THE LATTER RAIN AND THE SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST
CHURCH IN AMERICA
It is our purpose here to study what has been taught about the latter rain by American Seventh-day Adventist writers other than Mrs. White and to investigate whether there is constancy and unity in the presentations made regarding the latter rain, or whether those presentations have disjuncture and disharmony.
If differences of opinion are found to exist we will attempt to discern how significant they are and what they reveal about the latter rain doctrine as it is generally conceived by the American Seventh-day Adventist writers reviewed.
Our aim here is to determine what Seventh-day Adventist writers have taught regarding the latter rain, and how this teaching compares to Mrs. White’s statements about the same topic. We will also be looking to see what the unity or disunity revealed by the comparative analyses contribute to or detract from the doctrine itself, and its role as a teaching about God and his people in the eschatology of Seventh-day Adventism.
To do this study we will survey various articles concerning the doctrine of the latter rain which appear in the official Seventh-day Adventist church paper—the Review.
The name has been modified some through the years, but there has been no break in its continuity; therefore such a unity of source, we trust, will give consistency to our research.
The Latter Rain: an Historical Review
The Latter Rain in the 1850s
The Review and Herald was first published by the Adventists who became Seventh-day Adventists in November 1850. The first mention of the latter rain is only an allusion to the concept and occurs in the February 21, 1856 issue of the Review. It occurs in the letter to the editor and simply says, “I love the promise of the Father [Hosea vi, 3] that He will come unto us as the rain, ‘as the latter and former rain unto the earth.’ Those who fight against God’s people and reject the gifts, will soon find it hard to kick against the pricks.”
From this simple evaluation of the significance of the latter rain, and the early rain, the writers in the Review have varied much.
In 1857 an article entitled “The Former and the Latter Rain” occurs in which the writer gives a presentation from Scripture. He argues on the basis of several texts (Hos. 6:3; Deut. 11:14; Jer. 3:13; etc.), that the former rain was given for the purpose of preparing the soil for seed, while the second or latter rain was to prepare the full ear for the harvest.
He then notes that these literal rains were “given as a blessing; they were withheld as a judgment.” While the writer is consciously aware that such a statement implies an active relationship between God and nature, as his comments show, he doesn’t develop this relationship concept. Rather he turns his article to refute the idea that these rains were “types”.
Having made his refutation he asks, “What then is the force of these expressions as used by the prophet?” His answer is that they are “used only as illustrations of special blessings to be poured out.”
The early rain blessing, he writes, “may fitly represent the our pouring of the Spirit in the commencement of the gospel dispensation; while the latter rain . . . may well be used to illustrate the special outpouring of the Spirit promised in the last days which will prepare the church for her final warfare, and for immortal glory.”
He then concludes his article by quoting texts that point out the need of man making a preparation for receiving the promised blessing, and that repeat the assurance that God will give such a blessing.
In 1858 another article appears, simply entitled “The Latter Rain” which adds to the 1857 article by associating the already presented concepts of the latter rain, with the Laodicean message of Revelation 3, though what that relationship is, is not explicitly set forth.
It seems however that the writer, C. E. Harris, intends to say that when the Leodicean people repent and seek God the latter rain promise is for them.
March 3, 1859, another article entitled “The latter Rain” appears. This one is written by Daniel T. Bourdeau.
He points out that there are several classes of people who believe in the latter rain. The first are those who do not long for the latter rain. This means one’s relationship to God is not right, he states. The second class he says are those who think the latter rain is very desirable but who make no preparation for it. The third class he designates as those who believe that “the generality of those who profess Christianity will largely share the blessings of the latter rain.”
Having made these distinctions the writer seeks to defend his own doctrine of latter rain that only falls on a select few by a hypothetical illustration and an appear to Scripture passages that show God looks at men’s practice in addition to their profession. He concludes by saying “The more we reflect on this subject the more we are convinced that the idea of a universal refreshing is contrary to the teachings of the Bible.”
Summary. In the 1850s we find the first discussion in the Review of the latter rain among those Adventists who later became Seventh-day Adventists. The following qualities of the latter rain were discussed:
- God’s blessing in the latter rain on His people will soon make it hard for their opponents to fight against them.
- The former rain was given to prepare the soil for seed while the latter rain was to prepare the full ear for the harvest.
- These literal rains were given as a blessing and withheld as a judgment.
- The rains of Palestine were not “types”. They were rather used in Scripture as illustrations of special blessings to be poured out.
- The early rain represents the outpouring of the Spirit in the commencement of the Gospel dispensation.
- The latter rain represents the special outpouring of the Spirit promised in the last days which will prepare the church for her final warfare, and for immortal glory.
- Men must make a preparation before they can receive the ‘rain’ blessing.
- God’s word is sure and clear; He has promised special blessings and they will come.
- The Laodicean message of Revelation 3 is applicable to the church today, and when the Laodicean people repent and seek God the latter rain promise is for them.
- The idea of a “universal refreshing” is contrary to the teachings of the Bible.
The Latter Rain in the 1860s
In the 1860s discussion of the latter rain elements common to the presentations in the 1850s are present, but more facets of the latter rain are presented.
In the March 15, 1860 Review Francis Gould states explicitly that the apostle James “takes a figure or a similitude from the natural world to explain spiritual things.” The writer then adds that “we know by observation, and especially by revelation that it is requisite in the order and economy of God, that there should be an early and latter rain for the germination, growth, and perfection of the precious fruit of the earth.”
The application of this figure, the writer says, teaches us that the church of God is “to be visited with two general outpourings of God’s holy Spirit which constitute the early and latter rain.” The early rain took place on the day of pentecost and is the baptism of the Holy Ghost. The latter rain is to fall on the Gentiles (It seems the Jews had their opportunity under the works of Jon the Baptist, Jesus—when on earth, and the apostles, though this point isn’t well developed, according to this author.) who have responded to God to “ripen them off for the great harvest,” and to prepare them for translation.
The “gifts of the gospel church,” however, will take their place in the church and “prepare her to be presented before the Father without spot of wrinkle or any such thing.”
The concluding point we need to note from this writer is that “the same rain that ripens the wheat for the garner ripens the tares to be burned.”
The other significant article from the 1860s is entitled “Whatsoever Things are Lovely.” The writer, a George Wright from Marshall, Michigan says that “the times of refreshing are just before us. The latter rain will soon descend.”
If one is to receive the latter rain one must be prepared. This preparation is seen as being the result of the preaching of the third angel’s message, for Mr. Wright states that “the proclamation of the third angel’s message is gathering out a people and purifying them by its searching and solemn truths.” The purpose of this preparation is to bring things about “so that God can safely bestow or impart all the gifts and graces once enjoyed when the Holy Spirit came down like a mighty rushing wind.”
Our author concludes his article by noting that there is another rain “very different in its character, fearful in its nature, and fatal in its consequences,” to fall on the wicked. (Ps. 11:6 is quoted.) This statement is followed by an appeal for people to seek righteousness and meekness for probation will soon close.
In 1863 Francis Gould is again writing, this time an article entitled “The Times of Refreshing.”
The writer adds to our study by defining, or describing, the preparation God’s people are to make for the latter rain. (Here called the “great refreshing.”)
