The following is Part 1 of 3 of “The Strange History of Pentecostalism” by David W. Cloud

From its inception the “latter rain” Pentecostal movement has been characterized by doctrinal heresy, exaggeration, and deception. I realize these are hard words, but the documentation is irrefutable. This is because the first century messianic and apostolic miracles simply are not being performed by Christians today. Those who claim that the apostolic Pentecostal signs have been restored are forced to accept occultic/hypnotic phenomenon such as spirit slaying and drunkenness and soothsaying (which they often call “the word of knowledge) as apostolic signs, or they are forced to exaggerate and prefabricate the alleged signs. This is exactly what we see occurring in the latest manifestation of the latter rain movement, the Laughing Revival. The latter rain movement of the 20th century is literally strewn with the wreckage of spiritual confusion, error, and deception.

Some will protest that we are using exceptions to paint the entire movement. Please note, though, that the following people are recognized leaders within the Pentecostal movement. They are not exceptions. All of them are listed in the authoritative Dictionary of Pentecostal-Charismatic Movements and in many other histories of Pentecostalism which are in my library. Further, the Lord Jesus Christ warned that we are to judge teachers by their fruits (Matt. 7:15-18). A movement which claims to be the very fullness of the Holy Spirit but which is literally strewn with false teaching, duplicity, immorality, and lunacy is to be rejected.

I readily acknowledge that there are many godly Christian people within Pentecostalism. I was led to Christ by just such a man. There are godly Pentecostal preachers like Dr. Joseph Chambers of Charlotte, North Carolina, who have taken a strong stand against the insanity of the Laughing Revival. I have much respect for Dr. Chambers, though I reject his Pentecostal theology. His congregation lost properties valued at $3 million because they took a stand against unscriptural things in their own denomination, the Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee), and that denomination took the property from them in a court of law. Though I respect such a stand for truth as they understand it, I believe that the latter rain Pentecostal doctrine and the false teaching about continuing sign gifts is the foundational error which has resulted in the lunacy we will describe in the following survey.

Not all Pentecostals are characterized by duplicity and extremism, but the unscriptural Pentecostal doctrine lends itself to such things. I believe this with all my heart, though I have sympathy with many facets of old-line Pentecostalism. I praise the Lord for their bold zeal for God, for their desire to see a “real” New Testament Christianity, for expressive and exuberant worship, for their faith in God and for their desire to take every word in the Bible seriously, for their confidence in the miracle-working power of God, and for their zeal to be separate from the world. I cannot go along in ministry fellowship even with the old-fashioned Pentecostals, though, because they are building on a doctrinal foundation which not only is unscriptural but which unwittingly has resulted in the preparation for the end-times apostate one-world “church.”

Now talk a walk with me through the pages of Pentecostal history.


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SMITH WIGGLESWORTH (1859-1947) was a famous Pentecostal evangelist and faith healer. Many books have been written about his unusual life. He was converted in a Methodist church, confirmed as an Anglican, and as a young man was associated with the Salvation Army and Plymouth Brethren. In 1907 he claimed that he was “baptised in the Holy Spirit” after hands were laid on him by Mary Boddy, who alleged to have had a Pentecostal experience only a month prior to that. Mrs. Boddy believed in the doctrine of healing in the atonement, but she spent the last sixteen years of her life as an invalid. Wigglesworth, too, believed that physical healing is guaranteed in the atonement of Christ. He taught against the use of all medicine. He believed that signs and wonders should always follow the preaching of the Gospel. He taught that a Christian can be justified and sanctified but still not have everything necessary from God. “People are never safe until they are baptized with the Holy Ghost” (Wigglesworth, “The Place of Power,” June 1916, reprinted in The Anointing of His Spirit, p. 151). He taught that handkerchiefs which are prayed over will bring life if carried in faith to the sick (The Anointing of His Spirit, p. 231). He taught: “Jesus came to set us free from sin, to free us from sickness, so that we should go forth in the power of the Spirit and minister to the needy, sick, and afflicted” (Wigglesworth, “Divine Life Brings Divine Health,” Pentecostal Evangel, Jan. 17, 1942). He claimed that the Christian has the power to speak things into existence: “God declares, ‘You have an anointing.’ Believe God and you will see this happen. What you say will come to pass. Speak the word and the bound shall be free, the sick shall be healed” (Wigglesworth, “Power from on High,” Pentecostal Evangel, May 27, 1944).

