|Life & Ministry of John Alexander Dowie|
As a forerunner of what God has prepared for His people in the next generation, He always sends a messenger "to make ready a people prepared for the Lord" (Luke 1:17).
JOHN ALEXANDER DOWIE
Though "he being dead yet speaketh" Heb 11:4
Compiled by Charles A. Jennings
As a forerunner of what God has prepared for His people in the next generation, He always sends a messenger "to make ready a people prepared for the Lord" (Luke 1:17). Usually, that messenger is thought of as being strange by the religious standard of the day and often strongly rejected by the ruling church authorities. One such God-ordained messenger who was the forerunner in preparation for the Twentieth Century ministry of divine healing was John Alexander Dowie. One writer recalls:
"John Alexander Dowie holds an unique and definite place in the development of apostolic ideals for the Church of the Twentieth Century. His life mission and work present a fascinating, romantic object lesson for those interested in progressive Christianity. Singlehanded, as Elijah of old, he denounced the decadent order of the day, and protested mightily against apostasy, both of the Protestant and Catholic divisions of the Church and heralded a New Day of a Thousand Years when Jehovah would hold sway over a redeemed people on the renewed earth."
On May 24, 1847 Dowie was born into the home of highly educated and devout Christian parents in the city of Edinburgh, Scotland. It was there he attended church and was converted to Christ at the early age of seven years old. Later he recalls the story of his early conversion in the following testimony.
"I feel to witness first of all today to the fact which myself and my God know is true. I am in my 49th year; and I was in my seventh when in the city of Edinburgh, Scotland, where I was born, I was converted. A good and holy man, now passed into the heavens, who was the means of the conversion of my father, and who made him one of his earnest co-workers. That good man was standing in a quaintly constructed street pulpit. He was a man of great capacity, great wit, large sympathy. But above all a man of astonishing piety. An advocate by profession.
That is a barrister pleading before the courts. But being wealthy he did not pursue his profession. In a remarkable way God saved him; and he became a preacher. On the night I was converted, my father took me for the first time to hear him preach; and he lifted me in his pulpit and caused me to sing. He knew me well. He got me to sing; and that night I gave my heart to Christ, whilst the multitude in the streets were listening to the hymn that the bairn was singing.
"Come let us to the Lord our God, with contrite hearts return,
Our God is gracious; nor will leave, the desolate to mourn."
I also sang, " Long hath the night of sorrow reigned." I had never seen the stars to my remembrance before; or at such a time. It was a summer night. The daylight had long faded. The twilight was with us; and the stars were peeping out, as I sang, "Long hath the night of sorrow reigned." My voice echoed and reechoed. I was standing near where John Knox used to stand and preach, on the steps of his own house. Not far from St. Charles Cathedral, perhaps the oldest church in Scotland. Not far from where the martyrs had died for the cross; and not far away was the great Friar Church where most of my name and family had given their lives for Christ. And that night I gave my life to Christ. In a few days after that, I asked my father what my name meant. I asked him what John Alexander meant. And he said he did not know. And he said, ‘ you ask so many questions, I am getting tired. Look it up in the family Bible.’ I hunted through the family Bible; and I found that John meant, ‘ by the grace of God’ and the Alexander meant, ‘ a helper of men.’ And I said, I will be that by the grace of God."
When at the age of thirteen years old, his family moved to Australia where he began working and earning his own money as a salesman in his uncle’s shoeshop. At the age of sixteen, he was divinely healed of chronic dyspepsia. At the age of twenty, he surrendered to a divine call for Christian ministry and returned to his native Scotland to attend Edinburgh University. While there he studied at the Free Church School for three years and then returned to Australia. In the Spring of 1872 he accepted the pastorate of the Congregational Church in Alma. The following year he accepted a pastoral call to a church in the city of Manly Beach. In 1875, Dowie moved again and accepted the pulpit at a church in the Sydney suburb of Newtown. On May 26, 1876, he married his wife Jeanie, in the city of Adelaide, South Australia.
