On this day both Yvonne and Karen had doilies on their heads as they prayed. This practice has remained consistent, but regularly challenged, in the Assembly of the Body of Christ (ABC) since and the teaching is based on Paul's admonishment to the Corinthians that women should have a covering on their head whenever they pray. Of note, there is only one mention of this practice found in the entire bible and Paul, at the end of his discourse on the subject, indicates if the practice is contended there really is no such practice in the church. He essentially states it is best just to move on to more important matters if it becomes a contention. One must bear in mind also that the books labeled First and Second Corinthians were originally letters sent to the people in this one area and, I am quite certain, Paul had no idea his words would some day become concrete law for the masses rather than friendly advice. In the ABC the subject has always been a hotly debated one,legalistic and a subject filled with contention and quiet discord among both men and women. Men are told they are not to have a hat on when they pray so this too has led to many debates on whether a person working, for example, in a hard hat on a construction job is prohibited from praying. For women there has been discussion on whether the roof of a car is a covering. There have been many other contentions but if any woman chose not to adopt this practice of head-covering she was instantly labeled as “rebellious”.
I was unsure, until recently, how this practice got started in the ABC as there is really no indication any other fellowship spoken of in the bible had such a practice in the early church. My recent research shows this modern carryover of Paul's words descended from the Sharon Orphanage and is still practiced in their assembly today. This is evidenced by this report from the Sharon Star; a publication of the Sharon Orphanage in Canada.
The first meeting I attended in Seattle; the following Saturday; was at Ralph and Karen's house and was a simple prayer meeting. The following Thursday we then had a teaching meeting at the Wilcrest apartments coupled with a meal. Ralph and Karen were in attendance, as well as Greta; sister of Gilbert Larson, the current apostle of the ABC, and there was also a man named Earl along with a few others of whom I do not remember their names. Most of that night is a blur to me and Greta is the only one that really ever spoke to me. We became good friends that night since Greta had a wonderful sense of humor that matched my own.
It was 1969 and the Jesus People movement was beginning in Seattle under the leadership of a woman named Linda Meissner. Teens and college students, confused over the massive political and racial tensions in society, were looking for answers and finding them in unusual places. You might say that, at least in Seattle, a Jesus revolution was about to take off. Meissner had been able to form several ragtag groups of teens and young adults into a congealed group called the "Jesus People Army". It was clear she was looking to make a big splash in Seattle which she could then carry beyond into other locations.
The ABC, at this time, was a very informal group with no name and for a number of years would be referred to simply as "the group". At this time there was really no intent to seek a name, or become formalized as a church. The tithe, it was taught, should not be listed on a tax return as a deduction. To do so would be sin and tantamount to "robbing God". Every member of this fledgling group, except for my dad and Yvonne, were very young. Most were college age, still connected with other Christian organizations or groups, so this allowed word of this new Bible study to spread quickly. To these college kids yearning for more knowledge this new movement of studying Greek was quite appealing and they passed word among their friends. Attendance at the meetings began to quickly fill the small apartment living room and on several occasions it was even necessary to open the sliding glass doors to allow some to sit outside on the patio. My dad preached up front from a portable podium on a card table.
When Linda Meissner learned of “the group” she paid us a visit. I remember her visit only vaguely but she seemed to be an intense person and wanted "the group" to join forces with her "Jesus People Army". It was her style to infiltrate other groups, bring them into her fold and it had been very effective initially. She amassed a large group very quickly this way and my high school yearbook from 1971 even has a large picture of the Jesus People meeting in the middle of campus singing songs. None within “the group” had any intent of joining her mission however and "the group" remained separate. Linda Meissner eventually joined her group formed to "The Children of God" and she lost control of the "Jesus People Army". It was a large movement that exploded on the scene then not many years later simply vanished.
Several years after this encounter a separate faction broke off of "the group" and formed into a quasi-children of God communal movement, complete with the inherent sexual promiscuity and wife swapping that pervaded the Children of God movement. This faction was patterned after not just "The Children of God" but also the Discipleship / Shepherding movement emulated by the "Florida Five" which included Derek Prince among it's members. There was also a visit from Bob Mumford to Seattle which my dad and a few others attended but I will cover this topic more specifically in a later post since it had a large influence on the doctrines of the ABC to this day. This one meeting with Mumford brought into being the environment that caused the massive loss of love for one another and extreme intolerance found in the ABC.
The age range of "the group" expanded greatly when Greta introduced her mother, Agatha. Agatha was baptized by my dad then made a trip to California to visit her son, Gilbert Larson. Gilbert is currently considered to be “the apostle” of the ABC and, as such, is now in charge. When Agatha arrived at Gilbert's home in California she commanded Gilbert to be baptized by my dad. Gilbert, not sure if it was the right thing to do, made a trip to Seattle the very next day, spoke with my dad, was baptized, and soon thereafter relocated to Grants Pass, Oregon. Regular meetings then began then in Grants Pass but I will cover the Grants Pass era in more detail later.
"The group" grew weekly and soon outgrew the apartment so plans were made to move our family to the suburbs so my dad could find more space to grow the church. We found a home in Mountlake Terrace, which became affectionately known as "the sewer house" due to its faulty plumbing. On very hot days the sewer gasses would back up into the pipes and the smell, at times, was unbearable. We lived in this house for only a short period before we moved to a much larger home nearby.
In my next post I will cover those "sewer house" days since it explains how "the group" began meeting in many homes instead of just one. It is also where the five-fold ministry doctrine was solidified and established and explains why my dad declared himself to be an apostle. I will also detail the first big tumult that nearly divided "the group" permanently into two factions and ended with a great leaving. This great leaving of people would reoccur in many different ways throughout the years.
From my perspective there are no levels of sin or transgression. We often gasp at one type of sin or transgression, but then turn a blind eye to another, as though one is worse and one is better. The evidence would indicate that all sin or transgression is simply something to be forgiven. We're human...we mess up. End of story. Having said that, I have no intent of laying a judgment on any person through my writings so this account is simply a historic retelling of the facts that brought about the creation of the Assembly of the Body of Christ denomination. As humans we tend to wrap our emotions around hurt and carry it with us but when we do we only weigh down our life.
