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John Alexander Dowie was born May 25, 1847, at Leith Street Terrace, Edinburgh, Scotland. He was graduated at the Arthur Street Academy and at the age of fourteen took a silver medal for excellence in scholarship. An incident is reported to have occurred when he was six years of age which seemed to indicate both his precociousness and his early fondness for religious ideas. He asked his mother why he was called John and Alexander and was told that these were ancestral names. But the lad was not satisfied, his curiosity still persisting to know the meaning of the names. He was sent to the Bible Dictionary, where he learned that his names had the meaning "Grace of God" and "Helper of men." His child mind was quickened by the thought that these names indicated his mission in life, and he says he has lived in that faith since that very hour. *

In 1860 his parents moved to Adelaide, South Australia, and he was put to work with his uncle, an importer, doing such general work as a boy would ordinarily do. Shortly after he went to work for his uncle young Dowie made a display of what has since seemed to be one of his elemental characteristics, self-assertiveness, and incidentally high temper. His uncle sent him for some envelopes and he returned with what he thought was wanted, but the uncle seemed displeased, thinking that a different sort had been mentioned. Young Dowie simply said that no directions had been given, but that he would go again and secure what was wanted, whereupon his uncle became angered at what seemed insubordination.


* L. of H., Vol. 16. No. 20, p. 634. Interview of Mr. Dowie, Havana, Cuba.




His rebuke of the boy was the occasion of the display, for the boy picked up a bootjack and brandished it threateningly, making his uncle so fearful of bodily harm as to leave the office. He spoke afterward of the fiendish temper of the lad, saying that if he continued along that line he would come to the gallows. His business ability developed early and he soon secured a place as clerk in the counting house of a wholesale dry goods firm. When he returned to Scotland in 1868 he had a thorough business training, although just coming of age, having worked up to the position of accountant and then to junior partner of the firm.

For two years he studied in Edinburgh in university and theological schools with such teachers as Blackie and Calderwood, taking up the classics, and the political sciences. * He returned to Australia in 1870 and was ordained to the ministry as pastor of the Congregational Church at Alma, near Adelaide.

The next year he was called to Sydney to be pastor of the Manly Church and subsequently to a larger church at Newton, a suburb of Sydney. Here he mingled in politics, becoming leader of the social reform party. He helped bring about an undenominational compulsory and free system of education for New South Wales. It was during this period of his life that Mr. Dowie was especially active in temperance work. He was offered a position in the cabinet of Sir Henry Parks, and he proudly refers to this later in life as having been his opportunity of entering upon the career of a great statesman had he so chosen.


* Memorandum received from the University of Edinburgh: "John Alexander Dowie was enrolled as a student in the Faculty of Arts in this University in Sessions 1869-70 and 1870-71. He entered his name etc., in the Matriculation Album thus: 1869-70. John Alexander Dowie, Edinburgh. 22; Arts, first year. 1870-71. John Alexander Dowie, Adelaide, South Australia, 23; Arts, second year. In the former Session he attended Junior Latin and Junior Greek; in the latter Session he attended Logic and Moral Philosophy."




In 1878 he conceived the notion that it was wrong for a minister to take a salary and went into evangelistic work, depending upon voluntary offerings.

In 1882 he went to Melbourne and established a large independent church, building a Tabernacle. About this time there was a change in the character of his ministry, and he became a firm believer in Divine Healing in direct answer to prayer. He himself gives the account as follows, in his tract:




Jesus the Christ is the same today as when He trod the Holy Land, blessing the fainting, scattered, burdened sheep of God with words of life. And still He journeys over all the earth and never wearies of His loving task. He binds up still the broken, bleeding hearts, He still delivers from the tyrant's fetters, and from himself, the Fountain, healing virtue still is flowing. With outstretched hands He stands, quick to respond to thine appeal and banish all thy woe. Unseen, but "with us always," as He said, He stands beside thy bed of weary pain. Loved ones bend over thee, and minister with sympathetic care: but nearer than all beside is Jesus, thy Savior and thy Healer still. The Hand that cleansed the foulness of the leper's flesh and made it sweet and clean: the Hand that made the deaf to hear: the blind to see, the lame to leap, the dumb to speak; the Hand which raised the dead to life is here: no vanished Christ have we. Oh, wherefore doubt, and wherefore seek at other hands, from surgeon's knife or poison drought; the healing which He died to bring to thee, to me, to all mankind, in every age, in every land, in ever clime? Christ changes never.