In the August 31, 1894 edition of his paper, Leaves of Healing, Dowie gives a resume of his life in the following words:
"The editor was born in the city of Edinburgh, Scotland on the 24th of May, 1847. He received his early education in the academies of that city and went with his parents in 1860 to Adelaide, South Australia. After spending seven years in business pursuits he entered upon a course of study beginning in 1868, and left Australia for his native city shortly afterwards. He studied for a time in the University and the Theological Halls of Edinburgh. He returned to South Australia and was ordained into the ministry in 1872, becoming pastor of the Congregational Church of Alma. He removed to Sydney, New South Wales, in 1873 and became pastor, first, of the Manly Congregational Church, and then of the Newtown Congregational Church. The latter position was one of great influence, being at that time the collegiate church of the Congregational Denomination, and so he had the duty of ministering to the resident professors and students preparing for the Congregational ministry. He occupied many public offices in connection both with his own denomination and general religious, temperance and educational work, and took part in the origination of many religious and social organizations. In 1878, after long and prayerful consideration, he resigned his pastoral charge and his ministerial membership in the Congregational Union of New South Wales, not without a unanimous protest on the part of the Ministerial Association of Sydney, but he felt called of God to devote himself wholly to evangelistic work amongst the masses of the people, and had become convinced, among many other things, that it was wrong for a minister to sale and for a church to buy any man’s spiritual power or services. Accordingly, until this day he has ministered at all times and at all places without money and without price, depending entirely upon the free will offerings of God’s people for the maintenance not only of himself and family, but for the large sums of money which have been necessary to carry on the work in which he has been engaged. It is impossible in this column to give an outline even of that work, but suffice it to say, that he removed to Melbourne, the capital of Victoria, Australia, in 1882, and continued his ministry there until 1888, having established a large church, and built a tabernacle, and founded the International Divine Healing Association. He conducted missions in many parts of Australia and for about six months throughout the beautiful islands of New Zealand. He left Australia finally in March 1888, and after spending several months in the islands of New Zealand, he arrived at the Golden Gate, San Francisco, on June 7, 1888. Since that time he has conducted a long series of missions and established branches of the Association throughout all the Pacific Coast states and in many other parts of the United States and Canada."
While pastoring the Congregational Church in Newtown, Dowie experienced his first miracle of divine healing that would revolutionize his life and ministry. In his own words, he relates the following account.
"At noontide, sixteen years ago, I sat in my study in the parsonage of the Congregational Church, at Newtown, a suburb of the beautiful city of Sydney, Australia. My heart was very heavy, for I had been visiting the sick and dying beds of more than thirty of my flock, and I had cast the dust to its kindred dust into more than forty graves in a few weeks. Where, oh where was He who used to heal his suffering children? No prayer for healing seemed to reach his ear, and yet I knew His hand had not been shortened. Still it did not save from death even those for whom there was so much in life to live for God and others. Strong men, fathers, good citizens, and more than all true faithful Christians sickened with a putrid fever, suffered nameless agonies, passed into a delirium, sometimes with convulsions and then died. And oh, what aching voids were left in many a widowed, orphaned heart. Then there were many homes where, one by one, the little children, the youths and the maidens were stricken , and after hard struggling with the foul disease, they too lay cold and dead. It seemed sometimes as if I could almost hear the triumphant mockery of fiends ringing in my ear, whilst I spoke to the bereaved ones the words of Christian hope and consolation. Disease, the foul offspring of its father, Satan and its mother, Sin, was defiling and destroying the earthly temples of God’s children, and there was no deliverer.
And there I sat with sorrow bowed head for my afflicted people, until the bitter tears came to relieve my burning heart. Then I prayed for some message, and oh , how I longed to hear some words from Him who wept and sorrowed for the suffering long ago, the Man of Sorrows and Sympathies. And then the words of the Holy Ghost inspired in Acts 10:38 stood before me all radiant with light, revealing Satan as the defiler and Christ as the Healer. My tears were wiped away, my heart was strong, I saw the way of healing, and the door thereto was opened wide, and so I said, ‘God help me now to preach that word to all the dying round, and tell them how ‘tis Satan still defiles, and Jesus still delivers, for He is just the same today.’
