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Supernatural Physical Manifestations in the Evangelical and Holiness Revival Movements, by Paul King

These types of phenomena also occurred in the ministries of Finney and Wesley and other holiness groups, as well as Pentecostals.[40] In holiness and some Pentecostal circles some of these manifestations were regarded as the work of the Holy Spirit, others of the flesh, and still others as demonic in origin.[41]

Trances, Visions, and Dreams

Trances, visions, and dreams occurred frequently in early Methodist camp meetings, and in Maria Woodworth-Etter’s meetings, as well as other denominations and movements.[42] Presbyterian missionary Praying Hyde, it is recorded, “began to have visions of the glorified Christ as a Lamb on His throne—suffering such infinite pain for and with His suffering Body on earth.”[43] Torrey recalled that a man praying for revival in Australia saw a prophetic vision of crowds of people coming to hear Torrey speak.[44] Street evangelist Jerry McAuley experienced a trance and a vision that led to his founding of a rescue mission.[45] Prophecies and visions were also features of the Welsh revival.[46] Amy Carmichael, Anglican Keswick missionary to India, also received prophetic dreams and visions.[47] Likewise, Charles Spurgeon recognized the validity of dreams and visions from the Lord.[48] His friend and colleague, F.B. Meyer, a Baptist Keswick leader, also recounted a vision.[49]

Such manifestations occurred in the early C&MA as well. In fact, the missions emphasis of the C&MA was established on Simpson’s response to a vivid dream in which he awoke trembling.[50] In 1883 early C&MA leader John Cookman had an experience in which “the Lord appeared to him in a vision, and said, ‘I am thy Healer, thy Sanctifier, thy Savior, and thy Lord.’”[51] C&MA missionary statesman Robert Jaffray experienced several dreams with strong impressions from the Lord.[52] Visions preceding or accompanying healing were not uncommon in the ministry of A.B. Simpson and the early C&MA.[53]

But Not All Such Manifestations Are from God

On the other hand, not all such physical manifestations were automatically accepted among holiness leaders and some Pentecostals to be a result of the Spirit’s workings. [54] Classic evangelical and holiness leaders understood that God can lead by impressions, visions, and revelations, but they needed to be tested.[55] Moravian leader Count Zinzendorf, who was open to supernatural movings of the Holy Spirit, witnessed a man falling into an “inspired fit, jerking and convulsing, and prophesying. Zinzendorf did not hesitate to reject the inspiration.”[56] John Wesley’s counsel was: “Do not hastily ascribe things to God. Do not easily suppose dreams, voices, impressions, visions, or revelations to be from God. They may be from Him. They may be from Nature. They may be from the devil. Therefore believe not every spirit, but ‘try the spirits whether they be from God.’”[57] Even though people fell under God’s power in Cartwright’s meetings, he also discerned false falling, visions and trances.[58]

Evangelical and holiness leaders recognized that some laughter is “fleshly excitement” and some may even be demonically inspired. John and Charles Wesley discerned that some manifestations were unholy laughter.[59] In 1912, Jessie Penn‑Lewis and Evan Roberts in their book War on the Saints also write of demonical inspired laughter with twisting and jerking.[60]Even Catholic exorcists have cautioned that the devil may cause laughter to distract and disrupt.[61]

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About the Author: Paul L. King holds a D.Min from Oral Roberts University and a D.Th. from the University of South Africa. He served for 16 years on the faculty of Oral Roberts University as Coordinator of Bible Institute programs and Adjunct Professor in the College of Theology and Ministry. Author of 12 books and more than 60 articles, he was ORU 2006 Scholar of the Year. He has also served as Scholar-at-Large for the D.Min. program at Alliance Theological Seminary, Doctor of Ministry Mentor for the Randy Clark Scholars program at United Theological Seminary and Global Awakening Theological Seminary, Leadership and Church Ministry Consultant and Trainer, an ordained pastor with the Christian and Missionary Alliance, Interim Consulting Pastor for the Plano (Texas) Chinese Alliance Church, and Faculty Director of Purdue Ratio Christi/Christian Faculty and Staff Network. His books include God's Healing Arsenal: A Divine Battle Plan for Overcoming Distress and Disease (2011), Anointed Women: The Rich Heritage of Women in Ministry in the Christian & Missionary Alliance (2009), Only Believe: Examining the Origin and Development of Classic and Contemporary Word of Faith Theologies (2008), Genuine Gold: The Cautiously Charismatic Story of the Early Christian and Missionary Alliance (2006), Binding & Loosing: Exercising Authority over the Dark Powers (1999), and A Believer with Authority: The Life and Message of John A. MacMillan. Twitter: @PaulLKing.

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