The 20th century was assuredly ‘The Century of the Holy Spirit.’ The Classical Pentecostal movement, has grown to more than fourteen thousand Pentecostal denominations throughout the world since its beginnings in Azusa Street in 1906-08. Its early days were characterised by independent ministries and spontaneous activities. Their explosive growth demanded a more structured and organised approach. Denominations were then founded and mission agencies were created. Their history makes exciting reading and the original founders should be honoured for their faith and perseverance as they continually adhered to their biblical convictions and God-given callings, despite strenuous resistance, rejection and sometimes, persecution.
By mid-20th century they had become more accepted as part of the worldwide Christian family, but they were a long way from the exciting adventures of their forefathers. Denominational Pentecostalism had settled into a routine and had all but lost its original spark of divine power. It was time for another outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
The Healing Revival that began in late 1947 was a wake-up call to the American Pentecostal Movement. William Branham, fully equipped with powerful spiritual gifts and a passion for souls, reignited Holy Spirit empowered Christianity across the US and other parts of the world. He was not a Pentecostal minister nor from the Pentecostal fold – but he did carry a Pentecostal anointing which attracted believers from all denominations, as well as thousands of unbelievers. Branham’s outstanding ministry grew larger and more powerful as he travelled across America. The miraculous was common-place. The lame walked, the blind saw and the deaf heard. In one place a woman was raised from the dead - and converts were countless! Branham’s use of the spiritual gift, called ‘the Word of Knowledge’, was startling!
Despite the Pentecostal denominations gradually distancing themselves from Branham’s ministry, their churches were revitalised by attending his crusades. Many new churches were planted and their ministers were challenged to seek God for the Pentecostal fire again.
William Branham’s meetings attracted scores of ministers who were inspired to seek God for their own supernatural ministry. Soon, others joined him on the sawdust trail. By the early 1950’s scores of healing evangelists filled tents and auditoriums around the country, attracting tens of thousands of people, reporting thousands of healings and other miracles. Oral Roberts, A. A. Allen., Jack Coe and many other ministries began to traverse the US with astounding success. There were around 70 healing evangelists in the mid-50’s and some of them began to extend their work overseas. T. L. Osborn had highly successful healing-evangelism meetings in Central and South America. In his first five years he conducted crusades in eleven countries and preached to millions. Early in his ministry he experienced revival in Cuba where over 50,000 professed conversion to Christ. In Chile, as many as 100,000 persons packed the stadium to attend a single service. Osborn wrote that he was moved by the "alarming challenge of the heathen masses everywhere dying without Christ" and felt ‘compelled by the Spirit to bear a miraculous gospel to all the world.'
Later, others followed his pioneering work –Morris Cerullo, Tommy Hicks, Lester Sumrall, to name just a few. They attracted hundreds of thousands to healing revivals in Latin America, Africa, and Asia, witnessed millions of conversions, planted thousands of new churches and numerous Bible and Training centres.
A major spin-off from Branham’s ministry was the Latter Rain Revival. After a group of God-seeking leaders from North Battleford, Saskatchewan, Canada, visited a Branham meeting in Vancouver, in November 1947, they returned with a fresh passion to continue their quest for a new anointing on their ministries.
Their group continued steadfastly in prayer, with fasting and great expectancy, until the Holy Spirit fell on their gathering on February 12, 1948. The revival continued with great power for 5 glorious years, during which time their regular camp meetings and campaigns in a host of American cities spread the fire of revival far and wide.
In the wake of the revival the Latter Rain Movement was born, propagating a restoration of Biblical Christianity. The movement’s distinctives included the restoration of the five-fold ministries, the prophetic ministry, the laying on of hands for healing and to impart the baptism in the Holy Spirit, worship which attracted the presence of God, singing in the Holy Spirit in believer’s gatherings, fasting, an expectant eschatology, the essential necessity of unity, et al.
Latter Rain churches also strongly emphasized relational networks over organizational structure, which alienated them from the mainline denominations, particularly the Pentecostals. They firmly believed in the autonomy of the local church and the ministry of the whole local body of believers.
The legacy of the Latter Rain Movement can be seen throughout the Charismatic and Pentecostal churches up to the present day. Most of their doctrines and practices have been adopted by millions of believers world-wide making the Latter rain Revival one of the most effective and church-advancing revivals of all time!
The next phase of Pentecostalism was its penetration into the mainline Protestant and Catholic churches - now known as the “charismatic renewal.” From the beginning its leaders sought to renew the historic churches, primarily in the United States, but later across the world.
It began in 1960 in Van Nuys, California, under the ministry of Dennis Bennett, rector of St. Mark’s Episcopal (Anglican) church. Within a decade, this movement had spread to all the 150 major Protestant families of the world, reaching a total of 55 million people by 1990.
Mainline Protestant leaders included: Tommy Tyson (Methodist); Brick Bradford, Rodman Williams, and Brad Long (Presbyterian); Pat Robertson, Howard Conatser, Ken Pagard, and Gary Clark (Baptist); Everett Terry Fullam and Charles Fulton (Episcopal); Gerald Derstine and Nelson Litwiller (Mennonite); and Vernon Stoop (United Church of Christ).
The Catholic charismatic renewal movement had its beginnings in Pittsburgh in 1967 among students and faculty at Duquesne University. After spreading rapidly among students at Notre Dame and the University of Michigan, the movement spread worldwide.
