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New Order of the Latter Rain: A New Perspective, by John R. Miller

 From Pneuma Review Fall 2013.

Introduction

Many people, who are familiar with the history and teachings of the Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements, have likely heard of the revival known as the New Order of the Latter Rain. Was this a legitimate revival? Was it an authentic move of the Holy Spirit? Perhaps what is most commonly known about the revival was told with a negative emphasis on its fringe doctrines, which include the doctrine of Manifest Sons and personal prophetic words of direction.

There was no new doctrine introduced in the New Order of the Latter Rain. However, the movement is most remembered for its doctrinal controversies. At the center was an interpersonal conflict that became camouflaged by a denominational dispute. Nearsighted presuppositions obstructed objectivity. The sin of pride caused further division in the body of Christ. Yet, the fruit that remains demonstrates that both sides of this issue have proven to be effective in the ministry of the Kingdom of God. The words of David du Plessis are apropos:

There is nothing that can ever take the place of the Holy Spirit in the church. Let us pray for a greater outpouring than ever, and remember when the floods come it will not keep to our well prepared channels but it will overflow and probably cause chaos in our regular programs.1


General Historical Context

The term “latter rain” must first be defined because it is used in many contexts to refer to several distinct movements of the Holy Spirit. In this essay, it will be referred to as the New Order of the Latter Rain (NOLR) to distinguish it from other “latter rain” revivals. Specifically, NOLR will refer to the movement which began in 1948, in North Battleford, Saskatchewan, Canada, and which spread throughout the world in various attributes and nuances. Several articles and books provide a non-polemical background for this movement.2 Many other articles and books are written from an apologetic perspective.3 The term “latter rain” became popular to the Pentecostal Movement.4 David W. Myland illustrated this premise, first through the writing of hymns, then through the association of the natural rainfall in Palestine by pointing out the spiritual analogy of it.5

Contextually, the movement began one generation after the birth of the Classical Pentecostal Movement of Topeka and Azusa fame. The primary Pentecostal denominations have already been established; specifically, the Assemblies of God (AG) and its sister organization, the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada (PAOC). Socially, it is important to consider the impact of two World Wars. Eschatologically, it is important to ponder the impact of the re-establishment of the nation of Israel, the fear of nuclear destruction, the construction of the Berlin Wall, and the threat of Communism to the Western world in 1948. Ecclesiastically, it is noteworthy that the healing and/or evangelistic ministries of Oral Roberts, Billy Graham, William Branham, and T.L. Osborn begin around this same time.

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Category: Church History, Fall 2013, Pneuma Review

About the Author: John R. Miller is an ordained minister with Elim Fellowship of Lima, NY and serves as Pastor of Education with Living Word Temple of Restoration, Rochester, NY. He has a degree from Elim Bible Institute, a B.Div. (Trinity Theological Seminary), C.P.E. (University of Rochester), M.Div. (Northeastern Seminary), and Ph.D. (Regent University). He teaches at Regent University and Elim Bible Institute & College.

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