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

Ivan Q. Spencer

Ivan Q. Spencer and his son Carlton Spencer represent the genre of key leaders that developed through the events of the NOLR. After he had experienced the blessing of this revival and the elation and increasing success and enrollment in Elim Bible Institute, I.Q. Spencer anticipated further uniting among Pentecostal believers. But it was not to be.

Having been elected to serve on the board of the Pentecostal Fellowship of North America (PFNA) I.Q. Spencer volunteered to resign (1950) because of the division that his association with NOLR caused. Arriving in Memphis for the PFNA convention, and hearing of the upheaval, Spencer stated, “It would seem that for the sake of peace, I should resign from the board, I am very disappointed that this must be so.”20 Without notification PFNA dropped all of the Elim associated ministers, missionaries, and churches, because of the association with NOLR. Ivan Q. Spencer wrote about the upheaval that the Manifest Sons doctrine caused:

There is much teaching today regarding a select company out of the Church, called by various scriptural names, such as “the Bride of Christ,” “the Man-child Company,” and “the Sons of God.” Without question there is clearly presented in the Scripture an overcoming body in the general body of believers as is set forth in the seven messages to the churches in Revelation 2 and 3… Yet we do know from experience that the whole Church has never measured up to the standard and surely there is plenty of evidence that it is not doing so today… While most Christians will agree in principle, there are so many variations of teaching today about an overcoming company that the tendency is to mystify and hide the truth and bring division in the Body. This mistake has been made again and again by indiscrete leaders. We ask the question: Is it necessary to make an issue of a teaching, which is not fundamental to our faith? Can we not hold in the background such teachings that divide the Body of Christ until more of the unity of the Spirit is manifest among us all?21

The question has often come up concerning where Spencer stood on this doctrine. This editorial makes it clear that it is not central to his teaching and that―at most―it is a matter of inquiry into eschatological possibilities. Carlton Spencer stated that Ivan Q. Spencer held those who embraced the Manifested Sons doctrine with the utmost respect, while he himself could not fully accept it because of his more conservative hermeneutical philosophy concerning the Bible.22 It is important to note here that Classical Pentecostal doctrine has often been accused of holding an elitist position regarding those who were baptized in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues.
Elizabeth V. Duncan Baker, a teacher at Ivan Spencer’s Rochester Bible Training School, wrote,

Rev. 12:1-5—My own mind is very satisfied that this woman who gave birth to the man-child, is the Church, and the birth of the overcoming company. This is after Christ was born and He was not caught up immediately to the throne of God after His birth. Here comes a company who will be caught up, to reign with Christ on His throne. To what company can this apply, but to the overcomers, or Bride.23
Then notice the preparation of the ones to be taken away. We believe this to be the “overcomers” or the bridal company, and that the woman that gives birth to the bride, is the church universal. Now you notice there is a movement of the Holy Spirit going on in the Church at the present time, towards the formation of a company that He will take out of this world.24

Essentially, Elizabeth V. Duncan Baker taught that the elect, those who were to be taken in the first rapture, were those who spoke in tongues. This elite company was considered as those who were spiritually intimate with the bridegroom. It is noteworthy that many of the early AG leaders attended her Bible school. In a similar fashion to his teachers, Ivan Q. Spencer saw honor and a special identity with the persecuted church. The disdain that they endured was part of the cost of following Christ. Specifically, it was the cost of being yielded and obedient to the Holy Spirit. They did not hold their accusers liable; they did not spitefully regard those who attacked them.

What are the fruits of this ministry? Spencer’s association and embrace of the NOLR is evidenced in the thousands of credentialed missionaries and pastors; moreover, in the untold number of people ministered to through them. His life-calling and mission―Elim Bible Institute―continues to thrive. Three practices that sprang from the NOLR continue today at Elim Bible Institute: first, to receive a personal prophecy through a presbytery of prophetic ministers; second, to receive an impartation through the laying on of hands; and third, to endorse the evidence of an apostolic-like ministry.

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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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