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Volume 2, 2007


John S. Torell



(continued from previous page)



            I have spent countless hours researching this subject and I am amazed at the picture emerging in front of me. God used D.L. Moody to ignite a fire that gave birth to two giant power centers, Moody Bible Institute in Chicago and Biola in Los Angeles. The preachers, evangelists and missionaries coming out from these two institutions were used to shake the world. But at the same time, most of them were infected with a spiritual disease that we know as “dispensationalism.”  For many years I have read this scripture and never really thought about it much as I could not place it in a day-to-day living. What the Holy Spirit showed me is that I am discovering and writing about the very thing that Jesus warned against.

“Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.” Matthew 13:24-30

            From the first day Jesus walked on this earth, the Devil has used Jews to attack, discredit and sow false doctrine among the people who received Jesus as the Messiah. Look at this lamentation of the Apostle Paul:

“O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” Galatians 3:1-3

            The shakers and the movers in the Christian community that I have been discussing all have the following in common:

1.      They knew of each other.

2.      They had attended colleges and seminaries from different denominations, and they all ended up in ministries, but they had their roots either from Moody Bible Institute in Chicago or Biola in Los Angeles.

3.      They were pioneers in radio evangelism and all of them wrote books which were read by the next generation preachers.

4.      They were all considered “fundamentalists,” which means that they held the Bible in high esteem and preached Christ crucified. But at the same time they believed and taught that God had a special plan for the Jews and that it was important for the Jews to be able to regain the land of Palestine and set up a modern political State of Israel.

5.      They all lived and worked through the years of depression, and despite the scarceness of money, they were able to build churches and schools and buy time on radio.

Let’s now look at another man who was not connected to Moody Bible Institute or Biola.

BOB JONES (1883-1968)

            Bob Jones was born and raised on a farm in Alabama and accepted Christ as a child. By the age of 13 he was preaching as an evangelist in church revival meetings. Bob followed in the footsteps of Billy Sunday and fought hard against the reversal of the 18th Amendment, which outlawed the production and sale of alcoholic beverages in the United States. Bob was a classic old-fashioned Bible thumper and opposed not only the use of alcohol, but preached against playing cards, gambling, dancing, jazz, the movies coming out of Hollywood, and pre-marital sex. He also held the view that people of different races should not marry each other. During the 1928 presidential election, he used all his might and clout to fight Alfred E. Smith (1873-1944, a Roman Catholic), then Governor of New York and the democratic nominee for president who eventually lost the election to Republican Herbert Hoover (1874-1964). Bob Jones can be classified not only as a fundamental Christian, but the father of the “Religious Right” that would help usher in Ronald Reagan as president some 50 years later.

            Bob Jones recognized early on in his ministry that the next generation behind him needed some place where solid Bible based teaching would be given to young people who were called into the ministry. He established his school in 1927 in Lynn Haven, Florida, and in 1933, the school was moved to Cleveland, Tennessee. In 1947 he moved the entire school for a last time to Greenville, South Carolina where it is now a university with a 210 acre campus and some 4,200 students attending. 

            It is interesting to note that Billy Graham after his conversion to Christ attended Bob Jones College for one year in 1939 when it was located in Cleveland but left the school because he felt it was too strict and fundamental. During the 1950s, Graham shifted from being a moderate fundamentalist and took a more liberal stand since he began a closer affiliation with the Roman Catholic Church. He distanced himself from Bob Jones and the older fundamental leaders. During the 1966 Billy Graham crusade in Greenville, Bob Jones issued an ultimatum to his students: If you attend the crusade, you will be expelled from the school.

            Even though Bob Jones was a dispensationalist, the American Jewish leadership could not take his strong moral stand, and the media has maligned him and the school over the years and done everything possible to destroy the school. The foundation Bob Jones Sr. laid held during the period he and his son served as president but it is now eroding under the leadership of his grandson Stephen Jones.

