Azusa Street's Critics

A. Sulger

“And for this cause, God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thess. 2:11-12).

In these last days, Satan has opened the slimy channels of the pit and poured out every delusion imaginable. Through false doctrines and apostate churches he has captured movements and individuals, and scattered the people as sheep without a shepherd. Recently, there began in Los Angeles, California, a soul destroying work called the “Apostolic Faith Movement,” better known as the “Tongues,” whose awful heresy has already spread throughout the country and deceived thousands.

Because of disobedience to God, the writer was turned over for a short time to this awful delusion, from which the Lord in His infinite mercy delivered him. I was some months ago connected with the Burning Bush work in Chicago, but the Lord clearly led me away from it. Knowing that nearly all the so-called churches and religious organizations were backslidden, I found myself in a most pitiable condition, not knowing which way to turn. Finally, I left Chicago for Los Angeles. On my way, I stopped over at Denver, where I became acquainted with the Pillar of Fire people.

At that time, being in a backslidden condition, I went to the altar and prayed through to victory. They invited me to remain with them; I knew this was the place for me, and that it was the Lord's will for me to stay. The next morning, I felt greatly burdened, and when I went into the prayer room, the Spirit of God took hold of me, and I prayed and prayed but could not get relief until I tore up my ticket to Los Angeles, and promised God that I would obey Him. Of course I had the carnal mind, which was just the thing for the devil to operate on, and he began at once to try to run me off. After a desperate battle with the forces of hell, I gave in, and in spite of warnings and prayers, left the school. For this cause God sent me a strong delusion, that I should believe a lie, because I received not the love of the truth that I might be saved.

I purchased another ticket and went on to Los Angeles, where the devil soon led me to the well-known snake's nest on Azusa Street. I had heard that A. G. Garr, in whose meetings I had been converted, had received this “baptism of tongues,” which strengthened my confidence in this Babylonian mess. In the very first meeting I attended, I felt a strange power take hold of me, and being in a state where I had no spiritual discernment, I thought this to be the power of God. I was perfectly honest and went into the thing with great sincerity. Before realizing it, I found myself at the altar trembling under this demon power. At once I felt someone take hold of my head, and a shaky, trembling colored woman held my head probably a half hour, without any possibility of my getting loose. At last I was relieved, but this strange power still had hold of me. The next evening while in prayer shortly before the service, Glenn Cook, well-known for his crooked past, came over to me and laid hands on me, claiming the Holy Ghost had told him to do this, and said, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost.” Instantly this (I know now) hypnotic, demon power took possession of me and I shook until it seemed impossible for me to hold together. Then this power took hold of my jaws and they worked until they almost ached, while strange, unknown voices kept creeping up in my throat. All at once I began jabbering off in a so-called foreign language, which was the “Bible evidence,” as they claim, that I had received the baptism of the Holy Ghost. I somehow felt happy and strange at the same time. Someone got up saying, “The Lord has given me the interpretation; I think the language this young man received is the Madagascar.”

What Are the “Tongues”?

Someone not acquainted with this heresy may ask: “Are people really able to speak in a foreign language?” Without doubt, I think some of them are. Paul writes in 2 Thess. 2:9 about the working with all power and signs and lying wonders. Satan is using all his power now-a-days to deceive people, for he knows his time is short. I heard that a Rev. Graves, a Chinese missionary, came into the Azusa mission and heard a woman giving her testimony and then begin to speak in Chinese, not knowing what she was saying. He understood the language and said the words she used were the vilest, filthiest words a human tongue could utter. Afterward he told her about it, and she being enlightened, wisely resigned from the ‘‘Tongues.” This is only to show that it is possible for a demon to get full possession of a human tongue, and this damnable counterfeit goes under the name of the Holy Ghost. The greatest part of this speaking in tongues is jabbering without any sense. Poor deluded people, running after signs and guess work not knowing the real power of God! I dare to say that people after having been once enlightened, and having known God, are in danger of committing the sin of blasphemy, by calling this tongue mockery the work of the Holy Ghost.

In Azusa Mission

For some time after receiving these “Tongues,” I remained in the Azusa mission, where I became acquainted with a certain Holiness(?) preacher from North Carolina, who was seeking the “tongues.” This man became greatly interested in me, and asked me to go with him on a missionary trip to Tennessee, North Carolina, and Florida. Deceived as I was by this time, my whole heart was in the cause, and I was greatly astonished when this man told me that he had a very nice daughter at home, who owned a farm, and a house and lot in town, and would make a good wife for me. I became suspicious of this, as I believed that if he were a good Holy Ghost man he would not have these kind of thoughts in his mind. This instance began to open my eyes to the fact that everything was not as it ought to be.

The meetings in the mission began at 10 o'clock in the morning, when a song and testimony service was held. When strangers came in, almost everyone without exception testified to being saved and sanctified, but said they felt a lack of power and were not satisfied with their experiences. The truth is, these people were backsliders, who had not been walking in the light they had, but had at some place broken with God. Some of them were probably under conviction for their sins and thought all they needed was the “gift of tongues.” Without any digging or questions whatever, a person was accepted on his testimony, went to the altar, and sought the “tongues,” and of course in this blinded condition, the devil could manage him as he wanted to. In they came, pell-mell from the backslidden churches—Methodists, Baptists, etc., members of labor unions and lodges, all were accepted, and all got the “tongues” which was supposed to seal them unto the day of redemption.