The founder of the Assembly of the Body of Christ (ABC) was my father, Ramon A Haas. Understanding how the events in his life brought about the founding of a new denomination is important. When you understand the man who set it all in motion you understand a great deal about the organization itself. Since the founders philosophies guided the formation, formed it into what it is and will become those philosophies are really the substance the structure was created from. Especially when you have in individual, like my father, who has been nearly deified by some.
Without a doubt my father was a great man in some ways. I say that sincerely and without hesitation but refer only to his participation in military service and not to his involvement in forming the ABC. My father was a decorated war veteran in World War II. He piloted landing craft filled with Marines to multiple beaches in the Pacific theater under heavy enemy fire. He was commended in his military records for his bravery under fire and, you might say, he was part of “The Greatest Generation” written about by Tom Brokaw. It is evidenced in my dad's military records that the strain of battle was very intense as he was admitted to a psychiatric hospital in New Zealand following a long and intense battle sequence to take one of the Pacific Islands from the Japanese. The documents I acquired list only “battle fatigue” as the reason but he suffered flashbacks from these incidents during the war for quite a few years after returning. I am not sure exactly when these flashbacks ended but it was long after I was born in 1955 and I do remember him having these flashback episodes in Ballard Washington, when I was ten, which would make it after 1965.
When my father came back from the war in the Pacific against the Japanese he was, like many from that generation, intent on changing the world and making a difference. My father’s goal, for as long as I can remember, was to start or head up a church. It was the pervasive theme of our household and most of my memories of my father are of him hunched over a desk reading, studying and writing. When he was not reading or studying he was off ministering somewhere in one form or another. Rarely was he home for long as he was driven to make a difference by "bringing souls to Christ". It is unfortunate that in the pursuit of this goal he also brought about such great pain to his own family and then to many others as well.
I have always been fascinated with the Second World War era and, as such, researched my dad’s involvement in that war. I have the bulk of his military records and am proud of the bravery he exhibited during the war even if I cannot be proud of what followed after. My dad left military service just prior to my birth in 1955 and before I was born brought two additional sons into this world; one two years older than me and the other seven. My first true recollection of life was in the little hamlet of less than two-hundred people called Noti, Oregon. We lived in, and around, the Noti / Elmira / Veneta area from the time I was barely two until I was just shy of turning nine. During this time our family was connected with several churches but, for the majority of the time, we attended the Noti Pentecostal Church where my dad was an assistant pastor. We spent a great many hours at the church or at the home of the pastor Don McGregor and they retained a friendship long after we left Noti. The Pentecostal church we attended would be considered a "holy roller" church with groups of people speaking in tongues all at once and being "slain in the Spirit" passing out onto the floor. We were dirt poor in Noti, living mostly hand to mouth on what we could grow or obtain from government commodities, and the homes we lived in were mostly shack like structures. For a time we had no running water, no indoor facilities and used an outhouse. Jobs were not plentiful in the mid to late fifties so my dad floated from job to job making money in any way he could. In 1963 my dad finally landed a very good job with American Sterilizer Company in Seattle Washington repairing hospital equipment and this is when we left our status as poor. At this job my dad had a good salary, a company car and benefits. He was initially assigned to the Eugene to Florence Oregon territory while the company made preparations for him to enter the Seattle market and it was not long before that happened and I left Noti was a mix of sadness and joy when the Mayflower van showed up to box all our belongings and move them to our new home in Mountlake Terrace Washington. I loved life in Noti and have very good memories of those days. I have returned a number of times and it is always a mildly emotional experience. It has remarkably not changed much since the fifties. I often wonder how different my life would have been had we not ever moved to the Seattle area.
We moved to Mountlake Terrace just before school was to start in 1964. For church we began attending Ballinger Terrace Assembly of God. This church had no established pastor when we arrived but was in the process of selecting a new one. For the first few Sundays there were different petitioners for the position and each would give a sermon so the congregation could decide if they were right for the position. When all of the applicants had preached the congregation voted for a man named Finch. He had preached a powerful sermon and impressed many but after just a few weeks it was evident to many he was not the best choice. Membership in the church began to dwindle rapidly and it was not long before our family left as well.
It was at Ballinger Terrace AG my parents met a couple, about a decade younger, named John and Esther (Yvonne) VanDeKamp. They had two adopted children named Jon and LaVonne and my parents quickly became very close friends with them and began doing many things together...including summer vacations. My brother and I regularly babysat Jon and Lavonne while our parents went ministering at missions with the VandeKamps.
The Van de Kamps; unsatisfied at Ballinger Terrace Assembly of God as well; were one of the first to leave in search of a new church. In the process they discovered Broadway Tabernacle in Seattle, now being pastored by James A Watt. They brought word to my dad that they were leaving Ballinger Terrace AG to join this new church led by James A Watt and encouraged him to follow. Our family remained at Ballinger Terrace AG for perhaps one or two more weeks then began attending Broadway Tabernacle with the Van de Kamps instead.
My dad rose quickly in this new church and was soon sitting on the platform as an assistant pastor. The Van de Kamps lived in Edmonds at the time and we moved to Edmonds from Mountlake Terrace so we could be near them. About a year later they moved from Edmonds to Ballard and we also moved to a home in Ballard not far from them.
In the summer of 1967, the Van DeKamps planned a vacation to a resort on San Juan Island. San Juan Island lies in the middle of the Puget Sound and is accessible only by ferry. We followed them to this same resort for vacation that year. During this vacation tremendous fights broke out between my parents and the Van deKamps began feuding non-stop as well. I did not understand the dynamics then, as a twelve year old child, but the marriages on both sides were crumbling rapidly and on this vacation it became clear my dad and Yvonne were romantically involved and had been for quite some time. The tension of the situation began to rapidly tear both marriages apart. There had always been knock down drag out fights in our house, sometimes lasting well into the early hours of morning, with things becoming broken but on this vacation the fighting escalated greatly.
