Founder Of Gospel Assembly
And The School of The Prophets
(A Pentecostal Aberration)
By Pastor G. Reckart
Some quotes and then my comments:
"I saw the Water of the River of Life one time while I was talking. It ran down from Christ, on down through the Old Country, and across the waters into the United States. I saw that stream cross the waters into this country; and, thank God, when that stream hit this country those people got down on their knees and began to give thanks and glory to God who had saved them and brought them here. And it kept flowing. Right here, at 28th and Wilson, that stream is located. It is still here. If God hadn't of used the Roman Catholic Church in keeping it alive we would not have been here today" (William Sowders).
The Catholic Church brought the waters to America? What nonsense is this man talking?
Sowders was not a true restorationist! Those in the Restortation Movement never saw the Catholic Church as the protector or guardian of Truth. They never saw the papacy as the lordship of the Water of the River of Life. The true Restorationist rejected the Catholic Church on the formula for water baptism: "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." They rejected the false doctrine of the trinity. At no time did the restorationist ever admit God used the Catholic Church to bring salvation to a single soul, let alone to the world. Sowders is now claiming his ordination comes somehow through the Catholic Church. We know one thing, Sowders rejected baptism in the name of Jesus according to Acts 2:38. He did not see salvation by grace through faith by 3,000 on the day of Pentecost when these received the Word and were added to the Church. Sowders had his own Church of God doctrine of easy believeism, accept the Lord as your personal Saviour. He was no different then the Church of God on his salvation doctrine: Saved, Sanctified, and filled with the Holy Ghost (three works of grace).
"I was reared in that little assembly in Illinois. For two years I remained there after I was called to preach the gospel and received the Holy Ghost. But in a short time after I left there was an unsaved man promised to build a church house for them. He went around soliciting money, and helped build the church. I went down there and did some work on the platform, and built a Bible stand. I told them myself, "God has always been in this little assembly, and there's no richer little assembly." And I was right about that. But I said, "From now on you are going to see a vast change in the worship in this place. This little assembly isn't going to be blessed anymore like it was."
"The first thing they had to do was have a pastor. They got a church, and a platform, and a Bible stand, and a chair for the preacher; but they didn't have a preacher. They said, "We have to have a preacher, and they got a preacher." The first thing you know they were as dead as any formal church in the world" (William Sowders).
William Sowder's first church was at Evansville, Indiana. He was called to be the pastor there. The church was already in existence. It seems to have been one of Parham's group. This is the beginning of many Churches under Sowder's influence rejecting Pastors and establishing a board of Elders to run the Church. Where did he get this false doctrine? Why was it necessary for him to attack Pastors? The answer is, Churches with Pastors who were preaching the Apostolic New Issue doctrine would not accept Sowders and his latter rain false doctrines. They refused to give him meetings and revivals. This forced him to be on his own oustside the Pentecostal groups who believed in Pastoral oversite of congregations. His way to get back at these closed doors, was to preach against the Pastors. He then developed his own theory on Churches run by a board of Elders instead of a Pastor. He claims in his lies that all Churches who would get a Pastor would be spiritually dead. I have been in Gospel Assembly churches and they are the dead ones when compared to those Oneness Churches who have the move of God in their midst. Sowders was against platforms in the Church. He was against Bible stands. He was against a chair on the platform set aside for the Pastor. What he was against was HONOR FOR A MAN OF GOD who was not in his group! Later on Sowders sat in chairs on many platforms and was referred to as a PREACHER! He wanted dignity and recognition for himself he was not willing for another man to have.
"I have had experiences with God. The first time I was caught away was when I was tarrying for the Holy Ghost. I went up, up, until I entered into a place. Whatever place it was I don't know. When I was there, I knew everything there, but I did not know one thing down here. But, I knew exactly when I was leaving; and when I was coming back through space I knew exactly when I entered into this body; and I knew exactly that it was cold laying on the floor in the winter time, and it was cold when I entered back into it. I know by that: without the soul in the body, this body is a lump of flesh."
Sowders here claims he was caught away up into heaven BEFORE HE WAS SAVED! He clearly says this took place while he was tarrying for the Holy Ghost. He was not filled with the Spirit prior to this private rapture. Here we have an account of a man having out of the body experiences and it does not agree with any passage of Scripture in the Word of God. Sure, there were men caught up, sure as Paul said "whether in the body or out of the body, I cannot tell." But give me one text where an UNSAVED MAN WAS CAUGHT UP! Don't give me Enoch, Ezekiel, Paul, or John. Sowders may have thought he was equal to these men, but his many false doctrines shows us he didn't make the grade. The final element of his falsehood is his claim that when his soul departed from his body that it was dead! He says the body was cold and he meant it was dead. In this event, he is playing God. He leaves his body, it dies when his soul departs, he comes back to the dead body, and he self-resurrects! No wonder he began preaching NEVER DIE!
