John A. MacMillan's Teaching Regarding the Authority of the Believer and its Impact on the Evangelical, Pentecostal, and Charismatic Movements
by Paul L. King, D.Min., Th.D., Oral Roberts University.
SPS History Interest Group. Presenter: Paul L. King, D.Min., Oral Roberts
University. Presented at the 30th Annual Meeting of
the Society for Pentecostal Studies
Most people associate teaching on the authority of
the believer from a charismatic source, usually Kenneth Hagin or
Kenneth Copeland. Some evangelicals, such as Hank Hanegraaff and John
MacArthur tend to regard exercise of the believer's authority,
especially binding and loosing, as an excessive teaching of the
However, the original source of teaching on this vital doctrine comes
not from the charismatic or Pentecostal movements, but from John A.
MacMillan, a former Presbyterian layman who became a missionary,
writer, editor, and professor, and from and his classic holiness roots
in the Higher Life and Keswick movements. My doctoral dissertation
presented a case study of the life, ministry, and impact of John
MacMillan, particularly as it relates to the authority of the believer
and spiritual warfare.2This paper is a distillation of that
Introducing John A. MacMillan
John MacMillan (1873-1956) was a Canadian
Presbyterian businessman who became actively involved with ministry to
Chinese and Jewish people in Toronto.3 At the age of 41 he married Isabel
Robson, who had been a missionary to China with China Inland Mission
from 1895 to1906 and a personal nurse to J. Hudson Taylor. Ordained in
1923 at the age of 49, MacMillan and his wife went to China as
missionaries with The Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA). He
then became field director of the floundering C&MA mission work in
the Philippines. Following the death of his first wife in 1928, he
returned to North America to do pastoral and itinerant ministry.
Subsequently, he became Associate Editor of The Alliance Weekly
magazine, a member of the Board of Managers of The Christian and
Missionary Alliance, and a professor at Missionary Training Institute
in Nyack, New York, now known as Nyack College. In 1932 after nine
years of many dramatic experiences with spiritual warfare, he wrote a
series of articles in The Alliance Weekly, the periodical of
The Christian and Missionary Alliance, entitled "The Authority of the
they were published in book form, distributed widely and also
republished in other periodicals. MacMillan had a remarkable and
extensive ministry in the exercise of the authority of the believer
and spiritual warfare spanning more than thirty years.
MacMillan's Exercise of the Authority of the
John MacMillan's practice of the authority
of the believer began when as a businessman, he was informed that the
house next to his house caught on fire. Calmly, "he committed the
crisis to God in prayer, claiming divine protection according to Psalm
91:10 that 'no destruction would befall the house.'" He drove home to
find out that the fire had miraculously stopped at a wooden fence that
separated the two houses.5
MacMillan turned his business over to another man
when he left for the mission field, designating a portion of the
profits to go to his missionary support, but the man reneged on his
contract, failing to forward the funds. Speaking with the believer's
authority, MacMillan prophesied, "Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord."
Eventually the business went bankrupt. So through MacMillan's
application of the believer's authority, he was vindicated and the
dishonest contract-breakers suffered the judgment of God.6
On the mission field in China an Asiatic cholera
epidemic threatened the mission. MacMillan again confessed Psalm 91:3,
"Surely he will deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from
the deadly pestilence." He prayed, "May we be enabled to keep the Home
'in the secret place of the Most High and under the shadow of the
Almighty.'" They emerged victorious and received divine protection
from the plague. 7
MacMillan told of how Christian and Missionary
Alliance missionaries would claim land from demonic control in China
and bind the powers of darkness. On a certain occasion, the
missionaries took possession of a piece of land and began moving logs.
Evil spirits resisted the takeover by projecting a supernatural voice
from a log. The voice in the log threatened, "Don't you dare move it!"
The missionaries were not taken aback, but rebuked the voice. They
then removed the log without any further incident and gained the
victory over the dark powers.8 MacMillan's most dramatic illustration
of exercising the authority of binding and loosing occurred in 1924
when several missionaries were kidnapped. As MacMillan and the
remaining missionaries exercised the believer's authority of binding
and loosing, the missionaries were released without harm.9
John MacMillan's exercise of the authority of the
believer and engagement with the powers of darkness increased during
his ministry in the Philippines. He exercised authority over nature,
binding the Enemy as a tree fell toward him and the mission buildings.
As a result, the tree fell between the buildings, causing no harm to
the buildings or himself. MacMillan perceived in this startling
occurrence of divine protection a spiritual message from the Lord,
"The way out is blocked—is it not a gracious call to prayer,
lest the great adversary block our efforts and shut us up in a small
place? We have prayed for the binding of the strongman—we must
watch and pray that the strong man does not bind us."10 As he took authority
over tobacco addictions, many people were set free and in one district
in the Philippines, all the believers stopped growing tobacco.11
Another remarkable and dramatic demonstration of
MacMillan's authority as a believer resulted in miraculous healing of
his broken leg. Retired pastor Otto Bublat recalls that MacMillan
described the incident years later in a class at the Missionary
Training Institute: "Once on an emergency mission trip where he was
alone on the rainy slippery trail, he slipped and broke his ankle. . .
. His only recourse was the Lord since he was alone and about twenty
miles from even a first aid station. In simple faith, he stepped out
and began walking those many miles. He got home safely, and shortly
thereafter had the ankle X-rayed. There had been a clean break, but it
was perfectly healed."12
MacMillan frequently exercised authority over
demonic occult powers in China, the Philippines, and later in North
America. On one occasion a spiritist witchdoctor was performing a
ceremony, chanting in a trance-like mediumistic state and calling on
the spirits. A drum in the room began to beat in rhythm without anyone
touching it. Then it rose to the ceiling in a state of levitation.
MacMillan walked into the room, took authority over the spirits,
rebuking them in the name of Jesus Christ. The drum immediately
dropped to the floor and ceased pounding.13This was a strong demonstration of
what we call today a "power encounter."