“Repentance, confession of sins, humbling ourselves under the mighty hand of God, and turning to him with full purpose of heart,” are the required prepatory steps if we are “be gathered with the ripe sheaves into the garner.”
Further we are told that “a good and correct theory of Bible truth, alone, will not be sufficient,” for “all our thoughts, words, and actions, must correspond with it.”
This preparation is necessary because “God is fitting up a class of people that will stand when there shall be no mediator. . . .”
H. F. Phelps, in 1867, wrote an article entitled “The Latter Rain: When is it?” (Mr. Phelps does not answer the question raised in the title of his article.) that is of some significance to our study, for he writes that the latter rain “just precedes” the end of the world and “will not fail in his appointed time.”
The falling gentle rain brings “the harvest of earth” to ripeness. This “harvest” time is seen as being near and appropriately represents the maturity of God’s people, which is partially the result of their having received the latter rain. The latter rain blessing “is ready and waiting.”
Because the falling latter rain makes men qualified to work for the Lord, and “bold in defense of truth,” our writer concludes that we are praying for the latter rain when we offer the prayer, ‘Lord of the harvest, send forth more laborers.’
In the April 14, 1868 Review we find again an article simply entitled “the Latter Rain,” This one written by R. F. Cottrell.
Mr. Cottrell adds an unusual point to the latter rain teaching of this time, for he writes that it comes “in degree.” “I believe we shall receive it in degree, as soon as we are prepared to use it to the glory of God, and our own good.”
Not only does it come when we are ready to use it properly, but “it is even now beginning . . .” he writes.
Summary. In the 1860s we again find occasional articles being written about the latter rain. These articles are generally in harmony with what was written regarding the latter rain in the 1850s, but there are additional point of emphasis and some disjunctures. The following points were made in addition to, or contrary to, the earlier period:
- We learn about the latter rain both from observation and revelation.
- The early rain, which occurred on Pentecost, is the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
- The latter rain is for the Gentiles.
- It ripens them for the harvest.
- It prepares them for translation.
- The “gifts of the gospel church” will be in the church again before Christ comes.
- The same rain that ripens the wheat for the harvest ripens the tares for to be burned.
- The latter rain is just ahead and will soon descend.
- The necessary preparation for receiving the latter rain is the result of the preaching of the third angel’s message.
- The preparation is necessary so God can safely bestow all the gifts and graces once bestowed.
- There are two kinds of rain to come down; the latter rain for the people of God, and a destroying rain to fall on the wicked.
- We must prepare for the latter rain now for probation will soon close.
- (The needed preparation is described.)
- Preparation is necessary because there is a time coming when we must stand before God without a Mediator.
- The latter rain just precedes the end of the world.
- The latter rain will not fail though it has an appointed time.
- The latter rain brings maturity and boldness to God’s people.
- The latter rain comes in degree.
- The latter rain comes when we use it properly.
- It is even now beginning.
The Latter Rain in the 1870s.
The key article of the 1870s to deal with the latter rain is written by the editor of the Review, Uriah Smith. Entitled “Times of Refreshing” (Dated April 19, 1970.) it argues its points from Scripture. It is built around Acts 3:19-21. (“Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sings may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and He shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you; whom the Heavens must receive until the times of restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.”
Having discussed the early portion of the text, the writer states that “after (Emphasis supplied.) the blotting out of sin, come the times of refreshing.” After noting that “our version of the Bible reads, ‘when (emphasis supplied) the times of refreshing shall come,’” He comments that “the original rather demands the translation, ‘that the times of refreshing may come.’” (For Uriah Smith’s discussion of the Greek grammar occurring here see Review article, “the Times of Refreshing,” dated January 17, 1878, in a response to T. H. Starbuck of Oregon.)
However our author quickly adds that “The sense is not materially changed either way. It shows that it is subsequent to the blotting out of sins, that the refreshing comes from the presence of the Lord upon his people.”
The writer then goes on to note that the refreshing is just before the coming of Christ. This means, he says, that the refreshing is “definitely located. It is between the blotting out of sins (The blotting out of sins, he writes, is “the conclusion of the work of our Lord in his priestly office as mediator for man. Between that and the coming of our Lord, a little period intervenes; and at that time his people are refreshed from his heavenly presence.”) and the coming of Christ.”
Next the question is raised, “What is the nature of this refreshing?” It is the full and complete communion of the Holy Spirit, is his answer. He further writes that
It will be to the people of God . . . a cooling shower . . . and a period of relaxation and rest. . . .
The heat and struggle of sin’s conflict are then over. . . . And as they (God’s people) . . . stand upon the threshold of the celestial world, they are given to feel a little earnest of their approaching inheritance.
This experience is the result of God’s coming to His people as “both the former rain and the latter rain together, and they will receive the refreshing adapted to their position as they are about to enter the immortal kingdom.”
Having drawn his article to a close, Uriah Smith summarizes his thoughts by writing,
And when all have repented, and all who will receive the gracious provisions made for the penitent are converted, and when all sins are blotted out and put away from the righteous forever, then the refreshing will descent upon the waiting ones.
Approximately one month later (Dated May 17, 1970.) a response is written in the Review to G. W. Sheldon, apparently in answer to a query, that presents the latter rain as coming gradually, rather than instantaneously, upon the people of God. The Scripture support is cited from Hos. 6:3, which speaks of God’s visiting His people with the former and latter rain, and says that His going forth is prepared as the morning. This means that
The refreshing will be a gradual work, like the introduction of light at the opening of the day. . . . From the darkness of night to the brightness of noonday, would be too great a transition for a moments of time; so a change from our ordinary experience to the full power of the refreshing, would be more than we could bear, if accomplished at once.
However this gradual progression is seen as being after the close of probation, though there is a possibility for some latter rain experience to precede the close of probation, allowed. (This response is unsigned and was probably written by the editor Uriah Smith.)
In the November 25, 1873 issue of the Review appears an article by R. F. Cottrell entitled “Who Will Receive the Refreshing?” (This brief article nowhere refers to the latter rain explicitly, but in the times which he wrote the readers probably understood him to referring to the latter rain; therefore we will include it here.)
This writer sees the refreshing as being future, but certain to come. He describes five qualifications for receiving the refreshing:
- must have faith in God
- be courageous
- be overcomers—loving god and their fellowmen
- must be laborers in the work of God
- must seek the refreshing with earnest agonizing prayer and live according to one’s present knowledge. (An interested reader here begins to feel an anticipation of a later comment by Mrs. White that Christ is often left out of the preaching of this period.)
The writer concludes his article by apparently softening his position for he writes that “Those who open the door will receive the heavenly Guest; He will come in and sup with them.”
Summary. Uriah Smith, the editor of the Review is the only writer of the 1870s to write an article in the Review in which the term ‘latter rain’ occurs. This terminology has been replaced by the phrase ‘the refreshing,’ as a contextual analysis shows. But the fact that there are two published responses to queries printed in the Review in addition to Uriah Smith’s article, and at least partially the result of it, indicates there was at least some interest in the latter rain during this ten year period.
The following points contribute to our research:
- The refreshing—the latter rain—comes after the close of probation, just prior to the second coming of Christ.
- The refreshing is the full and complete communion of the Holy Spirit.
- The refreshing is a period of relaxation and rest; a little earnest of the approaching inheritance.
