This post is the first of several covering a chapter looking at the three ‘waves’ of charismatic experience in the 1960s, 80s and 90s which it will argue has successively unsettled HTB from the evangelical ‘rock from which it was hewn’ normative theology.  The chapter (which will span 5 blog posts) will show how the reception of each wave by John Collins, Sandy Millar and others at HTB, both fuelled the growth of HTB, its network and influence but also (sometimes gradually and sometimes dramatically) substantially changed the espoused and operant theology at HTB as it had to adjust to new paradigms of theology-model-practice in each ‘wave’. It considers the degree to which Wimber became a new ‘normative theology’ for HTB and what with hindsight may be lacking in Wimber’s model compared to e.g. Stott’s. It also highlights how a reaction against these ‘moves’ of the Spirit within (increasingly) conservative circles exacerbated the separation between ‘Conservative Evangelicals’ and ‘Charismatic Evangelicals.’

The chapter focuses on the aspects of history that have most directly impacted discipleship goals in the HTB network. Among the key people to look out for are John Collins, Sandy Millar, John Wimber and Nicky Gumbel. It is informed where indicated by my semi-structured interviews and other ethnographic research, with interviewees referred to by the codes CLA – CLU.

This (shorter) blog continues the theme already explored in the previous two weeks that some of HTB’s deeper foundations owe much to All Souls Langham Place. George Ingram’s impact is particularly fascinating (more on this next week).

(key terms: normative theology: the theology you think you believe; espoused theology: the theology you talk about (what you say in public); operant theology: the theology that is in evidence by your actions. HTB: Holy Trinity Brompton)

The Renewal (Second) Wave – 1960s

Origins in All Souls Langham Place

The story of Anglican Renewal from the 1960s, has been well covered in Peter Hocken’s Streams of Renewal and James Steven’s summary chapter in his study on Charismatic Worship.[1] Graham Smith adds helpful analysis relevant to the story of HTB in his study of spiritual warfare within Anglican Charismatic Renewal.[2] All see the stirrings into renewal of some of the curates at All Souls Langham Place as particularly important for imbedding renewal among ‘Oxbridge [Iwerne] men who were “Anglican to their bones”’ thus rooting the charismatic movement into the Church of England.[3]

There are three sets of reasons for beginning an account of renewal at HTB at All Souls Langham Place. Firstly, the impact of All Souls on John Collins in the 1950s, and how that impacted his leadership of HTB in the 1980s. The grounding it gave him in church growth, bible exposition and personal evangelism that meant his normative theological understanding remained very closely aligned to John Stott.[4] Secondly, the intercessory ministry of key lay people in All Souls, in particular George Ingram, whose prayer meeting for world revival was so significant in Collins’ subsequent experiences of the Spirit, and thirdly, as noted above, that it was a confluence of charismatic curates from All Souls and closely related churches who helped embed renewal into the Anglican evangelical world. 

Firstly John Collins. All Souls gave Collins a paradigm of church growth that predated the charismatic movement. Together Stott and Collins saw the evening congregation grow to 2000 people and Stott longed to see this discipleship goal of an entire church converted and growing replicated outside of London.[5] Collins also saw remarkable growth in Gillingham from 1957 to 1963 before his ‘night of power’ recounted below. This meant that Collins’ narrative was that faithful biblical ministry grows churches regardless of whether it is conservative or charismatic. He held to the adage that ‘all word and no Spirit dries up, all Spirit and no word blows up, but Spirit and the word grows up.’[6] But, despite Stott’s apparent rejection of renewal, Collins continued to see Stott’s expositional ministry as in being full of the Spirit.[7]

‘Personal work’ was the source of much of the early growth at Gillingham with Collins and his curates replicating the discipleship goals evident in the ‘one to one evangelism’, learnt at Iwerne and All Souls.[8] This was how David Watson himself had been converted.[9] Collins spoke in a ‘tenacious’ and ‘winsome manner’ at a ‘nondescript’ Christian Union evangelistic tea-party which Watson attended in Cambridge. There was ‘something unusually gracious and attractive about this clergyman’ who spoke with ‘simplicity and integrity’ and ‘seemed to speak from genuine personal experience.’ He describes how Collins politely put him on the spot asking, ‘Do you know Jesus personally?’ and wasn’t diverted by the pat answer: ‘I have been baptised and confirmed’.[10] This led to a follow up breakfast meeting where Collins shared the way of salvation and left him to go away and pray a prayer on his own asking him to report back if he did so. When Watson duly did this Collins arranged for David Shepherd (the England cricketer whom Collins had previously led to faith) to follow up with Watson. This ‘personal work’ was replicated in hundreds of other lives and the model given to curates and ordinands to persist with as well.

All Souls furthermore led Collins to the ministerial discipleship goal of becoming a thoroughly disciplined evangelical exegete and minister. The habits with which he was inculcated persist into his nineties, with ninety minutes of personal daily devotional Bible Study a norm (preferably from a Greek New Testament).

The key lesson of the curacy was to rest in Jesus in order to ‘find the strength and determination to discipline myself for the on-going hard work and reading necessary for any attempt  to expound and to apply the Bible in a way that would feed the souls of the congregation.’[11] 

John Collins

He elaborates that three processes, exemplified by John Stott, were essential and which he holds to this day:

(i) serious ongoing Bible study; (ii) application which would include patient collecting of illustrations; these first two being about equally difficult and equally time consuming.  I quickly came to the conclusion that these two tasks must be carried out. (iii) to win the prayer battle.  Only then could I climb the pulpit stairs with a proper confidence in God Sunday by Sunday by Sunday.[12]

John Collins

This biblical foundation and discipline in study and personal evangelism were key aspects of the ministries of the early Anglican leaders of renewal who had come through the Iwerne/All Souls/Eclectic schools. It is hard to underestimate the significance of these foundations in establishing the Charismatic movement in the Anglican Church. Many of these ministers, like Collins in the last post, would see Stott as a spiritual father, despite him not embracing their new understanding and experience of the Spirit, and would certainly see their theology and theological method as springing from the same wells as Stott.

