By Roscoe Barnes III
Author, F.F. Bosworth: The Man Behind Christ the Healer
Copyright © 2018
It is commonly known that F.F. Bosworth was a mentor to many evangelists during the post-World War II healing revival in the United States. He was a staple in the salvation-healing meetings held by William Branham and Gordon Lindsay of The Voice of Healing. What is not known is the extent of his influence on the evangelists and the specific details of his contributions to the movement. This article will highlight five of the specific ways that Bosworth had an impact on the movement. Specifically, it will focus on his teachings on divine healing, his endorsement of Branham that resulted in prestige and enhanced credibility for Branham’s ministry, his business model for using healing testimonies, his concept of praying en masse, and his ideas on the use of publishing to extend one’s ministry. There are other ways in which he made a contribution, but they will be shared at a later time.
He provided a voice of authority on divine healing.
Bosworth is known for his classic, Christ the Healer, which was first published in 1924. The book continued to sell during the healing revival, reaching a new generation of readers. Excerpts from the book appeared in The Voice of Healing magazine and a number of books published by healing evangelists, such as T.L. Osborn.
In the first issue of The Voice of Healing, which was published in April 1948, Lindsay featured an article by Bosworth entitled, “Why All Are Not Healed.” In that same issue, he introduced Bosworth as an authority on divine healing. Under the heading, “Conversations with Evangelist F.F. Bosworth” (page 4), he wrote:
Most interesting while we were in Miami, were our conversations with Evangelist F.F. Bosworth, one of the nation’s greatest authorities on the ministry of Divine Healing. Multitudes of people will remember the great Bosworth healing meetings of the Twenties. Vast crowds filled the most spacious auditoriums of the nation to listen to the message of the Gospel of Healing as well as that of salvation. In one city, as many as 19,000 persons confessed Christ as their Saviour. Mighty miracles of healing took place, the fame of which were reported in newspapers of the time over the length and breadth of the land.
Bosworth inspired many with the gospel of healing, and he did so through his teaching, his books, his magazine articles, and his prayer of faith. He was a rare Christian leader whose ministry of healing spanned more than five decades. He provided a voice of authority that was built on a foundation of proven experience. Bosworth’s voice on divine healing was heard in debates during the early years of his ministry and during his time with Branham.
He provided prestige and credibility.
Bosworth was probably one of only a few men who could have brought the level of prestige that Branham needed. After all, he had spent many years as a famous evangelist who held city-wide campaigns that attracted thousands of people in cities throughout North America. His book on healing was a perennial seller. His ministry crossed denominational lines and included support from both Pentecostals and non-Pentecostals. In other words, Bosworth was revered. His endorsement of Branham’s ministry was not taken lightly or seen as a mere simple gesture of friendship.
To appreciate the significance of Bosworth’s support, one may imagine the impact of a 70-year-old Billy Graham announcing his support for a young unknown Baptist evangelist. Imagine how that evangelist would be viewed. The popularity and strength of Graham’s name could potentially make the young preacher a household name. People who might have ignored the unknown preacher would now take notice. Such was the possible scenario with Bosworth and Branham. Bosworth was legendary in the divine healing movement and his endorsement of Branham and the Voice of Healing undoubtedly carried much weight in the minds of those who followed his ministry.
In the second issue of the magazine, Lindsay presented additional information on Bosworth’s contributions as a healing evangelist in a front-page profile entitled, “Rev. and Mrs. F.F. Bosworth Work With Branham Party” (The Voice of Healing, May 1948):
Years ago as a boy the editor remembers that news of the great Bosworth healing campaigns reached the daily newspapers even in the far west. In those days enormous crowds gathered to hear the Bosworth party. The largest crowd ever gathered under one roof in Ottawa, Canada, attended their meetings and some 132,000 sought salvation. The editor has before him a folder showing the great throngs that gathered in the many cities where the Bosworth brothers labored, such as the Arcadia Hall in Detroit, the Arena, Erie, Pa., the Convention Hall at Camden, N.J. and other communities. Besides the great number of healings (Brother Bosworth has received over 2000,000 written testimonies of healing), many tens of thousands found the Lord as their Saviour in those campaigns.
In addition to having association with a respectable name in evangelism, Branham needed people to believe in his gift and in his ministry. Lindsay apparently felt an endorsement from Bosworth would help do the job. So in his profile of Bosworth, he included Bosworth’s assessment of Branham’s ministry. In the May 1948 issue, Lindsay began with a description of their first meeting: “It was in Miami, Fla., that Brother Bosworth met Brother Branham. Both men fell in love with each other, and it seemed the hand of Providence drew them together.”