Its early leaders were Kevin Ranaghan, Ralph Martin, Steve Clark, and Nancy Kellar. Careful theological leadership was given by Kilian McDonnell and Leon Joseph Cardinal Suenens.
In the first 32 years since its inception, the Catholic movement had not only gained the approval of the church but also has touched the lives of over 100 million Catholics in 120 countries.
By the late 1960’s the Latter Rain ministry and the new charismatic church movements began to engage the hearts and minds of thousands of young people who were part of the hippy sub-culture. They were noted as being anti-historical, anti-cultural and anti-intellectual but pro-peace, pro-drugs, pro-free-sex and pro-dropping out of society. They were not representative of the average church congregation but God considered them ideal people to be conscripted as disciples of Jesus Christ.
One thing was certain – they were experience-oriented. The appeal of discipleship to Christ, which offered more than commitment to a creed, but also experience of the Holy Spirits power, swept thousands into the Kingdom of God. Mass baptisms were held in the west coast ocean, outdoor concerts and meetings, with teams witnessing on the beaches and in the city streets, caused the revival to spread like wild-fire.
The ‘turn on, tune in, drop out’ counterculture of hippies and beatniks had discovered a new way to live as they began to embrace the gospel. Within four years ‘The Jesus Revolution’ would be on Time magazine’s front cover. New church groups such as Calvary Chapel and its many offshoots emerged. Dozens of Christian communities and ministries to the young appeared. Established outreach ministries like Teen Challenge, Operation Mobilisation and YWAM were re-populated with new and zealous workers.
David Wilkerson, the Assemblies of God minister who founded Teen Challenge, a highly effective Christian drug rehabilitation organization, estimated that there were 300,000 Jesus People in the early 1970s. This writer heard John Wimber claim the Jesus Movement saw 3 million converts between 1967-1972 across the world.
The Jesus Movement has shaped much of the charismatic and evangelical Church today – its music and worship style, it’s dress-codes, its love of Scripture, it’s passion for the presence of the Holy Spirit and its evangelistic drive - to name but a few notable points! Today many converts of the Jesus Movement are serving Christ in ministries across the world – this writer is one of them!
Throughout the late 60’s and 70’s the charismatic movement continued to explode everywhere. The international ministries of the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International, Oral Roberts, Kathryn Kuhlman, Kenneth Hagin, Derek Prince, Jimmy Swaggart and a host of others gave the message of Pentecost and healing a more popular face. When CBN and TBN began broadcasting charismatic personalities in the late 60’s, and PTL in 1974, the charismatic movement became part of American life for 20 years, spreading its message far and wide.
In the late 1970s, another movement of the Holy Spirit, characterized by ‘signs and wonders, began in the Vineyard Church with the ministry of John Wimber.
It is sometimes called the “Third Wave of the Holy Spirit” or the “Signs and Wonders Movement.” The name “Third Wave” was coined by C. Peter Wagner, a professor at Fuller Theological Seminary and a key leader in the Church Growth Movement. He referred to the movement as the “Third Wave” because this was the third of three distinct outpourings of the Spirit in the 20th century. The first wave was the Pentecostal Movement that began in the early 1900s with Charles Parham, followed by the Azusa Street Revival. (Wagner presumably included Healing Revival in the sub-section as it was ‘Pentecostal’ in character). The second wave came in the 1960s with the Charismatic movement, which brought Pentecostal doctrines, teachings and practices into mainline denominational churches.
Wagner, who already had a high regard for Pentecostals, especially the Latin American Movement, recognised that another distinct “movement of the Holy Spirit,” was occurring among evangelicals who, for one reason or another, had chosen not to identify with either the Pentecostals or Charismatics.” This new movement is also known as the Neo-Charismatic Movement.
Wimber was a talented musician and was a pianist and singer in The Paramours group, later known as The Righteous Brothers, from 1962-1963. He became a follower of Christ in 1963 and after a period of Bible training in Azusa Pacific College, he was ordained as a Quaker minister and took a pastoral position with the Yorba Linda Friends Church. By 1970, when the Jesus Movement was in full flow, John had led hundreds to Christ. In 1977, he started a Calvary Chapel in Yorba Linda, California but in 1982 he separated from Calvary Chapel and the church became the Anaheim Vineyard. By then, there were around seven “Vineyards” in a loose-knit fellowship of churches. Today, there are 2400+ Vineyards around the world in 95 countries – and still growing!
We will tell the exciting Vineyard story elsewhere on this site, except to say that Wimber’s experience of the Holy Spirit and confidence in the Word of God were the secret of the Vineyard’s extraordinary influence. He was thoroughly Evangelical, Bible believing and highly evangelistic in his ministry. But it was the invasion of the Holy Spirit in his own church that caused him to re-examine his theology and practice.
Subsequently, he became the travelling advocate of ‘Signs and Wonders,’ ‘Power Evangelism’ and ‘Equipping the Saints’, holding very powerful and influential conferences throughout the English-speaking world. He impacted the lives of thousands of believers and 100’s of denominations and church movements across the globe, being used by God to renew the spiritual life of the 20th and 21st century Church.
P. D. Hocken, Art: Charismatic Movement, New International Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements.
David Edwin Harrell, All Things Are Possible, The Healing and Charismatic Revivals in Modern America.
Vinson Synan, The Century of the Holy Spirit.