"The next time I was caught away against a beautiful ceiling. It was just marble. I was pressed against it so hard my head was to one side, laying over against it. That was when Jesus talked to me and gave me a chance to talk to him. He told me the time had come for me to go into the ministry. He wanted me to sell out and go. I had been studying for two years -- lying on my back and studying day and night, praying and reading my Bible. Awake, and not able to sleep, I would thank God that I couldn't sleep. I was so hungry to study the things of God. When he said it was time for me to get ready to go I said, "What about Bertha?" (That was my wife.) He said, "I will have Bertha ready when I get you ready." His voice wasn't tender. He just spoke so positive. I said, "What about my nets?" See, I was a big fisherman. He said, "Time is too short to bother about nets." Every time he spoke to me he cut me off. "Where shall I go, Lord. I want to be led of you. I don't want to go around blindfolded, but I want to know what I am doing. If I go into the work I want to be led of you, going where you want me to go." Some of the things he told me I said, "Shall I tell others this, Lord?" "No!" "Lord, what about your coming?"; and he told me. "Shall I tell the people?" "Tell nobody!" And let me tell you one thing. That is one thing I never did tell. I tell you the Lord pinned that into me so tight; so perfect; and I won't tell anyone. He made me forget it for awhile, and recently it has come back to me" (William Sowders)."
This demonstrates how Sowders easily perverts the Word of God. Why would Jesus tell us in Matthew 24 he was coming back after the tribulation of those days and the Sowders gets a revelation this is false, he is coming back before the tribulation of those days. Why would Jesus give Sowders something different then he gave the Apostles?
"Like one who started to Elco. Got off of train at Ullen, Illinois; and he began to inquire for Elco. It was only 6 miles across the country from there. A man said, "What are you going to Elco for?" He said, "I am going to camp meeting." "Why", he said, "That fellow Sowders over there is preaching he is going to live forever. Are you going over there fooling around with him?" He said, "When is the next train out from here?" But a voice said to him,"What! Are you going to leave? Why don't you go over and see for yourself; or, are you going to listen to this man?" He came and sat in the back of the tabernacle. I remember seeing him. And when he got in that tabernacle I was already teaching and preaching the word of God on living forever. Right when he came in. And that man understood what I was talking about. Sure, I am going to live forever. I am not preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ if I don't preach live forever" (William Sowders).
The Sowder doctrine of living for ever will be discussed below.
"When I first started out back there (in Evansville), Sister McPherson was an outstanding feature among the women preachers. She was holding meetings that stirred the entire United States. I had her to hold me a meeting one time. I wondered, if God did not call women to preach, why was that woman having such success? Then, here comes another woman along, and I watched her work. I read after her; read some of her writings. Again, I thought, "Lord, You have called women to preach." I have heard women say, "God has called me to preach." But I was in doubt about it. God all the time was telling me that the women would find their place. There was another one. I had her to hold me a meeting. I have seen her walk right up to people with large goiters on their neck, and that goiter vanish. Big goiters vanished right under her hand. I have seen people all crippled up with rheumatism; and this one particular man lived right across the street from me. He was helpless. That man got on the platform and let this woman pray for him, and his hands flew open and his legs limbered, and he ran and shouted and had a big time. There was a woman all twisted up with rheumatism. This woman laid her hands on that afflicted woman, and she ran up and down the aisles and had a big time. I said, "Lord, you are in that. Men are not doing these things. Why do you let women do it? And the Lord said: "I am giving it to the women because men have put them under their feet. I am letting women have it to prove to the men that I will honor women as well as I will honor men." That is very reasonable, isn't it? I thought, "Amen, Lord, if that be the case surely then women will have a place in the church." And I saw women put on white dresses and tried to do like these other women did. But they couldn't do it, but just the women that God ordained to do that. Well, I began to watch, then, praying much and reading the word of God; and I saw plainly that God actually calls women to the ministry and makes preachers of them. In all my ministry women have been used to a better advantage as a general thing than men" (William Sowders).
Women preachers? This is one more evidence the voice he was hearing and calling it God was not God! God does not contradict himself and not permit women as priest in the Old Testament and then in the New Testament permit them the priesthood. The idea that God would give some women the right to preach because some of them had been put under the feet of men, is not found in the Word of God anywhere. This is a made-up doctrine. There are no qualifications for a woman preacher in the New Testament. A women under subjection to her husband is not being put under his feet. The fact is, Sowder allowed women preachers because it made him have larger crowds at his meetings.
