03 Sectarian Beginnings • E-Theses

03 Sectarian Beginnings

Brett Knowles, , University of Otago, Dunedin

Knowles, History of the New Life Movement, Ch. 3 B. Knowles, History of the New Life Churches in New Zealand, Otago PhD.

Chapter 2. © 2003 - Brett Knowles,

An e-theses.webjournals.org article.

3. Sectarian Beginnings:

The doctrines, polity and ethos of the early New Life Churches

3.1. Where did the boundaries lie?

      In the previous two chapters, we have explored the broad spectrum of social factors which provided a catalyst for the expansion of New Zealand Pentecostalism in the 1960s. We now shift to a narrower focus, examining the characteristics of that portion of the movement which evolved into the New Life Churches of New Zealand.[1] What kind of religious grouping did these churches constitute? What features characterised them and whence did these come? And did these features remain constant, or did they change with the passage of time and the growth of the movement?

      From their earliest beginnings, the New Life Churches represented a broadly-defined group of "independent" or "non-denominational" Pentecostal churches. The adherents of the movement shared a conservative Evangelical or Fundamentalist theology and ethos which centred the core of their identity, both individual and corporate, in their relationship with Christ.[2] Their tendency to describe themselves simply as "Christian" or "undenominational Christian" was not, in itself, unusual. It appears to reflect a wider trend, possibly stimulated by the 1959 Billy Graham Crusade, towards non-institutional forms of Evangelicalism. This shift of emphasis is demonstrated by the increase in the Census figures for "Christian" in the 1960s and 1970s. As Bill Hotter (a "member" of the Christchurch New Life Centre from its inception) put it: "it was difficult to say exactly what we were back then. We were simply `Christians' - not `Pentecostals' or `New Life Centre' people - we did not have any identifying `tag.'"[3]


      This lack of corporate focus had some positive effects for the New Life Churches. Firstly, it enabled the movement to capitalise on an informal ecumenism which had resulted from the Billy Graham Crusade. Secondly, it facilitated an appeal to those disenchanted with traditional institutional Christianity. The ease with which a person could "join" the movement and the comparative absence of formal membership qualifications and criteria made it attractive to those seeking a simpler, less institutional form of Christianity.[4]

      However, this lack of focus also had some disadvantages. The loyalty of the movement's "members" was directed towards an evangelical style of belief, rather than towards an evangelical denomination or group of churches. Consequently, there was initially little sense of corporate identity within the early New Life Churches, which were in effect simply gravitational accretions of like-minded believers. Although these adherents gave some allegiance to the local "assembly," their first loyalty was to Christ, and consequently the movement has tended, until comparatively recently, to give less attention to matters of church polity than to those of the Lordship of Christ, the salvation of sinners and, especially, the activity and power of the Holy Spirit.

      Several examples of this fluid sense of corporate identity can be cited. The first of these relates to the connections between the early "Full Gospel" campaigners and the Pentecostal group then known as the "National Revival Crusade."[5] Although Rob Wheeler later stated quite emphatically that this group was "not our move,"[6] there was nothing in Wheeler's


Bible Deliverance, or in other magazines then produced by the movement, to suggest that any differentiation was made at the time between the "National Revival Crusade" and the activities of Wheeler and the other "Full Gospel" campaigners. Evangelism itself formed the "centre" around which the participants gathered, and the looseness of this association, and the similarity of aims and ideals amongst its followers, would have left most of Wheeler's converts unaware that the "National Revival Crusade" was in fact quite distinct from the "Full Gospel" movement. Rather, both groups were viewed as simply fellowships of "people who loved the Lord," and the niceties of where a person "belonged" were relatively unimportant.

      This fluidity of identity was, to some degree, typical of Pentecostalism as a movement, with the corporate affiliation of a local congregation often depending upon the connections of its pastor. An interesting example of this can be seen in the advertisements in the "Religious Notices" columns of the Timaru Herald for 1959 and 1960. Throughout this period, a small independent Pentecostal group met regularly in the Orange Hall in Bank Street, Timaru.[7] Although a corporate title was not always used by this minuscule group, it sometimes advertised itself by titles such as "Pentecostal Fellowship" or "Full Gospel Mission."[8] This small assembly was later pastored for some months by an itinerant Assemblies of God worker, Laurie Murray, and during his tenure the weekly newspaper advertisement appeared under the heading of "Assemblies of God." At the same time, a sign was erected on a section on the Bay Hill overlooking Caroline Bay, indicating that an Assemblies of God church would shortly be built on the location.[9]


      The affiliation with the Assemblies of God appears to have been comparatively short-lived. Following A.S. Worley's first Timaru campaign in April 1960, the weekly advertisement began to appear under the heading of "Full Gospel Mission." It therefore appears that links with the Assemblies of God were not strong, and may have been due to Murray's influence.[10] As a result of Worley's highly successful second campaign in June and July 1960, the majority of this small congregation appear to have transferred their allegiance, becoming members of the new church that resulted from the campaign. The "Full Gospel Mission" itself ceased to exist, and Murray himself moved on to Westport. The short life-span of the "Full Gospel Mission," and the ease with which its members could shift their allegiance, both in terms of denominational identity, and in terms of transfer to another church, appears to be a typical feature of New Zealand Pentecostal groups.

      Several observations can be made from these examples. The corporate identity of Pentecostal believers frequently tended to be ephemeral, particularly by comparison with that of the members of more institutional "main-stream" churches. Consequently, church affiliation per se does not necessarily define the boundaries of the New Life Churches, particularly in their early stages. Nevertheless, certain characteristics did serve to identify the early movement. These may be classified as firstly, attributes of doctrine; secondly, attributes of church polity; and thirdly, attributes of ethos. These characteristics were inherited from the movement's Pentecostal antecedents, and in particular, from the Bethel Temple and Latter Rain movements.



3.2. What were the characteristics of the New Life Churches?

3.2.1. Attributes of Doctrine: The Bethel Temple influence

      The New Life Churches were part of the Pentecostal movement, and consequently had strongly fundamentalist attitudes to the Bible.[11] Nevertheless, their mode of Bible interpretation was quite distinctive. They owed this to the Bethel Temple movement, which provided much of the characteristic hermeneutical and doctrinal framework of the early New Life Churches. The Bethel Temple movement had originated in Seattle, Washington, under the leadership of Pastor W.H. Offiler. It had a strong orientation towards missionary work, and in the 1920s and 1930s had sent out Pentecostal missionaries to many parts of the world. In particular, Indonesia (then known as the Dutch East Indies) was a major field of endeavour, and the Pentecostal movement in that country was built upon the early foundation laid by the Bethel Temple missionaries. The establishment of a Bible School in Surabaya in 1935 did much to spread the characteristic doctrinal emphases of the movement throughout Indonesia.[12]

      The imminent invasion of Java by the Japanese compelled the evacuation of the Bethel Temple missionaries from Surabaya in early 1942. On the voyage back to the United States, their ship stopped over for four days in Wellington, where the Pentecostal Church of New Zealand hosted the Bethel Temple missionaries during their time in port. That brief visit led to the issuing of an invitation to return after the end of the War to work with the Pentecostal Church of New Zealand. Three of the Bethel Temple missionaries did so: Al Edmondson, John Banks and Ray Jackson. Of these, Jackson was the most significant for the genesis of the New Life Churches. He was a particularly gifted Bible teacher, and had an effective ministry in Auckland throughout 1945 and 1946. However, the ministry of the Bethel Temple missionaries proved to be highly controversial. In particular, their teaching on "the Name" (i.e. that believers were to be baptised in the name of "the Lord Jesus Christ" rather than that of "the Father, Son and Holy Spirit") created much dissension in the Pentecostal movement. This led to the resignation of the three Americans from the Pentecostal Church of New Zealand in early 1946,[13] with many other people also leaving to


follow the new teaching. This secession marked the beginnings of what later became the New Life Churches of New Zealand.

      To some extent, the controversy over "the Name" was brought about by the particular hermeneutical method of the Bethel Temple teachers. Offiler had placed a strong emphasis on the direct "revelation" by the Holy Spirit of the hidden truths of the Bible. In his book God and His Bible, widely circulated among the early New Life Churches, he claimed that his doctrines "do not follow any of the usual lines of modern Bible teaching, for much of the subject matter has come to the author by the direct revelation of the Holy Spirit of God."[14] This illuminist emphasis on "revelation" was reflected in his hermeneutical method, which was based on Bible "typology." Offiler interpreted incidents and events in the Old Testament as being "types" or "shadows" of heavenly things,[15] claiming that "the Old Testament is filled with typical things, and every type, has its anti-typical revelation, and fulfilment. The typological studies, are filled with great blessing for all who will search."[16] A striking example of Offiler's allegorical typology was that of "the Sun, the Moon, and the Stars, [which] are a magnificent revelation of the Godhead Bodily,[17] as The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit."[18] Other types include those of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as a three-fold allegory of the Trinity; likewise, "the Rod, the Rock and the Living Waters" (based on Numbers 20:8), and so on. Much of Offiler's typology follows a similar three-fold pattern, reflecting his emphasis on the Trinitarian being of God, and could be applied to any part of the Old Testament. In particular, the Tabernacle of Moses was an abundant source


of allegorical "types." For example, the outer court of the Tabernacle symbolised the Mosaic dispensation of law; the holy place, the church age of grace; while the holy of holies, where God's presence dwelt, foreshadowed the millennial age of glory. This typological method of interpretation formed the basis of the hermeneutical method employed by the early New Life Churches.

