Sister Aimee

R. Scott Clark, Professor of Church History and Historical Theology at Westminster Seminary California, discusses his essay in Always Reformed, the recent festschrift for Dr. Robert Godfrey. The collection is edited by R. Scott Clark and Joel E. Kim and contains contributions from several noted reformed theologians. Dr. Clark’s essay, “Magic and Noise: Reformed Christianity in Sister’s America, is an interesting look into American evangelicalism through one of its most enthusiastic figures.


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Christ the Center focuses on Reformed Christian theology. In each episode a group of informed panelists discusses important issues in order to encourage critical thinking and a better understanding of Reformed doctrine with a view toward godly living. Browse more episodes from this program or subscribe to the podcast feed.

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Ian Clary

8 years ago

Best line of the interview: “Glad to hear it.” Said by Waddington after Clark confesses to not being a female, Pentecostal, revivalist.

Mike Robinson

8 years ago

I’ll add some info:
Aimee Semple McPherson influence remains thru the denomination of the Foursquare Church (before I was Reformed I attended some FS Churches – 30 years ago) –
now there are 8 million-plus members in over 140 countries, and Pacific Life Bible College (formerly LIFE Bible College); and well-known ministers such as Jack Hayford.
Aimee Semple McPherson (b. 1890) died September 27, 1944, while conducting a revival service in Oakland, Calif. “A memorial service was held on her birthday, October 9, at Angelus Temple. Upon her death, her son, Rolf K. McPherson, became president of The Foursquare Church. He served in that position for 44 years, providing stability, strength and growth to the fledgling denomination that his mother left behind.”
Foursquare Publications prints McPherson’s official bio, it’s still available (FP: 1923). many FS ministers still defend ASM from diverse charges.

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6 years ago

Bottom line: Was she a false teacher?



6 years ago

>Bottom line: Was she a false teacher?<

Stuff on the Internet largely relays the "fact" that she "faked" her own death, or she, was involved in various extramarital affairs. Her negative media image persists. However, with perhaps exception of her third marriage as a violation of Church tenets, these accusations are lacking in any real evidence. What is known from numerous witnesses are the following:

Tens of thousands of people claim to have been faith healed by her, many seen by secular witnesses, resulting in Aimee Semple McPherson receiving credit for far more faith healings than anyone before her or since.

Daniel Mark Epstein writes "The healings present a monstrous obstacle to scientific historiography. If events transpired as newspapers, letters, and testimonials say they did, then Aimee Semple McPherson's healing ministry was miraculous. …The documentation is overwhelming: very sick people came to Sister Aimee by the tens of thousands, blind, deaf, paralyzed. Many were healed some temporarily, some forever. She would point to heaven, to Christ the Great Healer and take no credit for the results."(p111 Sister Aimee: The Life of Aimee Semple McPherson).

Then she goes and sets up an organization, the Commissary that feeds and otherwise assists as many a 1.5 million people, many of them during the darkest days of the Great Depression. And even before the Depression, she's working with prostitutes and women who are abused. She reiterated by these actions the Church should involve itself in social justice type endeavors.

While many of the contemporary ministers of her time were aboard with racial segregation, she was looking for ways to break down barriers. "Whosoever will." Her meetings had a persistent interracial component to them.

The US Romani (gypsies) lived in a pagan subculture of astrology charts and crystal balls. When a number of them were healed in a service presided over by McPherson, thousands came to her in caravans from all over the country and were converted to Christ. This recalls those old Roman days when Christian missionaries fanned out over the earth and dramatic conversions took place, many as the result of alleged miraculous healings.

While churches fumed and fought with each other dividing over points of doctrine and implementation, she was looking for a way to gain consensus among them in co-operative projects that really needed their attention.

She starts a Bible college, and her denomination still flourishes and continues to grow, The International Church of the Foursquare Gospel has nearly 8 million members in over 140 countries.


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