John Alexander Dowie (1847-1907)

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John Alexander Dowie was a Scottish evangelist who had a healing ministry in Australia and the United States.

He emigrated to Australia, where he worked for his uncle’s company. He then had several jobs.

After studying theology in Scotland, he went back to Australia, where he was ordained as the pastor of a congregation; he then pastored several congregations in Australia.

After a swindle scandal in which his church burnt down under mysterious circumstances (which allowed him to pay back heavy debts), he emigrated to the United States in 1888. He founded a healing association in San Francisco, managing it like a business. Healings were performed to members only against tithes; he was sued as a result. Following these events, he relocated to Chicago.

He opened “healing houses” and founded the Christian Catholic Apostolic Church. He faced trials as a result of practicing medicine illegally.

Thanks to the growth of his movement, he was able to purchase a large piece of land north of Chicago. He then announced the foundation of the city of Zion. That city was to become the “New Jerusalem,” and God was going to rule his Kingdom from it. He based the political and economic system on theocratic principles and forbade smoking, alcohol consumption, modern medicine, and eating pork.

Those of his followers who wished to move to Zion had to deposit their money in Zion’s bank. He also sold worthless shares of Zion’s businesses. The structure was continually in debt and eventually collapsed.

In 1905 he suffered a stroke and traveled to Mexico to recover there. While he was away, he was deposed by Wilbur G. Voliva, his chief lieutenant. He died in 1907.

His beliefs:

  • He had absolute faith in divine healing and firmly opposed all forms of medicine;
  • He presented himself as the prophet Elijah, mentioned in the book of Malachi, that was to announce the second coming of Jesus Christ;
  • He announced the creation of Zion on the night of the 31st of December 1899. He sold a right of residency to those who wanted to live in Zion, renting them a piece of land for a duration of 1,100 years: 100 years until Christ returns (year 2000) and 1,000 for the Millenium.

John Alexander Dowie in his robes:

dowie2

By looking solely at the examples above, we can be sure that he was a false prophet. Indeed, he wasn’t the one who announced the second coming of Christ, and Christ didn’t return in the year 2000.

Nevertheless, Bethel students do visit his grave to seek the anointing that he had.

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