At noontide, eighteen years ago, I sat in my study in the parsonage of the Congregational Church at Newton, a suburb of the beautiful city of Sydney, Australia. My heart was very heavy, for I had been visiting the sick and dying beds of more than thirty of my flock, and I had cast the dust to its kindred dust into more than forty graves within a few weeks. Where, oh where was He who used to heal His suffering children? No prayer for healing seemed to reach His ear, and yet I knew His hand had not been shortened. Still it did not save from death even those for whom there was so much in life to live for God and others. Strong men, fathers, good citizens, and more than all, true, faithful Christians sickened with a putrid fever, suffered nameless agonies, passed into delirium, sometimes with convulsions, and then died.

And oh, what aching voids were left in many a widowed orphaned heart. Then there were many homes where, one by one, the little




children, the youths and the maidens were stricken, and, after hard struggling with the foul disease, they, too lay cold and dead. It seemed sometimes as if I could almost hear the triumphant mockery of fiends ringing in my ear whilst I spoke to the bereaved ones the words of Christian hope and consolation. Disease, the foul offspring of its father, Satan, and its mother, Sin, was defiling and destroying the earthly temples of God's children, and there was no deliverer.

And there I sat with sorrow-bowed head for my afflicted people, until the bitter tears came to relieve my burning heart. Then I prayed for some message, and oh, how I longed to hear some words from Him who wept and sorrowed for the suffering long ago, the Man of Sorrows and of Sympathies. And then the words of the Holy Spirit inspired in Acts 10:38 stood before me all radiant with light, revealing Satan as the defiler and the Christ as the Healer. My tears were wiped away, my heart was strong, I saw the way of healing, and the door thereto was opened wide, and so I said. "God help me now to preach the word to all the dying round, and tell them how 'tis Satan still defiles, and Jesus still delivers, for 'He is just the same to-day.' "

A loud ring and several loud raps at the outer door, a rush of feet, and then at my door two panting messengers who said, "Oh, come at once Mary is dying; come and pray." With just such a feeling as a shepherd has who hears that his sheep are being torn from the fold by a cruel wolf. I rushed from my house, ran hatless down the street, and entered the room of a dying maiden. There she lay groaning, grinding her clenched teeth in the agony of the conflict with the destroyer, the white froth, mingled with her blood, oozing from her pain distorted mouth. I looked at her and then my anger burned. "Oh," I thought, "for some sharp sword of heavenly temper keen to slay this cruel foe who is strangling that lovely maiden like an invisible serpent, tightening his deadly coils for a final victory."

In a strange way it came to pass; I found the sword I needed was in my hands, and in my hand I hold it still, and never will I lay it down. The doctor, a good Christian man, was quietly walking up and down the room, sharing the mother's pain and grief. Presently he stood at my side and said. "Sir, are not God's ways mysterious?" Instantly the sword was flashing in my hand, - the Spirit's Sword, the Word of God, "God's way!" I said, pointing to the scene of conflict, "How dare, you, Dr. K-, call that God's way of bringing his children home from earth to heaven? No, sir, that is the Devil's work, and it is time we call on Him who came to 'destroy the work of the Devil,' to slay that deadly foul destroyer, and to save the child. Can you pray, Doctor, can you pray the prayer of faith that saves the sick?"

At once, offended at my words, my friend was changed, and saying,




"You are too much excited, sir, 'tis best to say God's Will be done," he left the room.

Excited! The word was quite inadequate, for I was almost frenzied with Divinely imparted anger and hatred of that foul destroyer, disease, which was doing Satan's will. "It is not so," I exclaimed, "no will of God sends such cruelty, and I shall never say God's Will be done to Satan's works, which God's own son came to destroy, and this is one of them."

