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

Charles Chappell noticed, in an essay he wrote on the NOLR, “Most if not all of the doctrines of the Movement [NOLR] had to some degree been embraced by the earlier Azusa Revival and had been rejected [i.e. xenoglossolalia by AG].”47 Chappell cites “three strikes” against the movement from the start: 1) George Hawtin was too individualistic; 2) the attacks against denominationalism were hitting a sensitive nerve; and 3) they employed excessive use of doctrines, such as of laying on of hands for the impartation of spiritual gifts. Chappell effectively noted the disparity between the AG official position of “no minister had been disfellowshipped for accepting”48 NOLR views, and the less than gentle resignations of the same. Additionally, he denoted four lessons that we should recognize: first, worship encouraged wholehearted involvement; second, vocal gifts were emphasized; third, visionary leadership broke off the restraints of authority; and finally, the role of the Bible school was heightened.

There is indeed nothing new under the sun. Organizational structure inhibits―for the good and the bad―the maverick expression of ideas. Mysteriously, God utilizes all of this, and His imperfect ministers, to build His Kingdom. The fruit that remains is the barometer of authenticity―both sides of this issue continue to bring souls into God’s Kingdom.

Conclusion

The advice of Gamaliel in Acts 5:34―to let the fledgling movement mature and then to see what is born out of it―perhaps is appropriate to guide our evaluation of the NOLR. If indeed there was no new doctrine introduced in the NOLR, then one must question the negative light cast upon the movement. If the conflict that emerged is an interpersonal one, obscured by doctrinal dispute, then we must allow this information to modify our evaluation. The fruit that has remained continues to demonstrate that both sides of this issue have proven to be effective in the ministry of the Kingdom of God. The blossoms that have fallen to the ground, producing no fruit, are nearly forgotten. Somehow, the need for checks and balances in church leadership must not inhibit the fresh movement of the Holy Spirit. We are challenged to recognize that the Holy Spirit does indeed cause chaos in our organizational programs.

PR

Footnotes and bibliography appear in the full digital issue of Pneuma Review Fall 2013.

 

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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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