Like today’s Word-Faith preachers, Wigglesworth failed to make a proper distinction between the person and ministry of Jesus Christ and that of the Christian. He claimed that Jesus Christ increased in the fullness of God and in the power of the Holy Spirit. “I want you to understand that after the trials, after all the temptations and everything, Jesus comes out more full of God, more clothed in the Spirit, more ready for the fight” (Wigglesworth, “The Place of Power,” June 1916, reprinted in The Anointing of His Spirit, p. 146). This is heresy. The Lord Jesus Christ was God the Son. He could not be “more full of God.” Further, He was given the Spirit without measure (John 3:34). The Lord Jesus Christ did not come to be our example; He came to be our Savior (Lk. 19:10). Wigglesworth also taught that the Christian can operate in the same omnipotent power that Christ exercised. “Dare you come into the place of omnipotence? … God’s design is to bring you to the place where you will be a son clothed with the power of gifts and graces, ministries and operations, to bring you into glory, clothed with the majesty of heaven. For he shall bring many sons and daughters unto glory–unto son-likeness, son-perfection” (Wigglesworth, “The Privileges of Sonship,” August 1924, reprinted in The Anointing of His Spirit, p. 221). This is very similar to the false Manifest Sons of God theology of the perfectibility of certain saints, and it is the same heresy as that taught today by Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, and other Word-Faith teachers. Again, it is a confusion of this present life with that which is to come. They would mock this statement, claiming that my problem is unbelief and spiritual blindness, but the fact remains that they cannot do the miracles that Christ performed. The Lord Jesus Christ never conducted a healing crusade and He never took up an offering before He performed His signs and wonders. He did not have any rock music to stir up the crowd. He did not laugh hysterically or stagger about like a drunk man. He could raise the dead and heal every sickness without fail. No Pentecostal preacher has ever been able to do this.

Wigglesworth taught a form of sinless perfection. He stated: “I am realizing very truly these days that there is a sanctification of the Spirit where the thoughts are holy, where the life is beautiful, with no blemish” (Wigglesworth, “Count It All Joy,” August 1925, reprinted in The Anointing of His Spirit, p. 226). Oh, that this were the truth, but it is not. The Apostle Paul described his experience in these words: “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. … O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death” (Rom. 8:18,24). There is spiritual victory through the Holy Spirit in this life, but it is not the experience described by Wigglesworth. It is not a life in which the thoughts are perfectly holy and in which there is no blemish. This is the destructive heresy of perfectionism, of complete sanctification, which has led multitudes of sincere people down the road of confusion and despair. To encourage people to seek and demand that which God has not promised is to expose them to demonic delusion and fleshly fanaticism.

The popular Bible commentator Harry Ironside began his ministry as a young man with the Salvation Army. He earnestly sought the sinless perfection experience, and at one point he thought he “had it.” Alas, though, he soon realized that his old sin nature was still present and active. In great despair he was committed to a hospital in a state of emotional and spiritual breakdown. There God brought him into contact with literature which taught the way of biblical sanctification and with Christians who could help him understand his salvation correctly. He became established in the Faith and went on to have a long and fruitful ministry of the Word of God. His testimony is in the book Holiness: The False and the True, which is published by Loizeaux Brothers, P.O. Box 277, Neptune, NJ 07754-0277. 800- 526-2796 (orders), 908-774-0641 (fax). This book is also available in the “Charismatic” section of the End Times Apostasy Database at the Way of Life Literature web site —