It is interesting to note that despite dispensationalism, the leadership of the school has been heavily involved with the Republican party and extremely active in national and local elections. Jones grandson, Stephen Jones has backed off politics and taken a classic dispensationalist view. In the year 2000 he was interviewed by “Newsweek” and stated the following, “The Gospel is for individuals. The main message we have is to individuals. We’re not here to save the culture.”

            Here is some additional information about this school. Bob Jones Jr. began collecting European art, and was given $30,000 per year to purchase art from Europe after World War II, when Americans could purchase oil paintings and other art from a war torn Europe. The school today has a large art museum, containing some 400 oil paintings, furniture and Russian icons.

            Both Bob Jones Sr. and Jr. believed that movies were a powerful teaching tool, and from the 1950s, they produced a number of films under the name, “Unusual Films.” Bob Jones University Press was established in 1973 to print books and curriculum for Christian schools.        

BILLY SUNDAY (1862-1935)

            I have already mentioned Billy Sunday as the motivator of the Christians to bring in the 18th Amendment to the Constitution and there is no doubt that this evangelist had a large effect upon American Christianity.

His father was a Union soldier who died before his son was born. His mother struggled to provide food and shelter to Billy and his siblings and Billy had to live in an orphanage. He was on his own at the age of 14 where he worked and went to school and ended up finishing high school. Because of his outstanding talents in baseball, he became a professional ball player for the Chicago White Stockings in 1883. While living in Chicago he ended up at the Pacific Garden Mission and accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior. He became involved as a lay person in the YMCA, which was Moody’s organization for young people, and after some time he sacrificed his great salary as a baseball player and worked full time for the YMCA. From 1893-1895 he became the assistant to evangelist Wilbur Chapman (1859-1918) who was having revival meetings with large crowds in attendance. When Chapman stopped the mass evangelism in 1895, Sunday began his own meetings. He was licensed to preach in 1898 by the Presbyterian denomination and ordained in 1903.

            In ten years Sunday had become a national evangelist drawing huge crowds. He was greatly criticized for the heavy financial support he received from John D. Rockefeller (1839-1937, Standard Oil Company) and John Wanamaker (1838-1922, Department Stores). Again we can see the unseen hand of people who are not Christians financing a Christian ministry in order to get a foothold and influence believers in Christ.

            Sunday had great success as a national evangelist during the years 1914 through 1919, but World War I had changed the thinking of the American people, and as millions of American soldiers returned from the war in Europe, interests in revival meetings began to decrease. Sunday had personal problems with finances, and two of his four children died in their youth. Billy Sunday did not groom a successor, did not start a school and left no written material. As a result, when he died in 1935, his ministry died with him. Despite all this, Billy Sunday left his mark on the nation with more than one million converts who became members and workers in local churches.


            After World War I and up to the beginning of World War II (which began on September 1, 1939 in Europe with the U.S. entering in 1941), there were thousands of independent evangelists, Bible teachers and Christian workers roaming the United States and Canada. Most of them had small ministries and remained unknown to most people, but they were like sourdough and impacted the Christian churches through sheer numbers and consistent preaching of faith in Christ. Kuhlman was one of these unknown young people who became a major player in Christianity during this time period and lasted into the 1970s. Kathryn was able to build up a large ministry in the middle of the Great Depression but lost it because of adultery. However, she made a comeback and had an enormous impact upon Christianity in the United States, Canada and many other nations in the 1960s and 70s.

When I attended seminary from 1969-73, I listened to her teach on week days from the radio station KFAX in San Francisco. At that time I did not know that she was a mixed bag and would eventually end up embracing the Roman Catholic Church. What I heard was a teaching to have faith in God, believe the Bible for what it said, and that the Holy Spirit was as active today as He was during the apostolic church in Jerusalem. My wife and I attended some of her meetings in California during this time and what I saw and heard changed my thinking when it comes to the power of God. Because of this, we have prayed for thousands of people for salvation, healing and deliverance from demonic oppression.

