The New Issue (Jesus’ Name)
By Fred J. Foster
THE WORLD-WIDE LOS ANGELES CAMP MEETING
Camp meetings have been a strong life line in the Pentecostal movement. Fellowship and inspiration, two ingredients badly needed to keep some people steadfastly progressing, were great helps looked for in attending the summer, spring or fall camp meeting.
The world-wide Los Angeles, California camp meeting in 1913 “fired a shot that sounded around the world.”‘ The opportune time had arrived, the anointed preacher was speaking in the pulpit, hundreds of preachers from across the nation and Canada were in the audience. What was this he was saying? What were these conclusions he was coming to? Did he actually mean we had probably been baptizing incorrectly all these years?
This was the popular R. E. McAlister in the pulpit. Unburdening his heart just prior to baptizing several converts, he spoke forcefully on the subject of baptizing as the first-century church had, that is, in the name of Jesus Christ. He emphasized the fact that the words Father, Son and Holy Ghost were never used in first-century baptism.
The message caused quite an emotional upheaval on the platform and in the audience, with one man bounding to the platform, asking the speaker not to preach this doctrine. But the message had gotten across, and although McAlister made an attempt to quiet the consternation of some, this would be the high point of the camp meeting. The preaching of Mary Woodworth Etter, an outstanding evangelist of the era, and the careful count of 364 receiving the Holy Ghost, is now superseded in history by the happenings in the camp centered upon baptism in the name of Jesus Christ.
Frank J. Ewart, who was to play a prominent part of the future propagation of the Oneness message, was in the camp. After hearing Evangelist McAlister on baptism, he invited him to his home to discuss this marvelous truth, making sure of his own message. Ewart was a prominent preacher on the coast at this time, having been associated with William Durham, overseeing Durham’s large Los Angeles work prior to Durham’s death in 1912, and conducting his funeral.
McAlister’s explanations certainly made sense to Ewart, who believed strongly in obeying the Scripture, no matter the consequence, or the price that might have to be paid. Another happening of
importance during this meeting involved John G. Scheppe, who became so inspired he spent a night in prayer. Along toward morning he was given a glimpse of the power of the blessed name of Jesus. Leaping to his feet, he ran through the camp, shouting to all the early risers what the Lord had shown him. This experience made a profound impression upon the campers, and all rejoiced with Scheppe, and began to search the Scriptures concerning the “name of Jesus.” (2)
AFTER THE CAMP
After the camp was over, Ewart still pondered this new chain of events leading up to his troubled thoughts concerning water baptism and the Godhead’ whereupon he and McAlister discussed these questions quite frequently.
Ewart, along with McAlister and Glenn A. Cook as his helpers, opened a revival on Main Street. This naturally threw Ewart and McAlister together often to have their doctrinal discussions. After several months, because suitable buildings were not available, they decided to accept an invitation from Warren Fisher, pastor of a work in Los Angeles, and joined him, assisting in the overall work. A continuous revival progressed, with several of the preachers filling the pulpit mightily through the months. G. T. Haywood of Indianapolis, with his phenomenal knowledge of the Word of God, was especially used of the Lord during this revival.
It was during this time that Ewart noticed the tremendous moving of the Spirit of God when he exalted the name of Jesus. When he would obey God and preach on this great and inexhaustible theme, the power of God would fall and people would flock to the ALTAR. (3) Pastor Fisher and A. G. Garr would urge him to preach on the wonderful name. However, the restrictions were definitely laid down. Ewart said, “We could do many things in the name of Jesus, but were not to do all things in that name.” It was at this time that he decided to obey God and step out with His message, which by this time was clearly defined in his soul.
McClain described it thus, “In the same year, 1914, when the Assemblies of God organization was set up, Frank J. Ewart of Los Angeles, California, through much seeking God in prayer, had revealed to him through the Word of God a great truth concerning the plan of salvation: that God was in his Son Jesus, reconciling the world unto Himself (II Corinthians 5:19), and that the simple plan of salvation had been plainly laid out by the Apostle Peter in Acts 2:38, ‘Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.’ It was revealed further that Jesus is the only door of salvation, and that there is none other name given…whereby we must be saved (Acts 4:12). Still further it was revealed that all the fulness of the Godhead (Father, Son and Holy Ghost) dwelleth in Him bodily (Col. 2:9). Thus all the apostles, fully understanding the words of Jesus Christ in Matt. 28:19, baptized every candidate in the ‘name of Jesus.’ He saw that the apostolic commandment is, ‘And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus….’ (Col. 3:17).” (4)
EWART’S FIRST ACTS 2:38 SERMON
When Ewart took this decisive action, he met with Fisher and his assistants, telling of his convictions, and that he did not propose to cause them trouble. The best thing for him to do was to leave quietly, with the idea of pitching a tent on the east side of the city. Fisher acted toward him in a kind way, even helping to furnish the tent, but could not “see” his message, so he bade him goodbye and gave him his blessing.