A loud ring and several loud raps at the outer door, a rush of feet, and then at my door two panting messengers who said, ‘ Oh, come at once, Mary is dying; come and pray.’ With such a feeling as a shepherd has who hears that his sheep are being torn from the fold by a cruel wolf, I rushed from my house, ran hatless down the street, and entered the room of the dying maiden. There she lay groaning, grinding her clinched teeth in the agony of the conflict with the destroyer, the white froth, mingled with her blood, oozing from her pained distorted mouth. I looked at her and then my anger burned, "Oh," I thought, "For some sharp sword of heavenly temper keen to slay this cruel foe, who is strangling that lovely maiden like an invisible serpent, tightening his deadly coils for a final victory."
In a strange way it came to pass; I found the sword I needed was in my hands, and in my hand, I hold it still, and never will I lay it down. The doctor, a good Christian man, was quietly walking up and down the room, sharing the mother’s pain and grief. Presently he stood at my side and said, "Sir, are not God’s ways mysterious?" Instantly the sword was flashing in my hand, the Spirit’s Sword, the Word of God. "God’s way!" I said, pointing to the scene of conflict, "How dare you, Dr. K—, call that God’s way of bringing His children home from earth to heaven? No, sir, that is the devil’s work, and it is time we called on Him who came to "destroy the work of the Devil," to slay that deadly foul destroyer, and to save the child. Can you pray, Doctor, can you pray the prayer of faith that saves the sick?" At once, offended at my words, my friend was changed, and saying, "you are too much excited, sir, ‘tis is best to say, God’s will be done," he left the room. Excited! The word was quite inadequate for I was almost frenzied with divinely imparted anger and hatred of that foul destroyer, disease which was doing Satan’s will. "It is not so, I exclaimed, "No will of God sends such cruelty, and I shall never say God’s will be done to Satan’s works, which God’s own Son came to destroy, and this is one of them." Oh, how the Word of God was burning in my heart: "Jesus of Nazareth went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil: For God was with Him." And was not God with me? And was not Jesus there and all His promise true? I felt that it was even so, and turning to the mother, I inquired, "Why did you send for me?" To which she answered, "Do pray, oh, pray for her that God may raise her up." And so we prayed. What did I say? It may be that I cannot now recall the words without mistake, but words are in themselves of small importance. The prayer of faith may be a voiceless prayer, a simple heartfelt look of confidence into the face of Christ. At such a moment words were few, but they mean much, for God is looking at the heart. Still, I can remember much of that prayer until this day, and asking God to aid I will endeavor to recall it. I cried:
"Our Father, help! and Holy Spirit teach me how to pray. Plead thou for us, oh, Jesus, Saviour, Healer, Friend, our Advocate with the Father. Hear and heal Eternal One! From all disease and death deliver this sweet child of thine. I rest upon the Word. We claim the promise now, The Word is true, "I am the Lord that healeth thee." Then heal her now. The Word is true, " I am the Lord, I change not." Unchanging God, then prove Thyself the Healer now. The Word is true, "These signs shall follow them that believe, in my Name they shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover." And I believe and I lay hands in Jesus Name on her, and claim this promise now. The Word is true, ‘The prayer of faith shall save the sick’ Trusting in Thee alone, I cry, oh save her now, for Jesus sake, Amen!"