      Offiler's teachings were also strongly millennial and dispensational, having marked similarities with those of J.N. Darby and the Brethren movement. Like them, he viewed human history as being divided into "dispensations" of time. Offiler held that there were three such dispensations, the first of which, from 4000 B.C.[19] to 2000 B.C., was that of the Father[20]; the two thousand years from 2000 B.C. to the Christian era were the dispensation of the Son[21]; and the two thousand years of the Christian era were the dispensation of the Spirit.[22] These made up six one-thousand-year "days"[23] of the "Redemptive Week," which corresponded to the six "days" of the "Creative week" of Genesis 1, and the seventh day of rest foreshadowed the thousand-year reign of Christ during the millennium.

      The effect of this legacy on the New Life Churches was two-fold. It generated a characteristic style of Pentecostal Bible teaching, and provided the movement with an hermeneutical methodology which gave full rein to the imaginative use of allegory and typology. Consequently, many of the New Life Churches' characteristic doctrines, such as their emphasis on the Tabernacle of Moses, came directly from their Bethel Temple antecedents. Of greater importance, however, was the Bible teaching ethos which these churches inherited from the Bethel Temple movement. From their earliest beginnings, the New Life Churches were a teaching movement. They emphasised the role of residential


Bible Schools, such as those conducted by Rob Wheeler in Tauranga from 1959 to 1966, by Ron Coady in Nelson in 1963 and 1964, and by Peter Morrow in Christchurch from 1971 on, as well as that of small ad hoc Bible Schools conducted in local churches by the pastors of the movement. This Bible teaching ethos therefore permeated the movement, and, as will be seen in chapter 4, made a major contribution to the beginnings of the charismatic movement in the later 1960s.


3.2.2. Attributes of Polity: The Latter Rain influence

      The Bethel Temple influence on the New Life Churches was reinforced by that of a radically independent Pentecostal movement known as the "Latter Rain."[24] This had its origins in an outbreak of Pentecostal revivalism in North Battleford, Saskatchewan, Canada, in early 1948. Nichol characterises this movement as "a counteraction to the growing denominationalism of the Pentecostal movement" and comments that it soon became "an organisation of come-outers, replete with tenets of faith and a charismatic leadership."[25] However, Nichol's reference to "organisation" may not be entirely accurate. Riss concurs that the Latter Rain did represent a "reaction against the denominationalism that had developed within Pentecostalism," but denies that there was a progression towards organisation, observing that "no denomination...arose out of the Latter Rain movement....[Although] there remain countless independent churches throughout North America that became established during this time."[26] The Latter Rain emphasis on the autonomy of the local church prevented these "independent churches" from coalescing into an organised denominational movement.


      Following his return to the United States in 1947, Ray Jackson became a participant in the "Latter Rain," receiving ordination as an "Apostle to New Zealand" at the hands of its leaders. His return to New Zealand introduced the movement into this country. Jackson was able to amalgamate the Latter Rain teachings successfully with his earlier Bethel Temple doctrines, and these, together with his strong and somewhat autocratic style of pastoral leadership, gave the embryonic New Life Churches their characteristic distrust of structural organisation, their strong emphasis on the autonomy of the local church, and many of their distinctive doctrines and practices.

      In character, the Latter Rain movement was restorationist and perfectionist in doctrine, charismatic in ethos, and strongly anti-organisational in church polity. These attributes were reflected in six distinctive emphases. The first of these was that of the impartation of the gifts of the Spirit[27] by the means of the "laying on of hands," rather than by the traditional Pentecostal method of "tarrying" in prayer until God sovereignly baptised the seeker in the Holy Spirit.[28] A second emphasis involved the recognition and "setting apart" by means of the laying on of hands and prophecy, of various "anointed" individuals as "ministries" to the Body of Christ. This was interpreted as a restoration of "the five-fold ministry" of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers (Ephesians 4:11), by which the Church would be "brought to perfection."[29]

      These two doctrinal emphases reflected the charismatic ethos of the movement, and were based on the restorationist belief that God was bringing back to His last-days Church the "foundational" truths of Hebrews 6:1-2, the experience


of which had been "lost" since the time of the Book of Acts.[30] The truths of "repentance from dead works" and "faith towards God" were viewed as having been restored to the experience of the Church through Martin Luther, and that of "baptisms" through the Anabaptist and early Pentecostal movements. The "laying on of hands" emphasis of the Latter Rain movement was seen as the fourth step in this process of restoration, with the final two truths of "resurrection from the dead" and "eternal judgement" awaiting experiential restoration in the future.

      The belief that the Church was to be brought to "the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:13 KJV) by the restored "five-fold ministry" led some adherents of the Latter Rain to advocate a third, and strongly perfectionist, emphasis known as "the manifestation of the sons of God."[31] Early "Latter Rain" publications make reference to this triumphalist

vision of the Manifestation of the Sons of God in the last days of this dispensation. This mighty army was seen conquering all before it. Sickness and disease were vanishing, and all evil spirits were seen scattered before the triumphant power of God's people.[32]

The "manifest sons of God" were perceived as an army of victorious saints, who would enter into all that God had promised the Church in the last days. This extreme perfectionism was not espoused by all sections of the movement, although Bill Britton later became a prominent exponent of the "Sons of God" doctrine.

      A fourth Latter Rain emphasis, "the Three Feasts of Israel," restated this perfectionist belief in a less stridently triumphalist form. This teaching interpreted the three Old Testament feasts of Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles as prophetic symbols of God's provision for His Church. The Feast of Passover, in which the Passover Lamb was killed in commemoration of Israel's deliverance from Egypt, was seen as being fulfilled in the salvation provided through the Cross, where "Christ our passover [was] sacrificed for us" (1 Corinthians 5:7 KJV). Likewise, the Feast of Pentecost pointed towards the descent of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. However, the Church had yet to experience the fulfilment of the Feast of Tabernacles, which foreshadowed the perfection of the Church in


"the end of the age." In New Zealand, this particular teaching was unique to the New Life Churches.[33]

      The charismatic ethos and anti-organisational temper of the Latter Rain movement was exemplified in its emphasis on praise and worship. This incorporated several characteristic practices such as spontaneous "singing in the Spirit," raising of hands and other physical expressions of worship. These have now become standard features in the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements. However, the claim that these practices had their origins in the Latter Rain movement is not entirely correct, since this movement brought about their revival rather than their introduction de novo. "Singing in the Spirit," for example, had been a feature of Pentecostalism in the early years of this century,[34] when "the `heavenly choir,' joined by various people in spontaneous harmony, attracted considerable interest. Those who heard it or participated in it claimed they could never adequately describe its beauty or sacredness."[35] An early participant recalled his experience of it:

There was a low murmur of sound from several directions over the congregation. This grew in volume until six persons were on their feet singing in rich harmony a song in the Spirit. Their eyes were closed, but without any confusion these persons moved from their various locations to the front of the hall, where they stood together singing in tongues in beautiful unison, then in harmonizing parts. To me was granted the glorious privilege of being one of [the participants in] this first such sensation of the Spirit's power. The sensation was like being a pipe from which poured forth the wonderful melody from deep within my being.[36]

      The phenomenon of "singing in the Spirit" was especially prominent in the campaigns of Maria Woodworth-Etter in the early 1900s.[37] It also occurred in the 1904 Welsh Revival,


where it may have been stimulated by the characteristic Welsh phenomenon of hwyl,[38] and in the early Pentecostal movement in New Zealand.[39] However, it appears to have fallen into desuetude in later Pentecostalism. This may have been the consequence, at least in part, of a progression towards Pentecostal organisation. The renewal of "singing in the Spirit" in the Latter Rain movement appears to have reflected not only a desire for charismatic freedom, but also a response to the routinisation of the Pentecostal movement.

      This charismatic freedom was also a characteristic of the early New Life Churches, which gave their adherents free rein to "sing in the Spirit" and to function in the gifts of the Spirit. Rob Wheeler recalled that during Ray Jackson's 1951 Bible School in Sydney, the students "would meet together for prayer at nine [a.m.]; we might still be `singing in the Spirit' at one o'clock in the afternoon."[40] Ron Coady commented that when the students visited meetings at other Pentecostal churches,

we would begin to sing together and the Spirit of God would fall upon the congregations - and that is not an exaggeration - until, in the end, when we would come into a church, people would say `whatever you do, don't let them sing - because if you do, the service will be taken out of your hands.'[41]

      The practice of "singing in the Spirit" was paralleled by a vigorous aversion towards structural organisation.[42] This antipathy was the most distinctive emphasis of the "Latter Rain,"


which claimed with some justification that the Pentecostal movement had lost its charismatic fervour, becoming more organised and hence more "denominational." Since the Latter Rain movement considered all organisation to be "Babylonian" and antithetical to the freedom of the Spirit, the "apostate" denominational Pentecostal churches were therefore "backslidden" and deserving of rebuke.[43]

      This anti-organisational polity had considerable resonance with the views of the early Pentecostal movement itself, which, from its very beginnings, tended to regard "organization" with suspicion. Just four months after the start of the "Azusa Street" revival, Frank Bartleman records, with a mixture of dismay and righteous indignation, that

      `Azusa' began to fail the Lord also, early in her history. God showed me one day that they were going to organize, though not a word had been said in my hearing about it. The Spirit revealed it to me. He had me get up and warn them against making a `party' spirit of the Pentecostal work. The `baptized' saints were to remain `one body,' even as they had been called, and to remain free even as His Spirit was free, not `entangled again in a yoke of (ecclesiastical) bondage.'...That spirit has been the curse of every revival body sooner or later....