Oh, how the Word of God was burning in my heart: "Jesus of Nazareth went about doing good and healing ALL THAT WERE OPPRESSED OF THE DEVIL: for God was with Him." And was not God with me? and was not Jesus there, and all His promise true? I felt that it was even so, and turning to the mother I inquired: "Why do you send for me?" to which she answered: "Do pray, oh pray for her, that God may raise her up."

And so we prayed. What did I say? It may be that I cannot now recall the words without mistake, but words are in themselves of small importance. The prayer at faith may be a voiceless prayer, a simple heartfelt look of confidence into the face of the Christ. At such a moment words are few; but they mean much, for God is looking at the heart. Still I can remember much of that prayer unto this day. ...

And, lo, the maid lay still in sleep, so deep and sweet that the mother said in a low whisper, "is she dead!" "No," I answered, in a whisper lower still, "Mary will live, the fever has gone. She is perfectly well and sleeping as an infant sleeps." Smoothing the long dark hair from her now peaceful brow, and feeling the steady pulsation of her heart, and cool moist hands, I saw that the Christ had heard and that once more, as long ago in Peter's house, "He touched her and the fever left her." Turning to the nurse I said, "Get me at once, please, a cup of cocoa and several slices of bread and butter."

Besides the sleeping maid we sat quietly and almost silently until the nurse returned, and then I bent over her and snapping my fingers said, "Mary!" Instantly she awoke, smiled and said, "Oh, sir, when did you come? I have slept so long;" then stretching out her arms to meet her mother's embrace, she said, "Mother, I feel so well." "And hungry, too?" I said, pouring out some of the cocoa in a saucer, and offering it to her when cooled by my breath. "Yes, hungry, too," she answered with a little laugh, and drank and ate again, and yet again, until all was gone. In a few minutes she fell asleep, breathing easily and softly. Quietly thanking God, we left her bed and went out into the next room where her brother and sister also lay sick of the same fever. With these two we also prayed, and they were healed. The following day all three were well, and in a week or so they brought to me a little letter and a little gift of gold, two sleeve links with my monogram, which I wore for many




years.  As I went away from the home where the Christ as the Healer had been victorious, I could not but have somewhat in my heart of the triumphant song that rang through heaven, and yet I was not a little amazed at my own strange doings, and still more at my discovery that "He is just the same today."

And this is the story of how I came to preach the Gospel of Healing through Faith in Jesus. ...

It is the Old Time Religion and no new Gospel that is preached. 'Tis the Gospel of Jesus' Redemption for spirit, soul and body, bringing Salvation from sin, Healing from sickness, and Cleansing from every defilement of the flesh and spirit.

Let the word abide in thy heart, "He is just the same today."

And if thou wilt believe Him, first for Salvation and then for Healing, thou wilt go onward in the King's Highway of Holiness singing the familiar words with a new meaning, as thou goest along the way through earth to Heaven.


"Thou, O Christ, art all I want,

More than all in Thee I find,

 Raise the fallen, cheer the faint,

Heal the sick, and lead the blind."


In this tract we have the story of the beginning of what developed into the real apologetic of his later work, the Christian Catholic Church in Zion, that is, divine healing. It was from the experiences of these early years that he evolved slowly his "ministry of healing." In ten years he laid hands in the name of the Lord on 18,000 sick and he declares that the greater part of them were fully healed.

In Melbourne he carried on a crusade against drink and tobacco, prolific causes of diseases and sin. He defied the laws prohibiting his street and saloon work and went to jail until released unconditionally by Governor Loch. He spent a short time in New Zealand and came to San Francisco June 7, 1888. It was not his original intention to stay there more than a year, for he desired to tour the United States, pass on to Europe, and reach Australia in 1891. Circumstances changed his plans. He found the American people in many places eager for some new thing, or rather, as we shall see,




