Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Rufus Moseley (1870-1954): The Unheralded Evangelist of Pentecostalism

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J. Rufus Moseley

J. Rufus Moseley (1870-1954) was one of the most important, but largely unheralded, evangelist for Pentecostalism. Without his ministry and influence, there perhaps would not have been the Charismatic Renewal of the 1960s-1970s. This may be an over-statement, as God is a master of “plan B” or “C,” etc., as is demonstrated in our lives (including yours, I bet!) and He would have raised up someone else or a group of persons to do Moseley’s titanic work.

Moseley brought Pentecost to the mainline churches indirectly via several para-church organizations that were birthed in the 1930s. These were formed in reaction to the stultifying anti-supernaturalism and cessationism of mainline Protestantism. The 1920 thru the 1930s was an era when theological liberalism was at its height, and many Christians were even doubting the usefulness of prayer.[1] That was the natural result of living in cessationist churches where you never saw a miraculous healing or supernatural event.

Four para-church organizations were paramount in upholding the Biblical understanding of prayer, the veracity of the Bible, and the present manifestations of the miraculous and healing prayer during this 1930s desert of liberalism and cessationism. They were, the Christian Ashrams of Earl Stanly Jones, the Disciplined Order of Christ (Methodist), the Order of St. Luke (originally Episcopalian) and especially, the Camps Furthest Out (CFO) an interdenominational group founded by Professor Glenn Clark.[2]

The advantage of the para-church organizations was that unlike the cults such as Unity Christianity and Christian Science, they could experiment with healing prayer while they continued to affirm central Christian doctrines while their members remained and worshiped in their mainline (cessartionists) churches. (Think of today’s FGBMFI.) Thus the para-church members could influence the mainline denominations, and persuade some to a more biblical view on healing and effective prayer. In the 1930s that was slow going, but by the 1950s substantial numbers of mainline Protestants had been exposed to the more biblically accurate understanding of prayer and the healing ministry.

Mosely added a Pentecostal dimension to these groups. His Pentecostalism was based on so much on a study of classical Pentecostal writings that came out of Azusa St revival, but on his own dramatic experience with and encounter with Jesus in 1910. It was a “mystical” encounter. Some Evangelicals are suspicious of the word, but all it means is a direct and intimately personal spiritual experience.[3] Moseley’s experience was very similar to that of the great 19th Century evangelist Charles Finney – it was a sudden, unexpected immersion and union with the Risen Lord. After Mosely’s encounter with Jesus he manifested the gifts and fruits of the Spirit to an unusual degree. He lived a life of sacrificial love and generosity that impressed all who met him.

Moseley wrote about his life as a Christian and encounter with Christ in his first book Manifest Victory. It is still in print and should be considered one of teh Key works of Pentecostal/charismatic spirituality. 

This book may be purchased HERE
Moseley was soon invited to speak and minister to many different churches, and became a frequent speaker at the four para-churches mentioned above. His influence on the CFO was particularly important, as he became a close friend and traveling companion to Prof. Clark. Moseley’s teachings and ministry brought many CFO participants into the fullness of Spirit-Baptism.  It was no mystery that when the Charismatic Movement bust out publicly in 1960 thousands were ready to “come out” as Spirit-filled and charismatic.

As I pointed out in my earlier writings, the Spirit-filled speakers and members of the CFOs in the 1950s trained the leadership of the 1960s Charismatic Renewal.[4] Thus, Moseley may be considered a pivotal figure of the Charismatic renewal although he passed away a few years before it broke out. Significantly, back in the 1980s when I researched the Glenn Clark and the CFO, Moseely’s role in its Pentecostal transformation was fading from memory, 

In fact, I learned of Moseley’s prominent role in the Charismatic Renewal from interviewing the Rev. Tommy Tyson (circa 1982) a Methodist evangelists and frequent CFO speaker. The Rev. Tyson was a close associate and disciple of Mosely for over three decades.  Thankfully, right after I published my PNEUMA article on the CFO (1992) Dr. Wayne McLain, a close friend of the Rev. Tyson, published a biography of Mosely, A Resurrection Encounter: The Rufus Moseley Story.[5]   Wayne met Moseley in 1945 and was deeply impacted by him, and from that time frequently traveled with him to CFO camps and other engagements until Mosely’s death in 1954

You can purchase Resurrection Encounter HERE

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The Rev. Tommy Tyson

Several years before publishing his Resurrection Encounter, in 1993, McLain had published an anthology of Mosely’s articles and talks. Mosley himself wrote only two books and a few pamphlets, but He spent decades as columnist to the Macon Telegraph so there was much material to glean through. Dr. McLain passed away in 2007 before he could publish further material on Moseley.

