LAWTON CHURCH OF GOD, LAWTON OKLAHOMA

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Chapter 28

 

 

FANATICISM

 

 

While the power of God was manifest to redeem a lost world from all sin, completely cleansing the heart from all the pollution and defilement of sin, Satan seeks to imitate God, go just a little beyond the limit of the plan of salvation and common sense, and lead the people off into fanaticism, by showing them “the deep things of God.” There has never been a great spiritual awakening which was not followed by more or less of a scourge of fanatical teachings that greatly hindered the salvation of men.

This was literally true in many instances in connection with the early days of the holiness movement in Texas. Following the great revivals at Ennis, Dallas, and Corsicana there arose a strong delusion, led by Rev. N. J. Haynes, a Cumberland Presbyterian preacher, who claimed the experience of holiness; who was joined by Rev. Mr. Goodnight, Rev. Mr. Williams, and Richard Groves, and a Rev. Mr. Sims, who was an evangelist of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, who was said to be a holiness man, but held meetings still with the Cumberland Presbyterians in Corsicana. All of them seemed to be well educated men.

They taught that salvation from sin meant salvation from death. That is, that to be saved from all sin, meant that those thus saved would never die, but live to meet Jesus at His coming. Their teachings were based on Romans 5:12, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for all have sinned.” They reasoned that as sin had brought death, to be sanctified and cleansed from all sin would then remove the penalty of sin (death); hence, those who were thus sanctified and cleansed were thereafter freed from the penalty of sin, and would never die. They also taught that all might have the different gifts mentioned in the New Testament; and encouraged people to seek after them, that they might be well rounded New Testament Christians.

They had the plan of salvation divided into seven steps, which they called seven steps to the throne. The first step was repentance; the second, justification; the third, regeneration; the fourth, entire sanctification; the fifth, the baptism with the Holy Ghost; the sixth, the gift of healing; the seventh, translation faith. Those who obtained this faith could never see death, but would live to see Jesus come in His millennial glory, and be translated at His coming, which would be only a short time off.

They started a meeting in Corsicana, with the distinct understanding that it was to run until “Jesus should descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.” They taught that the whole world was to be converted in a little while and then would the end come.

They also taught that in case a man’s wife did not believe as he did it was sufficient grounds for scriptural divorce. This of course gave them room to put into practice their doctrines. Public feelings were outraged and indignation meetings were held, and a committee waited on the preachers and demanded that they leave town or that such teachings be stopped.

Rev. Mr. Haynes defied the whole community, and declared that he was death proof, that they could not kill him with a gun if they wanted to, boldly declaring his purpose to continue as he had, teaching such things as were revealed to him. A few nights after this a company of men went to his home and called him out, caught him and put him into a carriage in his night clothes, and hurried away to a tank, where they ducked him in the cold water quite freely, and then put him back into the carriage and started back to town with him, when they discovered that he was unconscious from the ducking and the chill of the cold. This so frightened them that they hurried up to the home of a Campbellite preacher, and laid him on the porch, then made a great noise to awaken the people, when they jumped into the carriage and hurriedly drove away. The preacher, finding him half frozen, built a fire and warmed him into life again, and gave him some clothes to put on and a good breakfast and then sent him home. This broke up the meeting and Haynes soon left town, going to Dallas, where he did not remain long, but soon left for Brooklyn, N. Y., where he died a little later.

The next phase of fanaticism came along in 1884, when Rev. Phil Allen came to the Free Methodist conference in Texas from Louisiana. He was a very able preacher, sound in doctrine and life. He was elected district elder, and did a good work for awhile; when a Mrs. Wheaton came to Fouls from the North. She was a rank come-outer and anti-ordinance teacher and preacher. She called herself a prison evangelist. She taught that for one to have his name on a church book was an absolute sin. She called all churches Babylon, and cried, “Come out of her, my people,” until she drew away quite a following. Among the many was Rev. Phil Allen, who immediately sent his resignation in to the general superintendent of the Free Methodist Church, and Rev. George MeCulloch was appointed district elder in his place.

These come-outers taught that they did not need to read the Bible, as they had the one who had inspired the Bible in their hearts when they got sanctified. They no longer needed to pray, since they had the very spirit of prayer all the time. They did not take the Lord’s Supper, as they were constantly feasting on the “living bread.” They did not keep Sunday, as they were not sun worshipers, said that the Romans instituted the Sunday in their worship of the sun. They showed deep humility of spirit by laying off all neat and respectable clothing, and wearing overalls at all times. They worked at cleaning out wells because it was dirty work. They became servants for the Negroes, to show their spirit of humility. They made tours in other states preaching these fanatical doctrines. They tore up many holiness communities and hurt the Free Methodist Church work, as it was practically the only church at that time that stood for holiness. Their leader finally left his wife and went to Kansas to see some woman of whom he had heard; telling her that God had sent him up there to marry her. She promptly informed him that if God had sent him to her, that God would have told her about it also. She ordered him off her premises. When last heard of he was a mental, physical, and spiritual wreck. A perfect vagabond. How awful to fall into fanaticism, and to be led away into strong delusions. These fanatics finally died away, but left much hurt in their wake, and many blighted lives was the result.

The church has had her troubles with fanaticism in all ages. Satan hates a clean life and will do all in his power to blight the lives of holy people in any way that he can; if he can not get them into open sin, then he will open the sidetrack and switch them off into fanaticism.

