by David W. Cloud

One of the most influential centers in early Pentecostal history was THE CITY OF ZION, founded in 1900 by JOHN ALEXANDER DOWIE (1847-1907). Though Dowie himself did not accept the Spirit-baptism with tongues theology, he is called "the father of healing revivalism in America" (Harrell, All Things Are Possible, p. 13). His latter days miracle theology helped pave the way for Pentecostalism, and Pentecostal theology did quickly permeate his institutions even before his death. Many influential Pentecostal leaders came out of his movement. His magazine, Leaves of Healing, had a worldwide distribution and a vast influence. Dowie taught that healing is promised in the atonement and insisted that those who sought faith healing give up all medical care. He viewed druggists and physicians as instruments of the devil. When his own daughter was severely burned after accidentally knocking over an alcohol lamp, he banished one of his followers for trying to alleviate her pain with Vaseline. He refused to allow her any medical treatment and she died in that condition. Many others who came to his faith cure homes died of their illnesses without any medical attention. In 1895 he was charged with manslaughter and neglect by the city of Chicago and convicted, but the higher courts ruled that the conviction was unconstitutional. He required that his followers give up the use of all pork products. He ruled his City of Zion with an iron hand and was noted for financial irresponsibility and a love for personal luxury. In 1901 he claimed that he was Elijah the Restorer, and in 1904 he "told his followers to anticipate the full restoration of apostolic Christianity and revealed that he had been divinely commissioned as the first apostle of a renewed end-times church" (Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements, p. 249). In the last few years of his life he was accused of sexual irregularities, he suffered a crippling stroke, and his Zion City was declared bankrupt. For six months before his death he lay in a state of total despondency.

In spite of Dowie's heretical doctrines and unscriptural ministry, he prepared the way for Charles Parham and his equally unscriptural Pentecostalism. The Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements notes that many of the most famous Pentecostal evangelists went out from Zion (p. 368) and dozens of Parham's followers at Zion joined the Assemblies of God at its formation in 1914. In fact, three of the original eight members of the AOG general council were from Zion City (p. 370). Those who arose from Zion City to become influential in the Pentecostal movement included F.F. Bosworth, John Lake, J. Rosewell Flower, Daniel Opperman, Cyrus Fockler, Fred Vogler, Marie Burgess Brown, William Piper, F.A. Graves, Lemuel Hall, Martha Robinson, Gordon Lindsay, and Raymond Richey. Influential Assemblies of God minister Gordon Lindsay, editor of Voice of Healing, wrote Dowie's biography and gave him credit for influencing "a host of men of faith who have had powerful ministries," referring to generations of Pentecostal preachers.

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