For nearly three years he battled the
principalities and powers in the Philippines and encountered personal
attack upon him and his wife. In the midst of his wife's grave illness
he wrote in his diary: "We are, by prayer in Jesus' name, dislodging
the spirits that have bound the people of this field. It seems to me
that an infernal fiat has gone forth that we must be crushed. But,
'rejoice not against me, O mine enemy; though I fall, I shall rise.'
God is with us and we shall live and triumph."14His wife died a month later, but her
death was not a defeat for MacMillan and the Philippine mission.
Rather, it galvanized and united people in prayer more and more. The
morale and fortitude the Enemy tried to destroy was actually
strengthened. His son Buchanan remarked, "This seemed to be the
beginning of a new era of spiritual life in the mission field, that .
. . has been singularly unresponsive and discouraging."15 The loss that
resulted in the breaking of John's heart actually became a
breakthrough—a breaking of the Enemy's stronghold on the peoples
of the Philippines. The outbreak of revival for which MacMillan had
been earnestly praying and waging war for more than three years began
the latter part of 1929 as the floodgates opened and hundreds were
converted in the ensuing months. MacMillan's legacy continues into the
twenty-first century, for out of the Philippine mission that MacMillan
revitalized, the Christian and Missionary Alliance has grown to be the
largest evangelical Protestant church denomination in the Philippines
today. All this has been the outcome of the exercise of the authority
of the believer.
MacMillan was a trailblazer in the concept of
"territorial spirits," describing what he called "praying
geographically" in dealing with demonic strongholds over a region. He
appealed for intercessors at home "to roll back the powers of the air,
and make it possible to bring the Truth to bear on these regions where
the devil is blocking the way."16He had viewed his battle for Isabel's
life as an "infernal fiat" intended to crush them because they were
dislodging the spirits that held the territories of the Philippines in
darkness. He also was a pioneer of recognizing and dealing
with generational bondage. Predating modern teaching on "generational
sin" and "generational curses" by decades, MacMillan warned on the
basis of Exodus 20:5, of the consequences of sin being visited upon
succeeding generations, what he called "an inexorable law of return
and of increase," and the "principle of heredity."17
The Development of Teaching on the Authority of
John MacMillan was not the first to teach
principles on the authority of the believer, but he was apparently the
first to combine many of those principles together into one treatise
and to expand upon them, thus becoming the seminal writer on the
concept. The notion of the authority of the believer arose originally
out of the Reformation doctrine of the priesthood of the believer and
developed embryonically. A. J. Gordon notes that Swiss healing
movement leader Dorothy Trudel realized the authority of the believer,
declaring that it is the believer's privilege to be kings and priests
of God.18 The
Keswick and Higher Life movements picked up the theme with their
emphasis on Covenant theology and the privileges and inheritance of
the saints through the Covenant. In 1885 Andrew Murray was teaching
that believers have authority: "Church of the living God! Your calling
is higher and holier than you know! God wants to rule the world
through your members. He wants you to be His kings and priests. Your
prayers can bestow and withhold the blessings of heaven."19 He quoted famed
Scottish preacher and hymn writer Horatius Bonar, saying, "God is
seeking kings. Not out of the ranks of angels. Fallen man must furnish
Him with the rulers of His universe. Human hand must wield the
scepter, human hands must wear the crown."20 In 1895, as interim successor to
Charles Spurgeon, A. T. Pierson taught, "Obedience to Him means
command over others; in proportion as we are subject to Him, even the
demons are subject to us in His name."21 Pierson also taught "the authority of
faith": "This we regard as the central, vital heart of this great
lesson on Faith. The Master of all girds the servant with His own
power and entrusts him with authority to command."22
The concept of the believer's authority was also
taught in germinal form by Pierson's friend A. B. Simpson, founder of
The Christian and Missionary Alliance, in an article entitled "The
Authority of Faith":
The word "power" should be frequently translated
"authority," in the New Testament. "Behold, I give unto you
authority," Christ says, "to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over
all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall by any means hurt
He did not promise the disciples power first, but
the authority first; and as they used the authority, the power would
be made manifest, and the results would follow.
Faith steps out to act with the authority of God's
Word, seeing no sign of the promised power, but believing and acting
as if it were real. As it speaks the word of authority and command,
and puts its foot without fear upon the head of its conquered foes,
lo, their power is disarmed, and all the forces of the heavenly world
are there to make the victory complete.
This was the secret of Christ's power that He spake
with authority, prayed with authority, commanded with authority, and
the power followed. The reason we do not see more power is because we
do not claim the authority Christ has given us. The adversary has no
power over us if we do not fear him, but the moment we acknowledge his
power, he becomes all that we believe him to be. He is only a braggart
if we will dare to defy him, but our unbelief clothes him with an
omnipotence he does not rightly possess. God has given us the right to
claim deliverance over all his attacks, but we must step out and put
our foot upon his neck as Joshua taught the children of Israel to put
their feet upon the necks of the conquered Canaanites, and faith will
find our adversaries as weak as we believe them to be. Let us claim
the authority and the victory of faith for all that Christ has
purchased and promised for our bodies, our spirits, or His work.23
MacMillan expanded upon Simpson's teaching. An
article by Simpson in The Alliance Weekly on June 14, 1919,
would appear to be a source for MacMillan's policeman analogy of
spiritual authority: "'I give you authority.' This is the policeman's
badge which makes him mightier than a whole crowd of ruffians because,
standing upon his rights, the whole power of the state is behind him.
. . . Are we using the authority of the name of Jesus and the faith of
further expounding upon the idea in The Authority of the
Believer, changed the illustration from a mob to bustling traffic
stopped by a policeman at a busy intersection.25 MacMillan's illustration has since
been frequently used to describe the believer's authority.
At a China Inland Mission conference in 1897 Jessie
Penn-Lewis, whose writings MacMillan absorbed, taught on the
believer's position in Christ according to Ephesians 1 and 2.26Later, in 1912 she
and Evan Roberts included a short section on the believer's authority
in their book War on the Saints.27 Also about 1897, A. B. Simpson, also
began teaching the believer's position in Christ according to
Ephesians 1.28Whether he was influenced by
Penn-Lewis, or vice versa, we cannot be sure, but apparently they all
came to the same basic insight, either through the Holy Spirit
independent of one another or perhaps through interchange of ideas.