William Sowders was the founder of the School of the Prophets and the famous "threshingfloor" method of discussion. The idea of this discussion method was to invite men to come teach, preach, discuss, or reveal their revelations and doctrine. The "prophets" sitting in the room would then judge the man and his doctrine. If he said something they disagreed with they would "thresh him." That is, they would drill him with questions to see if what he was saying would stand the test of hot discussion and disagreement. Often, the "prophets" themselves refused to accept truth because it was not in their heart to accept something Sowders or some of the other "greater prophets" taught against (such as baptism in Jesus name Acts 2:38). The threshingfloor was used to tear men apart, confuse them, try and convert them to the school of prophets doctrines, and if these failed, ...beat men up with verbiage! The plan of the "prophets" who ran the threshingfloor, was to question the speaker in every kind of way to try and prove he was false and the teachings of Sowders were correct. The threshingfloor saw many Oneness Ministers speaking for Oneness while the "prophets" were defending Sowder's doctrine there were two Gods. The Gospel Assembly groups NEVER came away from a threshingfloor experience believing in Oneness. They came away believing in Sowders as a great Protestant restortationist among Luther, Calvin, Knox, and the Westley Brothers.
"I remember when I started out and I would be sitting, studying, and it would come to me so often, "The gift of the Holy Ghost: the Garden of Eden." I would question the Lord. What is that? The gift of the Holy Ghost, and then the garden of Eden? All the preachers that I ever met were preaching the gift of the Holy Ghost, and then the rapture. He may come tonight! Had the people looking for Jesus To come. Had me looking for him. I'll declare, it did. I wasn't preparing for anything other than just the rapture. ... But when I began to get that from the Lord -- the gift of the Holy Ghost, the garden of Eden -- it meant the gift of the Holy Ghost, then, go back through the flaming sword into the garden of Eden. There is where he is going to catch his bride away -- out of the garden of Eden, the garden of God, the garden of life" (William Sowders).
Did William Sowders believe in tithing? According to those in the Sowder's Pentecostal movement who attack Lloyd Goodwin, because Goodwin believed in and taught tithes, we are left with the impression William Sowders did not believe in tithing and did not participate in this offering. I had one of Sowder's disciples tell me personally that tithing was prostitution. Any Minister who received tithing from a church was taking money from a prostitute. He likened the Church to a woman and any person who paid the church tithe for support of the Pastor was a spiritual whoremonger and made the church a whore church and part of Babylon. When I inquired if any of the Gospel Assembly, School of the Prophets, or affiliated churches received offerings at all in the Church and Ministers got ANY PORTION: HE WOULD NOT ANSWER! Sowders himself received and took offerings given to him that were collected in Churches.
One of the Sowder's doctrines was that the devil was not a real spirit, he was not Lucifer, but rather the devil was the carnal mind of man. Because of this doctrine anyone who spoke against the devil such as saying "I hate the devil" was speaking from a carnal mind and this did not show the love of God. Yep, you read it. I was at one of the churches influenced by Sowder's doctrine and made the statement during preaching that I hated the appearance of evil and the devil appeared in the Scriptures as evil, therefore I hated the devil! I was not prepared for the backlash! I did not know this church (a Oneness one) had accepted the doctrine of Sowder's. The Minister of this group called me aside after service and told me go look in the mirror and there I would find the devil! He was telling me the devil was the carnal flesh. He told me I was out of order for saying I hated the devil. He said I had to love the devil or I did not have the fruit of the Spirit. He said Michael respected the devil for his once former office and instead of bringing a railing accusation against him, just said "the Lord rebuke thee." This text, which he took from Sowder's teaching, meant we were not to speak against the devil, nor order him him to come out of people, but instead to treat him with politeness and respect. Sowder's doctrine was rooted in his belief that the fruits of the Spirit should be manifest even in dealing with the devil. So, we must love the devil and try to love the devil out of people etc..
The Gospel Assembly churches, in following Sowder's doctrine on the Godhead, believe in two Gods. They believe the Father is one God and Jesus the Son is another God. They do not believe in just two personalities in the Godhead, a modified trinitarian theory, but that there exist two actual beings who are God: the Father and the Son. They are Arians in Godhead doctrine. They teach the Son is the Lordship of the Father and was the first creation of the Father. This first creation of the Father was an image form in which the Father afterward manifest himself.