Wigglesworth preached constantly on the power of faith, but he failed to balance his teaching with the absolute necessity of submitting one’s faith to the sovereign will of God. He failed to distinguish properly between this present life and the resurrection life which is to come (Romans 8:18- 25). Instead he taught: “Jesus would have us come forth in divine likeness, in resurrection force, in the power of the Spirit, to walk in faith and understand his Word, what he meant when he said he would give us power over all the power of the enemy. Christ will subdue all things till everything comes into perfect harmony with his will” (Wigglesworth, “The Substance of Things Hoped For,” Pentecostal Evangel, Oct. 25, 1924). This is a destructive doctrinal error which causes people to be confused about what they can and cannot expect from God in this present time. Such false teaching produces great confusion and results in the overthrowing of the faith of great numbers of people who, having tried to exercise the faith spoken of by the Pentecostal preacher and having failed to achieve the desired miracle, give up in great despair. Faith is trusting God and His Word NO MATTER WHAT THE CIRCUMSTANCES, whether He does miracles or whether He does not do miracles. Faith is waiting on God to bring His promises to pass, regardless of what I am experiencing in this present life. Hebrews 11 reminds us that there are two kinds of faith: that which overcomes difficulties (Heb. 11:32- 35a) and that which endures difficulties (Heb. 11:35b-40).

In spite of his teaching that God promises perfect physical wholeness and that the Christian can operate in the same sign gifts that Christ exhibited, very few of those who sought Wigglesworth’s healing ministrations were ever healed. His own wife died a mere six years after he became a Pentecostal, and his son died two years after that. His daughter, who assisted in his meetings, was never healed of her deafness. For three years Wigglesworth himself suffered with gallstones.

In 1936 Wigglesworth gave a prophecy to the aforementioned David DuPlessis that God would pour out His Spirit upon all denominations and that the Pentecostal experience would sweep the world. DuPlessis was told that he would play a significant role in this movement. The fulfillment of the prophecy has proven that it was not of God. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth (Jn. 14:17; 15:27; 16:13; 1 John 4:6), and wherever He holds sway in men’s lives He enlightens their minds to the truth and causes them to abhor error. In contrast, the ecumenical-Charismatic “renewal” with which David DuPlessis was associated, is a movement which confirms people in their doctrinal error. Catholics remained committed to Roman heresies. Modernists remained committed to their unbelief. Members of apostate denominations remained committed to the apostasy. The ecumenical- Charismatic renewal has broken down the walls between truth and error and has been one of the chief glues of the end-times one-world church movement.

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The confusion and duplicity that has plagued the Pentecostal latter rain movement throughout the century are very evident in the current Laughing Revival (otherwise known as the Toronto Blessing and the Pensacola Outpouring). Many of the amazing healings claimed by the Laughing Revival have proven to be deceptions. Commonly, when investigators attempt to verify the “healings,” they find no evidence to back up the claims. The Pensacola News Journal diligently attempted to document miraculous healings which have been claimed at the Brownsville Assembly of God, but even after tracking some of the visitors from other states, they were unable to obtain medical verification for even one healing (“No medical proof of ‘miraculous healings,'”Pensacola News Journal, Nov. 20, 1997).

The leaders of the Brownsville Assembly of God have made many bold claims which have proven to be false. After a four-month investigation into the “Pensacola Outpouring,” the Pensacola News Journal exposed many deceptions and exaggerations. I have read the lengthy reports by the Pensacola News Journal as well as the brief reply which the Brownsville Assembly placed on the Internet. In my estimation, the Brownsville Assembly’s reply is a smoke screen which dodges many of the accusations. Others have also seen this. A discerning look at this matter entitled “Problems with the Brownsville Response to the Pensacola News Journal” is published on the web at

I have attempted to get more information from Brownsville, but they have completely ignored my requests.