eager to hear more of things about which they already had more or less definite notions. Two years were spent upon the Pacific coast, going up and down establishing branches of the Divine Healing Association, of which he was president. At this time many of the churches were not hostile to him, and he addressed his audiences in the church buildings. He came into open conflict however with the pastors of Oakland California, and in this controversy delivered and subsequently published his scurrilous tract "Divine Healing Vindicated." When he came to Omaha, Nebraska, in 1890, he held a service of one month in the First Baptist Church, as its pastor, Dr. Lamar, was a believer in Divine Healing, or rather Faith Healing of the A. B. Simpson sort. He arrived in Chicago in July, 1890, making his headquarters at Evanston until June, 1893. In these three years he held services in churches, tents and halls, in many parts of this country and Canada, meeting with indifferent success, but nearly always managing to get a hearing. In May, 1893, at the opening of the World's Fair, he established a Zion's Tabernacle at 251 E. 62nd St., Chicago, opposite Jackson Park. In April, 1894, he moved his service down town to the Central Music Hall, and moved his home to more commodious quarters on Edgerton Avenue. This was known from that time as the Divine Healing Home No. 1, other such healing homes being established later. In October, 1895, the Auditorium was secured as the place of the down town meetings. In November, 1895, a distinct forward step was taken. He broke away from the International Divine Healing Association, which he had been instrumental in organizing, and announced that he would no longer allow his fellow-believers to remain in the churches, which had now come to be indifferent or hostile to his work. This was the beginning of a work independent of the churches.

At this time a struggle with the Chicago authorities began. Incited by the doctors and ministers nearly one hundred warrants were issued for him during 1895, and he claims to have




spent parts of one hundred and twenty days in court during the year.*

On January 22, 1896, he called a meeting of all believers interested in the organization of the Christian Catholic Church in Zion. ** He said before this gathering, which met in Zion Tabernacle No.2, that he didn't want to be a schismatic, but wanted to help people to understand the primitive Gospel. Quoting from Psalm 67:4, "For thou shalt judge the people righteously, and govern the people upon the earth," he found authority for the founding of a theocracy. "Not a democracy, the will of the people, but a theocracy, the will of God" were his words of comment, and finishing the reading, he said, "Now that is the Word. ... It is nearly twenty years since I stepped out of organized ecclesiastical work. ... I never had any ambition to be the originator, the head or heart of a petty organization, that should be just one more of the innumerable divisions of Christendom. But I have felt with a great, broad, catholic sympathy which God gave me from the beginning, and which God has broadened, and widened and deepened throughout all the years, that I wanted, if ever I should return to organized church life, to get back to its primitive conditions, where the church should be Catholic, universal, all-embracing, in embracing all who were in communion with God by repentance and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ." He then claimed to have put himself in the absolute keeping of his Heavenly Father, trusting with absolute confidence to the guidance of the Holy Ghost in the address he was about to make, and which really was intended to guide the conference toward organization. His wife, who was announced as his colleague, and Rev. Dr. Speicher, were then called on to pray, and these two have been closely associated since that time with all his plans in organizing and administering the Christian Catholic Church in Zion. The address


* The report of that year of fighting was full of bitterness on the part of Mr. Dowie and the forces aligned against him.


** Report of First General Conference. Pamphlet.




which follows bears marks of as careful if not more careful preparation than any other of the preserved addresses of Mr. Dowie.

By a clever use of Scripture he shows where authority rested in the early church and what the splendid organizing ability of the Apostle Paul did in the New Testament times. He then likens himself to that Apostle and goes on to show what he considers the permanent form of organization for the Church of Christ. Speaking of the Apostle Paul he says: "He possessed that splendid gift of organizing the church into a thoroughly compact form, so that it could do a thousand fold more good than it could as a disorganized mass, and I pray God tonight that some of that great grace which rested so mightily upon him will rest upon me. I want it, I need it, and unless God gives it to me, I can't be of any use. ... No one can rejoice more than I can in the fact that God has given to me this great gift of an unwearied brain and diligence, and almost unwearied power to do work, and I think it is just the time where I ought to do something of the highest order." "The Christian Catholic Church in Zion should be formed" he said "of all persons who are willing to come together upon this basis: That (1) they recognize the infallible inspiration and sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures as the rule of faith and practice; that (2) they recognize that no persons can be members of the church who have not repented of their sins and have not trusted in Christ for salvation; that (3) such persons must also be able to make a good profession and declare that they do know in their own hearts that they have truly repented, and are truly trusting Christ, and have the witness, in a measure, of the Holy Spirit, that (4) all other matters are matters of opinion."

