Friday, January 23, 2015

Book Review – All For Jesus

Winston Churchill once declared, “Study history, study history. In history lie all the secrets of statecraft.” The same may be said of church-craft as well. The study of Christ’s bride and her history will bring clarity and conviction in regards to the church’s present situation. All For Jesus, written by authors Robert L. Niklaus, John S. Sawin, and Samuel J. Stoesz, considers the work of God in the Christian and Missionary Alliance from 1873 until 1987. A wealth of knowledge from the past, ideas for today, and insight for the future is contained in this work.

The work is divided into four main sections which represent four periods in the history of The Christian and Missionary Alliance: Part One, Formulation, 1873-1881; Part Two, Formation, 1881-1912; Part Three, Redirection, 1912-1936; and Part Four, Acceleration 1936-1987. Highlights from each chapter in each of the four periods will be offered...

In the book’s Introduction, it is suggested that the reason for A. B. Simpson’s success, and the ensuing success of The Christian and Missionary Alliance, is primarily due to the gracious providence of God. The details that emerge over the following four sections give ample evidence of that truth. Truly, God deserves the glory for the work of the many godly men and women who helped propel this one-time alliance into the force for God’s kingdom that it has become.

Part One, entitled Formulation, deals with the pre-twentieth century years between 1873 and 1881. Beginning with the first chapter, The Louisville Experience, the authors begin a fairly detailed account of founder Simpson’s life and ministry. From 1873 until 1879 Simpson pastored in Louisville where ecumenicism and evangelism became two of his appreciated qualities. Just short of six years of ministry in Kentucky, Simpson would take a new direction.

Chapter Two provides a flashback into the earlier years of Simpson’s life in southwestern Ontario where he decided to pursue the ministry and where he met his wife, Margaret. He pastored in Hamilton, Ontario for eight years before leaving for Louisville.

Chapter 2 foundation years 1843 to 1873 Simpson grew up in southwestern Ontario as part of a strict religious family he had a crisis of health and a crisis of faith he decided to pursue the ministry – Simpson met his wife Margaret and became a successful preacher at Knox Presbyterian church in Hamilton after eight years of ministry he decides to leave Hamilton for Louisville

Chapter Three, The New York Pastorate, deals with the years he would move and work in New York City. This period, from 1879 through 1881, Simpson emphasized evangelism; evangelism in North America and a passion for evangelism to the ends of the earth. These years saw Simpson begin a missionary magazine, become convinced of divine healing, experience healing himself, and commit to see the gospel shared overseas. Part One finishes with Simpson resigning his pulpit in New York.

Part Two, chapters Four through Seven, leads the reader through the turn of the century and encompasses the years between 1881 and 1912. It titles the chapters The Gospel Tabernacle; The Two Alliances; The Missionary Explosion; and Changes, Crises, and Convictions.

Chapter Four regards Simpson’s endeavours at the Gospel Tabernacle where many of The Christian and Missionary Alliance’s long-running initiatives would begin. With the creation of this church also came the creation of evangelistic tent meetings, small group gatherings, a healing home, a missionary training college, a convention, and an orphanage. This work could not be locally contained, and it spilled over the border into Canada.

The Two Alliances, chapter Five, deals with four years beginning with 1886. It details the initiation of the two alliances which would later be joined to generate The Christian and Missionary Alliance. The Evangelical Missionary Alliance would be an organization focused on obedience to the Great Commission and in Simpson’s eyes, would speed up the day of the Lord’s return. The Christian Alliance would be a parent organization that would support the missionary effort. It would operate in North America, and give testimony to certain truths while encouraging like-minded believers to put truth into action and was to be a fellowship, and not a denomination.

The end of the nineteenth century is covered in Chapter Six. At this time, three churches identified officially with the Christian alliance: one in New York, one in Toronto, and one in Peterborough. These early churches would spearhead a missionary movement that would contribute to the provision of and for fifty-four missionaries in 1891 and thousands more in the years to come.