CLAIM: In his autobiography Stone Cold Heart, Brownsville Evangelist Steve Hill claims he was arrested 13 times. FACT: There are only four arrests which can be documented. CLAIM: Hill claims he was a heroin addict. FACT: He admitted to the Pensacola News Journal that this was not true and that he exaggerated the stories about his drug use to make a bigger impression. CLAIM: Hill claims to have wandered the country for three years, working odd jobs and using and selling drugs. FACT: Employment records show he worked a full-time job in Huntsville, Alabama, during those three years. CLAIM: Hill claims he was expelled from high school. FACT: He admitted to the Pensacola News Journal that this never happened. Hill also admitted that other details of his published testimony are not accurate, that even some of the names are made up. (This information is from the article “Hills bio fraught with fallacies Revival leader admits he inflated stories,” Pensacola News Journal, Nov. 18, 1997). Again, we attempted to obtain more information from Brownsville about these matters, but our request was completely ignored.

CLAIM: Brownsville leaders claimed the revival has produced a significant decrease in crime in Pensacola and the surrounding area. FACT: The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office crimes and arrests statistics show that crime actually rose in 1996 compared to 1995, the year the revival began. Escambia Sheriff Jim Lowman said he can’t see that the revival has had a great impact on the crime figures. Escambia Sheriff ‘s Office statistics show that juvenile arrests almost doubled in 1996 compared to the year before, increasing from 1,243 to 2,392 (“Escambia sheriff disputes claims of crime reduction,” Pensacola News Journal, Nov. 20, 1997).

CLAIM: Brownsville leaders claim the revival is slowing illicit drug use in their area because of the conversion of drug dealers and users. FACT: Local authorities who head drug abuse treatment centers deny this claim. Leo Donnelly, executive director of a treatment center called The Friary, says admissions have climbed from 250 in 1993-94 to 398 in 1996-97. The Twelve Oaks center says its business has almost doubled. None of the other treatment centers or drug abuse authorities contacted by the Pensacola News Journal cited a decrease in the problem. None were aware of any specific cases of those who had left treatment because of the Brownsville revival.

CLAIM: Brownsville leaders claim that law enforcement officers are so impressed by the revival that on occasion they have hauled suspects into the revival instead of taking them to jail. FACT: That has never happened, Escambia Sheriff Jim Lowman said, and it simply could not happen because it would be a violation of law enforcement procedure. “We don’t have any information that indicates we have ever done that, nor has any other law enforcement agency.” Jerry Potts, Pensacola Police assistant chief, said that a number of people have asked him if there is any truth to that story. Potts said, emphatically, that none of his officers ever took such action (Ibid.).

CLAIM: Brownsville leaders claim the revival’s influence is cleaning up prostitution, drugs, and street crime in Brownsville and that the revival is touching their entire area after the fashion of some true revivals of old. FACT: Not true, residents say. “What has happened is the prostitutes have moved closer into our community away from the church,” Dori Rice said (she lives a block from the church). “Now johns are driving up and down the streets where our children play.” Roscoe Urbaniak, who has lived a few blocks from Brownsville Assembly of God for 50 years, said other crimes are on the upswing, raising anxiety throughout the neighborhood. He told the News Journal that elderly neighborhood women are afraid to come out of their homes because of a recent rash of purse snatchings (Kimberly Blair, “Neighborhood sees no benefit from revival,” Pensacola News Journal, Nov. 20, 1997).

CLAIM: Brownsville leaders claim the Pensacola “revival” began spontaneously on June 18, 1995. FACT: In the weeks prior to June 18 many key members of the Brownsville Assembly, including the pastor’s wife, visited Toronto, and they were earnestly seeking the same experiences for Brownsville. Prior to June 18 a video of the Toronto experiences was shown to the Pensacola congregation to encourage the congregation to desire the same thing. Prior to June 18, Pastor Kilpatrick talked persistently about bringing the Laughing Revival to Brownsville and threatened to quit if the church did not accept it (“Pastors orchestrated first revival Hill’s persistent urging pushed crowd to react,” Pensacola News Journal, Nov. 19, 1997). Pentecostal Evangelist Steve Hill was not randomly selected to speak at Brownsville on June 18. He was selected by Pastor Kilpatrick because Hills was earnestly desiring to be involved in the Laughing Revival and was searching for a place to conduct a long-running latter rain “revival.” Hills had recently sought the Laughing Revival anointing at Holy Trinity Brompton in London, England.