In the year 1897 another form of fanaticism broke out in Texas and Louisiana, under the name of “The Fire.” Unlearned and misguided teachers taught that after one is sanctified wholly, he might receive the baptism of fire. Basing their teachings on Matthew 3:11, “He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire”; making “and with fire” a subsequent work to sanctification, and claiming that to receive the “fire” was the enduement of power of which Jesus spoke. Sometimes those who professed the fire would go off into a trance, and there receive visions from God, in which matters of doctrine were taught them. One case of this kind was seen on the Greenville camp ground. They would come to these campmeetings, and, if allowed, would follow after people who had recently been sanctified and urge them to seek “the fire.” At the Greenville camp, when they made their appearance and began this strange teaching, C. B. Jernigan, who was then secretary of the campmeeting association, called the board together and asked permission to put a stop to the fire teaching on the grounds, which was granted. These fire teachers called him backslidden when he tried to stop them. Many good people were deceived by them.

That same year the leaders of the Poetry, Texas, camp sent for one B. H. Irwin to come to their camp and teach them this new doctrine. Irwin was an avowed apostle of “the fire,” and a strong teacher of divine healing, while but few if any were healed in answer to his prayers. From Poetry camp Irwin went to Wills Point, Texas, where he had to leave town on an early morning train to escape a mob, on account of his fanatical teachings. Dr. G. D. Watson then came through Texas teaching “the fire,” and, on account of his lucid Bible teachings, found a great following. He was a strong writer and clear preacher and for that reason had a good following.

The same year, 1897, Rev. E. C. DeJernett and Rev. C. B. Jernigan were called to hold the Hughes Springs campmeeting in eastern Texas; Irwin also attended this meeting and continued to touch “the fire.” Here also one W. T. Currey came from Louisiana to this camp; he was also a strong teacher of “the fire.” He would dance across the platform while preaching, shouting, “I feel the fire all through me. Can’t you feel it? Why I feel as if I were walking on live coals of fire. It burns me through my shoes.” This brought division in the camp, and great persecution from holiness fighters.

Some of these fire teachers imbibed still more fanatical doctrines; among them was “demon possession.” They taught that demons were God’s servants sent into sanctified people to chastise them. They had demons of sickness; and various other kinds of demons that often tormented the sanctified.

The doctrine of demon possession was not very widespread, but played havoc wherever it took root. Rev. C. B. Jernigan was invited to hold a meeting in a hall in the town of Prescott, Ark. The hall was owned by an apostle of “fire and demon possession,” but the meeting was backed by the straight holiness people of the town. One day in his preaching he stated that there was something wrong somewhere; as God was not blessing the meeting.

The woman who owned the hall arose and stated that it was a difference of doctrine. When asked what was the difference, she replied that some of us believe in “the fire,” and “demon possession!” Then she gave the above definition of demon possession. The meeting was promptly moved to the courthouse, where they had a great meeting.

When the Holiness Association was well started, and most of the preachers in the Southwest were joining it, the fire folks offered themselves for membership. This created quite a commotion in the association, as many good preachers were in some way mixed up with the fire, but not many with demon possession. Some objected; others said, “Their hearts are right; they are just a little off in their heads; let them join; they are good people.”

The association was held in their own house, and was being entertained in their homes, but this made no difference with C. B. Jernigan. He arose and demanded that they give up their heresy and subscribe to the statement of doctrine set forth by the association; else the association must change their statement of doctrine. For some time it seemed this would bring a division in the association, but it was avoided by “the fire” folks who could not give up their teaching withdrawing their names. In a few years from that time almost all of these teachers of “the fire” gave up their doctrine, except a few who went off to themselves and started a paper and an orphanage, which continues to this day, with a small following.

The doctrine of marital purity sprang up about this time and was taught by some, either privately or publicly; mostly privately, to the hurt of many once happy homes. They taught that a man must live with his wife just as he did with his mother or sister. That cohabitation with one’s wife or husband was an absolute sin. One preacher, who married a woman preacher who taught this doctrine; was ordered to his knees often by her to keep him from backsliding. Tracts and pamphlets were freely scattered on this subject, many of which widely differed in their teachings. In some cases it brought about separation of husbands and wives.

Rev. C. B. Jernigan was called to Bristol, Fla., by a man and his wife, both preachers. They called him there to organize a holiness church. This was in the spring of 1904. When he and his family landed from the steamboat, which plied down the Apalachacola River, he was met by both the man and wife, who took them to their home. They lived in a nice, five-room parsonage, near a splendid new church which they had built and hoped to dedicate as a holiness church soon. Scarcely were they seated when the woman of the house told the evangelist that she never kept coffee in her home. That she had not been on a coffee drunk since she had been saved. That she had as soon keep whiskey and make him a toddy every morning as to make him a cup of coffee for breakfast. The man retorted, “No, and we don’t eat hog. Dirty cancer breeders. I wouldn’t touch a piece of pork for $100.” The evangelist told them that he had read somewhere, “That we ought to eat what was set before us without murmuring or complaining,” and that if they could do without coffee all of the time, he certainly could for ten days; and that you will never hear a grunt out of him. And as to the hog, “Just trot out your beef and we will fare all right,” and the subject was dropped for the time.