[For more on Collins see three earlier posts: Collins, Collins 2, Collins 3]

Secondly George Ingram: The second key influence was George Ingram a key layman at All Soul’s and a former missionary. He is a key character in that he discerned that for all the growth and good at All Souls in the 1950s something was still lacking. He was influenced by Paget Wilkes, the founder of the Japan Evangelistic Band (1871-1934). He had followed Wilkes into his rooms one day demanding to know the secret of Wilkes’ life as ‘you have got something that I have not got’. Paget opened his Bible and explained the secret to be ‘Ye shall be holy: for I the Lord your God am holy’.

“Now”, he said, “you will never know peace or power until you accept [holiness] as God’s standard for you. If you really mean business, get alone with God and pray for three things: first that God will give you a hunger for a greater blessing then you have ever had; secondly, that he will show you your sinful nature as he sees it; and thirdly that he will give you a vision of the cross of Calvary and what it cost him to purchase a full salvation for you.” [13]

Paget Wilkes

This led Ingram into what he described as the ‘blessing of sanctification, which revolutionised my whole Christian life.’[14] It was this blessing, and what he called ‘dimensions of the fullness of the Holy Spirit’ that he thought was lacking still in Collins and his clerical peers at All Souls, although it was George Ingram who would wait for the young Curate after his sermons, and ‘with a warm smile, say slowly and with great emphasis, “remember, John, you are chosen for this”’. It was often this old missionary’s encouragements that rescued Collins’ mind from the ‘pressure of preaching to the cultured congregation’ and directed him towards God.

Thirdly former All Soul’s Curates who led the way in Renewal: The pioneering ministry of current and former All Souls curates in developing strategies, writings and conferences for perpetuating the experiences of Renewal was crucial for its propagation. Foremost in this was Michael Harper who left All Souls in 1964 to start Fountain Trust.[15] Others encountered renewal after moving on from All Soul’s. Martin Peppiatt was one of John Stott’s curates and then encountered renewal via Michael Harper and became close friends with John Collins. Martin Peppiatt was also blessed to be in East Africa in the East African revival and later was one of those who invited John Wimber to the church where he was Vicar (in Twickenham).

This wider movement gave Collins, MacInnes, Watson, Peppiatt and others further ‘cover’ from their many detractors as they developed in renewal ministries. Without this wider support through Michael Harper’s Fountain Trust and the sense of being part of an international move of God that arose from visits such as those of Corrie Ten Booth, missionary friends and the American Episcopalian Denis Bennett, John Collins would have been even more isolated in what happened next… but 18 years later it would be this ‘Anglican to its bones’ version of renewal he would help imbed into HTB, building not just on the likes of Harper but also, more fundamentally, grounded on the exegetical and evangelistic community building practices of Stott and Iwerne.

Next week: John Collins: Gillingham and Beyond

[1] Peter Hocken, Streams of Renewal, 67; James Steven, Worship in the Spirit, 11-37

[2] Smith, Graham R,.The Church Militant: Spiritual Warfare in the Anglican Charismatic Renewal. United States: Pickwick Publications, 2016. It can be seen as a part of an international ‘Second Wave’ of the Holy Spirit in the 20th Century, following the rise of Pentecostalism and pre-dating the ‘Third Wave’ associated with John Wimber. Cf. C. Peter Wagner, The Third Wave of the Holy Spirit: Encountering the Power of Signs and Wonders Today (Ann Arbor: Servant Publications Vine Books, 1988).

[3] See Hocken, Streams, 78; Smith, The Church Militant, 2016, 31

[4] This dependency continued even after his experiences of the Spirit in February 1963 caused a distinct rupture between him and the most prominent evangelicals of his day, which included Michael Vaughan, Dick Lucas and most painfully Stott himself.

[5] See Timothy Dudley Smith John Stott: The Making of a Leader IVP 1999 249-289 for full account.

[6] See David Watson, I believe in Evangelism ___ ; see also Ewert, David. The Holy Spirit in the New Testament. United States: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2004. 225; Robert Fisher (Ed) In Spirit and in Truth. United States: Pathway Press, 1985. 45

[7] Collins maintained that Stott was filled with the Spirit at least as much as any charismatic and quite probably more. Interview: Collins: ‘Bash described him [Stott] as the “most thoroughly converted boy I had ever met”’ For Stott’s own espoused theology of the Spirit see for example, John Stott God’s New Society : The message of Ephesians  Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press. 1979, 208-209, where he argues from Ephesians 5 that believers must be filled with the Spirit, which is 1) an imperative 2) for all believers 3) a passive reception of a gift from God 4) in the present continuous tense and therefore ongoing. Stott had been writing about this since publishing Baptism and Fulness in 1964 in reaction to the charismatic movement.

[8] Heard, James. Inside Alpha: Explorations in Evangelism. United States: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2010, 8

[9] See Matthew Porter David Watson Evangelism, Renewal, Reconciliation Grove 2003, 4 and David Goodhew “The Rise of the Cambridge Inter-Collegiate Christian Union, 1910–1971.” The Journal of Ecclesiastical History 54, no. 1 (2003): 62–88.

[10] David Watson You Are My God; see also Teddy Saunders ____

[11] Collins Interview

[12] Interview

[13] Govan Stewart (1957) 41

[14] Ingram, a former CMS missionary in India, led the Nights of Prayer for World-Wide Revival, and an Anglican Prayer for Revival.

[15] see