Maria Woodworth Etter (1844–1924) was a forerunner to the Pentecostal movement and lived with Open Heaven before it was even really understood by people. She seemed be a link between the Cane Ridge revival and modern Pentecostalism. Many in church history just know her as “the trance lady.”
This comes from here going into trances for 30 minutes or more often. She would come out of these trances with detailed calls to healing for people. It seemed to be the key to her healing ministry. This was before healing was really “cool.” Everything was holiness preaching at the time.
For her, it started when she lost several of her children and she had an open vision of children in heaven and people burning in hell. It was on that day that she was baptized in the Holy Spirit with the bible evidence. (On a side note, it was the night at Brownsville that I had my first open vision that I was baptized with Holy Spirit and fire!)
For Maria Woodworth Etter, she even struggle with believing in women in ministry, However, God kept pushing her closer and closer to evangelism until she surrendered to walk in Open Heaven for the rest of her ministry.
People going into trances was actually very common at Cane Ridge and other places the Methodist revivals happen. However, it was not every often by the end of the second awakening. About 40 years removed, trances become common again with Maria Woodworth-Etter and they were more intense and longer than the Methodist before them. In some case, it seemed that people were not even breathing in this spiritual coma state.
There was people in the midst of worship where the people would be frozen standing up and would not move for quite sometime. One example is a lady who did not come out of it for eight days! While this is much longer than most, people experiencing the trances was far from uncommon.
Reporters would visit her meetings and end up in trances all over America. This was especially true when she had a large tent revival in California in 1899. Seven years before the Azusa Street Revival, Maria Woodworth-Etter was filling tents with people who were hungry for the Holy Spirit power!
One of the interesting things about the meetings was people did not “jerk” like they did in the Methodist revival. They would just freeze and remain like that until the Spirit of God lifted off them. Shaking is a common response to the anointing of God. However, the Holy Spirit was moving differently.
By 1911, she had become part of the Pentecostal movement mainly due to the friendship of F.F. Bosworth. They had nightly meetings in Dallas together for over 180 nights. People were being healed, delivered, speaking in tongues and glorious converted in these trances.
She was fully part of the Pentecostal revival by the point that real challenges to her ministry started afresh.
Now, the infamous meeting in California….
Maria Woodworth-Etter and Jesus Only
In April 1913, she had a meeting that would forever change the Pentecostal movement. It was a camp meeting just outside of Los Angeles. One of the speakers preached a message on the name of Jesus in baptism and the power thereof. This is what some call the initial spark in the Oneness movement.
John G. Schaepe stayed up praying about the issue and in the morning, he ran from tent to tent yelling, “The name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit is Christ Jesus.” The Jesus Only movement has started and it was not going to be pretty.
Out of the meeting with Maria Wooworth-Etter came the “New Issue” and the biggest controversy in classic Pentecostal. Everything came to a head in St. Louis, a city that Woodworth-Etter had ties to, with the Assemblies of God kicking out the Jesus only preachers.
People who believed in her ministry among Pentecostals were not a fan of this wildfire that was happening over the baptism formula. Some people wanted here to correct it but it was too far wide spread by that point for her to have success. Forever, her ministry will be connected to the drama that led the Pentecostal movement to a split that they have never recover.
I believe the lesson for us about this is that the Spirit of God does not check our theology before pouring out His Spirit. There is many people that God has touched that did not have the best doctrine. The Mormon church had signs and wonders in their early days as an example.
Do trances happen today?
People might read about her meetings and ask if they can have them happens too. The simple answer is yes. I have been in meetings when people were froze still for hours. This is not the 1800’s but in this century. It is not common but it does happen.
I am concerned as the next minister about people get flaky with this. However, people were flaky before it happens and they will still be flaky after it happens. Charismatic flakes will still be Charismatic flakes. Will they fake trances? Yes they will. That does not mean the authentic doesn’t happen.
The test of the manifestation is not if they are always legit. The question is are people getting saved, healed and delivered. Are the lives being changed by the trances? The devil or the flesh does not want people closer to holiness and more in love with Jesus.
In my experience, people having them is rare. In over 20 years of ministry, I could count the times I have seen it happen to people on my fingers. It is nowhere close to things like speaking in tongues, shaking, or outbreaks of joy. Any claims of dozen of people having this happens in every meeting is outlandish and quite honestly blow of proportion.
God is going to do it again. Miracles are common and even some of the most exotic manifestations will come with the Outpouring.
Last modified: October 28, 2022[mc4wp_form id="5485"]