And lo, the maid lay still in sleep, so deep and sweet that the mother said in a low whisper, "Is she dead?" "No, " I answered in a whisper lower still, "Mary will live, the fever is gone. She is perfectly well and sleeping as an infant sleeps." Smoothing the long dark hair from her now peaceful brow, and feeling the steady pulsation of her heart and cool, moist hands, I saw that Christ had heard and that once more, as long ago in Peter’s house, "He touched her and the fever left her." Turning to the nurse I said, "Get me at once, please, a cup of cocoa and several slices of bread and butter." Beside the sleeping maid, we sat quietly and almost silently until the nurse returned, and then I bent over her and snapping my fingers said, "Mary!" Instantly she woke, smiled and said, "Oh sir, when did you come? I have slept so long, then stretching out her arms to meet her mother’s embrace, she said "Mother, I feel so well." "And hungry too?" I said, pouring some of the cocoa in a saucer and offering it to her when cooled by my breath. "Yes hungry too," she answered with a little laugh, and drank and ate again and yet again, until all was gone. In a few minutes she fell asleep, breathing easily and softly. Quietly thanking God we left her bed and went to the next room where the brother and sister also lay sick of the same fever. With those two we also prayed, and they were healed. The following day all three were well and in a week or so they brought to me a little letter and a little gift of gold, two sleeve links with my monogram, which I wore for many years. As I went away from the home where Christ as the Healer had been victorious, I could not but have somewhat in my heart of the triumphant song that rang through heaven, and yet I was not a little amazed at my own strange doings and still more at my discovery that He is just the same today. And this is the story of how I came to preach the Gospel of healing through Faith in Jesus." (Leaves of Healing, February 15, 1895)
"In 1882, I was called to an almost precisely similar case in Melbourne. The child was instantly healed, a girl. From that moment the ministry came in Power. And since then I have been praying with the sick, I may say, everyday of my life, so that now in some years I have prayed as many as fifty thousand times, and in others as many as seventy eight thousand times in one year." (Leaves of Healing, March 20, 1896)
In 1878, Dowie left the Congregational Church and launched his own independent ministry in the cities of Sydney and Melbourne. He ran unsuccessfully for a seat in the Australian Parliament, but gained widespread notoriety for his strong opposition to the liquor traffic. In 1888, Dowie and his wife with their two children, William Gladstone and Esther, moved to the United States. He held evangelistic meetings on the Pacific Coast and other parts of the United States for two years before establishing his base of operations in Evanston, Illinois. During that time the membership of his International Divine Healing Association, of which he was president and founder, had increased to over five thousand members. The Voice of Healing of May 1949 gives the following account of Dowie’s early years in America.
"Leaving Australia in March, 1888, he went through New Zealand, crossed the Pacific, and passed through the Golden Gate at San Francisco on June 7, 1888. Dowie did not have long to wait after landing at San Francisco to have an opportunity to minister to suffering humanity. Among those who came to interview him during his stay at the Palace Hotel, an aged woman appeared who had come with her crutch all the way from Sacramento to interview Dr. Dowie. Her husband having read of Dowie in the newspapers, urged her to go, saying, "This is the old time religion, or else it is all a lie. Go down and see if the Doctor is what they say he is, and if he is, you will come back cured."
She looked at Dr. Dowie with tears in her eyes, ready to yield her heart to the Savior after he had made plain the way of salvation to her.
"Now, will you trust Jesus as your Healer?" Dr. Dowie asked. The woman responded in the affirmative after he had explained to her the fact that Jesus was invisibly present that very moment in spirit and power.
Without another word, Dr. Dowie knelt at her feet and put the diseased foot in his hand and prayed for her healing, saying to her: "In Jesus’ Name, rise and walk." She arose and walked several times across the room. Her daughter, who was a backslider, was restored to God.
As they were leaving, Dr. Dowie said, "You have left something behind, your crutch." "I don’t need it anymore. I am healed," she said. Then she walked away without it, more than eight blocks to her daughter’s house.
Chicago newspapers attacked him as an imposter, and informed him that he was not needed nor wanted in the city of Chicago. At this particular time, as he was about to close a convention on Divine Healing and was delivering the final address on August 7, 1890, a lady brought a prayer request to him, asking prayer for Mrs. Jennie Paddock, who was lying at home suffering from fibroid tumor - the doctors having abandoned the case because mortification had set in.
Dr. Dowie took this as a test of whether he should open a mission in the city of Chicago. Then and there he knelt down and prayed for the dying woman. She was instantly healed and lived for many years. This wonderful miracle startled many people in Chicago; and even the Chicago Inter-Ocean published the details of the case in the issue of August 28, 1891.
Zion Tabernacle, Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 1897
Dr. Dowie conducted evangelistic divine healing services during the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair across the street from some of the most popular attractions such as the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show. Many people who attended his meetings testified of being divinely healed and his ministry began to grow as he gained popularity among the common people. Shortly thereafter he opened Healing Homes throughout the city to accommodate the hundreds of people who would come to receive physical healing, spiritual counsel and training in the Christian Faith. He then started his publication, Leaves of Healing in 1894 which was printed by his own Zion Publishing House. He began conducting services in his spacious Zion Tabernacle in Chicago and in 1895 organized the Christian Catholic Church.