At this same time my dad was teaching a class at Philadelphia Bible College along with James Watt. When my dad and Yvonne’s romantic involvement became common knowledge he was asked to leave the college. This caused a huge rift to develop between my dad and James Watt, we left Broadway Tabernacle, and my dad moved us all to San Juan Island and began his own church in a rented historic church building right by the cemetery.
|Church on San Juan Island|
When we first arrived on the island all four of us lived in a 15” travel trailer on the property of a commercial fisherman. This was only temporary so we then moved to a one-bedroom cabin on the beach and eventually into a large house mid island rented from Seattle City Light. As kids, we knew nothing about the reasons for all these moves, we just knew the island was a great place to live, there was plenty of woods to roam in and some really great places to fish. We were once again out of the city and I felt at home.
On January 14, 1968, the day of the second Superbowl, only one elderly woman showed up for church in the rented building by the cemetery. It was determined that morning that it would be senseless for my dad to preach to just one person in the church building so we moved the meeting to our house that day intending to have just a prayer meeting. For several months after we continued home meetings and my dad gave up the church building altogether. This was the event that led him on the path of holding meetings in the home exclusively and we never went back to a rented building.
The meetings on the island rarely exceeded more than one or two people. My dad continued to work for American Sterilizer in Seattle and continued to live in our home in Ballard. He would come up to the island on Saturday afternoon, spend the night, preach on Sunday then return to Seattle on Sunday afternoon so he could get ready for work Monday morning. This continued through that first summer of 1968 and into the fall.
Thanksgiving of 1968 we had a family trip planned to Victoria and we were all in great anticipation of dad showing up to take us to Canada. When he arrived that Thanksgiving week however he had brought a trailer with him. I was in the barn but returned to the house when he arrived to see what was up. When I approached the door I heard shouting, screaming crying and fighting like I had never heard before. My mom and dad had some pretty horrendous fights but this was different. My dad was not really violent, per se, but he would often throw things when he became angry. This day was no exception. My mom informed me when I walked in that my dad was leaving us on the island and he did not plan to ever return again. He loaded the trailer with his things, took the checkbook, all of the money and then just left…permanently. After that he never wrote, called or attempted to visit. My brother,very ill at the time with pleurisy, ended up in Seattle for medical treatment shortly after this day and for this reason ended up living with my dad instead of with my mom. In the divorce settlement my dad was awarded custody of my brother Robin and he signed over custody of me to my mom. He was ordered to pay child support which he did not ever pay.
My mom found a few odd jobs and we remained on the island for a short time but my mom had never worked a day in her life, having always been a "housewife", and now she found herself on an island with now way off and a thirteen year old to care for. She had no money, very little way to earn money since she had no job skills. She contemplated suicide a number of times. Her intent was to jump off the nearby high cliffs into the Puget Sound but she never actually worked up the courage to step off the edge. She would go on long walks many evenings during this period and I found out many years later she was trying to work up the nerve to commit suicide but only got as far as putting her toes on the edge. I only knew she was gone for long periods and that when she returned was in a highly agitated state. After these walks she would scream and cry and shout statements at me like “What am I going to do with you! How am I supposed to take care of you! Maybe I should I just kill you!” I do not think she meant those things exactly but it was still a pretty full plate for a thirteen year old to carry. Each day she became increasingly unstable emotionally and quite often I would run to the barn, or out into the woods, to hide until she calmed down. To this day, she has never fully recovered from the days we were abandoned and she carries some deep personal scars from this time of her life. In our family we all do.
We lived on the island perhaps another month and left it when my grandmother sent us money to move to Bellingham Washington. We left everything behind except what we could fit into our “62 Ford Falcon Wagon…which wasn’t much. We lived first in a storage closet in the basement of the Bellingham Hotel on cots. It was nearing Christmas time. My grandmother lived, and worked, at this hotel and the manager let us eat free at the cafeteria for lunch. We ate dry cereal for breakfast in our basement closet and most nights my grandmother bought us dinner at the hotel restaurant when she got off work. During the days we would just go places or sit in my grandmother's small room as we could not hang around the hotel except after hours to sleep. We we were able to get on welfare eventually so was now able to buy some of our own food but times were still pretty lean.
After about a month of sleeping in the basement closet, my great uncle, who owned a large house on Lake Whatcom, invited us stay at his house until my mom could find us a better living situation. He also allowed us to buy groceries on his account at a local store so we began eating much better. He, and my aunt, were intending to be in Europe for several months so we more or less house-sat for them while they were away. Food, and the use of their house and car, were payment for our “services”.
After a few months of living at the lake, my grandmother bought a small house and we moved in with her. My mom started technical school and found a part time job with a military recruiter to supplement the welfare we received. Her emotional state did not improve much though but honestly who could blame her. I began high school as a freshman and my health began to deteriorate rapidly due to the family stress. My brother Robin came to Bellingham to visit me during this time, was shocked to see my physical condition and pledged to help me. At this time I was under weekly medical care, was passing out in school on a regular basis, had kidney stones, severe hypoglycemia and was beginning to have a difficult time walking. This was a result of an exacerbation of a congenital defect exacerbated by malnutrition and the ongoing stress at home.
At the end of this visit my brother gave me money and told me to run away from Bellingham to Seattle so we could be together again. It was obvious my mom was not able to care for me properly and he did what he could to help me out. My mom dropped me at school the next morning after he left. I went straight through the school, exited the other side and walked the few blocks to the Greyhound station where I took a bus to Seattle. My brother told my grandmother I was coming, but had failed to tell my dad. She met me at the Greyhound station and we took the city bus back to her house. She then called my dad, told him I was in Seattle but he was not happy with the news at all. When my dad showed up that evening there was no hug, no hello, nothing. He was steaming mad I had come to Seattle to live with him and I was treated with total silence in the car all the way to his home at the Wilcrest Apartments.
