Azusa Street's Critics

Alma White

There never was a time in the history of the world when the devil had so many devices to deceive people as now. He does not come so much as a roaring lion, but as an angel of light, and before people are aware, he has caught them in a snare which means their sure destruction if a miracle is not wrought to disentangle them from its meshes. As we are nearing the winding up of the Gentile age he seems to become more desperate and more determined to destroy the whole human race. Everywhere people are under his delusions and so deceived, that it seems utterly useless to try to open their blinded eyes. Well may it be said, “Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.” In the dark ages he was bloodthirsty and vicious, torturing in every conceivable way the saints of God. Now he more often appears in a different guise; taking for his covering the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians. The so-called “gift of tongues” that is becoming so popular now with hypocritical professors, is one of his latest delusions. Paul says, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity (love), I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.” The devil is smart enough to accompany this counterfeit of tongues by a spurious love, robing the tongue victims in a slimy coat which he passes for divine love.

A few days ago a person whom we knew before he became connected with the tongue heresy called at the Pillar of Fire office. Outwardly he seemed to be altogether changed from the man that we had once known him to be. He claimed to be speaking in tongues and gave a vivid description of how four different times he was knocked down and stretched out under what he called the power of the Holy Ghost. We were surprised that the devil would have boldness enough to even attempt to demonstrate his power and pass it off as genuine in a place like this.

The man claimed that when he received his Pentecost in the “tongues” meetings, with it came a great baptism of divine love, such as he had never known before. The Lord permitted the writer and others to sound the depths of this so-called love, which he was doing all in his power to demonstrate, and we found it to be only a gilded coat of slime on the surface. This man who once fearlessly denounced sin and reined up law-breakers, now says, “Just leave them with the Lord, let Him make wrongs right, tell the people about the precious love of Jesus.” When told of persons who had failed to confess their sins and make restitution before having received the “tongues” baptism, he said, “Such persons surely need the baptism of the Holy Ghost,” and he did not doubt but that they had received it even after we had pointed out to him their unconfessed sins. His doctrine is simply revolting to anyone who has any appreciation of truth and integrity.

He claimed the Lord was paying his railroad and other expenses; he was then on his way South to hold a meeting. He said, “Get people converted.” We wondered from what, as he no longer denounced sin in any form.

We verily believe that God has permitted this tongue delusion to be sprung upon the world today to draw a line between true and false professors. The writer is personally acquainted with a number of people who have been caught in this slime-pit and positively knows that they are without God and unwilling to make their crooked paths straight, and while they claim to be endued with the gifts of the Spirit, they are yet in “the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity” (Acts 8:23). They seek the gift of tongues on the same principle that Simon, the sorcerer, desired to have the apostles lay their hands on him in order that he might receive the gift of the Holy Ghost that he might work wonders.

Our visitor told how he laid his hands on people and how wonderfully they were receiving their Pentecost. The devil has a substitute for the Holy Ghost baptism; he sends his agents through the country to confer his gift upon just such people as Simon, the sorcerer. If Simon had met Seymour instead of Peter he would have received the desire of his heart, that is, the counterfeit of the Holy Ghost. He wanted to show signs and wonders, without repenting of his wickedness, but he met the wrong person and after receiving a stinging rebuke he made a request for prayers, just the thing that the devotee of the tongue heresy did a few days ago, as he backed out of the office and bade us good day.

Alma White was the leader of the Pillar of Fire organization. Before the Azusa Street revival, William Seymour visited her mission in Colorado on his way to Los Angeles. White became one of the bitterest opponents of Pentecost. Her husband accepted the Pentecostal message, was baptized in the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues. The two separated over the issue. This is an editorial from the December 19, 1906 edition of The Rocky Mountain Pillar of Fire .

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

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