MacMillan's book The Authority of the Believer is a more
thorough exposition of the position of the believer according to
Ephesians 1 and 2, expanding on the germinal thought of both
Penn-Lewis and Simpson. Alluding to Simpson's exposition of Ephesians
entitled The Highest Christian Life, MacMillan wrote, "The
Epistle to the Ephesians is the manual of the higher life. In a fuller
degree perhaps than any of the others its leads the believer up to the
heights of fellowship, of authority, and of victory."29
The concept of throne life described by Simpson is
one of the foundational principles of MacMillan's understanding of the
authority of the believer. MacMillan declared that the believer can
assert "in prayer the power of the Ascended Lord, and the believer's
throne union with Him."30 Again he writes, "Where in faith the
obedient saint claims his throne-rights in Christ, and boldly asserts
his authority, the powers of the air will recognize and obey."31 Commenting on Exodus
17, he writes, "The rod [of Moses] symbolizes the authority of God
committed to human hands. By it the holder is made a co-ruler with his
Lord, sharing His throne-power and reigning with Him. . . . So today,
every consecrated hand that lifts the rod of the authority of the Lord
against the unseen powers of darkness is directing the throne-power of
Christ against Satan and his hosts in a battle that will last until
'the going down of the sun.'"32
The theme of throne life permeated the Keswick,
Higher Life, and Overcomer movements. In 1888, George B. Peck, a
friend of A. J. Gordon and A. B. Simpson, wrote his book
Throne-Life, or The Highest Christian Life, in which he wrote
concerning "throne-power," or the "command of faith."33 Also in the late
1800s George D. Watson, popular Methodist holiness leader who later
affiliated with the C&MA, wrote Steps to the Throne.34 In 1906, Jessie
Penn-Lewis wrote a booklet entitled Throne Life of Victory
which was hailed as "God's answer to powers of darkness."35 MacMillan developed
his concept most directly from George D. Watson's book Bridehood
Saints in a chapter entitled "The Hand on the Throne" (also one of
MacMillan's Impact on Evangelical
MacMillan's first and almost immediate impact on
the evangelical world came just a year after the publication of his
series of articles on "The Authority of the Believer" in The
Alliance Weekly in 1932. The seventh edition of War on the
Saints by Jessie Penn-Lewis and Evan Roberts, published in 1933,
included in its introduction a reference to MacMillan's recent
writing: "It is perhaps striking that in recent months a magazine so
well informed of Christian work in many lands as The Alliance
Weekly of America, should feel it necessary to publish some very
able articles by The Rev. J. A. MacMillan dealing with demon
goes on to quote a lengthy section of MacMillan's writing. Shortly
after this, the articles were published in pamphlet form.
The British deeper life periodical The
Overcomer, founded by Jessie Penn-Lewis and edited by J. B.
Metcalfe, also published MacMillan's articles in the 1930s.38 MacMillan's sequel
article "The Authority of the Intercessor" was also produced in
pamphlet form, then later published by another evangelical
Eventually it was included with The Authority of the Believer
and produced by Christian Publications in book form. MacMillan's 1948
series of articles in The Alliance Weekly on demonization and
deliverance ministry were compiled together in a small book entitled
Modern Demon Possession, later republished with additional
material under the title of Encounter with Darkness.40 These writings have
been referenced again and again through the years by ministers and
Herald of His Coming became a popular
interdenominational evangelical newspaper in the 1940s and 50s. It
featured articles by many evangelical leaders including Keswick and
Higher Life holiness writers such as A. B. Simpson, A. W. Tozer, G. D.
Watson, A. T. Pierson, Oswald J. Smith, and others. In July 1948, the
editor of the monthly journal wrote regarding The Authority of the
Believer, "This is so far as I know the very best presentation of
the great subject of the believer's place and power with the Lord
Jesus to be found anywhere."41 They advertised and reprinted
MacMillan's works several times between 1948 to 1956.42Hence, this journal
became one of the most extensive disseminators of MacMillan's
teachings in the mid-twentieth century evangelical community.
Even more significantly, Paul Billheimer, a Bible
college president and radio preacher in the Wesleyan holiness
tradition, gave a radio message entitled "Deliverance from the Hands
of Our Enemies," which was printed in Herald of His Coming in
1952. He did not mention MacMillan by name, but he spoke on
MacMillan's themes, declaring on the basis of Ephesians 1 that
believers are "made sharers potentially of the authority which is His.
They are made to sit with Him. That is they share His throne."43 This and other parts
of the article are virtual quotes of MacMillan's words. My
dissertation compares Billheimer's article and MacMillan's The
Authority of the Believer, showing some of the parallels and
discussing the question of plagiarism and other possible
other occasions he expanded upon MacMillan' themes.45 He became a leading holiness
proponent of the overcoming Christian life.
Additional influence from MacMillan can be observed
in Billheimer's more recent book Destined for the Throne.
Though he does not make reference to MacMillan, he does make mention
of some of the same themes of the authority of the believer based on
Ephesians 1:20-22 taught by MacMillan in his chapters entitled
"Christ's Gift of Authority" and "The Legal Basis for the Authority of
the Church."46 Other
similar MacMillan-like themes can be found throughout the book. The
ramification of this is that Billheimer's popular book Destined for
the Throne is based on and birthed out of MacMillan's
MacMillan's teachings clearly predate and furnish the foundation of
thought upon with Billheimer built. When a person thus reads
Billheimer, he is reading a magnification of what MacMillan originally
presented in germinal form, and no doubt, MacMillan would add his
The most widespread referencing of MacMillan's
material by an evangelical occurs in the writings of Merrill F. Unger,
one-time Foursquare Church minister who became a professor at Dallas
Theological Seminary. Unger was a 1934 graduate of the Missionary
Training Institute at Nyack. Although he graduated the semester before
MacMillan joined the Nyack faculty, he likely had known of MacMillan
and his popular classic. He makes four references to MacMillan in
What Demons Can Do to Saints and eight references in
Demons in the World Today.48 In addition to numerous citations of
MacMillan's published writings, he included a lengthy, previously
unpublished letter written by MacMillan, describing a significant and
difficult case of exorcism which took place in 1951 at Nyack.49 It is apparent that
Unger, himself a scholar, regards MacMillan as an authority on dealing
with demonic forces. Unger has become the foundational scholarly work
on spiritual warfare and demonology upon which other academic study
has been built.50
Unger's theology, in turn, was influenced in part by MacMillan.