In order for you to understand what I am trying to convey in these newsletters, let me share the following with you: When my wife and I arrived in the United States as immigrants in 1963, my wife was not saved and I was in a total backslidden condition. It was in the winter of 1965 that by chance I was playing with the radio on a Sunday night because I was tired, bored and sick of life and my growing addiction to alcohol. As I was going across the radio dial, I became glued to the radio when I heard a man preaching and a hunger welled up in me to hear more and more. The next week I found the same program at the beginning and became a regular listener for the next four months. My wife did not speak much English at that time, so I followed the preaching in my Swedish Bible, and after the broadcast, I would tell my wife what was said. In the month of May that year, the radio announced that there would be a national television broadcast by this particular evangelist and we were more than ready to watch it. The first night of the telecast as the invitation was given for salvation, my wife and I each prayed by ourselves and made a commitment to Christ. My wife was saved and I rededicated my life to Christ. The name of the evangelist was Billy Graham. In later years, our hearts were broken as we saw this man of God deteriorate and abandon the truth of the Bible and embrace the Roman Catholic Church, Freemasonry and New Age philosophy. Nevertheless, this man, who was a product of the Christian faith in the years between the World Wars, was the instrument God used to bring us into the work of the Kingdom of God.

For the next four and a half years our Christian faith was shaped by two Southern Baptist pastors, Robert S. McCullar (top right) and James McFatridge (right). Both of them were deeply committed Christians that were raised in the South. They were fundamentalists and dispensationalists. Needless to say, we took on the traits of these two men and a great passion for evangelization from our association with Billy Graham.

Kathryn Kuhlman and the Full Gospel Business’ Men’s International Fellowship that was founded by Demos Shakarian shaped our understanding on the power of the Holy Spirit in our daily lives and in our ministry. In 1979 we met the Baptist pastor Gordon Ginn (left) and his wife Doris. We became really good friends even though we came from different theological backgrounds. Gordon began to chip away at my dispensational doctrine and I fought him hard for some 15 years, until he brought it out clearly that the teachings of Cyrus Scofield were not biblical. In return, he got the Holy Spirit from us when we prayed for him and he got healed from an illness.

My wife and I have been able to shape the lives of hundreds of thousands in our 38 years of ministry in the United States, Sweden, Finland, and over the internet.

Hence, you can see that the foundations laid all the way back in the 1800s are shaping and molding Christian ministries more than 100 years later. This is why it is important that we know our roots, so we can protect that which is good and get rid of that which is bad.

Getting back to Kathryn Kuhlman, she was born in 1907 to parents of German descent in the small town of Concordia, Missouri. According to her own testimony, she was born again in a Methodist church at the age of 14. Her education ended with the tenth grade. After getting out of public school, she traveled in the western part of the United States with her sister and brother-in-law who were itinerant evangelists. There is no knowledge of what kind of biblical training she received except her being in the Methodist church and later working in revival meetings. After some time, she broke away from her sister and brother-in-law and started her own ministry. These were back in the days when evangelists and pastors would be paid with chickens and other food commodities. Life was very hard, and unless a person was dedicated to the cause of Christ, they would drop out of the ministry.

From around 1927 to 1933 she operated in the states of Idaho, Utah and Colorado. In 1933 she settled in Denver, Colorado, where she pitched her revival tent. By 1935 she had a following of some 2,000 persons and the Denver Revival Tabernacle was built seating 2,000 persons. Just like Aimee Semple McPherson started a radio outreach in Los Angeles, Kathryn also founded a successful radio ministry but right in the middle of the Great Depression. Kathryn became a successful female pastor and founded one of the first independent mega churches in the United States.

A number of singers and evangelists were invited to speak in her church; one of them was evangelist Burroughs A. Waltrip from Texas. Waltrip was married with a family, but after some time in Denver, the two of them were attracted to each other and adultery was committed. Waltrip divorced his wife and married Kathryn in 1938. They tried to explain to the members in the church that they were “earmarked by God to be soul mates” and so the divorce was justified (This teaching from the Devil is rampant in some Christian circles today), but people in the church rejected this and left in droves and the church was destroyed. Then they tried to travel as evangelists in the United States, but the ugly truth followed them, and in 1944 Kathryn left Waltrip, who ended up divorcing her in 1948.

