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Does Agnes Sanford offer something for Post-Christian Europe?

The second factor is perhaps more significant. The Pentecostal spirituality that came out of the CFO, with Agnes Sanford and Glenn Clark as their spiritual leaders, was grounded in Church history and classical piety to a greater degree than classical Pentecostalism. For instance, the daily routine of the CFO camps were patterned in imitation of the famous devotional classic, The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence.

Agnes Sanford

The CFO camps were filled and empowered with the gifts of the Spirit, but less exuberant in manifestations than classical Pentecostal groups. This was because the CFO and the OSL (Order of St. Luke, the other parachurch group that Mrs. Sanford operated in and taught) were made up of mainline Christians who regularly worshiped at their traditional churches. The OSL was predominantly Episcopalian, and Mrs. Sanford herself was a loyal Episcopalian. This was before the fall into apostasy of the Episcopal Church in recent decades. Mrs. Sanford’s spirituality was Spirit-filled, but also deeply sacramental. For instance, the first inner healings were Holy Communion intercessions on behalf of others that had their origins in Medieval Catholic practice. Only later did visualizations become part of inner healing.

It may well be that many German Christians will be very attracted to the theology of Agnes Sanford and the whole OSL/CFO form of spirituality. It is fully Spirit-filled, but more restrained than classical Pentecostalism.[4] Mrs. Sanford’s combination of Spirit-filled worship and ministry with the liturgical and sacramental elements of traditional Christianity may be very attractive to whole swaths of the German Christian public who are in Lutheran and Presbyterian churches. For the same reasons Agnes Sanford and Her Companions may be attractive to the large numbers of German Catholics.

Lastly, let me suggest a further reason why Agnes Sanford and Her Companions would be attractive to the German public. It is that I deal extensively with the issue of science and Christianity. For instance, the false claim that Mary Baker Eddy’s Christian Science was really scientific. On the positive side I show that “Lady Wisdom” of Proverbs proclaimed a methodology of gathering and reproofing information that was a form of proto-science. That is it had the foundational elements of modern science. Further, that Agnes Sanford and Glenn Clark used this proto-science, the methodology of Lady Wisdom to probe, test and establish effective healing and prayer ministries. I contrast this with the liberal seminaries and modern theologians, who in spite of claiming to be modern, used medieval guild methodology to repeat prejudices and do data avoidance against the evidence of the resurgent healing ministries. All of this would be very attractive to the German public, which is highly literate and well educated scientifically.

Now all of this is speculative. Time will tell. But I ask your prayers that the Lord would indeed use Agnes Sanford and her Companions to make spiritual breakthroughs in Germany and lift that nation out of its spiritual dryness and its suspicion of Pentecostalism.

 

You may purchase Agnes Sanford and Her Companions at a discount from the publisher via this link: http://wipfandstock.com/agnes-sanford-and-her-companions.html

 

Notes

[1] Agnes Sanford, Creation Waits (Plainsfield: Logos International, 1978). For a brief history of nature miracles in the Church, and how they continue today, see my blog posting: “Is Calming tornadoes a Christian Ministry?” Anglican Pentecostal. Posted June 1, 2013. http://anglicalpentecostal.blogspot.com/2013/06/is-calming-tornados-christian-ministry.html

[2] One wonders if many of the tragedies of German history in the Twentieth Century would have been avoided had the German churches embraced, rather than rejected, Pentecostalism.

[3] I published a major article on Professor Clark and the CFO over a decade ago. “Glenn Clark’s Camps Furthers Out; the Schoolhouse of the Charismatic Renewal,” Pneuma, 25 No. 2 (Fall, 2003), 265-288. In Agnes Sanford and Her Companions, this was expanded and upgraded.

[4] I am not criticizing the Pentecostals – I enjoy the exuberance of a pure Pentecostal revival. I have had my wife say to me, “Now don’t go wild tonight.” i.e. don’t dance in the isles and run around shouting hallelujah, which I am prone to do.

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Category: Church History, Summer 2015

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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