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Agnes Sanford: Apostle of Healing and First Theologian of the Charismatic Renewal, Part 1, by William L. De Arteaga

This sounds very simple, but it did not prove to be so. First of all, I found that what He said went directly contrary to many of the explanations concerning religion that I had been taught since my youth. For instance, I had been told that the age of miracles was past – yet I had seen a miracle…I also knew that there was no use in trying to understand what I had not experienced. Therefore I set myself to find an experience of God’s power.

In order to do this, I laid aside temporarily all that I had been taught concerning Christianity. I did not disbelieve it, I merely laid it on the table to be considered later. And that is what all of us must do if we are to learn.19

She began with reading Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures, but felt bewildered by the vocabulary and philosophical underpinnings of Christian Science (radical idealism), and laid it aside. Much more useful was the Christian New Thought writer Emmet Fox. In his classic work, Sermon On The Mount, Agnes spirit found profound resonance.20 Here was a person who believed in the power of God and of scripture for the here and now – a common assumption of New Thought writers. Ironically, this non-cessationist view placed Fox closer to the plain and literal understanding of scripture than the more orthodox and conservative Christians of the era. Agnes’s firm devotion to Jesus and her determination to use the gospels as her discernment anchor saved her from adopting Fox’s Arian Christology – something that in any case is not manifest in the Sermon On The Mount. She continued to look into the available literature of healing including the literature of the Unity School of Christianity. It seems that she did not encounter at this time the literature of the Evangelical healing revival of the 1880s. She also made contact with a small church in Philadelphia run by an ex-Baptist who had been expelled from her congregation for practicing Christian healing.21

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Category: Church History, Pneuma Review, Spring 2006

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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