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

Peter Cartwright regarded the jerking movements in his meetings as the judgment of God or fleshly manifestations of superstitious people, which would subside through fervent prayer. Likewise, he considered manifestations such as jumping, barking and other wild exercises, often accompanied by falling, visions, or trances, to be delusions.[62]

Evan Roberts and Jessie Penn‑Lewis comment, “No one can with safety accept all the supernatural manifestations which accompany Revival, or believe all seeming ‘Pentecostal power’ to be of God.”[63] They recognized that gifts of the Spirit such as prophecy, healing, and tongues could be genuine or false, saying that counterfeit tongues were only a fraction of the counterfeit manifestations.[64] They cautioned, “Counterfeit manifestations of the Divine life in various ways now follow quickly; movements in the body, pleasant thrills, touches, as glow as of fire in different parts of the body, or sensations of cold, or shakings and tremblings, all of which are accepted as from God.”[65] However, they did not dismiss all such manifestations as demonic, for Roberts himself experienced some of these manifestations authentically during the Welsh revival, and was by experience able to recognize the counterfeit.[66] Pentecostals like Carrie Judd Montgomery warned about unusual phenomena and motions which have been accepted in some Pentecostal circles are really a form of witchcraft.[67]

Many animal‑like sounds and behavior have been recognized throughout church history as demonic.[68] Such exhibitions were often considered demonic, both by Pentecostals and non-Pentecostal holiness people. A.B. Simpson, who believed in supernatural gifts and manifestations, nonetheless observed, “There have been many instances where [seeking for] the gift of tongues led the subjects and the audiences in to the wildest excesses and were accompanied with voices and actions more closely resembling wild animals than rational beings, impressing the unprejudiced observers that it was the work of the devil.”[69] Paul Rader, pastor of Moody Memorial Church and President of the C&MA after Simpson’s death, writes of casting out a demon from a man who came down the aisle of Moody Church barking like a dog.[70] Pentecostal leader Charles Parham also described as demonic manifestations of barking like a dog, braying like a donkey, and crowing like a rooster, and contortions and fits.[71]Woodworth‑Etter admonished to “try the spirits,” citing a woman who “commenced to go about on her knees, twisting about like a serpent” and speaking in tongues. She said, “Everyone knew it was not of God,” and that the devil had gotten hold of her.[72]

That is not to say that in every instance animal‑like sounds and behavior are demonic. They may be of the flesh, or they may be a response to something God is doing in a person—like the unutterable groanings of Romans 8:26‑27. Cartwright described a man who “roared like a bull in a net” under the conviction of the Holy Spirit.[73] The phenomena may even be misinterpreted by observers. A colleague of this writer who is a researcher of the Campbellite/Christian church movement determined through his research on the 1801 Cane Ridge revival that what was reported by the media as “barking up a tree” and “treeing the devil” was, in reality, people under such conviction and emotional distress that they were heaving and groaning in such a manner that it sounded like barking and all the while feeling faint so that they were holding themselves up against a tree.[74]

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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 10 books and more than 50 articles, he was ORU 2006 Scholar of the Year and also served as Scholar-at-Large for the D.Min. program at Alliance Theological Seminary. He is currently Doctor of Ministry Mentor for the Randy Clark Scholars program at United Theological Seminary, Leadership and Church Ministry Consultant and Trainer, an ordained pastor with the Christian and Missionary Alliance, and Interim Consulting Pastor for the Plano (Texas) Chinese Alliance Church. Twitter: @PaulLKing.

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