Major controversies, lawsuits and even arrests were sparked by Dr. Dowie’s stand against unscrupulous medical doctors, the use of all pharmaceutical drugs, the consumption of all pork products and membership in all secret societies such as Freemasonry. Thousands of people flocked to his meetings and acclaimed him as their spokesman while he openly criticized both British and American crooked politicians, corrupt corporations and liberal clergymen. By 1901, he had become such a dynamic influence upon the Christian people of America that he had baptized over 10,000 converts in four years and had over 40,000 subscribers to his Leaves of Healing magazine which was published in English, Dutch and German. In 1901, he secured a two year lease on the Chicago Coliseum and was speaking to capacity crowds of 12,500 people each week.
The divine healing miracles that the Lord performed under the ministry of Dr. Dowie ranged from instantaneous cures of every disease and malady from simple broken bones to cancer and gun shot wounds to insanity. One of the most prominent and publicized miracles was the healing of Miss Amanda Hicks of Clinton, Kentucky. She was instantly healed of terminal cancer in the final stage. Miss Hicks was the president of a denominational church college and the cousin of President Abraham Lincoln. Her church authorities summarily dismissed her from her position in their denial and protest against modern day divine healing miracles.
The following is the account of two prominent healing miracles and subsequent legal difficulties early in Dr. Dowie’s ministry in Chicago.
Miss Amanda Hicks "was suffering from a cancerous tumor which had burst and discharged into the alimentary region with adhesions in many places, and had been given up by the doctors to die. Brought to Chicago on a stretcher, a terrible victim of morphine, Miss Hicks made the promise never again to touch the diabolical drug, and prayer was offered by John Alexander Dowie on her behalf. In a moment, the terrible agony of months departed, and later in the evening she arose and walked about, and during the next few days, large quantities of cancerous material passed from her body. She returned home entirely healed, and the Clinton Democrat of March 8, 1894, published her testimony.
As Providence would have it, John Alexander Dowie, having been tormented by the diabolical din of Cody’s "Wild West Show," near his tabernacle in 1893, was given the joy of capturing a Cody from the murderous demon of disease. On November 1, 1893, Sadie Cody, niece of Colonel W. F. Cody, known as ‘Buffalo Bill,’ was brought in a dying condition to the servant of God. A police ambulance received her and carried her to the Divine Healing Home. Many of her friends expected her to be brought home a corpse as she was dying of a spine tumor. After Dr. Dowie prayed for her, she was able to stand on her feet–something she had not done for eight months. Within a short time she was completely restored, and after five weeks was able to return home and resume her usual duties there.
The year 1895 stands out as a banner year in John Alexander Dowie’s ministry in the city of Chicago. He opened several Divine Healing Homes and thus drew the fire of the Chicago Council and Aldermen upon himself. They demanded he take out a license for conducting a hospital or sanitarium, which he refused to do. As a result, he was arrested over a hundred times in that year. Frequently being taken from the platform while delivering addresses, put in the worst jails in Chicago, and many so hated him that they were even plotting to murder him.
John Alexander Dowie fought the battle single handedly for the right, under the constitution of the State of Illinois to pray for the sick without medical interference; and this laid the foundation for the founding of the Christian Catholic Church (the term Catholic means universal and has no connection with the Roman Catholic Church) , which with five hundred charter members took place February 22, 1896."
(Voice of Healing - May 1949)
Multiplied thousands of testimonies were recorded and noised abroad throughout North America and around the world. His ministry attracted many ministers and evangelists who were personally or whose family members were healed or blessed and later became very prominent in the Divine Healing ministries throughout the first half of the twentieth century.
Evangelist John G. Lake, whose ministry later on greatly impacted South Africa for Christ, was a deacon in the Christian Catholic Church in Zion City, Illinois. He related the following testimony:
"Were it not for Zion I should be the most unhappy of men. I had a brother healed in Zion about four years ago, who had been an invalid for several years.