CLAIM: Brownsville leaders claim that on June 18 a mighty wind blew through the church, that it affected everyone present, that great numbers of people fell to the floor, that it was a mighty supernatural move of God. FACT: The video recording of the June 18 service and testimonies of people who were there disprove the claims. It is very evident, in fact, that the events were highly manipulated by Evangelist Steve Hill. When he first invited people to come forward for the laying on of hands, only nine people fell, but Hill continued to cajole the crowd. Eventually another six fell, then a few more. It all appears to be manipulated by Hill. In fact, so little happened in spite of Hill’s shouting and demanding and wheedling, it is embarrassing. When people began to leave the church, Hill shouted at them not to leave. In apparent desperation Hill called for all the children to come forward. He told them that he was going to pray for them and they were going to fall to the ground. In spite of his prodding, only one little girl fell down.

CLAIM: In their reply to the Pensacola News Journal, the Brownsville Assembly of God claims that the Journal was wrong in stating that there has been a large exodus of old-time members from the church. Following is the exact statement which is posted at the Brownsville web site: “Since the revival began in the Brownsville Assembly of God, less than 150 previous members have cancelled or moved their membership, while 1530 new members have been added. Of those members who were in the church for 25 or more years, none of them have left because of the revival, and only 4 officials out of 27 have left the church since the revival began. Simply stated, there has not been a mass exodus of members, contrary to allegations made by anonymous former members in the Journal.” FACT: Though this statement might be true technically, it is an attempt to hide the real situation. The fact is that a great number of Kilpatrick’s closest acquaintances rejected his “revival.” This is admitted by John Kilpatrick. For example, in his message at the National Church of God, Washington, D.C., June 7, 1997, Kilpatrick said: “We lost ALL of our best friends that we had in this world over this move of God. We lost them ALL.” Note the word “all.” The Pensacola News Journal article in question was titled “Sadness, fear fill members who left Brownsville,” Nov. 17, 1997. The Brownsville reply is a smoke screen. It merely dodges most of the assertions of the Journal’s report. The Journal stated, for example, that Kilpatrick claimed those who left were demonized and that he gave prophecies that those who resisted the “revival” would suffer. Those assertions are true. In his message on June 7 in Washington D.C., Kilpatrick mentioned one church member who left because of the “revival,” and he specifically said that she was manifesting demons.

CLAIM: John Arnott of the Toronto Airport Church says the healing of Sarah Lilliman is a key example of the miracles being performed in the Laughing Revival. According to Arnott, Lilliman was like a vegetable, totally incapacitated, paralyzed, and blind. One of her friends attended the Toronto church and after being slain in the spirit had a vision of Jesus telling her to go to Sarah, that He was going to heal her. Arnott claims that Lilliman subsequently “rose up seeing.” FACT: In Counterfeit Revival, Hank Hanegraaff exposes this false claim. He says the story is wildly embellished, that Sarah Lilliman was not totally incapacitated, paralyzed, and blind, that her doctors had diagnosed psychosomatic emotional problems underlying her physical problems. “Today, despite the broad circulation of this story by Arnott and his associates as evidence of God’s power in the Toronto Blessing, Sarah Lilliman is still, as before, legally blind. Unfortunately, just as before, she and her family are continuing to struggle with her physical and psychosomatic disorders” (Counterfeit Revival, p. 60). Hanegraaff’s testimony about Lilliman is confirmed in testimony available in the article “Jon Ruthven Admits Hank Was Right,”


The Bible warns: “Mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which you have learned, and avoid them” (Romans 16:17). Certainly this applies to the Pentecostal-Charismatic movement. It has rightly been called the glue of the End Times Apostasy. The only protection from it is to obey the Bible and separate from it.

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We have to have discernment when talking about Eschatology withstanding the apostasy in the contemporary church that The Word of God warns would precede the return of Jesus. With the Conviction that ……

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