Brother Bosworth, remarking concerning the ministry of Brother Branham, declared: “In my own ministry I witnessed all the miracles that I have seen in the Branham meetings, but never in this fashion. I have never claimed the Gift of Healing. Sometimes it took us months to get the crowds to come, and to build up faith so that the miracles would take place, but in Brother Branham’s ministry it is different. Miracles take place the first night and the crowds gather from the first. This is the difference between the Gift of Healing and the prayer of faith.”
Bosworth would go on to say other positive things about Branham’s ministry. He would also write an article about Branham’s gift titled, “Gifts of Healing Plus.” The article appeared in both The Voice of Healing and the popular book, William Branham: A Man Sent From God (1950).
He provided a model for promoting healing testimonies.
The May 1948 issue of The Voice of Healing featured a display of healing testimonies that seemed to mirror a model previously used by Bosworth. For several decades, Bosworth collected healing testimonies and eagerly shared them with his readers. He sincerely believed in them, and he apparently knew how to use them to inspire and persuade readers. In a short profile of Bosworth, which appeared with his photo on page 1 of the magazine, the editor noted: “Brother Bosworth has received over 200,000 written testimonies of healing.”
In my doctoral thesis, F.F. BOSWORTH: A Historical Analysis of the Influential Factors in His Life and Ministry (University of Pretoria, 2010), I argued Bosworth was a shrewd businessman who understood various marketing and promotional techniques. His business knowledge was clearly seen in his use of testimonies. In advertising, good testimonials are known to have persuasive power. As a businessman and as a preacher, Bosworth knew of that power. He frequently collected testimonies and used them in his literature and in his newspaper ads. He also shared them in his sermons. In his early writings, he boldly solicited testimonies from his readers.
Another significant point about the magazine’s use of testimonies is the two-page section titled, “Exploits of Faith.” Readers of Bosworth's literature will recognize the title as the name of his famous magazine that was published decades earlier. Lindsay’s use of “Exploits of Faith” was hardly a coincidence. While he may have used it to connect with readers who had followed Bosworth’s ministry, it is also possible that he wanted to pay homage to Bosworth. In any case, the use of the title is another indication of Bosworth’s influence.
He provided a concept for praying en masse.
In 1949, during evangelistic meetings in Flint, Mich., Bosworth spoke with T.L. Osborn about praying for many people at the same time. It was believed that praying for one person at a time could be physically exhausting and time-consuming when faced with a multitude of hundreds or thousands of people needing prayer for healing. Inspired by Bosworth’s insight, Osborn began practicing what he called “healing en masse.” In his book by the same name, Osborn defined the method as follows:
Mass faith and mass healing means that mass of people believe the same truths at the same time; that they all accept it and act upon it simultaneously. That is when healing en masse results.
Osborn credited Bosworth with presenting him and other evangelists with the concept of healing en masse. In the article, “How Big Is ‘Possible’? T.L. Osborn Recounts One of His Life-Changing Experience” (Faith Digest, May 1949), Osborn wrote:
For some mysterious reason, God chose Mr. Bosworth to seed us with these and many other biblical reasons for faith to help multitudes to be healed at the same time. We had no way of knowing that we would face teeming multitudes of sick people in mass crusades all over the world. God was using this dear old veteran of the healing ministry to prepare our young hearts for greater and more vast healing ministry than had ever been experienced in the history of humankind.
Additional information on praying en masse is presented in my article, “F.F. Bosworth in South Africa: A Historical Analysis of His Later Ministry and Healing Methodology” (Africa Journal of Pentecostal Studies, 2007).
He provided ideas on book publishing.
In addition to presenting the concept of praying en masse, Bosworth also encouraged preachers to publish their messages in books. Osborn noted that in an Oct. 20, 2006 letter to the Rev. Ryan M. Miller:
The question that you ask is the question being asked of me all over the world, wherever I go. That is why I have written some books. My dear friend, Rev. F.F. Bosworth, is who taught me to put what I have learned in books. I am thankful that I learned that early in life.
Based on the many reports in The Voice of Healing, publication of books on healing, and the testimony of Osborn and other preachers from the 1940s and 1950s, it seems that Bosworth’s contributions were significant in many ways and on many levels. What he shared with some of the young preachers in that era positively impacted their ministries for many decades and even into the 21st century. When he joined the Branham party in the late 1940s, he contributed to a movement that resulted in thousands of people being saved and healed in the United States and other countries. His work also led to practical ministry models that have been replicated by scores of preachers, even as more generations learn of his teachings through his book, Christ the Healer.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. For updates on F.F. Bosworth history, simply follow this blog or @Roscoebarnes3 on Twitter. #ChristTheHealer
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