- The latter rain comes gradually, as the light of the morning.
- Those who will receive the refreshing must:
- have faith in God
- be courageous
- be overcomers—living God and man
- be workers for God
- be seeking the refreshing, and obedient to their knowledge of right.
The Latter Rain in the 1880s
In a Review article entitled “The Reapers,” E. E. Olive (Review, May 22, 1883.) tells a personal experience of wondering how there could be enough “cradles” to cut all the grain in southern Minnesota, and then learning that the grain would be harvested with McCormick reapers. Having recounted this experience the writer addresses his readers with the questions, “Does the work go hard, brother reaper? Does the way look dubious at times?” and then answers the rhetorical questions saying,
Take courage; soon we are to be refreshed by the latter rain. Soon we will be strengthened by the outpouring of the Spirit of God. Soon we may quench our thirst by draughts from the formation of Living Water. Soon He will send the angels to gather together his elect.
May 12, 1885 Uriah Smith is again writing about the latter rain in an article entitled, “The Latter Rain and the Refreshing.” This is his most studied article to date. (He is again writing in response to a query.) In it he seems to modify his position in an earlier article (See above, p. 9, and f.n. #4, p. 9) that the latter rain comes after the close of probation, for he writes that “for an indefinite period before the close of probation is reached, the latter rain, or a special outpouring of the Spirit, commences upon the church, and the time of trouble commences upon the wicked.”
This means that
The latter rain continues with the church till Christ comes, culminating after the close of probation, in the refreshing of Acts 3:19, . . . and the time of trouble continues upon the wicked till Christ comes, culminating, in their cases, after probation ends, in the seven last plagues.
This understanding is necessary, the writer argues, because
There are evidently some blessings predicted which cannot come upon the church till they are sealed and placed beyond the danger of falling, just as there are some judgments which cannot fall upon the wicked till their probation is ended.
Our author then refers to Acts 3 and writes as he has done earlier that this text clearly locates the refreshing after the blotting out of sins. (Ibid.)
He also argues that it must come after the close of probation because “when this refreshing has once been received by the saints, it would not seem possible for them to lose it.”
However he also writes that “before they reach this state . . . they receive a great outpouring of the Spirit, the beginning of the latter rain.”
This beginning of the latter rain is that by which “they are enabled to close up their final work for the world.”
After describing what this final work is, the writer concludes his explanation by saying, “when this is done, and probation ends, then the saints receive that final measure of blessing . . . which fits them up to stand through the time of trouble without a mediator.”
Uriah Smith then summarizes his article with a chart and by writing, in part, “according to this view, the term ‘latter rain,’ while it embraces all that is mentioned in the texts name above (Acts 3:19; 2 Pet. 1:29; Rev. 2:28; 3:20; 7:4; 22:16.) . . . begins to apply at an earlier point of time [than the close of probation], covers a longer period and embraces more . . .” then the concepts set forth in these texts.
This means that “the latter rain and the time of trouble cover (In our opinion this is a broader use of the phrase than is generally acknowledged among Seventh-day Adventists today.) the same period.” In this period of time of undetermined length,
The first part of the time is devoted to the closing up of the last message of mercy to the world, during which, under the first outpourings of the latter rain, the saints utter the proclamation [of Jesus soon coming, and of His eternal law as being the standard of character for all who would be ready—with special emphasis on the Seventh-day Sabbath] in great power; and the wicked . . . hear and reject the message.
Then probation closes and “the latter rain” culminates “in the final blessing upon the church.”
In a column entitled “Scripture questions” G. W. Morse writes, in answer to the question “when may we look for the commencement of the “latter rain?”, “not until just before the second coming of Christ.” (May 25, 1886.) Such an answer adds nothing to our findings thus far by what it says, but it is possible to point out the obvious, that it doesn’t say the latter rain comes after the close of probation, and wonder whether such an omission may mean that not everyone reading the Review, or associated with it, found Uriah Smith’s timing convincing.
Summary. In the 1880s only one article of any significance appeared in the Review dealing with the latter rain, and this was an editorial in response to a query. However it is the fullest study to date on the topic to appear in the Review. It is also possible that not all the people acquainted with the Review accepted all the conclusions set forth therein.
In this decade the following points were developed that add to our study:
- The latter rain strengthens and refreshes the people of God, and quenches their thirst (for righteousness).
- The latter rain begins before the close of probation and extends to the coming of Christ, though its greatest power and extent come on the church only after probation closes.
- The refreshing of Acts 3:19 refers only to a post-probation experience; this phrase of the Holy Spirit’s blessing is less inclusive than, though not exclusive of, the latter rain.
- The latter rain and the time of trouble cover the same period. (This is making the phrase “time of trouble” cover more than “Jacob’s time of trouble”—its usual significance in Seventh-day Adventism, though Ellen White, at least once, used the time of trouble phrase this way too.)
The Latter Rain in the 1890s
In the 1890s there is the greatest amount of material written in the Review of any ten year period since the 1850s where our research began. During this time Daniel T. Bourdeau wrote a five part article, and a half-dozen other articles also appeared.
D. T. Bourdeau’s material includes many of the same general opinions that we have seen being expressed, but he goes beyond the earlier studies very often in that he occasionally develops these ideas with reference to the Scriptural context in which they appear. In addition he makes points which contribute to our study, such as the following:
- The expression “latter rain” is used emblematically and means the Spirit of God, for in Scripture the Spirit of God is sometimes represented by water. (“The latter Rain,” April 29, 1890.)
- The latter rain gives understanding of truth, and enables its receivers to “conform to the truth in their lives.” (Ibid.)
- The Holy Spirit brings an increased manifestation of truth. (Ibid.)
- That “an outpouring of the Holy Spirit is an urgent and imperative necessity” is shown by the progress of modern spiritualism. (Ibid.)
- The early and latter rain concept means that there will be “an effusion of the Holy Spirit that will embrace more than what was realized by the primitive church. (“The Latter Rain,” May 6, 1890.)
- “It will also be while this refreshing (The “refreshing” here referred to is the latter rain for this writer.) will come to the saints, that the sins of God’s people of every age shall be blotted out.” (“The Latter Rain,” May 6, 1890.)
- The latter rain will “place the righteous living beyond the possibility of falling, and staining their pure robes of character by the defilement of sin.” (Ibid.)
- Those who receive the latter rain will bear “much fruit to the glory of God.” (Ibid.)
- The first condition for receiving the latter rain is that “we understand and realize in our own experience the ordinary workings of the Spirit of God.” (“The Latter Rain,” May 13, 1890. Note: The articles in the Review dated May 20, 1890, and May 27, 1890 added nothing to our study.)
In the December 9, 1890 issue of the Review again we find an article entitled “The Latter Rain;” this one by a Mrs. M. E. Steward, which suggests that whereas the pouring out of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was made manifest by “the gifts,” particularly the gift of tongues, so, when “the spirit of prophecy” which “has belonged to the remnant church ever since its rise . . . has its due place and weight in the remnant church, all the other gifts will follow.”
This seems to mean that for this writer, to “receive the other gifts of the Spirit” is to receive the latter rain.