Many other evangelicals have cited MacMillan and/or
his themes, including Moody Press, Baptist pastors C. S. Lovett and
Ernest Rockstad, Episcopalian John Richards, Trinity
Evangelical Divinity School professors Tim Warner and Wayne Grudem.51
Mark Bubeck, in his 1975 book The Adversary quotes from
MacMillan's The Authority of the Believer, avowing, "This is
one of the finest expositions on the subject and basis of the
believer's authority that I have ever read."52 Professor Ed Murphy, in his
monumental volume The Handbook for Spiritual Warfare,
frequently cites Unger and uses a variation of MacMillan's policeman
illustration. Though he does not mention MacMillan, in a personal
interview he confirmed to me that MacMillan's writings have influenced
his ministry and teaching.53 It is clear that MacMillan's works
and concepts have been cited as standard fare in scholarly books and
bibliographies, and have been highly regarded by evangelical leaders
and academics from a variety of backgrounds.
MacMillan's Impact on the Charismatic
By far the greatest popular dissemination of
teaching on the authority of the believer has been through the
charismatic movement. In fact, it has been so much so, that some have
erroneously believed that the concept originated with charismatics, or
more specifically, the Word of Faith movement. The periodical
Herald of His Coming had circulated among Pentecostals, as well
as the evangelical community, so undoubtedly the Pentecostal movement
picked up the concept of the authority of the believer from
MacMillan's material that was featured from time to time.
The first known recorded impact of John MacMillan's
teaching in Pentecostal/ charismatic circles is found in the
Pentecostal publication Herald of Faith, published by Joseph D.
Mattsson-Boze, which featured news and articles about Pentecostal
ministries, especially that of William Branham. Beginning the June
1963 issue, MacMillan's booklet was published for three months as a
series of articles. It was advertised as a "New series of articles
that will thrill our readers."54 At the end of the third article
(August 1963) a note appeared saying "continued next month" as in the
Inexplicably, however, the September issue did not continue the
series, nor did any future issue. No explanation was given. In what
appeared to be a substitution, an article by Pentecostal missionary
Cornelia Nuzum appeared, entitled "The Authority of the Blood."56 One can only venture
a guess as to why the series which would "thrill" their readers was
The next influence of MacMillan's writings, which
has become the major impact on the charismatic movement, comes
from the writings of Kenneth Hagin. In 1967 Hagin began teaching on
the authority of the believer in churches and on radio. Also in that
year, his booklet Authority of the Believer was published.57Like Billheimer,
Hagin quoted MacMillan's writing extensively so that some have accused
him of plagiarism, though others have exonerated him. (See endnotes
for a discussion of this controversy.)58 In his 1984 edition retitled The
Believer's Authority, Hagin acknowledged his indebtedness to
MacMillan: "Then [in the 1940s] I came across a wonderful pamphlet,
entitled The Authority of the Believer by John A. MacMillan, a
missionary to China who later edited The Alliance Weekly."59 The chief point for
this study is that MacMillan's concept of the authority of the
believer has been propagated widely in the charismatic movement,
predominately through the teaching of Kenneth Hagin. In particular,
other Word of Faith leaders such as Kenneth Copeland and Charles Capps
have further expanded upon Hagin's teachings on the authority of the
their present form and application differs in some respects from
MacMillan's original teaching, MacMillan's basic principles furnish
the foundation of contemporary charismatic understanding and practice
of the concept.
While Hagin's popularization of MacMillan's
principle of the authority of the believer predominates, other
charismatic leaders have made use of MacMillan's concepts and/or
writings on the authority of the believer and spiritual warfare as
well, including Michael Harper, Don Basham, Dick Leggatt, and New
In addition to MacMillan's writings and the referencing of Unger,
other evangelical writers influenced by MacMillan have also impacted
the charismatic movement. Paul Billheimer's books and teachings,
which, we have seen, are founded in large part by MacMillan's
principles, have been popular among charismatics. Oral Roberts
University has used Destined for the Throne in a course on
prayer for several years. Billheimer also appeared a number of times
on the charismatically-oriented Trinity Broadcasting
Wayne Grudem, now associated with the Vineyard movement, has also been
consulted by serious-minded charismatics. Because of the proliferation
of current teaching on spiritual warfare, additional leaders could be
cited ad infinitum.
This review has demonstrated that John MacMillan's
ministry and writings have exercised great influence in these
significant contemporary Christian streams. In many instances,
MacMillan has not been given credit for his role. The impact of
MacMillan has resurfaced and is being extended once again through the
recent publishing of the book Binding and Loosing: Exercising
Authority over the Dark Powers by K. Neill Foster in collaboration
with myself, in which we cite MacMillan's principles and
experiences. In fact, my dissertation was birthed out of
that book in order to bring to light the extent and significance of
MacMillan's contribution.63Whether dependence on MacMillan's
concepts has been direct or indirect, his thought has been seminal to
most teaching on the authority of the believer that has followed. In
some cases, his principles have been expanded upon and modified,
sometimes in ways he would not agree with or approve of today (such as
"little gods" and "name it and claim it").64 Former Nyack College President
Rexford A. Boda (who was a student of MacMillan) aptly summarizes
MacMillan's contribution: "In his ministry and writing, he laid down
the basic principles which, in theory and practice we, the Body of
Christ, continue to work out in the battle for souls as we approach
the twenty-first century."65
1D. R. McConnell,
A Different Gospel (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1988),
142; Hank Hanegraaff, Christianity in Crisis (Eugene, Oregon:
Harvest House Publishers, 1993), 131-135, 257-258; John F. MacArthur,
Jr., Our Sufficiency in Christ (Dallas, TX: Word Publishing,
1991), 213-237; John F. MacArthur, Jr., Charismatic Chaos
(Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1992), 360-361. The
book Binding and Loosing: Exercising Authority Over the Dark
Powers by K. Neill Foster with Paul L. King (Camp Hill, PA:
Christian Publications, 1998) addresses this particular area,
providing a moderate position between the two camps.
