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

Manifest Sons

Linda Andrews wrote her Master’s thesis on the Manifest Sons.40 She posited three dynamics at the core of doctrine: first, God is bringing the remnant to perfection; second, upon perfection Christ will manifest himself in these people; finally, embodying Christ, these will become His literal body and rule and reign on earth. She also concisely described the five things that are common in the experience of becoming a Manifest Son: First, they pursue a deeper walk in the Spirit. Second, they experience suffering. Third, they teach and apply the ascension gifts of Ephesians 4:11. Fourth, they follow the prophetic ministry of these last days. Fifth, they leave denominations.

Unfortunately, much of Andrews’ source material is from various Internet sites that feed off one another and are thereby somewhat circular in their research. More importantly, many of these websites are unabashedly anti-charismatic and anti-pentecostal in their orientation. Her bibliography does little to expand on the search for solid primary sources, perhaps because there are none yet discovered. To her credit, Andrews has pieced together the primary fragments and has thereby given her readers the much-needed summation of the theories of the Manifest Sons concepts. In like manner, Blumhofer discredited the whole of the NOLR movement by selectively emphasizing the fringe-of-the-fringe element of the Manifest Sons doctrine.41 Essentially, the doctrine of Manifest Sons was under construction early in the NOLR but did not ever receive a definitive or authoritative articulation.

Implicit in the Manifest Sons concept is the subtle elitism of the last days apostles to be successors of Christ. Here the reader is cautioned not to conceive of this doctrine as being solidly established, or clearly articulated, as it continued to morph and modify until its few adherents passed away. Therefore, the presentation of its teachings becomes subjective as to the choosing and chronology within its position. Eschatologically, the idea is embedded with a remnant within a remnant concept. These are the Manifested Sons (women included), who would do the work of Christ and would literally be Christ-on-earth at the second coming, and who would thereby do the Kingdom of God work. Part of this design found them being able to heal all who come to them (like Jesus) and to confer spiritual gifts upon whomever they lay their hands. These Manifested Sons would not die and would rule the earth in the millennial reign of Christ.

Regrettably, the teaching discredited and distracted from the heart of the NOLR. It has received exaggerated attention, perhaps rightly so, but ultimately it has come to naught. Critics of the NOLR have found the teaching on Manifest Sons to be an insurmountable obstacle and tend to present it as representative of the whole. This type of documentation follows a gestalt of emphasizing a fringe element of the revival, while minimizing or ignoring its primary fruit. In like manner, the criticism of the NOLR rested on the anecdotal evidence―of destructive personal and false prophetic instruction―is presented as the essence of the movement, while at the same time ignoring the many that were blessed, encouraged, and launched into effective Kingdom of God work. In many ways, the critique of the NOLR mirrors the critique of the Azusa revival; established denominations discredited it and yet it continues to bear fruit.

Historical Precedence within Classical Pentecostalism

The General Council of the Assemblies of God recognized that the NOLR “in reality gives us nothing that is new.”42 Essentially, every doctrine that the NOLR freshly emphasized is found in the beginning of the Pentecostal Movement of either Topeka or Azusa. Personal prophecy, the laying on of hands, and apostle-like authority were a regular occurrence in the Pentecostal Movement but now they are combined in such a way as to give the uninitiated the impression that such gifts were only given through the elite leaders of the NOLR movement.43

Richard Riss pointed to the similarities of the NOLR and the revival of the early Pentecostal Movement. He found seven phenomena: 1) heavenly singing;44 2) the laying on of hands;45 3) the recognition of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers; 4) the imminent eschatology; 5) the overarching affect of repentance and brokenness; 6) the general evangelical emphasis, and 7) the severe criticism from their parent organizations.46

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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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