“The meetings started in the tent on East First Street, just outside Los Angeles, in a town called Belvedere. I preached my first public sermon on Acts 2:38, on April 15, 1914. The message took fire, and that night a revival started.” (5)
Cook, an evangelist of note, after making an eastern trip, joined Ewart again, assisting him in this immense undertaking. McAlister had earlier gone into Canada evangelizing. Neither Ewart nor Cook had been baptized in Jesus’ name, so they purchased a tank, setting it up in the tent, and proceeded to baptize each other. Crowds began flocking to the tent, interested in being baptized in the name of Jesus.
An unusual characteristic of this outstanding revival was that a large number of those filled with the Holy Ghost were filled immediately after coming up out of the water. They would leave the tank, talking in other tongues.
The sick were brought, and remarkable healings took place. It was as though God had put healing in the water, for many were healed when baptized. It naturally was not the water but the name, and the obedience to baptism by immersion in that name, which brought these mighty manifestations of God’s power.
One woman especially fought this revival in a most stubborn way. She passed out tracts before services and endeavored to persuade any she could to not attend the meetings. According to her own testimony in tract form, she was sitting one evening waiting for the service to begin, when a voice spoke to her audibly, “If you will ask my servant to baptize you in My name, I will heal you.” She had suffered with inward cancer for some time and was quite swollen. This woman obeyed the voice and came forward, requesting Ewart to baptize her. When she came up out of the water she was completely healed, with the swelling subsiding. They actually had to cover her with a robe and to pin her skirt so as to fit her.
THE TRUTH SPREADS
At this time Ewart was also the editor of a paper, Meat In Due Season, which he used to propagate the message of Jesus’ name. This paper, which enjoyed a fairly large circulation, went into all parts of the nation and to many mission fields. Through its pages many were convinced of the truth before a preacher ever preached it to them.
After several months with Ewart in Los Angeles, Cook, who had evangelized extensively, carrying the baptism of the Holy Ghost message into many parts of the country, felt led of the Lord to backtrack with the new revelation of God in Christ and water baptism in the exalted name of Jesus. This evangelistic tour into Missouri, Indiana, Oklahoma and some of the southern states brought tremendous results.
G. T. HAYWOOD BAPTIZED
J. Roswell Flower, the General Secretary of the Assemblies of God, heard Cook in St. Louis. After seeing several rebaptized, he became alarmed and wrote to G. T. Haywood in Indianapolis, warning him that Cook was on his way to that city with an erroneous doctrine. Haywood answered, “Your warning came too late. I have already accepted the message and have been baptized.” This phraseology was prevalent in that time, and has been handed down even until now concerning this experience and truth. “You came too late; I’m already involved,” has been often heard.
Haywood’s influence in Indianapolis was extensive, and when he became receptive to this new message, his followers went with him. The count was 465 baptized, with many receiving the Holy Ghost in the water. His church became a center of activity in leadership for Oneness adherents.
The fire that spread slowly over a period of months, now began leaping from church to church and assembly to assembly until it became the issue of the day.
ASSEMBLIES OF GOD OFFICIALDOM’S TRY TO HALT THE PROGRESS
In an endeavor to ward it off and to halt its progress, various means were used. Such an instance occurred “in the spring of 1915, when H. A. Goss called a local conference in Hot Springs, Arkansas to warn young ministers against this teaching on the West Coast. Again E. N. Bell and Goss called a statewide conference in June 1915 at Little Rock, Arkansas to warn all ministers against this fast-growing move which they believed to be heresy. (6)
Bell, with the written page, fought hard against this so-called heresy. Over and over in the Word and Witness, the official Assemblies of God paper, he defended the Trinitarian concept of the Godhead, and Matthew 28:19 as the correct formula for baptism. The doctrinal issue became so hot to handle, that on May 11, 1915 a meeting of the Presbyters of the Assemblies of God was held in St. Louis, to see what would be the best thing to do about this growing trouble that was on their hands. (7)
They, not wanting to establish a creed, issued as mild a statement in the Word and Witness against the Oneness and Jesus’ name teachings as they could, without overturning their own ship. Bell and Flower both thought, or at least that is what they said in the same paper, that by July it had reached the highwater mark, and would dwindle away. This was only wishful thinking, because before long major
events would rock the Pentecostal movement which would send the new issue sweeping to new heights, so that for a short time it would look as if all the Assemblies of God would be engulfed.
E. N. BELL RE-BAPTIZED
During the summer of 1915, the Assemblies of God were beginning their Third Interstate Encampment at Jackson, Tennessee. H. G. Rodgers was the host pastor and Bell was to conduct the camp. Before the camp got underway, Bell said a voice spoke to him saying that if he did not preach water baptism in the name of Jesus Christ in this camp it would be a great failure. Things actually started that way.
The overwhelming evidence for the truth he had been fighting so hard finally prevailed against him, and in a discussion with Rodgers, they decided to send for L. V. Roberts, a noted Oneness evangelist who had been baptized in one of Cook’s meetings. Roberts was surprised to receive such an invitation, but remembered that with God all things are possible. He left at once for Jackson and the events that awaited him there.
