Over the last 70 years, two major revivals in Canada have literally touched the ends of the earth, shifting the trajectory of the Church as we know it. Many lesser revivals brought degrees of renewal, but the Latter Rain Movement and Toronto Blessing were spiritual catapults that thrust the Body of Christ into higher dimensions of revelation, gifting and deeper understanding of the gracious heart of Father God. As catalysts for change, it should not surprise us that these moves were also major sources for controversies which, to some degree, still rage to this day.
SEEING “THE SEVENTY”
Recently, I posted on FB that I have become increasingly possessed by the idea of giving myself to a season of extended fasting in North Battleford, Canada. This will happen Jan. 21-Feb.10, 2018. Why North Battleford? Glad you asked! As you may or may not know, the Latter Rain Movement (LRM) erupted there at the Sharon Orphanage after months of fasting from Oct. 1947 to Feb. 1948. My primary spiritual heritage and main influence growing up is probably Latter Rain more than anything else. Not coincidentally, Lou and I wrote The Jesus Fast built around events that happened in that same span of years (1946-49) to help intercessors recognize the 70-year prophetic cycle we are now in. The tribe of Isaachar was favorably mentioned in Scripture for daring to see “timings” that others missed. Now more than ever, we must discern the times. Likewise, Jesus rebuked the leaders of Israel who could not recognize their day of visitation. Forty- and seventy-year periods are known to be transitional blocks of time. Beloved, I believe we are now in a critical, culminating “Seventy.”
I’ll explain more about our current 3-4 year cycle in a separate post. Suffice it for now to say that, inspired by Franklin Hall’s book, Atomic Power Through Prayer and Fasting, young people gathered in Saskattoon, first, and later, North Battleford to give themselves to extended corporate fasting. As part of a sweeping global fasting movement that erupted in the late 1940’s, I believe this small band of fasting intercessors set the stage for the Healing Revivalists, the great Evangelical Evangelists, and ultimately, Israel gaining modern statehood in 1948.
“The Latter Rain Movement had its beginnings in the years following World War II and was contemporary with the evangelical awakening led by Billy Graham, as well as the Healing Revival of Oral Roberts. Several leaders of the small Pentecostal, ‘Sharon Orphanage’ in North Battleford, Saskatchewan (who) were inspired to look for a deeper dimension of Christianity…began to fast and pray in search of it. Later that year, groups organized large revival events, and news quickly swept across Canada and the United States, influencing many Pentecostal believers. As the revival died down after a few years, those who had been changed by the doctrine formed various groups which became known as “The Latter Rain” (Movement). The Latter Rain strongly emphasized relational networks over organizational structure.” (Wikipedia)
CANADA’S REVIVAL GIFTS TO THE WORLD
It could be argued that the Latter Rain outpouring is one of Canada’s greatest gifts to the Body of Christ over this last generation. Why? Part of the message of Joel 2 is that fasting precipitates the latter rain! Could God be stirring the pot for a fresh outpouring?Below is a non-exhaustive list of components of the Latter Rain Movement that have, in varying degrees, become normalized into the Charismatic experience. They include:
- Restorationism — The view that God has been progressively restoring certain truths lost to the Body of Christ since the time of the Protestant Reformation; these truths or practices had been significantly corrupted/diminished by centuries of neglect over a thousand years of the control of institutional Roman Catholicism. For example, the “priesthood of all believers” and “justification by faith” were not new at the time of the Reformation, they were quite old. But they had been lost. God ordained Luther and other key Reformers to restore these things. But that work of restoration did not remain static. It has continued over the centuries, and continues still.
- Fivefold Ministry – As part of this restoration, God began to reestablish the unique grace of apostles and prophets to the church for a balanced functioning of the Eph. 4 paradigm, which the Apostle Paul said was necessary for the Body of Christ to come to eventual maturity. Apostles and prophets are not more important than the other “offices,” but their role and sphere of influence had been lost over time.