2Paul L. King, "A
Case Study of the Authority of the Believer: The Impact of the Life
and Ministry of John A. MacMillan," D. Min. Dissertation (Tulsa, OK:
Oral Roberts University, 2000).
noted, the biographical information in this paper is taken from John
MacMillan's family and other genealogical sources including his
daughter-in-law Jane MacMillan, grandson Alan MacMillan and
handwritten notes of his son J. Buchanan MacMillan entitled "J. B.
MacMillan: An Acct. of Family and Self," written 1964-1965. For more
detailed genealogical information and sources on the history of John
MacMillan's family, see King, "A Case Study of the Authority of the
Believer," Chapters 2-4.
4John A. MacMillan,
"The Authority of the Believer," The Alliance Weekly, Jan. 9,
16, 23, 30; Feb. 6, 13, 20, 27, 1932; The Alliance Weekly, Mar.
9, 1935, 147; John A. MacMillan, The Authority of the Believer
(Harrisburg, PA: Christian Publications, 1980).
5Rev. Jay Smith
(C&MA chaplain), letter to author, Sept. 24, 1998. Smith, as a
student at Nyack, lived with the MacMillans 1952-1956. MacMillan later
wrote out of his own proven experience about the authority of claiming
divine protection from Psalm 91:
True it is that the angel of the Lord encamps round
about them that fear Him, with a view to their deliverance. But the
child of God is personally responsible for the definite claiming of
such protection, and also for abiding within the circumscribed limits
wherein it is effective.
Faith is the channel along which the grace of God
flows, consequently, there is the necessity for maintaining a
constantly victorious spirit over all the wiles and the attacks of the
enemy. . . . More and more, therefore, it is vital that every true
servant of God learn the secret of dwelling "in the secret place of
the Most High," thereby in all the going out and coming of life,
experiencing the security of those who "abide under the shadow of
Shaddai. "Raging Chariots," The Alliance Weekly, May 15, 1937,
307; see also John A. MacMillan, The Adult Full Gospel Sunday
School Quarterly, Dec. 27, 1936, 40.
6Journal of John
MacMillan, May 4, 1923; Apr. 2, 1924; May 19, 1924; Aug. 18, 1925;
Mar. 31, 1926; notes from C&MA Archives.
Sept. 26, 1924; Oct. 4, 1924; Nov. 6, 1924.
Valentine (Minister-at large for the C&MA), phone interview, Oct.
9Foster and King,
Binding and Loosing, 247-248.
Journal, Sept. 26, 1926.
Within," The Alliance Weekly, Jan. 14, 1939, 19; SSQ,
Aug. 9, 1953, 17-18.
Bublat, letter to author, Jan. 7, 1998. Bublat was a student of
MacMillan's at Nyack 1938-1941.
Barker (retired C&MA pastor), phone interview, Jan. 19, 1999. Rev.
Barker was a student of MacMillan's in the early 1950s.
Journal, July 24, 1928.
MacMillan's Philippine Archive Notes.
16 The Adult
Full Gospel Sunday School Quarterly, Aug. 9, 1953, 18; John A.
MacMillan, "Our Mohammedan Problem in the Philippines," The
Alliance Weekly, June 22, 1929, 404; John A. MacMillan, "Let Down
Your Nets for a Draught," The Alliance Weekly, Dec. 28, 1929,
833; Benjamin Y. Mendoza, The Philippine Christian Alliance: First
Seventy-Eight Years. Self-published and printed in the
Philippines, 1985, 46-47; Robert Ekvall, et al., After Fifty Years:
A Record of God's Working Through the Christian and Missionary
Alliance (Harrisburg, PA: Christian Publications, 1939), 233, 234
for more on MacMillan's pioneering concept of "territorial spirits"
and "spiritual mapping," see "Praying Geographically," The Alliance
Weekly, Sept. 14, 1946, 579.
Also, at that time MacMillan's friend Frank
Laubach, had become a semi-invalid, submerged in deep depression and
defeat. He returned a new man in 1930 to discover a breakthrough in
literacy and evangelism, for which he would become world-famous. Helen M. Roberts, Champion of the Silent Billion: The Story of Frank C. Laubach "Apostle of Literacy" (St. Paul, MN: MacAlester Park Publishing Co., 1961), 68-69; Marjorie Medary, Each One Teach One: Frank Laubach, Friend to Millions (New York: David McKay Co., Inc., 1954), 28ff.
The Adult Full Gospel Sunday School Quarterly, Oct. 10, 1943,
6. Chaplain Jay Smith comments on MacMillan's teaching, "Breaking
family curses was not a concept articulated in those words in the
1950s; but John felt strongly that demonic hold on some had its roots
in family history, in spiritism, occult, drugs, etc, and referenced
the Old Testament Scripture that speaks to the iniquity of the fathers
being visited on the children." Letter from Rev. Jay
18A. J. Gordon,
The Ministry of Healing, quoting Trudel in Healing: The
Three Great Classics on Divine Healing (Camp Hill, PA: Christian
Publications, 1992), 215.
With Christ in the School of Prayer (Springdale, PA: Whitaker
House, 1981), 136; see also 116-117, 178.
21A. T. Pierson,
The Acts of the Holy Spirit (Harrisburg, PA: Christian
Publications, 1980), 92.
