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Rex Humbard: The Soul-Winning Century

However, Alpha resurrected Word and Witness in about 1919. In the issue held by the FPHC, F. F. Bosworth wrote a treatise on why he believed tongues-speech should not be identified as the initial physical evidence of spirit-baptism, and Reuben A. Gibson (the husband of Christine Gibson, who founded Zion Bible Institute in East Providence, Rhode Island) decried what he deemed to be an inordinate emphasis on ordination and ministerial certificates. Several letters to the editor came from those who preferred the Oneness baptismal formula. Judging from that issue of the paper, Alpha’s group seemed to be the anti-organizational, non-initial evidence version of the Assemblies of God. Indeed, it attracted independent-minded Pentecostals from across the nation, many of whom presumably opposed the Assemblies of God’s adoption in 1916 of the Statement of Fundamental Truths (which was formulated partly in response to the theological controversy brought on by the emergence of the Oneness, or anti-Trinitarian, movement several years earlier). In the end, Alpha’s experiment fizzled at least in part because it proved difficult to organize around an anti-organizational principle. According to Rex, the “bickering over doctrinal details made [Alpha’s] soul ache” (p. 38).

It was into this entrepreneurial Pentecostal preacher’s family that Rex Humbard was born in 1919. In the summer of 1932, young Rex watched a Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus tent fill with crowds in Hot Springs. While he was not allowed to attend such “worldly” diversions, he did draw some heavenly inspiration from the event. He promised himself that he would “spend [his] life trying to put God on Main Street” (p. 42). As he grew up, he saw how gospel music attracted crowds and was impressed by radio’s potential to multiply the evangelistic efforts. Alpha embraced radio ministry to help expand his audience and his congregation, Gospel Temple in Hot Springs.

It should come as no surprise, then, that Rex met his wife, Maude Aimee, while singing gospel music. Rex not only impressed Maude Aimee, but also her pastor, Albert Ott of Bethel Temple Assembly of God. Ott brought the Humbards on staff at his Dallas church. Rex and Maude Aimee married in 1942 and traveled with the Humbard family ministry for the next ten years. Following a successful meeting in Akron, Ohio, Rex decided to leave the family ministry and to pastor a local church in 1953. The Akron congregation, Calvary Temple, was renamed Cathedral of Tomorrow when a large round building was erected in 1958. Seating 5,400 people, it became one of the largest churches in the nation.

Rex Humbard was a pioneer in television ministry. He attracted millions of viewers to his sermons between 1958 and 1982 broadcast over more than 600 stations. The broadcasts were from the Cathedral of Tomorrow, which later was sold to televangelist Ernest Angley in 1994.

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Category: Church History, Winter 2008

About the Author: Darrin J. Rodgers, M.A. in Theological Studies (Assemblies of God Theological Seminary), J.D. (University of North Dakota School of Law), is director of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center and editor of Assemblies of God Heritage. He is author of Northern Harvest (2003), a history of Pentecostalism in North Dakota, and numerous articles in books and journals. Facebook.

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