      Sure enough the very next day after I dropped this warning in the meeting, I found a sign outside `Azusa' reading `Apostolic Faith Mission.'[44] The Lord said: `That is what I told you.' They had done it.[45]

      Bartleman's views on the "evils" of organisation reflected the main-stream of early Pentecostal thinking. By reviving this emphasis at a time when many Pentecostal groups had become more "organised,"[46] the Latter Rain movement was able to exploit a


potent residual core of belief.[47] The movement laid major stress on the independence and sovereignty of the local church, holding that the principle of local autonomy was not to be vitiated by any system of external authority, and that any church polity which vested governmental jurisdiction in a central body was "denominational" and hence "Babylonian." In essence, the Latter Rain was a fellowship of churches rather than a denomination. It modelled its method of dealing with relationships between the various local churches on the practice of the Swedish Independent Assemblies of God, which, as Everett Moore observed,

believe in a very close organization of the church on the local level but fear the ill effects of an organization on the national scale. Their national conventions are much the same as those of the groups which admit their classification as a denomination with one clear-cut exception: no minutes are kept of the deliberations of such meetings. The resolutions are not binding on the local churches but merely serve for their guidance.[48]

      Because the New Life Churches modelled their polity on that of the Latter Rain movement, their emphasis has always been vigorously "un-denominational." Their antipathy towards structural organisation was paralleled by the importance which they placed on the autonomy of the local church, and these have been the most significant and enduring of the distinctive features inherited from their Latter Rain antecedents. The movement was scrupulous in its avoidance of any form of organisational structure, and each "indigenous" local church tended to follow its own independent course.[49]


      The first instance of united action on a national scale within the movement came in 1965 with the advertising campaign known as "Operation Gideon." This helped to foster a sense of corporate identity, and by 1967 some sections of the movement (particularly those associated with Rob Wheeler) had adopted the title "Indigenous Full Gospel Assemblies of New Zealand" as a collective label for the movement.[50] As these churches multiplied, some kind of informal network became necessary to regulate relationships between them. The evolution of a more coherent polity continued throughout the 1970s, although it was not until the early 1980s that this began to take concrete form. By the late 1980s, the New Life Churches had become more centralized and organized, although this process was strongly resisted in some parts of the movement. There was a tension between the movement's cardinal principle of the autonomy and independence of the local church and the need, because of its growing size and complexity, for a coherent corporate structure. Although the "indigenous" autonomy of the local church is still strongly maintained, this distinctive polity now appears to be increasingly dysfunctional.

      To summarise: the New Life Churches inherited a number of features from the Latter Rain movement, among which were the practices of the laying on of hands and "singing in the Spirit." However, the most important legacy was the emphasis on the autonomy of the local church, which provided the New Life Churches with their distinctive "indigenous" polity. This emphasis continues to be strongly advocated in some sections of the movement, although it has now, to some extent, become dysfunctional because of the movement's growth. The tension between the principle of local autonomy and the need for collective organisation has produced many changes in the New Life Churches in the late 1980s, not the least of which was the appointment of Rob Wheeler and Peter Morrow as "apostles" at the 1987 Annual Conference and the resultant secession of the "South Pacific Churches" from the movement.


3.2.3. Attributes of Ethos: The Sectarian influence

      As has already been noted, Pentecostal "belonging" is frequently loosely-defined and ephemeral. The boundaries of Pentecostal groups often tend to be blurred, with their adherents describing themselves as "Christian" or "undenominational," rather than as "Pentecostal" or by the title of the particular group. The focus of Pentecostal identity is on a person's individual relationship with Christ, and issues of denominational identity and belief are usually of lesser importance. This enabled the movement to benefit from the informal Evangelical ecumenism of the 1960s. However, despite this apparently inclusive ambit, Pentecostalism was in fact strongly sectarian,[51] since a pronounced sense of difference from the world provided a significant boundary for groups within the movement.

      Max Weber's analysis of "sectarianism" had included the attributes of "exclusiveness and elitism," which, together with the "emphasis on the recruitment of committed adults" and the "tendency of sects to separate from their surrounding society" were definitive hallmarks of such groups.[52] Ernst Troeltsch later emphasised the dichotomy between sects and churches, and extended Weber's observation that all movements emerge as sects, and with the passage of time and the process of growth, become more denominational and church-like.[53] More recently, important contributions to the study of sect development have been made by Bryan Wilson, who analyses the patterns of sectarianism and distinguishes


four separate classes of sect. These are: conversionist sects, which "seek to alter men [sic], and thereby to alter the world"; adventist sects, which "predict the drastic alteration of the world"; introversionist sects, which "reject the world's values and replace them with higher inner values"; and gnostic sects, which "accept in large measure the world's goals but seek a new and esoteric means to achieve these ends."[54]

      Wilson categorises Pentecostalism as a "conversionist" sect, in which evangelism is central and which bases its beliefs on a literal interpretation of the Bible. He observes that this type of sect is the one most likely to evolve into a denomination,[55] but goes on to point out that while a conversionist sect "precludes no one," it is nevertheless

distrustful of, or indifferent towards, the denominations and churches which at best have diluted, and at worst betrayed, Christianity; it is hostile to clerical learning and especially to modernism; it is opposed to modern science, particularly to geology and to evolutionary theories; [and] it disdains the artistic values accepted in the wider society.[56]

      However, movements cannot always be pigeon-holed tidily into convenient, well-defined, categories. To some extent, Wilson's sectarian categories fail to match the reality, since while much of his "conversionist" analysis would be applicable to the New Life Churches, particularly in the earlier stages of their history, these churches could equally well be categorised as "adventist" because of their "end-time" Latter Rain message; or as "gnostic" because of their Bethel Temple emphasis on a deeper "revelatory" understanding of the Bible; or even as "introversionist," since their experience of the Spirit was essentially an inward, personal one. The New Life Churches, and Pentecostal groups in general, exemplify elements of all of Wilson's categories and cannot be subsumed under any single heading.

      Nevertheless, it is true that the New Life Churches had a strongly conversionist ethos. Evangelism was, to a great extent, their raison d'être, and this enabled them to appeal to a


broad religious constituency. However, in defining themselves as "born-again Christians," in contrast to "denominational Christians," adherents of the movement tended to denigrate other forms of religious belief and experience which did not coincide with their own. The corollary of their individualistic emphasis on a personal commitment to Christ was often non-acceptance of other ways of approach to God.[57]

      What were the sectarian characteristics of the New Life Churches? Two elements of Wilson's analysis are particularly relevant to a study of the early movement and its sectarian ethos. These are its attitudes to the values of the wider society, and its attitudes to other churches. Attitudes to societal values

      Adherents of the New Life Churches rejected the values of "the world," believing that the Christian life offered greater fulfilment. Several examples of this attitude can be found in the Gospel Truth, a short-lived periodical published by the Timaru Missionary Revival Centre from July 1964 to April 1965. The first issue is devoted to teenagers, and the front page article, headed "Teenagers find answers," includes statements such as:

      Being a Christian is the most satisfying life anyone can imagine. The worldly life looks so exciting, but is like biting into a luscious-looking apple, only to find it has no flavour and is rotten to the core.

      The Christian life is the reverse; to some it looks stodgy and uninteresting on the outside, but when you enter in, you never want another thing, except more of the Christian life. It is the answer to every quest for adventure, which is in every young person. Being a Christian is thrilling.[58]

      The magazine includes a number of "testimonies" from some of the young people of the church, under headings such as "I Was a Teddy Girl," "Former Jockey Now Bible Student," "Dancing Was My Life," and "I wanted a Kick out of Life." The motif of these articles is that each of these young people was "trying to satisfy a longing in my soul," and it was not until they "accepted Jesus as my saviour" that they found the happiness that they were


looking for. One teen-age girl who had "trained [as a Highland dancer] for eight years and during that time won nearly 100 prizes, including medals and cups" now said that

as a young person I can testify that the Lord takes all worldly desires away because he puts something more lasting in its place. I kept up my dancing for some time but I knew I had lost all interest in it. When I went to dances I just didn't enjoy them any more, and when the excitement was over I was left with nothing. I am interested now only in serving the Lord.[59]

      This rejection of "worldly" activities was a corollary of one's experience with Christ, which, in theory, satisfied a person so completely that there was neither need nor desire for the "things of the world." Instead, the person's desire was now set on "serving the Lord," and the satisfaction of finding and fulfilling God's purpose for their lives provided a powerful, and genuine, motivation for these young people to reject the enticements of the "world." The Timaru Missionary Revival Centre was typical of other churches in the movement in that this motivation was reinforced by a strong emphasis on, and preparation and training for, going to the mission field.[60]

      A further example of the way in which the early New Life Churches rejected societal values may be seen in their hostile attitude towards higher education. To some extent, this antipathy was a legacy of the anti-intellectualism which characterised most Pentecostal groups, reflecting the comparatively meagre educational level of many of their adherents.[61] However, there was also an element of fear that Pentecostal young people who went to University would lose their faith, and possibly also their moral integrity, through their exposure to the university milieu. The opposition to education was therefore based on a


pastoral concern, and functioned as a mechanism of sectarian social control. Accordingly, university study was discouraged, usually by means of unspoken attitude, but occasionally by direct dissuasion.