Pierson, Lessons in the School of Prayer (Dixon, MO: Rare
Christian Books, n.d.), 59. This was republished in Herald of His
Coming under the title of "The Authority of Faith." A. T. Pierson,
"The Authority of Faith," Herald of His Coming, July, 1953,
23A. B. Simpson,
"The Authority of Faith," The Alliance Weekly, Apr. 23, 1938,
24A. B. Simpson,
"Spiritual Talismans," The Alliance Weekly, June 14, 1919, 178.
Simpson taught that authority on the basis of Luke 10:19, as the
authority to act as Christ's law enforcement officer, as a legal
authority as a representative of the government of the King. A. B.
Simpson, Christ in the Bible (Camp Hill, PA: Christian
Publications, 1992), 4:338.
The Authority of the Believer, 11-12.
Penn-Lewis, The Warfare with Satan (Dorset, England: Overcomer
Literature Trust, 1963), 63, 65.
Penn-Lewis and Evan Roberts, War on the Saints—Unabridged
Edition, Ninth Edition (New York: Thomas E. Lowe, Ltd.,
Christ in the Bible, 5:413-414. For more on this, see
Paul L. King, "The Restoration of the Doctrine of Binding and
Loosing," Alliance Academic Review, ed. Elio Cuccaro (Camp
Hill, PA: Christian Publications, 1997), 57-80.
The Adult Full Gospel Sunday School Quarterly, Oct. 28, 1934,
The Authority of the Believer, 49.
33George B. Peck,
Throne-Life, or The Highest Christian Life (Boston, MA:
Watchword Publishing, 1888), 171, 174-175, 177.
Watson, Steps to the Throne (Cincinnati, OH: Bible School Book
35Brynmor Pierce Jones, The Trials and Triumphs of Mrs. Jessie Penn-Lewis (New Brunswick, NJ: Bridge-Logos Publishers, 1997), 136; see also Penn-Lewis and Roberts, War on the Saints, 183.
MacMillan, The Authority of the Believer, 93-96, with George D.
Watson, Bridehood Saints (Cincinnati, OH: God's Revivalist,
n.d.), 117-118, 120-122. For a comparative analysis, see King, "A Case
Study of the Authority of the Believer," 274, 289-290, note 43.
Roberts, War on the Saints, n.p.
Dr. Keith Bailey. Bailey first became acquainted with MacMillan's
articles on the believer's authority in the 1940s when someone gave
him copies of The Overcomer from the 1930s in which he
discovered MacMillan's series.
MacMillan, "The Authority of the Intercessor," The Alliance
Weekly, May 23, 1936, 334; John A. MacMillan, The Authority of
the Intercessor, Minneapolis, MN: Osterhus Publishing Co.,
MacMillan, "Modern Demon Possession," The Alliance Weekly, July
24, July 31; Sept. 4, Sept. 11, Sept. 18, 1948; John A. MacMillan,
Encounter with Darkness (Harrisburg, PA: Christian
Publications, 1980), 9.
Alliance Weekly, Sept. 18, 1948, 604.
MacMillan, "The Authority of the Intercessor," Herald of His
Coming, June 1952, 11. The editors mistakenly listed his byline as
" James A. MacMillan." See also Lulu Jordan Cheesman, Herald
of His Coming, Apr. 1952, 12; Lula Jordan Cheesman, "Oppression,
Obsession, and Possession," Herald of His Coming, Aug. 1953, 7;
J. A. MacMillan, "The Authority of the Believer," Herald of His
Coming, Apr. 1954, 4; Herald of His Coming, Apr. 1956, 7;
also Herald of His Coming, Sept. 1956, 6.
Billheimer, "Deliverance from the Hands of Our Enemies," Herald of
His Coming, Jan. 1952, 3.
44See King, "A
Case Study of the Authority of the Believer," 271-273. It can be
observed that some citations are a shortening or paraphrase of
MacMillan; others are virtually word for word. On the face of it, it
would appear that Billheimer has plagiarized MacMillan. However, in
light of the godly reputation of Billheimer and the content of his
other writings on the deeper life in Christ and the cross life
(crucified life, death to self), such a charge is incongruous. Thus,
it is highly unlikely that his seeming plagiarism was intentional.
Rather than impugn the integrity of Billheimer, it would seem prudent
to consider other more valid explanations.
It is commonly known among ministers that preachers
sometimes preach a message and refer to someone else's writings or
sermons without giving the source in a message. In all likelihood,
Billheimer read from MacMillan in his radio address without citing him
by name; then when it was transcribed and published MacMillan did not
get the credit. In fact, MacMillan himself quoted from other authors
without mentioning their names; however, when he did so, he usually
marked the statements with quote marks, indicating they were not his
own. MacMillan, The Adult Full Gospel Sunday School Quarterly,
Aug. 13, 1939, 22. Even more significantly, MacMillan used distinctive
words, phrases and concepts from other authors without noting the
source. See King, "A Case Study of the Authority of the Believer,"
274, 289-290, notes 41-44.
This may have been a common and accepted practice
then, and today's standards of plagiarism may not have been in force
at that time. Even today, it is not uncommon for a pastor to preach
someone's material without mentioning his sources. Billheimer does acknowledge that some of his material comes from
another source when he states, "Not until it was pointed out . . ."
and "One who understands the original tells us . . ." Billheimer, "Deliverance from the Hands of Our Enemies," 3.
One would also think that the editors of Herald
of His Coming, who were familiar with MacMillan's work, would
recognize the parallels and dealt with the issue if it had not been
acceptable then. Since Billheimer is no longer living and unable to
respond to the allegation, it is best to give Billheimer the benefit
of a doubt regarding his motives, while at the same time recognizing
that the practice would not be legally acceptable today.
Billheimer, "Man Was Made To Have Dominion Over the Works of God's
Hands," Herald of His Coming, July 1951, 4; see also Paul E.
