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Order of St. Luke International 2019: From an Anti-Cessationism past to a Fully Charismatic Future

One of John G. Banks’ most influential books.

The OSL grew slowly but steadily in the decades from the 1930s. Some churches with OSL chapters established weekly or monthly healing services, other parishes did not have official chapters but continued healing services after hosting one of the Rev. Bank’s healing missions. This is routine stuff for most of us, but in the 1930s to 1950s these healing services was revolutionary and controversial in view of the lock that cessationism had on the thinking of orthodox Christians. Pastors who hosted them were sometimes snubbed and ridiculed by their colleagues as becoming cultic. Sharing magazine regularly posted on its last page the names of doctors, professors and other professionals in an attempt to show that it’s believe in healing prayer was truly respectable, and not something that only the “crazy” Pentecostals did. That had little effect.

After World War II (1945), progress came more quickly. For instance, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Philadelphia, which had a very active OSL chapter, became national centers of healing prayer and hosted a yearly healing summit and conference on Christian healing. These conferences attracted the leadership and members of the OSL and other (non-Pentecostal) Christian healing groups such as the Life Abundant ministry.

Of course, the Pentecostals were doing great healing work at the same time, but they were marginalized as “fanatics” and “heretics” during the pre-World War II period, as well as after. They did not much influence the mainline churches, or the OSL, until the Charismatic Renewal of the 1960s.

The Holy Spirit had a different agenda and His gifts rolled …

The OSL had an interlocking leadership and membership with the CFO (Camps Furthest Out). This was another, and very influential, anti-cessationist, para-church group. It was also founded in the 1930s, and also made up of mainline Christian who were dissatisfied with the spiritual impotency and creeping liberalism of the mainline churches.[3] The CFO was in a sense broader, in that it focused on teaching “kingdom living” as modeled especially by Brother Laurence in his famous book, Practicing the Presence of God.[4] But CFO campers were given a good dose of teachings on healing prayer, intercessory prayer, and deliverance prayer as part of Kingdom living.[5] This made CFO folks right at home at OSL meetings, and visa-versa.

The OSL was inter-denominational from its inceptions, although it was majority Episcopal well until the 1970s, when Methodist and other mainline Christians increasingly added to its roles. Interestingly, the last three “wardens” of the national OSL have been non-Episcopalian or Anglican. (No, OSL members are not locked up. “Warden” in the UK has a broad meaning of someone in charge of a group.)

When the Charismatic Renewal broke out in the 1960s there existed a large network of OSL chapters with regional boundaries, a national headquarters and elected leadership. One would imagine that the OSL would welcome the Renewal. But in fact just the opposite happened.[6]

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Category: Church History, Summer 2019

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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