A Facebook buddy from the West Coast and fellow blogger, Dr. Cameron Jackson, asked me to describe to her readers why my book "Agnes Sanford and her Companions" is an important resource for the Christian. Here is what I wrote. I believe it would interest many:
William L. De Arteaga. Agnes Sanford and Her Companions: The Assault on Cessationism and the Coming of the Charismatic Renewal (Eugene: Wipf & Stock, 2015).
Reviewed for Dr. Cameron Jackson by the author
This is my fourth published work, of which Quenching the Spirit (1992,1996) was my most remembered one. That book was instrumental in shielding the Charismatic movement from ill-informed attacks by Dave Hunt in his Seduction of Christianity (1984), to wit that the whole movement was nothing but heresy.
I also believe that Agnes Sanford and her Companions to be my best work. This is partly because I did not have to spend much time on “defense,” and could thus deal with several mega-issues that impact every Christian’s maturity and effectiveness.
The first is the issue of the importance of history in giving the Christian wisdom in his/her spiritual walk. Have you noticed how many historical books there are in the Bible? Some even repeat themselves, as in the Gospels and the book of Israel’s history (Kings, Chronicles). God is showing that attention to historical trends and details is important. I pointed this out Quenching the Spirit when I showed that the phenomenon of churchmen opposing revival and the gifts of the Spirit is a recurring element in Christian history.
The first chapters of Agnes Sanford and her Companions deal with the history of why healing prayer and the gifts of the Sprit, which are normal and normative to the New Testament, “went missing” after a few hundred years. This was mostly due to one variety or another of cessationism, that is, the belief that the gifts of the Spirit and healing stopped after the death of the Apostles (Or in the Catholic version, are reserved only for the very holy saints). They are still some churches that believe in cessationsim. The popular radio Bible commentator John MacArthur is of this stripe. For those of you who have friends who follow MacArthur in this destructive idea (heresy?), my book will provide both insight into how this awful theology got established in the Church, and much documentation as to why it is and has always been bogus.
The second mega-issue deals with science and its relationship to the Christian. Like historical knowledge, some attention to science and the scientific method greatly enhance the Christian’s spiritual maturity. I demonstrate this in the life of Agnes Sanford (and also Glenn Clark, her mentor). Mrs. Sanford began her quest for knowledge about healing prayer there was NO information on that in the main-line denominations. They were captive to cessationism and thus believed healing prayer to be improper to the Christian (amazing, isn’t it?) Mrs. Sanford had to look to unconventional sources, probe and experiment in order to properly understand and confirm the Biblical evidence on the laying on of hands, command prayer, etc. The methodology she used was basically scientific, sans the jargon of science, and missing some later refinements such as double-blind testing.
On a practical level of the current healing ministry, I weave into the narrative of Mrs. Sanford’s story very effective ways of healing prayer, some of which have fallen into disuse and need to be recovered. For instance, nowadays inner healing prayer is mostly done by trained specialist or counselors. But Mrs. Sanford began inner healing began as a prayer of Holy Communion intercession for others. That is something any Christian can do without special training. Other accounts of her healing ministry, as for instance how she reversed the fatal heart attack of a neighbor, are very useful for every Christian to know and be able to apply.
Again, Agnes’ “nature prayers,” as in praying against storms, models something that all Christians should know about and do as the situations arise. Although there are many recorded instances of stilling storms, and other nature prayers in the lives of saints and heroes of the Church, her work, Creation Waits was the FIRST book ever to discuss this as a normal and repeatable ministry and duty of Christians.
Thus Agnes Sanford and her Companions, would be a great help to most Christians in both reaching a higher level of Christian maturity, and enabling Christians to minister healing more effectively to those around them. I intended the work as both a resource for scholars and encouragement to the layperson. It has hundreds of footnotes where “further information” can be sought, but the text itself is plainly written so the lay person will have little difficulty in understanding the text and appropriating its lessons.
Blessings to all of you, and I hope you read this work and are blessed, informed and encouraged by it.
The noted Pentecostal scholar Dr. Jon Ruthven wrote a very positive review of my 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
Just released is my first book of plays. Pentecostal (and Anglican) Plays (and Postscripts). It includes two plays and their postscripts.
The play, “One Day at St. John’s” depicts what everyday life can be like in a church that practices the gifts of the Spirit and the healing/exorcism ministry as normal. Among the events that occur in the course of the play are the healing of a waitress who was scalded with hot coffee, an exorcism (led by a layman) and the “laying of a ghost” to rest.
Pentecostal (and Anglican) Plays (and Postscripts) can be purchased HERE at Amazon.
The second play, “Joseph ben Jacob,” explores Joseph, husband of Mary, as the dream interpreter, master carpenter, and father of Mary’s other children. It helps explain why Joseph was able to discern correctly his dream about Mary’s first-born.
The postscripts examine the controversial aspects of the plays and focus on two false early gospels which distorted the meaning of the true Gospels. The “Proto-Gospel of James” claimed that Mary was “every virgin” and never had other children, and the “Gospel of Nicodemus” cancelled the true meaning of Jesus’ “descent into Hell” and his ministry there as described in 1 Peter 3 & 4
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.