Billheimer, "Prayer Controls Events," Herald of His Coming,
June 1951, 2. After MacMillan's "The Authority of the Believer" was
republished by Herald of His Coming in April 1954, an article
by Billheimer on authority and deliverance was published a month later
as a follow-up. Paul E. Billheimer, "Awake, Awake . . .," Herald of
His Coming, May 1954, 6-8. See also Paul E. Billheimer,
Destined To Overcome (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 1982),
46 Paul E.
Billheimer, Destined for the Throne (Ft. Washington, PA:
Christian Literature Crusade, 1975), 57-81.
MacMillan, The Authority of the Believer, 22; "Commanding God,"
The Alliance Weekly, Oct. 7, 1939, 626; "The Kingdom of the
Messiah," The Alliance Weekly, Feb. 17, 1940, 98; "Behavior in
the House of God," The Alliance Weekly, Oct. 29, 1949, 690;
MacMillan, The Adult Full Gospel Sunday School Quarterly, Sept.
4, 1949, 31, with Billheimer, Destined To Overcome, 36. Compare
also "Facing Deadly Foes," The Alliance Weekly, June 3, 1939,
338, with Billheimer, Destined for the Throne, 40. See King, "A
Case Study of the Authority of the Believer," 275-276.
48 Merrill F.
Unger, What Demons Can Do to Saints, 94-97; Merrill F. Unger,
Demons in the World Today (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1971),
122, 123, 193-195, 199, 203, 204, 207. Unger does not refer to
MacMillan in his earlier work, Biblical Demonology. The
Authority of the Believer was not directly relevant to his study
in that book. He may not have been familiar with MacMillan's Modern
Demon Possession when he first wrote the book in 1952. Merrill F.
Unger, Biblical Demonology (Wheaton, IL: Scripture Press,
49Unger, What Demons Can Do to Saints, 94-97.
50In 1969, J.
Dwight Pentecost, a colleague of Unger's at Dallas Theological
Seminary, wrote Your Adversary, the Devil, in which he included
a chapter entitled "The Believer's Authority Over Satan." Written as a
popular evangelical treatment of the topic of Satan and spiritual
warfare, he does not reference other sources, as does Unger. Hence,
though he does not mention MacMillan or his writings, he is very
likely familiar with MacMillan's material as he comments on Scriptures
included in MacMillan's exposition, such as Eph. 1:19-23, Eph. 2:1-10
and Col. 3:15. J. Dwight Pentecost, Your Adversary, the
Devil (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1969), 156-165.
Fuller Theological Seminary professor Charles Kraft
includes a chapter on the authority of the believer in his book
Defeating the Dark Angels, but again like Murphy,
does not cite MacMillan, though he makes several references to
Unger. Charles Kraft, Defeating the Dark Angels (Ann
Arbor, MI: Servant Publishing, 1992), 79-98.
51In 1960, a
portion of MacMillan's Modern Demon Possession was reprinted in
Demon Experiences in Many Lands, a compilation of the
experiences of many missionaries dealing with demonic forces published
by Moody Press. Demon Experiences in Many Lands
(Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1960), 132-136. In 1967, Baptist pastor C.
S. Lovett, in his book Dealing with the Devil, makes use of a
policeman illustration similar to that of MacMillan's, but makes no
reference to its source. C. S. Lovett, Dealing with the Devil
(Baldwin Park, CA: Personal Christianity Chapel, 1967), 140, 141. John
Ellenberger, professor of missions at Alliance Theological Seminary,
claims that the deliverance ministry of another Baptist, Ernest
Rockstad, was derived out of MacMillan's ministry and teaching, in
particular, the use of the I John 4:3 method of testing spirits.
Rockstad became a mentor to Ed Murphy, a missionary and professor who
recently authored The Handbook of Spiritual Warfare, the most
comprehensive study on the subject to date.
Episcopalian John Richards, in his book on exorcism
entitled But Deliver Us From Evil, cites MacMillan's book
Modern Demon Possession (retitled later as Encounter with
Darkness) in his bibliography. John Richards, But
Deliver Us From Evil (New York, NY: The Seabury Press, 1974), 233.
More recently, Samuel Wilson, an ordained C&MA minister and former
missionary serving as a Professor of Missions and Evangelism at
Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry, in his article "Evangelism and
Spiritual Warfare" makes reference to MacMillan's Encounter with
Darkness, calling it "an old but reasonably sound exposition of
the power given to believers by our identification with Christ." Samuel Wilson, "Evangelism and Spiritual Warfare," reprinted on
the Internet (http:// www.episcopalian .org/TESM/writings/spirwil.htm)
from the Journal of the Academy of Evangelism in Theological
Education. Wilson served as a C&MA missionary in Peru and as
research director at World Vision's MARC and the Zwemer Institute for
Islamic Studies. He is currently Director of the Stanway Institute for
World Mission and Evangelism.
Professor Timothy Warner in Spiritual Warfare:
Victory Over the Dark Powers of Our World cites from The
Authority of the Believer MacMillan's illustration of the
policeman's authority to stop a car in the name of the law as an
analogy of the believer's authority in the name of Jesus, and gives
him credit as the source. Timothy Warner, Spiritual Warfare:
Victory Over the Dark Powers of Our World (Wheaton, IL: Crossway
Books, 1990), 74. Wayne Grudem, professor of Theology at Trinity
Evangelical Divinity School, recently published his extensive
Systematic Theology. In his chapter on "Satan and Demons" he
discusses the concept of the authority of the believer and deals with
questions regarding demonization of Christians. While he
does not cite MacMillan by name. In his discussion, he does list
The Authority of the Believer and The Authority of the
Intercessor in his bibliography at the end of the chapter. Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to
Biblical Doctrine (Leischester, England: Inter-Varsity Press;
Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1994), 426-428, 435. For fuller documentation and discussion, see King, "A Case Study
of the Authority of the Believer," 276-280.
52Mark I. Bubeck,
The Adversary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1975), 115.
Handbook of Spiritual Warfare (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson,
1993, 1996), 20, 49-51, 277, 300, 477, 539, 541, 542, 544, 545. Phone
interview with Ed Murphy, Nov. 6, 2000.
