Second, it will be seen that the great successes of Dr. Dowie began only after he fully embraced the message of Divine healing.
FROM THE DATE OF THEIR ORIGIN TO THE YEAR 1901
It was the great miracles of healing that were responsible for giving his ministry its power and authority. Third, it was at that moment when he began to engage in secular activities, and departed from the simplicity of his earlier days, that his decline began. All these things are lessons of solemn interest to us today. We are under no illusion that some will not be disappointed with certain things which we have included in this biography.
While our dealing with the subject has been highly sympathetic, we have felt that we would not be fair to our objective, if we did not tell the whole story as it happened. Some believe that Dr. Dowie could have done no wrong, others believe that he was a mountebank and a deceiver.
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Neither view is correct. God raised up John Alexander Dowie, for a specific work, which was to reintroduce Divine healing to the Church.
In a considerable measure this purpose was fulfilled, although his errors of judgment at the closing period of his life are to be regretted. We believe that the church has received an enormous impetus of faith because this man has lived. THE Christian generation of today knows little of a story, which is as unique and fascinating as any that has appeared in the annals of the church since the days of the apostles.
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Though forgotten today, in the rapid moving of events, the name of John Alexander Dowie was known to millions throughout the world at the turn of the century. The story of Dowie is that of a man with an amazing mission—a mission that in its scope took in nothing less than the whole world.
It is an account of a reformer who, fighting against the greatest of odds, single-handedly challenged the apostasy of his time, and succeeded in bringing to the attention of the church visible, if not to its acceptance, the message of the Gospel of healing—a message of deliverance for the whole man, body, soul and spirit. Against overwhelming opposition, a hostile press, bitterly opposed clergymen, antagonistic city officials, unscrupulous lawyers, who, hired by the combined opposition, used every loophole of the law and legal technicality to stop him, he fought for and maintained the right to pray for the sick.
When Doctor Dowie first set foot on American soil, he was forty-one years of age, and as far as this country was concerned, was virtually an unknown minister of the Gospel. However, news of the arrival of a man who preached Divine healing, and who got results, soon spread abroad, and he began receiving calls from up and down the Pacific Coast.
He at once launched into a series of healing missions, which eventually took him to Chicago, where within a few brief years, a series of dramatic events were to plummet his ministry before the attention of the entire world. He built a small unpretentious wooden tabernacle, just outside the doors of the Fair Grounds. The services held in this tabernacle did not have an auspicious beginning.
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A few dropped into the tabernacle, and they returned bringing others with them. Nevertheless, the work was small and discouraging. A bitter winter followed that brought gales and storms of unusual violence, sweeping in from the waters of Lake Michigan.
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But with coming of spring of , a break came. Notable miracles of healing were now taking place and these began to draw attention. Before long, large crowds were attending and indeed, contesting for standing room in the tabernacle. Dowie during the year In one of the most bitter of persecutions in the history of America, a relentless opposition, determined to drive Dowie and Divine healing from the city. But these enemies reckoned not of the mettle of which their despised opponent was made, for Dowie possessed a resourcefulness unusual for a non-professional man, unversed in law, and a stubborn courage that accepted no defeat.
He pled his case in courts, which were completely dominated by his enemies. The results in these lower courts was a foregone conclusion. When he lost, much to the exasperation of his adversaries, he carried his cause to the higher courts, where the inequities of the lower courts were quickly overruled. His enemies, frustrated and enraged, impotently fought on, until through sheer exhaustion and loss of popular support, they were forced to give up the fight, retire in confusion and acknowledge their complete defeat.
Significantly, many who engaged in this persecution against Dowie, either died shortly after, or for some reason or other were compelled to retire from the scene of public life. One such example was the editor of the Chicago Dispatch, a Mr. Dunlop, who had taken the lead in the persecution by the press, and was to find himself, less than two years later, behind penitentiary bars, his own wicked life and crimes exposed before the world.
Actually, the persecution contributed to the bringing to pass the very thing that his adversaries least desired, and least anticipated would happen.
Instead of Dowie being ignominiously driven from the city as they had confidently expected, their persecution had given Dowie such publicity that he was able to move into, and fill the largest auditorium in the city of Chicago. There, from Sunday to Sunday, thousands of people gathered to listen to the man whose dynamic ministry was affecting the lives of countless thousands, in a fashion that Chicago had never before witnessed.
In that great auditorium, multitudes acknowledged Christ as their Saviour and, under the searching preaching of this man of God, many relinquished evil habits and made restitution for their wrongs. And now, the unusual talents of John Alexander Dowie had opportunity for their fullest expression.
His voice cried out against sin in high places and low. The evils of tobacco, liquor and drugs were scathingly denounced, much to the dismay of the great vested interests which engaged in their sale and distribution. He exposed the shams and hypocrisies of an apostate and decadent church. Iniquity in the government or in the pulpit alike, brought forth his stern and uncompromising censure. Several times, attempts were made upon the life of Dr.
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Dowie, but all attempts failed. He gave the forces of iniquity no respite, and continued to blast at social evils wherever he found them, sparing none. Then in , Dr. Dowie organized the Christian Catholic Church, with a charter membership of five hundred. This number rapidly grew into thousands. For some time, Dowie had contemplated the building of a great city, to be inhabited only by Christians, where the use of tobacco, liquor and other kindred vices would be perpetually barred. With this in mind, he negotiated secretly for the purchase of 6, acres of land on the shores of Lake Michigan at a site 40 miles north of Chicago.
Once the land had been secured, sub-divided and opened for lease, thousands of people rushed to secure leases which by contract were extended for a period of 1, years. Factories and industries were invited to find sites in the community, and one industry, for the making of fine lace, was imported from Great Britain— machinery, managing personnel and all.
Meanwhile interest in the Christian Catholic Church continued; branches began to spring up in cities all over the nation. Missionaries and workers were sent to establish churches and missions in various parts of the world. During these years, Dowie planned one enterprise after another, laboring with a feverish intensity, as a man working against time. He organized what he called the Seventies, which, in a methodical way, went out two by two, carrying the Gospel to every home.
Later he disbanded the Seventies and organized in their place, the Restoration Host. He wrote poetry. He made a trip around the world. In one of his boldest ventures, he chartered a series of trains which carried thousands of his followers to New York City. During the day his followers systematically went from house to house carrying tracts and information about his work, while in the great night services, he spoke to vast multitudes in Madison Square Garden.
It was a Herculean effort; nothing like it since the Crusades had ever been attempted in the church. Dowie was now received by congressmen, by governors, and on one occasion, by President Theodore Roosevelt, who left a cabinet meeting to meet him. Dowie continued to dream. He proposed to strike the devil such a blow, that if it were possible, would usher in the Millennium. It was at this point that his dreams became visionary, and a dark and ominous cloud settled upon his affairs.