Thankfully another Christian scholar has stepped to the fore as a Mosely publicist, Dr. Gregory Camp. Dr. Camp earned a Doctorate in American history with a specialty in Native American studies from the University of New Mexico at Albuquerque.  Now retired and dedicating his time (and money) to Moseley research, in his academic career he taught at both Lee University (Church of God) and The University of Mary (Catholic).

Dr. Camp (possibly mulling over which Christmas present to re-gift)

 Camp first read Moseley's autobiography, Manifest Victory, in 1974.  In 2013, he was reintroduced to the book and was ushered into a deeper walk with the Lord. He determined to share what he had received from Mosely’s wisdom and spirituality with others.

Dr. Camp moved to Macon, Moseley’s home town, where he could access the old Macon newspapers and tract down persons who personally remembered Mosely and could share their stories (a quickly falling number). The fruit of that labor has been his splendid work, Ineffable Union With Christ: Living in the Kingdom.[6]  It was not a matter of merely copying the article and putting together an anthology. Moseley dictated his articles, making for highly informal writing, so Camp had to edit the articles for clearer reading. Like St. Paul, Moseley’s original articles had long, run-on sentences.

You can purchase Dr. Camp's fine book work at Amazon HERE, or from his publisher's web page HERE

Ineffable Union is an anthology of Moseley’s articles from the period 1921- 1937. Camp promises to do further editions covering Moseley’s work until his death in 1954. In effect, within the next few years we should have most of the Moseley’s writing accessible to all. What is still needed is an anthology of the Moseley article from various Christian Science journals from the earlier period in his life when he attempted to bring the Christian Science movement into biblical orthodoxy.  He gave up that attempt and resigned from the Christian Science in 1910, just after his mystical experience with Jesus. But his articles from that period are interesting, and really not heretical, as many Evangelical readers might assume. Rather, he was trying to fit a consistent idealist (philosophical) perspective with the biblical text. I hastily read Moseley’s Christian Science articles in preparation of my recent work on Agnes Sanford, but did not have time to do a careful analysis.

(Some Christian philosophy major out there might be interested in taking up this task. Please contact Dr. Camp to make sure there is no duplication. He is on Facebook)

Lastly, let me again strongly commend Dr. Camp’s book. Besides being an excellent selection of Moseley’s articles it contains a succinct biography of Moseley. I am looking forward to his promised follow up volume, “Vital Union With Christ” which is soon going to press.   


The noted Pentecostal scholar Dr. Jon Ruthven wrote a very positive review of my latest book, Agnes Sanford and Her Companions: The Assault on Cessationism and the Coming of the Charismatic Renewal. You can access it HERE.

The book may be purchased on Amazon, either print or inexpensive Kindle HERE You can purchase the print version at a discount from the publisher HERE

My wife has written a funny and inspiring story of how she transited from a cessionist and Baptist to a Spirit-filled Believer. The book has many stories of our three decades of ministry together.  It may be purchased HERE.

Watching God Work: The Stuff of Miracles by [DeArteaga, Carolyn Koontz]

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[1] On this see issue, see the debate in the Atlantic Monthly (August 1924) between Glenn Clark and the Rev. Kirsopp Lake, a well-respected liberal theologian of the era. Cited in my work, Agnes Sanford and Her Companions: The Assault on Cessationism and the Coming of the Charismatic Renewal (Eugene: Wipf and Stock, 2015) 141-144.

This can be bought from Amazon as a Kindle book print copy, and from the publisher at a discount HERE

[2] Examined in detail in De Arteaga,  Agnes Sanford, chapter 14.
[3] Yes, some mystical experiences can be from the Evil One and deeply destructive and deceptive. Thus discernment is needed to evaluate the experience.
[4] “Glenn Clark and the CFO,” Sharing (Nov./Dec., 1992), 13-19. Then a more extensive and formal article in 2003, “Glenn Clark’s Camps Farthest Out: Schoolhouse of the Charismatic Renewal,” PNEUMA, 25, #2 (Fall 2003), and finally chapter 14 of Agnes Sanford.
[5] (Minneapolis: Macalester Park, 1997).  I had the pleasure of several extensive telephone conversations with before he passed away in 2007, a loss to Christian scholarship.
[6] (Bloomington: WestBow, 2016).