It is interesting to note the declaration of the constitution of this new church. "In the name of the Lord Jesus, in the power of the Holy Spirit, and in accordance with the will of God, our heavenly Father, I believe, and believing that I am thereunto called as the General Overseer of this flock, not




only in this place but in all the cities and villages and states and countries where persons have applied or shall apply for fellowship, do now constitute this Church as a gathering of believers under the title of the Christian Catholic Church. I pray that all ye who are now gathered and all who shall yet gather into this Church shall fulfill the great design of our Lord and Savior, that we may be One as He with the Father is One, and with the Eternal Spirit, that we may be One in Him. May this Church be divinely endowed with the nine gifts of the Holy Ghost, with the word of Wisdom, the word of Knowledge, Faith, Gifts of Healings, Workings of Miracles, Prophecy, Discernings of Spirits, Divers kinds of Tongues and Interpretation of Tongues, and with that gift of Love which is the crown of all, that precious gift which enables the Church to fulfill all. Oh with that love let these gifts be exercised and this Church go on to the glory of God, the Father, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and by the power of the Holy Spirit."

The conference of January 22nd, and February 8th, 1896, led up to the one held February 22nd, at which time the Christian Catholic Church was formed, with John Alexander Dowie as General Overseer. He predicted that in ten years, if God would spare his life and he continued to be General Overseer, the Christian Catholic Church would be the strongest and wealthiest church that the world has ever seen; he declared that he intended to build a little city to be called Zion, and that some day he hoped to stand upon the dome of a Zion Temple to hold from ten thousand to twenty thousand persons, that multitudes would come from all nations to be saved, healed and cleansed.

During 1899 he came to feel that he was doing the work that was prophesied for the Messenger of the Covenant in Malachi. After expounding these prophecies he claims to be the Messenger. (See L. of H. covering the close of the year 1899 and beginning of 1900.).

"I have the right to stand here and say in Zion you have to




do what I tell you! Oh! The whole church? Yes I the whole church - Presbyterian, Congregational, Baptist, Episcopal. It is the most daring thing I ever said. The time has come; I tell the church universal everywhere, you have to do what I tell you, Do you hear? You have to do what I tell you, because I am the Messenger of God's covenant.”

On June 2nd, 1901, he took the third step in the development of the Christian Catholic Church in Zion, when, before an audience of "7,000" * in the Auditorium he announced himself the Restorer of all things. He said: "You have to do what I tell you, because what I tell you is in accordance with that word, and because I am the Messenger of the Covenant, Elijah the Restorer. The greater portion of his people accepted this dictum and he is regarded by them as the Prophet Elijah, come in the office of Restorer." At the Feast of Tabernacles in Zion City, Illinois, in July, 1903, he took another step: "I believe that some of these times there will come such a holy; sacred and pure unction from on high that we will get to the place where I shall be able by the Holy Spirit's guidance, acting in my prophetic authority, to call out the Apostolic College, and re-establish the fundamental and perpetual order. September 18, 1904, he consecrated himself First Apostle and it has been his intention to consecrate the others in June or July, 1906. **

This is the fullest claim for divine authority that has been made in modern times and would only be eclipsed if Mr. Dowie


* 7,000 is Mr. Dowie's statement. The actual seating capacity is something over 4,000.


** In the address made January 22, 1906 (Report First Zion Conference) Mr. Dowie consumed considerable time (pp. 20-25) in endeavoring to show that the apostolic office was intended to be perpetual in the church. He says: "in the early church as fast as an apostle died another one was selected and put in his place, and man after man stepped in to fill up the apostolic ranks, and therefore the apostolic office was intended to be perpetual in the church." Mr. Dowie appointed himself First Apostle in the Christian Catholic Apostolic Church in Zion.




should distinctly declare that he is a reincarnation of the Messiah, the Son of God, which many who have watched the psychology of his development think would have been the next logical step, had not the condition of his health and the consequent loss of prestige together with the financial and moral failures leading to the revolt under Deputy Overseer Voliva made it impossible for him to assume and enact that roll.


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