The final chapter of Part Two discusses the amalgamation of the two alliances in 1897, introduced in Chapter Six. It describes the continued growth of the fellowship in North America which was a result of, among other things, the steady advance of evangelism at home. Similarly, missionary work around the world continued to expand with missionaries penetrating Asian and South American countries. The charismatic movement, with its divisive teaching on tongues, was another issue the fellowship of growing churches had to deal with.

Part Three, labelled Redirection by the authors, deals with the early twentieth century and includes both World War 1 and the Great Depression. The next three chapters pertain to the working of God and God’s people in the years leading up to World War II.

The eighth chapter’s title indicates coming changes: Question of Succession. These years, 1912-1919 would see a new president take over for patriarch A. B. Simpson and would also see the passing of the man of God. World War I would impact the movement financially, resulting in a shortage of funds for the training institutes at home. However, work in the missionary fields forged ahead as churches committed to resourcing missionary work despite shortages. Paul Rader, arguably the Alliance’s greatest promoter, would become vice-president and the president after Simpson.

The years from 1919 to 1926 are summarized in Chapter Nine. President Rader would begin many new and different evangelistic strategies including the Tabernacle Strategy which saw cheap building quickly erected in order to hold evangelistic outreach. Rader was a controversial leader who was replaced by Frederic Senft when the former resigned.
Chapter 9 19-26

The years of the Great Depression saw another change in leadership with Harry Shuman becoming president at the death of Shuman. As with all institutions during this era, the depression caused financial distress for the Alliance. Once again, however, almost in denial of the reality, the Alliance’s work oversea continued even in light of the cash-strapped situation in North America. Shuman would lead the fellowship through these tumultuous years with an eye for the future. This chapter finishes Part Three.

With a nod to the world around it, Part Four is entitled Acceleration and encompasses the pre-war years, beginning in 1937, and finishes in the year 1987. Chapters Eleven, Twelve, and Thirteen deal with an era of great change and great opportunity for The Christian and Missionary Alliance.

Before the second Great War, the Alliance’s jubilee celebration would occur in 1937. Chapter Eight details a fellowship of believers committed to seeing the gospel spread to the corners of the earth through evangelism. This commitment would be sorely tested in the coming years of conflict. Missionary endeavours and workers would experience, as a result of World War II, persecutions and martyrdoms, trials and tribulations, imprisonments and expulsions. Despite the varied difficulties, the work of the Alliance continued and was quickly restarted where it stopped in the years after the war. President Shuman, well into his seventies, would step down from his position as president in 1954.

Chapter Twelve deals with the presidency of Harry Turner who would oversee the Alliance through the years in which North American church growth would become a major emphasis. President Nathan Bailey, elected in 1960, would see this trend continue. He would also see the emergence of A. W. Tozer, an Alliance man whose influence would rival that of founder A. B. Simpson, primarily through his writing and preaching. Missionary work came under increasing pressure, usually due to regime changes in countries where work was already present. Countries such as Zaire, Indonesia, Guinea, and Viet Nam would be areas of concern for Alliance missionaries. And, in 1974, The Christian and Missionary Alliance would become the denomination that most people considered them to be.

The final years dealt with in this book, 1975 through 1987, are covered in Chapter Thirteen. This chapter reports of the forming of the Alliance World Fellowship and the benefits this brought to worldwide fellowship of Alliance churches. It also discusses the formation of the non-profit relief agency CAMA Services which delivered aid to people in need across the globe. This period saw continued growth in North American congregations as well as developing churches in the urban explosion that continues to this day. In 1978, The Canadian contingent chose to become autonomous thereby paving the way for the creation of The Canadian Christian and Missionary Alliance.

This book was very interesting and equally informative. Having this insight in The Christian and Missionary Alliance cannot help but make one better suited to work in and with the institutions and individuals of this worldwide fellowship. The lessons reach beyond just this denomination, but help one appreciate and grow in one’s outlook and understanding of the global church. 

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