According to her own testimony, Kathryn weepingly went before God and repented of her great sin and vowed to never again marry but to serve God as a single woman. It took her some time to recover emotionally. She held meetings in Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, West Virginia, North and South Carolina and it only took a short time before her divorce became known and the meetings were ruined. Late in 1945 she had come to Columbus, Georgia where her meetings started to fill up with large crowds until the news came that Kathryn was divorced.

It was in February 1946 that she came to Franklin, Pennsylvania and was able to turn around things and her ministry took off. From here she moved on to Pittsburgh, and then branched out to Akron and Youngstown, Ohio.

For the next 30 years her ministry and influence would spread across the nation through her national radio programs and television. She held big monthly healing meetings at the Shrine auditorium in Los Angeles and some meetings in the San Francisco area.

In her later years she would make a great deal of having Roman Catholic priests on the platform in her meetings. The culmination came when she made a trip to Rome and had a private audience with the Pope. What was said and done at this meeting is not known to the public, but from that day whatever anointing she had began to wane.

There are always charlatans and wolves in sheep’s clothing and at the end of her life, a married couple by the name of D.B. (Tink) and Sue Wilkerson had a car dealership, managed to weasel themselves in and convince Kathryn with her declining mental state that she needed them. 

During her last year on this earth, they went with Kathryn everywhere as she became very ill, and in January 1974, a new will was drawn up and signed by Kathryn in a hospital in Los Angeles. Her faithful workers and companions who had been with her for some 30 years were taken out of her will and the majority of her estate worth millions of dollars was given to this couple. On February 20, 1976 Kathryn Kuhlman died in her hospital bed of heart failure.

Regardless of her personal problems and shortcomings, Kathryn Kuhlman impacted Christianity worldwide for better or worse. She was a strong dispensationalist and was well liked by the Jewish world leadership because they gave her good press coverage, never slandered her and featured her on the CBS television network. In her later years, she went to Jerusalem for a convention on the Holy Spirit. One of the bad fruits of her ministry is the Palestinian Roman Catholic Benny Hinn, who has brought much destruction to the Christian church from the mid 1980’s and on.

MORDECAI HAM (1878-1959)

            Up to now we have looked at independent men and women in the Christian faith but now we are going to look at a very powerful Baptist evangelist who worked in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Texas, Oklahoma, Florida and North and South Carolina. If responsibility can be placed on individual people for the passing of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, it would fall to Mordecai Ham and Billy Sunday.

            Mordecai Ham was born on a farm near Scottsville, Kentucky in 1878 with eight generations of Baptist preachers in his bloodline. He claimed that he had made Christ his personal Lord and Saviour in 1886 and at the age of nine he received the call to preach the Gospel. When he was 16 years old he was a Sunday School Superintendent in his home church. He attended Ogden College in Bowling Green, Kentucky and studied law on the side under a private tutor. Being too young to pass the Bar Exam, he worked as a salesman for a grocery wholesaler, and from 1897 through 1900 he was the manager for a photo development shop in Chicago. When his grandfather died in 1899, he felt again the call to preach. That same year he married his wife, Bessie Simmons, and in the month of December 1899, he quit his job where he was now a partner in the company. Ham turned over his entire share of the business to his partner and borrowed money to get started on preaching. During the year of 1901, he spent eight months doing nothing but studying the Bible and soaking it in prayer and then started public preaching.

            Ham’s young wife died in 1905 of cerebral meningitis, his faith was shaken and he lost 50 pounds of body weight. In 1906 he took a trip to the Holy Land (Palestine) and returned back with his faith renewed.

            In 1907, Dr. and Mrs. W.S. Smith with their 14 year old daughter attended a revival meeting held by Mordecai. He had just turned 30 when he asked them for permission to marry their daughter Annie Laurie. A year later, on June 3, 1908, the two were married and his young wife traveled with him playing the piano in his meetings. God blessed them with three daughters and Annie Laurie became a great wife and partner with her husband in the Gospel ministry.