I had a sister, Mrs. William Otto, of Wyandotte, Michigan healed in Zion. She had five cancers. She had been in the Hospital and had many operations. The Lord healed her. I have a sister present here tonight, Mrs. Moffat, who was healed when she was very low.
My wife was healed in February, 1898 of heart disease. The disease developed gradually for five years. She was treated by a specialist, who said it was impossible for her to recover. The Lord healed her, and healed her instantly.
About two months after that, my little boy was dying. We did not know how to pray the prayer of faith then as well as we do now. We had not made everything right, and the Lord did not answer our prayer. We went to Zion and the boy was healed. He is now a healthy, happy boy. In our neighborhood there have been at least 56 cases of healing.
Mrs. Janet Currie, living near Sault Ste. Marie, broke her limb at the ankle. The bone decayed and mortification set in. The limb was discolored, and her brother said it was swollen twice the size of a stove pipe. It took two men to hold her in bed, she suffered so. The skin on the limb split open. The physicians were going to operate on her, but she decided that an operation would be useless. She heard of my sister and wrote to her. A time for prayer was appointed in Zion, and at the time of prayer she was healed instantly. She took a basin of water and washed the limb, and the old skin all peeled off. The new skin under it was perfectly formed, and the two limbs are exactly alike. The limb was absolutely made new.
Another healing was the case of a little boy who had convulsions for 48 hours. He was kept in a nursery close to my home. He had been unconscious for four days. I made an appointment for prayer in Zion that night by telegraph. I also notified the members and friends in the neighborhood to pray. The child was instantly healed at the time of prayer, and is well today." (Leaves of Healing - July 28, 1900)
HE IS JUST THE SAME TODAY
Have you ever heard the story
How our Lord before He died
Laid His blessed hands in healing
Upon all who to Him cried;
How the sick and all oppressed ones
He rejoicing sent away
Oh, I’m glad , so glad to tell you
He is just the same today.
(Leaves of Healing - February 15, 1895)
Among the many others who were greatly blessed and influenced by the ministry of Dr. Dowie were: F.F. Bosworth (1877-1958), Eli N. Richey and family including his famous evangelist son, Raymond T. Richey (1893-1968), Gordon Lindsay (1906-1973), William H. Piper, Zion’s Overseer At Large (1868-1911), who later became founder and pastor of the old Stone Church in Chicago and the popular song writer/evangelist F. A. Graves whose daughter married a prominent Assemblies of God college professor.
The list also includes such men of God as Fred Vogler and J. Roswell Flower (1888-1970) who was instrumental in the founding of the Assemblies of God in 1914.
For many years following his death in 1907, Dr. Dowie was honored by many prominent ‘healing’ evangelists including William M. Branham and F. F. Bosworth, as pictured above. As reported in the Voice of Healing magazine of May 1949, Branham and Bosworth held a joint healing campaign in Zion City for eleven nights in April 1949.
Thousands of earnest minded Christian people rejoiced in the ministry, wholesome fellowship and the ‘Bible Days are here again’ type of atmosphere generated at Dowie’s Zion Tabernacle in Chicago. Thousands of men quit there jobs elsewhere and moved their families to the Chicago area in order to be a part of the assembly of believers where Jesus Christ was proclaimed as Savior, Healer and Sanctifier.
In the May 4, 1901 issue of Leaves of Healing is a description of a typical scene as thousands gather for a Lord’s Day afternoon service.
"The assembling of a Zion audience on a Lord’s Day is a most interesting sight. It is a faithful commentary of the character of Zion herself. Especially is this true at Central Zion Tabernacle, at the headquarters of the work, where the attendance can be numbered in thousands.
The principal service of the day is at three o’clock in the afternoon. At this service the General Overseer presides and speaks, and Zion’s White robed Choir and Robed Officers are in attendance.
Although this service is held in the afternoon, a large part of the audience assembles at the morning service. They come from all parts of the city, from all the suburbs, and some come from cities so far out from Chicago that they can scarcely be called suburbs.
At the close of the morning service, some go to Zion boarding houses in the vicinity while others gather in the refectory in the basement of the Tabernacle. All eat their food with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God and talking over the services of the morning. Hardly has lunch been finished when the great auditorium of the Tabernacle begins to be filled.