An unsigned article entitled “The Three Days of Hosea 6,” (M. E. Sawyer wrote an article, “the Latter Rain” that appeared in the January 10, 1893 issue of the Review, but it does not contribute to our study.) appearing under date of September 4, 1894, then contributes another dimension to the collective teaching regarding the latter rain among Seventh-day Adventist writers whose works appear in the Review, when the author writes that the “unction from the Holy One” in 1 John 2:20, and “the anointing” of 1 John 2:27 “is the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, which is the latter rain.” This evaluation is left by the writer for the readers to ponder without his supplying the reader with any supporting evidence for his conclusion.
In 1897 a printed sermon entitled “Who is on the Lord’s Side?” appeared (October 5, 1897.) that contains the statement, “Nothing is more certain than that we are in the time of the latter rain,” and urges the people to repent of their resistance to God’s past working by the Holy Spirit to seek the baptism of the Holy Spirit—which here seems to be equated with the latter rain. (July 26, 1893, an editorial appears in the Review without title or signature that speaks of the availability of the latter rain now, “to us and to our children,” but adds nothing to our study.)
The last article we will review from the 1890s appeared the next year under date of May 30, 1899, and is entitled “Preparation for the Latter Rain.” (N. W. Kauble.)
This author writes that everyone must have the latter rain “to stand in the day of the Lord, and to live in his sight.”
However we again read that there are conditions that one must meet before God can give the requested blessing. “Let Christians put away all their dissensions, and give themselves to God for the saving of the lost. Let them in faith ask for the blessing, and it will come.”
Summary. In the 1890s the first multi-part article dealing with the latter rain appeared, and was supplemented by several other writers who also produced articles on the latter rain, though of a less extensive volume.
It is also the first time that a major article appears which gently sets aside some of the explicit declarations and reasoned arguments of a well-known earlier writer.
The writers of this period also develop points that are beyond the facets of the latter rain significance that we have found being presented prior to 1890. These include the following:
- The expression ‘latter rain’ means the Holy Spirit.
- The latter rain gives understanding and obedience, and brings an increase of truth.
- The latter rain is made urgent and necessary by modern spiritualism.
- The latter rain will be more than a repeat of the early rain Pentecost experience.
- The close of probation will come during the latter rain, rather than before it. The latter rain places its receivers beyond the possibility of sinning.
- The receiver of the latter rain has prior to his receiving the latter rain recognized the Spirit’s work in his life and becomes very productive in Gospel work.
- To receive “the other gifts of the Spirit” is to receive the latter rain.
- The “unction from the Holy one” of 1 John 2:20 and “the anointing” of verse 27 is the latter rain.
- Some writers say the latter rain is future and some emphasize that we are now in the latter rain time. (These may not be contradictory statements; they may simply mean that the experience is available now, but has not been realized yet.)
- Resistance to God’s spirit’s work in our lives or the lives of others will block effectively our receiving of the latter rain experience.
The Latter Rain: 1900-1909
During this decade we will note two articles that treat of the latter rain. (Another article, “Thy People Shall Be Willing” appeared under date of June 26, 1900 and uses terminology generally associated with a discussion of the Holy Spirit’s work under the latter rain symbol, but the ‘rain’ terminology nowhere appears in this article which was written by T. E. Bowen.”) The first one, by Thoro Harris, is entitled “The Time of Refreshing” (April 3, 1900.) and begins by equating being “filled with the Holy Ghost,” “the refreshing from the presence of the Lord,” and “the latter rain.” Having made this equation the writer quotes a few sentences from Ellen White and then writes that the latter rain “occurs in connection with the promulgation of the Sabbath truth.” This is logical and necessary because true Sabbath observance does “constitute the very essence of this refreshing.” Therefore “with the restoration of God’s broken seal the latter rain will fall in great abundance.”
This means that
As we understand more clearly the meaning of God’s rest day, as week by week we observe this season of “refreshing” and unite in the dissemination of this glorious message of rest, the showers of heaven will fall in copious abundance.”
The other article appears under the title, “The Baptism of the Holy Ghost, the Latter Rain.” (March 30, 1905.) Here R. A. Underwood begins by writing much that we have seen before; the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the refreshing, and the early rain are the same and occurred on the day of Pentecost. The latter rain will be a repetition of Pentecost and is future, but its reception is dependent on certain conditions.
At this point in his article however, our author makes an unusual turn in his argument and writes, “Here is the promise and conditions: ‘Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse . . . saith the Lord’ and I will ‘pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.’”
This promise fulfilled means the outpouring of the Holy Ghost, the latter rain, the refreshing from the presence of the Lord, the ripening of the harvest, the end of the conflict.
This means that for this author tithe paying brings the outpouring of the latter rain and the second coming of Christ.
He also writes that “should the promise be fulfilled now, there would many fall under its power to rise no more, as did Ananias and Sapphira. . . .”
This concept, that the latter rain power can be a destroying power, is as unusual a facet of emphasis as is the concept of tithe paying being that which brings the latter rain. These ideas are presented without support for the association of ideas made by the writer.
Summary. In the years 1900-1909 very little was written about the latter rain in the Review. That which was written was unique and not supported with exegetical methods of Bible study. The points emphasized by the two writers reviewed include the following:
- Because true Sabbath observance constitutes the very essence of the refreshing, with the restoration of God’s broken seal [the keeping of the fourth commandment—the seventh-day Sabbath], the latter rain “will fall in great abundance.”
- Tithe paying is the necessary condition for receiving the latter rain, and properly done results in the outpouring of the latter rain and the second coming of Christ.
- The latter rain is a destructive act to some followers of Christ who are like Ananias and Sapphira.
The Latter Rain: 1910-1919
From 1910-1919 four Review articles appear that have titles stating they are about the latter rain. (G. W. White, “Preparation for the Latter Rain,” April 6, 1911; H.B. Keniston, “The Latter Rain,” February 1, 1912; Mrs. E. M. Peebles, “Preparation for the Latter Rain,” February 15, 1917; L. Ervin Wright, “the Time of the ‘Latter Rain;,” February 6, 1919.) However three of the four have no Scripture, (Keniston, Peebles, and Wright.) two of the four make no mention of the latter rain other than in the title, (Keniston and Peebles.) and one is composed almost entirely of quotations from Mrs. White’s writings. (L. Ervin Wright.) The fourth one, G. W. White’s “Preparation for the Latter Rain” deals with the question “Why has the rain been withheld?” His answer is taken from several texts which point to sin in the life as the cause for withheld blessings, the specific sins being indolence and slothfulness, he says. The author then concludes his article with a quotation from Mrs. White showing that when the people do their work, God will pour out the sought-for blessing.
The Latter Rain: 1920-1929
The two Review articles, one appearing in 1922 and the other in 1928 that we will review (These may be the only articles written during this period.) appear with latter rain related titles and continue the trend of the preceding ten years; they bear titles stating they are about the latter rain but fail to discuss the latter rain.
The first one is the long article by F. M. Wilcox, and bears the title “Ask Ye of the Lord Rain in the Time of the Latter Rain.” In this study the author deals with eight conditions for receiving the Holy Spirit, but never mentions the latter rain.
In 1928, under date of December 6, W. A. Spicer writes a shorter article entitled “the Latter Rain and the Shaking Time” where he begins by saying the part, “We have entered into the time of the latter rain,” and then goes on to develop his thoughts and draw his article to a close without again mentioning the latter rain.
