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Does Agnes Sanford offer something for Post-Christian Europe?

I am blessed to share with you about my just released book, Agnes Sanford and Her Companions: The Assault on Cessationism and the Coming of the Charismatic Renewal (Wipf and Stock, 2015).

Last Wednesday, just after I had received a copy from the publisher, I spent most of the day in prayer of thanksgiving over the completion of this work. During this last year I had encountered numerous blocks and unexpected obstacles to its completion, as in the inexplicable loss of files, and even the entire text, and lastly, the index had to be redone completely. My Facebook friends prayed me through every obstacle.

Like most authors, I asked the Lord to grant this book much success, not only in this country, but overseas. I recalled to the Lord that very dear saint, and great prayer warrior, while praying for me, spontaneously prayed for the success of this book overseas. As I prayed I kept getting the word and image of Germany. This was strange as I had not had the least thought of a German audience as I was writing this work. I merely wanted to tell the story of Mrs. Agnes Sanford, and the people around her, and how she in particular was a theological innovator (in the best sense of the word). For instance, she developed the ministry of inner healing, and went on to write the first theology of nature miracles – as in stilling storms, etc. Nature miracles have been well recorded throughout the literature of the saints and heroes of the Church, but Agnes was the first person ever to write a book on how to pray effectively for this.[1]

Back to the Germany connection. I wondered if the impression I was getting was from the Lord or from a subconscious wish. I messaged a German Facebook friend who is also a distinguished German Pentecostal pastor and scholar. He knew about the book, and messaged me back agreeing that there was indeed an anointing on the book to do a work in Germany. Hallelujah!

I then began to consider, why would this work, about the wife of an Episcopal priest and rector, who was born in China, and who spent all of her adult live in the United States, be of special interest to German Christians?

Rudolf Bultmann (1884 – 1976) was an influential liberal theologian.
Image: Wikimedia Commons.

First, it is necessary to consider that the spiritual life and vitality of the German Churches is at a very low point, as in the rest of Europe. Germany is the birthplace of the Reformation, but also the birthplace of so called higher-criticism which denied the supernatural in the Bible and made the miracles to be pious myths (Rudolf Bultmann, and his followers, etc.). That form of hermeneutical disaster and apostasy is still very influential in Europe and Germany. Not surprising, Sunday church attendance in Europe is between 15 and 5 percent of the population.

Back in 1908 the Protestant pastors in Germany met to decide what to do about the craziness coming from America and the Azusa St. revival – Pentecostalism. They decided they wanted nothing to do with it and denounced the whole movement as a delusion and heresy. As a result, any form of Pentecostal and charismatic expression has been very limited in Germany until very recent decades.[2] There is some Holy Spirit movement now, as Europeans, including Germans, are getting increasingly nervous about the Muslim penetration of Europe and are open to anything that will counter it.

With this in mind, there are certain aspects of Agnes Sanford and Her Companions that may be particularly attractive to German Christians. First, among her “companions” was Prof. Glen Clark, who founded the Camps Furthest Out (CFO). This was an anti-cessationist parachurch ministry dating from the 1930 – yes, there were such things back then.[3] Several of the major works of Prof. Clark were translated into German and widely circulated in the 1950s and 1960s. Thus, my coverage of his achievements in effective prayer and healing will resonate with some older Germans, and his translated works could be easily reprinted.

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Category: Church History, Summer 2015

About the Author: William L. De Arteaga, Ph.D., is known internationally as a Christian historian and expert on revivals and the rebirth and renewal of the Christian healing movement. His major works include Quenching the Spirit: Discover the Real Spirit Behind the Charismatic Controversy (Creation House, 1992, 1996), Forgotten Power: The Significance of the Lord’s Supper in Revival (Zondervan, 2002), Agnes Sanford and Her Companions: The Assault on Cessationism and the Coming of the Charismatic Renewal (Wipf & Stock, 2015), and The Public Prayer Station: Taking Healing Prayer to the Streets and Evangelizing the Nones (Emeth Press, 2018). Bill pastored two Hispanic Anglican congregations in the Marietta, Georgia area, and is semi-retired. He continues in his healing, teaching and writing ministry and is the state chaplain of the Order of St. Luke, encouraging the ministry of healing in all Christian denominations. Facebook

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