      However, there was also an issue of principle behind this rejection of education. The Bible was the only source of authority; what more did the Christian need? Since Christ was "the answer" to all one's longings, it was impossible to admit that any source of fulfilment existed outside of one's own Christian faith. While the New Life Churches were not the only Pentecostal group to hold this view, they were, however, less restrictive than (for example) Ray Jackson's "Associated Mission Churches of Australia."[62] While this strong antipathy towards education was rather more pronounced in these Australian churches[63] than was the case in their New Zealand counterparts, it did reflect a traditional Pentecostal anti-intellectualism which had some parallels in the New Life Churches. University study was therefore discouraged, and the result of this attitude was that it was not until the end of the 1960s that young people from the movement began to filter into the university system.


[92] Attitudes to other churches

      The most conspicuous feature of the movement's sectarian ethos was its strongly anti-ecumenical stance. Bryan Wilson's analysis of conversionist sectarianism is clearly applicable to the New Life Churches, since they could accurately be described as "distrustful of, or indifferent towards, the denominations and churches which at best have diluted, and at worst betrayed, Christianity; [and]...hostile to clerical learning and especially to modernism."[64] This distrust was a product of their exclusivist "Bethel Temple" and "Latter Rain" roots.

      Although this mood of antipathy was quite widespread throughout the New Life Churches, its intensity was not uniform. Some sections of the movement were quite virulent in their opposition to the denominational churches, while others were much more conciliatory. For example, A.S. Worley, whose evangelistic campaigns in Timaru were the "spark" which ignited the expansion of the movement in the South Island, was concerned to make it known that "he and his party were not in agreement with the methods and ministry of those who consistently condemn the established Denominations and their Pastors."[65] For his part, Rob Wheeler sought to be as unobjectionable as possible for the sake of his evangelistic campaigns, and Peter Morrow also had a more open attitude to the mainstream churches than did many of his colleagues. Other sections of the movement, however, were much less restrained, and appeared to take delight in criticism of the established churches.

      There were two main foci of this antipathy towards the denominations. The first of these centred around the perceived "dead formalism" of the churches. A.S. Worley told his converts in Timaru that

now that you have tasted the good Word of God and have come in contact with the living Christ...you will never be satisfied spiritually with anything less than this which you have tasted and found to be good for you in these meetings....You can never be satisfied again with mere forms and ceremonies and social Gospel.[66]


      Worley's comments reflected the commonly-held Pentecostal view that the mainstream churches were "dead" and "formal," and lacked the power of the Holy Spirit by which people were "brought in contact with the living Christ." While he was comparatively mild in his criticisms, others were far more scathing in their attack. This appeared to be particularly the case in those churches associated with Ron Coady. Yet it would be unfair to place the blame for this on Coady, since he was merely the most articulate proponent of this general antipathy, rather than the creator of it. Others in the movement were equally critical of "dead formalism." The first issue of the Gospel Truth, for example, stated that the purpose of the paper was "to proclaim the good news of the Truth that will liberate men and women from sin, formality, dead religion, sickness and poverty, and bring them into contact with a living Christ."[67] Rob Wheeler, in spite of his earlier endeavours to be conciliatory, reported in 1965 that

in the last two years we have seen and preached a new phase of deliverance, and that is to the Christian, bound in tradition, Religious formality and denominationalism....The message is...Bible deliverance from sin, sickness, demons, fear and sectarianism.[68]

The antagonism towards "dead religion" was therefore a widespread one, and was reinforced by the opposition that the movement faced.[69]


      Secondly, the New Life Churches focused their antipathy on the Roman Catholic church and on the World Council of Churches.[70] This anti-ecumenical attitude is demonstrated in a number of articles in the publications of the movement, of which Kevin Conner's series entitled "Who is the Harlot Church?"[71] provides a good example. Conner begins by asking the rhetorical question "Who is the Harlot Church, is it Protestantism, Modernism, Roman Catholicism or is it the World Council of Churches?"[72] and goes on to argue that "if you know the truth about the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ, it should set you free from denominationalism, if you know the truth about the Body of Jesus Christ, it should set you free from sectarianism."[73] His articles presented a sustained call to "come out" from the "false church" which was being gathered, by means of the World Council of Churches, to the "Babylonian" system of the Roman Catholic church. Since Conner was widely respected in the New Life Churches as a Bible teacher, his views carried a good deal of weight.


      Ron Coady's attitude to Roman Catholicism and to the World Council of Churches was more hostile.[74] Although little anti-Catholic or anti-ecumenical polemic appears in the first few issues of his magazine Revival News, the November 1962 issue launches into a full-scale attack on the Second Vatican Council. Coady's editorial in that issue states that

history is in the making....As I write this, the infamous Vatican Council is sitting, scheming to make a grand compromise in order to sweep within its folds, in one great swoop, the present day modernistic Protestant denominations. Rome, the mother of harlots [Rev.17] is opening her doors to welcome back her Protestant daughters....The doctrines of justification by faith only in Christ, the free forgivenness [sic] of sins, the efficacy of the Blood of Christ as the only purging agent of sin, the Bible alone as the rule of faith in doctrines and morals have been undermined and discarded in Protestant churches by traitorous clergy who call themselves the ministers of the Lord....The call is going forth again to the people of God `COME OUT OF HER MY PEOPLE.' Union with Rome will force the true people of God to COME OUT.[75]

      Almost all the articles in this particular issue are polemical, directed against the Roman Catholic church and the World Council of Churches, and later issues of Revival News continued the attack. It is evident that the Second Vatican Council, then just beginning, was viewed with extreme suspicion, and perhaps not a little fear. The Council was seen as setting the stage for the "return to Rome" of the Protestant churches and the advent of the "scarlet woman" of Revelation 17, which was interpreted as "the false church"


[i.e. "Babylon"] from which the true believers must "come out." In the eyes of the New Life Churches, the modernism of the Protestant denominations, and their willingness to enter into dialogue with the Catholic church was proof of their identification with this "Babylonian" system.

      This strong antipathy towards the denominational churches in general, and towards the Roman Catholic church in particular, was especially vigorous during the early years of the New Life Churches. Gordon Copeland, for example, recalls that during his association with Ron Coady's Gospel Lighthouse church in Nelson in the early 1960s, he and the other young people of the church would often engage in face-to-face "witness" with Catholics in order to convince them of the error of their Roman Catholic ways. Not surprisingly, these aggressive attempts at conversion proved to be unsuccessful.[76] It was not until the later 1960s that this attitude of hostility towards the denominational churches began to change.


3.2.4. Contra Mundum: The effect of opposition on the development of the movement

      The sectarian ethos of the New Life Churches was inherited from their Bethel Temple, Latter Rain and Pentecostalist antecedents. The movement's strongly "non-denominational" polity[77] was based on their belief that "denominationalism" (defined as any system of centralized church government, or as a church structure in which the affairs of a local assembly could be directed or controlled "from Headquarters") was "Babylon," from which


they had "come out." They likewise distrusted "organization" as the enemy of the charismatic freedom of the Spirit.[78]

      This aversion to "denominationalism" was reinforced by the New Life Churches' millennial eschatology. They viewed the ecumenical movement as leading to a false world "super-church," which they identified with the "scarlet woman" of Revelation 17, and consequently were strongly opposed to formal links with other churches. As they saw it, genuine ecumenism was a thing of the spirit, based on the fellowship "in the Spirit" between individual Christians, rather than on organisational alliances between denominations. Only those who were "born again" and filled with the Spirit could share this spiritual fellowship, and these constituted the true Church, the "Bride of Christ."

      The effects of these inherited attitudes were reinforced by the opposition which the movement faced. The bitter hostility of the Pentecostal churches to Ray Jackson's teaching on "the Name" in the late 1940s coloured much of the movement's early history,[79] and the healing campaigns of Worley, Wheeler, Coady and other "Full Gospel" evangelists in the late 1950s and early 1960s were often opposed by the mainstream churches.[80] This antagonism necessitated the formation of "indigenous" local churches to care for the converts of these campaigns. However, despite this opposition, many of the "Full Gospel"


evangelists initially had some association with sections of the Pentecostal movement, particularly the group known as the "National Revival Crusade."