When I arrived at his home I discovered his extra-marital affairwith Yvonne had now led to his marriage to Yvonne (previously VandeKamp), and I now had Jon and Lavonne as my “brothers and sisters”. I was given direct orders that night that if I was going to live at their house I must never tell anyone that Yvonne was not my real mother and I would be punished severely if I ever did. I was happy to be with my brother again though so I planned to do whatever I needed to stay. I slipped up one time in a meeting mentioning that Yvonne was a step-mother and was subjected to a severe chewing out that evening and was confined to my room after school for a few days.
The small bible study that would eventually become the incorporated "Assembly of the Body of Christ" denomination, with meetings in several Western states, had started a few weeks prior to my arrival at the Wilcrest Apartments. My Dad and Yvonne, having met another couple named Ralph and Karen at the Assembly of God church they were attending, and having become close friends with them, started a prayer meeting at their house as an adjunct to church. This was to soon turn into much more.
In my next post I will talk more about the beginnings of the church and describe the introduction of Gilbert Larson the current "Apostle" to the church during this time. I will also discuss how it came to be that more than one home began to be used for the meetings.
In 1965 Bill Bright; a then famous tract writer; introduced a brand new tract called"The Four Spiritual Laws". I came home from school one day to find several cases of this new tract delivered to our house. My dad was spearheading an effort to distribute these tracts to all of the major churches in Seattle. It was his role to go from church to church, speak with the pastors about the tract and hope they would order them then distribute them widely. He was also involved with visiting and preaching at the local missions so my brother and I spent countless nights locked in the basement of the church while he ministered in the streets of Seattle. It was very rare our dad was actually home for any length of time. When he was at home, it was usually just to study or hold a meeting with college kids from Philadelphia Bible College.
The tools used by the Assembly of the Body of Christ to conduct Greek Word Studies were developed during these Broadway Tabernacle days. James A Watt, having been emboldened by Ern Baxter in his quest to develop an exhaustive Greek study method, worked diligently on a workbook he named "Through the Word, Word by Word". It was essentially a reprinting of select pages of a book by John Stegenga called "An Analytical Concordance of the Greek-English New Testament" which allowed a person to read a scripture in context then write down the applicable section on the page.
The "Through the Word..." book listed scriptures found in the bible for repentance, faith, baptism, etc. as found in Hebrews 6:1-2. It also showed the Greek derivatives, tenses, mood and scriptural context for each. It was an attractive book with a red and black cover and depicted a microscope and a telescope on the cover. The connotation of the cover design was that it was possible to examine the bible microscopically with this book but in doing so see also God telescopically and more clearly. Our family spent quite a few hours in the basement of the church collating and stapling these booklets and preparing them for mailing.
My dad and Watt were quite excited about this new method of study and they also began a "Through the Word, Word by Word" class at Philadelphia Bible College in Seattle. The school was hesitant to allow the class but after an experiment using the Greek word "Dorea", or gift, the class was a seeming success so they allowed it on a limited basis.
A number of the students from the college wanted to study even more words from the Greek so my dad began a special meeting, once per week, on Thursdays, for college students at our home. Since we had no table big enough to handle the large group, each week my dad would bring out a large plywood sheet and lay it over the dining room table. My dad and the students would then pore over Greek word studies, have lively discussion about the words and seem to have a great time in the process. I recall there being lots of snack foods. Several year after the formation of the ABC, this "Through the Word…" booklet was expanded and reformatted into a loose leaf notebook and renamed "The Foundation Truths". It is essentially the same exact book though and is usually distributed at just the cost of printing to new members. It is an important part of being a member of the ABC.
The development of the "foundation" book has been attributed erroneously to my dad over years. In reality, it was James A Watt that developed the method of using John Stegenga's book to study the foundation principles found in He. 6:1-2 and it was James A Watt who developed the original foundation booklet. This book was later adopted by my dad for use in the Assembly of the Body of Christ. Derek Prince has recreated this in a book he labeled "The Foundational Truths" which can be found at Amazon or other book stores.
In the ABC it is general practice one read three or four scriptures every day out of these books, then write them down. Many complete these books over and over, year after year, but once you have completed the entire book at least once you are considered to have “completed your foundation" but not before.
Another project James A Watt completed while we were at Broadway Tabernacle is the "Daily Reading Card shown here. (Click to enlarge.)
This Daily Reading Card, developed by Watt, allows a person to read the entire Bible through in one year while alternating between Old and New Testament books. This card was adopted by the Assembly of the Body of Christ without revision as can be seen here.
The only thing changed was the removal of James A Watt's name and address was replaced with a name from the ABC. (Click on picture to enlarge)
The Broadway Tabernacle days lasted just shy of four years and ended suddenly with our move from the Seattle area to the San Juan Islands in the middle of Puget Sound. The reasons for that move will be the subject of my next post and I delve into the catalyst that caused my dad to move away from Broadway Tabernacle and into strictly home based meetings. This concept of home based meetings would later be incorporated as doctrine in the denomination called "The Assembly of the Body of Christ (ABC).
Directly after the formation of the ABC the teachings moved rapidly towards isolationism and the forbidding of contact with any other church. Also forbidden was the reading of other church publications or Christian books. From her followed the banning of any viewpoint other than the ones espoused by my dad. One soon learned that to express an alternate viewpoint would subject one to extreme discipline measures, shunning for a set period and / or total ex-communication. A learned silence soon enveloped the members. The philosophy also developed that any person not directly associated with the ABC was unsaved or in Mystery Babylon. It was highly discouraged that one should associate with a person “in the world” or “in Mystery Babylon” unless it was to attempt to bring them into the “safety” of the ABC. Isolationism is a prime mark of a cult. NEXT POST
In 1906, a small church on Azusa Street in Los Angeles, California became the scene of a revival that was known as "The Latter Rain Movement". From this revival were born several new denominations, the most prominent being the Assemblies of God, United Pentecostal Church and the Pentecostal Church of God. The Pentecostal Church of God, which formed at the Sharon Bible School in Saskatoon Saskatchewan Canada, is directly in the lineage of the birth of the Assembly of the Body of Christ (ABC) denomination as this was the denomination that gave rise to the doctrines taught to my dad over the years prior to his formation of the ABC.
