.
What was birthed in the Latter Rain movement is now receiving worldwide
acceptance. Though many leaders in the late ’40s and early ’50s rejected
this move of the Spirit, some of their descendants are now saying,
‘Let’s take a second look at the Latter Rain Movement. It just might
have been God. Perhaps this is what we need today!'”
In no way does that endorse bad theology or orthodoxy. But, again, there is fish and bones. Much like the teachings other great men of God. I wouldn’t swallow Luther or Calvin with out a little tongue twisting, lip puckering and spitting. Even the great Billy Graham has said things that may make you go “Say What?”.
While your points are legit (and you know I respect you deeply), miracles are proof of one great thing…God shows mercy and compassion to his people, even when ignorance is in town.
Actually, John, it was another mutual friend of ours who sent me the link in the first place. 🙂
If the Latter Rain is now “receiving worldwide acceptance”, as the article says, that is a HUGE red flag. If people are starting to wonder “perhaps this is what se need today”, then they really need to do some serious research into the Latter Rain, its teachings, and see for themselves why the Latter Rain was rejected in the first place.
Also, not all miracles are from God. There are biblical stories that show this, and we are warned about “lying signs and wonders” as well. I heartily agree that God’s mercy is the source of His miracles, but that doesn’t mean all miracles are therefore God’s. The ultimate test is always how things line up with Scripture.
LOL I posted it and he must have forwarded the article. So, I am NOT the guilty one. 🙂
I think you are treating this as an either/or rather than a both/and. I agree that miraculous signs are not a definitive confirmation of ones theological authenticity. But, if they are indeed teaching that Jesus is Lord and the healer of our bodies and, more importantly, our spirits, then they are not against us.
We cannot simply say, “Those people are doing signs and wonders of the devil since ______ theological point is off.” With that philosophy NO ONE will ever have sincere miracles. Because ALL of us have been, are or will be off theologically at some point. Simply because we “see in part”.
Why can’t this be a both/and? Why can’t the Latter Rain movement be theologically off in certain areas, yet teach the essential of Jesus is Lord and Savior as well as Healer? Can you remember ever leading worship in a church knowing that you were dealing with a sin issue (pride, lust, anger, etc.) yet God managed to use you anyway? It is a humbling experience.
I think we all should strive to have theological purity. However, we are influenced by our experiences and our theological training (good or bad). This is not an endorsement of error, no more than the article is an endorsement for error.
Could it be that YOUR experiences with the Latter Rain movement and its abuses have skewed your view? Did God touch you, use you, minister to you through ANY of those experiences? Or was it a COMPLETE waist of time?
I will speak for myself (maybe not completely on the Latter Rain influence here). I would have NEVER been exposed to miracles and the gifts in operation in my Pentecostal upbringing had I not been exposed to the Word of Faith movement and Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, Charles Capps, Lester Summeral (who I still LOVE), John Osteen and RW Shambach.
I would have never been exposed to Kingdom Theology had I not been introduced to Earl Paulk and a few others.
I went to a charismatic church that was influenced by the Maranatha movement and the Latter Rain. I was introduced for the first time to personal and corporate prophecy.
Fast forward a few years and I find myself in the Vineyard. Honestly, I am not sure that I would have EVER considered the Vineyard had I not been exposed to these others. I was so far removed from them that the Vineyard would have seemed like some weird bunch of hippies from California. Now I AM one.
God is powerful and Sovereign and loves his children…even when they suck at sound theology.
John, we’re wasting our time if you’re only going to question my motives. Or put words in my mouth. Those are only distractions that avoid the real issue(s).
DO SOME RESEARCH. That’s what I said in the original post already. Put some discernment into practice.
Don’t take my word for it. This isn’t about me. Do your own research into what the Latter Rain teachings are, and compare them with Scripture.
This is purely an academic comment, Rob, so take it for what it’s worth.
The bottom line is that most people who affirm or support Latter Rain theology either (1) haven’t read any of the primary sources or are simply not theologically astute enough to recognize the significant problems at hand or (2) are theologically astute enough to understand the theological framework at hand and simply agree with it and are, in fact, advocates of Latter Rain theology.
It’s like how people blindly support some of the teachings coming out of Bethel and Bill Johnson… whose christology is ghastly.
Words in your mouth? I am doing no such thing. I will refrain from further comment. I actually considered YOUR research to be a part of what I would even consider reading for myself. I am not dancing with you, but engaging you. I will refrain from doing so until I have researched enough for everyone.
John, just a quick observation: it seemed to me that you were putting words in Rob’s mouth a bit. Maybe not intentionally, of course, but a bit. It seemed like you were doing so when you wrote “we cannot simply say…” and them implied that Rob was saying what you were suggesting. Plus, Rob, from what I know of him, is an advocate of good “both/and” thinking.
I think your comments about perfect theology never being THE measuring stick for God’s work is good, and true. I wonder, though, if bad theology… nay, DANGEROUS theology needs to be more of a concern, especially within the charismatic world.
Many people do not always understand WHY certain theological ideas are so dangerous, of course. One of my peers write a really helpful article on Bill Johnson’s Christology, for instance, that connected some dots for me and I am very thankful that there exist people to help in those areas.
or 3) manage to see thte error and still see God working through his children that he loves and corrects. But then that is what the article pointed out.
As for Bill Johnson, can you point me to some sermons or writings that I can read so I can understand your objections? I am neither a fan nor a foe. I like the things I have heard and seen from a distance, but I prefer others sources and folks. I was somewhat away from the charismatic world for the last 5 years. It was during this time that I was first introduced to Jesus Culture and vaguely to Bill Johnson.
Just do some googling on Johnson Christology bro!
I, begrudgingly, enjoy Jesus Culture music. Haha. Shhh, don’t tell anyone.
I will remove my comments. I was not intending to put words in your mouth. I was trying to engage in the conversation with all of you. And in fact I was open to learning from all of you. Sorry if I was an offense.
I like that you are interacting dude. I don’t think anyone is mad. Keep talking. It is fun. 🙂
I tried to remove the comments but it only removed my name. Please remove them for me, Rob. Thanks
No can do, John. I don’t have that kind of authority around here. 🙂
And verily, verily, I say unto you: “nobody’s offended.”