Writer, editor and teacher who ministered in the Pentecostal movement for over 60 years. For 30 years he was editor of the Pentecostal Evangel. He is mostly remembered for the 15 books he wrote, the best known being a history of the Pentecostal movement, ‘With Signs Following,’ (1926, revised 1946) a collection of Smith Wigglesworth’s sermons ‘Ever Increasing Faith’ (1924) and his biography of Smith Wigglesworth, ‘Apostle of Faith’ (1948).
He was born in Bournemouth, England in 1882 into a godly home where he was encouraged to read the Bible and pray. He attended a private school to learn proper grammar, history and literature in preparation to achieve a career in writing.
On reading the life of Hudson Taylor, founder of the China Inland Mission, he was challenged by this man’s walk with God by his life of faith. A fresh passion was born in his heart to know God like God like Hudson Taylor had. Soon afterwards he was powerfully converted and radically transformed at the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) in London.
He spent a year in Johannesburg, S.A. as secretary of the newly formed YMCA there and in 1906/7 he visited Canada where his appetite was whetted as he began to hear about the Pentecostal revival. Returning to England in 1908 his thirst was quenched when he received the baptism in the Holy Spirit at All Saint’s Church, Sunderland – just one year after Smith Wigglesworth had received the Spirit in the same place – in Pastor and Mrs. Boddy’s home.
In 1909 he began his publishing ministry when he introduced a Pentecostal paper called Victory, a monthly paper that reported on the Pentecostal revival that was sweeping the world. He joined the first Pentecostal church in Bournemouth called the Apostolic Faith. During a visit to Canada in 1910 he met and married an English girl, Alice Rowlands. Smith Wigglesworth performed the marriage ceremony in Britain and then the newly-married couple emigrated to USA.
In 1916 he began his ministry with the AG, soon becoming General Secretary and, in 1921 was elected as editor of all AG publications which included the Pentecostal Evangel.
Back in 1909 he had joined the first Pentecostal church in Bournemouth which had a primary emphasis on prophecy and the restoration of the ministries of Apostles and Prophets. In the late 1940’s such emphases were again brought to his attention when he became heavily involved in the Latter Rain Movement.
The main teachings of this movement were:
1.) The Latter Rain, meaning an end-time church filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, overcoming and victorious, attaining to the "full stature" of Christ,as taught by Apostle Paul.
2.) The Sacrifice of Praise, which was a major emphasis on worship. Teaching on the Tabernacle of David and its restoration was a major theme. Dancing, lifting of hands and spontaneous praise were marks of this movement.
3.) Christian Unity. A major theme of the Latter Rain was unity among believers, in the church service, in the geographic region, and at large. They taught that God saw the church organized not into denominational camps, but along geographical lines as in the book of Acts. They expected that in the coming last days, the various Christian denominations would dissolve, and the true church would coalesce into city wide churches under the leadership of the newly-restored apostles and prophets.
4.) Laying on of hands. Unlike Pentecostals who traditionally held that the baptism of the Holy Spirit usually comes after prolonged "tarrying" or waiting for the Spirit, the Latter Rain movement taught that the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Holy Spirit can be imparted on one believer by another through the laying on of hands.
5.)The fivefold ministry. The Latter Rain taught that there would be a restoration of the five ministerial roles mentioned in Ephesians 4:11 (apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, teacher).
6.) Manifest(ed) Sons of God. Some leaders of the Latter Rain movement taught that as the end of the age approached, that the "overcomers" would arise within the Church. These Manifest Sons of God, ones who have come into the full stature of Jesus Christ would receive the spirit without measure. They would be as Jesus was when He was on earth, they would receive a number of divine gifts, including the ability to change their physical location, to speak any language through the Holy Spirit, and would be able to perform divine healings and other miracles. They would complete the work of God restoring man's rightful position as was originally mandated in Genesis, and at last by coming into the full stature of Christ usher in the millennial reign of Christ. Though this was not a widespread view.
Some considered the Pentecostal denominations a mere monument to Pentecost’s former glory, so this new movement appeared as a breath of fresh air. Singing in the Spirit, the manifestation of spiritual gifts like tongues interpretation and prophecy, people receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit with the sign of tongues by the laying on of hands, miraculous healing etc., brought the life of God into their meetings. Such things had only been read about in Pentecostal history books and records of the early days. Now they had returned and Stanley, regardless of being in his 60’s, embraced this new move with all his heart and soul.
As the new movement gained more ground there developed considerable controversy with the Assemblies of God and they began a ‘vigorous defence’ against ‘The New Order of the Latter Rain,’ as they called it. In November and December 1949 they published a series aimed at exposing its erroneous beliefs and practices, without direct reference to them by name.
Stanley’s involvement with the Latter Rain folk caused him to be ‘pretty badly smeared before all the presbyters’ and precipitated his retirement at 67 years of age. A resolution was adopted reinforcing their official disapproval which was then published as a statement in The Pentecostal Evangel. Stanley continued to accept invitations to Latter Rain assemblies to preach and with great sorrow tendered his resignation from the General council ministerial list. His reputation suffered loss but he maintained a clear conscience and remained gracious and kind in his attitude to the Assemblies of God. His abiding position was ‘Our differences are temporal, our unity is eternal.’
He continued to minister in Latter Rain circles, teaching for a time at Elim Bible Institute, until his death in 1969.
Bibliography: W. E. Warner art. 'International Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements' 2002, Richard M. Riss ‘Latter Rain’ 1987