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John Alexander Dowie

Dowie organizes these two points into a diagram entitled “The Two Chains.” Each chain is linked with those of like kind, but the two chains are separate. Dowie does not imply the one link has a direct effect on the next link in chronological fashion. Rather, each chain is so linked by its quality.

 

            Dowie’s Two Chains

    GOOD                                                  EVIL

    Jesus                                                  Satan

|                                                          |

  Salvation                                                Sin

|                                                          |

  Healing                                              Disease

|                                                          |

       Life                                                  Death

|                                                          |

  Heaven                                                 Hell

 

Each link is correspondingly opposed to the other. In Dowie’s scheme, the division of these two chains is not intended to imply that the Christian may not experience elements of the Evil Chain. Nor does this seem to imply that if a person has found salvation in Christ that he or she will not ever experience sin, sickness, or death. Rather, this diagram isolates what is evil and what is good. Dowie uses this to illustrate that Jesus came to bring salvation, life, heaven, and healing. It is the Devil that wants people to remain in sin, and eventually through death, desires to take them to hell.

Dowie taught on other aspects of divine healing, but these two were central to his healing doctrine. He adamantly defended healing as a part of the atonement as taught in the Holiness movement. He emphasized that salvation extended to the body, that is, Christ came to redeem our bodies as well as our souls. This he relates to his first cardinal doctrine as expressed in the “Two Chains.” That is, Jesus was in the process of bearing our sickness during his earthly ministry, and that continues today. All points of doctrine in Dowie’s theology can be related to these two cardinal principles.

John Alexander Dowie’s influence on the divine healing movement is immeasurable. Understandably, Dowie did not spearhead the healing movement in America. The doctrine of divine healing was present in Holiness circles sometime before Dowie even set foot on American soil. However, his direct influence on the Pentecostal movement is paramount. Many of those involved in the Azusa Street Revival came from Zion, Illinois after the death of Dowie. His theology and doctrine on healing made a lasting mark on the Pentecostal movement.

Dowie’s theology and doctrine on healing made a lasting mark on the Pentecostal movement.

The early Pentecostals are often criticized for forming their doctrines based on experience to the near exclusion of sound biblical theology.21 However, this is not the case with Dowie. The publications from his International Divine Healing Association, and his writings in the Leaves of Healing reveal that while Dowie’s theology was reflected by his experience, it was theologically based upon Scripture. Dowie’s initial interest in healing did spring out of his experience, but it was an experience of compassion. Outside of an occasional sermon or article in his journal, Dowie’s writings reflect both biblical and theological reflection. The Leaves of Healing did include articles that related the testimonies of those who had been healed, but this does not mean that Dowie’s understanding of healing was based only on his experience. When he was called to give a defense of his doctrine in either a court, or before a group of ministers, Dowie made constant appeal to the Scriptures as the basis for this theology of healing.

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Category: Church History, Winter 2006

About the Author: Derek Vreeland, MDiv (Oral Roberts University), DMin (Asbury Theological Seminary), is the Discipleship Pastor at Word of Life Church in St. Joseph, Missouri. He is the author of Shape Shifters: How God Changes the Human Heart: A Trinitarian Vision of Spiritual Transformation (Word & Spirit Press, 2008), Primal Credo: Your Entrance into the Apostles' Creed (Doctrina Press, 2011), and Through the Eyes of N.T. Wright: A Reader's Guide to Paul and the Faithfulness of God (Doctrina Press, 2015). http://derekvreeland.com Twitter: @DerekVreeland

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