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New Order of the Latter Rain: A New Perspective, by John R. Miller

The nomenclature “new” for the movement was used pejoratively by those who rejected the movement. For them, it reminded them of the “New Issue,”6 which had also split the AG denomination. For those that embraced the movement, “new” expressed a prophetic sense of anticipation, a restoration of what God intended. Negatively, the newness is viewed as an innovative doctrine that overemphasized its novel methodologies. It also separates this outpouring of latter rain from that which inaugurated the classical Pentecostal Movement. Proponents of the NOLR accept the nomenclature as a distinction between the former rain―Topeka and Azusa―and the latter rain.

Like a natural rain, the NOLR was appreciated by those who were experiencing spiritual drought but despised by those who were having a picnic, even if the picnickers did not realize how dry it had become. Richard Riss said, “the preceding decade… was described by Pentecostals as a time of spiritual dryness and lack of God’s presence.”7 In his article, Riss finds four antecedents to the NOLR: 1) William Branham’s emphasis of the laying on of hands; 2) Franklin Hall’s emphasis on fasting and prayer; 3) the autonomy of the local church emphasized by Independent Assemblies of God; and 4) the emphasis on a “new thing” (Isaiah 43:19). These elements, plus the practice of encouraging the speaking of personal and directive prophetic exhortations, continued to enlarge as the NOLR matured as a movement.

As no essay could deliver the full account of all those involved in the NOLR, this overview will endeavor to unfold the major events and how the movement grew as a result.

The cast of characters developed below is merely representative. Many people who are briefly mentioned are nonetheless important in their contribution and ministry. For example: Reg Layzell8 played a significant role in that he invited George Hawtin to his church where there was a powerful outpouring of the Holy Spirit; this is where Myrtle Beall was initiated into the NOLR. Winston Nunes labored successfully to promote the work of the Holy Spirit in the NOLR throughout Canada and the USA.9 Much more could be written about the ministry of Milford Kirkpatrick, Dr. Thomas Wyatt, Dr. A. Earl Lee, John and Fred Poole, Demos Shakarian, H. David Edwards, Ralph Mahoney, Kevin Conner, Rob Wheeler, John Owens, R. Edward Miller, George Warnock, Ern Baxter, Joseph Matson-Boze, Gerald Derstine, J. Preston Eby, Bill Britton, John Robert Stevens, Paul Grubb, and many others whom I have failed to notice. Here it is also important to note the significant endorsement from Lewi Petrus, the Swedish Pentecostal pastor and leader―who verified the autonomy of the local church. For the parameters of this essay, it is sufficient to say that the NOLR impacted the Charismatic Movement of the 1960’s in more ways than would be interesting to read about, through innumerable relationships and networks of co-laborers for the Kingdom of God.

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Category: Church History, Fall 2013, Pneuma Review

About the Author: John R. Miller is an ordained minister with Elim Fellowship of Lima, NY and serves as Pastor of Education with Living Word Temple of Restoration, Rochester, NY. He has a degree from Elim Bible Institute, a B.Div. (Trinity Theological Seminary), C.P.E. (University of Rochester), M.Div. (Northeastern Seminary), and Ph.D. (Regent University). He teaches at Regent University and Elim Bible Institute & College.

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