      The collapse of these links after the disastrous National Revival Crusade Convention at Easter 1961, and the "rejection" of Rob Wheeler by the Christchurch Pentecostal ministers in June 1961,[81] forced the movement to adopt its own separatist identity. Charles Bilby (the secretary of the Slavic and Oriental Mission in Wellington, and a widely-respected figure in the New Zealand Pentecostal movement) made the observation to Wheeler that "you have one of two options: you will drop right out, or, they [i.e. the Pentecostal churches] have forced you to establish your own `stream.'" Wheeler recalls that his response to this was "`Right!'...so from then on....there [were] no holds barred."[82] He began to adopt some of the more aggressive evangelistic emphases of Ron Coady, and to campaign in opposition to the existing Pentecostal churches. Up to this time, the growth of the movement had been stronger in the South Island, but this more combative approach now sparked an increased momentum in the North Island also. Wheeler observed that as a result of this, "at one stage, between Ron Coady and myself, we were opening a new church every two weeks."[83]

      Opposition from Pentecostal and "mainstream" churches had some significant effects on the development of the New Life Churches in the early 1960s. It fostered their sectarian ethos and reinforced a sense of alienation from other churches and from the world. In so doing, it helped to create and to define the movement's boundaries, and contributed to its


growth.[84] The catalytic role of "persecution" in this process of change was acknowledged by participants in the movement. Rob Wheeler, for example, links the "spontaneous combustion" of this period of growth with the rejection of the movement by other Pentecostal churches,[85] and the nexus between a trenchant response to opposition and a clear-cut sectarian identity is demonstrated by a comparison of the New Life churches in the North and the South Islands. Opposition appears to have been stronger in the south, and the churches established there as a result of Ron Coady's campaigns were sometimes labelled "Coadyites." There do not appear to be any corresponding allusions to "Wheelerites" in the North Island. In part, this is because the origins of these churches were more diversified than was the case in the south; it also appears to be a reflection of the vigorous response of the South Island wing of the movement to the opposition that it faced.

      The effect of this process of change was to create sectarian boundaries in what was originally a somewhat ill-defined "undenominational" movement. The opposition which many local assemblies faced seems to have produced a strong sectarian identity, combined with an antipathy towards other churches. A good example of this was the "Western Districts Christian Mission" at Tuatapere (now relocated at Orepuki and renamed "Orepuki Christian Centre") which was founded as a result of Ron Coady's campaign there in May 1962. Coady's report in Revival News makes specific reference to the strenuous opposition


which that campaign encountered,[86] and the Tuatapere church was subjected to considerable persecution and harassment as time went on.[87] As a result, it became notable in the movement for being the "wildest" and most inflammatory of the New Life Churches, with a high level of polemic against other churches and against society in general. The Tuatapere church therefore epitomised the link between opposition and "persecution" (whether real or perceived), and sectarian attitudes to the wider society.


3.3. Summary and Conclusion

      The New Life Churches were essentially an "undenominational" Pentecostal movement, with an Evangelical identity centred in the believer's personal relationship with Christ. However, the mode of Biblical interpretation which the movement inherited from its Bethel Temple antecedents placed a premium on "revelation" of the truths of the Bible by the Holy Spirit. This tended to reinforce an incipient sectarianism, and consequently their practice of defining themselves simply as "Christian" carried an exclusivist perception that they were the only "real," "born-again," Christians.

      This sectarian exclusivism was intensified by the polity which the New Life Churches inherited from the Latter Rain movement. The emphasis on the independence and autonomy of the local church gave the movement a doctrinal basis for its strong aversion towards denominationalism and hence, towards other churches. Perceptions of opposition and "persecution" at the hands of other Pentecostal churches gave further grounds for this antipathy, and helped to demarcate the sectarian boundaries of the movement.


      The "Latter Rain" polity of the "autonomy of the local church" formed a cardinal principle in the development of the movement. It enabled the rapid expansion of the New Life Churches in the 1960s without the limitations imposed by organisational structures. There were also some disadvantages, however. Links between the various local churches tended to be the product of personal links between the pastors, and the absence of an organisational "center" meant that the movement initially lacked a sense of corporate identity. As a result, cooperative effort between the local churches seldom extended beyond the holding of combined "camp-meeting" conventions for fellowship.[88]

      Nevertheless, as the New Life Churches grew throughout the "boom" years from 1960 to 1967, a gradual change of orientation began to take place. By 1964, the original emphasis on evangelistic campaigns was being replaced by a church planting approach, and the movement's individualistic separatism was giving way to a growing sense of corporate identity. The gradual coalescence of the movement was accelerated by "Operation Gideon" in August 1965.[89] As part of the preparation for this venture, Pastors' Conferences were held at various locations. The South Island Conference was held at Timaru in November 1964,[90] and that of the North Island, at Johnsonville in April 1965.[91] A nation-wide "Combined Convocation" of pastors and congregations followed at Nelson at Easter 1965,[92] and arrangements for "Operation Gideon" were finalised at "a National meeting of the Ministers of the Indigenous Full Gospel Churches of New Zealand" at Akatawara in July 1965, where


history was made: never before had Ministers from Free Indigenous Churches throughout New Zealand met on such common ground....This Full Gospel Conference at Akatawera [sic]...[was] the first of its kind ever, but not the last.[93]

      These conferences helped to cement a new unity and a sense of corporate identity among the "Indigenous Churches." Although the ethos of the movement remained strongly sectarian (particularly in its attitude towards other churches), a major change in orientation was under way. In part, this represented the transition from an era of evangelical campaigns to one of evangelical churches. The amalgamation of Wheeler's Bible Deliverance magazine with Ray Necklen's Church Bells in June 1966 and the demise of Ron Coady's Revival News six months later, reflected this transition. Church Bells continued until September 1968, and was essentially an "in-house" news magazine for the movement, rather than a periodical produced by an evangelistic ministry as its predecessors had been. This change of focus, together with the co-operative effort of "Operation Gideon," marked the beginnings of an evolution of the "Indigenous Full Gospel Churches of New Zealand" into an identifiable association of churches. With the advent of the Charismatic movement in the later 1960s, the separatist sectarianism of these churches also began to be modified. This will be discussed in chapter 4.


[1]       This title is employed for the sake of convenience, even though the movement did not adopt it as an official name until 1988. However, regardless of the title adopted, it must be used with caution, as the "New Life Churches" were not a single "stream." They represented the confluence of a number of distinct and separate "tributaries," each with its own characteristic beginning, ethos and orientation. It would therefore be a mistake to read too much of the later institutional history of the New Life Churches into the early campaigns and thus to "denominate" the converts and churches that resulted from them.

[2]       An interesting article, examining the way in which collective boundaries are modified and relocated, is Adam Seligman, "Collective Boundaries and Social Reconstruction in Seventeenth-Century New England," Journal of Religious History 16 (1991): 260-279.

[3]       Bill Hotter, Comment to author, Christchurch, December 1989. Emphasis as cited. The title "New Life Centre" in any case would be an anachronism, as the name was not used by the Christchurch assembly until the 1970s.

[4]       This is not to say that the movement did not have qualifications for membership. A person was not considered to be a "born-again" Christian unless they had "received Christ as their personal Saviour"; the Baptism of the Holy Spirit was also a criterion of paramount importance. However, these factors did not function as formal criteria, the fulfilling of which admitted a person to membership in a specific church, but as informal, but essential, qualifications which linked a person to Christ. Consequently, the membership of a Pentecostal church tended to include only those who were currently attending its services and who were actively involved in the ongoing life of the assembly. The intrinsic weakness of these informal linkages was, however, counterbalanced by a strong sectarian sense of difference from the world, which created a collective boundary and hence a sense of Christian identity. Formal regulators of membership such as church rolls and disjunction certificates were not therefore necessary. Nevertheless, movement of people between individual Pentecostal churches sometimes occurred, although this was much less common across the boundary between Pentecostal and non-Pentecostal churches.

[5]       Now known as the "Christian Revival Crusade." See Worsfold, History, pp.292-296.

[6]       Rob Wheeler, Comment to author, Auckland, 1989. Emphasis as cited. This comment was a response to the author's identification of the "Full Gospel" churches with the "National Revival Crusade" (Knowles, "For the Sake of the Name," p.25ff). Wheeler disagreed strongly with this analysis.

[7]       Laurie Murray describes this group, in somewhat unflattering terms, as "about half-a-dozen old-timers who had either just managed to hold on in the face of general despising and rejection; or maybe their forthright and ever-exuberant witness had frightened people for miles around" (Laurie Murray, Where to, World 1977? (Palmerston North: By the Author, n.d. [1977]), p.25). Murray's portrayal of the somewhat eccentric character of this group appears to be an accurate one. They were quite typical of many smaller Pentecostal groups in New Zealand at that time.

[8]       The use of this latter title did not imply a connection with the "Full Gospel" campaigns of Rob Wheeler and others.