Sowders did believe in NEVER DIE. He did not mean the soul would never die in its eternality, but rather the perfect man could live in the flesh and NEVER DIE. I talked to a school of the prophets Minister years ago, he, his brother-in-law, and a handful of other Sowder disciples were still believing they would never die. They told me they would be perfected and live to see Jesus in the flesh and they would never die. They would live in these perfected bodies until Jesus came. I can testify that all these men are dead now and so are their wives. I ask one of them, Brother Brooks, from Dade City, Florida: "what if you die?" He said, if I die, then I am lost and going to hell because I did not reach perfection. The Sowder's group preached never die perfection by being perfected in the flesh. The way to oversome the flesh was through the fruits of the Spirit. A perfected man would be perfect in all the fruits of the Spirit and this achievement by the flesh was perfection and would guarantee a person would never die. I asked how this was possible and he quoted the text of Jesus concerning the Lord's Passover Cup: Whosoever eateth this bread that I shall give him shall never die! Of course every person I have met from the Sowder's groups were SPIRITUAL COMMUNION. I talked to Preacher Brooks for hours about never die. He was adament that if a person ate the Bread, which he called preaching the Word, the person would eventually be made perfect and never die in the flesh. Sowders claimed if people would believe all that he preached and perfect the fruits of the Spirit they would reach perfection and never die in the flesh. But Sowders DIED! Now what? By his own mouth he is condemned that he did not reach perfection.
Sowder's doctrine was called the "Later Rain Movement." The "Later Rain Movement" was NEVER a ONENESS movement! It was additionaly called "The Body of Christ". It was also called "This Present Day Move of God". He called it the PRESENT TRUTH! One revealed by him and none other to follow. He believed he was the last of the long line of Protestant Reformers.
It is true that several Oneness Ministers and Churches adopted some of Sowder's doctrines and were labeled "Latter Rain." On the ministerial application forms of early Pentecostal organizations a man was asked if he held any "latter rain" doctrines and if he did, he was not accepted. Today these questions do not exist and a man can get into the UPC and other Jesus Name organizations believing nearly everything. If they accept these false doctrines after they get into the UPC of these other Oneness groups, they are not thrust out. What has developed is a form of Pentecostal ecumenicalism (unity that is not based upon doctrinal agreement).
The apostasy and acceptance of many false doctrines by religious organizations, caused many a man to be independent and the response was to preach Sowder's doctrine against organized religion. According to Sowders and the Gospel Assembly family, any Church that was not a part of their "Body" was Babylon. According to Sowder's: trinitarian, biarians, and oneness, could all be a part of his ecumenical group so long as they subscribed to Sowder's major doctrines. Today, you can find all three types of people in Gospel Assembly churches.
Sowders did not believe in a literal hell. He spiritualized hell.
He believed the Bride of Christ would be very small and consist of only 144,000.
He believed a board of Elders should run the Church. There was to be no preacher, pastor, or minister who was in charge.
Women could preach, but men were in control over everything.
Sowders taught that perfection was control over the flesh and eventually men and women would overcome sex and live in perfection. Sex to Sowders was dirty and defiled the flesh.
"William Sowders taught that we would have to be "overcomers" in the flesh. He taught that true overcomers would eventually overcome the desires of the flesh such as sex. Lloyd Goodwin taught that sex was not something to be overcome and it was taken to the other extreme in his church. William Sowders taught there was no literal devil but when you look in the mirror, you see the devil. He believed the devil is the flesh that you have to overcome. Lloyd Goodwin taught that there was a literal devil and demons and the practice of "casting out demons" was taken way out of bounds in his church. There were paper towels and wastebaskets around for every service to catch the phlegm that came with the outcast demons. Glenn Goodwin and his followers still believe in this. Through the years we were in this "church" it was commonplace to see members throwing up into napkins when they "cast out demons."
Sowders, as you can see did not believe in demon possession!
Sowders is dead! His many false doctrines continue to be preached as restored revelations. There are many churches still in bondage to the lies he taught. Because of the history of this group, it is torn asunder by ministers attacking each other, trying to destroy each other, and most continuing to keep the image of William Sowders before them as the last Apostle to the Church age.
It is nothing to hear Sowder's modern prophets still proclaiming restoration of the fruits of the Spirit, there is no devil, spiritual communion, and sex is dirty and husbands and wives should be sterilized because there is no time left in the church age to raise kids. In my examination of some of these men, they are still dirty men and have not achieved restoration perfection because they are still sleeping with their wives. But they get up weekly and proclaim some day they will get victory over their flesh and live as eunuches to please God and earn the right to NEVER DIE!