- Laying on of the Hands – The belief and practice, according to Scripture, of imparting spiritual blessings and gifts to others through laying on of hands; by extension this included a certain “decentralization” of rigid authority structures including the artificial division between “clergy” and “laity.”
- Prophecy – Explored dimensions of “personal prophecy” for edification and exhortation, rather than restricting “Prophecy” to 1) Eschatology; 2) Zealous proclamations of justice and truth; 3) General words of exhortation. Rather, prophetic ministry included uniquely personal insights for guidance and instruction that allowed the Body of Christ to minister to one another.
- Recovery of True Worship – The “restoration of the Tabernacle of David” was a central motif, including the belief that God’s presence could be uniquely manifested in worship. This could include “singing in the spirit,” spontaneous worship, clapping, shouting and dancing, among other things.
- Unity of the Faith – A fresh emphasis, faith for, and labor to attain unity in the faith before Christ returns. This unity of true believers was necessary and vital since Jesus had pledged to return for a Bride without spot or wrinkle.
While all of the above were contested in some form or fashion, perhaps the most controversial element of the LRM was the belief that man was meant to wield dominion over the earth and, by extension, Satan. Corporately, this meant that the Body of Christ was meant to “possess the land” and experience a measure (perhaps total) of rulership on earth before the return of Christ. Thus, a victorious church, rather than a defeated church being “raptured” away, was the expected eschatological goal. An extreme version of this position dared to believe that Romans 8 described a literal reality in which the full “manifestation of the sons of God” would take place by Christ being “formed in his people” to “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” In other words, the end result of sanctification was total, not partial. Latter Rain theology believed God wanted complete victory and transformation of the human experience, as Jesus demonstrated in his humanity, as evidence of the total, transforming power of Christ in us.
If you have experienced personal prophetic ministry, the sweetness of God’s presence in times of spontaneous corporate singing, a fresh impartation by others laying hands on you and praying for spiritual gifts, or if you have been sweetly burdened by the heart of God for His children to love one another according to John 17, you likely have the LRM to thank for it. (Never experienced the beautiful layers of harmony, intimacy and resonance known as the “Heavenly Choir”? Read this great article by Richard Riss, then look for an old copy of his book on the Latter Rain at Amazon. Hard to find!)
“Although neglected in scholarly literature, the Latter Rain foreshadowed themes that emerged [in] the 1970s to the early 2000s…. Latter Rain participants – ousted by the Pentecostal denominations – became a diaspora of the Spirit” – The Cambridge Companion to Pentecostalism, 2014
CANADA, AMERICA, AND THE WORLD…LET’S ASK GOD FOR A NEW LATTER RAIN OUTPOURING
While many deride the Latter Rain for it’s mistakes, what reformation or renewal movement doesn’t make mistakes? I want to hold fast to that which is good! The LRM got much right, and I’m deeply thankful for how it has shaped my own faith. I want to honor this root, and the great, healthy echo of Latter Rain breakthroughs that various facets of the modern church now routinely experience as a result. I also want to dare to believe that this generation can contribute to a similar level of breakthrough for our sons and daughters.
So in spite of inevitable errors and excesses which have preoccupied critics of both the Latter Rain and Toronto Outpouring, I esteem the movements, the sincerity of their leadership, and the gifts they gave the world. I believe both were fundamentally orchestrated and overseen by the Holy Spirit. I also believe Canada is overdue to gift the world with another great move. It is no accident that both these revivals occurred near airports. It seems that when God moves dramatically in Canada, it is meant for export to the farthest reaches of the earth. The spiritual sap of Canada’s great tree nourishes leaves destined for the healing of nations. If your heart is stirred by this, I invite you to join me in 21 days of fasting and prayer for another outpouring, Jan. 21-Feb.10. Together, let’s dig the wells of revival in Canada at the place where it started, North Battleford, in Jan.-Feb. of 1948.
Seventy years. It’s time.