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

Stanley Frodsham

Stanley Frodsham experienced and associated with the Pentecostal Movement from the opening decade of the twentieth century. He was loyal to the Assemblies of God and he served the General Council as Secretary and Missionary Treasurer. He also served as editor over all of the Assembly of God publications for much of his career.25 Through his correspondence with Myrtle Beall, he experienced and embraced the NOLR,26 which eventually brought about his “retirement” as editor for the AG in 1949 and began his association with the Spencers and Elim. He taught at Elim Bible Institute for several of his retirement years of ministry. His reputation as a prophet gave wide credence and publication of a prophetic word he gave in 1965 concerning deception; it is a word that is reflective on the NOLR.27

Frodsham was an eyewitness of the Classical Pentecostal outpouring of the Holy Spirit at the 1906 Azusa Street Mission28 and the 1948 NOLR. He stated there was “the same strong atmosphere of the presence of the Lord in both cases.”29 His perspective and interpretation of these events must become an exemplar and―in my opinion―the template for the contemporary interpreter. The basis for this is his proven character, his denominational leadership, his eyewitness advantage, and his stately conduct while under attack. In ironic juxtaposition to this (Frodsham having just resigned from Gospel Publishing House after publishing his celebrated book With Signs Following), is the remarkable commentary on NOLR, which Brumback notes as a movement that “has practically come to naught.”30 Quite the opposite is true; the fruit of the NOLR continues to multiply. Hollenweger concurs that the Pentecostal denominations unjustly painted the NOLR in a negative light.31

Lasting Fruit

An evidence of lasting fruit is the phenomena of congregations spontaneously singing together in tongues as a response to God in worship. This has been described as a “heavenly choir”. First in the Azusa revival:

Many have received the gift of singing as well as speaking in the inspiration of the Spirit. The Lord is giving new voices, he translates old songs into new tongues, he gives the music that is being sung by the angels and has a heavenly choir all singing the same heavenly song in harmony. It is beautiful music, no instruments are needed in the meetings.32
I remember having heard about the “heavenly choir” as is termed the marvelous singing in the Spirit, such as has since broken out amongst us…33

Then also in the NOLR:

It has been the conviction of some that the present anthems of the [Roman] Catholic church are copies of those originally sung in the Spirit… No sooner had this teaching been given, than God confirmed His Word and singing in the Spirit with the understanding commenced. By the next day the heavenly choir came into full power, and the heavens’ very strains filled the whole church.34

The same spontaneous song in tongues is unmistakable in the Charismatic Movement. Vinson Synan stated that the Catholic Charismatic Movement experienced the same heavenly choir phenomena, resulting from its earliest interaction with the Bealls of Detroit, Michigan.35 Students from Duquesne University (a private Catholic university in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania) and the University of Michigan (a public university in Ann Arbor, Michigan) encountered the Holy Spirit at the Bethesda Tabernacle, and later experienced similar expressions of the heavenly choir in the Catholic Charismatic Movement.

Personality Conflict or Doctrinal Orthodoxy?

In a 2006 interview, Carlton Spencer alluded to the role that the wounded egos played in the controversy of the NOLR, a factor that may have been more significant than the doctrinal questions that circulated against it.36 He suggested that the disapproval from the denominations was perhaps rooted in their presupposition of spiritual leadership. The contention was that the revival did not start from the denominational headquarters; it started in the hinterland. The same was said of the Azusa revival; “No church or organization is back of it.”37 This is not to diminish the effect of the strong, independent, and pioneering personalities of Hawtin, and others; beyond doubt this contributed to the distance between many who also embraced the NOLR.

Some historians found William Durham as setting precedence for the anti-denominational philosophy within the NOLR.38 Durham wrote, “that no religious awakening or revival from Pentecost till now has ever been able to retain its spiritual life and power after man had organized it and gotten it under his control.”39 Blumhofer claimed that Durham was selected by the leaders of the NOLR to demonstrate the authenticity of its propensity to avoid the organizational dynamic of denominations. They sought to provide a platform for the autonomy of every local congregation, which would follow the ecclesiastical structure and authority of an apostolic leader.

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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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