[9]       Murray, Where to, World? p.25. Ian Clark referred to this land and indicated that it had been owned for a number of years by the Assemblies of God (Clark, Interview). However, it is unclear whether the section was made available to the Timaru group because of Murray's links with the Assemblies of God, or whether, as Murray himself asserts, the members of the local congregation themselves "had part-shares in" the property (Murray, Where to, World? p.25).

[10]     The "Full Gospel Mission" included among its members Ada Pollock (neé Saunders) and her husband, Jimmy. The Saunders sisters had been founding members of the Pentecostal Church of New Zealand, established in 1924 as a result of Smith Wigglesworth's healing campaigns (Worsfold, History, pp.167, 172 and 175). Zona Knowles, who became a member of this group in the late 1950s, emphasises that the Saunders sisters were "Pentecostal" (i.e. Pentecostal Church of New Zealand) rather than "Assemblies of God" adherents, and that it was Ada Pollock herself who had invited Worley to Timaru for his first campaign in April 1960 (Zona Knowles, Comment to author, Timaru, 26 November 1989).

[11]     Anderson, Vision of the Disinherited, p.5: "the Pentecostals have always prided themselves on their commitment to what they believe to be the `Fundamentals' of historic Christianity."

[12]     Nichol, The Pentecostals, pp.176-177.

[13]     The outcome of this controversy, and the issues which underlay it are discussed in Knowles, "For the Sake of the Name," pp.13-18. The teaching was seen as being "Jesus Only" (i.e. unitarian Pentecostalism), and as such was regarded as "heretical" by other Pentecostal groups. The best account of the origins of the "Jesus Only" schism in the Pentecostal movement is Vinson Synan, The Holiness-Pentecostal Movement in the United States (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1971), pp.153-163.

[14]     W.H. Offiler, God and His Bible, or The Harmonies of Divine Revelation (Seattle, Washington: Bethel Temple, 1946), p.11. This book contained the essence of Offiler's teaching on the Bible, divided into 120 specific topics.

[15]     Offiler based this methodology on Hebrews 8:5, which describes the Old Testament priesthood as being "the example and shadow of heavenly things" (KJV).

[16]     Offiler, God and His Bible, p.172. The somewhat idiosyncratic punctuation is as cited.

[17]     Offiler uses the phrase "Godhead Bodily" (Colossians 2:9 KJV) to denote the Trinity.

[18]     Offiler, God and His Bible, p.172. He discusses this particular "type," which forms the basis of his Trinitarian understanding, at greater length in W.H. Offiler, The Majesty of the Symbol, or Bible Astronomy (Seattle, Washington: By the Author, 1933).

[19]     Offiler believed, as did Archbishop Ussher in the seventeenth century, that the world was created in 4004 B.C.E.

[20]     I.e. from Adam, the "father" of the human race, to Abraham, the "father of all them that believe" (Romans 4:11 KJV).

[21]     I.e. from Isaac, the only-begotten son of the father (Abraham), to Jesus, the only-begotten Son of the Father (God).

[22]     I.e. from the "former rain" outpouring of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost, to the "latter rain" outpouring which was to come at the "end of the age."

[23]     Based upon a literalist interpretation of 2 Peter 3:8, "one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day" (KJV).

[24]     The fullest accounts of the "Latter Rain" movement (or the "New Order of the Latter Rain," as it was sometimes called) are to be found in Riss, Latter Rain; and idem, "Latter Rain Movement," in Burgess et al., Dictionary, pp.532-534. Blumhofer, The Assemblies of God 2: 53-67, offers a critical perspective on the movement. Other treatments are somewhat meagre: Nichol, The Pentecostals, pp.237-238, makes only a brief reference to the "Latter Rain," and although Hollenweger, The Pentecostals, pp.72ff., refers to the "Latter Rain Assemblies of South Africa," this group appears to be a different movement (although using a similar name), since it was based in South Africa, and was active in the 1920s.

[25]     Nichol, The Pentecostals, p.238.

[26]     Riss, Latter Rain, p.77.

[27]     Although all of the nine charismatic gifts could be thus imparted, those of tongues, prophecy and the "word of knowledge" appear to have been the most emphasised in practice.

[28]     This application of the "laying on of hands" has now become a standard feature of most Pentecostal and Charismatic groups. However, Rob Wheeler commented that it was considered by other Pentecostal groups at that time to be a "bizarre" practice (Wheeler, Interview).

[29]     Particular emphasis was placed on the roles of the apostles and prophets, and on the recognition and ordination of "anointed" individuals to these offices.

[30]     This "loss" did not imply a lack of knowledge or of belief, but rather the lack of an experiential "living-out" of these truths in the Church.

[31]     The phrase is taken from Romans 8:18-23 (KJV).

[32]     George R. Hawtin, "Editorial," The Sharon Star, 1 April 1949, p.2, cited in Riss, Latter Rain, p.96.

[33]     Bruce Wást, Comment to author, Dunedin, 1 October 1989. Wást is pastor of the Word of Life Tabernacle, Dunedin. For an example of the teaching of the New Life Churches on the "Three Feasts of Israel," see Ron Coady's seven-part series on "The Feasts of the Lord" in Bible Deliverance, April-October 1959.

[34]     Occurrences of the "heavenly chorus" during the 1906 Revival at "Azusa Street" are recorded in Frank Bartleman, What really happened at Azusa Street? ed. John Walker (Northridge, California: Voice Christian Publications, 1962), pp.31-32.

[35]     Blumhofer, The Assemblies of God 1:145. Blumhofer cites an example of the phenomenon which occurred during a service at Elim House in Rochester, New York, in 1908.

[36]     Gordon P. Gardiner, "Out of Zion...Into the World," Bread of Life 31 (February 1982): 6, cited in Ibid., 1:142.

[37]     Riss, Latter Rain, pp.83ff. According to Riss, Mrs. Woodworth-Etter's account of the phenomenon in her book Signs and Wonders God Wrought in the Ministry for Forty Years (Indianapolis, Indiana: By the Author, 1916) provided a catalyst for its resurgence some thirty years later in the Latter Rain movement.

[38]     Hwyl is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed., s.v. "Hwyl," as "an emotional quality which inspires and sustains impassioned eloquence; also, the fervour of emotion characteristic of gatherings of Welsh people." Audrey Way, secretary of Knox Theological Hall, and herself of Welsh origins, describes it as arising from a state of hiraeth, a "deep, deep, longing" (Audrey Way, Comment to author, Dunedin, 1990). The phenomenon therefore includes excitement, emotion and yearning, often expressed in spontaneous, heart-felt singing. Perhaps the best example of hwyl is that of a Welsh crowd at a Rugby test match at Cardiff Arms Park!

[39]     James Worsfold, for example, recalls "singing in the Spirit" as a child in the early days of New Zealand Pentecostalism (James Worsfold, Comment to author, Wellington, September 1990).

[40]     Wheeler, Interview.

[41]     Coady, Interview.

[42]     These characteristics were later incorporated into the doctrine of "The Tabernacle of David." For examples of the movement's exposition of this, see Kevin J. Conner, The Tabernacle of David (Portland, Oregon: Conner Publications, 1976); Rob Wheeler, "David's Tabernacle," Bible Deliverance, December 1965, pp.9-10,12; and Bro. [Ron] Coady, "I will build again the Tabernacle of David," Restoration, January-June 1967, pp.8-10.

[43]     Nichol, The Pentecostals, p.238.

[44]     This title represented an association with the "Apostolic Faith Movement" of Charles Fox Parham. William J. Seymour, the leader of the "Azusa Street" mission, had links with Parham (Blumhofer, The Assemblies of God, 1:104-105).

[45]     Bartleman, What really happened at Azusa Street? pp.41-42. Bartleman's response was to leave this group and to start up another "Pentecostal Mission."

[46]     For one example of this process of Pentecostal "organisation," see Blumhofer, The Assemblies of God, 1 & 2: passim. However, Gerlach and Hine, in their study of "movements of social transformation," characterize the Pentecostal movement as decentralised, segmented and reticulated (Gerlach and Hine, People, Power, Change, pp.34ff.), defining these terms as follows: "Decentralization has to do with the decision-making, regulatory functions of the movement. Segmentation has to do with the social structure - the composition of parts that make up the movement as a whole. Reticulation has to do with the way these parts are tied together into a network" (Ibid., p.34). As portrayed by Gerlach and Hine, the Pentecostal movement in America at that time (1965-1967) appears to be largely "un-denominational." This reversal of the earlier trend towards Pentecostal denominationalism may be due to the influence of the Latter Rain and healing movements, which, together with the emerging charismatic movement, created a constituency of Pentecostal adherents beyond the boundaries of the denominational Pentecostal groups such as the Assemblies of God. Since only two of the seven groups investigated by Gerlach and Hine had connections with Pentecostal denominations (Ibid., pp.8-12), their study is based largely (but not exclusively) on this wider constituency. Denominational formats of Pentecostal polity, such as that of the Assemblies of God, therefore appear to be the exception rather than the rule in the 1960s.

[47]     Blumhofer observes that the "continuity of their message with the rhetoric of early Pentecostals assured them...a hearing" (Blumhofer, The Assemblies of God, 2:56).