There were several individuals who were directly connected with the Sharon Bible School that passed on many of the doctrines incorporated into the Assembly of the Body of Christ (ABC) denomination. The most prominent of these individuals being, Derek Prince, James A Watt, and Ern Baxter. These men were trained by, as well as taught at, the Sharon school in Saskatoon and each was greatly influenced in their path by William Branham; known also to many simply as Brother Branham.
These men, along with others, were greatly influenced by the teachings of Branham in Vancouver BC and began what would become known as "The Latter Rain Revival" movement. It was envisioned by these men this revival would be a renewing of the Azusa Street revival that took place in 1906 in Los Angeles California. They felt then, and even now, that this new movement would spread like wildfire through Canada and then to the rest of the world. That did not happen as predicted or prophesied then and just last year it was predicted yet again there would be a revival of the Latter Rain movement in Canada that would then spread to the rest of the world. This has not yet happened as "prophesied". For further study of the Latter Rain Revival movement there is a great treatise located at Birthpangs.org which goes into great detail about this movement and its doctrines; the ABC being one of its many vehicles.
My dad spoke frequently of the Azusa Street happenings throughout my life and had high regard for the Latter Rain movement. He considered himself to be one who would bring about this renewal and he envisioned that the ABC would somehow play a major role. Below is a picture of one of the ABC tape lists where one can see the teachings of Brother Branham held a prominent place on the list. (Click on Tape List to Enlarge)
CLICK HERE to read the "Mystery Babylon" Teaching by William Branham of which the tape shown above;"The Great Harlot"; is based.
CLICK HERE to read the booklet "Mystery Babylon" of which the tape is based. This teaching in “The Page” pamphlet is derived from the Branham teaching shown above. The highlights in the book are those of my father Ramon A Haas. (Note: it may be necessary to rotate the document in your reader.)
To encapsulate this further my father, Ramon A Haas, steeped in the teachings of William Branham and others, pursued a lifetime goal of becoming a Pentecostal minister. To fulfill this goal he attended two seminaries then teamed with a Pentecostal minister named Donald McGregor in Noti Oregon. He then left Oregon and began working with James A Watt in Seattle.
We had moved to the Noti Oregon area when I was about age one. We moved away about the time I was approaching my ninth birthday. Noti is one of the first moments in my life of which I am personally aware and even though our days in Noti were ones of extreme poverty and hardship I remember them only as good times. We lived in a series of ramshackle dwellings surviving only on what we could grow, government food commodities and donated food since the welfare safety net, present since the Johnson era, did not yet exist. My dad rotated from job to job but is was when he was offered a permanent job in Seattle with American Sterilizer that we relocated to Seattle from Noti Oregon. It was also in Seattle my dad first met James A Watt and was attracted to him immediately because had been taught by Branham as well.
James A Watt was directly connected to the Sharon Orphanage, Derek Prince, Ern Baxter as well as William Branham so this encounter at Broadway Tabernacle was really a sort of reuniting with the Branham teachings. My dad had been a follower of Branham in the late forties prior to my birth and he was quite happy he had reconnected with his base teachings.
My dad spoke often of Branham and retold the stories of Branham’s “miracles”. His favorite Branham miracle story being that of a time when Branham allegedly entered a field, in 1945 in Macon Georgia, and was about to be killed by a large bull. As Branham recounted the story he rebuked the bull, it pacified then went and lay down under a tree. Branham was then able to safely cross the field. There were no witnesses to this event but Branham followers, and my dad, accepted it as truth.
Shortly after our move to Seattle, James A Watt acquired Broadway Tabernacle from Derek Prince. Prince had decided to leave Seattle for Chicago to start a tape and broadcast ministry and Broadway Tabernacle was to become Watt’s new pulpit. Here is a short excerpt from Wikipedia:
"In 1962, the Princes moved to Canada, and from there to a pastorate at Peoples Church in Minneapolis, becoming US citizens. From here they moved to Broadway Tabernacle in Seattle where he ministered along with James A Watt whom he had met in Canada. During this time Prince was becoming widely known through his cassette-tape Bible lectures, and he became involved with the Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship International. This led to a move to Faith Tabernacle in Chicago..."
James A Watt and Derek Prince; both close friends with Ern Baxter; had left the Sharon Orphanage and School about the same time. Their intent was to bring the Latter Rain message first to Vancouver British Columbia, then to Seattle Washington and then to the rest of the world. My dad, a previous Branhamite, joined himself readily to the Broadway Tabernacle church in Seattle. Here he studied the Latter Rain and Branham influenced teachings and doctrines intensely under James A Watt's tutelage.
To this point it can be demonstrated there is a direct lineage tying the roots of the ABC to the doctrines of William Branham, Ern Baxter, Derek Prince, James A Watt and the Latter Rain Revival movement. The Latter Rain Revival Movement had ties to the Azusa Street movement in Los Angeles California which itself had ties to persons and movements on back through history. As stated in Proverbs there is nothing new under the sun and all denominations, including the ABC, have roots in this history. Not a single one popped onto the earth from a vacuum.