Zion’s people have learned that the crowds are coming and that if they wish to obtain seats, they must take them early. At two o’clock there are thousands in and around the Tabernacle. The broad pavement in front, extending from the Tabernacle doors down to the sidewalk on Michigan Avenue, is a great forum at this time, especially in warm weather. Here are hearty handshakings, renewals of old acquaintanceships and forming of new ones." (Leaves of Healing - May 4, 1901)
In 1900 Dowie unveiled plans for the acquisition of property and the building of the city of Zion about forty miles north of Chicago. The size of the city was ten miles square and was built as a totally Christian society. It provided services of all kinds (except medical, drugs, tobacco, liquor and swine) including factories and stores as employment for the members of Zion Tabernacle. By the end of 1901, construction was well underway and plans were materializing toward the development of Zion City. Dr. Dowie announced that his ministry in Zion was basically three fold with the Christian Catholic Church as being the ecclesiastical branch, Zion College, as the educational branch and the factories and stores as being the commercial branch.
His ministry also provided spiritual and physical help for homeless and wayward women, plus an educational program for children. Dr. Dowie felt that the public school system had become anti-Christian and morally corrupt.
Dr. Dowie with an entourage of family and friends took a five month tour of Great Britain and Europe starting in the fall of 1900. While there, he visited and/or established Zion Churches and a Zion Publishing House in London. He was well accepted by the common people as his public meetings were well attended. From October 10 -31, 1900 he held capacity crowd meetings at St. Martins Town Hall, Charing Cross, London, each weekday afternoon and evening. While there, a gang of ruffians opposed to his message, attacked him and his party and attempted to kill him.
Upon his return to his home base in Illinois, Dr. Dowie continued to pursue the construction of Zion City and promote his ministry throughout the United States and overseas. He suffered a stroke in September 1905 following several major confrontations with his critics in New York and Australia where his attacks on the vices of the reigning British Monarch gained international press attention. He continued his travels on behalf of Zion City in 1906, but suffered a fatal stroke and went to his eternal reward on March 9, 1907. He was buried in Zion City, Illinois.
Forty-two years after Dr. Dowie’s death, Voice of Healing editor, Gordon Lindsay in the May 1949 issue, reflects upon the life and ministry of Dr. Dowie, that stalwart preacher who proclaimed Jesus Christ both Savior and Healer. Lindsay states that:
"In a single-handed crusade in Chicago, and against great odds, Dr. Dowie established the right to pray for the sick without interference from civil authorities. Tens of thousands testified of healing under this man’s ministry and his work was without a parallel in his day.
Dr. Dowie conceived the idea of building the city of Zion, on the shores of Lake Michigan, in which conditions would approximate as nearly as possible those of the Millennium. But he failed to take into consideration that the multitude of details involved in the consummation of this plan, would tax his strength to the point of breaking down his health. It is interesting to note, that of the many who lost in the decline of real estate values after the death of Dowie (the editors parents were among these) we have yet to find one who did not believe that the rich legacy of faith they inherited from Dowie’s ministry more than compensated their temporal loses.
Like a clap of thunder out of a clear sky, John Alexander Dowie started on his world wide mission of setting forth from the Word of God, and putting into practice, the ideas, ideals and principles of the coming Messianic Kingdom; and thereby succeeded in making "Zion" a household word throughout the whole world.
It has been said that in him were treasured up the rarest gifts and talents ever given to man. As an iconoclast, he denounced evil in high and low places, tore off the mask of hypocrisy from unfaithful shepherds behind the pulpit, protested against the shams and fads of a giddy world, and heralded the death-knell of the dying age.
Sudden and unexpected as was his entry upon the public arena, so sudden and unexpected, also, was his exit and demise, compelling thousands of devoted followers to whom God’s inspired Word was a sealed book, to acknowledge that his faithful ministry had resulted in making the Bible a new Book to them."
While in his pulpit, Dr. Dowie commented on many subjects, even though they were of an extreme controversial nature. Even before the major Pentecostal outpouring in 1901, he made the following comment concerning "speaking in tongues".