[48]     Everett LeRoy Moore, "Handbook of Pentecostal Denominations in the United States" (M.A. Thesis, Pasadena College, June 1954), pp.117-118, cited in Riss, Latter Rain, p.59.

[49]     This was seen as the New Testament pattern of church government, and to some extent parallels the polity of the Brethren movement. However, given the strong opposition of the Brethren to all things Pentecostal and the attitude of the New Life Churches towards other groups, neither side would have cared to acknowledge the similarity.

[50]     This title was coined by Rob Wheeler, and was used by him in an address on the NZBC programme "I believe" in 1967. According to Wheeler, "the word `indigenous' simply means `native,' `local,' `belonging to the district,' and we prefer this word to `independent,' for who can be truly independent in the strictest sense and still follow the teachings of Paul on Church life?" (Wheeler, "Indigenous Full Gospel Assemblies," Church Bells, July 1968, p.32). The full text of this address is given in this article and in Idem, "I Believe," Church Bells, September 1968, pp.33-34.

[51]     To categorise it as "sectarian" is not necessarily to make a value judgement, but simply to recognise the sociological realities of the movement and its relationship to its social context. Nevertheless, the Pentecostal movement in general has been acutely conscious of its sectarian status, and has tended to view the designation as a pejorative epithet. Colin Brown gives an example of this: "at an Extension Studies' seminar at Victoria University in July 1976 a spokesman for classical Pentecostalism took strong exception to the designation `sect' as applied to Pentecostalist churches and it was quite clear that it was the pejorative associations of the term which troubled him" (Brown, "How Significant is the Charismatic Movement?" [1985], p.104). Brown interprets this reaction as due to the increasing "respectability" of the Pentecostal movement. However, it may also be a product of their reluctance to be placed in the same category as (for example) the Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses, who would generally be regarded by Pentecostalists as "non-Christian" or as "false teaching."

[52]     Michael Hill, "The Decline of Church-Based Religiosity and the Rise of Sectarianism," in Religion in New Zealand Society, 2nd ed., edited by Brian Colless and Peter Donovan (Palmerston North: Dunmore Press, 1985), p.120. This article gives a useful summary of the historical development of various sociological theories of sectarianism (Ibid., pp.119-124). See also Idem, "Religion," in New Zealand: Sociological Perspectives, ed. Paul Spoonley, David Pearson and Ian Shirley (Palmerston North: Dunmore Press, 1982), p.185.

[53]     Hill, "The Decline of Church-Based Religiosity," p.120.

[54]     Bryan Wilson, ed., Patterns of Sectarianism: Organization and Ideology in Social and Religious Movements (London: Heinemann, 1967), p.26. The chapters relevant to this discussion are the Introduction, in which Wilson examines the ways in which "sects may be said to originate" (Ibid., pp.17-18), Chapter 1 ("An Analysis of Sect Development") and Chapter 4 ("The Pentecostalist Minister: Role Conflicts and Contradictions of Status"). Wilson's analysis of sects into four categories is summarised in Hill, "The Decline of Church-Based Religiosity," pp.121ff.

[55]     Wilson, Patterns of Sectarianism, pp.34ff.

[56]     Ibid., p.27.

[57]     A favourite text for preaching was 1 John 5:12 (KJV): "He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life." No other form of religious experience was valid except that of "asking Jesus into your heart to be your personal saviour." It was in this sense that one "received" Christ, and so received "power to become...sons of God" (John 1:12 KJV).

[58]     "Teenagers find answers," Gospel Truth, July 1964, p.1.

[59]     "Dancing was My Life," Ibid., p.3.

[60]     Since not all these young people were actually able to go to the mission field, the end result of this narrow and highly idealistic emphasis was eventually frustration and disillusionment in many cases. The establishment of Youth with a Mission [YWAM] later provided an outlet for some of this youthful idealism. This international, inter-denominational, organisation encouraged young people into short-term service on mission fields around the world. Since it did not require lengthy periods of preparation, nor insist on long-term mission service, YWAM became popular as an easily-accessible avenue for Christian young people to serve overseas.

[61]     An extreme example of anti-intellectualism in the early American Pentecostal movement is cited in Nichol, The Pentecostals, p.77. Nichol cautions that this "represents the thinking of a radical group within Pentecostalism; however, the sentiment expressed does reflect the anti-intellectualism of many of the early Pentecostals." Although some remnants of this attitude still exist in Pentecostalism today, the antipathy towards education is now much less pronounced, and Pentecostals may be found doing graduate and post-graduate courses in most educational institutions.

[62]     Since Ray Jackson had founded these churches after his shift to Australia in late 1950, there were some personal and doctrinal, although not organizational, connections between them and the New Life Churches. However, these Australian churches were much more separatist and isolationist in ethos and emphasis than were their New Zealand counterparts. See Barry Chant, Heart of Fire (Adelaide: Luke Publications, 1973), chapter 14, for an account of this group.

[63]     A personal anecdote will illustrate the attitude of this Australian group towards education. During the course of a visit to Singapore in April 1972, the writer unexpectedly met up with a friend who was a former fellow-member of the Timaru Missionary Revival Centre. This young man had been involved with Ray Jackson's Melbourne Bible School since 1965, and consequently was well imbued with its distinctive Bethel Temple teachings. He had been sent out as a missionary to Indonesia in early 1971, and happened to be visiting Singapore at the same time as the writer. He was scheduled to preach that Sunday morning in the Chinese Assembly of God church where we had met. A number of young people in this church had won scholarships for university study in America, and were preparing to travel overseas to further their education. In conversation before the service, my friend expressed alarm at this emphasis on university education. He saw this as representing a danger to these young people, and declared vehemently "I'm going to put a stop to this!" His sermon that morning was based on Daniel 1:8-14, and drew a parallel with the four Hebrews who refused the food from the Babylonian king's table (which he likened to the university education of the world), and made the statement that "God has meat [i.e. `revelation'] for you that the world never dreams of!" His point was that these young people should likewise refuse the meat from the "king's table" of university education and be fed by the "revelation knowledge" of God's Word. He was, however, unsuccessful in his attempt to dissuade these young people from pursuing their university education.

[64]     Wilson, Patterns of Sectarianism, p.27.

[65]     "Newsflashes," Bible Deliverance, May 1961, p.7. The difference in attitude between Worley and his successors is aptly summed up in a comment, overheard by the writer, from a very refined elderly lady (one of Worley's converts in Timaru) who sadly remarked after hearing a sermon which included a number of derogatory allusions to the denominational churches that "Mr. Worley never used to talk like that!"

[66]     A.S. Worley, cited in Henderson, From Glory to Glory, p.8.

[67]     "The Gospel Truth?" Gospel Truth, June 1964, p.1.

[68]     "Outreach in Three Dimensions," Bible Deliverance, April 1965, p.2. By Wheeler's account, he would have begun to preach this "new phase of deliverance" in 1963. The hardening of his attitude appears to be in response to the increasing opposition that he faced in his campaigns (see Knowles, "For the Sake of the Name," pp.47-48).

[69]     While a number of examples may be cited of this antagonism, it must be pointed out that the traffic was two-way. The writer recalls one occasion in 1961 when the Timaru assembly was visited by the son of the minister of one of the largest Presbyterian churches in the city, who observed the meeting and wrote a very derogatory and rather inaccurate report on it. (Attempts to locate a copy of this report proved unsuccessful, despite searches in the archives of the Hewitson Library and in this church's parish records, as well as contact by letter with the minister concerned.) The response of the Timaru congregation was interesting. Ron Coady, then its pastor, obtained a copy of the report and read it out during the course of a meeting, and each derogatory statement about the Pentecostal meeting was greeted with hoots of laughter. The exception was the final statement of the report, which said, in effect, that "by the end of the meeting, some of the young people were so `worked up' that they were speaking in tongues." This parting shot was greeted by growls of anger from the congregation, who appeared to feel that, although they could live with the derogatory comments of others, to malign the Baptism of the Spirit was to cheapen an experience that was precious to them.

[70]     This anti-ecumenical emphasis was shared by groups such as the "Westminster Fellowship of the Presbyterian Church of New Zealand" and the "Bible Truth Society," whose articles were sometimes reprinted in the movement's periodicals. An example of this is G.L. Hart, "All roads lead to Rome: Church Unity or Religious Unity," Bible Deliverance, October 1964, pp.12-13. Hart, the founder of the "Bible Truth Society," appears to be a Fundamentalist rather than a Pentecostalist, and was a prolific writer of anti-ecumenical articles and pamphlets in the early 1960s. However, it is significant that this article appeared in the same issue of Bible Deliverance as a report on the August 1964 Massey Conference, which helped to lay the foundations of the Charismatic movement in New Zealand. One product of this Conference was a degree of informal ecumenism among the participants, including Pentecostalists. The report stated that "for the first time in the History of New Zealand, we saw Christians and ministers from the BAPTIST-ANGLICAN-PRESBYTERIAN-BRETHREN-S.A. [Salvation Army], of whom many had received the baptism of the Holy Ghost, also many from the PENTECOSTAL churches all gathered together to worship the Lord under one roof" ("What happened at Massey? Most unique convention in History of N.Z.," Bible Deliverance, October 1964, p.15. Reprinted from Gospel Truth, August 1964, p.6. Capitalization and punctuation as per article). The anti-denominationalism of the New Life Churches became far less pronounced as the Charismatic movement gathered momentum, and as links of fellowship began to be forged between Pentecostalists and mainstream church participants in the Charismatic Renewal.