In my next post I will cover the Broadway Tabernacle days in more detail, then move on to the sudden split between my dad and James A Watt. This split is what eventually caused the Assembly of the Body of Christ denomination to be formed; directly patterned after James A Watt's church and his bible study methodology. NEXT POST
We cranked the chandelier down, changed the bulbs then just after returning to the main floor from the attic James A Watt, the pastor, met us as he came out of his study. He was quite excited about a new method of study he felt the Lord had given him and stated this new method of study used a set of books he had just recently acquired. Even though it still remains a vivid memory for me to this day I feel it is best described in James A Watt’s own words. (Link follows)
"On Saturday morning March 18, 1967 I was preparing for our Sunday services at Broadway Tabernacle, Seattle. Totally unexpectedly—in a split second I saw how to use the works of Englishman's Greek Concordance, John Stegenga's Greek Concordance, and Panin's New Testament numeric Greek and English texts to produce Greek word studies in a new format, but easily usable by lay leaders. It took me two hours to write up the insights given to me at that time by the Holy Spirit." (Link)
The idea for these 4000 MS. pages came to me in a split second on March 18, 1967. At the request of Pastor W.J.Ern Baxter, we prepared these papers. We started out with a research committee of some 40 helpers, but this soon dwindled down to one – Dean Finnestad. The main leg-work and production of this research was carried on by my associate Dean.
Mr. Watt began this work immediately after that day and my dad was part of this original team of 40 helpers. The last remaining member, Dean Finnestad continued the work. This is an excerpt from a writing by Dean Finnestad:
The Word Study FormatI have received several requests regarding the word studies and books which God has had me working on for the past 25 years. The first book “Foundation Truths” was done at the request of W.J. “Ern” Baxter who felt that the basic words listed in Hebrews 6:1, 2 are foundational for the Christ-like walk. This book uses lesson plans to discuss and develop the concepts involved in each of the major Greek words used in this passage of Scripture. I have since completed a book about angels entitled “Angels in Charge” which uses the word studies to develop a subject rather than an exposition of Scripture. In any case there are over 50 projected books based upon this word study format. Please keep in mind that although these books, and indeed all the word studies, can be studied by an individual they are really designed to be used in a group as a study guide.The purpose of the word study is to help us focus on the definitions of words and relate them to our understanding of and relationship with God. Language is communication and understanding Scripture is a key to communicating with God. If we just open our minds and our hearts while studying His Word in this unique way we allow the Holy Spirit to teach us. And He is the best teacher of all!One of the biggest problems facing the church today is the mis-use and mis-translation of the original languages used in Scripture. For the most part, our modern translations of Scripture have been done by men who don’t really know God. They have a head knowledge but no heart knowledge. They have intelligence but no wisdom. They have reason but no spiritual insight. Thus, their work reflects much doctrinal bias and it is this doctrinal bias which has lead to an apostate church, i.e. a church that has fallen away from the truth.Lately God has shown me that this was all part of His plan. The Word of God is full of mysteries and these mysteries are only revealed by the Holy Spirit to men who seek for truth. He has kept the truth covered through the medium of language in order to shock the world as He begins to reveal the truth in His people in these last days.God has also shown me that these word studies which He has inspired are a tool for His people to use to open and uncover and manifest and reveal His truth. A unique principle behind these studies and their related books is that once you have learned how to use them you become a teacher, able to pass on God’s truth to others as well as giving them this tool so that they, in turn, become teachers. Wasn’t this Paul’s commission to Timothy, to teach others to be teachers? This is how the nations of this earth will be brought into the Kingdom of God!This is not a knowledge game. The goal is not to know more than others. The goal is that the truth of God will shine in His people and radiate His glory to all of creation. God’s people must not just know the truth, we must live it, and in living it we will attract the lost of this world just like a light in the darkness attracts insects.The pages below have been taken from “Foundation Truths” and tweaked just a bit to give you a better understanding of how the word studies are created. After reading this article please read “A Sample Study” also found on this web site.Tools Used To Produce Greek Word Studies
- John Stegenga's "Greek/English Analytical Concordance."This unique concordance combines all Greek words into some 1619 root words. A root word is the basic word from which other parts of speech are derived. The root is sometimes a part of speech which isn't even used in the New Testament, yet other words which come out of the root are used. By looking at any word in the Greek text we are able to trace it to its root word and examine all the different parts of speech, i.e. verbs, nouns, adverbs, adjectives, etc. By examining these different parts of speech, each in its own context, we are able to produce accurate definitions through usage rather than preconceptions.
- Englishmen's Greek ConcordanceThis concordance, which uses the same Greek text (Stephanus) as Stegenga, takes the various parts of speech and then lists the verses in which the word is used. A short section of each verse is listed with the word under consideration in italics. This concordance establishes a common and consistent phrase for each reference in our word studies in the King James Version. However, we use any translation which is useful in creating a good title.
- Panin's Greek Interlinear New TestamentThis Greek text is our ultimate plumbline. Every reference we use is checked against Panin's Greek. If a reference is missing from Stegenga or Englishmen's we add it. If a reference is omitted in Panin we omit it from our study (hence, the notation "omitted in best mss"). If the Greek case form is changed by Panin we change it for our study. Panin also provides extremely accurate contexts. (See "Numerics vs. Numerology" for more about Panin.)
- Kittel's "Theological Dictionary of the New Testament"We use this work as a plumbline to our accuracy in evaluating the meanings derived from our approach. The exhaustive scholarship that has gone in to this work makes it a worthy comparison. Any conclusions based upon a word study which do not agree in essence with Kittel are suspect.
- Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament WordsThis work provides a rapid reference for our word studies. It is useful in quickly providing basic definitions of words used with the word study being done. It is also a good reference to double check meanings which emerge from the word study.
- A Note about Strong's ConcordanceThis concordance is such a popular one and again is based on the Stephanus manuscript. While we do not consider this book one of our vital resources, we do include the cross numbering system found in Strong's on the root word outline from Stegenga in case anyone wants to use Strong's numbering system as a resource. Doing a word study using Strong's can be extremely tedious just trying to track related parts of speech. Our word study approach supercedes Strong's in that the tedious research has already been done. Using Strong's would only be a duplication of our work.7. Another work we strongly recommend is "KJV Hebrew-Greek Study Bible" by Spiros Zodhiates. Not only does this study Bible reference all of Strong's numbers for both Hebrew and Greek words but Mr. Zodhiates also indicates by bold type those words which carry significant theological value and for which he has created his own index of special thoughts and definitions.
