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All Things Are Possible: The Healing and Charismatic Revivals in Modern America

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"... a book about healing revivalists that takes them seriously and treats them fairly." —Journal of Southern History

"... will be a definitive work for some years to come." —Reviews in American History

"Harrell has obviously attended countless rallies, read sheafs of literature, and personally interviewed many of the principals. He... tell[s] the story in a largely biographical format. This makes for lively reading." —Harvey G. Cox, New York Times Book Review

"... will attract readers interested in the reasons behind the various fat and lean periods among revivalists." —Publishers Weekly

"All Things Are Possible is the first book to tell the story of the enterprisers who have personal followings. The narrative is full of surprises: of seriousness and scandal strangely blended. Professor Harrell has done a staggering amount of research in hard to discover sources; his scholarship is impressive and he is eminently fair-minded. Here is a missing link in the chain of American religious movements." —Martin E. Marty, The University of Chicago Divinity School

"Harrell’s book will doubtless be the definitive work on the subject for a long while—who else will wade through Healing Waters and Miracle Magazine with such fastidious care?" —The Kirkus Reviews

This is the first objective history of the great revivals that swept the country after World War II. It tells the story of the victories and defeats of such giants of the revival as William Branham, Oral Roberts, Jack Coe, T. L. Osborn, A. A. Allen. It also tells of the powerful present day evangelists who are carrying on the revival, including Robert Schambach and Morris Cerullo. The book includes pictures of Schambach, Allen, Cerullo, Branham, Roberts, Osborn, Coe and many others. Those who lived through the great revival of the 1950’s and 1960’s will be thrilled to read about those exciting days. Those who do not remember those days need to read this book to see what has led us up to this present moment in time.

David Edwin Harrell, Jr. is a professor of history at the University of Alabama in Birmingham. He has tried to write this book in an objective way, although you may not agree with all that he says. Dr. Harrell has visited Schambach revivals.

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I Prayer for the Sick

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Once an object of derision, in the 1970s pentecostal religion became almost fashionable. Many judged the charismatic movement the most vital single force in American religion. The gifts of the Holy Spirit (charisms), speaking in tongues (glossolalia), and divine healing were subjects studied in nearly every American church, and cells of charismatic believers appeared in most American denominations. By 1975, perhaps 5,000,000 or more Americans were taking part in the charismatic revival.

Pentecostal, or charismatic, religion in the 1970s was a many-faceted phenomenon. Most prominent were the many small churches which had grown out of the pentecostal message in the early twentieth century; they were popularly lumped into a category called classical pentecostalism or old-line pentecostalism, although they varied vastly in size, sophistication, and doctrine. There were also many members of traditional Protestant churches who, during the 1960s, had accepted a type of pentecostal theology while remaining in their own churches. This growing movement, generally made up of the sophisticated and the well-to-do, came to be labeled neopentecostalism. A similar outbreak that erupted in the American Roman Catholic Church in 1967 was called Catholic pentecostalism to distinguish it from the earlier neopentecostal movement. Considerable differences in beliefs and behavior existed both between and within the groups, but they were united by the conviction that they had received the outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit.

 

II The Healing Revival, 1947–1958

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The Healing Revival that Erupted in 1947 thrust into positions of world-wide prominence a group of unsuspecting men. Chapter 3 discusses the two men who first came to the forefront—the two giants of the healing revival, William Branham and Oral Roberts. They were remarkably different personalities, but they quickly recognized one another as the premier leaders of the revival.

Most of the participants of the revival looked upon Branham as its initiator. Out of his massive union meetings in 1947 spread reports of hundreds of miracles and marvels. Branham seemed an unlikely leader. He had long been a pastor in a small independent Baptist church; he was introduced to the pentecostal world by the despised oneness pentecostals; his preaching was halting and simple beyond belief. But William Branham became a prophet to a generation. A small, meek, middle-aged man with piercing eyes, he held audiences spellbound with tales of constant communication with God and angels. Night after night, before thousands of awed believers, he discerned the diseases of the sick and pronounced them healed.

 

III The Charismatic Revival, 1958–1974

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However Compelling the need of the huge independent revival organizations to find new forms that would allow them to survive into the 1960s, their day was not over. The revival had set loose new forces that would revitalize the independent ministries.

One of those forces was a body of people disenchanted by what they deemed the limited vision and autocratic leadership in their pentecostal denominations. They offered permanent support to the independent ministers and became their financial patrons while they devised new programs. In addition, hundreds of thousands of members of traditional churches had been attracted to the revivalists by the end of the 1950s. The rapid growth of the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International, founded in 1952 by Demos Shakarian, clearly indicated the potent appeal of the charismatic message outside organized pente-costalism. The 1960s saw a charismatic, or neopentecostal, revival as remarkable as its predecessor. The death of the old revival and the birth of the new are discussed in chapter 6.

 

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