The Latter Rain: 1930-1939
In 1934 W. A. Spicer wrote an article entitled “Latter Rain Fruitage in Regions that Columbus Discovered” which teaches that growth from nothing in God’s work in mission lands “is a token that the time of refreshing has come.”
However, growth—springing up and multiplying—takes place under the early rain, not the latter rain (refreshing), and again, only the title of the article contains the term “latter rain.”
In 1939 Fredrich Lee writes of “Final Events Yet to Come-III” with a subtitle, “The Latter Rain.” (September 28, 1939.) This article is a fine discussion of the hope people can have that the latter rain will really fall. The author argues that we know the latter rain will fall because “it takes both the former and the latter rain to produce a complete work.” He then points to Scripture for evidence the early rain has fallen, and then again assures the reader that “Christ is both the author and finisher of our salvation, the work that has been begun will not be abandoned in the time of the harvest.”
Having made these points and discussed them he quotes from Mrs. White several passages and concludes by writing that “we have abundant assurance that the Lord will not disappoint us in the time of the latter rain if we are prepared to receive it.” (W. E. Read also writes a fine article regarding “The Early and the Latter Rain” that review many of the good emphases we have seen already and avoids the strange facets we have occasionally found. This work appears under date of November 9, 1939.)
This forty year period is characterized by three qualities:
- The presentation of some purely conjectural latter rain theology; 1900-1909.
- Very few articles were written about the latter rain, and those that were written generally bore titles including the latter rain terminology, though the concept did not receive attention in the article itself; 1920-1938.
- The presentation of two articles that addressed themselves to the topic of the latter rain, and then presented the writers understanding of the topic in the following article; 1939.
The following emphases made during this time add to our findings:
- The latter rain is certain because the harvest requires both the early rain and the latter rain.
- What Christ has begun He will finish.
The Latter Rain: 1940-1949
This decade sees the larger amount of material presented to the Review reader on the latter rain that we will encounter in any given decade covered in this survey. The latter rain is frequently written about, and 1943 finds the readers being presented an eleven part article simply entitled “The Latter Rain.”
March 7, 1940 is the date of an article by J. C. Stevens entitled “The Early and Latter Rain in Type and Antitype.” This author writes some very interesting points, but he fails to make clear the source of authority that he is drawing on. However he has points of emphasis that contribute to this survey study.
- The literal early and latter rains of Palestine were types of two outpourings of God’s Holy Spirit upon His people. (Under date of February 26, 1857 the Review carried an unsigned article, “The Former and Latter Rain” that argued the rains were not types.
- Just as God had a timetable” for the outpouring of the early rain so He has a time for the latter rain:
- “Not perhaps, a set day” but “it is a definite time.”
- The outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the latter rain will bring the loud cry of Rev. 18:4, 10.
- When Babylon’s fall is complete, “Synchronously with this the latter rain will be poured out upon God’s remnant.”
- Early rain results are typical of latter rain results.
- Persecution will arise
- God’s people speak fearlessly
- Signs and wonders will be done
- The fruits of the Spirit will be “manifested” among Christians
- Many people respond
- The weak Christians are “shaken out.”
H.J. Detwiler wrote an article entitled “The Holy Spirit” that appears in a column with the caption “Bible Doctrines.” (Review, September 5, 1940, p. 8.) His discussion generally omits the concept of the latter rain, but he does make a contribution to our work indirectly, when he writes, that
Like the early disciples we, too, should now prepare, by deep searching of heart, for the outpouring of the Spirit in the latter rain. . . . (This phrase is evidently not meant to teach that the early disciples received the latter rain, for the Pentecost experience has already been designated an early rain experience by our author.) Then we may confidently expect the outpouring of the Spirit in its fullness.
This statement, that we may “then” expect the outpouring of the Spirit in its “fullness,” suggest that an outpouring of the Holy Spirit is more than an unqualified act of a fixed quality. The author doesn’t explain this statement, but as it reads it suggests that an outpouring of the Holy Spirit is possible—without that outpouring being the outpouring which is to come “in its fullness” when we have made proper preparation.
In late 1940 and early 1941 an editorial entitled “The Greatest Need of the Church” designated the outpouring of the Holy Spirit as the church’s greatest need, but it failed to present a study of the Holy Spirit’s work under the “outpouring” designation that would explain why this particular concept was selected to express “the greatest need of the church.” (See especially Nov 21, 1940; Dec. 12, 1940, and Jan. 23, 1941.)
However the writer did say that the latter rain would be “accompanied by marked manifestations.” He followed this statement by a quotation from the writings of Mrs. White that describes the manifestations of power that are to be present in the closing up of the gospel. The quoted material states that
Among God’s people the following occur.
- The faces of the servants of God are lighted up and shining with holy consecration.
- These workers hasten from place to place to proclaim the message from heaven.
- “By thousands of voices, all over the earth, the warning will be given.”
- Miracles and signs and wonders “will follow the believers.”
Also works with lying wonders, even bringing down fire from heaven in the sight of men. Thus the inhabitants of the earth will be brought to take their stand. (White, G.C., pp. 611, 612, quoted in editorial, under date of Jan. 23, 1941, p. 2.)
The editor also states that “before the Lord closes the door of mercy, He will pour out His Spirit upon all flesh in a last supreme effort to save those who will turn to Him.”
If this means that the editor is teaching that the latter rain is poured out on all, good and wicked, then that emphasis would be one we have not encountered in our survey earlier, but he does not develop this concept. If such was to be his teaching, it would seem to mean that for him the latter rain has lost its original function of ripening the harvest, and become a work of seed planting and early rain.
More articles appear dealing with the latter rain, (See A. D. Bohn, “’Receive Ye the Holy Ghost’: Another Pentecost Needed Today,” Feb. 20, 1941. W. H. Branson, “Organize for a Larger Work,” April 10, 1941. James Early Shultz, “The Judgment-Hour Message,” April 24, 1941. Louis K. Dickson, “This Crisis Hour: The Need of a Pentecostal Experience,” April 24, 1941.) but it is not until Mar. 11, 1943 (p. 6) that an article, by Taylor G. Bunch, “Prayer and the Latter Rain” again contributes to our survey.
Having noted that there is a designated time during which the latter rain is available, and that even in this designated time it is necessary for the receiver to have first asked for the latter rain, the author adds that “the answer may be delayed by delayed asking.” However he assures his readers that “The time of the latter rain continues from the time it is due till its refreshing showers become a reality.”
He also presents the thesis that God “always deals with the individual,” therefore each individual can have the latter rain when he asks for it, regardless of the spiritual condition of his fellow worshippers.
Again we read,
The time has come, when the spirit of prayer should actuate every believer, bringing about a spiritual revival and reformation in preparation for the finishing of the gospel work under the latter rain. . . . One praying member will soon lead others to join with him in making intercession for the revelation of the Holy Spirit.
The last sentence quoted makes the prayed-for blessing “the revelation of the Holy Spirit.” Whereas in the preceding paragraphs the exhortation is given for people to pray for the latter rain, we can conclude that either the latter rain received is a revelation of the Holy Spirit, or, that the preparation for the latter rain includes “making intercession for the revelation of the Holy Spirit;” the immediate context being a discussion of preparation.