If one compares the method of study described above by Mr. Watt and perfected by he and Dean Finnestad with the method currently used by the Assembly of the Body of Christ you will find them identical in every way. This is because they stemmed from precisely the same place...James A Watt and Ern Baxter.
Who also has made us able ministers of the new covenant; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter kills, but the spirit gives life. 2 Corinthians 3:6
“This is the end of the matter. All has been heard. Fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every work into judgment, with every hidden thing, whether it is good, or whether it is evil.” Ecc. 12:13-14.
furthermore, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.” Ecc. 12:12
"our sufficiency is from God; who also made us sufficient as servants of a new covenant; not of the letter, but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”
"Such confidence we have through Christ toward God; not that we are sufficient of ourselves, to account anything as from ourselves; but our sufficiency is from God; who also made us sufficient as servants of a new covenant; not of the letter, but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.2 Co. 3:4-6.
In 1948, Branham, unexplainably, left the Baptist church to become a Pentecostal minister instead and soon acquired a faithful group of followers in the Pentecostal church. My dad, not long back from the war, was one of those followers. These followers declared Branham to be “the apostle of the final church age” and my father, after starting the Assembly of the Body of Christ, declared himself to be “an apostle of the final church age” just like Branham had.
Branham believed the church was in the seventh, and final, church age and in order to exhibit this belief developed a teaching he called "God’s Seventh Church Age". In this teaching, he taught that God’s kingdom would soon return to earth and leaned heavily on the scripture in Joel 2:23 that speaks of the latter rain. Thus his movement would eventually become known as “The Latter Rain Revival” movement.
While it appeared Branham had immense healing power, this was later proven to be a scam. He also alleged to hear “The Voice” which instructed him in the way he should live his life morally. “The Voice” was with Branham his entire life and he later claimed it revealed itself to him as an angel physically. Angel, however, simply means messenger, and it is highly doubtful, in my mind, this voice came from God.
A significant event in the history of Sharon Orphanage and School was its July 7-18, 1948 Camp Meeting, during which thousands of people from Canada and the United States flocked in hopes of receiving something special from God. Residents from at least twenty states attended, and the great Latter Rain Movement burst upon the world.From that time the movement spread rapidly and Sharon shortly became just one of many centers of teaching for the Latter Rain Movement. Link-------
Among those present at the Sharon Camp Meeting in July, 1948, was George Warnock who at one time had been personal secretary to Ern Baxter (an associate with William Branham's healing ministry). At this meeting one of the teachers, James Watt, made a passing remark that the third of Israel's feasts, the Feast of Tabernacles, was yet to be fulfilled. This struck Warnock and he began to associate it with the end-time ministry of the Church, and the concept of restoration.In the fall of 1949 Warnock took up residence at Sharon, "assisting in the office work, and helping in the Bible School and in the local church."In 1951 Warnock wrote his book, 'The Feast of Tabernacles,' in which he layed out a specific doctrine for the Latter Rain Movement, and those who came after. He taught that the Church was about to usher in the completion of God's feasts for Israel, through perfection of the saints and their dominion over the earth.Essentially, this Latter Rain teaching implies that the three great annual feasts of the Lord in Israel's worship (Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles) pre-figure and typify the whole Church Age, beginning with the death of Jesus on the cross, and consummating in "the manifestation of the Sons of God" - the "overcomers" who will step into immortality and establish the Kingdom of God on earth.Warnock teaches that this will be accomplished through the restoration of the Church in unity and, once done, the saints will "eat the Lord's Supper in reality." (as if we are not doing so now)."Unity" as defined by Kingdom Theology entails the putting on of "the mind of Christ" so that we all think, say, believe, and confess the same things. What we will think, say, believe, and confess will be told to us by the apostles and prophets.Unity without regard to "doctrine" (except the doctrine of those imposing the unity) is the great cry among those today who think that the Body of Christ has thus far failed in its commission. We will deal with these teachings in more detail later. Link
A short video excerpt can be seen here of Jim Watt talking about the 1948 revival in Saskatchewan.
Note: To delineate further the tie-in the ABC has with these “Latter Rain” doctrines please reference these links to their official site. Jewish Calendar and Last Days Calendar About the time I was being pushed out of the ABC these feasts were beginning to be physically observed by the men at three yearly special gatherings.
In 1906 what was to become known as the Pentecostal movement began at a small African Methodist Episcopal church on Azusa Street in Los Angeles CA. For about nine years, at this location, a series of rather vibrant meetings took place and this segment of religious history became known as both the Azusa Street Revival and the "Latter Rain Movement". From this revival / movement several denominations took root in our society. Among these were the Assemblies of God, the Church of God in Christ, the United Pentecostal Church and, most importantly, the Pentecostal Church of God at the Sharon Orphanage in North Battleford, Saskatchewan, Canada since it is from this root of the Pentecostal movement the Assembly of the Body of Christ would sprout many years later.
Meetings held under the name “The Pentecostal Church of God” started in 1948 at the Sharon Orphanage. These meetings were the seed that began the rebirth of what is still called the “Latter Rain Movement”. This movement, through several of its key players, would directly influence my father, Ramon A Haas when he created the “Assembly of the Body of Christ” (ABC) denomination twenty-one years later in Seattle WA. The following is an excerpt from a text held at the University of Virginia Library about the Sharon Orphanage revival. To read the entire text, go to RELIGIOUS MOVEMENTS
"The Latter Rain Movement began as a revival at Sharon Orphanage and Schools in North Battleford, Saskatchewan, among students assembled by former Pentecostal Assemblies ministers George Hawtin, and P.G. Hunt and Four-Square Gospel minister Herrick Holt" (Melton 84) in 1948. This was a Pentecostal movement parallel to the healing movement that arose in the midst of the post-World War II evangelical awakening. The movement also bears similarity to the movement that arose at Azusa Street.If one closely examines the specific doctrines of the ABC you will find them nearly identical to those espoused by the Latter rain Movement. A few of these doctrines include: the fivefold ministry, the laying on of hands, the feast of Tabernacles, the foundation truths of Hebrews 6:1-2, head coverings and more. These are all carryovers from the teachings at the Sharon Orphanage which were directly influenced by a man named William Branham, and his teachings, in the fall of 1947.