Most of the strangers are drawn to Los Angeles through the “Tongues” paper, The Apostolic Faith. According to the articles in said paper the work going on at Azusa Street is equal to the days of the real Pentecost, but anyone with common sense coming to the place, finds that the things that are written up as occurring there do not take place at all. Some people claim to be healed through their hypnotic or demoniacal power, but the writer has seen people hanging around that place for weeks without receiving any help whatever.

The “Tongues” people are not all straight in their morals. One of their leaders, in a city near Los Angeles, was caught and convicted of secret sins, in a Holiness (?) church with which the writer was connected in the East, and the symptoms of this crime have in no wise left this person yet, though he speaks in several “tongues.” A young man well-known to me fell into this delusion and was nearly trapped into the most awful sins by a “Tongue” missionary, who also is well-known to me and ready to go to a foreign field. Only by the mercy of God was I kept out of the hell-traps the devil set up for me.

The members of the true Church are baptized by one Spirit into one body, and all have the same mind. This is not the case at Azusa Street. In these meetings the whole thing is utter confusion. Some believe in annihilation, some in eternal punishment, some in one thing and some in another, and everybody is in such darkness and confusion that five minutes of Holy Ghost preaching would empty this den of all its vipers. Everybody talks about the “tongues” and the real Pentecostal power. To give up all and have all things in common seems a strange doctrine to these “tongue” idolaters. People can hold onto their jewelry, their houses and lands, and everything—just get the “tongues” and you are ready for life or death.

One day when we read the fifth chapter of Matthew, the writer claimed it was impossible for a man to be married to a divorced woman and retain salvation in his soul. Some were very indignant and claimed that people could remain in a divorced and remarried state, and as a proof stated that people in this circumstance had received the “gift of tongues.” Any person understanding the teachings of the Bible in regard to divorce and remarriage, knows that people living in this way are committing adultery in the sight of God, then think of God giving the Holy Ghost to people disobeying His word!

On a Missionary Trip

I had received various “tongues” since my baptism, I, and also others, thought I was called as a missionary to my native land, Denmark. Everybody thought I had great power and was going to be used mightily. I received my credentials and was to go east by way of Salt Lake City, when the Lord in His great mercy on the morning of my departure, changed my thoughts and I went to Oakland, California, where I really got my eyes opened a little to the danger my soul was in. One night a man came to me there and told me about his wife, who was a leading member of these seances in Oakland; that she was untrue to him, and he had a letter to prove his statement. Being a missionary I was told things that were not told to others, and of course it makes the devil mad to expose him. A woman in another family who claimed to have the gift of discernment told about her husband, who had the “tongues,” how little he lived up to what he professed—he refused family prayer and was cross and irritable at home. This same man's testimony and “tongues” were accepted in the following meeting, although the leader of this meeting knew of the circumstances.

My Resignation

While in Oakland I had a dream. I was standing by a sea, and up out of the sea came a tremendous serpent, trying to devour me. I went backward and it seemed I held up before me a piece of paper which prevented the serpent from devouring me. I understand this paper represented the light I had already received. Someone handed me a hammer and I hit the serpent in the forehead. Immediately it was killed, and it became smaller and smaller until at last it disappeared. Praise God, He showed me how I was going to conquer this enemy. Feeling uneasy about the situation and afraid to go farther, I told Mr. Seymour, the colored man, the leader of the “Tongues” mess, about what I had discovered and how I felt about it. He said he was very much surprised as he and everyone had perfect confidence in my experience, and thought the Lord was going to work miracles through me in Denmark. I stood by my convictions and expressed my desire to resign. Then his countenance quickly changed and I never saw a more bitter and hateful look in any person's face. Then he told me I would sin against the Holy Ghost and lose my soul. When this did not affect me, he said I would lose my mind and the next time he saw me, be full of the devil. These people claim to have power to bind people by the word of God, so they will either have to do what they want them to do, or go to hell. Praise God this demon spirit had ceased to have any influence on me, and today I am in God's work, saved and sanctified. It is the greatest miracle of the century that a soul having been in this awful delusion, could actually get back to God, and receive the genuine baptism of the Holy Spirit.

The next day Seymour denounced me before his followers, and remarked something about my having committed the unpardonable sin. Nevertheless, a few days later, he sent me word that he wanted me to go to Orange, California and hold meetings, and that he would pay my car fare, but I was out of the whole thing, and of course refused this offer. I am now shouting God's praises in the Pillar of Fire church.

The “Tongue” delusion is throughout, the work of the devil. Several persons are already insane, and others following in their tracks. May God in His great mercy open these people's eyes and use the writer's experience to prevent others from being devoured of Satan in this delusion.

Not much is known about A. Sulger or what ever happened to him. His perspective is unique, being a former adherent of the Azusa Street Apostolic Faith Mission. This article is from the Rocky Mountain Pillar of Fire , March 27, 1907.

This article and other articles by Sulger and many other critics are available in Dr. Martin's book, Skeptics and Scoffers . Click here to order.

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