The sense of the phrase is not made more clear by either of the possible interpretations, for the emphasis is unusual, and the phrase is unfamiliar to the Seventh-day Adventist reader.
The final point to be mentioned for this writer is his apparent identification of the early and latter rain of Hosea 6:1-3 with what he calls “the visitation of the Holy Spirit.” This, he states, is the greatest need of the modern church.
Appearing weekly under dates from June 3, 1943 until Aug. 12, 1943, is an eleven part article written by Mead MacGuire that bears the familiar title, “Latter Rain.”
In the first two articles the author includes quotations from Mrs. White that speak of the latter rain, but he does not treat the topic himself. However in the third article (June 17, 1943, pp. 6, 7.) he writes that the early and latter rain “illustration may be applied dispensationally, and also in our personal experience.” This means that the early rain began at Pentecost and “will continue until the gospel work is done.” “The latter rain,” he writes, “falls as the work of the gospel is closing.”
The early rain (The early rain is seen as preparation for the latter rain, and is “the result of the acceptance of righteousness by faith as an actual experience.” This author also calls it “new conversion” and “rebirth.”) comes to us individually as “we hear and accept the message,” for it is the early rain that causes the seed to sprout.
The latter rain will come when God’s people become enlightened with regard to their condition and their need and “fully meet God’s expectations.” (MacGuire, “The Latter Rain—No. 4,” June 24, 1943, p. 4.)
The latter rain is poured out “to finish the work of the gospel” and comes to those who “attain the Christian perfection of character.” (MacGuire, “The Latter Rain—No. 11,” Aug. 12, 1943, p. 4.)
Finally, we are told that it is “by His grace” that we prepare for the latter rain. (Ibid., p. 6.)
Under date of Oct. 4, 1945 W. A. Spicer wrote a brief article entitled “Showers of Blessing” (An article, “The Loud Cry of the Message,” Oct. 19, 1944, pp. 60-62 by Frederick Lee has a paragraph on the latter rain but doesn’t contribute to our survey. See also J. S. Washburn, “Ask Ye of the Lord Rain,” Mar. 15, 1945, pp. 11, 12; and J. S. Washburn, “Pray for the Latter Rain,” March 22, 1945, p. 10; N. P. Neilson, “A Tremendous Hour,” June 7, 1945, p. 11; W. A. Spicer, “The Signals are Flashing,” June 21, 1945, p. 5. He says of the early rain, “the saints must first have been baptized by the early rain—that is, obtain the experience of forgiveness, justification, and complete cleansing—before they can hope to receive the power of the latter rain.”) in which he maintained that “The showers of blessing that mark at least the beginnings of the closing years of the latter rain have been falling in many parts in these recent years.” The evidence for this conclusion, he says, is the spread of the gospel and the many new converts. He does not, however, mention the early rain or indicate how it would be distinguished from the latter rain if it is that which brings new ‘plants’ to life.
In an article entitled “A Second Pentecost Promised,” J.S. Washburn (Feb. 7, 1946, p. 8) writes again of the latter rain, saying that 1 Cor. 1:6-8 (This text is given behind a quotation that includes only 1 Cor. 1:6-7.) is a promise of the latter rain. “But,” he adds, “this promise is to those who study, believe, and obey the Spirit of Prophecy,” (The phrase “Spirit of Prophecy” here is a reference to the writings of Ellen G. White.) which means that for this writer one must follow the teaching of Ellen White to receive the latter rain.
Under date of January 27, 1949, an article “No Crisis With God” by C.S. Longacre tells us that the Lord “has promised to pour out His ‘Spirit upon all flesh’ when the promise of the latter rain is fulfilled. . . .” (Page 8. Other articles not included in our survey, also appear. See, for example; D. H. Kress, “It is Time to Pray for Rain,” April 4, 1946, pp. 6, 7. W.A. Spicer, “A Sign Fulfilling Prophecy,” Jan. 9, 1947, p. 4. W. R. Beach, “The Times of Refreshing,” July 1, 1948, pp. 6-8.) The result of this outpouring, we are told, is that “those who ‘yield to its promptings,’ ‘that sit in darkness,’ ‘even among the uneducated, now proclaim the words of the Lord’ with convincing power.”
Summary. During the decade extending from 1940-1949 the largest volume of latter rain material was produced, when that decade is judged by other occurring since 1850.
Some of the articles that the Review carried were carefully studied and clearly presented, while others were less intelligible. Mrs. White was often quoted.
The emphases that we found the writers making, that contribute to our survey, can be summarized as follows:
- The Palestinian rains were types of two outpourings of the Holy Spirit.
- There is a time set by God for the latter rain.
- The latter rain brings the loud cry.
- The outpouring of the latter rain and the fall of Babylon occur simultaneously.
- The early rain results are typical of the latter rain results.
- The outpouring of the Holy Spirit can come in less than its fullness.
- The latter rain is accompanied by manifestations of power—some the acts of Satan and others the acts of God.
- The latter rain will come, even if our lack of preparation causes it to come late.
- The latter rain is available to the individual regardless of the condition of the church.
- The latter rain either is “the revelation of the Holy Spirit,” or the “revelation of the Holy Spirit” prepares for the latter rain.
- The early and latter rain of Hos. 6:1-3 is the “visitation of the Holy Spirit.”
- The rain “illustration” may be applied both dispensationally and in personal experience.
- The latter rain comes to those who “attain to Christian perfection of character.”
- It is by God’s grace that we prepare for the latter rain.
- 1 Cor. 1:6-8 is a promise of the latter rain to “those who study, believe, and obey the Spirit of Prophecy.”
- When the latter rain is received it qualified the receiver to do God’s work “with convincing power.”
The Latter Rain: 1950-1959
During these years we find the latter rain being mentioned but not studied. (Outside of the Review articles, some significant work was done however, such as Collier’s book, The Latter Rain which was published in 1957.)
C. J. Ritchie writes about “The Remnant Church and the Latter Rain,” (Under date of June 1, 1950, pp. 10-11.) in an article that speaks of the latter rain and the preparation necessary for one to receive it, but he does not study the latter rain.
This evaluation is also true of M. L. Rice’s “Preparation for the Latter Rain” (Sept. 28, 1950, pp. 8, 9.) and W. H. Branson’s “Praying for the Latter Rain,” (Oct. 19, 1950. P. 1.) article, along with his printed sermon which appears a month (Nov. 16, 1950, pp. 7-10.) later—“How We May Receive the Latter Rain.”
This same trend continues through 1951, (See, for example, W. H. Branson, “Holding On to the Spirit’s Presence by Faith,” Mar. 1, 1951, pp. 6, 7; W. R. Beach, “The Times of Refreshing,” Aug. 9, 1951, pp. 3-5, is a better quality article, well developed, but it adds nothing to our research.) and in fact we wait until 1960 before we again find material to review.
Summary. In the 1950s a very small volume of latter rain material appeared in the Review. None of that which appeared contributed to our survey.