"Well, I do not know. I think some of you are getting a new tongue. You are getting a tongue that gives praise to the Lord, for a new blessing that has come into your homes, and He is giving us new tongues. We have not everything yet, that is true, but He gives the Word of Wisdom, and the Word of Knowledge, and Faith, and Gifts of Healing, and Workings of Miracles, and Prophecy and Discernings of Spirits, and He will give us in due time Tongues and Interpretation of Tongues. He will. That is coming in its right time." (Leaves of Healing - April 10, 1897)
The proclamation of theocracy was a major topic in Dr. Dowie’s sermons. He boldly proclaimed that he was not a Democrat or a Republican, but a Theocrat who had a strong belief in a government by God. He stated that:
"God’s rule is the only government that brings peace. There is no doubt whatever that the Kingdoms of this world must become the Kingdoms of our God and His Christ, and in that day it will not be Democracy, nor Aristocracy, nor Oligarchy, nor Autocracy, but the form of government will be Theocracy.
God will rule, and that is the only form of government that will bring peace to this world. Unless you are governed by God in your heart, in your home, in your workshop, you will not have peace. And, unless God governs in this city, and in this land, there is no possibility of peace." (Leaves of Healing - August 13, 1898)
Dr. Dowie was also a strong believer in and took a firm public stand in favor of the Christian Anglo-Israel message of the Bible. He was a personal friend of Dr. Joseph Wild, pastor of the Bond Street Congregational Church of Toronto, Ontario. By invitation of Dr. Wild, an evangelistic healing service was conducted by Dr. Dowie in the Toronto Church. Dr. Wild was a strong believer in both divine healing and the Anglo-Israel message. He was well known throughout the city and would preach to capacity crowds his convictions on these subjects based upon the Scriptures. His sermons were often printed in the Toronto Evening News. He authored two books on the Anglo-Israel topic entitled; The Future of Israel and Judah - Being the Discourses on the Lost Tribes and The Lost Ten Tribes.
At this time during the closing years of the Nineteenth Century and the beginning of the Twentieth, many prominent pastors and evangelists were proclaiming this end time message concerning the Scriptural destiny of the Anglo-Israel people. Among them was the eminent evangelist, George O. Barnes of Sanibel, Florida who was ordained as an Elder in the Christian Catholic Church of Zion City. He too, authored a book on this topic entitled, A Lost People and a Vanished Scepter. Evangelist Barnes was one of the many ministerial supporters of Dr. Dowie.
Ten Thousand Times Ten Thousand
In sparkling raiment bright,
The army of the Ramson’d saints
Throng up the steeps of light;
‘Tis finished! All is finished,
Their fight with death and sin:
Fling open wide the Golden Gates,
And let the victors in.
A processional hymn sung by Zion Tabernacle’s 500 voice white robed choir
The following are public statements that were made by Dr. Dowie before thousands of church attendees and published in his Leaves of Healing magazine. It is very obvious, in spite of the fact he believed that the modern day Jews comprised the House of Judah, that he definitely believed that the Anglo-Saxon, Germanic and related people are the literal descendants of the ancient Israelites. One Scriptural fact that Dr. Dowie failed to point out is that the Israelites that were carried away into the Assyrian captivities of 745 BC to 721 BC also included thousands of people from the Southern Kingdom of Judah. This included people of the tribes of Judah, Benjamin and Levi. The Assyrian kings took captive people of the southern tribes but left the city of Jerusalem untouched. The inhabitants of Jerusalem were later taken captive by Babylon and they are the people that became known as Jews. The lost ‘ten’ tribes actually include members of all twelve tribes of Israel, including Judahites, Benjamites, and Levites. As one reads the following statements of Dr. Dowie, considering his wide spread influence throughout the Western world, it compels the reader to honestly admit that the Anglo-Israel truth was well known and believed by multiplied thousands of Christians. There is further evidence that the Anglo-Israel truth was a Scriptural viewpoint held by many of our Pentecostal Pioneers, both ministers and laymen.
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"TO SERVE THE PRESENT AGE,
MY CALLING TO FULFIL,
O MAY IT ALL MY POWERS ENGAGE,
TO DO MY MASTER'S WILL!"
MAYNARD G. JAMES