[71]     Kevin Conner, "Who is the Harlot Church?" Gospel Truth, February-April 1965, passim. This series was not in fact completed, as the periodical ceased publication with the April 1965 issue.

[72]     Ibid., February 1965, p.4.

[73]     Ibid. This is, in fact, a classic example of Latter Rain "come-outism."

[74]     To some extent this was a product of Coady's own background. He was formerly a Roman Catholic, and according to his booklet I Shall Not Want (Nelson: Faith Enterprises, n.d.), had been thrown out of his home by his Catholic mother when he "became a Christian." Although he does not mention it in his booklet, it appears that he had at one time been in a monastery, since the final meeting of his evangelistic campaigns was often given over to his life story, which was entitled "Why I left the monastery" ("The Message of Deliverance comes to Mosgiel," Revival News, May 1962, p.6). It is ironic that after his departure from New Zealand in 1970, Coady later adopted a semi-Catholic orientation and came to place emphasis on the Apostolic Succession, which he saw as a logical extension of the Latter Rain doctrine of laying on of hands. This emphasis led him to accept ordination in the Mar Thoma church of South India in 1972. He has for some years been based in Davis, California, where he was (until the end of 1989) Bishop of a church belonging to the Catholic Apostolic Church: Glastonbury Rite. This church appears to be associated with the Mar Thoma church, since Coady's episcopal title was "the Most Reverend Mar Elijah, Bishop of Davis and Pillar of Evangelists" and a leaflet produced by the Catholic Apostolic Church: Glastonbury Rite and supplied to the author by Bishop Coady states that the oversight of these churches is vested in "the Plenary Episcopal Council, which is presided over by His Beatitude Mar Seraphim, Metropolitan of Glastonbury, and VIIth British Patriarch, who resides in England." Coady has now resigned his Episcopal see, and returned to his first love, healing evangelism (A.R.Coady, Correspondence with the author, Davis, California, 1988-1991).

[75]     "Coming Events Cast Their Shadows," Revival News, November 1962, p.2. Capitalization and emphasis as cited.

[76]     Gordon F. Copeland, Faith that works (Lower Hutt: Barnabas Christian Trust, 1988), pp.19-20. Needless to say, this antagonism was returned with interest. A report on one of Coady's campaigns in Nelson claimed that "the local Catholic Youth Organisation had stated that Roman Catholic Youth would be present each night to disrupt the services and true to their word this they did, night after night" ("Healing and Happiness Festival," Revival News, September 1963, pp.6-7).

[77]     An example of this is the Tauranga Christian Fellowship (effectively the oldest church in the movement, since it was founded in 1939, and amalgamated with the "Bethel Temple" movement of Ray Jackson in 1949), which is described as "a non-denominational church" in a clipping from a local newspaper (reproduced in "Tauranga Christian Fellowship: Jubilee Reunion 1939-1989," p.29). Another example is the reference to the Auckland Christian Fellowship, "a non-denominational evangelical group" (Jeff Hayward, "Back to Fundamentals," More, December 1987, p.211).

[78]     This reflected the views of the early Pentecostalists, who generally saw charismatic freedom and organizational structure as not only mutually incompatible, but also actually antithetical. Frank Bartleman, the diarist of the "Azusa Street" revival, was one of the more vigorous proponents of this point of view. However, Charles Fox Parham, the originator of "The Apostolic Faith" movement in 1901, had a somewhat different perspective on the subject of organization, and his views should be set off against those of Bartleman. For a discussion of this issue, see Goff, Fields White Unto Harvest, passim. However, Pentecostalism has tended to disregard Parham and his views, and Bartleman therefore is a more accurate representative of the predominant ethos of the movement.

[79]     For a more detailed coverage of this early history, see Knowles, "For the Sake of the Name."

[80]     An examination of the "Church Notices" column in the Timaru Herald during the period of the Worley campaign in June-July 1960 will give some indication of the extent of this opposition from the mainstream churches. Most church advertisements simply recorded the time of their services, with no details of the sermon topic being given. On Sunday, 26 June, the healing of a little boy's club-foot marked the turning point of the campaign, and the following Saturday's "Church Notices" in the Timaru Herald show that a number of churches preached that week-end on topics relating to the healing campaign. The sermon titles (e.g. in the Baptist church advertisement: "`What is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit?' - An examination of Divine Healing, and Speaking in Tongues, its purposes and perils") indicate that the campaign was seen as a danger (Timaru Herald, 2 July 1960, p.4); this is confirmed by church newsletters from the period.

[81]     Knowles, "For the Sake of the Name," pp.28-29. Wheeler's "rejection" may be more perceived than actual. He recalls later being invited back to Christchurch to conduct a campaign with Terry Collins, who was then pastor of the group which later, under the ministry of Peter Morrow, became the Christchurch New Life Centre. Some of the Pentecostal pastors instructed Wheeler that "if you come [to Christchurch], you've got to work with us." Wheeler agreed to do so, provided that Collins was also allowed to work with these churches in the campaign. The response, according to Wheeler, was a curt refusal, "so I worked with Terry [Collins]" (Wheeler, Interview). However, the fact that these Pentecostal churches were prepared to demand that Wheeler work with them would indicate that their opposition to his teaching was not as great as he perceived it to be. Nevertheless, Wheeler's perception provided the incentive for a gradual change to a more assertive and partisan style of campaign.

[82]     Wheeler, Interview. Emphasis as cited.

[83]     Ibid.

[84]     Gerlach and Hine have pointed out that persecution (either real or imagined) is one of five key factors which are crucial for the "lift-off" of a movement (Gerlach and Hine, People, Power, Change, p.xvii). These factors are:

1. A segmented, usually polycephalous, cellular organization composed of units reticulated by various personal, structural, and ideological ties.

2. Face-to-face recruitment by committed individuals using their own pre-existing, significant social relationships.

3. Personal commitment generated by an act or experience which separates the convert in some significant way from the established order (or his previous place in it), identifies him with a new set of values, and commits him to changed patterns of behaviour.

4. An ideology which codifies values and goals, provides a conceptual framework by which all experiences or events relative to these goals may be interpreted, motivates and provides rationale for envisioned changes, defines the opposition, and forms the basis for conceptual unification of a segmented network of groups.

5. Real or perceived opposition from the society at large or from that segment of the established order within which the movement has risen.

[85]     Wheeler, Interview.

[86]     While some of this opposition may be due to the conservatism of rural Southland, Coady's report emphasises its religious basis: "Opposition was flowing....Clergy began visiting homes, where they had never been known to go before, warning the people. Tape recordings were taken into homes, and still are, denouncing the Baptism of the Holy Ghost as demonism. People were warned not to come as this was of the devil" ("Revival fires continue to burn in Tuatapere," Revival News, October 1962, p.3).

[87]     For example, a group of young people from Timaru (including the author) visited the Tuatapere church in January 1963 for a week-end of meetings, and had the interesting experience of rocks being thrown on to the roof of the pastor's house at 4a.m., accompanied with derisory shouts of "Hallelujah" and so on. The meeting that Sunday night was conducted by the Timaru young people, largely without the presence of the pastor, who was outside the hall dealing with four men who had come with the express purpose of "beating him up." Since the pastor (Alister Lowe) was strongly built, had recently been in the Territorials, and was skilled in unarmed combat, these four men did not get things all their own way!

[88]     Rob Wheeler commented, in the context of the 1960s, that although "we had a few get-togethers of...churches sometimes..., it was just a...bunch of ministers who are all buddies and all friends just sharing together. There was no sense of a `stream' of our own" (Wheeler, Interview).

[89]     "Operation Gideon" involved the placing of full-page Gospel cartoon advertisements in all the major daily newspapers as a joint evangelistic venture of the "Indigenous Full Gospel Churches of New Zealand" (the name by which the "New Life Churches" were then known). This was an adaptation of Paul Collins' highly successful use of this strategy in Thailand.

[90]     "Great Pastoral Conference Held in Timaru," Gospel Truth, February 1965, p.1. Fourteen Pastors, representing ten of the "14 free indiginous [sic] assemblies in the South Island," took part in this conference.

[91]     "Some 26 ministers representing 44 of the indigenous full Gospel Assemblies in the North Island met together" at this conference ("Ministers' Conference," Bible Deliverance, July 1965, p.18).

[92]     "Gospel Bombardment: Attack on New Zealand," Revival News, August 1965, pp.6-7, 11.

[93]     Ibid. Although published reports of this and other conference are uniformly positive, Ron Coady makes a passing comment, in the context of the 1965 conferences, concerning the healing of "any thought of division between the North and the South Islands in going two different directions when Rob Wheeler and other brethren from the North Island were in conference together" (Coady, Interview). The inference is that up to this time there had been some differences in approach between the North and South Island wings of the movement, and that these conferences achieved a resolution of these differences.

© Brett Knowles 2004


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