            Mordecai was a fearless preacher, railing against alcohol, corruption and sin in general, preaching hellfire and brimstone. Individuals and groups of men came to his meeting and tried to attack him, some dropped dead as they were killed by God while others fell under the Lord’s power, repented of their sins and were gloriously saved. In 1924 the Devil changed tactics and had a man to write a book entitled, “The Book of Ham.” Wherever Mordecai would have meetings, this man, W.O. Saunders, would hand out the slanderous book he had written.

On June 1927 he was called to pastor the First Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, where he remained a pastor until 1929. During this time he organized and preached against the “American Association for the Advancement of Atheism,” and supporters of this organization tried to kill him by running him over with an automobile and dragging him for half a block. He received a skull fracture because of the attack and was in the hospital for six weeks. Men from his Bible class guarded the room constantly to make sure that the killers could not come back and try to finish the job.

            During the 1928 presidential election, he campaigned hard for the election of Herbert Hoover. Bob Jones bestowed an honorary doctor of divinity degree upon Ham in 1935. In 1936 he was elected president of the International Association of Christian Evangelists. In 1941 he held his last revival crusade. From 1929 to 1941 he had seen some 168,550 people being saved from 60 crusades in fifteen states. Most of the converts and the additional people who rededicated their lives to Christ ended up in Southern Baptist Churches.

            Mordecai started a radio ministry in 1940 which was later carried on some 50 stations. In 1947 he started the publication of a magazine, “The Old Kentucky Home Revivalist.” He also wrote some books and a number of booklets.

BILLY GRAHAM (1918-present)

            Even though Billy Graham was a latecomer to Christianity between the World Wars, he began to make an impact that in the latter part of the century would change the course of Christianity.

            He was born in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1918, and his parents were dairy farmers. The Graham family attended a church belonging to the Associate Reformed Presbyterian churches and Billy did not know that his future wife would be a lifelong member of the Presbyterian Church. I mention this to show that the seed of deception was planted early in Billy, and although the Presbyterian denomination was initially on fire, by the mid 1900s it had become fairly liberal in doctrine.

At the age of 16, Billy and one of his friends, Grady Wilson (1919-1987), went to hear the Baptist evangelist Mordecai Ham, who was holding revival meetings in the area. Both boys went forward, got saved and were radically changed. Grady later became Graham’s closest friend and worked with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) until his death. It is noteworthy to point out that Grady attended the Bob Jones College from 1936-1940.

            As pointed out previously in this newsletter, Billy followed Grady to Bob Jones College in 1936 after he finished high school but only stayed one year. He then enrolled at the Florida Bible Institute of Tampa, and graduated in 1940 with a BA in Theology. It was in Tampa that Billy felt the call to go into the ministry. He had done street preaching in Tampa and there was no question that this young man was born again and on fire for the Lord. It was in 1940 that Billy became an ordained Southern Baptist minister. At the end of 1940 he moved to Illinois, and enrolled at Wheaton College located west of Chicago in the town of Wheaton. It was there that he met Ruth Bell (1920-2007) who had been born to Presbyterian missionaries in China. They were married in 1943 and have five children.

            It is very interesting that Billy’s degree from Wheaton was a B.A. in Anthropology which is the study of races, physical and mental characteristics, social relationships, myths of primitive peoples, etc. It must have been from this type of studies that Billy turned into a liberal thinker in the later years when he stated that Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and other pagan worshippers can enter heaven and do not need to come through Christ.

            As a student at Wheaton, Billy was called to pastor a church in Western Springs, a small town not far from the college. At this time, Torrey Johnson (1909-2002, above right), a pastor of Midwest Bible church in Chicago ran a weekly radio program called “Songs in the Night.” Torrey was going to cancel the program due to lack of financial support when Billy and his church decided to take it over in January 1944. The well-known Canadian singer George Beverly Shea (1909-present) was recruited as a singer and director of the radio ministry. In 1945 Billy moved away from the radio program, which was then taken over by the Moody Church in Chicago and is still carried on the Moody Church radio network.


CONTINUED: Dancing Around The Golden Calf - Part 6
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