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F.F. Bosworth and the Making of a Healing Evangelist

 

What Critical Research Reveals about His Ministry Development and the Ministry of Divine Healing

By Roscoe Barnes III

Author, F.F. Bosworth: The Man Behind Christ the Healer

Copyright (c) 2018

 

#FFBosworth

#ChristTheHealer

Note: This paper presents a list of conclusions taken from the author’s doctoral thesis, F. F. Bosworth: a historical analysis of the influential factors in his life and ministry (University of Pretoria, Date: 2010-07-30, http://repository.up.ac.za/handle/2263/26869). It begins with a summary of the author’s findings. It includes the links to several figures/diagrams that illustrate highlights in the research (see below).

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Fred Francis Bosworth was a Pentecostal pioneer, musician, ground-breaking pastor, famous healing evangelist, and the author of Christ the Healer. He published Exploits of Faith magazine and operated a popular radio program. In addition to being a church planter, he reportedly held some of the largest evangelistic healing campaigns in the United States and Canada. His book remains in print to this day.

In researching his life history, I examined his life using Social Cognitive Career Theory. An examination of the data used for this research uncovered a number of facts and interesting ideas about his development as a healing evangelist. Although his teaching on healing and his Pentecostal experience had a tremendous impact on his life, they were not the only factors that contributed to his success. This research revealed that his development as a healing evangelist was shaped by experiences that were secular and spiritual, negative and positive. They were experiences that occurred in his childhood and adulthood.

Conclusions on F.F. Bosworth’s Healing Ministry

Bosworth’s life history was anything but simple. Instead, it was multifaceted, and at times, complex. In addition to ministry, his history covered a wide range of issues. These issues included business, politics, music, healing, death, writing, travel, marriage, and controversy. Each of these issues was analyzed and interpreted in relation to his development. Although Bosworth was the focus of the study, the analysis led to conclusions that relate not only to him and his development, but to generalizations of other issues, as well. These conclusions are presented as follows:

The first conclusion is that divine healing, on both a personal and corporate level, can be a catalyst for developing a healing ministry. This was shown in the ministry of Bosworth and the ministry of others who prayed for the sick.

The second conclusion is that divine healing is a complex and diversified phenomenon that is not restricted to simplistic formulas or even one’s theology. It is a divine action that is not always predictable. It also involves an ever-learning process that may require risks, flexibility or the willingness to adapt to various situations.

The third conclusion is that a person's development in the healing ministry may be linked to his or her childhood and early adulthood experiences. These experiences are critical whether they be positive or negative, solitary or corporate, religious or secular.

The fourth conclusion is that God may use a person's pre-conversion experiences as preparation for future ministry. This may be explained as follows: People have a natural bent or tendency toward a particular career endeavor. Consequently, they will do what comes naturally, depending on opportunities and circumstances. After a religious conversion, they may continue to do what comes naturally, but they will likely do it on a spiritual level and for a spiritual purpose. From the standpoint of Christianity, this would mean that God might use a person's natural abilities and experiences for His divine purpose. It may also be said that secular jobs and non-religious aspirations may be indicative of one's future calling. Certain aspects of the secular pursuits may be minimized after conversion (or spiritual calling), while some may be incorporated into the ministry. In this sense, secular experiences would be critical to a person’s development and success in ministry. In Bosworth's case, his love of music and his business acumen pointed to a future in entertainment and business. Following his Pentecostal experience, he began preaching and used both as part of his ministry.

The fifth conclusion is that all experiences in a person's life are critical to his or her development. However, some experiences may be more important than others. For instance, Bosworth's healing of TB proved to be a major turning point in his life. Additionally, it was after his Pentecostal experience that he became a preacher (Bosworth no date; Perkins 1921 & 1927). His work with William Branham also proved to be a life-changing experience that prompted him to modify his healing methods (Lindsay 1950; Stadsklev 1952; Bosworth 1954a, 1954b & 1954c).

For a pdf version of this article, visit here.

The sixth conclusion is that environment is a substantial factor in the development of a healing ministry. Even though Bosworth had limited education, through his association with people engaged in the ministry of healing, he apparently learned about the ministry and soon established his own. While living in Zion City, Ill., he served God in an atmosphere that was saturated with the theme of divine healing. When Charles Parham came preaching about the baptism in the Holy Spirit, prayer meetings were held in Bosworth’s home. Later, Bosworth worked with a number of other preachers, both men and women, who had healing ministries. These experiences afforded him an environment in which he could learn by example, receive on-the-job training, and continue to grow as a healing evangelist.

The seventh conclusion is that Social Cognitive Career Theory (SCCT) can be a legitimate tool for shedding light on a subject that is both religious and historical. Bosworth’s environment was a part of his development; however, he did not automatically succeed because of his environment. Instead, there were cognitive elements involved (Lent et al 1994:81). The evidence shows that his self-efficacy beliefs, outcome expectations and goals, as used in SCCT, were other essential factors that contributed to his development.

The eighth conclusion is that a divine healing ministry is not dependent on perfect theology or ministry practice. Despite the controversy that surrounded Bosworth’s ministry, including questionable doctrine and his association with controversial preachers, he still succeeded in evangelism and in praying for the sick. This might support the view that God uses imperfect vessels, and He blesses them in spite of their weaknesses because of His grace. This perspective is seen throughout the Scriptures, where both the success and flaws of biblical characters are noted. These characters include David, Moses, Peter, Samson and Jonah, among others. Furthermore, the Scriptures state: "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us" (2 Cor 4:7). In other words, God works through human vessels with feet of clay.

The final conclusion is that the story of Bosworth illustrates the power of simple faith, prayer, and determination. Bosworth was a simple preacher and he emphasized the need for simple faith (Perkins 1921 & 1927; Bosworth 1948). He also insisted that prayer -- both prevailing prayer and the prayer of faith --were essential to revival and evangelistic healing campaigns (Perkins 1921 & 1927). He demonstrated the potential of these elements through his own success in ministry.

The above conclusions, I believe, may serve to reinforce the importance of Bosworth to Pentecostal history, as well as his contributions to evangelistic healing revivals. They also provide a new way of looking at the Pentecostal experience and the development of a ministry that focuses on divine healing.

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Would you like to know more about F.F. Bosworth?

Visit the F.F. Bosworth page here!

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References/Resources:

To review the figures/diagrams that shed light on the material presented in this paper, see the following:

“Pentecostal Gifts and Their Relation to Natural Talent and Experiences: Some Thoughts and Visual Illustrations from the Life History of F.F. Bosworth.”

https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.4495115.v1

F. F. Bosworth: a historical analysis of the influential factors in his life and ministry (University of Pretoria, Date: 2010-07-30, http://repository.up.ac.za/handle/2263/26869).

“F.F. Bosworth: A Historical Analysis of His Ministry Development Using Social Cognitive Career Theory.”

 http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2725697

For more information:

Visit: ffbosworth.strikingly.com

Questions about the research and commentary on F.F. Bosworth may be directed to Roscoe Barnes III via email at doctorbarnes3@gmail.com or roscoebarnes3@yahoo.com. For updates on F.F. Bosworth history, simply follow this blog or @Roscoebarnes3 on Twitter. #ChristTheHealer

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