The Latter Rain: 1960-1969
R. S. Watts in the September 29, 1960 (“A Firmament of Chosen Ones,” pp. 8-9) Review says that (See also R. S. Watts, “The Sealing and the Latter Rain,” in Review, Oct. 6, 1960, pp. 7-9, and R. S. Watts, “The Message that Brings the Latter Rain,” in Review, Oct. 10, 1960, pp. 9-10.) during the latter rain “the fruitage gathered into the remnant church will far exceed that of Pentecost,” He also writes that the latter rain is still future, and that when it is given “The work [of preaching the gospel to all the world] will be finished so quickly that our believers, and many workers, will be surprised.” He concludes his article by stating that the latter rain will not be effective to those who “have had their day of test and opportunity, but who have failed to heed the warning voice, and will be sent to those who are praying for light and truth.” (For other articles from 1960 where the latter-rain terminology appear see; A. L. Hamm. “It Can be Ours,” Review, March 31, 1960; “Receiving the Holy Spirit,” Mar. 14, 1960. For an illustration of a didactic presentation regarding the Holy Spirit that does not include the latter-rain concept see Carl Coffman, “The Gifts of the Holy Spirit,” Review, Sept. 22, 1960, pp. 7-9.)
Under date of August 5, 1962, a copy of a sermon by H. M. S. Richards entitled “The Second Coming of the Holy Spirit” appeared. The second coming of the Holy Spirit is here the nomenclature that the writer gives to the latter rain, which he says will occur” just before the return of our Saviour.” This timing he says is set forth in Joel 2:23-32.
He also re-iterates emphases we have encountered before; (H. M. S. Richards is often called the Dean of Adventist Preachers by Seventh-day Adventists. This sermon was preached to the assembled SDA delegates from around the world who had come to this General Conference—a meeting that is the church in official capacity. Such a group is the Seventh-day Adventist Church at its most authoritative and official level.) (1) the latter rain must be asked for; (2) the latter rain constitutes the outpouring of the Holy Spirit; (3) the latter rain is not available to people filled with selfishness, jealousy or rivalry. After reading some latter rain comments from Ellen White, H. M. S. Richards concluded that it is a “precious privilege to see and to have a part in the second coming of the Holy Spirit”—the latter rain.
Ralph S. Watts, who we have reviewed before, is again speaking of the latter rain in a sermon (Preached to the delegates of the 1966 General Conference.) entitled “The Holy Spirit and the Finishing of the Work,” which appears in the Review under date of June 22, 1966. (Other articles treating the latter rain between 1962 and 1966 include N. L. Gerow, “The Holy Spirit,” February 8, 1962, p. 9; an editorial by Kenneth Wood “Fall Afresh on Me,” March 15, 1962, p. 13; Preston Smith, “Revival, Prayer, and the Holy Spirit,” July 12, 1962, pp. 1, 8; W.. E. Murray, “The Promise of the Spirit,” July 27, 1962, pp 3, 4, 22; Wesley Amundson, “When Pentecost is Repeated,” May 2, 1963, pp. 7, 8; May 9 1963 pp. 4-6; G. S. Stevenson, “The Leodicean Message,” May 14, 1964, pp. 5, 6; Robert H. Pierson, “Pentecost,” June 10, 1965, pp. 4, 5; Preston Smith, “Perfection in Christ,” Sept. 16, 1965, pp. 9, 10. For examples of materials incorporating the word ‘Pentecost’ in reference to contemporary Christianity, but which fail to mention latter rain see i.e., John Baerg, “A New Pentecost in Northeast Brazil,” May 16, 1963, pp. 16, 17; Robert Pierson, “A Personal Pentecost,” June 3, 1965, pp. 2, 3.) He makes a number of points, including the following:
- The weakness of the church today (as evidenced by its failure to preach the Gospel to all the world) is due to the “lack of the latter rain.”
- We can have the power of the Holy Spirit by determining to “lay hold upon” it.
- The relationship between the rain work of the Holy Spirit and Christian experience is that before God sends the rain experience people who are to receive it must have within themselves “something” “prompting” them, “urging” them, “to receive that which God has to give.”
This writer continues by developing the concept that there is a necessary preparation that occur in the individual, but that the elements which make up that preparation are the work of God. Apparently when he writes that on the part of the individual “there must be voluntary action” he only sees that “voluntary action” as being a passive state (For a similar analysis see J. L.. Shuler, “How the Work Will be Finished,” Aug. 24, 1967, pp. 4, 5.) of receptivity.
In an editorial titled “Three Priceless Blessings,” (Feb, 23, 1967, p. 10. For other articles in 1967 see Dallas Youngs, “Power for Witnessing,” Aug. 24, 1967, p. 6; W. R. Beach, “The Holy Spirit and the Latter Rain,” Nov. 16, 1967, pp. 6-8.) Kenneth Wood, the Review editor, writes that for assurance that one will participate in the latter rain experience, on “must spend time with God’s Word, the channel through which the Spirit and power of God are manifested.”
This is a unique emphasis. (We believe our analysis is correct. The basis of this analysis is the following statement; “The thought that others might receive the latter rain while we are not only passed by but do not even discern ‘the manifestations of the Holy Spirit,’ is startling indeed [a reference to a quote from Ellen White]. Surely if we can do anything to be assured of participation in the latter rain experience we shall want to do it. Can we be sure that we shall not be passed by? We can. This treasure, like the others we have mentioned, is available to those who stay close to God’s Word, those who will dig faithfully in the mine of truth. . . .” “If we want to be sure that we shall participate in the latter-rain experience, we must spend time with God’s Word, the channel through which the Spirit and power of God are manifested.” Ibid.) In the writings of Ellen White there is no assurance of salvation or of God’s good intent toward the individual except that of the Holy Spirit’s inner testimony, and that which comes when one believes the written Word, as far as we have been able to determine as this research has progressed.
The trend of thought—passive preparation and assurance—changes when a two part article—“Time to Seek the Lord,” part one, and part two, which carries the sub-title “Preliminaries to Pentecost”—appears. (Part one is under date of Feb. 8, 1968, pp. 2, 3; part two appears under date of Feb. 15, 1968, pp. 4, 5.) In this article Joe Engelkemier states that according to the writings of Ellen White there have been “at least seven decades of delay” in the fulfillment of the latter-rain prophecy. This lack of fulfillment was brought about by the failure of those to whom the prophecy was relevant to make the necessary preparation.
The necessary preparation, this writer describes includes the following elements: (These are based on his study of Ellen White’s description of the Acts 2 Pentecost.)
- An emphasis on seeking the Lord.
- “Let every manifestation of the Lord’s presence be followed by well-planned involvement, where individual members become active in personal evangelism.”
- There must be on the part of the individual a “deep sense of need.”
- “Deep heart searching and repentance.”
- “A putting away of differences and of desire for supremacy, and a coming close together in Christian fellowship.
- “A burden for souls.”
- “Prevailing prayer.”
This writer also states that certain “attitudes make it impossible for the Lord to pour out His Spirit.” (For a similar viewpoint see J. M. Clemons, “The Holy Spirit and Time,” Nov. 23, 1973, p. 9.) He lists pride, pampering oneself “with expensive luxuries and forbidden amusements,” incorrect use of one’s money, (For an independent treatment of this concept see Joe Englekemier, “The Holy Spirit and Our Financial Stewardship,” July 10, 1969, pp. 8-10.) wearing immodest clothing, etc.
He concludes his article in such a way as to make clear to his readers his conviction that a proper preparation is not only necessary but reasonable because “the blessings available are beyond comprehension.”