MacMillan, "The Authority of the Believer," Herald of Faith,
June 1963, 9, 10, 23; July 1953, 9-11; Aug. 1963, 8, 10, 19.
55 Herald of
Faith, Aug. 1963, 19.
56C. Nuzum, "The
Authority of the Blood," Herald of Faith, Sept. 1963, 13. This
article had appeared a decade earlier in Herald of His Coming.
C. Nuzum, "The Authority of the Blood," Herald of His Coming,
Jan. 1953, 8
"The Authority of the Believer," sound recording (Tulsa, OK:
Authority of the Believer (Tulsa, OK: Faith Library
Publications, 1967). Several years after Hagin's publication of
Authority of the Believer, Oral Roberts University graduate
student Dale Simmons (who had become a Christian in a C&MA church)
was studying the writings of Kenneth Hagin, when he observed a
remarkable similarity between MacMillan's 1932 The Authority of the
Believer and Hagin's 1967 Authority of the Believer.
Simmons concluded that Hagin had plagiarized MacMillan's writings. See
Dale H. Simmons, "Mimicking MacMillan," unpublished term paper, Oral
Roberts University, Tulsa, Oklahoma, Apr. 23, 1984. See also
McConnell, A Different Gospel, 69-71.
On the other hand, other scholars have refuted the
charge of plagiarism. William DeArteaga, for instance, dismissed the
accusation of plagiarism by Hagin in his book Quenching the
Spirit. DeArteaga concluded that Hagin was not intentionally
plagiarizing, but rather possessed a photographic memory, and engaged
in "the informal borrowing that happens every Sunday from countless
pulpits across the nation. . . . Hagin's books and pamphlets are
mostly transcribed radio and camp-meeting sermons." For a
lengthy discussion of DeArteaga's explanation, see William DeArteaga,
Quenching the Spirit (Lake Mary, FL: Creation House, 1992),
228-229. Other scholars have confirmed this as well as pointed out to
me by James Zeigler. See also James R. Zeigler, "Oral Tradition and
Pentecostal Publications: The Problems of Doing History in an
Electronic Age," a paper read at the Society of Pentecostal Studies,
Southeastern Bible College, Lakeland, Florida, Nov. 9, 1991;
conversation with James Zeigler, Oral Roberts University. My listening
to a taped sermon on the authority of the believer by Hagin in 1967
further confirms this hypothesis. Kenneth Hagin, "The Authority of the
Believer," sound recording, 1967. It would appear, then, that Hagin's
use of MacMillan is thus very similar to that of Billheimer, and also
the practice of Bosworth, and even MacMillan himself, as cited
In today's academic and professional publishing
arenas where precise documentation and accuracy are important, such
undocumented borrowing by these writers would be considered abnormal.
But in the informal, non-academic, and often loose atmosphere of
preaching and teaching, uncited borrowing from one another has been
and continues to be commonplace and accepted practice in many
The Believer's Authority (Tulsa, OK: Rhema Bible Church,
Copeland has taught on the authority of the believer from the same
passage of Scripture of MacMillan's exposition, Ephesians 1. He also
used the same police officer illustration used by MacMillan. Kenneth Copeland, "Prayer of Binding and Loosing," Ft. Worth,
TX: Kenneth Copeland Ministries, sound recording, 1987. Charles Capps
wrote a booklet Authority in Three Worlds on the authority of
the believer. Charles Capps, Authority in Three
Worlds (Tulsa, OK: Harrison House, 1982). Since both Copeland and
Capps are leaders in the modern Word of Faith movement, undoubtedly
they gleaned the illustrations and teaching from their mentor Kenneth
Hagin, but MacMillan was the originator. MacMillan, however, would not
approve of all that is currently taught regarding the authority of the
believer and faith.
charismatic Michael Harper, in his 1970 book Spiritual Warfare,
refers to the authority of the believer, but does not mention
MacMillan. MacMillan's influence is evident indirectly, however, as
Harper cites Unger four times. Michael Harper, Spiritual
Warfare (Plainfield, NJ: Logos Intl., 1970), 26, 29, 56-59, 68-69,
116. In 1974 Don Basham and Dick Leggatt co-authored a book entitled
The Most Dangerous Game as a "Biblical expose of occultism."
While they do not mention MacMillan by name in the text of the book,
they do list another of his books, Modern Demon Possession, in
the bibliography at the end of the book. This demonstrates that they
were familiar with and dependent upon MacMillan's work, and found his
material important enough for others to read and study. Don Basham and
Dick Leggatt, The Most Dangerous Game (Greensburg, PA: Manna
Christian Outreach, 1974), 128. Basham published other books on the
subject as well including: A Manual for Spiritual Warfare;
Can a Christian Have a Demon?; Deliver Us from Evil. Don
W. Basham, Manual for Spiritual Warfare (Greensburg, PA: Manna
Books, 1974); Don W. Basham, Can a Christian Have a Demon?
(Monroeville, PA: Whitaker House, 1971). New Wine, a
charismatic magazine with which Basham was associated, carried an
article entitled "Prayer Works," by Erik Krueger and Ron Milton, which
taught the authority of the believer according to Ephesians 1, but
with no acknowledgement of MacMillan as the source. Erik
Krueger and Ron Milton, "Prayer Works," New Wine, Feb. 1980,
27-28. For fuller documentation and discussion, see King, "A Case
Study of the Authority of the Believer," 283-285.
62Because of his
connection with TBN and a questionable interpretation of a certain
passage of Scripture, Hank Hanegraaff mistakenly labeled him as a
cultic faith teacher, not knowing his teaching comes out of the
classical holiness camp. Hank Hanegraaff, Christianity in
Crisis (Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 1993), 164-165,
King, Binding and Loosing, 13, 18, 62, 67, 107, 119, 135, 138,
64King, "A Case
Study of a Believer with Authority," 389-410.
65 Boda, "J. A.
MacMillan and Spiritual Warfare," Communicate, 8, no. 4 (May
Prepared for the Pneuma Foundation website by KenJ