The movement was led by William Branham and Oral Roberts. Oral Roberts was a Pentecostal Holiness Preacher who started his own independent healing ministry in 1947 (Riss, 107). In the fall of 1947, Branham held meetings in Vancouver, B.C. and the meetings were attended by many pastors and teachers (Riss, 106). Among those that attended were people from North Battleford and they "returned to supply the spark that ignited the controversial Latter Rain movement" (Riss, 106). Therefore, the Latter Rain Revival actually originated at Sharon Orphanage and Schools in North Battleford, Saskatchewan, Canada. Former Pentecostal Assemblies minister George Hawtin, and P.G. Hunt and Four-Square Gospel minister Herrick Holt assembled the students (Melton 84). The need for a new revival such as the healing movements by Roberts and Branham and the Latter Rain movement, stemmed from the perceived "dryness" of the Pentecostal faith. Pentecostalism was lacking in the manifestations of the Spiritual gifts and the Latter Rain revival focused primarily on the Spirit so it catered to exactly what people wanted (Riss, 113). In 1949, Assemblies of God and Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada tried to suppress the revival and the revival was forced out of the Assemblies of God church.
The reasons for denouncing the revival according to the Assemblies of God were "(1) it relied too heavily upon present-day apostles and prophets (i.e., a self-appointed charismatic leadership); (2) it practiced the confessing and pronouncing of forgiveness by one member upon another; (3) it advocated the practice of bestowing spiritual gifts by the laying-on-of-hands; and (4) it distorted Scripture so as to arrive at conclusions not generally accepted by members of the Assemblies" (Melton, 84).
The revival continued to spread and ministers left the Assemblies of God church and took part in the Latter Rain movement. In the 1950s, William Branham and Oral Roberts were very influential in encouraging the spread of the Latter Rain revival. The revival died down slowly and most people considered the Latter Rain movement dead along with all of its doctrines. In actuality, the Latter Rain movement had quite an impact on Pentecostal beliefs and certain Latter Rain doctrines can be seen in Pentecostalism such as: the fivefold ministry, the laying on of hands, the feast of Tabernacles and the foundational truths of Hebrews 6:1-2 (Riss, 124). Manifestations of the Latter Rain movement can be seen in the Vineyard movement and most recently the Toronto Blessing and Pensacola Revival. These movements are not new but really just resurgences of Latter Rain."
In the next post I will examine the link between William Branham and the three men who most influenced the doctrinal development of the Assembly of the Body of Christ denomination; Derek Prince, James A Watt and Ern Baxter. I will also review their ties to the Sharon Orphanage and School and some of the connections the ABC has to these people and movements.
I did not at any time regard myself as an “elder”. It was a title I did not seek and never really wanted. It was bestowed on me simply because I was the son of Ramon A Haas. I was just twenty-one and quite immature. I taught in the ABC as an "elder" though for over thirty years; the only exception to this being the several year period during which I had been ex-communicated by my father. The excommunication lasted until several years after my father’s death and I will give the details on that first ex-communication in a later post.
The day of my "crime", a Saturday, I was teaching at a man's home in Vancouver WA. Saturday nights were "communion nights" so only those who had been baptized by a member of the ABC could attend these meetings. We would gather in a small group to sing, pray, eat a meal together and have a teaching. This was according to an order perceived by the ABC as being the correct order for a meeting. The ABC has other nights called "Foundation Nights", usually a Thursday, that serve as “doorway meetings” to introduce others to the ABC. These are also intended to teach the basic doctrines of the ABC. Great emphasis is placed on persuading others baptized elsewhere, or perhaps who had not ever been baptized at all, to join the ABC through their own baptism then introduce these individuals to the basic doctrines of the ABC which they call "The Foundation Truths". Once an ABC style baptism was accomplished the individual would be told about the other "communion" meetings open only to the members.
I was the teacher most Saturday evenings at this man's house and on the day of my “crime” I referred to the story of Christ in the bible when he, at age twelve,was found missing. Jesus, his parents and siblings intended to travel a great distance by caravan through the desert but had to turn back to find him. Here is the story as is found in the book of Luke:
Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast. And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day's journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintances. And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him. And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why have you thus dealt with us? behold, your father and I have sought you sorrowing. And he said unto them, How is it that you sought me? knew you not that I must be about my Father's business? And they understood not the saying which he spoke unto them. And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.
After relating this story a woman asked me this question
"Did Christ sin when he stayed behind in Jerusalem? I mean he made his parents come back and get him, didn't he? I thought He was perfect."
"No, Christ did not sin against God, however he may have trespassed against his parents by making them go out of their way to retrieve him."
After telling me first I was being "eternally judged", and that my crime had been “witnessed by two elders”, so it must be true, I was also informed I would not be allowed to speak on my own behalf or defend myself in any way. Bruce began reading the accusations to me from his pad but the only thing I could think at the time, as he was reading the list of accusations, was that I thank God he is mercy and truth because these things being read to me exhibited neither mercy nor truth. I also could not help but think that the scriptures they purported to know also tells us it is Satan, the enemy, not God, who is the accuser of our souls.
The great dragon was thrown down, the old serpent, he who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world. He was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, "Now is come the salvation, the power, and the Kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ; for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them before our God day and night. Revelation 12:9-10
"Son, why have you thus dealt with us? behold, your father and I have sought you sorrowing."
Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; Hebrews 5:7-9
But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. Hebrews 2:9
"And they understood not the saying which he spoke unto them. And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them:"
For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. 2 John 1:7-8
14Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. 15Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.16For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that you abhor shall be forsaken of both her kings.
I dare say that if Isaiah were a member of the ABC his "controversial" statements of "blasphemy" would have brought about his ex-communication as well.
But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:4-10