Summary. In the years 1960-1969 we have seen the following points being emphasized as regards the latter rain:
- The results of the latter rain will exceed the results of the early rain in terms of people responding.
- The latter rain is still future.
- The promise of the latter rain is to be fulfilled, but on whom it falls is conditional on individual preparation.
- The latter rain will fall just before the second coming of Christ.
- The weakness of the church in its work is due to the absence of the latter rain (rather than to the unpreparedness and/or willingness to be involved in the church’s work, of its members? God is the problem here?).
- Preparation for the latter rain is a passive state of receptivity.
- One can be assured the latter rain will not pass him by if he spends time with God’s Word.
- The preparation for the latter rain is an active attempt to make a preparation similar to the preparation made by the apostles for the early rain, as described by Ellen White.
- Certain attitudes, when retained by followers of Christianity prevent the latter rain.
The Latter Rain: 1970-1978
The decade of the 19709’s begins, as regards the material we are surveying, with the appearance of an article by Arnold V. Wallenkampf entitled “The Promised Power.” (February 12, 1970, pp. 2, 3.) This terminology is characteristic of Seventh-day Adventist latter rain writers, as is the author’s use of such phrases as “the infilling of the Holy Spirit,” “the anointing of the Holy Spirit,” and “the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.” He also writes that “the fullness of the Holy Spirit is the enabling power that you and I need as members of the remnant church, to help God ‘finish the work,’” but he does not explicitly refer to the latter rain. Rather he circumlocates that terminology. (This is also true of another article by the same author titled “No Pentecost Without Calvary,” Feb. 19, 1970, pp. 11, 12.)
Throughout the years 1971-1978 there occur many articles with the words “latter rain” in them, but only one (An article, “Joel, the Prophet who Announced the Day of the Lord,” by Edward Heppenstall, April 8, 1971, pp. 9-11, provides an interesting study of the theological implications of the latter rain theology though the rain phrase does not appear.) contributes to our study. (See the following, with summary evaluation: L. C. Naden, “The perfecting of the Saints,” May 14, 1970, pp. 4, 6. Two references to the latter rain in a quotation; L. C. Naden, “The Cleansing of the Soul Temple,” May 21, 1970, pp. 7-9. Six references to latter rain—five are in quotations; J. L. Shuler, “Preparation for the Latter Rain,” January 21, 1971, pp. 7, 8. Seven references to latter rain—three in quotations; E. L. Minehin, “The Work of the Holy Spirit in Revival,” Feb, 18, 1971, pp. 9, 10. One reference to latter rain in a quote; Robert H. Pierson, “The Source of Spiritual Power,” Nov. 4, 1972, pp. 3, 4. Three references to latter rain; Deon F. Neufeld, editorial, “Devotional Method of Bible Study, “March 15, 1973, p. 11. One reference to the latter rain in a quotation; Herbert E. Douglas, editorial, “Why Gifts Were Given to the Church,” March 22, 1973, p. 11. One reference to the latter rain in a quote; so also ibid., March 15, 1973, p. 12, and April 5, 1973, pp. 14, 15; J. M. Clemons, “The Holy Spirit and Time,” Nov. 29, 1973, pp. 1, 8, 9, 10. Three references to the latter rain—two in quotations; Howard Blum, “My Experience with Speaking in Tongues.” August 1, 1974, pp. 9-11. One reference to the latter rain in a quotation; Dallas Youngs, “Methods of Shaking,” Nov. 14, 1974, pp. 8, 9. One reference to latter rain in introduction; W. J. Hackett, “The Church’s Terrible Ordeal,” January 23, 1975, pp. 4, 5. One reference to latter rain; Dallas Youngs, “Accomplishments of the Shaking,” March 20, 1975, pp. 8, 9. One reference to the latter rain in a quotation; Dunbar W. Smith, “The Temple of the Holy Spirit,” May 11, 1978, p. 6. Three references to the latter rain, all in quotations.)
C. D. Henri, in his article “The Dispensation of the Holy Spirit,” (November 30, 1978, pp. 4, 5.) begins his article by speaking of a necessary preparation for receiving the latter rain, as many of the writers we have reviewed have done. However he gives his article an unusual twist when he writes that “as we carry this message to the ends of the earth as one nation, under God, it will be a testimony that the latter-rain power of the Holy Ghost has fallen upon God’s people.”
Having offered this evaluation of the evidence that will come to exist and serve to substantiate the fact that the latter rain has already fallen, this author concludes his article with a short paragraph that apparently summarizes his understanding of what the prediction of the latter rain work by the Holy Spirit means, for he writes,
Let us then be up and about our fathers’ business, clothed with the mighty power of the Holy Spirit. Let us be what He wants us to be. Let us do what He wants us to do. And, by His grace, let us live as we should live. (ibid., p. 5.)
Summary. In the 1970s many articles containing the latter rain phrase and terminology appeared in the Review but only one article contributed to our study. In this article the author presented his evaluation of what evidence, when it appears, will constitute proof the latter rain has already fallen.
The Theology and Eschatology of Adventist Writers Other Than Ellen White
The theology and the eschatology of these writers is of the same type as the theology and eschatology of Ellen White generally. However there are some exceptions. These exceptions are generally of a nature which makes the gift of eternal life a reward for a passive submission by people, when Ellen White consistently presents a theology which requires an active attempt to obey God’s expressed will, and to carry out the logical implications, in daily life, which such a theology carries.
There are no significant disagreements regarding eschatology between the concept presented by Mrs. White and the concepts advocated by these writers.
The Review articles treating of the latter rain between 1856 and 1978 vary in quality and quantity, but they all treat the latter rain terminology as a topic with which the readers are aware, for references to the latter rain appear without introduction.
The various writers’ works vacillate from fine Biblical study to unsupported assertions, and carry opinions and conclusions that are of unequal value. Seldom is there outright contradiction of another writer’s work, however, and never does an attitude of pugilism appear.
While there are decades in which there is a far greater amount of material written about the latter rain than was written in a preceding or following decade, the latter rain terminology, and its associated concepts, occur frequently enough, and with enough repetition of vocabulary, that though there is not always an agreed upon understanding of any particular concept and its significance, yet the Review readers of all periods from 1856-1978 would be, by virtue of their having read the Review, people who knew that Seventh-day Adventists teach about the Holy Spirit having a work that is illustrated by the rains of Palestine; they would also be aware that a personal preparation is taught as a necessary pre-requisite.
For careful readers another point would be obvious—the writers of the articles appearing in the Review and the editors of the Review, in times past and in the present, have not taken the time to learn carefully the materials provided by Mrs. White that pertain to the latter rain. They would also notice that these same writers are capable of giving a different content to an article than the title the articles bears indicates the content should be.
If one were to express a criticism, it would be that those who claim to appreciate such a large and easily understood resource tool (as we have found the writings of Ellen White to be in our research), are content to write and/or approve materials that are so often demonstrative of unthoughtout logic and conclusion. If one were to take seriously Ellen White’s assertion that there is nothing that will give breadth of mind and clarity of thought like the study of Scripture, then it would be quite obvious that among the writers we have reviewed, generally, either Ellen White’s principle is wrong, or these Seventh-day Adventists are not good students of Scripture.