His first sermon was taken from Acts 2:38, and to his amazement Bell and Rodgers both presented themselves for baptism. This was the start of a mighty deluge of Pentecostal revival in Tennessee and adjoining areas. The influence would be felt at a great distance, for eleven preachers were included among the number of the first to be baptized. On Sunday night Roberts said Rodgers estimated the crowd at 4,000. (8)
Bell’s baptism naturally, because of his honored place of leadership, attracted wide attention. The news quickly flew across the nation and into the mission fields. It was met with varied feelings. Some were greatly overjoyed while others were filled with consternation. Still others were so set against the idea that nothing would move them to pursue a new look at Scripture and early church practices. One preacher said, “I don’t care if the whole movement swallows this thing; I’m not going to, because it’s wrong.”
Others had a lot to say, and then were overcome by their desire to follow the Scripture and leading of the Lord. One such was John Dye, who said, “If I take up this new issue, you can tell the world that I’m crazy.” But soon he “took it up,” and was still in his right mind. A Oneness paper was received in Camp in August of 1915, telling of Bell’s baptism. Evangelist Charles Smith, preaching at the camp meeting in Alto, Texas, of which Harvey Shearer was sponsor, said of W. B. McCafferty, “If Brother Mac goes into it, I’ll have to say it’s in the Bible.” But Smith did not wait for McCafferty. L. C. Hall, who had baptized Smith originally in the titles “Father, Son and Holy Ghost,” was soon with Smith in a meeting at Caldwell, Texas, where Hall convinced Smith he should be re-baptized. Smith sent a card to McCafferty, testifying of how the revelation had come to him.
H. A. GOSS BAPTIZED
A General Camp Meeting had been called for August 15, 1915 in Little Rock, Arkansas. A very nice church had been established there, with George Joyner as pastor. L. C. Hall from Zion City, Illinois, who had recently been baptized in Jesus’ name, was the camp speaker.
Col. 2:9-12 was his text throughout the camp. “For in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily…complete in Him. . .by being buried with Him in baptism.” (9)
E. N. Bell was called upon to do the baptizing. Howard A. Goss, on the board of Presbytery of the Assemblies of God, and a prominent leader in the movement, could no longer stand against truth. Although he had been baptized (10) in Jesus’ name by Parham twelve years before this time, he had not realized the significance, but would now accept it fully for himself. He was one of the first baptized by Bell in this camp, along with many lay members.
God has always used various ways of striking truth home to an individual’s heart. S. C. McClain, who was in this camp, tells the means God used to finally make him willing to obey the plan of salvation.
“I was in the camp, but like many others saw no need of being re-baptized, although the Lord tried to deal with me in a dream. In the dream L. C. Hall took a large stick of crayon and drew a plain mark straight across the camp ground. He then lifted his voice, strong and loud, ‘Everybody who is going through with God, toe the mark.’ I had the financial and business end of the camp meeting, and didn’t have the time to consider all the Scripture he was preaching, but that call to toe the mark stuck to me.” (11)
Later McClain was preaching a revival in Sheridan, Arkansas. At the close of the meeting several were to be baptized, so to warn them against the prevalent teaching of baptism in Jesus’ name, he preached a sermon on the Trinity. A new convert, a woman, had just begun to read the New Testament, and before she had gotten through the first chapter she became very puzzled with verses 18 to 20. McClain said, “Here she was with her finger on these verses with the question. ‘Didn’t you say last night that God the Father is the first Person, and Jesus is the second Person, and that the Holy Ghost is a third Person?’ I answered ‘That is right.’ Then said she, ‘How can the first Person be the Father of the second Person, for Jesus was begotten of the Holy Ghost?’ ‘Well,’ said I, ‘that is one of the mysteries of the Godhead; don’t worry your brains about that.’ But I could not get away from the question.” It is needless to say that McClain was baptized in the name of Jesus shortly. (12)
1 Ewart, “Phenomenon of Pentecost,” p. 75-77.
2 Brumback, “Suddenly From Heaven,” p. 191.
3 Ewart, “Phenomenon of Pentecost,” p. 50.
4 McClain, “Notes,” p. 7, 8.
5 Ewart, “Phenomenon of Pentecost,” p. 51.
6 McClain, “Notes,” p. 10
7 Brumback, “Suddenly From Heaven,” p. 194, 196.
8 McClain, “Notes,” p. 10, 11; Brumback, “Suddenly From Heaven,” p.
195, 196, 197; Ewart, “Phenomenon of Pentecost,” p. 99, 100.
9 McClain, “Notes,” p. 11.
10 Ibid., p. 3.
11 Ibid., p. 11, 12.
12 Ibid., p. 12, 13.
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS TAKEN FROM 20TH CENTURY PENTECOSTALS, AND PUBLISHED BY WORD AFLAME PRESS, PAGES 88-99. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.